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COA: Successive Prosecution Statute not applicable to theft case

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A Howard Superior judge properly refused to dismiss theft charges against a man because, despite the defendant’s arguments to the contrary, the Howard County charges were not previously prosecuted in Miami County.

Johann Schmidt sought to dismiss two Class C felony theft charges filed in Howard County related to his role in fraudulently securing loans from First Farmer’s State Bank by using collateral he no longer owned. Schmidt previously faced charges in Miami County on allegations he did not deliver concrete crushers to Mark Bowyer as agreed, after Bowyer had paid Schmidt several million dollars for several machines. Schmidt instead sold those machines he promised Bowyer to other companies after taking Bowyer’s money. Bowyer had borrowed money from a bank in Howard County to send Schmidt money to buy the machines. The charges in both counties were related to Schmidts’ business dealings with Bowyer.

Schmidt faced several charges of theft and fraud related to Bowyer and the bank in Miami County, but pleaded guilty to one count of theft for theft of money from FFSB.

Schmidt argued that Indiana’s Successive Prosecution Statute bars the filing of charges in Howard County because the charges should have been joined with the Miami County charges as they arose out of a single joint venture with the same alleged victim.

The trial court denied the motion, leading to this interlocutory appeal in Johann Schmidt v. State of Indiana, 34A02-1207-CR-570.  

“Schmidt’s offenses were not ‘a single criminal transaction’ identified by ‘a distinctive nature . . . common modus operandi, and a common motive.’ Instead, Schmidt committed offenses against two victims, FFSB and Bowyer,” Judge John Baker wrote. “Moreover, the offenses that Schmidt committed against each victim are also different in time and manner. Schmidt’s offenses against FFSB were perpetrated by fraudulent loan agreements and the resulting theft of FFSB’s property, either by Schmidt’s failure to repay the loan or by selling the collateral.”

The judges also rejected Schmidt’s claim that Indiana Code 35-34-1-10(c) requires the state to join all “potential” charges in a single prosecution whenever joinder “could” occur because that statute does not require the state to bring all potential charges in a unified action.

The case goes back to the trial court for more proceedings.

 

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