ILNews

Court split on man’s forgery conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was divided over whether a man who used another person’s Social Security number and a false identification should have been convicted of forgery under a 2005 amendment to the law.

Rafael Bocanegra got a job in 2010 with Keystone RV Co. in Goshen by listing his name as “John Giron” on the application and providing a Social Security number and card that had the name “John Giron” on it. He also had an identification card allegedly issued by Ohio that had the name “John Giron.” When the real John Giron received a letter from the IRS accusing him of not reporting income from Keystone, an investigation showed Bocanegra used Giron’s identification to get the job.

He was charged with and convicted of Class C felony forgery and identity deception as a Class D felony, but he was only sentenced on the forgery conviction.

The majority relied on Lohmiller v. State, 884 N.E.2d 903 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), to affirm that Bocanegra had intended to defraud his employer and Keystone could suffer potential injury. An amendment in 2005 – enacted after Lohmiller committed her offenses – creates a lesser offense to the Class C felony forgery: counterfeiting. The intent to defraud is not needed to convict one of counterfeiting. The state did not charge Bocanegra with counterfeiting.

While the majority in Rafael Bocanegra v. State of Indiana, 20A03-1108-CR-361, found Bocanegra’s argument that Keystone didn’t sustain any actual injury persuasive, the judges pointed to Indiana decisions after the 2005 amendment that indicate actual injury doesn’t need to be proven to convict of forgery. They ordered that his identity deception conviction be vacated.

Senior Judge Patrick Sullivan dissented, finding there must be an actual injury to prove that Bocanegra committed fraud.

“The fact remains, however, that Bocanegra performed the work for which he was hired and paid. I discern no legally cognizable harm to Keystone from that. One might deduce that by hiring Bocanegra, Keystone was incurring a prospective or possible inquiry and sanctions for hiring an illegal alien,” he wrote. “Nevertheless, such speculative ‘harm’ does not meet the requirement for proof of a legal harm or injury.”

Sullivan would reverse the forgery conviction and leave in place the identity deception conviction.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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