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Man’s forgery convictions for bogus check affirmed

February 22, 2017

A man who tried to pass a bogus check for $2,248.33 at two Marion grocery stores failed to persuade an appellate panel to reverse his convictions because of insufficient evidence. He argued in part his conviction shouldn’t stand because the stores had no video cameras.

Bryce A. Swihart visited a Friendly Market in Marion on the evening of January 13, 2015, and presented a computer-printed check purporting to be issued by a local car dealership. A Friendly’s employee took a photo of the check and of Swihart’s ID, but the store declined to cash the check because the car dealership was closed and the authenticity of the check couldn’t be confirmed.

Swihart was told to return the next day, and he did. But a store employee said the situation raised red flags, as did Swihart’s agitation. Swihart eventually left without the check being cashed, and the employee called another Friendly Market in Marion to warn about Swihart.

A short time later, Swihart appeared at the other Friendly Market and presented the check. More red flags were raised because he told the first store the check was issued for the sale of a car, while he told the second store it was a payroll check.

The manager of the second store contacted the car dealership, whose owner denied issuing a check to Swihart. The store didn’t cash the check, but the car dealership’s owner called police, who opened an investigation that led to Swihart’s arrest. A jury in Grant County convicted him of two counts of forgery last May, and he was sentenced to 2½ years in prison, to be served consecutively with an unrelated Madison County conviction.

“Swihart’s argument on appeal is an express request that this Court reweigh the evidence at trial,” Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote in Bryce A. Swihart v. State of Indiana, 27A02-1605-CR-1219. “He directly attacks the credibility of witnesses, asks that we disregard the evidence that favors the verdict, and argues that we should instead rely on the absence of a video recording from the Friendly Market stores. We will not do so.”

The court also rejected Swihart’s argument that he was entitled to more credit time than the trial court ordered for the days he spent in jail awaiting trial. The COA panel wrote, however, that the trial court followed statute and case law to apply 124 days of credit time to his Madison County conviction. Because his forgery sentence was to be served consecutive to his prior conviction, credit time was properly applied to the aggregate sentence per Hall v. State, 944 N.E.2d 538, 542 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011), trans. denied.

“Swihart provides no rationale for this beyond suggesting we consult the overall statutory scheme for credit time, and acknowledges that his argument is contrary to precedent. Yet we are bound by the decisions of the Indiana Supreme Court, the decisions of which are binding upon us until either it or the General Assembly changes the law,” Bailey wrote. “To the extent Swihart seeks a change in the law, it is to those institutions that he should address his request.”
 

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