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UNITED STATES v. MCGOVERN

January 22, 1981

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JAMES DANIEL McGOVERN, JOHN THOMAS SCULL



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEBER

WEBER, C.J.

The defendants here are charged with violation of the federal statute covering the interstate transportation of forged travelers' checks, with unlawful or fraudulent intent, under 18 U.S.C. § 2314 par. four. Only the element of forgery is at issue here.

 Neither the ingenuity of counsel nor the laborious plowing of the court has discovered a similar scheme in the reported cases. The court cannot comprehend the actions of the defendants in crossing a state line as being done deliberately as part of a scheme to establish a defense to federal prosecution but that suggestion now faces us. The same acts if done within a single state would subject defendants to a variety of state charges. Nor, as shown by the conclusion was reach here, can we accept the suggestion that no federal prosecutor would pursue an action for violation of the federal travelers' check statute under the facts set forth herein.

 The matter was heard by the court without jury upon the waiver of jury trial made by the defendants in open court. From the evidence the court makes the following:

 Findings of Fact

 1. In August of 1978 defendant McGovern owed money to defendant Scull.

 2. In order to repay the debt defendants McGovern and Scull devised a scheme to obtain funds through a transfer of travelers' checks.

 3. Under the scheme Scull provided McGovern with cash in the amount of $ 2424.00 to purchase $ 2400.00 in travelers' checks issued to McGovern.

 4. On August 30, 1978 twenty four travelers' checks in the amount of $ 100.00 each were issued by a branch of Citibank in Niagara Falls, New York to James McGovern who signed each of the checks in the upper right hand corner. These are the checks described in the indictment.

 5. At the time of the issue of the checks to defendant McGovern, defendant Scull practised imitating McGovern's signature.

 6. On the same day, August 30, 1978, defendants McGovern and Scull traveled together from Miagra Falls, New York to Erie, Pennsylvania.

 7. In Erie, Pennsylvania on August 30, 1978, defendant McGovern gave defendant Scull McGovern's driver's license so that Scull could identify himself as McGovern.

 8. On August 30, 1978 defendant Scull entered two banks in Erie, Pennsylvania, identified himself as McGovern with the aid of McGovern's driver's license, presented the travelers' checks for cashing, signed McGovern's signature on each check in the space provided for countersignature and received $ 2400 in cash. Scull was identified by one teller and his fingerprints appeared on various of the travelers' checks cashed at both the banks.

 9. All the acts performed by defendant Scull were done with the knowledge, consent and assistance of defendant McGovern.

 10. The 24 travelers' checks which were cashed in Erie, Pennsylvania banks were forwarded through banking channels to New ...


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