No. 2731 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Chester County, No. 1055-81
Joseph W. Carroll, III, Assistant District Attorney, West Chester, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Candace G. McCoy, Assistant Public Defender, West Chester, for appellee.
Wieand, Beck and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 309 Pa. Super. Page 388]
Rena Warner was charged with theft by deception and welfare fraud as a consequence of false statements made to obtain welfare payments in the total amount of $2,967.68. The trial court, on motion of the defendant, dismissed the general charge of theft on the grounds that Ms. Warner could be prosecuted only for violating the specific welfare fraud provision of the Public Welfare Act. The Commonwealth appealed. We affirm.
The welfare funds in question were paid to appellee in the form of full public assistance from January, 1978 to June, 1979. During that period, she failed to report any other income. In fact, she was receiving income from employment by Chester County Headstart, Inc. The Commonwealth has charged that appellee knew she was required to report her earnings but willfully misrepresented her employment status in order to defraud the Commonwealth.
At the outset, appellee challenges the Commonwealth's right to appeal an order dismissing one count of a two count information. The order has terminated finally a prosecution for theft and is based solely on a question of law. The order, therefore, is appealable, and this Court has jurisdiction to decide the substantive issue. See: Commonwealth v. Wimberly, 488 Pa. 169, 172, 411 A.2d 1193, 1194 (1979); Commonwealth v. White, 482 Pa. 197, 199 n. 2, 393 A.2d 447, 448 n. 2 (1978); Commonwealth v. Minton, 288 Pa. Super. 381, 384 n. 1, 432 A.2d 212, 213 n. 1 (1981); Commonwealth v. Madronal, 279 Pa. Super. 57, 60, 420 A.2d 742, 743 (1980); Commonwealth v. Glendening, 262 Pa. Super. 357, 359, 396 A.2d 793, 794 (1979); Commonwealth v. Mader, 253 Pa. Super. 58, 59-60, 384 A.2d 974, 975 (1978).
The crime of theft by deception is defined at 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 3922 as follows:
(a) Offense defined. -- A person is guilty of theft if he intentionally obtains or witholds property of another by deception. A person deceives if he intentionally:
[ 309 Pa. Super. Page 389]
(1) creates or reinforces a false impression, including false impressions as to law, value, intention or other state of mind; but deception as to a person's intention to perform a promise shall not be inferred from the ...