982 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1992), 91-2223, United States v. Wood

Docket Nº:91-2223.
Citation:982 F.2d 1
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. George F. WOOD, Defendant, Appellant.
Case Date:December 11, 1992
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

Page 1

982 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1992)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, Appellee,


George F. WOOD, Defendant, Appellant.

No. 91-2223.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

December 11, 1992

Heard July 28, 1992.

Terrence D. Garmey, with whom Karen B. Lovell and Smith & Elliot, P.A., Saco, ME, were on brief for defendant, appellant.

Margaret D. McGaughey, Asst. U.S. Atty., with whom Richard S. Cohen, U.S. Atty., and Thimi R. Mina, Asst. U.S. Atty., Portland, ME, were on brief for plaintiff, appellee.

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Before TORRUELLA and SELYA, Circuit Judges, and ZOBEL, [*] District Judge.

ZOBEL, District Judge.

Appellant was an attorney in private practice in Sanford, Maine. In 1987, Philip Spang, Jr. ("Philip"), a client and close personal friend, approached him and asked if he would help obtain the forged signatures of Philip's sons, Timothy and Daniel, on deeds to certain real estate. Appellant initially refused but then he agreed and sought out the services of William Lessard, a private investigator in New Hampshire. Lessard promised to locate a forger, but after considering the legal consequences of such action he contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and agreed to cooperate by wearing recording equipment during his encounters with appellant. Appellant and Lessard communicated by telephone and in person to plan the forgeries. After many such conversations, appellant was arrested, charged with and, following a trial, convicted of two counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. He now asserts errors in the charge to the jury and in the admission of rebuttal testimony as well as the government's argument with respect thereto. We affirm.

The underlying facts are substantially undisputed. Appellant never denied that he sought to obtain forged signatures on deeds. He claimed instead that he lacked the necessary fraudulent intent because of the unusual way in which Philip conducted his real estate dealings. Philip testified that in the 1940s and 1950s he invested significantly in real estate. Hoping to avoid creditors and inheritance taxes, Philip had the deeds prepared in the names of his children or siblings. These deeds, naming such child or sibling as owner in fee, were recorded. With respect to many of the transactions, Philip also arranged for the "donee" to sign a deed conveying the same real estate to Philip. The latter would keep that deed at his home, until necessary, when he would simply record it and thus divest the "donee" of title. Appellant was familiar with Philip's unique real estate arrangements and had, in fact, drafted and/or recorded a number of the deeds.

During 1986 Philip and his wife began to have marital problems, as a result of which his relationship with his sons Daniel and Timothy became strained. Thus, when, in 1987, Philip asked Timothy and Daniel to deed to him certain of the properties he had purchased and put in their names, neither would do so. Philip testified that he believed Timothy and Daniel had signed "return deeds" for...

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