Knepper v. People

Decision Date02 July 1917
Docket Number8572.
Citation63 Colo. 396,167 P. 779
CourtColorado Supreme Court
PartiesKNEPPER v. PEOPLE.

Rehearing Denied Oct. 8, 1917.

Error to District Court, City and County of Denver; W. S. Morris Judge.

Hubert Knepper was convicted of obtaining a promissory note of the value of $1,000 with intent to cheat and defraud by means of false pretenses, and he brings error. Affirmed.

Garrigues J., dissenting.

C. A Irwin, of Denver, for plaintiff in error.

Fred Farrer, Atty. Gen., Wendell Stephens, and Ralph E. C. Kerwin Asst. Attys. Gen., Leslie E. Hubbard, Atty. Gen., and John L. Schweigert, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the People.

BAILEY, J.

Plaintiff in error was found guilty of obtaining a promissory note of the value of $1,000.00 with intent to cheat and defraud by means of false pretenses. He brings the judgment here for review.

It appears that plaintiff in error was treasurer of an insurance company in the process of formation, and that the note was given in payment for stock in the company. It was alleged that the shares were represented to be worth much more than the price asked; that the State was back of the company to the extent of $100,000.00, and was paying quarterly dividends on them from money deposited by the company with the State. After the note had been paid the complaining witness discovered that the company had not deposited the statutory amount with the State, as represented or at all, and was not able, therefore, to write insurance, and that the company had never paid any dividends whatsoever.

Defendant below denied making the alleged or any false or fraudulent representations, and urged, among other defenses, that the information failed to set out any crime under the statute, and that note given in payment for the shares was of no value in the hands of the maker, and was, therefore, not within the purview of section 1849, R. S. 1908, which enumerates the classes of property the obtaining of which by false pretenses is a crime. Defendant demurred to the information on these, among other grounds. The demurrer was overruled, and this ruling, with others, is assigned as error. None of the assignments merit attention except two based upon the demurrer, to wit: First, that the information does not set out, allege or show that the prosecuting witness was defrauded; and second, that the note in the hands of the maker was of no value, and therefore the securing of it by false pretenses constitutes no crime.

In regard to the objection to the information, that it failed to set forth the fact that complaining witness had been defrauded, it is clear that in the information the defendant is charged with feloniously, fraudulently, falsely and knowingly pretending and representing that the stock in question was worth at least two dollars a share; that the company was paying quarterly dividends; that the amount required by statute to be deposited with the State had been so deposited; that the State had paid and would continue to pay quarterly dividends upon complainant's stock, and was backing the company to the extent of $100,000.00, and further, that by reason of the representations and her belief in them she made, executed and delivered her promissory note for $1,000.00, and that these representations were known by defendant to be false. This was the gist of the offense charged. Section 1950, R. S. 1908, in reference to indictments applies also to informations, and is as follows:

'Every indictment or accusation of the grand jury shall be deemed sufficiently technical and correct which states the offense in the terms and language of the code, or so plainly that the nature of the offense may be easily understood by the jury.'

Under this section it is plain that the offense was sufficiently set out in the case at bar to make the natural of it clear to all. It definitely charges the crime set forth in section 1849, R. S. 1908, if the promissory note may be held to be a thing of value within the meaning of this provision. The section so far as applicable is in the following words:

'If any person * * * shall knowingly and designedly, by any false pretense or pretenses, obtain from any other person or persons any chose in action, money, goods, wares, chattels, effects, or other valuable thing whatever, with intent to defraud any such person or persons of the same, every person so offending shall be deemed a cheat. * * *'

It is vigorously urged by counsel for defendant that defendant cannot be convicted under this statute, because the note in question was without value in the hands of the prosecutrix. A number of cases are cited, chiefly English cases, in support of this contention. The better rule, however, seems to be the one laid down in 11 R.C.L. 490:

'The statutes usually add the words 'or other property,' or 'or other valuable thing,' or 'or other valuable effects.' Literally, of course, these terms are broad enough to enclude a promissory note or bill of exchange; hence, unless the court is convinced by the association of such words with others that they are used to express some more limited conception, there is ample justification for applying them to the full extent of their literal meaning. Some courts have declared that the intention of the legislature was obviously to include all things which might be the subject of larceny, and hence that the words 'or other property' must be viewed as an intended addition to the more specific designation of the property preceding them. There are cogent reasons for saying that such articles of property as are now under consideration are as likely to be obtained by misrepresentation as any other forms of personal property, and that injury to the defrauded person, and perhaps others, is, if anything, more imminent than in the case of tangible chattels. From considerations such as these, the courts have concluded that the true intention of the legislature will be best given effect by holding that a promissory note is within the meaning of the words 'or other property."

This principle was applied in a case involving the fraudulently obtaining of a signature upon a promissory note, under a statute relative to obtaining by false pretenses 'money, goods, chattels, or other effects,' in People v. Stone, 9 Wend. (N.Y.) 182. The court, at page 191, said:

'That a note, obtained by false pretenses and with a fraudulent intent, and which the party has actually used for his own benefit, is embraced within the spirit of the act as it stood before the revised statutes, I have no doubt. The words, 'other effects,' as used in this act, it is obvious, when the connection in which they stand is taken into consideration, were designed to be most comprehensive. They were probably intended to embrace everything of a personal character not appropriately and strictly falling under the description of money, or goods or chattels. I consider them equivalent to the words 'or other valuable thing whatsoever' in the British act.'

In State v. Thatcher, 35 N. J. Law, 445, where an information was founded upon a similar state of facts, the court held:

'Is the maker's own note or contract of suretyship a valuable thing? The signing of the name was an act--the name, when signed, was a thing. Was it a thing of any value? While it remained locked up in his secretary, it was of no value to the maker, but eo instanti it passed out of his hands by the fraud, it became impressed with the qualities of commercial paper and possessed to him the value which it might cost to redeem it from a bona fide holder. * * * Can it, therefore, be said that a paper which imposed such a risk, was of no value to the maker? Its value to him consisted not in what it would put in his pocket, if he retained it, but in what might be taken out of his purse by the delivery of it to the defendant.' A note in the hands of the maker was held to be a 'valuable thing,' and fraudulently obtaining it punishable, in State v. Porter, 75 Mo. 171. The court, at page 177, said:
'The note obtained was in form a non-negotiable promissory note, and while open to any defense the maker might have against it in the hands of
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9 cases
  • Updike v. People
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • 7 January 1933
    ... ... secretary, it was of no value to the maker, but eo instanti ... it passed out of his hands by the fraud, it became impressed ... with the qualities of commercial paper, and possessed to him ... the value which it might cost to redeem it from a bona fide ... In ... Knepper v. People, 63 Colo. 396, 403, 167 P. 779, ... 781, we said: 'The statute does not specifically require ... that any of these enumerated classes of personal property ... shall have value in the hands of the person swindled. If the ... instant they are reduced to possession by the swindler [92 ... ...
  • Albert v. People, 12967.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • 25 January 1932
    ...Dougherty v. People, 1 Colo. 514; Cohen v. People, 7 Colo. 274, 3 P. 385; Imboden v. People, 40 Colo. 142, 90 P. 608; Knepper v. People, 63 Colo. 396, 167 P. 779.' also, Bridge v. People, 63 Colo. 319, 165 P. 778. Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed. ADAMS, C.J., and BUTLER and BURKE, JJ.......
  • Whitfield v. People
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • 1 March 1926
    ... ... cheat, etc.? The causal connection is here made [79 Colo ... 112] clear. In Shemwell v. People, 161 P. 157, 62 Colo. 146, ... 152, where the information showed the same alleged fault ... which is shown here, it was held good, and in Knepper v ... People, 167 P. 779, 63 Colo. 396, the same so-called fault ... was discussed in the briefs, and the information held good ... The indictment in Com. v. Harley, 7 Metc. (Mass.) 462, seems ... to have been similar. We agree with the remarks of Mr ... Justice Bailey, 167 P. 779, 63 Colo ... ...
  • Lewis v. People
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • 2 February 1942
    ... ... It thus ... clearly appears that the allegations of the information ... follow the language of section 99, supra, and this we have ... held in a number of cases to be sufficient to satisfy ... constitutional requirements. See, Schneider v ... People, 30 Colo. 493, 71 P. 369; Knepper v ... People, 63 Colo. 396, 167 P. 779; Balfe v ... People, 66 Colo. 94, 179 P. 137. Moreover, the ... allegations: 'That as such officers and employees * * * ... [the defendants] did then and there have in their possession ... and under their care and control,' the money in question; ... ...
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