People v. Jackson, 1-06-2787.

Decision Date30 March 2009
Docket NumberNo. 1-06-2787.,1-06-2787.
Citation908 N.E.2d 72
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Walter JACKSON, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Office of the State Appellate Defender, Jonathan Krieger—Assistant Appellate Defender, of Counsel, Chicago, IL, for Appellant.

Anita Alvarez—State's Attorney—County of Cook, James E. Fitzgerald, Alan J. Spellberg, Michele Grimaldi Stein and Karisa F. Flores, Chicago, IL, for Appellee.

Presiding Justice ROBERT E. GORDONdelivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant Walter Jackson was charged with two counts of financial identity theft (720 ILCS 5/16G-15(a) (West 2000)), two counts of theft by deception (720 ILCS 5/16-1(a) (West 2000)), and three counts of forgery (720 ILCS 5/17-3(a) (West 2000)), for his involvement in two residential real estate transactions, including the recording of a fraudulent quitclaim deed. Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant was convicted on all counts. The convictions were based on a theory of accountability. 720 ILCS 5/5-2(c) (West 2000). A sentencing hearing was conducted where mitigation and aggravation were presented. After finding that defendant's convictions on both counts for theft by deception and two counts for forgery merged with defendant's convictions for financial identity theft, the trial court sentenced defendant to three concurrent five-year terms in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defendant now appeals arguing that (1) the State failed to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, (2) he was denied the effective assistance of counsel, (3) the trial court erred by denying his motion to quash his arrest and suppress evidence including a signed written confession, and (4) the State made improper closing arguments. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

The State claimed that in the fall of 2002, Antwon Tillman (codefendant Tillman) wrongfully used the name and social security number of a Florida resident named Antoine Tillman (Florida Tillman), an Air Force training instructor, to purchase two homes in Cook County. After Florida Tillman reported to police that he did not purchase either property, prosecutors charged defendant and codefendant Tillman with financial identity theft, theft by deception, and forgery. The financial identity theft counts alleged that defendant "knowingly used the personal identifying information * * * of another person" to obtain property and financing in two separate transactions: (1) a September 30, 2002, residential property closing where codefendant Tillman purchased the property located at 9713 South Prospect, Chicago, Illinois (South Prospect home), from defendant; and (2) an October 7, 2002, residential property closing where codefendant Tillman purchased the property located at 22992 Farm Trace Road, Richton Park, Illinois (Farm Trace home), from Andre Norris. The forgery charge pertained to the recording of a quitclaim deed and the indictment alleged that defendant "knowingly made or delivered a document * * * apparently capable of defrauding another" when he recorded this quitclaim deed regarding the Farm Trace property in January 2004.

At trial, the State argued that defendant was accountable for the aforementioned offenses. Defendant argued that he was not accountable for codefendant Tillman's actions because there was no evidence that defendant was aware that codefendant Tillman had used another person's identity. The jury disagreed and convicted defendant on all counts.

A. Events Leading Up to Trial

On September 30, 2002, defendant sold his South Prospect home for $285,000; more than four times the $61,000 he paid for the home's purchase two years prior. At the time of the sale, it was encumbered by two outstanding mortgages totaling over $167,000 and was in foreclosure. The home was not listed on a multiple listing service prior to the relevant transaction.

Defendant, codefendant Tillman and Denna Adams, a closer with Law Title Insurance Company, were present at the closing of the sale of the South Prospect home; neither defendant nor codefendant Tillman was represented by an attorney. Adams acted as agent for the St. Francis Mortgage Company as well as Law Title Insurance Company and witnessed codefendant Tillman sign both the mortgage note and the closing documents. Codefendant Tillman signed all the closing documents with the name "Antoine Tillman" (the spelling used by Florida Tillman) and used Florida Tillman's social security number. Codefendant Tillman also used Florida Tillman's name and social security number to obtain a loan from St. Francis Mortgage Company for $285,000, the full purchase price of the South Prospect home. The loan application listed Florida Tillman as the buyer and listed his employment as general manager for Panda Industries in Lynwood, Illinois. It was later discovered after the real estate closing that Panda Industries did not exist and that the employment verification forms included in the closing packet were fraudulent.

At the closing, codefendant Tillman produced a driver's license bearing the name "Antwon L. Tillman" and his own photograph. While reviewing the closing documents, Adams observed that codefendant Tillman's first name was spelled differently on his driver's license than on the closing documents. As a result, Adams asked codefendant Tillman for additional identification. Codefendant Tillman produced a firearm owner's identification card and casino club card, both bearing the name "Antwon Tillman" and told Adams that he was known both as "Antoine [] Tillman" and "Antwon Tillman." Based on the discrepancy in the spelling of codefendant Tillman's name, Adams asked him to execute an affidavit certifying the different spellings in the affidavit and that "Antoine Tillman" and "Antwon Tillman" were the same person. Codefendant Tillman signed as "Antoine Tillman" and listed Florida Tillman's social security number.

Among the closing documents was an appraisal purportedly prepared by Eric Glenn, a licensed real estate appraiser who had worked with defendant in the past, which valued the South Prospect home at $285,000. Also included was a résumé bearing Glenn's name, but listing defendant's credentials. In addition, a $300 invoice for Glenn's appraisal services was presented for payment during the closing. Glenn, however, did not perform the appraisal, did not submit his résumé, did not submit the $300 invoice, and did not receive the $300 payment.

As a result of the sale, both of the outstanding mortgages on the South Prospect property were paid in full and the foreclosure proceedings dismissed. Express Mortgage, the mortgage brokerage that brokered the mortgage loan for the South Prospect home, received a $10,400 brokerage fee from the South Prospect closing.

On October 7, 2002, seven days after the sale of the South Prospect home, codefendant Tillman purchased the Farm Trace home from its builder, Andre Norris. During the weeks leading up to the Farm Trace purchase, defendant dealt with Norris in making selections for the home including carpeting, tile, and appliances. Defendant was not present at the Farm Trace home closing.

Present at the Farm Trace home closing were codefendant Tillman, Eugene Bennett, an attorney, Darryl Rogers, a mortgage broker with Express Mortgage, Andre Norris, and Edith Love, an escrow closer. Rogers obtained two loans from First NLC Financial Services, a first mortgage for $308,000, and a second mortgage for $77,000, together totaling $385,000, for the full contract price of the Farm Trace home. Codefendant Tillman utilized Florida Tillman's social security number during the closing. Codefendant Tillman also used Florida Tillman's personal information to obtain the two loans. Once again, the appraisal for the Farm Trace home indicated that Glenn had performed the appraisal.

Love, who witnessed codefendant Tillman sign the loan and closing documents, observed that certain closing documents spelled the buyer's first name as "Antoine" and others spelled it "Antwon" during her review of the closing packet. Although codefendant Tillman represented to Love that he was "Antoine Tillman," his driver's license, which Love photocopied, spelled his name "Antwon [] Tillman."

At the closing, Express Mortgage received $5,000 in brokerage fees and an additional $3,080 as a yield-spread premium, a fee often paid to a mortgage brokerage when a buyer pays a higher interest rate. A check was also disbursed to Glenn's address as the listed appraiser, but he never received the check.

Defendant was not present in the room during the closing, but was in the lobby of the building. On that date, defendant delivered several checks drawn on his personal checking account to certain parties to the closing. Defendant delivered two checks drawn on his personal checking account payable to Norris's company, A & E Construction, each made out for $5,000. Another check defendant delivered that day was for $3,000 payable to codefendant Tillman, which was also drawn on defendant's personal checking account. Although defendant later claimed this check was to cover overage expenses, the closing documents did not indicate any overage expenses incurred by the buyer. After the closing, defendant moved into the Farm Trace home. Defendant later applied for a building permit to build a mailbox on the property. Defendant also made improvements to the home, and his fiancée, Brianne Blue, was listed as the account holder on the municipal water bill.

Later in October 2002, an advertisement was placed in a newspaper for the leasing of the South Prospect home. Carolyn Jones responded to the advertisement and met with defendant, who told Jones that he was the caretaker of the home for the owner, who was out of town. Defendant, Jones, and her husband entered into a lease for the South Prospect home entitled, "Lease with Option...

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