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United States v. McGovern

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
661 F.2d 27 (1981)


Facts

McGovern (defendant) owed Scull (defendant) (collectively Defendants) $1,800. To repay Scull, McGovern and Scull engaged in a scheme whereby McGovern bought $2,400 in Citibank traveler’s checks from a bank in Niagara Falls, New York. Scull then signed McGovern’s name to the checks and cash them. McGovern then claimed to the bank that he “lost” the checks, knowing that the bank’s policy was to “refund” his “lost” checks. The purchase agreement McGovern signed stated: “[T]he purchaser agrees to sign each check in the upper left corner at the time of purchase with the same signature used in signing this agreement; and to countersign each check in the lower left corner when cashed, in the presence of the person cashing it.” McGovern then left New York for Erie, Pennsylvania, (thereby allowing for federal jurisdiction) and met Scull where the two worked on McGovern’s signature. Thereafter, Scull entered two Erie banks and another store, carrying McGovern’s driver’s license as identification, where he cashed the checks and collected $2,400. McGovern then reported to New York police that his checks had been stolen from his vehicle. The following day, McGovern reported the loss to Citibank which then issued McGovern $2,400 in replacement checks. McGovern and Scull were charged with violating 18 U.S.C. § 2314, which states in part: “[W]hoever, with unlawful or fraudulent intent, transports in interstate or foreign commerce any traveler’s checks bearing a forged countersignature…shall be fined…or imprisoned…or both.” Defendants were convicted in a bench trial and both appealed, arguing that the government failed to prove common law forgery.

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Holding and Reasoning (Aldisert, J.)

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