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Phillips v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

July 17, 2009

John B. PHILLIPS, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Alaska, Appellee.

Page 1149

Beth G.L. Trimmer, Assistant Public Advocate, and Rachel Levitt, Public Advocate, Anchorage, for the Appellant.

Timothy W. Terrell, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Talis J. Colberg, Juneau, Attorney General, for the Appellee.

Before : COATS, Chief Judge, and MANNHEIMER and BOLGER, Judges.

OPINION

BOLGER, Judge.

John B. Phillips was convicted of five counts of second-degree forgery, [1] five counts of second- and third-degree theft,[2] one count of fraudulently using an access device,[3] and four counts of first-degree criminal impersonation.[4] In this appeal, Phillips argues that

Page 1150

the trial court should have entered acquittals on his charges of criminal impersonation. We agree that there is insufficient evidence that he damaged the financial reputation of one of his victims, and that he is entitled to acquittal on the criminal impersonation counts related to that victim.

Phillips also argues that the trial court should not have admitted evidence of credit cards, checks, and other documents that belonged, or referred, to people other than the victims in this case. But we conclude that this evidence was relevant to show Phillips's motive and knowledge, since the crimes in this case were part of a larger identity-theft scheme.

We further conclude that the conditions on Phillips's probation were reasonably related to his rehabilitation, but that the judgment incorrectly suggested that Phillips was ineligible for discretionary parole.

Background

On December 12, 2005, Palmer Police Officer James Gipson stopped Phillips's vehicle for traffic violations. Phillips produced his driver's license and gave the officer consent to search the vehicle's passenger area. During this search, Gipson noticed an open checkbook containing another identification card with Phillips's picture on it. Gipson also saw credit-card checks bearing the name " Andrew Gray," a checkbook apparently belonging to Dondi Sturm, and a credit card issued to Gwendolyn Brown.

Based on this information, Gipson later obtained a warrant to search three suitcases belonging to Phillips, and he found mail and checkbooks belonging to many different people, as well as computer equipment for printing color photographs. An inspection of the computer hard drives showed that Phillips was using the equipment to manufacture fake driver's licenses.

The police also searched Phillips's Anchorage storage unit and found more stolen mail, additional fake licenses and state identification cards, and a substantial volume of new merchandise, some of which was matched to purchases made with the checking accounts belonging to Sturm and Gray. On February 2, 2006, in an interview with Fairbanks Police ...


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