Appeal from the Twenty-First Judicial District Court In and
for the Parish of Tangipahoa State of Louisiana No. 1500598,
Div. "E" The Honorable Brenda Bedsole Ricks, Judge
Patricia Parker Amos Assistant District Attorney Scott M.
Perilloux District Attorney Amite, LA Attorneys for Appellee
State of Louisiana
Gwendolyn K. Brown Baton Rouge, LA Attorney for
Defendant/Appellant Michael J. Dufrene
BEFORE: HIGGINBOTHAM, HOLDRIDGE AND PENZATO, JJ.
defendant, Michael J. Dufrene, was charged by bill of
information with three counts of forgery, violations of La.
R.S. 14;72(B) (counts 1-3); and one count of theft over $1,
500.00, a violation of La. R.S. 14:67(B). He pled not guilty
and, following a jury trial, was found guilty as charged on
counts 1-3. On count 4, he was found guilty of the responsive
offense of theft with a value of $750.00 or more, but less
than $5, 000.00. The defendant filed a motion for new trial
and in the alternative postverdict judgment of acquittal,
which were denied. For each of the forgery convictions, the
defendant was sentenced to seven years imprisonment at hard
labor. For the theft conviction, he was sentenced to three
years imprisonment at hard labor. All sentences were ordered
to run consecutively. The defendant made oral and written
motions to reconsider sentence, arguing that consecutive
sentences were illegally harsh. In granting the motion in
part, the trial court ordered that the sentence for the theft
conviction run concurrently, reducing the total length of the
sentence from twenty-four to twenty-one years. The sentences
for the forgery convictions were ordered to remain
consecutive. The defendant again objected to the consecutive
sentences, which the trial court noted. The defendant also
filed a pro-se motion for amendment, modification or
reconsideration of sentence, which was denied. The defendant
now appeals, designating five assignments of error. We affirm
the convictions and sentences.
Jiles moved and recovered pool tables and restored vintage
Rolex watches. A few times, David Raiford helped Douglas
Jiles move pool tables. On one particular occasion, Raiford
and Jiles were on a moving job at Central Avenue Billiards in
Amite. While Jiles was in the building, Raiford went inside
Jiles's truck in the back parking lot and took several of
Jiles's blank personal checks and a Rolex watch that was
in the ashtray. According to Jiles, the watch was worth about
filled out three of Jiles's checks. In the "Pay to
the order of section, Raiford wrote in the name of the
defendant, who was Raiford's friend. Raiford forged
Jiles's signature on each of the checks. The checks were
in the amounts of $950.00, $450.00, and $500.00. Raiford then
gave the checks to the defendant to cash. Raiford also gave
the defendant the Rolex watch he had stolen, to sell.
December 22, 2014, the defendant cashed two of the checks at
two different banks in Hammond. This same day, the defendant
went to Gold Into Cash pawn shop in Hammond and sold the
Rolex watch for $200.00. The next day, on December 23, 2014,
the defendant cashed the third check at one of the banks he
had gone to the day before. According to the defendant, he
gave all of the cash to Raiford.
January 13, 2015, the defendant went back to Gold Into Cash
to try to sell a ring. The owner of the pawn shop called the
police, and the defendant was arrested. Detective Antoine
Vicknair, with the Hammond Police Department, interviewed the
defendant that day regarding the checks he cashed and Rolex
watch he had previously pawned. The defendant told the
detective he did not realize that the checks he cashed were
stolen or forged, and Raiford assured him the watch was not
stolen, but belonged to Raiford's cousin or uncle.
defendant did not testify at trial.
OF ERROR NOS. 1 and 2
first and second assignments of error, the defendant argues
the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions for
forgery. Specifically, the defendant contends the State
failed to prove he knew the checks were forged when he cashed
them. In his brief, the defendant stresses that he did not
sign the three checks that he cashed. The defendant argues,
specifically, that there was no evidence to show that he knew
the checks were forged. With no evidence to prove this
essential element (with intent to defraud) of the crime of
forgery, the defendant avers, the convictions cannot stand.
As such, the defendant argues, the trial court erred in
denying the motion for postverdict judgment of acquittal. The
defendant does not challenge his theft conviction.
conviction based on insufficient evidence cannot stand as it
violates Due Process. See U.S. Const, amend. XIV; La. Const,
art. I, § 2. The standard of review for the sufficiency
of the evidence to uphold a conviction is whether or not,
viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the
prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the
essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct.
2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979); La. Code Crim. P. art.
821(B); State v. Ordodi, 2006-0207 (La. 11/29/06),
946 So.2d 654, 660; State v. Mussall, 523 So.2d
1305, 1308-09 (La. 1988). The Jackson standard of review,
incorporated in Article 821, is an objective standard for
testing the overall evidence, both direct and circumstantial,
for reasonable doubt. State v. Patorno, 2001-2585
(La.App. 1st Cir. 6/21/02), 822 So.2d 141, 144. When
analyzing circumstantial evidence, La. R.S. 15:438 provides
that the factfmder must be satisfied the overall evidence
excludes every reasonable hypothesis of innocence.
R.S. 14:72 provides in pertinent part:
A. It shall be unlawful to forge, with intent to defraud, any
signature to, or any part of, any writing purporting to have
B. Issuing, transferring, or possessing with intent to
defraud, a forged writing, known by the offender to be a
forged writing, shall also constitute a violation ...