Habeas Corpus • Prima Facie • Bad Check • Presumptions

Commonwealth v. Palladino, PICS Case No. 14-0158 (C.P. Lawrence Jan. 9, 2014) Motto P.J. (10 pages).

The commonwealth established a prima facie case as to a bad check charge where the prosecution proved that Palladino issued a check in the amount of $740 and delivered it to the victim, the victim deposited the check, the check was returned for insufficient funds, the victim gave notice of the fact that the check did not clear by certified mail and Palladino acknowledged that he had actual knowledge of the fact that the check did not clear. Petition for habeas corpus denied.

Palladino stored a vehicle in Kalassay’s storage facility from October 2010 until October 2012. Palladino went to retrieve his vehicle and Kalassay told him that $740 was owed in storage charges. Palladino gave Kalassay a check for the amount. He did not ask Kalassay to hold the check nor did he direct Kalassay not to cash the check until issues about alleged damage to the car were resolved.

Kalassay deposited the check, which was returned marked insufficient funds. Kalassay tried to phone Palladino and then sent him a certified letter advising him of the non-payment using the address on the check. Palladino did not make good on the check and he sought compensation from Kalassay and his insurer for alleged damage to the car while it was garaged.

At the preliminary hearing, Palladino testified that his credit union advised him that the check had been sent through and that there were insufficient funds. Palladino went to the credit union to attempt stop payment on the check after it had been returned for insufficient funds.

The commonwealth established a prima facie case when it proved that Palladino issued the check, delivered it to the victim and failed to make good on the check when informed of the insufficient funds. Under 18 Pa.C.S.A. §4105, a defendant is presumed to know that the check would not be paid if payment was refused for lack of funds upon presentation within 30 days after issue and the defendant failed to make good within ten days after receiving notice of the refusal. Here Kalassay gave notice of the refusal by certified letter and Palladino admitted that the credit union phoned to tell him about the nonclearance of the check. Thus, the commonwealth has the benefit of the presumptions in the statute.

Palladino’s contention that at the time he issued the check he believed it would clear and that he did not make good on the check because of his dispute as to whether the money was owed or not due to the condition of the vehicle goes to his credibility and the court cannot resolve issues of credibility in addressing whether the commonwealth established a prima facie case. It is not a defense to a bad check charge that the underlying debt for which the check was issued was in fact not owed.