Monday, January 31, 2005

People v. Purcelle (Cal. Ct. App. - January 31, 2005)

Okay, this one has nothing whatsoever to do with the law. Let me just ask a couple of questions instead.

When a person you've never seen before comes into your store and attempts to buy 30 cartons of cigarettes -- at a cost of $1044 -- with a credit card, what are the odds that the card is stolen? Pretty good, right? What if the card also doesn't swipe correctly, so you have to enter the numbers manually? Then you'd think the card might also be a forgery, right? What if the same person came back six days later and tried to buy 60 cartons of cigarettes -- for $2,088 -- with a different credit card? Obvious fraud, right? What about if he comes back two days later to buy yet another 60 cartons?! How crystal clear can it be that the dude is scamming you?

Apparently, not very, at least to the employees of Discount Cigarettes in San Jose, who accept Purcelle's fraudulent credit cards every one of these times. Indeed, they only wise up when Purcelle returns yet again, seven days later, and tries to buy yet another $2000+ worth of cigarettes -- this time with a VISA card that has been cut in half . The employees finally figure out what's going on and call the police. They try to stall him, but Purcelle leaves before the police can arrive. But fear not. He comes back an hour later to try to buy the same cigarettes with the same cut-in-half card. And this time the police arrive promptly and bust him.

P.S. - Proving that his brilliance knows no bounds, Purcelle represents himself for most of the proceedings, and after he finally asks for and gets counsel (on the eve of trial), he tries to fire her and represent himself halfway through the proceedings. Yeah, I'm sure you'll do a lot better than she will, dude. You've done so swimmingly in your criminal career, I'm sure you'll be an equally stellar advocate. Great call.

Here's the case that sent Purcelle to the pokey for 13 years. Just to prove I'm not making any of this up.