A disabled Vietnam vet was acquitted by a San Francisco Superior Court jury this week of an alleged check scam after evidence revealed he was the victim, not the perpetrator, according to the Public Defender’s Office.
The jury deliberated for about six hours Tuesday before finding 62-year-old Jeffrey New not guilty of burglary, petty theft and possession of a completed monetary document, Public Defender’s Office spokeswoman Tamara Barak Aparton said. He had faced a year in jail if convicted of the misdemeanors.
New, who was mentally and physically disabled as a result of a car crash 20 years ago, had been approached by a man in the street in the Portola district on March 26, 2010, according to Aparton.
The man asked him if he wanted to “make some money” by cashing a check for him, Aparton said.
New agreed and tried to cash the check at a nearby bank, but the teller discovered the check belonged to a woman who had recently reported her checkbook lost. Police were called and New was arrested.
At New’s one-day trial, a handwriting expert confirmed New didn’t write the check, and police admitted they hadn’t asked New if he believed the check was valid, which would have showed he hadn’t intended the fraud, according to Aparton.
“Mr. New has severe dyslexia and can barely spell, much less fill out a check,” New’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ariana Downing, said in a statement. “Ultimately, I think that it was obvious to the jury that Mr. New was a vulnerable person who went into the bank that day with an innocent intent.”
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