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COMMONWEALTH v. GETTIS (04/11/50)

April 11, 1950

COMMONWEALTH
v.
GETTIS



COUNSEL

Harry Shapiro, Edward Stone, Shapiro, Conner, Rosenfeld & Stalberg, Philadelphia, for appellant.

George P. Williams, 3rd, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, John C. Phillips, Deputy Attorney General, T. McKeen Chidsey, Attorney General, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Arnold

[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 516]

ARNOLD, Judge.

The defendant, an inspector in the office of Fire Marshal in the City of Philadelphia, was convicted on fifteen counts of an indictment charging extortion.

The Act of 1911, P.L. 705, 53 P.S. ยง 3591 et seq., established the office of Fire Marshal in the City of Philadelphia, and provided for the appointment of the Fire Marshal and assistants and inspectors. Pursuant to the statutory authority the city provided for the position

[ 166 Pa. Super. Page 517]

    of fire marshal inspector to which the defendant was appointed by the director of public safety after he had passed a civil service examination. The defendant was not required to take an oath of office and he filed no bond.

Various ordinances of the city regulated the installation of gasoline and fuel oil storage tanks.*fn1 In general, those ordinances forbade any gasoline or fuel oil storage tanks to be installed without a license from the mayor. Before issuing such license, the mayor was required to have a certificate of approval of the installation by the Fire Marshal. Regulations of the Fire Marshal required that installation plans be first submitted to the assistant fire marshal or the inspector in whose district the installation was proposed. It was the duty of the inspector to approve any plan submitted if it complied with the regulations of the office. On the basis of that approval the Fire Marshal or chief assistant gave the applicant an 'approval slip' which was presented to the mayor's office as evidence of the Fire Marshal's approval. Upon the payment of a license fee of $5.50 to the Receiver of Taxes, the receipted bill became, or served as, a license.

No fees of any kind were authorized to be taken by the fire Marshal or any of his staff.

The defendant admitted at the trial that any applicant for a license had to file the inspector's approval before he could obtain the Fire Marshal's approval (114-a). While the defendant had no final authority to reject an application, he did have power to withhold his approval, and at the least to subject the applicant to the delay and ...


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