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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. SAMUEL A. COHAN (01/14/55)

January 14, 1955

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
SAMUEL A. COHAN, APPELLANT



Appeal, No. 282, Oct. T., 1954, from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia County, Dec. T., 1951, No. 144, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Samuel A. Cohan. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Thomas D. McBride, with him Herbert F. Holmes, Jr., Philadelphia, for appellant.

Samuel Dash, Assistant District Attorney, with him Michael von Moschzisker, First Assistant District Attorney and Richardson Dilworth, District Attorney, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, JJ. (gunther, J., absent).

Author: Woodside

[ 177 Pa. Super. Page 535]

OPINION BY WOODSIDE, J.,

This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence of the Court of Quarter Sessions of Philadelphia.

The appellant was found guilty by a jury on the charge of receiving stolen goods. After the trial court had refused motions for arrest of judgment and for a new trial he was sentenced to 2 years probation on condition that he pay $500 for the use of the county.

We think the judgment should be affirmed.

The defendant, Cohan, was a dealer in jewelry and operated a smelting company in May 1951 when Robert Smith started to sell him jewelry and gold which had been stolen.

Smith, it develops, had committed eleven burglaries - stealing jewelry and other property valued by the owners at approximately $50,000. All of the jewelry was sold to the defendant for approximately $175.

The defendant was charged with having unlawfully received from Smith a number of specific items, and was acquitted on all counts with the exception of one charging receipt of a brooch which Smith sold him for$50.

Although convicted only as to one of the many stolen items received from Smith the testimony as to

[ 177 Pa. Super. Page 536]

    all the items is relevant as bearing upon the question of defendant's guilty knowledge that the goods were stolen. Com. v. Joyce, 159 Pa. Superior Ct. 45, 49, 46 A.2d 529 (1946).

Smith was 21 years old. He was on parole at the time he was dealing with the defendant, although there is no evidence that the defendant knew this. He first came into the defendant's place of business with some smashed gold watch cases and rings which he offered to sell the defendant. Cohan asked Smith for identification and he showed him his draft card. He asked him where he got the gold and Smith said he worked for a jeweler in Mayfair, another part of the city, and that "in place of pay" the jeweler let him take old gold that was in the establishment and sell it. Cohan did not ask him the name or the address of the jeweler for whom Smith said he worked. Smith's story, of course, was a fabrication.

During the next five months Smith sold Cohan watch cases, rings, pins, diamonds, rubies and other precious metals and stones on about 9 or 10 different occasions. The watch cases and rings were usually, but not always, smashed by Smith before they were taken to defendant. As to one watch case with two rubies and a diamond he testified, "when I gave it to Mr. Cohan it was in usable condition and right now I don't believe you would be able to squeeze a watch in it... It's squashed." He also dealt with Cohan at other times, for such services as repairing a watch, appraising the brooch in question, and buying a ring setting for himself. Each time Smith sold anything to the defendant (with one exception), he signed a receipt which was retained by the defendant. Sometimes he signed these receipts "B" Smith, sometimes "Robert" Smith and sometimes with one address, sometimes with another.

[ 177 Pa. Super. Page 537]

After the first trip Cohan made reference only once to where Smith got the merchandise, and that time he said, "Are you sure this stuff isn't stolen, as I wouldn't want to jeopardize my business."

Smith was apprehended on October 19, 1951. He admitted the thefts and told the officers where he disposed of the jewelry. He was then taken by a detective to the defendant's place of business. There the detective showed Cohan his badge and asked him if he knew Smith. Cohan, who had dealt with Smith a dozen or more times within the five month's period immediately prior thereto, said he didn't.

Smith said, "You know me, I sold articles to you. These fellows have me under arrest." Smith then pointed out to the officer the cabinet drawers in which Cohan had placed some of the articles. The detective had Cohan open the cabinets and found some of the articles. Cohan then admitted knowing Smith and having gotten some articles from him.

The officer then asked Cohan about the brooch. Cohan stated he did not receive a brooch from Smith. At a later date Cohan said he recalled the brooch and had it out on consignment with some jeweler, but refused to tell the officers who the jeweler was.

The day following Cohan's arrest counsel for defendant said he would produce the brooch which he did six days later.

At the trial the defendant said he had the brooch on consignment to a Harry Paul. As to the memorandum of consignment he testified he "Discarded it in the trash basket... I simply tore the memo out from the book, because he had returned it; I threw it in the waste basket."

There was conflicting testimony concerning the brooch and its value. The brooch obtained from the defendant and ...


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