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COMMONWEALTH v. TONTY (07/21/55)

July 21, 1955

COMMONWEALTH
v.
TONTY, APPELLANT.



Appeals, Nos. 68, 79 and 80, April T., 1955, from judgments of Court of Quarter Sessions of Erie County, Nov. T., 1954, Nos. 400, 401 and 402, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Anthony Tonty. Judgments affirmed.

COUNSEL

S. Goldstein, with him Charles J. Margiotti, Edward E. Petrillo, and Margiotti & Casey, for appellant.

Damian McLaughlin, District Attorney, with him Louis R. Benacci, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Hirt, Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside, and Ervin, JJ.

Author: Rhodes

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 449]

OPINION BY RHODES, P.J.

These appeals by defendant are from conviction and sentences on charges of bribery brought under the penal provisions of the Third Class City Law of June 23, 1931, P.L. 932, Art. IX, § 911, as amended by the Act of June 28, 1951, P.L. 662, § 9, 53 PS § 12198 - 911. The prosecution arose out of an investigation by the District Attorney of Erie County into alleged bribery of city officials and employes of the City of Erie in connection with gambling or the operation of the "numbers racket" in that city. See Com. v. Schwartz, 178 Pa. Superior Ct. 434, 115 A.2d 826. Defendant was tried before a jury and found guilty. Concurrent sentences were imposed, the minimum being one year and the maximum two years in the Allegheny County Workhouse. On appeal to this Court, defendant questions the action of the court below in refusing his motions in arrest of judgment and for a new trial.

Appellant questions the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the bribery convictions. He claims there is no evidence which would establish that payments of money made by him to the police were for an illegal purpose or to influence the police in the performance or nonperformance of their duties. Russell Verga, a patrolman of the Erie police department assigned to the vice squad, testified at length for the Commonwealth. He testified that he stopped in appellant's cigar store on June 30, 1954, and observed appellant's clerk writing down a number and taking a horse bet; that appellant came from the rear of the store, conversed with him on general topics and asked him to return the next day. On the following day, July 1, 1954, Verga returned and appellant paid him $25 in the back room of the latter's store. At the time there was no conversation relative to this payment. Verga divided the $25 with another, Edward Camilli, who

[ 178 Pa. Super. Page 450]

    had also been assigned to the vice squad. Verga turned over the balance to Assistant District Attorney Johnson. The sum of $11.50 was identified by Verga as part of the money paid to him by appellant and then given to the assistant district attorney. A payment of $12.50 through Officer Camilli to Verga on July 20, 1954, was withdrawn from the jury's consideration.

On August 13, 1954, Verga had a telephone conversation with appellant, which was monitored by Assistant District Attorney Johnson, wherein appellant told Verga to see him the following week. A record of this conversation was made, identified, and offered in evidence. The recording was presented to the jury. Later, on August 19, 1954, according to Verga, appellant paid him $25 in the Spa Cafe in the presence of Officer Camilli. Verga identified$12 of this cash payment by the serial numbers on the bills which were noted at the time of payment.

On August 20, 1954, Verga again telephoned to appellant from the office of Assistant District Attorney Johnson, and a record was made of this conversation; after having been identified this record was offered in evidence and the conversation was given to the jury. In this conversation appellant stated that the recent payment of$25 to Verga was for the month of August; that it was not for vacation pay, or for the time Verga would be on vacation. Verga also testified to another payment of $25 made by appellant to Officer Camilli. This payment was made at appellant's store in Verga's presence on September 28, 1954. Verga identified a ten dollar bill as a part of this payment, and testified ...


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