The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOURLEY
In this criminal proceeding the defendants were indicted on three separate counts which related to the conspiracy statute and the Hobbs Act. Defendants Nedley and Jochim were found guilty on all counts; Defendant Baurhenn not guilty of the substantive offenses but guilty of the conspiracy count, and Dependent Ciancio was found not guilty of all counts and discharged by the court from the custody of the law.
The Acts of Congress under which the defendants were indicted are commonly known as the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C.A. § 1951,
and the conspiracy statute, 18 U.S.C.A. § 371.
Although it becomes necessary to consider the motion for judgment of acquittal and/or new trial of Defendants Nedley and Jochim separately from Defendant Baurhenn, motions of all defendants may be evaluated together on rules of law of general application.
Motion for Judgment of Acquittal
Defendants contend that the verdict was against the law and against the weight of the evidence.
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, as the jury's verdict requires ( United States v. Russo, 3 Cir., 123 F.2d 420), the facts involved are that on August 4, 1955, George Moore and Perry Honaker were operating a tractor-trailer from St. Louis, Missouri, enroute to Gimbels Department Store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The events occurred in connection with a labor dispute involving relations between the Pittsburgh department stores and the Teamsters Union, but Moore, an individual carrier and operator of the vehicle, nor his helper Honaker were not involved in that dispute.
It is logical and reasonable to conclude under all the circumstances that the defendants were assigned to the highways and streets in the vicinity where the driver and helper had stopped for their meals, to see that members of the Union would obey the strike order. If this had not been the fact, there would be no basis for the meeting and discussion which was had with the driver of the tractor-trailer about his destination and cargo. The incidents in question did not just happen by chance.
The threats were made by Nedley in the presence of Jochim. After Moore called the Police Department for protection, the vehicle was escorted by Shaler Township Police, at Moore's request, to the Millvale Borough line. Prior to departure of the truck under escort, Defendants Baurhenn and Ciancio arrived in an automobile. The four men followed the truck in the two vehicles and at some point prior to reaching Millvale, one of the vehicles passed the truck and, after the police escort dropped off, blocked it off. Jochim got out of a vehicle and struck Moore in the face. One of the others jumped on the gas tank behind the cab and engaged in conduct which indicated efforts to enter the trailer where the transported goods was being carried.
The evidence disclosed that all defendants played a prominent role in stopping the tractor-trailer, and that all participated in the infliction of physical abuse and violence upon the persons of Moore, the driver, and Honaker, the helper, without cause, excuse or the least scintilla of justification. It was of the nefarious and brazen conduct befitting 'goons' or hired trouble makers, devoid of the elementary decencies of human conduct, similar to the customary 'gestapo' tactics to force, intimidate, and bludgeon persons to force them to engage in a conduct or make a decision contrary to that which they were not legally required to obey or perform.
In view of the compelling evidence of the complicity and active participation of all the defendants in the perpetration of the offense, I am amazed and startled that the jury acquitted Ciancio and failed to find Baurhenn guilty on all counts in the light of the latter's participation in the physical abuse perpetrated on Moore and Honaker.
Defendants premise their motion for acquittal on the ground that the government failed to prove the corpus delicti in that there was no proof that the defendants engaged in any conduct which constituted robbery under the Act of Congress or violated any Act of Congress under the conspiracy statute.
Defendants do not question the sufficiency of the evidence, viewing it in a light most favorable to the government, that interstate commerce was involved, that the defendants interfered or stopped for some period of time the movement of articles or commodities in such commerce, that the defendants had conspired together to do said acts, and that physical violence was threatened to ...