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COMMONWEALTH v. BUZAK ET AL. (03/21/62)

March 21, 1962

COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
BUZAK ET AL.



Appeals, Nos. 33 to 43, inclusive, Feb. T., 1962, from orders of Court of Quarter Sessions of Luzerne County, April T., 1961, Nos. 105, 107 to 116, inclusive, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Bernard S. Buzak et al. Orders affirmed.

COUNSEL

Solomon Lubin, Assistant District Attorney, with him Stephen A. Teller, District Attorney, Julius Altman, Special Assistant Attorney General, Morley W. Baker, Assistant Attorney General, and David Stahl, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Joseph J. Savitz, with him Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald, for appellees.

Before Ervin, Wright, Woodside, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ. (rhodes, P.j., absent).

Author: Ervin

[ 197 Pa. Super. Page 515]

OPINION BY ERVIN, J.

The sole question presented in these appeals is whether a defendant who knowingly makes a false representation, thereby obtaining compensation under the Unemployment Compensation Law, as amended in 1955, which provides for conviction in a summary proceeding, may be indicted for a felony under The Penal Code.

On March 8, 1961 the appellee, Bernard S. Buzak, and ten other defendants were separately indicted on the charge of false pretenses under § 836 of The Penal Code of June 24, 1939, P.L. 872, 18 PS § 4836. The indictments charged appellees with having obtained from the Bureau of Employment Security, Department of Labor and Industry of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, on specific dates and divers other times, a sum certain as a result of unlawfully, falsely and fraudulently pretending to its representatives that they were then totally unemployed and entitled to unemployment compensation.

[ 197 Pa. Super. Page 516]

On June 28, 1961 the court below quashed the indictments, it having been agreed that the decision of the court pertaining to the appellee Buzak would be controlling upon all of the appellees. The Commonwealth then took these eleven appeals.

Section 836 of The Penal Code provides: "Whoever, by any false pretense ... obtains from any other person any ... money ... with intent to cheat and defraud any person of the same ... is guilty of a felony. ..."

To sustain a conviction under this section of The Penal Code, it is imperative that three elements of this offense be established, namely, that appellees (1) made false pretenses, (2) obtained money by these pretenses, and (3) intended to "cheat and defraud any person of the same." Com. v. Litman, 187 Pa. Superior Ct. 537, 544, 144 A.2d 592. PS § 871, amending § 801 of the Unemployment Compensation PS 871, amending 801 of the Unemployment Compensation Law, provides as follows: "Whoever makes a false statement or representation knowing it to be false, or knowingly fails to disclose a material fact to obtain ... any compensation ... under this act ... either for himself or for any other person, shall upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than thirty nor more than two hundred dollars, or shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not longer than thirty days, or both, and each such false statement or representation or failure to disclose a material fact shall constitute a separate offense. Whoever makes a false statement knowing it to be false, or knowingly fails to disclose a material fact to ...


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