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COMMONWEALTH v. LACAMERA (11/15/62)

November 15, 1962

COMMONWEALTH
v.
LACAMERA, APPELLANT.



Appeal, No. 176, April T., 1962, from judgment of Court of Quarter Sessions of Mercer County, June T., 1961, No. 172, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles LaCamera. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Pearse O'Connor, for appellant.

John Q. Stranahan, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Before Rhodes, P.j., Ervin, Wright, Woodside, Watkins, Montgomery, and Flood, JJ.

Author: Ervin

[ 199 Pa. Super. Page 349]

OPINION BY ERVIN J.

The question to be determined in this appeal is whether police officers, while lawfully searching premises under a valid search warrant describing "numbers slips," may lawfully seize treasury tickets and baseball pool tickets, slips which are commonly used in conducting a somewhat similar type of lottery in which the winner is also determined by numbers.

On June 1, 1961 a county detective obtained a search warrant from a justice of the peace, authorizing him to search the premises of the defendant for "numbers slips." When the officers knocked on the door the defendant's wife answered but did not open the door. Instead she said, "Just a minute"; went to a desk in the front room; put some papers in a cardboard box and disappeared into another room. When she did not return to the door, the officers went around the house to the rear door and through the cellar. She saw her come into the kitchen from the back door. The then admitted the officers through the back door. The search warrant was read to her and one of the officers proceeded to search the premises. In the cellar they found some paper ashes in a small stove and underneath some soiled clothing found a small brown paper box containing seven small packages of treasury tickets and a large paper bag containing seven packages of baseball pool tickets. In a china closet on the first

[ 199 Pa. Super. Page 350]

    floor the officers found a small book with a "rundown" (summary) of runs scored in baseball games. The defendant came to the house while the officers were still there but after they had completed their search. He examined the search warrant and told them they didn't have anything on him because the warrant read one thing and they had something else in the bag.

August Angel, a printer, testified that the treasury tickets ha been printed in his shop for the defendant, who paid for them. The exhibits, consisting of the treasury tickets, baseball pool tickets and the baseball rundown sheet, were admitted in evidence over the objection of the defendant. No evidence was presented by the defendant, his only contention being that the evidence was obtained by illegal seizure in that the affidavit and search warrant described the things to be searched for as "number slips" or "numbers slips" whereas the exhibits did not come within that description.

The Commonwealth produced Detective Vance, who testified that he considered numbers slips in the broad sense of the word to mean any illegal numbers activity regardless of whether it was the commonly known three digit form of "numbers racket" or other forms of slips based on the Treasury balance. The Commonwealth also produced a State Policeman who was qualified as an expert and he testified that he believed treasury tickets were a form of "numbers slips" in the broad sense of the word. The distinction between a three digit number selected by the player and the five digit number assigned to the player, both of which numbers are picked at random, is a ...


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