Appeal from order of Court of Quarter Sessions of Bucks County, No. 274 of 1965, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Frederick William Geiger.
Ward F. Clark, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Frederick E. Smith, with him Ross, Smith & Renninger, for appellee.
Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, and Spaulding, JJ. (Jacobs and Hoffman, JJ., absent). Opinion by Wright, J. Dissenting Opinion by Spaulding, J. Montgomery, J., joins in this dissent.
[ 209 Pa. Super. Page 370]
On April 1, 1963, before a justice of the peace in Bucks County, a complaint was filed by a representative of the Narcotics Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Health charging that Frederick William Geiger unlawfully possessed dangerous drugs in violation of Section 4(q) of The Drug, Device and Cosmetic
[ 209 Pa. Super. Page 371]
Act of September 26, 1961, P. L. 1664, 35 P.S. 780-4(q). Following a hearing on June 21, 1963, Geiger was held under bail for action by the grand jury. On July 2, 1963, he filed in the court of quarter sessions a petition to suppress certain evidence which he alleged had been improperly seized as the result of an unlawful search of his person. After hearing testimony, the court below, on December 30, 1965, granted Geiger's petition and ordered that the evidence in question should not be used. The Commonwealth has appealed.*fn1
The search and seizure here under consideration occurred following Geiger's arrest for the unlawful possession of narcotics. The court below concluded "that probable cause for the arrest of the defendant has not been established". It is the theory of the Commonwealth to the contrary that Geiger's arrest was based on probable cause, and that the seizure of the evidence in question was valid as an incident to the lawful arrest. The controlling issue before us therefore is whether the arresting officers had probable cause to make the arrest. Our review of the record, hereinafter summarized, leads us to conclude that there was probable cause for the arrest, wherefore the order of the court below will be reversed.
On February 1, 1963, William D. Brooke, Chief of Police of New Hope Borough, received a letter from a District Supervisor of the Bureau of Narcotics of the United States Treasury Department naming Frederick W. Geiger as a suspected user of narcotics. Chief Brooke contacted Renato Della Porta, Assistant State Supervisor of the Narcotics Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. A check was made of drugstores in the area for the reason that, as Della Porta
[ 209 Pa. Super. Page 372]
testified, "we have learned over the years that people who use narcotic drugs will resort to the use of exempt narcotic preparations when they are filling in between. They will use things such as paregoric, such as elixir terpin hydrate and other exempt narcotic preparations". This check revealed that Geiger had purchased quantities of paregoric, and elixir terpin hydrate with codeine.
On or about March 20, 1963, Della Porta received word from an informant that Geiger was going to New York to pick up narcotics, and that he had left his motor vehicle at the home of Joseph J. Paulovic. This informant had been previously established as a reliable source.*fn2 The Paulovic home was then placed under surveillance. The Geiger car was parked there. On April 1, 1963, Della Porta received word from the informant that Geiger would return from New York that evening. A warrant was obtained to search the Paulovic residence in the event that Geiger would attempt to dispose of the drugs in the house. As the officers approached the Paulovic home, they observed Geiger sitting on a chair in the living room. The officers then entered, read the search warrant and placed Geiger under arrest for possession of narcotic drugs. Geiger was taken to the Solebury Township Building where ...