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CRIME COMMISSION'S SUBPOENA ENFORCEMENT PETITION (08/10/71)

decided: August 10, 1971.

IN RE: CRIME COMMISSION'S SUBPOENA ENFORCEMENT PETITION


Subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum issued by the Pennsylvania Crime Commission in the course of investigating organized crime in Philadelphia. Subpoenas served on respondents, three of whom refused to be sworn or answer questions and one of whom, though sworn, refused to answer questions concerning his business activity. The Crime Commission petitioned the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania at Nos. 402 C.D. 651 1971, 403 C.D. 1971, 404 C.D. 1971 and 405 C.D. 1971 for a rule to show cause why respondents, after hearing, should not be ordered to testify and produce records. Preliminary objections filed by three respondents dismissed after argument. Respondents appealed to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania filed the within opinion in compliance with Supreme Court Rule 63.

COUNSEL

Alan L. Adlestein, Assistant Attorney General, Russell M. Coombs, Deputy Attorney General, Henry R. Wray, Assistant Attorney General and J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for petitioner.

Ronald N. Rutenberg, with him Rutenberg, Rutenberg, Rutenberg & Rutenberg, for respondent, Rocco Molinari.

Alan J. Davis, with him Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, for respondent, Michael Grasso, Jr.

Lester J. Schaffer, with him Zink, Shinehouse & Holmes for respondent, Ralph Puppo.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Wilkinson, Jr., and Rogers, sitting as a panel of three.

Author: Per Curiam

[2 Pa. Commw. 650 Page 651]

The Pennsylvania Crime Commission, presently engaged in an investigation of organized crime and other criminal activity in the Philadelphia area, particularly involving the infiltration of business enterprises, issued and effected personal service of subpoenas against the four respondents in these consolidated proceedings.*fn1 All respondents appeared at the appointed time and place in Philadelphia but respondents Grasso, Molinari and

[2 Pa. Commw. 650 Page 652]

Puppo refused to be sworn or to answer any questions. DePhillipo was sworn and did testify, resting on his privilege against self-incrimination in refusing to answer any question except as to his name and address. He also refused to produce the records of the business enterprises which were the subject of a subpoena duces tecum on the grounds that their production might tend to incriminate him.

This conduct upon the part of the several respondents prompted the Commission to seek judicial aid in enforcement of the subpoenas. Accordingly, the Commission filed in this Court separate petitions against each of the respondents for the issuance of rules to show cause why the respondents after hearing should not be ordered to testify and/or produce records as identified in the subpoena duces tecum previously served. A rule was issued returnable on June 16, 1971, at which time it was ordered that hearing on the petition and any answer thereto would also be held. Certified copies of the petition and order of court were personally served upon each of the respondents.

Prior to the return date of the rule and the hearing date, respondents Grasso, Molinari and Puppo filed preliminary objections questioning (1) the jurisdiction (venue) of the Commonwealth Court over the subject matter and (2) its jurisdiction over the person of each respondent for want of service of "original process."*fn2

After argument on the preliminary objections heard by a three judge panel, orders were entered dismissing the objections, the Court being of the opinion that it

[2 Pa. Commw. 650 Page 653]

    enjoyed concurrent jurisdiction over the subject matter and jurisdiction over the person of each respondent. Appeals from these orders were promptly taken to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. As mandated by its Rule 63, there follows a statement of the ...


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