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COMMONWEALTH v. SILVERSTEIN (12/20/71)

decided: December 20, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
SILVERSTEIN, APPELLANT



Appeal from order of Superior Court, No. 1466, Oct. T., 1970, quashing appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, No. 1419-1 of 1969, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Louis Silverstein.

COUNSEL

W. Bradley Ward, with him Ira P. Tiger, and Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, for appellant.

Stephen B. Harris, Assistant District Attorney, with him Ward F. Clark, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Bell, C. J., Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Bell. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Eagen and Mr. Justice Pomeroy join in this dissent.

Author: Bell

[ 445 Pa. Page 498]

On August 26, 1969, criminal complaints charging conspiracy, bribery and corrupt solicitation were filed against the appellant, Louis Silverstein. These complaints alleged that on or about June 30, 1967, and at other times within the last three years, the appellant attempted to influence Joseph O. Canby to persuade the Board of Assessors of Bucks County to act favorably on Silverstein's appeal from a tax assessment on his

[ 445 Pa. Page 499]

    land and industrial building located in Warminster Township, Bucks County. In order to enlist Canby's aid, the appellant allegedly arranged for the transfer of 100 shares of stock in Camden Trust Company from his wife's name to the name of Canby's wife. At the time of the transfer Canby was serving as the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. While the Board of County Commissioners has nothing directly to do with tax assessments, they do have the power to hire and fire members of the Board of Assessments.

On March 2, 1970, a grand jury returned indictments against the appellant on five counts -- Count 1 charged statutory bribery; Count 2 charged bribery at common law; Count 3 charged statutory corrupt solicitation; Count 4 charged corrupt solicitation at common law; and Count 5 charged conspiracy. On April 24, 1970, appellant filed a motion to quash the indictments, alleging that each count was defective on its face. After argument, Judges Satterthwaite and Garb, of the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, granted the motion to quash with respect to Counts 1, 3 and 5, but denied the motion with respect to Counts 2 and 4.

From the denial of the motion to quash Counts 2 and 4, an appeal was taken to the Superior Court. The Commonwealth filed a motion to quash the appeal on the ground that the lower Court's denial of the motion to quash was interlocutory and therefore not appealable. The Superior Court, without hearing oral argument, entered an Order quashing the appeal. This appeal was then taken.

Appellant contends that the statute of limitations bars prosecution upon Counts 2 and 4 of the indictment. We agree.

The appropriate statute of limitations is the Act of March 31, 1860, P. L. 427, as amended, 19 P.S. ยง 211. The pertinent part of this statute provides, unless otherwise specified, all indictments for felonies and misdemeanors

[ 445 Pa. Page 500]

"shall be brought or exhibited within two years next after such felony or misdemeanor shall have been committed." The language of the indictment returned on March 2, 1970, alleged that the activity had taken place "on or about the 30th day of June 1967 and at divers other times within three years last past." In testing the timeliness and applicability of the statute of limitations, June 30, 1967 is the only specific date which is mentioned in the indictment, and thus the only date legally applicable and controlling. Since March 2, 1970, is the date of the indictment which specifically charges that the alleged criminal actions occurred June 30, 1967, it is clear that the statute of limitations bars the indictment.

The Order denying the motion to quash Count 2 and Count 4 of the indictment is reversed and the ...


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