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United States v. Cantor

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT


decided: October 25, 1972.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JEROME CANTOR, A/K/A "JERRY," A/K/A "THE TEACHER", ET AL. APPEAL OF NATHAN ROTHMAN

Staley, Van Dusen and Max Rosenn, Circuit Judges.

Author: Van Dusen

Opinion OF THE COURT

VAN DUSEN, Circuit Judge.

This appeal challenges a March 23, 1972, district court order denying a defendant's application to withdraw his September 13, 1972, plea of nolo contendere to two counts of an indictment, which the district court treated as a request to set aside the judgment of conviction and to permit the defendant to withdraw his plea under F.R.Crim.P. 32 (d).*fn1 Rothman, 17 other named individuals, and "other persons to the Grand Jury unknown" were charged in Count I of the indictment with knowingly, willfully and unlawfully, conspiring to commit offenses in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1952, 2, and 371, it being (1) "the object of said conspiracy that the defendants would carry on and facilitate the carrying on of an unlawful activity consisting of a business enterprise involving gambling offenses in violation of the laws of . . ." Pennsylvania, New Jersey (2A N.J.Stat.Ann. 112-3), California and New York, and (2) "the further object of said conspiracy that the defendants would use interstate telephone facilities and would cause interstate telephone facilities to be used with intent to carry on and facilitate the carrying on of said unlawful activity and that the defendants would thereafter perform and cause to be performed acts to carry on and facilitate the carrying on of said unlawful activity."*fn2 Count II of the indictment charged defendant, under 18 U.S.C. §§ 1952 and 2, with knowingly, willfully, and unlawfully using and causing to be used a facility in interstate commerce (telephone facilities between Abington, Pa., and Vineland, N.J.), with intent to carry on an unlawful activity consisting of a business enterprise involving gambling offenses, in violation of 2A N.J.Stat.Ann. 112-3.

As the district court properly noted, a failure to scrupulously comply with Rule 11 will invalidate a plea without a showing of manifest injustice. McCarthy v. United States, 394 U.S. 459, 463-464, 89 S. Ct. 1166, 22 L. Ed. 2d 418 (1968).*fn3

The defendant, Nathan Rothman, contends that his plea was entered involuntarily, because he mistakenly relied on the district court's explanation of the charge against him.*fn4

Rule 11 requires the judge to inquire into the defendant's understanding of the nature of the charge against him, and whether the defendant possesses an understanding of the law in relation to the facts. McCarthy, supra at 466, 89 S. Ct. 1166.*fn5 Recently this court has stated that in order "to satisfy itself that the defendant actually does comprehend the charges, the court must explain the meaning of the charge and what basic acts must be proved to establish guilt." Woodward v. United States, 426 F.2d 959, 962 (3d Cir. 1970).

After a careful examination of the transcript of the arraignment proceedings on September 13, 1971, we find that the district court's explanation of what basic acts must be proven to constitute guilt of the crime charged, after Rothman's counsel had insisted Rothman was only a bettor, was incomplete and misleading in light of the construction placed upon 18 U.S.C. § 1952 by Rewis v. United States, 401 U.S. 808, 91 S. Ct. 1056, 28 L. Ed. 2d 493 (1971). In Rewis the Supreme Court made clear that § 1952 was primarily aimed at "organized crime," and that the purpose of a mere bettor "must involve more than the desire to patronize the illegal activity." 401 U.S. at 811, 91 S. Ct. at 1059.

The record does not show that the court correctly stated to Rothman, or that he truly understood, the elements necessary to prove the conspiracy charged in Count 1 or the substantive offense charged in Count 2. Therefore, the judgment of conviction will be vacated, with direction that the defendant is entitled to withdraw his plea*fn6 and to be brought before the court for arraignment again.


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