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COMMONWEALTH v. STAUDENMAYER (09/23/74)

decided: September 23, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
STAUDENMAYER, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, June T., 1972, Nos. 1390 and 1391, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William Staudenmayer.

COUNSEL

Anthony D. Pirillo, Jr., for appellant.

Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter, Mark Sendrow, David Richman, and Steven H. Goldblatt, Assistant District Attorneys, Abraham J. Gafni, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Jacobs, J. Hoffman, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Jacobs

[ 230 Pa. Super. Page 523]

The appellant herein was convicted following a jury trial on charges of bribery and conspiracy arising from a scheme of corruption in the City of Philadelphia. For the reasons stated hereinafter, we affirm the judgment of sentence of the court below.

Briefly synthesized the facts show that between the years of 1969 and 1971 there existed a widespread system of payoffs from vice figures in the 17th police district of Philadelphia to most, if not all, of the police officers assigned to that district. Various police officers were assigned by their superiors to make monthly collections of money from identified figures dealing in numbers and other illegal operations. The

[ 230 Pa. Super. Page 524]

    money thus collected would be marked for distribution to all police officers participating in the protection scheme. As each officer made his assigned pick-up, he would remove his share and transmit the remainder to one or two other policemen for distribution to the other officers.

The appellant in this case was the police sergeant assigned to the 17th district, and three of the four witnesses against him were former police officers who had participated in the payoff scheme.*fn1 It appears that the appellant was one of the "central" officers who distributed the monies. One witness, Johnson, testified that on several occasions he passed money which he had collected from one Robinson to the appellant.*fn2 Another witness, Mitchell, testified that on 6 or 7 occasions he received money from the appellant who told him that it was from particular vice figures. The third witness, Dixon, gave no testimony directly implicating the appellant, but his testimony described the overall scheme which was then in operation. The appellant, convicted on two indictments on charges stemming from the Robinson bribe, raises several issues, each of which requires only brief treatment.

Appellant contends that he was convicted on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice in violation of the Act of 1860.*fn3 The section of the statute to which the appellant refers gives immunity to witnesses who testify in a criminal prosecution for bribery provided that "the accused shall not be convicted on the testimony of an accomplice, unless the same be corroborated

[ 230 Pa. Super. Page 525]

    by other evidence, or the circumstances of the case." Upon a review of the record, however, we are convinced that that quantum of corroboration envisioned by the purpose and intent of the Act of 1860 exists in this case. The public policy underlying the corroboration requirement of the statute is to prevent any "invitation to make reckless accusations by one protected from prosecution by the law itself . . . [which] might well result in serious injustice," Commonwealth v. Marmon, 210 Pa. Superior Ct. 202, 212, 232 A.2d 236, 242 (1967), and "to provide a degree of protection against the well-known danger that a participant in the indicted crime may seek to save himself by falsely incriminating a cohort." Government v. Torres, 476 ...


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