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COMMONWEALTH v. MCLAUGHLIN (12/11/74)

decided: December 11, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH, APPELLANT,
v.
MCLAUGHLIN



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, Jan. T., 1972, Nos. 1371 and 1372, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Patrick McLaughlin.

COUNSEL

Steven H. Goldblatt, Assistant District Attorney, with him Esther R. Sylvester and Deborah E. Glass, Assistant District Attorneys, and F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellant.

John Rogers Carroll, with him Robert E. Gabriel, for appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Cercone, J. Jacobs, J., dissents. Dissenting Opinion by Price, J.

Author: Cercone

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 130]

Appellee, Patrick McLaughlin, worked under contract with the City of Philadelphia as a lobbyist in Washington, D. C. The contract specified a yearly salary of $20,000 plus expenses not to exceed $5,000. Pursuant to this arrangement, appellee submitted expense vouchers to the City for reimbursement. These vouchers were reviewed and, if deemed proper, paid by the City Controller's Office.

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 131]

In his capacity as first Deputy Controller, Gilbert Stein, initiated an investigation into certain allegedly false expense statements that had been submitted to the City by appellee in 1971. As a result of this investigation, a report was prepared and submitted to the City Controller. This report summarized Mr. Stein's investigation activities and detailed his belief that certain expense statements and vouchers submitted by Mr. McLaughlin were false. The report recommended that Mr. McLaughlin be "subpoenaed" and questioned under oath "to get an explanation, if any, for all findings," and "unless satisfactorily explained, [to] turn the findings over to District Attorney with a recommendation for prosecution."

Subsequently, appellee was subpoenaed by the City Controller, pursuant to the subpoena power granted to the Controller under the City Charter. This administrative subpoena, so called, in fact carried little clout. The only penalty provided for non-appearance was disallowance of submitted expenses for reimbursement by the city. Insofar as the Controller's Office was concerned, a failure to appear under subpoena constituted a failure of a condition precedent to the contractor's right to receive reimbursement for expenditures made in furtherance of the city's business. Thus, when McLaughlin was subpoenaed to appear and explain the allegedly falsified vouchers, he could have ignored the request and suffered only the loss of bona fide expenditures made on the city's behalf.*fn1

McLaughlin appeared, however, and answered questions put to him by Mr. Stein and recorded by a

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 132]

    stenographer. His attempted explanation was both ambiguous and contradictory and, therefore, wholly unsatisfactory. Thereafter the entire matter was referred to the District Attorney's office which initiated prosecution. A preliminary hearing was held following which McLaughlin was indicted for numerous offenses of fraud against the City of Philadelphia.

McLaughlin subsequently filed a motion with the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas to suppress his statements made to Mr. Stein because Mr. Stein had not provided Miranda warnings. Following a hearing and submission of briefs, this motion was granted. In granting the motion, the trial judge found that appellee did not "knowingly and ...


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