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COMMONWEALTH v. MARKER (12/11/74)

decided: December 11, 1974.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MARKER, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgments of sentence of Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, of Philadelphia, June T., 1972, Nos. 276, 295, 300, 301, and 303, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Joseph Marker.

COUNSEL

Louis Lipschitz, for appellant.

Carolyn Engel Temin, Mark Sendrow, 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 Price, J.

Author: Price

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 473]

This appeal follows lower court convictions for conspiracy and for blackmail. Appellant was sentenced to 1 year to 2 years imprisonment on the conspiracy conviction and to terms of 1 1/2 years to 3 years on each of four blackmail convictions. The blackmail convictions

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 474]

    were to run consecutively but the conspiracy conviction was to run concurrently with the first blackmail term of sentence. Appellant here raises several arguments in support of his motions for arrest of judgment or, in the alternative, for a new trial. We have examined these arguments and find them to be without merit and, therefore, affirm the judgments of sentence of the lower court.

A brief summary of the evidence reveals an elaborate scheme to extort money from several college students who came to Philadelphia to purchase narcotics. The amount involved was quite large, valued at approximately $30,000. In actuality, the contraband was nothing more than henna, an innocuous substance, doctored with honey to give the appearance of hashish. The plan was to set up the sale between Norman Felt, one of the conspirators, and the unsuspecting buyers in a Philadelphia apartment. While the sale was taking place, appellant, a Philadelphia police lieutenant, and the other conspirators were to raid the apartment, ostensibly place everyone under arrest, and confiscate the counterfeit hash. After everyone had been sufficiently impressed with the authenticity of the raid, Paul Rubin, another conspirator and the Commonwealth's chief witness, on cue, was to suggest a deal. The student-buyers would exchange their money for their freedom.

The episode went off like clockwork. The duped student-buyers were released one at a time, and Norman Felt was taken to the police station, where he was released due to lack of evidence. A short time later, several of the blackmailed persons became suspicious of the whole affair. These people eventually recounted their experience to the District Attorney and the trial below followed.

Appellant's first argument is that the trial judge erred in imposing consecutive sentences on the four Bills of Indictment charging blackmail. There is no

[ 231 Pa. Super. Page 475]

    question that the trial judge may, at his discretion, impose consecutive sentences for multiple convictions.*fn1 However, appellant contends that only one crime was committed even though several people were blackmailed. To support this position, appellant cites several cases in his ...


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