Appeal from the State Civil Service Commission in case of Arnold J. Grant v. State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh, Department of Justice, No. 1540.
David B. Washington, for appellant.
William C. O'Toole, Assistant Attorney General, with him Robert P. Kane, Attorney General, for appellee.
Judges Crumlish, Jr., Kramer and Mencer, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Mencer.
[ 22 Pa. Commw. Page 583]
Arnold J. Grant (appellant) was an employee of the Bureau of Corrections (Bureau) at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh. He was a regular-status employee who held the position of Corrections Officer I on a probationary basis. The events leading to this appeal began on April 18, 1974, when appellant's supervisors were informed that he had been arrested on a charge of violating the Uniform Firearms Act. The following day he was suspended for 5 1/2 days pending an investigation of his conduct. The reason given for his suspension was "misconduct while off duty which may bring the service of the Commonwealth into disrepute."
Appellant was found not guilty of the criminal charge on April 26, 1974, apparently because the Commonwealth failed to appear at the hearing. On April 30, 1974, a hearing on appellant's suspension was held at the prison before Bureau personnel, at which appellant's attorney advised him not to testify or answer questions. Appellant was suspended as of that date for an additional 29 1/2 days pending the outcome of a further investigation. Less than one week later, on May 5, 1975, appellant was stopped while in his car with three other men because the car fit the description of a car used in the robbery of a bar on the previous day. The officers who searched the car found a handgun stolen in that robbery under the seat occupied by one of the men. After receipt by his superiors of the report of this arrest, appellant was dismissed from
[ 22 Pa. Commw. Page 584]
the service on May 16, 1974 for the same reason for which he had been suspended earlier.
An appeal to the Civil Service Commission (Commission) followed, and hearings were held on June 6, July 10, and December 11, 1974. At the July 10 hearing, Detective Regis Burke testified to the facts surrounding the second arrest, as well as to the fact that appellant had been implicated in the robbery by one of the other men arrested with him, Mr. Jeffrey Bell. Appellant testified at the final hearing on December 11 that he had not known Mr. Bell previously and was only giving him a ride home on the date the men were arrested. On February 28, 1975, appellant's motion in arrest of judgment was granted, relative to the charges arising from the arrest of May 5, 1975; nevertheless, on March 3, 1975, the Commission dismissed appellant's appeal of his suspension and dismissal. He now appeals to this Court, alleging that the adjudication of the Commission was not supported by substantial evidence to establish that appellant had engaged in such misconduct as to warrant suspension and dismissal. We do not agree.
Our scope of review in this case is defined in Section 44 of the Administrative Agency Law*fn1 which states in relevant part:
"The court to which the appeal is taken shall hear the appeal without a jury on the record certified by the agency. After hearing the court shall affirm the adjudication unless it shall find that the same is in violation of the constitutional rights of the appellant, or is not in accordance with law, . . . or that any finding of fact made by the ...