Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PETER SMITH (10/06/77)

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: October 6, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
PETER SMITH, APPELLANT

No. 505 October Term 1977, Appeal from the Order of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, to No. 229 Criminal Division, 1976.

COUNSEL

Arthur L. Goldberg, Harrisburg, for appellant.

John M. Eakin, Mechanicsburg, with him Kevin A. Hess, Deputy District Attorney, Carlisle, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Watkins, President Judge, and Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Van der Voort and Spaeth, JJ. Price, J., did not participate in the consideration or disposition of this case. Watkins, President Judge, and Van der Voort, J., dissent.

Author: Spaeth

[ 250 Pa. Super. Page 437]

On April 21, 1976, an indictment was returned by the Grand Jury of Cumberland County charging appellant, in one count, of engaging in pool selling and bookmaking, and in eight counts, of permitting pool selling and bookmaking upon premises owned or occupied by him. Appellant filed a motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant. The motion was denied, and on May 11, 1976, appellant was found guilty by a jury on all eight counts of permitting pool selling and bookmaking, but was acquitted on the one count of engaging in pool selling and bookmaking. Post-trial motions in arrest of judgment and for a new trial were filed and denied, and on November 29, 1976, appellant was sentenced on each of the eight counts to pay a fine of $2,000 and to serve a term in prison of two and one-half years to five years, the sentences to run concurrently. This appeal followed.

[ 250 Pa. Super. Page 438]

I

Appellant argues that his motion in arrest of judgment should have been granted because the evidence was insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had knowledge that gambling activities were taking place on his premises.

Section 5514 of the Crimes Code, Act of Dec. 6, 1972, P.L. 1482, No. 334, ยง 1, eff. June 6, 1973, provides in pertinent part that:

A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree if he:

(5) being the owner, lessee, or occupant of any premises, knowingly permits or suffers the same, to be used or occupied for any [pool selling or bookmaking purposes].

There is no dispute that the evidence established that appellant owned the premises where the gambling paraphernalia was found and the telephone over which bets were being taken was located. Regarding the evidence that appellant had knowingly permitted the premises to be used in this manner, the lower court said:

[Appellant's knowledge] was established almost entirely by circumstantial evidence. It consisted of evidence that [appellant's] wife and another relative were identified as the persons the affiant spoke to when he placed bets. The activity was shown to be continuing in nature. The bail piece executed by [appellant] . . . and the testimony of [appellant's] son showed [appellant] resided on the property. In addition the bail piece and the testimony of the County Recorder of Deeds established [appellant] as the sole owner of the property. Finally, the letter addressed to [appellant] and found in the room where the illegal activity was carried on among the bookmaking records would strongly indicate that he had been in the room while it was being put to its unlawful use.

Slip opinion at 9-10.

[ 250 Pa. Super. Page 439]

The only direct evidence of appellant's knowledge was the testimony of Trooper Wynn that on one of the occasions when he called the telephone located in appellant's premises to place a bet the person answering said, "This is Pete". N.T. at 12.

In testing the sufficiency of the evidence, we must review the testimony in a light most favorable to the verdict winner. . . . In so doing, we will accept as true the Commonwealth's evidence and all reasonable inferences arising therefrom. . . . The test of the sufficiency of the evidence is whether, accepting as true all evidence, regardless of whether it is direct or circumstantial, upon which, if believed, the fact finder could properly have based his verdict, it is sufficient in law to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged. . . .

Commonwealth v. Young, 233 Pa. Super. 429, 432, 335 A.2d 498, 500 (1975) (citations omitted).

Reviewing the testimony in this light, we conclude that the jury could reasonably infer that appellant knew that illegal gambling activities were being conducted on his premises. The lower court therefore properly denied appellant's motion in arrest of judgment.

II

Appellant first argues that he is entitled to a new trial because hearsay testimony was improperly admitted over repeated objection. The testimony concerned statements by a Robert Long to Trooper Wynn to the effect that by calling a specific telephone number, the trooper could place bets. N.T. at 6-8. As the lower court correctly held, this testimony was not hearsay because it was not offered to show that what Long said was true but only to show that he said it, Commonwealth v. Sampson, 454 Pa. 215, 311 A.2d 624 (1973); Commonwealth v. Jacobs, 445 Pa. 364, 284 A.2d 717 (1971), thereby explaining the trooper's subsequent action,

[ 250 Pa. Super. Page 440]

    warrant the police seized a white turtleneck sweater. Upon being shown the sweater the victim for the first time told the police that D'Angelo was the robber. This court affirmed per curiam, HOFFMAN, J., filing a dissenting opinion in which SPAULDING, J., joined. The Supreme Court granted allocatur and reversed. Said the Court:

It is clear from the record that the affidavit filed with the magistrate which caused the search warrant to issue was incorrect and misleading when it stated, "D'Angelo has been identified as the person who entered Fines [ sic ] store . . .", for the Commonwealth's own evidence establishes that as of that moment this was not the case . . . This, in our view, so tainted the search that the evidentiary use of the fruits thereof violated due process of law and, in itself, requires a reversal of the conviction and judgment.

Id. 437 Pa. at 336, 263 A.2d at 444.

Furthermore, the Court explained, this disposition was required even though

     the information supplied the magistrate in the affidavit, when considered in its entirety, was unquestionably sufficient to warrant a reasonable man in the conclusion that probable cause existed to issue the search warrant. But, this information was untrue and misleading in one very important respect. Moreover, the testimony at trial supports no other conclusion but that the police who supplied the information knew it was not in accord with the then existing facts. Under such circumstances, the warrant was invalid and the use of evidence resulting from the search based thereon was constitutionally proscribed. . . . To rule otherwise would permit the police in every case to exaggerate or to expand on the facts given to the magistrate merely for the purpose of meeting the probable cause requirement, thus precluding a detached and objective determination.

Id. 437 Pa. at 337-38, 263 A.2d at 444.

[ 250 Pa. Super. Page 442]

So here, the affidavit was untrue and misleading, and known to be so, in important respects.*fn2 It thus precluded a detached and objective determination of probable cause.

The judgment of sentence is vacated and the case is remanded for a new trial.


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.