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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PATRICK MCLAUGHLIN (10/28/77)

decided: October 28, 1977.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
PATRICK MCLAUGHLIN, APPELLEE



COUNSEL

F. Emmett Fitzpatrick, Dist. Atty., Steven H. Goldblatt, Asst. Dist. Atty., Chief, Appeals Div., Carolyn Engel Temin, Asst. Dist. Atty., Philadelphia, for appellant.

John Rogers Carroll, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Jones, C. J., and Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., concurs in the result. Manderino, J., files a dissenting opinion. Jones, former C. J., did not participate in the decision of this case.

Author: Nix

[ 475 Pa. Page 99]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is an appeal by the Commonwealth*fn1 from an Order of the Superior Court affirming the suppression of a statement sought to be introduced by the Commonwealth at the trial of Patrick McLaughlin. Appellee, McLaughlin, was indicted on charges of having defrauded the City of Philadelphia of more than $20,000.00 by submitting to the City Comptroller's Office forged and fraudulent reimbursement vouchers.

The Commonwealth's evidence at the hearing adduced the following facts. Appellee was employed by contract with the City of Philadelphia as a Federal Coordinator in Washington, D. C. The annual contract provided for a maximum of $5,000.00 in expenses to be reimbursed, in addition to a salary. On April 23, 1971, McLaughlin received an administrative

[ 475 Pa. Page 100]

    subpoena from the Office of the City Comptroller requesting that he explain certain allegedly falsified expense vouchers. Accordingly, McLaughlin appeared on April 29, 1971, was sworn and then questioned by Mr. Gilbert Stein, First Deputy Comptroller. A statement by McLaughlin was recorded by a stenographer.

The City Comptroller thereafter sent to the Philadelphia District Attorney a report of his investigation and, after further investigation, prosecution of McLaughlin for multiple fraud offenses was initiated, and indictments were issued. Appellee filed a motion to suppress the statement taken on April 29, 1971, and, after a hearing held on August 1, 1972, the motion was granted by the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas. The statement was held to be inadmissible on the grounds that 1) appellee did not "knowingly and willingly waive his constitutional rights," and 2) the statement was the product of "official compulsion" and "psychological coercion."

The Commonwealth filed a timely appeal to the Superior Court which entered an order quashing the appeal on the ground that the Commonwealth failed to show that it would be substantially handicapped by the absence of the suppressed evidence. This Court subsequently reversed and remanded the case back to the Superior Court for a determination on the merits of the motion. Commonwealth v. McLaughlin, an order of May 8, 1974. On remand, the Superior Court affirmed the suppression order on the ground that appellee had not been given Miranda*fn2 warnings prior to questioning by the Comptroller's Office, but specifically did not reach the question whether appellee's statement was "voluntary". This appeal followed.

Appellant challenges the suppression of appellee's statement. First they contend the statement should not have been suppressed because Miranda warnings are not required before questioning ...


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