No. 146 January Term, 1977, Appeal from Judgment of Superior Court at No. 1230 October Term, 1975 affirming Judgment of Sentence of C.P. Criminal for County of Lehigh at No. 105 of 1974.
William H. Platt, Public Defender, Thomas A. Wallitsch, Allentown, for appellant.
George J. Joseph, Dist. Atty., Stuart T. Shmookler, Lynn H. Cole, Asst. Dist. Attys., Allentown, for appellee.
Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ.
Appellant, Frank Peluso, was convicted in the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County by a jury of receiving stolen goods. Post-verdict motions were denied and appellant was fined $750 and placed on probation for three years. The Superior Court affirmed. Commonwealth v. Peluso, 240 Pa. Super. 330, 361 A.2d 852 (1976). We granted appellant's petition for allowance of appeal.
The facts are as follows. On January 4, 1972, the residence of Ray Snyder was burglarized and seven rifles were taken.*fn1 Subsequently, police learned that appellant sold one of the stolen rifles, a .300 magnum Weatherby, to Leslie Nonemaker, who marked the serial number of the rifle on his check stub. Nonemaker requested a receipt; however, appellant retrieved the rifle from Nonemaker's wife and never returned it.
On February 22, 1972, the police obtained a search warrant for appellant's residence. The object of the warrant was to find the seven rifles stolen from the Snyder house. The search, however, proved fruitless. Nonetheless, a criminal complaint was sworn out charging that appellant had received the stolen rifle on January 27, 1972, knowing or having reason to know it was stolen. Appellant was tried in April, 1973 for receiving stolen goods. After presentation of the Commonwealth's case, the trial court sustained appellant's
demurrer. The Commonwealth filed an appeal with Superior Court, but subsequently withdrew it.
In September, 1973, appellant's ex-wife, Janet Peluso, and her mother, Lorraine Helvig, took five rifles to the Allentown Police Station. Helvig told police that she found the rifles wrapped in a bed spread underneath the porch of appellant's house. Janet Peluso also told police that on January 27, 1972, John Bonetsky, one of the individuals convicted of the Snyder burglary, sold appellant several rifles. A check of the serial numbers showed that two of the five rifles given the police had been taken in the Snyder burglary.
Appellant was subsequently indicted and charged with receiving stolen goods. He made two pre-trial motions in which he sought to quash the indictments, alleging that the prosecution would violate his right against twice being placed in jeopardy, and to have his ex-wife declared incompetent to testify ...