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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WILLIAM CASPER (01/04/80)

filed: January 4, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
WILLIAM CASPER, APPELLANT



No 204 April Term, 1976, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Butler County at No. 60 September Term, 1974 and Nos. 170 and 1973 December Term, 1974.

COUNSEL

David O'Hanesian, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Robert F. Hawk, Assistant District Attorney, Butler, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Cercone, President Judge, and Wieand and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 273 Pa. Super. Page 614]

Appellant contends that: 1) Insufficient evidence exists to support his conviction for "macing," (demanding money for political purposes from employees of the Commonwealth); 2) insufficient evidence exists to support his convictions for conspiracy and criminal solicitation to "mace"; 3) the verdict of guilty of extortion is inconsistent with the verdicts of not guilty of conspiracy and solicitation to extort charged in the same indictment; and 4) the trial court erred in failing to grant his motion for severance of the indictments. We disagree and, accordingly, affirm.

On May 16, 1974, the Commonwealth filed against appellant a criminal complaint, Indictment No. 60, charging that, while Chairman of the Butler County Democratic Party in 1973, appellant had conspired with superintendents of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Richard V. Boyd, Alan McGarvey, Raymond Doutt, Samuel Zurzalo, Jerome Geibel and Mark Rhodes, for the purpose of unlawfully demanding money from employees of the Commonwealth for political purposes. The complaint charged conspiracy, solicitation and "macing." Later in 1974, a Special Investigating Grand Jury returned two more indictments. Indictment No. 170 alleged that appellant and the co-conspirators named in Indictment No. 60 had unlawfully demanded money for political purposes from employees of the Commonwealth. Indictment No. 173 charged that from 1971 to 1973, appellant and co-conspirators had conspired to commit extortion and bribery against lessors of snow removal equipment to the Butler County Division of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and that appellant and another named individual had solicited individuals to commit bribery and extortion.

Before trial, the Commonwealth moved to consolidate the indictments for trial. Appellant moved to sever Indictment No. 173 from trial of the other indictments and for change of venue. The trial court permitted consolidation of the indictments and denied appellant's motions. On March 6, 1975, a jury convicted appellant of conspiracy, solicitation

[ 273 Pa. Super. Page 615]

    and three counts of "macing" charged in Indictment No. 60, of four counts of "macing" charged in Indictment No. 170 and of three counts of extortion charged in Indictment No. 173. After denying post-verdict motions, the trial court sentenced appellant to a term of imprisonment of 1-2 years and fined him $11,500. On appeal, this Court reversed the judgment of sentence, holding that the trial court's failure to grant change of venue denied appellant a fair trial. See Commonwealth v. Casper, 249 Pa. Super. 21, 375 A.2d 737 (1977). The Supreme Court, holding that a change of venue was not necessary, reversed the order of the Superior Court and remanded for consideration of appellant's other assignments of error. See Commonwealth v. Casper, 481 Pa. 143, 392 A.2d 287 (1978). Appellant now raises those assignments of error.

Appellant first contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions on seven counts of "macing." The Commonwealth's witnesses established that, in 1973, appellant held a meeting with superintendents of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, in which he instructed them to collect money from Department employees, raising $120 from each equipment operator and $60 from each laborer, and from lessors of snow removal equipment, collecting from each of them $100 for each piece of equipment leased. Appellant directed that employees who failed to contribute should be transferred from the equipment on which they worked or to another area and given less overtime, and that lessors who failed to make contributions should have their contracts rejected.

Noel Rhodes testified that McGarvey asked him to contribute $120. Rhodes complained that he could afford only half of that amount and McGarvey replied that "its not up to me to accept half" and recommended that Rhodes speak with Boyd. When Rhodes failed to call Boyd, appellant phoned him and said that "it would be more beneficial to you to make a right decision."

Gary Doutt testified that Boyd called him into his office and straight out asked, "Are you ...


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