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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. OLIVER LEVENSON (09/12/80)

filed: September 12, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
v.
OLIVER LEVENSON, APPELLANT



No. 937 April Term 1978, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal Div., No. CC 7702626.

COUNSEL

James E. McLaughlin, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Kemal A. Mericli, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, Hoffman and Van der Voort, JJ. Van der Voort, J., filed a concurring and dissenting opinion.

Author: Spaeth

[ 282 Pa. Super. Page 409]

Appellant was convicted on eight counts of receiving stolen property and one count of criminal conspiracy. He was fined $20,000 and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of not less than two nor more than seven years. The convictions arose out of a series of burglaries committed in the East End of Pittsburgh during the summer and fall of 1976. A pattern emerged from the burglaries disclosing that the perpetrators primarily stole certain types of items-jewelry, sterling silver, oriental rugs, guns, and cameras. On November 16, 1976, Jack Ackerman, one of the burglars, was apprehended in the course of a burglary. Ackerman implicated James Wilde as a second burglar and Albert Brenner as the fence for the goods stolen during the burglaries. Brenner, in turn, implicated Charles Litman as the secondary fence for stolen silverware, David Nazarieh as the secondary fence for stolen rugs, and appellant as the secondary fence for stolen jewelry. Appellant was tried separately.

[ 282 Pa. Super. Page 410]

Appellant first argues that he should be discharged because the information containing the charges against him was signed "Robert E. Colville by C.G.C./Attorney for the Commonwealth." According to appellant, to be valid, the information had to be signed personally by Robert Colville, the District Attorney for Allegheny County, see Pa.R.Crim.P. 225(b), and since it was signed instead by "C.G.C.", it is void.*fn1 However, 42 Pa.C.S.A. ยง 8931(e), (i) (1979 Pamphlet), provides that an information may be signed by "any assistant district attorney whose authority to act for the district attorney . . . is evidenced by a written designation executed by the district attorney . . . and filed with the clerk of the courts." See also Commonwealth v. Vickers, 260 Pa. Super. 469, 394 A.2d 1022 (1978) (information signed by department head in district attorney's office is valid). Appellant does not dispute the representation in the Commonwealth's brief that "C.G.C." are the initials of Chris G. Copetas, First Assistant District Attorney of Allegheny County, who signed the information as the district attorney's designee. Nor has appellant argued that the district attorney failed to execute and file with the clerk of the courts a written designation authorizing Copetas to act for him. We reject appellant's argument that the information is void because Copetas failed to sign his full name on the information. In the absence of a specific requirement as to the manner of signing the information, we believe that the signature required need not be made in any particular manner so long as it is subject to identification. As we stated in Commonwealth v. Belcher, 258 Pa. Super. 153, 392 A.2d 730 (1978), the signature of the district attorney (or his designee) on an information is required to guarantee the information's authenticity and to ensure that a reasoned evaluation of the advisability of instituting a criminal action has been made by a responsible person. These purposes

[ 282 Pa. Super. Page 411]

    were satisfied here when Copetas signed the district attorney's name to the information followed by his own initials.

Appellant argues next that he is entitled to a new trial because his conviction was obtained on the uncorroborated testimony of admitted perjurers, whose perjury the Commonwealth condoned.*fn2 We have been directed by appellant to no evidence showing that the Commonwealth condoned perjury at appellant's trial, or committed other improper acts. Appellant's primary complaint is that the Commonwealth condoned the perjury of two of its witnesses at the separate trial of Charles Litman.*fn3 Without expressing any view on whether the Commonwealth did or did not condone perjury during the Litman trial, it is sufficient to note that there is no showing that the improprieties that may have occurred in that trial denied appellant his right to a fair trial.

The fact that two Commonwealth witnesses (Jack Ackerman and Albert Brenner) admitted on the stand during appellant's trial that they had lied under oath during the Litman trial did not make them incompetent witnesses as neither had been convicted and sentenced for perjury. See Commonwealth v. Pass, 468 Pa. 36, 360 A.2d 167 (1976); Commonwealth v. Orlosky, 264 Pa. Super. 598, 401 A.2d 756 (1979); Commonwealth v. Shadduck, 168 Pa. Super. 376, 77 A.2d 673 (1951); Commonwealth v. Billingsley, 160 Pa. Super. 140,

[ 282 Pa. Super. Page 41250]

A.2d 703, aff'd, 357 Pa. 378, 54 A.2d 705 (1947).*fn4 Brenner's testimony that appellant bought stolen jewelry from him knowing it was stolen, though largely uncorroborated, was sufficient to convict appellant. Commonwealth v. Willis, 276 Pa. Super. 13, 419 A.2d 70 (1980); Commonwealth v. Thompson, 181 Pa. Super. 572, 124 A.2d 180 (1956), aff'd, 388 Pa. 572, 131 A.2d 449, cert. denied, 354 U.S. 923, 77 S.Ct. 1384, 1 L.Ed.2d 1438 (1957); see generally Commonwealth v. Arizini, 277 Pa. Super. 27, 419 A.2d 643 (1980). As we stated in Commonwealth v. Bartell, 184 Pa. Super. 528, 537, 136 A.2d 166, 171 (1957):

If a witness has made inconsistent or contradictory statements they may affect his credibility . . . but they do not make him an incompetent witness. In fact, even if a witness testified differently at a former trial his testimony at the subsequent trial is not to be rejected for this reason alone; such contradictory statements "'affect his credibility, ...


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