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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. STERLING GEORGE RUNKLE (05/29/81)

filed: May 29, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
STERLING GEORGE RUNKLE, APPELLANT



No. 126 March Term, 1979, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of York County, Criminal Division, No. 700 CA 1978.

COUNSEL

Alan M. Cashman, Hanover, for appellant.

Floyd P. Jones, Assistant District Attorney, York, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Cercone, President Judge, Watkins and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Cercone

[ 287 Pa. Super. Page 423]

Appellant, Sterling George Runkle, takes this appeal from his conviction by a jury of two counts of maintaining gambling devices and of gambling.*fn1 Appellant raises two challenges to his convictions. First, whether Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Officers have the authority to conduct a warrantless search of a private club, holding a liquor license, for gambling activities and devices. Second, whether the Commonwealth produced sufficient evidence to establish appellant's control, knowledge or maintenance of gambling devices upon the premises of the club. We conclude that both issues must be answered in the affirmative, therefore, we affirm.

The evidence produced at trial indicates that on May 31, 1978, an agent from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB), A. R. Walker, on instructions from his supervisors, conducted an inspection of the Hanover Home Association [hereinafter the Club], a licensee of the PLCB. The PLCB ordered the inspection after it received an anonymous complaint indicating that gambling was conducted at the Club. Agent Walker went to the Club as indicated above and was admitted by appellant after identifying himself as a PLCB agent. Appellant followed Agent Walker into the bar. At

[ 287 Pa. Super. Page 424]

    that time a number of punchboards were observed by the agent on the bar in plain view, at least one of which had been used. Agent Walker saw a man at the bar draw from the punchboard although he did not see the man pay for the play. Appellant, who is registered with the PLCB as the manager of the Club, was on the premises at the time of the inspection. Prior to conducting his inspection, Agent Walker had notified the Pennsylvania State Police of his plans and after his inspection Agent Walker met with two State Police officers and relayed his information. Whereupon, on June 3, 1978, the State Police, arrived with a search warrant, searched the Club and found numerous punchboards, some partially used and some completely used. Appellant arrived at the Club during the course of the search and was arrested, along with certain other employees of the Club. Upon entering the police vehicle, appellant told the two employees that they did not have to say anything and that they worked for him and should do what he told them. Also, appellant told the police that the Club paid taxes on its income from the punchboards.

Appellant was charged with maintaining gambling devices and gambling on the dates of May 31, 1978 and June 3, 1978. The relevant section of the Crimes Code reads:

(a) Offense defined. -- A person is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree if he:

(1) intentionally or knowingly makes, assembles, sets up, maintains, sells, lends, leases, gives away, or offers for sale, loan, lease or gift, any punch board, drawing card, slot machine or any device to ...


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