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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROSE GINTER (07/17/81)

filed: July 17, 1981.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
ROSE GINTER, LINDA COLLINS, CARMEN CHARMELLO, JOSEPH BIANCO



No. 312 PITTSBURGH, 1980, Appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Allegheny County, Nos. CC7905287, 7905288, 7905289, 7905290.

COUNSEL

Kathryn L. Simpson, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, submitted a brief on behalf of Commonwealth, appellant.

John Burkoff, Pittsburgh, for appellees.

Hester, Brosky and Van der Voort, JJ.

Author: Hester

[ 289 Pa. Super. Page 10]

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania brings this appeal from an order of the court below suppressing certain criminal evidence. For the reasons which follow, we will reverse.

The appellees have been charged with several violations of the Liquor Code*fn1 and criminal conspiracy.*fn2 The prosecution arose from an early morning raid by police officers upon a private social club -- known as the Army-Navy-Air (ANA) Club -- in the East Liberty section of Allegheny County. In August, 1979, officers of the City of Pittsburgh Police Department

[ 289 Pa. Super. Page 11]

    received information that the ANA Club was operating and serving liquor without a license as required by law. Officer Charles Murray and his partner conducted a surveillance of the club and observed numerous individuals enter and leave through front and rear doors. The building in question was two stories high with a restaurant on the first floor and the ANA Club above. The officers contacted agents Susan Galati and Gary Davis from the Liquor Control Board and, with the agents, conducted a further surveillance on the evening/morning of August 31/September 1, 1979. The lower court's opinion succinctly states the remaining relevant facts:

After watching the Club for approximately 45 minutes, L.C.B. Agent Susan Galati approached the rear entrance to the premises, consisting of a large, windowless locked steel door equipped with a buzzer system. One of the defendants herein, Mr. Carmen Charmello, was employed at the back door checking membership cards and identification. Agent Galati observed a blond male at the rear entrance who was denied admittance by the doorman after failing to produce appropriate indicia of membership and/or identification. Agent Galati then, managed to take up with a male Club member named Gary, who offered to take her into the Club as his guest. When questioned by the doorman, Gary indicated that Galati was with him, and the two proceeded up the stairs to the Second Floor Club entrance.

After Agent Galati entered the Club, Police Detective Murray and Agent Davis approached the front entrance which also consisted of a heavy locked steel door equipped with a buzzer system, consistent with the back door security system. There the two officers followed a group of three or four unknown individuals who rang the buzzer to gain admittance. Once inside, the group proceeded to the Second Floor front entrance where they were greeted by a doorman. While the unknown group of people were talking with the doorman, the two detectives drifted around them and entered the Club. Defendant Rose Ginter was

[ 289 Pa. Super. Page 12]

    greeting people and welcoming them to the Club, and the detectives further observed liquor being served. The detectives went to the bar and joined Agent Galati where they ordered liquor, were served, and paid for their drinks. Defendants Bianco and Charmello were serving the drinks as well as defendant Linda Collins who was waiting on tables. The law enforcement officials ...


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