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INVESTIGATING GRAND JURY PHILADELPHIA COUNTY (MISC. NO. 809-11-47 (12/14/81)

decided: December 14, 1981.

IN RE INVESTIGATING GRAND JURY OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY (MISC. NO. 809-11-47, C-13). APPEAL OF PHILADELPHIA RUST PROOF COMPANY, INC., THOMAS VEZZOSI, SR., THOMAS VEZZOSI, JR., AND RICHARD VEZZOSI


No. 498 E.D. Misc. Docket 1981, Petition for Review of the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia of September 16, 1981 and October 9, 1981.

COUNSEL

Marilyn J. Gelb, Philadelphia, for petitioner.

Robert B. Lawler, Chief, Appeals Div., Asst. Dist. Atty., Michele Goldfarb Lehr, Philadelphia, for respondents.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, Kauffman and Wilkinson, JJ. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Roberts

[ 496 Pa. Page 455]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is a petition for plenary review of two separate but related orders of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia entered on September 16, 1981, and October 9, 1981, in connection with the July 1, 1980 Investigating Grand Jury of Philadelphia County. This Court heard oral argument on October 28, 1981. We accept plenary jurisdiction, see 42 Pa.C.S. ยง 726, and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I

Upon application of respondent District Attorney's Office of Philadelphia, the grand jury was authorized to investigate "allegations that Philadelphia Rust Proof Co., Inc., or its employees or agents, obstructed or interfered with the Philadelphia Water Department's attempts to enforce compliance with its Wastewater Control Regulations by submitting or inviting reliance upon false information about the nature and contents of the wastewater from its plant located in the City of Philadelphia, and related and cognate offenses." Petitioner Thomas Vezzosi, Sr., president of Philadelphia Rust Proof Company, as well as petitioners Thomas Vezzosi, Jr., and Richard Vezzosi, employees of the company, were subpoenaed to testify and to produce documents before the grand jury.

The challenged order of September 16, 1981, denied petitioners' consolidated motions to quash the subpoenas, as well as their motions for protective orders to bar the disclosure of grand jury evidence by respondent. In these motions petitioners

[ 496 Pa. Page 456]

    claimed that respondent would improperly disclose evidence to the Philadelphia Law Department, plaintiff in a civil equity action filed against petitioners to obtain relief for alleged violations of the Philadelphia Code and Philadelphia Water Department regulations. In support of the subpoenas, respondent filed an affidavit in which it revealed the existence of an order entered by the supervising judge on May 14, 1981.*fn1 The order authorized respondent to disclose evidence obtained by the grand jury to the Philadelphia Law Department:

"ORDER

AND NOW, to wit, this 14 day of May, 1981 an ORDER is hereby entered approving disclosure to the Philadelphia Law Department of all testimony of witnesses and physical evidence (including any scientific evidence) obtained by the Investigating Grand Jury regarding the obstruction and interference by Philadelphia Rust-Proof Co., Inc. and its employees and agents of the Philadelphia Water Department's attempts to enforce its Wastewater Control Regulations at the premises of Amber and Willard Streets in the City of Philadelphia."

At argument on the motions, respondent District Attorney's Office further informed petitioners that the court had also entered an earlier order authorizing disclosure of grand jury materials to members of another unit of city government, the Philadelphia Water Department. Unlike the May 14 order, this order has not been made a part of the record. Respondent asserts, however, that this order authorized ...


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