No. 1316 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Delaware County, No. 1088-1979
Robert F. Pappano, Assistant Public Defender, Media, for appellant.
Vram Nedurian, Jr., District Attorney, Media, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Wieand, Cirillo and Popovich, JJ.
[ 306 Pa. Super. Page 486]
Frank Grabowski was convicted in separate trials of theft by receiving a stolen 1977 Chevrolet pickup truck and dealing with a 1978 Cadillac Seville with falsified numbers.*fn1 On direct appeal, he contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain these convictions. He also contends that the falsified Cadillac vehicle identification number (VIN) was obtained by police as a result of an unlawful search and that the number, as well as evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant issued thereafter, should have been suppressed. There is no merit in these contentions, and the judgment of sentence, therefore, will be affirmed.
When appraising the sufficiency of evidence, we apply a two-step analysis. First, we must regard the evidence
[ 306 Pa. Super. Page 487]
in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, accepting as true all evidence upon which the fact finder could properly have based its verdict. Next, we inquire whether that evidence, together with all reasonable inferences drawn from it, was sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Commonwealth v. Carter, 304 Pa. Super. 142, 450 A.2d 142 (1982); Commonwealth v. Stockard, 489 Pa. 209, 212-213, 413 A.2d 1088, 1090 (1980); Commonwealth v. Allen, 287 Pa. Super. 88, 94, 429 A.2d 1113, 1115 (1981).
A Chevrolet truck owned by Acme Newspaper Company was stolen from Acme's parking lot in Lower Merion Township, Montgomery County, sometime between December 29, 1978 and January 2, 1979. Subsequently, the truck was observed by witnesses in the possession of appellant. On March 7, 1979, a state policeman observed the vehicle on Baltimore Avenue in East Lansdowne, Delaware County, where it had been parked in close proximity to appellant's apartment. It then bore Pennsylvania license plate number CB-41314. This registration had been issued for a 1965 Ford pickup truck registered in the name of Frank Grabowski. The validating sticker on the license plate had been backed with metal and appeared to have been cut from another license plate. A subsequent search of appellant's apartment produced the keys to the Chevrolet truck and also the registration and certificate of title for the aforementioned 1965 Ford truck. Appellant was not an employee of Acme Newspaper Company and had not been authorized to use its truck.
[ 306 Pa. Super. Page 488]
To prove theft by receiving stolen property, the Commonwealth was required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there had been a theft of the truck, that appellant had possession of the truck, and that appellant knew the truck had been stolen or had reason to believe that it had probably been stolen. Commonwealth v. Williams, 468 Pa. 357, 365, 362 A.2d 244, 248 (1976); Commonwealth v. Harrison, 289 Pa. Super. 126, 132, 432 A.2d 1083, 1086 (1981); Commonwealth v. Worrell, 277 Pa. Super. 386, 390, 419 A.2d 1199, 1201 (1980), aff'd, 493 Pa. 215, 425 A.2d 741 (1981); Commonwealth Page 488} v. Phillips, 258 Pa. Super. 109, 112, 392 A.2d 708, 709 (1978). Guilty knowledge, of course, may be established by circumstantial evidence. Commonwealth v. Williams, supra 468 Pa. at 365-66, 362 A.2d at 248-9; Commonwealth v. Henderson, 451 Pa. 452, 455, 304 A.2d 154, 156 (1973); Commonwealth v. Harrison, supra 289 Pa. Super. at 135, 432 A.2d at 1088; Commonwealth v. Worrell, supra 277 Pa. Super. at 391, 419 A.2d at 1201.
The evidence in the instant case was sufficient to prove that appellant had received the Chevrolet truck knowing that it had been stolen or having reason to believe that it had probably been stolen. A jury could infer guilty knowledge beyond a reasonable ...