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UNITED STATES v. LANIGAN

March 18, 1982

UNITED STATES of America
v.
Paul LANIGAN, Gerald Thorpe



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

MEMORANDUM n*

The indictment in this case charged the defendants with causing the mails to be used for the purpose of executing a scheme to defraud in violation of Title 18, Section 1341 of the United States Code. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 23(a), the defendants each waived their right to a jury trial.

 On March 9 and March 10, 1982, the non-jury trial was held before this Court. The indictment in this case charges defendant Paul Lanigan with five counts of mail fraud in violation of Title 18, Section 1341 of the United States Code and the Court's verdict is that defendant Paul Lanigan is guilty as to Count I, guilty as to Count II, guilty as to Count III, guilty as to Count IV, and guilty as to Count V of the indictment. The indictment in this case also charges defendant Gerald Thorpe with four counts of mail fraud in violation of Title 18, Section 1341 of the United States Code and the Court's verdict as to defendant Gerald Thorpe is guilty on Count I, guilty on Count II, guilty on Count III, and guilty on Count IV.

 Although at the close of evidence, neither defendant requested the Court to find the facts specially, in view of the legal issues presented in this case, the Court has nevertheless determined to make specific findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of its verdicts of guilty.

 On the basis of the evidence presented at trial, the Court finds that the Government proved the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt:

 Defendants Paul Lanigan and Gerald Thorpe were engaged in the operation of a waste and trash dump known as Moyer's Landfill. They each owned 25 percent interest in the Landfill during the years 1974 through July 1979, at which time Thorpe disposed of his interest and terminated his connection with the Landfill. Mr. Lanigan, however, continued to operate the Landfill through 1980. From 1974 through July 1979, both Paul Lanigan and Gerald Thorpe were actively involved in the daily operations of Moyer's Landfill, which was located at Moyer Road, Lower Providence Township, Montgomery County, in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

 From 1974 until the present, Plymouth Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania has been and continues to be a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. From January 1976 until November 1981, Wilbur Sibley was an employee of Plymouth Township. He was in charge of the Sanitation Department, and in this position was the Township official who supervised the Township employees who collected waste and trash and it was he who made the determination as to where the Township trucks would dump the waste and trash. Mr. Sibley had absolute discretion to determine which Landfill the Township trucks would use for dumping waste. The dumpsites or Landfills to which the trash was taken submitted bills to Plymouth Township and the amount of bills depended on the volume of trash disposed at the particular Landfill. As the head of the Sanitation Department, Mr. Sibley had the responsibility of checking these bills and submitting them to the Township Council for final approval and payment. The Council of Plymouth Township would approve these bills for payment on the basis of Mr. Sibley's approval and recommendation. At the direction of the Council, checks of the Township were issued in the amount of the approved bills and placed in the United States Mail for delivery to Moyer's Landfill. Defendants Lanigan and Thorpe were well aware that Moyer's Landfill would be paid by these checks sent through the United States Mail. Among the checks which the defendants received from Plymouth Township were:

 
(a) a check in the amount of $ 2,400 which was mailed to Moyer's Landfill on or about November 8, 1976;
 
(b) a check in the amount of $ 2,910 which was mailed to Moyer's Landfill on or about August 8, 1977;
 
(c) a check in the amount of $ 2,820 which was mailed to Moyer's Landfill on or about April 10, 1978;
 
(d) a check in the amount of $ 3,103.57 which was mailed to Moyer's Landfill on or about April 9, 1979;
 
(e) a check in the amount of $ 3,300 which was mailed to Moyer's Landfill on or about May 14, 1980.

 From January 1975 until April 1981, Mr. Sibley directed that the Township's waste be taken either to Moyer's Landfill or the Montgomery County Landfill. During this period, however, the vast majority of the Township's waste went to Moyer's Landfill. Although Moyer's Landfill was farther away from Plymouth Township than was the Montgomery County Landfill, the charge for dumping at Moyer's was less than the dumping charge at Montgomery.

 In December 1974 or January 1975, defendants Paul Lanigan and Gerald Thorpe approached Wilbur Sibley for the purpose of soliciting the business of Plymouth Township for Moyer's Landfill. Prior to this time, Moyer's had received some Plymouth Township business but Lanigan and Thorpe sought to acquire for Moyer's a greater share of the Township's waste disposal ...


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