No. 1139 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Delaware County, No. 201, 1980.
Kristine F. Hughey, Assistant District Attorney, Media, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Richard H. Anderson, Media, for appellee.
Price, Watkins and Montgomery, JJ.
[ 308 Pa. Super. Page 333]
This is an appeal by the Commonwealth from the order of the court below suppressing evidence which was seized pursuant to two warrants executed at appellee's residence and at appellee's bank.*fn1 We reverse the lower court's suppression order.
[ 308 Pa. Super. Page 334]
On August 16, 1979 a search warrant was issued to search the premises of 314 W. 21st Street, Chester, Pennsylvania. The affidavit reports allegations of Lillian Tonden, 72, that her bank accounts at Fidelity Bank had been depleted by more than $30,000 and that more than one thousand stock shares, valued at $50,000 had been redeemed by her granddaughter, Patricia Gannon, within the past 18 months without Mrs. Tonden's approval or consent. According to the affidavit, Mrs. Tonden, a widow, placed her granddaughter's name on her savings and checking accounts at Fidelity Bank to enable Mrs. Gannon to assist the elderly woman with her banking needs. Mrs. Gannon was given permission to withdraw money for the benefit of Mrs. Tonden only. After a brief visit to the hospital, Mrs. Tonden was informed by a friend that Mrs. Gannon had been spending "plenty of money." Mrs. Tonden checked her accounts at Fidelity and discovered that nearly $30,000 had been withdrawn. At that point she made inquiries to Sun Oil Company of whose stock she held 1322 shares. She was informed that over 1000 shares (valued at approximately $50 a share) had been redeemed by Mrs. Gannon.
Mrs. Tonden also told police that when she confronted her granddaughter concerning the bank accounts Mrs. Gannon returned $22,000. Mrs. Tonden did not confront her concerning the redeemed stock.
The affidavit also provides details concerning the police investigations following Mrs. Tonden's report. In August, 1979, Elizabeth Larken told the investigating detective that she had handled a transaction in which Patricia Gannon had sold 300 shares of the Sun Oil stock. Furthermore, Mrs. Tonden's attorney was questioned and reported that he had received confirmation from the bank of the depleted sum in Mrs. Tonden's savings account. Thereafter, under Mrs. Tonden's instruction, he placed a freeze on the accounts.
Based on this information the first warrant in question was issued for the home of Mrs. Gannon at 314 W. 21st Street, Chester, Pennsylvania authorizing the search for and seizure of "[c]opies of all bank records, statements,
[ 308 Pa. Super. Page 335]
cancelled checks, etc., from February of 1978 to present time." The execution of the warrant produced various bank receipts, records of transactions with Sun Oil Stock and papers referring to automobile purchases and loans.
The second warrant was issued pursuant to the identical probable cause affidavit four days later for the premises of Southeast National Bank, Operation Center, Concordville, Pennsylvania, authorizing the seizure of "Checks, Deposit Slips and any other bank documents regarding the account in the name of Matthew M. Gannon, Jr. and Patricia Ann Gannon, 314 W. 21st Street, Chester, Pennsylvania[,] Master # 0508306-8-00."
On January 2, 1980 appellee Matthew M. Gannon, Jr. was arrested and charged with 121 counts of theft and conspiracy in connection with the depletion of his wife's grandmother's assets. Gannon filed an omnibus pre-trial motion on which a hearing was held. On April 17, 1980, the Honorable Robert A. Wright of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware ...