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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROBERT S. STAUFFER (12/30/82)

decided: December 30, 1982.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROBERT S. STAUFFER



No. 1541 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence in the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, Criminal Division at No. 79-10 680.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Wise, Williamsport, for appellant.

Kenneth D. Brown, District Attorney, Williamsport, submitted a brief on behalf of Commonwealth, appellee.

Spaeth, Cavanaugh and Montemuro, JJ.

Author: Spaeth

[ 309 Pa. Super. Page 179]

Appellant, a former Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, was convicted by a jury of unlawfully soliciting political contributions from classified civil service employees. On appeal from the judgment of sentence, he argues that: 1) the pre-trial judge erred in permitting the Commonwealth to amend the information to allege facts tolling the statute of limitations; 2) Section 905 of the Pennsylvania Civil Service Act, Act of August 5, 1941, P.L. 752, Art. IX, § 905, 71 P.S. § 741.905, is unconstitutional; 3) his prosecution was selective and discriminatory; 4) the trial judge erred in admitting into evidence testimony concerning count 12, which was barred by the statute of limitations; 5) the trial judge's charge to the jury was inadequate; and 6) the trial judge abused his discretion by sentencing appellant to imprisonment rather than probation. We are not persuaded by any of these arguments, and therefore affirm.

-1-

Section 905 of the Pennsylvania Civil Service Act, supra, provides:

No person shall orally or by written or printed communication, directly or indirectly, demand, solicit, collect or receive or be in any manner concerned in demanding, soliciting, collecting or receiving any money or valuable thing or any assessment, subscription or contribution, whether voluntary or involuntary, from any officer or employe in the classified service for any political purpose whatever. No person in the classified service shall orally or by written or printed communication, directly or indirectly, demand, solicit, collect or receive or be in any manner concerned in demanding, soliciting, collecting or receiving any money or valuable thing for any political purpose whatever. No person in the service of the Commonwealth shall remove, suspend, furlough, demote or promote or in any manner change the official status or compensation of any other person in the classified service or promise or threaten to do so for withholding or neglecting

[ 309 Pa. Super. Page 180]

    to make any contribution of money or service or other valuable thing for any political purpose. No person shall take part in preparing any political assessment, subscription or contribution with the intent that the same shall be sent or presented to or collected from any person in the classified service, and no person shall knowingly send or present, directly or indirectly, in person or by letter, any political assessment, subscription or contribution to, or request its payment by, any person in the classified service.

71 P.S. § 741.905.

Section 903 of the Act provides that a wilful or culpably negligent violation of Section 905 is a misdemeanor. 71 P.S. § 741.903.

Several witnesses, all public employees, testified that appellant, who was their superior, requested political contributions from them, usually once or twice a year around the time of elections. The Commonwealth presented 26 checks representing political contributions that the witnesses gave to appellant or mailed to the Committee Headquarters at his request. The amount of the checks ranged from $10 to $150. The checks were issued in the years 1975 through 1978, except for one check, which was dated September 28, 1973.*fn1 Each check was the basis of a separate count of unlawful solicitation of political contributions.

The original information charged that appellant did "unlawfully, while a classified civil service employee," solicit political contributions from another officer or employee in the classified service. As thus alleged, 16 of the 26 counts were barred by the two year statute of limitations. 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5552(a). Appellant, however, was not a classified civil service employee but a public officer. 42 ...


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