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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PHILIP M. WHITE (03/04/83)

filed: March 4, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
PHILIP M. WHITE



No. 821 Philadelphia, 1981, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division, Criminal Section, Philadelphia County, August Sessions, 1980, No. 345.

COUNSEL

Eric I. B. Beller, Assistant District Attorney, Philadelphia, for Commonwealth, appellant.

Richard E. Johnson, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Wieand, Beck and Montemuro, JJ.

Author: Montemuro

[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 149]

The primary issue in this appeal is whether an informant's prior information which led to six arrests, with contraband seized in all cases, is sufficient to establish the informant's reliability.

On April 17, 1980, Corporal Clifford Ludd of the Philadelphia Narcotics Unit appeared before the Honorable Michael Bednarek and obtained a search warrant for the appellee, Philip White's apartment, located on the second floor of 3336 North 5th Street, Philadelphia. Seized pursuant to this warrant were approximately two (2) ounces of heroin, various items used to cut and package the drug, a .22 caliber rifle, and $277.00 in U.S. currency. The appellee was arrested and charged with possession and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance.*fn1 The affidavit in support of probable cause recited the following:

On 4-15-80, I received information from a reliable informant who in the past six (6) months has given me information along with other members of the Narcotics Unit leading to six (6) arrest [sic] and three (3) purchases with contraband being seized in all cases, and the arrest [sic] awaiting trial. My informant stated that between 4-13-80 and 4-15-80 in the P.M. hours (the exact date and time being omitted to protect the identity of the informant) that he/she was inside the above listed location and he/she did observe the above named in possession of numerous glazzine packets containing a powder (which the named identified as HEROIN), tin foil wrapped packets (which the named identified as METH), and manila envelopes which the named identified as (Marihuana) [sic]. My informant futher [sic] stated that he/she did observe the named sell these items to various persons in exchange for U.S. Currency. As a result of this information I did go to that location on 4-15-80 in the P.M. hours (between 8:00 PM and 9:30 PM) and conduct [sic] a surveillance of same at which time I observed four (4) persons go to the location enter stay a few minutes and

[ 311 Pa. Super. Page 150]

    leave. Therefore due to the reliability of my informant, and my surveillance, I believe that the named in [sic] involved in the dispensing and storage of Controlled Substances from inside the location, and that this Warrant should be granted.

The appellee filed a pre-trial motion to suppress the physical evidence seized pursuant to the search warrant.

At the suppression hearing conducted on March 9, 1981, the Honorable Paul Silverstein ruled to quash the warrant on the ground that the Commonwealth had not demonstrated the credibility of the informant. The Commonwealth appeals from this ruling maintaining that the informant's information which previously led to six arrests in conjunction with Corporal Ludd's personal surveillance was sufficient to establish the credibility of the informant or the reliability of the information.*fn2 The appellee argues that the affidavit did not set forth enough information to show that the informant had knowledge of sufficient facts to conclude that the suspect was engaged in criminal activity and that the affiant is not justified in his belief that the informant is trustworthy.

The constitutional guidelines for issuing a search warrant when probable cause is based on hearsay ...


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