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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. PATRICIA COVERT (05/13/83)

submitted: May 13, 1983.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
PATRICIA COVERT, APPELLANT



No. 2134 Philadelphia 1981, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Delaware County, No. 1915 of 1980.

COUNSEL

Michael J. Malloy, Media, for appellant.

A. Sheldon Kovach, Assistant District Attorney, Media, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wickersham, Watkins and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Montgomery

[ 322 Pa. Super. Page 194]

This appeal arises from appellant's conviction by a jury of operating a lottery and her subsequent sentence of four (4) years probation and $1,000.00 fine.

Appellant asserts that evidence obtained as a result of a search of her residence pursuant to a warrant should have been suppressed. She specifically avers that the affidavit failed to establish probable cause, as it was based upon stale information and the informant's reliability was not sufficiently established.

Four criteria are to be considered by an issuing authority when attempting to determine whether a substantial basis exists for crediting an informant's tip. They are (1) whether the informant has given prior reliable information; (2) whether the informant's story has been corroborated by any other sources; (3) whether the informant's statements are a declaration against penal interest; and, (4) whether the defendant's reputation supports the informant's tip. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Prosdocimo, 308 Pa. Super. 187,

[ 322 Pa. Super. Page 195454]

A.2d 84 (1982). There is no requirement, however, that each and every criterion be met in order to support a finding of reliability. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Mazzochetti, 299 Pa. Super. 447, 445 A.2d 1214 (1982).

In the matter before us, a gambling informant gave the name, address and telephone number of appellant. He informed the affiant that appellant was writing numbers via the telephone from her home for one Herman Fontaine, and gave particulars regarding the time, day and place of her weekly "settle up" with Fontaine. Furthermore, the informant described appellant's car, which he witnessed her use to carry gambling records, and gave a detailed description of the interior of Fontaine's home. An independent police inquiry confirmed the ownership of the car, carrying the license plate number supplied by the informant, by appellant. A surveillance of appellant's home revealed no unusual traffic in and out of the home, indicating to the affiant that any gambling must be done by telephone. The surveilling officers also observed the aforementioned automobile parked at appellant's address.

In addition to all of the above, the affiant supplied the names, dates and particulars of three specific instances in which the informant's reliable information led to arrest and seizure of evidence in gambling cases. In light of the foregoing, the informant's reliability is clear in that at least two of the four criteria cited above were satisfied, establishing a substantial basis for crediting his information.*fn1 Cf., Commonwealth v. Barba, 314 Pa. Super. 210, 215-16, 460 A.2d 1103, 1106 (1983).

As to appellant's contention that the affidavit was based upon stale information, it too is meritless. A determination of what constitutes staleness of information is to be made on a case by case basis; but, it has been held that ...


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