Bert M. Moldovan, McKeesport, for appellant.
Robert L. Eberhardt, Deputy District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Cercone, President Judge, and Brosky and Montemuro, JJ.
[ 315 Pa. Super. Page 155]
This is an appeal from a judgment of sentence entered by the Honorable James F. Clarke in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. The appellant, Joseph John Cecchini, was tried without a jury and convicted of Fraudulent Dealing in Vehicles with Removed or Falsified Numbers and with Dealing in Vehicles with Removed or Falsified Numbers, both in violation of the Commonwealth Motor Vehicle Code.*fn1 Sentence was suspended and the appellant was released on probation for three years, ordered to pay costs of prosecution and to make restitution in the sum of Seventy-two hundred sixty ($7,260.00) dollars to Patrick DiPerna. Post-verdict motions for new trial and arrest of judgment were denied.
The charges arose out of a complaint from Patrick DiPerna, a self-employed resident of the City of McKeesport. Mr. DiPerna claimed that in April of 1978 he purchased a 1975 Lincoln Continental 2-door coupe automobile from the appellant. At the time of the purchase, Mr. DiPerna was accompanied by his brother. Mr. DiPerna testified that the agreed sale price was $5,500.00, which Mr. DiPerna was to pay in $200.00 weekly installments after paying $400.00 cash down. Mr. DiPerna said that the appellant had assured him that all "papers" would be taken care of through a friend of the appellant's at the "3 A's." The appellant represented to Mr. DiPerna that the Lincoln automobile was owned by the appellant's wife. The buyer made payments by check made out to "cash" and the appellant called at the buyer's house regularly every Friday to pick up the payment checks. All of the checks bore the appellant's endorsement with the exception of a few which were endorsed by one Chester Cottone and one which the appellant endorsed jointly with Chester Cottone. The total payment made by check was $6,860.00, which when added to the $400.00 cash payment, made a total of $7,260.00. While the original agreed price was for $5,500.00, the appellant said to
[ 315 Pa. Super. Page 156]
Mr. DiPerna that the difference in the amounts was for "financing the deal."
Mr. DiPerna also testified that the Pennsylvania State Police came to his house with a search warrant, looking for a stolen automobile and seized the Lincoln automobile pursuant to the warrant and had it towed away. Before this happened, Mr. DiPerna said that the appellant had contacted him and instructed him to get rid of the car because it was "hot," and to make a claim for loss under his insurance policy. Mr. DiPerna did not carry out this request.
Mr. DiPerna also testified that several hours after the State Police seized the Lincoln automobile, the appellant telephoned him at home and asked him to meet with him at a garage. The parties met, and during the course of this meeting Mr. DiPerna said that the appellant said to him, "Damm it, I told you to get rid of the car." DiPerna said that he had need of transportation so the appellant made available for him the use of a 1965 Cadillac automobile, but DiPerna said that it was not in fit condition to be on the road and it had to be returned to the appellant. DiPerna also said that he never received a title certificate for the car. The title certificate was exhibited showing an encumbrance of $3,500.00 in favor of the appellant and DiPerna's explanation for that amount as distinguished from the purchase price which he quoted was that the appellant had indicated to him that he had fixed the price at the lower figure in order to "beat the taxes."
DiPerna's brother, Carl, was called to testify and he said he was present with his brother when appellant was paid $400.00 cash down for the Lincoln automobile and heard the appellant say that he would take care of all of the paper work.
The Commonwealth also produced Edward Alvarez, a self-employed mechanic who operates a shop at his home and who said that he had been in business for fifteen years. This witness had two sheets of inspection station reports for the station he operated under No. ...