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KING COAL COMPANY AND ROBERT WOODS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (05/16/84)

decided: May 16, 1984.

KING COAL COMPANY AND ROBERT WOODS, APPELLANTS
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Somerset County in the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. King Coal Company and Robert Woods, Nos. 27 through 38 Criminal, 1981.

COUNSEL

Bruno A. Muscatello, Stepanian & Muscatello, for appellants.

Stanley R. Geary, Assistant Counsel, for appellee.

Judges Rogers, Palladino and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 489]

The King Coal Company, a partnership, and Robert Woods, its managing partner, have appealed from judgments of sentence following a jury verdict finding each guilty of operating a surface mine without a drainage permit, violations of Section 602(b) of the Clean Streams Law, Act of June 22, 1937, P.L. 1987, as amended, 35 P.S. § 691.602(b).*fn1

On September 16, 1980 a surface mine inspector of the Commonwealth's Department of Environmental Resources (DER) determined that the King Coal Company was mining coal in an area not covered by its surface mining permit and reclamation bond.*fn2 The inspector ordered the off-permit mining to cease until a permit was obtained and bond posted. The foreman at the mine initially complied with the order, but after consulting with the company's headquarters, the unlawful mining resumed. The mine was reinspected on September 23, 1980 and September 25, 1980. Each time the inspector observed mining in an area outside of that covered by the company's surface mining permit and reclamation bond. The DER consequently suspended the company's mine drainage permit for its entire mining operation on September 26, 1980. The mine was reinspected on six separate occasions in early October, 1980, each time the inspector observed mining by the company despite the suspension of the mine drainage permit. On October 9, 1980 the DER

[ 82 Pa. Commw. Page 490]

    sought and obtained an injunction prohibiting mining at the site in the court of common pleas.

Robert Woods and the King Coal Company were each charged with six counts of willfully or negligently operating a surface mine without a mine drainage permit. Each count related to a day when mining was observed after the drainage permit was suspended; October 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of 1980. After a consolidated jury trial, Robert Woods was found guilty on five counts and the King Coal Company was convicted on all six. The appellants filed post-verdict motions which, after a hearing before the court en banc, were denied. Judgments of fines of $2500 and one year probation on each count were imposed on each defendant.

The appellants allege that: (1) the Crimes Code, 18 Pa. C.S. § 307, prohibits the bringing of criminal charges against the partnership, King Coal Company; (2) the Commonwealth failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Robert Woods operated a surface coal mine without a drainage permit; (3) the trial judge erred in refusing to recuse; and (4) the trial judge erred in refusing to grant their petition for settlement.

Section 307(c) of the Crimes Code, 18 Pa. C.S. § 307(c) provides, in pertinent part:

Unincorporated Associations -- an unincorporated association may be ...


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