No. 1537 Philadelphia 1982, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Northumberland County at No. CR-81-280.
Peter T. Campana, Williamsport, for appellant.
R. Michael Kaar, Assistant District Attorney, Milton, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Wickersham, Brosky and Hoffman, JJ.
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Appellant Joseph Walter "Mike" Egan, a former Sunbury police officer, was arrested and charged with theft by unlawful taking, theft by receiving stolen property, theft by extortion, theft by failure to make required disposition, obstructing administration of law, and aiding in the consummation of a crime. A jury trial commenced November 12, 1981 before the Honorable Samuel C. Ranck. Judge Ranck accurately sets forth the evidence adduced at trial in his opinion, as follows:
On a date in mid-December, 1980, Kenneth Merrill and Mark Bolig burglarized the Mahanoy and Mahantango Telephone Co. in Herndon, Pennsylvania and removed approximately $31,000 in currency and coins. The two split the money evenly and each gave $2,000 to a friend, Ricardo. Merrill quickly spent his share of the proceeds,
[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 476]
primarily to support his drug habits. Bolig spent some of his share, returned another portion of it to Merrill, and eventually was left with $5,820.
The [Appellant] became aware of the burglary, although it had occurred in an area outside the jurisdiction of the Sunbury Police, and became suspicious of Merrill. After questioning, Merrill admitted his involvement to the [Appellant] and stated he no longer had any of the money. Merrill informed the [Appellant] that Bolig was also involved and that he probably still had some of the money.
On February 13, 1981, the [Appellant] and a U.S. Postal Inspector accompanied Merrill to a federal magistrate's office in Williamsport on unrelated federal charges that the [Appellant] was responsible for uncovering. At the office in Williamsport, Merrill placed a call to Bolig's home but was unable to speak with him. The group arrived back in Sunbury at approximately 4:00 P.M. Merrill testified that the [Appellant] accompanied him to his home and a second call was make to Bolig, this one by the [Appellant]. Arrangements were made for the two to meet at the Sunbury Police Department. The meeting took place between 4:30 P.M. and 5:00 P.M. Bolig brought with him a friend, one Marvin Ulrich, but Ulrich did not go into the room where Bolig and the [Appellant] met. At that time the [Appellant] confronted Bolig with his knowledge of the phone company burglary and stated that if Bolig would turn the remaining money over to him, no charges would be filed and one need find out about it. Bolig left with Ulrich to get the money [although it was in fact in the car all the time] and returned between 5:30 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. to turn it over. Ulrich counted the money while in the car and ascertained there were 291 twenty dollar bills, or $5,820. Bolig entered the police station, asked for the [Appellant], and when finally alone with him, handed over the money.
The evidence thus far related is based nearly entirely on the testimony of Bolig and Merrill. Several other
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Commonwealth witnesses corroborated these events. Ulrich's testimony was substantially identical to Bolig's as to their movements and actions on February 13. Cheryl Reardon, the dispatcher on duty at the relevant times involved reinforced the testimony of these two. She stated that Ulrich and Bolig appeared at the police station on February 13 and asked for the [Appellant], that they left together, that Bolig returned later, and that he asked to see the [Appellant]. Sunbury Police Officer Michael Hogan testified that he saw the [Appellant] on February 13 at about 6:00 P.M. The [Appellant] was sitting in his car at the rear of the police station counting a large wad of bills.
The [Appellant] presented an alibi defense. He stated that after returning from Williamsport on February 13 with Merrill, he went into the police station and saw neither Merrill nor Bolig or Ulrich the rest of the afternoon and evening. He presented several witnesses to relate his movements late in the afternoon and early in the evening of that day, the substance of which was that he left the police station sometime after 5:00 P.M., and went to speak with a prospective customer of his demolition business, ...