Donald B. McCoy, Newtown, for appellant.
Seth Weber, Assistant District Attorney, Doylestown, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Rowley, McEwen and Hoffman, JJ.
[ 340 Pa. Super. Page 503]
This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence for possession of a counterfeit controlled substance and conspiracy.*fn1 Appellant contends, inter alia, that the evidence was insufficient to establish his possession of the contraband.*fn2 We agree and, accordingly, reverse.
In determining whether the evidence is sufficient in law to prove that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime or crimes charged, we must, after a verdict of guilty, accept as true all of the evidence, direct or circumstantial, and all reasonable inferences arising from the evidence, upon which the trier of fact could properly have based the verdict.
Commonwealth v. Fortune, 456 Pa. 365, 367, 318 A.2d 327, 328 (1974) (emphasis in original).
So viewed, the facts are as follows: On October 3, 1981, Detective Joseph Dunner of the Bensalem Township Police Department was contacted by Mrs. Marlene Drueding of Bensalem. Mrs. Drueding informed Dunner that her son Edward was a drug dealer and was going to meet a Chris DiBona at the Philadelphia International Airport that evening, and that DiBona would be arriving at approximately 5:15 p.m. on a Delta Airlines flight. Mrs. Drueding based her information on a telephone call that she had received from DiBona the night before and on a phone conversation between her son and DiBona which she had overheard that morning. During this conversation, Mrs. Drueding overheard her son tell DiBona to bring the "white stuff," a term
[ 340 Pa. Super. Page 504]
which she knew to be the vernacular for cocaine. At approximately 2:30 p.m., Mrs. Drueding again contacted Dunner to tell him that her son had left the house with Joseph Cobuccio in a green Ford automobile with Pennsylvania registration # DCR171.
Dunner, along with Pennsylvania State Trooper Kenneth Anthony and Bensalem Police Officer Charles Maddocks (who knew both Drueding and Cobuccio by sight), proceeded to the Philadelphia International Airport and began surveillance of the Delta Airlines Terminal. At approximately 4 p.m., Edward Drueding and Cobuccio were observed near a refreshment stand in the Delta area. At 5:35, Drueding was observed meeting with DiBona who had arrived on the Delta flight. Drueding and Cobuccio were then observed going to the Delta baggage claim area. Several minutes later, they were seen leaving the baggage claim area carrying a green satchel-type bag with an airline ticket on it. Approximately 10 minutes later, Drueding and Cobuccio were observed driving out of the airport parking area in a green Ford with Pennsylvania registration # DCR171. The car proceeded to the Airport Sheraton Hotel, approximately one mile away, and stopped there just long enough to pick up DiBona and appellant, Thomas Juliano. The vehicle then proceeded north on I-95 and was stopped on I-95 in Bensalem Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, by marked State Police and Bensalem Township Police units. When stopped, the car was occupied by four men: Cobuccio in the driver's seat, Drueding in the front passenger seat, appellant in the left rear passenger seat (behind the driver), and DiBona in the right rear passenger seat. After the four got out of the car, police observed through the car window a green bag sitting on the floor in front of the left rear seat which appellant had been occupying. After a warrant was obtained, the police searched the car and seized the green bag along with a brown briefcase. The briefcase was found to contain appellant's papers and other items, but no contraband. The green satchel was found to contain unmarked articles of
[ 340 Pa. Super. Page 505]
clothing and 2002 white tablets, later identified as ...