No. 03455 PHILA. 83, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence entered November 18, 1983 in the Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County, Criminal Division, at No. 81 Cr. 613.
Charles R. Witaconis, Assistant Public Defender, Scranton, for appellant.
Amil M. Minora, Assistant District Attorney, Scranton, for Commonwealth, appellee.
Cirillo, Hoffman, and Rosenwald, JJ.*fn*
[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 345]
This is an appeal from the judgment of sentence for arson and conspiracy. For the reasons stated herein, we vacate the conspiracy conviction but otherwise affirm.
On June 7, 1978, appellant's cottage on Chapman Lake was damaged by fire. Appellant collected approximately $21,000 from his insurance company for the fire damage. Evidence introduced at trial showed that appellant and some friends decided to set fire to the cottage in order to collect the insurance. While appellant and several men waited on the porch, one of the men set a fire under the kitchen stairs.
[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 346]
Appellant was not charged until three years later when one of his companions gave a statement to the police.
Following the jury trial which ended September 2, 1981, appellant was found guilty of arson and conspiracy to commit arson. Post-trial motions were timely filed and denied. On November 11, 1983, appellant was sentenced to a term of six months-to-two years imprisonment on the arson charge; the conspiracy charge was deemed to have merged. This appeal followed.
Appellant contends first that the trial court should have quashed the conspiracy charge because the statute of limitations had expired. Under 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 5552(a), in effect at the time appellant was charged, conspiracy carries a two-year statute of limitations. See Commonwealth v. Askin, 502 Pa. 575, 467 A.2d 820, 821 (1983). The lower court erroneously relied upon this Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Askin, 306 Pa. Superior Ct. 529, 452 A.2d 851 (1982), which the Supreme Court reversed on appeal. Here, because appellant was not charged with the conspiracy until March 10, 1981, the conspiracy conviction should be vacated.
Appellant contends next that the trial court erred in admitting a co-conspirator's statement where said co-conspirator did not testify, thereby denying appellant the right to confront witnesses against him. He specifically alleges that the court, in allowing George Cornell to testify regarding conversations between Cornell and Richard Young, erroneously admitted the statements made by Young during these conversations. We find no merit in this allegation. In Commonwealth v. Stoltzfus, 462 Pa. 43, 337 A.2d 873 (1975), our Supreme Court held that conversations between co-conspirators during the conspiracy are an exception to the hearsay rule and are therefore admissible even though the ...