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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. ROLAND CHECCA (04/12/85)

filed: April 12, 1985.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
v.
ROLAND CHECCA, APPELLANT



No. 361 Pittsburgh, 1983, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence entered in the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Criminal No. 1153 of 1981.

COUNSEL

Robert C. Brady, Washington, for appellant.

Lawrence N. Claus, Pittsburgh, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Brosky, Rowley and Johnson, JJ.

Author: Rowley

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 487]

OPINION OF THE COURT

This is a direct appeal from a Judgment of Sentence imposing a term of 11 and 1/2 to 24 months imprisonment and payment of the costs of prosecution, following appellant's conviction by a jury of Official Oppression. Upon a careful review of the record and consideration of the numerous issues raised by appellant, we affirm.

The record herein reveals the following facts. On August 26, 1981, John Zimmerman and Patty Teyssier were involved in an altercation in McDonald Borough that resulted in the arrest of Zimmerman. In the presence of Cecil Township Police officers, Ms. Teyssier was ordered to get into her car and drive home. On her way home, she was arrested for Driving Under the Influence (D.W.I.) by the same officers from Cecil Township. Administration of a breathalyzer test revealed a blood alcohol content of .09. An affidavit of probable cause for Ms. Teyssier's arrest was issued by appellant, Roland Checca, a District Justice in Washington County, on the same day.

On September 2, 1981, Ms. Teyssier attended a hearing before Mr. Checca regarding the charges filed against Zimmerman. Following the hearing, Ms. Teyssier asked Mr. Checca about the consequences of her arrest for driving under the influence on August 26, 1981. Ms. Teyssier expressed her concern about facing charges for D.W.I. because she only had a few days left on probation concerning an unrelated offense. Mr. Checca testified at trial in this matter that he told Ms. Teyssier that he already knew about the circumstances of the incident and that he thought the charges would probably be dismissed. Mr. Checca further stated that Ms. Teyssier told him at that time that she would give him anything he wanted. (N.T. October 26 -- November 2, 1982 at 450).

Mr. Checca admitted that he called the Teyssier residence on September 4, 1981 and that he was told that Ms. Teyssier was at work. He then called Ms. Teyssier at work and

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 488]

    discussed her case with her. He further admitted that she agreed to come to his office at her convenience and that he probably had invited her to do so. On September 14, 1981, Ms. Teyssier called Mr. Checca's office and he told her to come down between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. Mr. Checca testified that he had called Ms. Teyssier because he wanted to see her and to be alone with her. He admitted that he was interested and excited by her because she was young and he had never had a young girl approach him before. He admitted that he wanted to have a private conversation with her and for that reason he asked her to come to his office on September 14, 1981. When Ms. Teyssier arrived, she met Mr. Checca in the hearing room and they discussed the D.W.I. charges. Mr. Checca then asked her to go into his back office. Ms. Teyssier testified that Mr. Checca hugged and touched her and exposed himself to her. She further stated that he attempted to engage her in further sexual contact which she resisted. Ms. Teyssier testified that Mr. Checca asked her for a sexual favor and that he then asked her about different types of sexual acts. She also testified that Mr. Checca told her that he had done this sort of thing before.

Mr. Checca testified that the incident occurred a little differently. He stated that he asked Ms. Teyssier if the remark "anything he wanted" included sex and she replied affirmatively. He recounted that they then discussed sexual preferences and that she initiated the sexual contact. He insisted that he gave Ms. Teyssier no indication that the sexual encounter had anything to do with the D.W.I. charges and that he was not using those charges as leverage against her.

On September 15, 1981, Ms. Teyssier told Police Chief Schweers of McDonald Borough about the incident in Mr. Checca's office. Thereafter, on September 24, 1981, Ms. Teyssier met with Elaine Surma, an agent from the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office. Ms. Teyssier told Agent Surma what had occurred and as a result of her statement an investigation ensued. Ms. Teyssier consented

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 489]

    to electronic interception of her future conversations with Mr. Checca and electronic surveillance was authorized by Deputy Attorney General James West and Deputy Attorney General Henry Barr.

On September 24, 1981, Ms. Teyssier placed a call to Mr. Checca from Chief Schweers' office which was electronically recorded by Agent Surma. A convenient time for a meeting could not be established on that day.

On September 28, 1981, the day set for Ms. Teyssier's hearing before Mr. Checca on the D.W.I. charges, she placed a second call to Mr. Checca which was again recorded. Mr. Checca requested that she come to his office at noon to discuss the hearing which was to begin at 3:00 p.m. Ms. Teyssier arrived at Mr. Checca's office at approximately 12:30 p.m. She was wearing a body transmitter that enabled Agent Surma to monitor and record the conversation. Ms. Teyssier first encountered Mr. Checca in the hearing room and they then proceeded to his back office. Mr. Checca showed Ms. Teyssier boxes containing pornographic films that he had in a drawer in his office. Ms. Teyssier and Mr. Checca then discussed the sexual acts depicted on the boxcovers. Ms. Teyssier testified that Mr. Checca told her that he would not force her into anything. When he tried to touch her, Ms. Teyssier asked him to stop and told him that she would engage in sexual activity if he would dismiss the charges against her. At the hearing held later on the same day, the charges against Ms. Teyssier were dismissed.

Based on the tapes and the previous incidents described by Ms. Teyssier, a criminal complaint was filed on October 15, 1981. Mr. Checca was charged with Indecent Exposure, Indecent Assault, Solicitation to Commit Deviate Sexual Intercourse, Official Oppression and Bribery.*fn1 A search warrant for the office of Mr. Checca was also executed on October 15, 1981. Mr. ...


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