Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of January 18, 1985 in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Criminal No. 50 of 1982. Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of January 18, 1985 in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Criminal No. 51 of 1982.
Charles P. Gelso, Wilkes-Barre, for appellants.
Robert A. Graci, Assistant District Attorney, Wilkes-Barre, for Com., appellee.
Cavanaugh, McEwen and Cercone, JJ.
[ 355 Pa. Super. Page 82]
Appellants Clapps and Weiskerger were determined by a jury to be guilty of conspiracy,*fn1 bribery*fn2 and violating the Public Officials Ethics Act.*fn3 Appellant Clapps was sentenced to serve a term of imprisonment of from six months to twenty-three and one-half months to be followed by a one year term of probation. Appellant Weiskerger was sentenced to serve a term of three years probation. We reverse the judgments of sentence and direct that each appellant be granted a new trial.
Both appellants assert in this appeal that the trial court erred in its charge to the jury upon the defense of entrapment. Each of the two appellants provides separate further assertions: appellant Clapps asserts that the uncontradicted evidence in the case established entrapment as a matter of law and that, therefore, he should be discharged; appellant Weiskerger argues that the trial court erred by permitting the prosecutor in his closing argument to comment upon the
[ 355 Pa. Super. Page 83]
fact that appellants invoked their constitutional right to remain silent.
The case focuses upon four individuals: Walter Placek, Barbara Placek, his wife, and, of course, the two appellants. The asserted role of each, as revealed by the evidence at trial, may be briefly summarized as follows:
WALTER PLACEK was a member of the Wyoming Area School Board during the years that preceded the general election of November, 1979, and, during the years preceding that election, was a member of the coalition that composed the majority of the School Board. While a member of that majority coalition, both he and his wife found themselves beneficiaries of improved professional opportunities.
BARBARA PLACEK was the wife of Walter Placek and, while he was a member of the majority coalition of the Wyoming Area School Board during the years preceding the general election of November, 1979, she was the recipient of special employment attention at the County of Luzerne senior citizen facility known as Valley Crest Nursing Home. She was granted a two year leave so as to secure a Bachelor's Degree and was thereafter appointed to the newly created position of Director of the Bureau of Aging at the County nursing home. When she was removed from that job by reason of her failure to meet the qualifications for that position, a further job was created at the County nursing home, that of Director of Program Development, and she was appointed to that position.
APPELLANT CLAPPS was a prominent political figure who held a position of leadership in area Democratic affairs, as well as ...