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MICHAEL FRIZALONE v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/31/87)

decided: December 31, 1987.

MICHAEL FRIZALONE, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, PENNSYLVANIA STATE HARNESS RACING COMMISSION ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania State Harness Racing Commission in the case of In Re: Michael Frizalone, dated October 4, 1985.

COUNSEL

Joseph J. Prociak, for petitioner.

John B. Hannum, Jr., for respondent.

Judges MacPhail and Colins, and Senior Judge Narick, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Colins.

Author: Colins

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 286]

Michael Frizalone (petitioner) petitions for review of an adjudication of the Pennsylvania State Harness Racing Commission (Commission) which, on October 4, 1985, suspended his racing license for the remainder of the 1985 racing season. We affirm.

Petitioner was the driver of "Boardwalk Fella," the number one horse in the ninth race at Pocono Downs on August 29, 1985. At the conclusion of that race in which "Boardwalk Fella" finished sixth, petitioner received notice to appear on August 30, 1985, before Pocono's Presiding Judge William Ridgway, for alleged violations of Harness Racing Commission Rules, §§ 18-5(a), 18-5(c), and 18-1(g).*fn1 The judge's decision to suspend

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 287]

    petitioner's license was affirmed by the Commission on October 4, 1985. It is the decision of the October 4, 1985, Commission order that is before this Court.

Our scope of review is limited to determining whether there has been a violation of constitutional rights, an error of law committed, or whether the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence. Helad Farms v. State Harness Racing Commission, 79 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 314, 470 A.2d 181 (1984).

The petitioner initially argues that he was not granted a hearing in accordance with 58 Pa. Code § 183.456(b)(3), because his notice of the hearing did not contain a "clear and concise factual statement sufficient to inform [petitioner] with reasonable definiteness of the type of acts or practices alleged to have been committed" and, furthermore, that the notice given petitioner was not signed. The Commission counters petitioner's argument in stating the applicable provisions are 58 Pa. Code §§ 183.481 and 183.482. Section 183.481 entitled "Notice required" states: "Before any penalty may be imposed by a Judge under the provisions of this subpart, notice in writing must be given to the party to be charged with a violation." Section 183.482 entitled "Contents of notice" states: "The notice required by § 183.481 of this title . . . hereof shall indicate: (1) the infraction for which he is charged; and (2) the time and place of hearing."

[ 112 Pa. Commw. Page 288]

This Court has continually stated that an agency's interpretation of its own rules is entitled to great weight. We agree with the Commission that petitioner was cited under the heading "Procedure Before Judges" and not the heading "Practice Before the Commission," as petitioner argues. A review of the notice given to petitioner reveals compliance with the applicable code sections in that it contains in writing the infraction for which he is charged and the time and place of the ...


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