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filed: August 22, 1988.


Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Criminal at No. CC86-02223A, 86-02226, 02227, 86-02538A.


Frank W. Ittel, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Edward M. Clark, Assistant District Attorney, Pittsburgh, for Com., appellee.

Cirillo, President Judge, and Beck and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 378 Pa. Super. Page 456]

This is an appeal from the judgments of sentence entered by the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division. On March 5, 1987, the appellant, John Grabowski, was sentenced on four counts of theft by receiving stolen property.*fn1 We affirm.

For the first time on appeal through his newly-appointed counsel, the appellant asserts that he was denied effective assistance of trial counsel on three grounds: 1) Trial counsel erroneously failed to file post-trial motions attacking the sufficiency of the evidence; 2) Trial counsel erroneously failed to object to the charge to the jury; and 3) Trial counsel erroneously failed to object to the admission of incompetent opinion evidence. Having reviewed the record and the parties' briefs, we find that the appellant has failed to prove his allegations of error.

The record reveals the following pertinent facts: On February 5, 1986, the appellant, who operated Superior Auto Body, an automobile repair business in Pittsburgh, was evicted from his place of business. During the eviction process, the Allegheny County Deputy Sheriff, who was supervising the eviction removal of the appellant's equipment and automobile parts, was told by one of the moving crew, Mark Loveland, that the vehicle serial numbers (VIN)

[ 378 Pa. Super. Page 457]

    had been removed from numerous inventory items. Mr. Loveland suspected that some of the parts may have been stolen. Accordingly, the Sheriff directed Mr. Loveland to contact the Pittsburgh Police Department.

At approximately 2:00 p.m. the same day, two Pittsburgh police detectives arrived at the body shop to investigate. Outside Superior Auto Body, the officers observed a flatbed truck loaded with automobile doors. Upon closer inspection, the detectives noticed that the VINs were removed from most of the doors. Believing removal of VINs to be a violation of federal law, the detectives entered the body shop to investigate further.

While inside the building, the investigators uncovered packing slips from inside automobile seats and from between the space between automobile roof and the cloth ceiling thereof. These packing slips reported the VINs of the cars upon which the seats and roofs were originally installed. The police also recorded the serial number of a word processor found on the premises. The VINs and the computer serial number were entered in the police computer. The results indicated that some of the VINs were from vehicles that had been reported stolen, and the word processor had also been reported stolen. Search warrants were then obtained, and the police seized the stolen parts and the word processor.

Several days later, the police were contacted by Charles Wilker, an investigator from the Erie Insurance Exchange. Wilker informed the police that a Pittsburgh parking citation had been issued to a Chevrolet Celebrity insured by Erie which had been reported stolen. Upon investigation, police determined that the citation was issued only hours after the reported time of the theft and the car was cited while parked within a block of Superior Auto Body. In addition, Wilker provided the police with a set of keys to the stolen car. The police then tried the keys in a Chevrolet Celebrity door and trunk that had been removed from Superior Auto Body and found that the keys opened the locks.

[ 378 Pa. Super. Page 458]

As a result of the investigation, the appellant was charged with six counts of theft by receiving stolen property: four counts involved auto parts found on the premises of Superior Auto Body; one count involved the door into which the keys fit; and one count involved the word processor. Demurrers were sustained as to two of the counts; involving auto parts seized at Superior Auto Body and the appellant was convicted of the remaining four. Post-trial motions were filed and denied. Mr. Grabowski was then sentenced to a term of incarceration ...

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