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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. JOANNE RODRIQUEZ (07/24/89)

filed: July 24, 1989.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
JOANNE RODRIQUEZ, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas of York County, Criminal Division at No. 1985 C.A. 1987.

COUNSEL

Robert B. Evanick, Public Defender, York, for appellant.

Janice M. Gottshall, Asst. Dist. Atty., York, for Com., appellee.

Rowley, Popovich and Johnson, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 387 Pa. Super. Page 273]

This case involves an appeal from the judgment of sentence (eight to twenty-three months imprisonment) for possession with intent to deliver cocaine by the appellant, Joanne Rodriquez.*fn1

On appeal, the appellant's argument centers upon the lower court's denial of her motion to suppress evidence removed from her purse during a drug raid of her apartment by police.

In such a context, we are required to consider only the evidence of the appellee (herein, the Commonwealth), and so much of the evidence of the appellant (herein, the defendant) which, as read in the context of the record as a whole, remains uncontradicted. Commonwealth v. White, 358 Pa. Super. 120, 516 A.2d 1211, 1212 (1986). So viewed, the record indicates that on July 14, 1987, a confidential informant advised York City Police Lieutenant G. Edward Flanagan that a "drug vending operation" was taking place at 405 South George Street, and that it was being carried on by a Puerto Rican female.

The police's efforts to make a controlled buy on July 14th proved unsuccessful. However, the following evening, at approximately 1:00-1:15 a.m., the same informant told the police: ". . . they were again selling drugs at that location."

The police drove the informant to 405 South George Street to make a drug purchase with $25.00 advanced by the authorities. When the informant returned from the exchange, he gave police a packet which was field-tested (using the Cobalt Thiocyanate kit) and found to be cocaine. He also proceeded to give the police a detailed physical description of the male individual who sold him the drug and that there were six to seven people in the apartment.

[ 387 Pa. Super. Page 274]

It was at this point that the informant stated to the police that the group at 405 South George Street was leaving "to go to a speakeasy . . . to get rid of the solid drugs."

Lieutenant Flanagan gathered other officers "as quickly as possible" and told them about the drug purchase from a Puerto Rican male (by the name of "Cheeco") and that there was a Puerto Rican female living at the apartment who also might have been selling drugs.

Once at the scene, Lieutenant Flanagan and another officer stationed themselves at the back door of the apartment, while Officers Ronald Mehring and James MacBride were to approach the apartment from the front. According to Officer Mehring, as he walked toward the apartment, he saw three Hispanic females standing on the steps of the apartment entrance. No sooner had the two officers reached the steps than Officer MacBride caught a packet (containing what appeared to be a drug) thrown from the apartment window. As told by Officer Mehring:

Then [he] asked if anyone lived there. [The appellant] indicated that she did. And [he] ushered the three Hispanic females into the house. It wasn't until after [they] had walked over where the door would shut that [he] saw a pocketbook laying [sic] on the steps there. Since [he] was ushering the three Hispanic females inside, [he] figured it belonged to one of them. [He] picked it up.

Once inside the house, [he] asked whose pocketbook it was. [The appellant] indicated it was her pocketbook.

He searched it for possible weapons. [His] intention was to return the pocketbook to [the appellant]. There were no weapons in it, but [he] found the drugs.

Specifically, [he] found a plastic bottle which had the [appellant's] name and a pharmacy on it and contained four aluminum packets with a white substance in each packet.

The content of the plastics tested positive for cocaine, and various denominations of money ...


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