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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Taheir Jermaine Brown

June 6, 2012


Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of July 19, 2011, in the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, Criminal Division, at No: CP-06-CR-0001130-2009.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Strassburger, J.:




Taheir Jermaine Brown (Appellant) appeals from the judgment of sentence of three to five years' incarceration for his convictions for possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance (PWID).*fn1 We affirm.

The trial court summarized the facts of the case as follows.

On February 26, 2009, Trooper Brian R. Overcash (Trooper Overcash) was conducting interdictions at a Federal Express facility in Reading, Pennsylvania as part of his duties as a Pennsylvania State Trooper. Trooper Overcash pulled two suspicious packages from the line of parcels. The packages were shipped from a company called Southern Charm in Auburn, Washington. The two boxes were being sent to April Newmann at 1431 Palm Street, Reading, Pennsylvania, a residential address in the City of Reading. Trooper Overcash brought in a canine unit and conducted a lineup of several packages, including the suspicious two from Washington State. The dog alerted on both parcels indicating that he detected an odor of some form of illegal substance.

After obtaining a search warrant for the boxes, Trooper Overcash opened the two parcels and found marijuana covered in black plastic wrapping. The first package weighed 16.8 pounds and the second package weighed 15.0 pounds for a total combined weight of 31.8 pounds.

Trooper Overcash, along with several members of the Reading Police Vice Unit, set up a controlled delivery of the two packages. Trooper Todd Rudy (Trooper Rudy) posed as a FedEx delivery driver and took the two parcels to the delivery address at 1431 Palm Street in Reading. Trooper Rudy wore a FedEx uniform and drove a van with magnetic FedEx labels. When Trooper Rudy arrived at the delivery address around 12:30 pm, he rang the doorbell. When no one answered, Trooper Rudy knocked on the front door. [Appellant] answered the front door.

Trooper Rudy stated that he had a delivery for the Newmanns. [Appellant] identified himself as Taheir Brown and stated that he would accept the packages for the Newmanns. Trooper Rudy apologized for the packages being late. [Appellant] replied that he had been waiting for the packages, but was not expecting them until 12:30 pm.

Trooper Rudy returned to his vehicle to change and assist Reading police with the search of [Appellant]'s home. By the time Trooper Rudy returned to the scene, approximately fifteen minutes after the delivery, Reading Police Officers from the Vice Unit had already made entry into the home. Trooper Rudy found one of the boxes of marijuana had already been covered with a blanket and stowed away in an upstairs linen closet. [Appellant] claims he hid the box so his two-year-old son would not damage the parcel. The second box was still on the living room floor.

Criminal Investigator Leporace (Investigator Leporace) testified for the Commonwealth as an expert witness. Investigator Leporace opined that the marijuana recovered from the two boxes in [Appellant's] home on February 26, 2009 were possessed with intent to deliver. Investigator Leporace testified that, in his experience, dealers do not ship large amounts of controlled substances to the same place where the drugs are re- packaged for sale. "[I]t's a dangerous endeavor to have a package delivered to a residence where you have your whole operation because if a package gets taken off, like this, you don't want your own operation to be taken over or to be found." Investigator Leporace reported that the lack of any drug paraphernalia found in Mr. Brown's house did not influence his opinion. Rather, it supports the theory that [Appellant] was part of a larger operation and possessed the 31.8 pounds of marijuana with the intent to deliver.

On the witness stand, Investigator Leporace noted that the marijuana was high-end marijuana, not regular marijuana, as he initially suspected. Investigator Leporace estimated that high- end marijuana would sell for two hundred and eighty thousand dollars ($280,000) on the streets of Reading, at twenty dollars per gram.

[Appellant] introduced three character witnesses who testified regarding [Appellant's] reputation in the community as a law-abiding citizen. Robert Hyland testified as [Appellant's] first character witness. [Appellant] worked as a server in the dietary department of a residential care and nursing home under the supervision of Mr. Hyland. Mr. Hyland testified that approximately twenty-five residents in this facility still knew [Appellant] at the time of trial and would say he has a reputation for being a law-abiding citizen. Mr. Hyland, however, did not socialize with [Appellant] outside of work, neither did any of the residents. Mr. Hyland stated that he ...

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