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Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. John Lynch

October 22, 2012

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA,
APPELLEE
v.
JOHN LYNCH, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence entered on January 14, 2011 in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Criminal Division, No. CP-51-CR-0010609-2010

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

J-S47002-12

BEFORE: MUSMANNO, BOWES, JJ. and McEWEN, P.J.E.

OPINION BY MUSMANNO, J.:

John Lynch ("Lynch") appeals from the judgment of sentence imposed following his conviction of harassment. See 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 2709(a). We affirm.

The trial court has set forth the relevant underlying facts as follows:

Five years prior to the date in question, [Patricia DeMarco ("DeMarco")] began to have interactions with [Lynch]. At this time, [DeMarco] was employed by Alfred Marroletti ["Marroletti"], a private attorney working for the Philadelphia Parking Authority ["PPA"], and her responsibilities included answering the telephones and the office door. [Lynch] owned several cars that had been impounded by the Parking Authority that he was contesting with Marroletti and various judges. [Lynch] had also filed lawsuits against, among others, the [PPA]. [Lynch] called Marroletti's office and spoke with [DeMarco] at least thirty times in these five years to discuss his impounded cars, each time threatening [DeMarco]. Other times[, Lynch] would come directly to the office and see [DeMarco] and drop off pleadings or "just voice his opinion." [DeMarco] described being afraid of [Lynch] during these interactions. Also during this time, a bolt was placed on the office door, which [DeMarco] learned had been placed there because of [Lynch's] actions related to [DeMarco]. At some point[,] a restraining order was taken out against [Lynch] for [DeMarco].

On Friday, April 16, 2011, [sic] [DeMarco] was employed as a legal assistant with the [PPA]. At approximately 5:15 p.m., after the office closed at 5:00 p.m., [DeMarco] answered a phone call from [Lynch]. He asked to speak with Dennis Weldon

["Weldon"], the legal counselor for the [PPA]. At this point, [DeMarco] told [Lynch] that Weldon was gone for the day.

[Lynch] said that he wanted to discuss the impounding of several of his cars; specifically, that he wanted returned to him tools out of his 1973 Ford truck. [Lynch] used a "very angry and very threatening" tone in a "loud" voice whereby he "yell[ed] into the phone" at [DeMarco]. [Lynch] told [DeMarco] that if he did not get his tools back, he would "com[e] with a shotgun and would shoot everyone at the [PPA]." [DeMarco] testified that the prior threats [Lynch] made when she worked for Marroletti, as well as [Lynch's] threat to use a shotgun to shoot everyone up, made her "afraid to leave the building" and she notified her manager.

Conversely, [Lynch] testified that it was a misunderstanding and that he told [DeMarco] that he was going to file "shotgun pleadings," by which he said he meant multiple complaints from different courts, against the director for the [PPA], Weldon, and [DeMarco].

Trial Court Opinion, 10/4/11, at 2-3 (citations omitted).

Lynch was arrested and charged with one count each of terroristic threats and harassment. On August 11, 2010, Lynch proceeded to a bench trial in the Philadelphia Municipal Court before the Honorable Thomas Gehert. After hearing the evidence, Judge Gehert found Lynch guilty of harassment and not guilty of terroristic threats. Judge Gehert sentenced Lynch to three to twelve months in prison with credit for time served and immediate parole. On August 19, 2010, Lynch filed an appeal for a trial de novo before the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

The de novo trial was initially listed for November 29, 2010; however, DeMarco did not appear. The trial court then scheduled the trial for the earliest possible date, January 14, 2011. Lynch filed a Motion to dismiss the charges under Pennsylvania Rule of Criminal Procedure 1013(G) because the de novo trial did not occur within 120 days of the appeal from the Municipal Court. The trial court denied this Motion. Thereafter, Lynch waived his right to a jury trial and proceeded to a bench trial. After hearing the evidence, the trial court found Lynch guilty of harassment. The trial court sentenced Lynch to time served to one year in prison ...


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