502 F.2d 219 (8th Cir. 1974), 73-1162, United States v. Brick

Docket Nº:73-1162 to 73-1164, 73-1186 and 73-1192.
Citation:502 F.2d 219
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Albert Sander BRICK, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Harry John McCUTCHEON, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. George WEIDLICH, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Joseph SAMELSON, Appellant. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Ronald Garold WEINBERG, Appellant
Case Date:August 15, 1974
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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502 F.2d 219 (8th Cir. 1974)

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Albert Sander BRICK, Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Harry John McCUTCHEON, Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


George WEIDLICH, Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Joseph SAMELSON, Appellant.

UNITED STATES of America, Appellee,


Ronald Garold WEINBERG, Appellant.

Nos. 73-1162 to 73-1164, 73-1186 and 73-1192.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 15, 1974

Submitted Sept. 14, 1973.

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Murry L. Randall, St. Louis, Mo., for McCutcheon.

Robert J. Roster and Arthur S. Margulis, St. Louis, Mo., for Weinberg.

Irwin L. Ruzicka, St. Louis, Mo., for Samuelson.

Daniel J. O'Toole, Jr., St. Louis, Mo., for Weidlich.

Richard L. Daly and Robert A. Hampe, St. Louis, Mo., for Brick.

Donald J. Stohr, St. Louis, Mo., Thomas M. Vockrodt, Sp. Atty., Strike Force, St. Louis, Mo., Robert L. Keuch, Peter M. Shannon and Robert H. Plaxico, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., for appellee.

Before GIBSON and BRIGHT, Circuit Judges, and TALBOT SMITH, [*] Senior District Judge.

TALBOT SMITH, Senior District Judge.

This case involves an alleged violation of 18 U.S.C. 1955 (conducting an illegal gambling business) 1 and conspiracy with

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respect thereto. The case, presented upon a stipulation of facts, resulted in a finding of guilt. We affirm.

Viewing the facts and opinions stipulated in the light most favorable to the Government, and in more detail infra as required, it appears that the defendants, together with Aaron Singer and Harry Safren were engaged in the business of accepting bets on various horse races and athletic contests. Singer was the center of the enterprise. He telephoned the 'lines' 2 on particular sporting events to Safren and the defendants who, in turn, disseminated the lines to their various betting customers. Safren, and defendants Brick, Samuelson, and Weinberg then relayed to Singer the bets from their customers. It was agreed that each would receive 50 per cent of any profits generated by the bets he relayed, and, in addition, each was guaranteed the payment of any losses sustained in receiving the wagers. Weinberg, additionally, was paid an extra $50 per week by Singer whether or not any profits were made from his relayed bets. Defendants McCutcheon and Weidlich, having received bets from their customers, would 'lay off' 3 wagers with Singer. The telephone conversations between Singer and defendants pertained to the discussion of lines, to the arranging of receipts of bets and lay offs, and to their accounts with Singer and with various customers. The conversations frequently involved mention of the activities of various of the defendants.

Much of the evidence relied upon by the Government was obtained from the defendants' telephone conversations with Singer, intercepted pursuant to court order of January 8, 1971. Defendants challenge the order for non-compliance with the requirements of 18 U.S.C. 2518(1)(a); 4 specifically, the deficiencies charged are that the application for the order 'stated therein that Will Wilson was the authorizing official,' such authorization resting upon a letter purportedly from Wilson granting such authority, actually, however, having been signed by Henry Petersen, then Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division. The Court's order of interception, however, stated that the Attorney General was the authorizing authority and thus, argue defendants, the application and the order 'were in direct conflict' and in violation of 2518(1) (a) which requires that the application shall contain the identity of the officer so authorizing.

There is no doubt that we are confronted with contradictory facial representations. Unless we are to elevate form over substance, however, our inquiry focuses upon whether or not there has been a subversion of the congressional scheme. The intent of the statute, in view of its manifest intrusion upon the privacy of the individual which results from the approval of a wiretap, was to provide a safeguard in order to prevent abuse. To this end Congress 'intentionally restricted the category of federal officials who could give such approval to only the

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Attorney General himself or any Assistant Attorney General he might specially designate for that purpose.' 5

The record before us discloses that the Attorney General himself (according to the affidavit of his Executive Assistant, Mr. Sol Lindenbaum) 6 approved the request for the interception order, and personally initialed the memorandum dated January 8, 1971 to Will Wilson designating him to authorize Attorney Vockrodt to apply for the interception order. 7 Such a memorandum, in substantially identical terms, was construed in United States v. Chavez, supra note 5, 94 S.Ct. at 1852, as 'intended to reflect notice of approval by the Attorney General, though on its face it suggested that the decision whether to authorize the particular wiretap application would be made by Assistant Attorney General Wilson.' It is clear also that the signing of Wilson's name by his Deputy Assistant, here Henry Petersen, was regarded as simply a 'ministerial act' in view of Wilson's authorization to his Deputies to execute letters of authorization in every case in which he had been specially designated to authorize the applicant to make the application. 8

Upon the record before us, then, we have no more than a cosmetic blemish. The application recited that Will Wilson was the authorizing official, whereas in truch (and as recited in the District Court's order) it was the Attorney General. Such misidentification, regrettable though it is, does not render interceptions

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conducted under the order unlawful in any respect. As the Supreme Court held in Chavez, supra note 5, 94 S.Ct. at 1853, 'We agree with those other courts of appeal (citing, among others, United States v. Cox, 462 F.2d 1293, 1300 (8th Cir. 1972)) that misidentifying the Assistant Attorney General as the official authorizing the wiretap application to be made does not require suppression of wiretap evidence when the Attorney General himself has actually given the approval; * * *.' There were no grounds upon the facts presented justifying the granting of a motion to suppress the wiretap evidence.

With respect to the pen register 9 employed, the defendants argue that its installation was unauthorized by Title III. 10 Actually, as the legislative history of the act shows, 11 the use of pen registers was not prohibited by Title III. Nor is such use controlled by 47 U.S.C. 605, as amended. 12 In this situation it has been held that a pen register order based upon a showing of probable cause, even if considered to be a 'search' is not constitutionally offensive. Mr. Justice Powell's statement in concurrence and dissent in United States v. Giordano, 416 U.S. 505, 94 S.Ct. 1820, 1845, 40 L.Ed.2d 341 (1974) to the effect that 'because a pen register device is not subject to the provisions of Title III, the permissibility of its use by law enforcement authorities depends entirely on compliance with the constitutional requirements of the Fourth Amendment', had earlier expression in United States v. Focarile, 340 F.Supp. 1033, 1038-1040 (D.Md.1972) (Giordano, supra, in the District Court); United States v. Escandar, 319 F.Supp. 295, 303-304 (S.D.Fla.1970), remanded on other grounds sub nom. United States v. Robinson, 472 F.2d 973 (5th Cir. 1973) (en banc).

The affidavit submitted to the Court in the application of the Government for an order authorizing the interception of wire communications bears upon two issues before us, namely, probable cause

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under the Fourth Amendment for the wire interception and the use of the pen register as well as the 'need' 13 for the order prayed.

The affidavit presented, that of Robert J. Wilkinson, Special Agent of the F.B.I., set forth in detail his personal observations concerning the investigations conducted, as well as those of two unnamed informants, one of whom had provided reliable information for several years to Special Agents 'on a continuous basis concerning gambling...

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