Christianson v. United States, No. 15299

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtSANBORN, COLLET, and VAN OOSTERHOUT, Circuit
Citation226 F.2d 646
Decision Date05 December 1955
Docket NumberNo. 15299,15300.
PartiesElmo T. CHRISTIANSON and Herman Paster, Appellants, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

226 F.2d 646 (1955)

Elmo T. CHRISTIANSON and Herman Paster, Appellants,
v.
UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.

Nos. 15299, 15300.

United States Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit.

November 1, 1955.

Rehearing Denied December 5, 1955.


226 F.2d 647

Philip R. Bangs, Grand Forks, N. D., and Alvin C. Strutz, Bismark, N. D., for appellant Elmo T. Christianson.

William P. Murphy, St. Paul, Minn. (John W. Graff, St. Paul, Minn., was with him on the brief), for appellant Herman Paster.

Oliver Dibble, Sp. Asst. to the Atty. Gen. (Warren Olney III, Asst. Atty. Gen., and William R. Mills, Asst. U. S. Atty., Bismarck, N. D., were with him on the brief), for appellee.

Before SANBORN, COLLET, and VAN OOSTERHOUT, Circuit Judges.

COLLET, Circuit Judge.

Defendants Elmo T. Christianson, Herman Paster, and Allan Nilva were indicted October 7, 1952, for conspiracy to violate the Johnson Act, 15 U.S.C.A. § 1172, which prohibits the interstate transportation of gambling devices. Defendant Christianson was elected Attorney General of the State of North Dakota, November 7, 1950. He took office January 2, 1951. Defendant Paster had for several years been extensively engaged in the sale, distribution and operation of coin-operated machines of various types, including gambling devices. See Nilva v. United States, 8 Cir., 212 F.2d 115. He operated through several personally-owned and controlled Minnesota corporations located at St. Paul, Minnesota, where he resided and

226 F.2d 648
maintained his place of business. Defendant Nilva was attorney for Paster and an executive of one of these corporations. Named in the indictment as coconspirators, but not made defendants, were James Brastrup, Neil Van Berkom, and Cyrus Bechtel. The conspiracy charged was a continuing one. The gravamen of the charge was that in November, 1950, the conspirators conspired and agreed to transport gambling devices into North Dakota where they would be later operated under the protection of the Attorney General-elect Christianson, after he assumed that office. The Johnson Act did not go into effect until January 2, 1951, hence the charged conspiracy was not unlawful under that Act at the time it was charged to have been initially conceived. Upon the first trial of this case in March, 1953, Defendant Nilva was acquitted. The jury failed to agree concerning the guilt of Christianson and Paster. A mistrial was ordered as to the latter, and they were again tried in March, 1954, when they were both convicted. From that conviction both appeal. Motions for a directed verdict were made at the close of the Government's case and again at the close of all the evidence

The most important question is whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the convictions. Christianson emphasizes the point that even if the evidence was sufficient to establish the agreement charged, and even if it later ripened into an unlawful conspiracy by reason of adherence to the original agreement and its performance and execution by overt acts subsequent to the effective date of the Johnson Act, there is no evidence to support the jury's finding that he was a party to any conspiracy to violate the Johnson Act after it became effective. Without conceding the existence of the original agreement charged to have been entered into in 1950, he insists that if the evidence was sufficient to sustain the jury's finding that such an agreement was entered into in 1950, the evidence conclusively shows a legal renunciation of or withdrawal from such agreement prior to the time anything was done to carry it out after the Johnson Act became effective.

Much of the evidence pointing to the defendants' guilt came from the testimony of the witness James Brastrup, who testified for the prosecution. Although Brastrup's credibility was vigorously attacked, it is reasonable to conclude from an examination of the rather extensive record that if the jury had not accepted as true at least the important features of Brastrup's testimony, there would have been no conviction. And since the jury must weigh the credibility of the testimony, we are relegated on appeal to an appraisal of its sufficiency and not its convincing force. As it has been so frequently stated, we must on appeal view all of the evidence in its most favorable aspect to the jury's verdict. It is in that light that the following facts are stated. Many facts appearing in the record which would be conducive to a conclusion opposed to the jury's verdict need not, for the reason stated, be recited. And for the benefit of defendants' counsel, we should observe that in their zeal to advance the cause of their clients' interests, they have in their briefs minimized the Government's evidence to the point of the exclusion of many salient facts, possibly overlooking our rules which require an objective presentation of the material facts.

There was substantial evidence that Christianson, then a candidate for Attorney General of North Dakota, went to Brastrup in July, 1950, asking for assistance in raising money for campaign expenses. Brastrup gave him $50.00 at that time. About ten days later, Brastrup and Christianson again discussed campaign funds, at which time Brastrup agreed to solicit such funds in return for favors from the Attorney General's office in the event of Christianson's election. In October, 1950, Christianson told Brastrup he absolutely had to have money. Brastrup told him that he, Brastrup, understood there was some "out-of-state" money available. Christianson said he did not care where it came from

226 F.2d 649
as he had to have it. Brastrup told Christianson about a slot machine distributor and operator who might furnish funds. Brastrup had heard of Paster but did not know him or know how to communicate with him. Brastrup made inquiry about Paster, obtained a letter of introduction to Paster and made an appointment by telephone to meet Paster in St. Paul. Brastrup met Paster in St. Paul, October 20, 1950, told Paster that he, Brastrup, was representing Christianson, who was sure to be elected Attorney General of North Dakota, and that Brastrup wanted money for Christianson's campaign. Paster told him that he, Paster, would not put up the money at that time, but that if Brastrup would put up the money and Christianson was elected, Paster would see that the money was paid back, that all Christianson would have to do as Attorney General would be to make some rulings and give some opinions "that would overlook the operation of machines in North Dakota." Later Brastrup called Paster by telephone from North Dakota and verified this understanding with Paster. In that conversation Brastrup expressed optimism about Christianson's campaign. Paster indicated satisfaction and told Brastrup to come to see him after the election

Christianson was elected at the election held November 7, 1950. After the election Allan Nilva called Brastrup, congratulated him on Christianson's election, and in the same telephone conversation Paster told Brastrup he would like to meet Christianson. Brastrup so informed Christianson. Christianson and Brastrup went to St. Paul the following day by plane. Brastrup purchased the tickets, giving Christianson's name as "Nelson" at Christianson's direction. They went to Paster's office in St. Paul. Paster was busy and kept them waiting. Christianson expressed uneasiness about being there so long and asked Brastrup if they couldn't just get the money and get out "right away". However, they soon saw Paster, who told Christianson that he had a bright political future if he would "do things right, take good advice and stay out of trouble." While they were talking, Paster had a long distance telephone call, during which Paster said to the other party that "he's right here now," and looking to Christianson and Brastrup asked if they could go to Chicago. The latter agreed. Paster obtained the plane tickets, purchasing Christianson's in the name of "Larson". Arriving in Chicago, Brastrup, Christianson and Paster went to hotel rooms maintained by the Bally Manufacturing Company and there met a Mr. Maloney, the owner of that company, which manufactured coin machines. They spent the evening there. During the evening Paster and Maloney called Christianson into a small room where they remained for some time. When they came out, Brastrup asked Christianson if they had fixed him up. Christianson replied, "Yes. You don't need to worry; everything is going fine. They're going to carry out their end of the agreement." Both stayed there that night. Both were given presents, a supply of which was kept in the rooms for customers. Paster offended Brastrup by asking Christianson in Brastrup's presence if Christianson knew Brastrup well and cautioning Christianson to be sure Brastrup did not get drunk and tell everything he knew. The next day they returned to St. Paul. Arriving at Paster's office, Paster handed Christianson an envelope, saying "Here is the other thousand dollars and that makes it." Christianson replied, "That's right", and put the envelope in his pocket. Paster then told Christianson that if Christianson lived up to his part of the bargain he would live up to his and that although Christianson would be offered a lot of money while he was in office, it did not matter what he was offered, he, Paster, would always do better and would keep him out of trouble. On the plane going back to Grand Forks, North Dakota, from St. Paul, Brastrup asked Christianson if he needed all of the

226 F.2d 650
$2,000.00 and Christianson said he did, that he was buying a house

Early in November, 1950, prior to the election on November 7, 1950, Brastrup met Christianson and Cy Bechtel (one of the named coconspirators) in Minot, North Dakota. Christianson told Bechtel that he, Bechtel, would be transferred from the Laboratories Department to a liquor inspector's position and that Bechtel's job would be to collect money from private clubs for the...

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36 practice notes
  • Franklin v. I.N.S., No. 94-3609
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • February 12, 1996
    ..."however they may be technically translated into domestic penal provisions," and citing cases so holding); Christianson v. United States, 226 F.2d 646, 655 (8th Cir.1955) (for purposes of impeaching a witness, crimes of larceny and embezzlement have always been held to involve moral turpitu......
  • United States v. Culver, Cr. No. 26195.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • October 3, 1963
    ...236 F.2d 502, 506 (1956); United States v. De Vasto, 2 Cir., 52 F.2d 26, 29, 78 A.L.R. 336 (1931); Christianson v. United States, 8 Cir., 226 F.2d 646, 654 (1955); United States v. Friedman, D.N.J., 166 F.Supp. 786, 789 (1958), and cases cited in those This rule has not been changed by Jone......
  • United States v. Luros, Cr. No. 65-Cr-3007-W.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • June 29, 1965
    ...538, 55 L.Ed. 771; United States v. White (1944) 322 U.S. 694, 64 S.Ct. 1248, 88 L.Ed. 1542; Christianson v. United States (8th Cir. 1955) 226 F.2d 646. As to the contention that the United States Attorney promised the return of the subpoenaed documents, this Court will not make a determina......
  • Schwab v. United States, No. 17362.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • January 24, 1964
    ...at trial or by plea of guilty, of a felony, an infamous crime or a crime involving moral turpitude. Christianson v. United States, 226 F.2d 646, 655 (8 Cir. 1955), cert. denied 350 U.S. 994, 76 S.Ct. 543, 100 L.Ed. 859; Pittman v. United States, 42 F.2d 793, 795 (8 Cir. 1930); see Humphries......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
36 cases
  • Franklin v. I.N.S., No. 94-3609
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • February 12, 1996
    ...they may be technically translated into domestic penal provisions," and citing cases so holding); Christianson v. United States, 226 F.2d 646, 655 (8th Cir.1955) (for purposes of impeaching a witness, crimes of larceny and embezzlement have always been held to involve moral turpitude),......
  • United States v. Culver, Cr. No. 26195.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • October 3, 1963
    ...236 F.2d 502, 506 (1956); United States v. De Vasto, 2 Cir., 52 F.2d 26, 29, 78 A.L.R. 336 (1931); Christianson v. United States, 8 Cir., 226 F.2d 646, 654 (1955); United States v. Friedman, D.N.J., 166 F.Supp. 786, 789 (1958), and cases cited in those This rule has not been changed by Jone......
  • United States v. Luros, Cr. No. 65-Cr-3007-W.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • June 29, 1965
    ...538, 55 L.Ed. 771; United States v. White (1944) 322 U.S. 694, 64 S.Ct. 1248, 88 L.Ed. 1542; Christianson v. United States (8th Cir. 1955) 226 F.2d 646. As to the contention that the United States Attorney promised the return of the subpoenaed documents, this Court will not make a determina......
  • Schwab v. United States, No. 17362.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • January 24, 1964
    ...at trial or by plea of guilty, of a felony, an infamous crime or a crime involving moral turpitude. Christianson v. United States, 226 F.2d 646, 655 (8 Cir. 1955), cert. denied 350 U.S. 994, 76 S.Ct. 543, 100 L.Ed. 859; Pittman v. United States, 42 F.2d 793, 795 (8 Cir. 1930); see Humphries......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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