People v. Teitelbaum

Decision Date26 August 1958
Docket NumberCr. 5926
Citation163 Cal.App.2d 184,329 P.2d 157
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of California, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Albert TEITELBAUM et al., Defendants, Albert Teitelbaum, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtCalifornia Court of Appeals Court of Appeals

Morris Lavine, Los Angeles, for appellant.

Edmund G. Brown, Atty. Gen., and Herschel T. Elkins, Deputy Atty. Gen., for respondent.

NOURSE, Justice pro tem.

Appellant having been convicted on both counts of an indictment charging him in count I with conspiracy to commit grand theft, attempted grand theft, and the filing of a false and fraudulent insurance claim in violation of section 556, Insurance Code; and in the second count with the violation of section 556 of the Insurance Code (the presentation of a false and fraudulent claim for the payment of a loss under a contract of insurance and the preparation and making of a writing with intent to present the same in support of such claim) appeals from the judgment and an order denying his motion for a new trial.

In the indictment Clifford Vanderwyst also known as Weiss, and one Claude Wilson were named as coconspirators. At the opening of the trial, appellant's motion that he and Wilson be tried separately, was granted and after the jury was impaneled the People dismissed the action as against Weiss pursuant to the provisions of section 1099 of the Penal Code. The indictment was not dismissed against Wilson until after appellant's motion for a new trial was denied.

The facts as shown by the evidence offered by the People are: About 7:00 p. m on December 27, 1955, the police were called to appellant's place of business as a result of an A.D.T. alarm. After appellant had related the details of a robbery 1 Captain Huff of the Beverly Hills Police Department asked the appellant:

'Al, besides the furs, was there anything else taken, either your money or Stan's money, or some of the company's money?' And the appellant replied: 'No, nothing else. They seemed to know exactly where to go and what to do.'

On the 28th of December, and prior to an inventory being taken of the furs in the fur vault, the appellant reiterated the fact that nothing but furs had been taken.

Appellant was insured against theft in three companies, the total amount of insurance being the sum of $350,000.

A Mr. Gaebel was an insurance adjustor representing the three insurers.

Following the alleged robbery there were prepared under the appellant's direction, two lists of the furs alleged to have been missing. These did not purport to be accurate but were subject to correction; they were furnished to the Beverly Hills Police Department. In the first week of February, 1956, the appellant stated to Gaebel that he had finally completed a list of the furs stolen in the robbery. The appellant offered this list to Gaebel. Gaebel asked that it be mailed to him together with a number of copies. A few days later Gaebel received by messenger, 10 copies of this list. This list (People's exhibit No. 10) contained a description of in excess of 280 fur garments with a statement after each, of its value. It was not signed. On February 8th, officers of the Beverly Hills Police Department stated to appellant that they had been advised that Gaebel had the final list and asked appellant if that was the 'whole works' and stated to him that inasmuch as it did not have the manufacturer's numbers of the garments on it, it was of no use to the police. The appellant stated that the list, exhibit No. 10 was the final list for the insurance company and was not for the police department, and if they wanted a copy of it they could get it from one of the insurance companies.

About February 10th, Weiss surrendered himself to the Beverly Hills Police. Prior to 9:00 a. m. on February 14th, an officer of the Beverly Hills Police Department picked up the appellant and an employee of appellant's by the name of Somper, at appellant's place of business in Beverly Hills, telling them that they had under arrest a man they were informed had 'pulled your robbery' and that they would like to have the appellant look at him and see if he could be the man. On arrival at the police station, appellant and Somper were separated and Somper was placed under arrest. The appellant was taken into a corridor, at the end of which was a cell in which Weiss was seated. The officer accompanying appellant, asked appellant if he could identify Weiss. Appellant answered that Weiss was of the general build and description but he was not positive. By prearranged plan, the officer then left the area, leaving appellant and Weiss alone. They were, however, in the view of another officer who was peering through an aperture in the wall. As soon as appellant and Weiss were alone, Weiss motioned the appellant to approach him. Appellant made no verbal reply but made a motion, placing the forefinger of his right hand vertically against his lips and then held his right arm against his body and moved it away from his body, making this motion several times.

Appellant then left the corridor and rejoined the officer who had accompanied him (Lt. Borders.) At this time he was placed under arrest and was immediately taken to the office of the chief of police where there were present, in addition to appellant, Weiss, Chief of Police Anderson, Lt. Borders and Captain Huff. Appellant was again asked if he was positive he had not seen Weiss and appellant replied: 'I told you upstairs I never seen him. * * * It looks like the man. They are general in build but he is not the man.' Weiss was then asked if he had seen appellant before. He replied that he had at appellant's fur store on the night of the alleged robbery when he talked to appellant in his office.

In response to questions by Lt. Borders, Weiss in the presence of appellant, stated that he had met one Woody Wilson in the first part of November through a person known as Billy Layton; Layton had told him that he had a friend who was looking for someone to pull a phoney robbery; Wilson told him that he had a furrier friend who wanted to pull a phoney insurance bit, that it was a walk-in walk-out proposition where no one would get hurt; on November 30th he (Weiss) and Wilson had, pursuant to a prearranged plan made by Layton, gone to appellant's fur store with the understanding that there would be but one employee present, who would be expecting to receive some packages; they carried with them two suit boxes and they were admitted to the store by a colored employee; it was Weiss's job to hold this colored employee while Wilson went into the vault to move the furs from one part to another; they were not successful because when they arrived at the store a colored woman was also there, who started to scream and the colored man ran for the alarm button, whereupon Wilson and Weiss fled; Wilson had contacted him after Christmas stated that the date would be December 27th and that the colored man had been sent out of town; Wilson told him he should go to appellant's store at 10 minutes to 6:00 where he would be met by appellant in the front of the store and that appellant would carry the ball from there on; he was instructed to represent himself as an insurance agent and to talk about insurance policies when he went into the store; he did go to appellant's store at 10 minutes to 6:00 p. m. and pretended to identify himself and appellant took him into his office; there he and appellant talked about fur auctions and appellant left the office and came back with a large mink coat stating that 'They can't close the vault until I get this back;' appellant again left the office and came back and whispered: 'The office help is leaving;' thereafter a woman stuck her head in the door and stated that she was leaving for the day; he pointed to his watch and remarked that it was 6:25 and said: 'It's too late to take it now;' appellant replied: 'No, I had the A.D.T. set up from 6:30 to 7:00 o'clock;' immediately thereafter, appellant called to a man by the name of Stan and asked if everybody had gone; Stan answered: 'Yes;' appellant said to Weiss: 'Get ready;' he, Weiss, then removed from the briefcase that he carried, some gloves and a toy pistol; appellant then told Stan to come in and when Stan came to the door of the office, appellant said: 'Stan this is a hold-up. We are insured. Don't start anything;' thereafter he directed Teitelbaum to tape Stan's arms behind him and appellant did; they marched Stan to a closet where he was left on the floor; they then went into a corridor on the south side of the building and appellant directed him to go back and close the door to the closet where they had left Stan; after doing this, he proceeded to the fur vault where appellant was arranging furs 'vacating racks and moving them to another position;' he asked appellant if he could help but was told to go and look out the back window; he did and shortly thereafter appellant came to where he was standing and took him to the rear door and opened it, told him to go out that way when he left; they then proceeded to a closet and that appellant gave him a secretary containing some money; he asked appellant how much it contained and he said '$2,500.00' in $100 bills; appellant also gave him a watch and told him to put it in his pocket; he then took appellant to a closet on the south side of the building and taped him and then left the premises by the rear door.

Borders then said to appellant: 'Al, that's the story. Is it true or not?' Appellant answered: 'Yes, it was a stupid thing.' Borders then asked appellant if he would like to tell his side of the story and he said: 'No, I will wait until my attorney gets here.'

Appellant was not advised that he was entitled to a lawyer or that he had a right not to be present when Weiss was questioned, or that anything he said might be used against him.

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