Rome v. State

Decision Date19 November 1964
Docket NumberNo. 30,30
Citation204 A.2d 674,236 Md. 583
PartiesAlbert ROME and Benjamin Modo v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Morris Lee Kaplan, Baltimore (Michael Lee Kaplan and Leo V. Miller, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellants.

Roger D. Redden, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., William J. O'Donnell and Charles E. Moylan, Jr., State's Atty., and Deputy State's Atty., respectively, for Baltimore City, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellee.


HORNEY, Judge.

Albert Rome and Benjamin Modo were convicted of pandering and each was sentenced to five years in prison. At the same time, Rome was convicted of keeping a disorderly house and was given a concurrent sentence of six months.

In February 1963, Rome, the owner of a second-floor walk- up restaurant on West Mulberry Street, and Modo, its manager, engaged a twenty year old girl to work as a prostitute in connection with the operation of the restaurant selling only sandwiches and Chinese food ordered from another restaurant. Normally the restaurant was open only between 2:00 a. m. and 6:00 a. m. six days a week--Tuesdays through Sundays. Although not licensed for the purpose, beer and other alcoholic beverages were also dispensed and consumed on the premises.

The arrangement between the contracting parties was that the girl should arrive at the restaurant at opening time and sit and wait at a table until called. Modo, or, when he was absent, Rome, would contact the customer, make the bargain and collect the fee ($20 for half an hour and $40 for an hour) in advance. The girl, after being introduced to the customer, would then go to the third floor of the restaurant building, or, in a cab hired by the manager or owner of the establishment, to the girl's apartment or that of the customer. When the agreed time had expired, the girl would reenter the waiting cab and return to the restaurant and wait for the next call. At quitting time, she would be paid her agreed fifty per cent of the fees received during the morning and be driven home.

Subsequently, Modo engaged the services of another twenty year old prostitute. She did not go to the restaurant, but stayed in her apartment to entertain the customers sent by Modo and Rome. Her earnings were delivered to her after the restaurant closed either by the manager or owner or the 'boy friend' of the restaurant sitter. The division of fees was the same as those of the other girl.

The police, because of the odd business hours of the restaurant, immediately suspected the illicit sale of alcoholic beverages or some other violation of law and visited it frequently to observe what was going on. After the expiration of several months, a police sergeant, by the use of two police decoys, confirmed the fact that acts of prostitution were committed in the apartment of the stay-at-home sitter. As a result the police sergeant asked the defendants, as well as the girls and the men they lived with, to go to police headquarters for the purpose of talking with him. The police had no arrest warrants at the time, but no one objected to going. After the girls had told the police of their activities while employed by the defendants and as to the serving and drinking of beer and liquor on the restaurant premises, all of the persons involved were arrested.

The preliminary hearing resulted in the dismissal of the defendants, but they were subsequently indicted by the Grand Jury along with the prostitutes and the consort of one of them. At the trial of the defendants, the other participants (all of whom had been given immunity) were used by the State as witnesses against the defendants. Toward the end of the trial, the court inadvertently announced the verdict before counsel had finally ascertained whether the defendants desired to testify. After the dismissal of the motions for a new trial, the defendants were sentenced without counsel being present.

On appeal, both Rome and Modo contend: (i) that their arrest was illegal; (ii) that the verdicts were against the weight of the evidence; (iii) that the trial court erred in refusing to grant the motions for acquittal; (iv) that the court demonstrated prejudice and bias by its finding of guilt before the defendants had an opportunity to finish presenting their defense; and (v) that the court further evidenced prejudice and erred in sentencing the defendants when counsel was not present.

(i), (ii) and (iii)

Since the initial detention of the defendants was not improper and there was sufficient probative evidence to sustain the convictions, the refusal of the trial court to grant the motions for acquittal was proper.

The only evidence concerning the detention was to the effect that the defendants, at the request of the police and without any assertion of coercion, voluntarily accompanied the police to headquarters for the purpose of being questioned, and no effort was made to rebut such evidence. A detention under such circumstances would not amount to an arrest. See Cornish v. State, 215 Md. 64, 137 A.2d 170 (1957); Kauffman, The Law of Arrest in Maryland, 5 Md.L.Rev. 125, 131. In any event, even if the taking of the defendants to the police station without a warrant could be said to have constituted an arrest, it turned out to be a harmless circumstance since the defendants were not thereby induced to reveal any incriminating evidence against themselves. Clearly, the defendants were not in any way prejudiced by the action of the police.

On the other hand, the uncontradicted testimony of the prostitutes concerning the pandering charges, to the effect that the defendants had acted as procurers for them as the restaurant, had conducted all negotiations with prospective customers, had collected the stipulated fees and had divided the fees as agreed, was cleraly sufficient, if believed, to convict both Rome and Modo of the...

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15 cases
  • Spence v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • August 10, 1983
    ...judge, over timely objection, refused to permit closing argument, commenting that it wouldn't change his mind. In Rome and Modo v. State, 236 Md. 583, 204 A.2d 674 (1964), "the court inadvertently announced the verdict before counsel had finally ascertained whether the defendants desired to......
  • Foster v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • July 26, 1974 arrest by detention, without a touching, there must be an intent on the part of the one arresting to arrest. Rome v. State,236 Md. 583, 586, 204 A.2d 674, 676 (1964); Price v. State, 227 Md. 28, 33, 175 A.2d 11, 13 (1961); Cornish v. State, 215 Md. 64, 68, 137 A.2d 170, 172 (1957). When ......
  • Covington v. State
    • United States
    • Maryland Court of Appeals
    • May 22, 1978
    ...the evidence" may be, before the trier of facts, whether a jury or judge, renders a verdict. See also Rome and Modo v. State, 236 Md. 583, 588, 204 A.2d 674, 677 (1964), pointing out that in Yopps "it was held that the denial of an opportunity to argue the case before returning a verdict of......
  • State v. Mann
    • United States
    • Maine Supreme Court
    • July 9, 1976
    ...same amounted to a waiver thereof, especially where the record shows that the defendant was not prejudiced thereby. See Rome v. State, 1964, 236 Md. 583, 204 A.2d 674; People v. Aggie, 1940, 37 Cal.App.2d 110, 98 P.2d We hold that the defendant was not deprived of the right to closing argum......
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