United States v. Lustig, 9191.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtGOODRICH, McLAUGHLIN, and KALODNER, Circuit
Citation159 F.2d 798
Docket NumberNo. 9191.,9191.
Decision Date10 February 1947

Edward Halle, of New York City (Carl H. Auerbach, of Camden, N.J., on the brief), for appellant.

Grover C. Richman, Jr., Asst. U. S. Atty., of Camden, N. J. (Edgar H. Rossbach, U. S. Atty., of Newark, N. J., on the brief), for appellee.

Before GOODRICH, McLAUGHLIN, and KALODNER, Circuit Judges.

McLAUGHLIN, Circuit Judge.

The appellant and Thomas E. Reynolds (who does not appeal) were convicted under two joint indictments based on R.S. Sec. 5430, March 4, 1909, c. 321, Sec. 150, 35 Stat. 1116, 18 U.S.C.A. § 264. Counts 1 and 2 of the first indictment charge them with counterfeiting obligations of the United States. Count 3 charges possession of certain materials with the intent to use them for counterfeiting. Both counts of the second indictment charge possession of obligations executed in part after the similitude of obligations of the United States. Appellant was sentenced to five years on the first indictment and three years on the second with the sentences to run consecutively.

Appellant's first point is that the conviction was based on evidence obtained by illegal search and seizure.

Briefly, the facts show that a chambermaid in the Camden, New Jersey, hotel where the appellant and Reynolds were stopping, became suspicious of their actions. She notified the hotel management who in turn notified the city police. As the circumstances indicated a possible violation of currency laws, the police informed Federal Agent Greene. The latter made such investigation as he could at the time and found no evidence of counterfeiting. He then went to police headquarters and so advised Detective Captain Koerner, at which time Greene's official interest in the case ceased. Koerner checked with one Sergeant Murphy regarding the appellant and Reynolds, who was registered under the name of Binstock. After that he went to the hotel himself and checked the register. Following this, based primarily on his independent recollection of Reynolds, alias Binstock, as refreshed by Sergeant Murphy, he obtained warrants for the arrest of both Lustig and Reynolds for alleged violation of a Camden ordinance requiring all criminals in the city over twenty four hours to register with the city authorities. Accompanied by three or four other police officers, Captain Koerner went to the hotel room of Lustig and Reynolds. The latter were not in the room at the time. The police took possession of certain property in the room contained in three brief cases. This consisted of trays, pliers, bond paper, paper cut to actual size of United States currency, various small bottles with liquid in them, tweezers, what appeared to be castors wrapped in cloth, a small piece of sponge, a magnifying glass, a piece of plate glass, a ruler, a cylinder of wood with cloth wrapped around it, an impression of the face of a Federal Reserve note for $100., what appears to be the reverse side of a $100. Federal Reserve note, and an impression of the reverse side of a $10. certificate. Greene, who had remained at headquarters "curious to see what they would find" was telephoned by Koerner after the latter had discovered the above articles and went over to the hotel room. He looked at the various items which by that time were lying on the bed and was satisfied that something was going on concerning counterfeiting. Later Lustig and Reynolds came in and were arrested by Captain Koerner under his city warrant. Captain Koerner testified that Lustig said at the time, "they were not here to pass counterfeit money. They were here to sell the idea how to make it, make an easy living." The next day Agent Greene, after consulting with the Assistant District Attorney, signed a federal complaint against Lustig and Reynolds. The indictments under consideration followed.

It is, of course, thoroughly settled law that evidence obtained through wrongful search and seizure by state officers who are cooperating with federal officials must be excluded. Gambino v. United States, 275 U.S. 310, 314, 48 S.Ct. 137, 72 L.Ed. 293, 52 A.L.R. 1381. So too where the search has been instigated by federal agents. Crank v. United States, 8 Cir., 61 F.2d 981. And the Fourth Amendment should be liberally construed in favor of the individual. Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 635, 6 S.Ct. 524, 29 L.Ed. 746. But mere participation in a state search by a federal officer does not render it a federal undertaking. Byars v. United States, 273 U.S. 28, 32, 47 S.Ct. 248, 250, 71 L.Ed. 520. The last cited case goes on to hold that "We do not question the right of the federal government to avail itself of evidence improperly seized by state officers operating entirely upon their own account."

The present facts do not go as far as those in the Byars decision. Here it is at least questionable from the record that there was any improper seizure by the Camden police. We do not have the benefit of the particular city ordinance other than the reference to it in the testimony. The evidence shows that the Camden police identified Reynolds as a tout or race horse bookie.1 There is no testimony as to what the conclusion as to Lustig then was, but Lustig on the stand admitted to at least one prior conviction, to a great number of arrests and that he was under bail in New York at the time. Reynolds did not testify. There is nothing in the record to show what happened to the complaint under the municipal ordinance.

The controlling decision in this Circuit is Miller v. United States, 3 Cir., 50 F.2d 505. That case follows the general principles above outlined. The alleged illegal seizure and search concerned an automobile truck loaded with beer. We said, page 507:

"No federal official was present when the state troopers seized the truck. There is no evidence that while federal officers were watching the brewery and state officers were watching the Tallow Factory there was any contact, relation or co-operation between the two forces. Nor is there evidence that when later the state troopers made the search, seizure and arrest there was any co-operation between the two sets of officials. So far as the record shows, each was acting independently of the other all the time. True, the government accepted the benefits of the alleged unlawful search and seizure by accepting the truck and its contents when the troopers delivered them at the government warehouse and by using in evidence the property seized, as it could lawfully do unless the state troopers were acting on its behalf. On this point the state troopers testified that they thought they were enforcing the National Prohibition Law (27 U.S.C.A. § 1 et seq.). But this was merely their personal opinion which alone cannot give a federal character to their action, particularly in view of the fact that Pennsylvania has a state liquor law of its own to be enforced and that the State Constabulary ordered the troopers to this task without any instructions to enforce the federal law. From this evidence we cannot find that the search, seizure and arrest by the state troopers, if unlawful for lack of a warrant and probable cause, were made solely on behalf of the United States or in co-operation with officials of the United States within the meaning of the Gambino decision."

From the facts we think it a reasonable conclusion that the search of appellant's room was in truth a proceeding by the state rather than an undertaking of Federal Agent Greene to obtain evidence in a manner forbidden by the federal law while at the same time avoiding the consequences by cooperation with the Camden police. There is no evidence of prearrangement or understanding between Greene and Captain Koerner in the obtaining by the latter of the city warrant and his subsequent search of appellant's room. Greene had frankly advised Koerner that he had found no evidence of counterfeiting. From then on the Camden police executive acted on his own initiative. It is true that Greene took advantage of the results, but, as we see it, in legitimate fashion and within the...

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26 cases
  • Stonehill v. United States, 22346.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 4 Febrero 1969
    ...of one who is a federal officer does not render it a federal undertaking." 273 U.S. at 32, 47 S.Ct. at 249. See United States v. Lustig, 159 F.2d 798, 800 (3d Cir. 1947). In context, this statement means only that participation in a state search by a federal officer does not make the enterp......
  • U.S. v. Anderson, s. 74-3291 and 74-3292
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 23 Enero 1976
    ...is also unavailing. The proper test for determining what constitutes a counterfeit obligation is, as stated in United States v. Lustig, 159 F.2d 798, 802 (3d Cir. 1947), rev'd on other grounds, 338 U.S. 74, 69 S.Ct. 1372, 93 L.Ed. 1819 'whether the fraudulent obligation bears such a likenes......
  • U.S. v. Prosperi, s. 98-4605
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • 28 Enero 2000
    ...person of ordinary observation and care when dealing with a person supposed to be upright and honest. United States v. Lustig, 159 F.2d 798, 802 (3d Cir.1947), rev'd on other grounds, 338 U.S. 74, 69 S.Ct. 1372, 93 L.Ed. 1819 (1949). This has become known as the similitude requirement and w......
  • Shurman v. United States, 14919.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 28 Febrero 1955
    ...by the state officer and federal adoption of the prosecution, did not alone constitute cooperation.5 In United States v. Lustig, 3 Cir., 159 F.2d 798, the Third Circuit decided that the passing on of information to state officers by a federal agent that persons he believed were guilty of a ......
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