Williams v. United States

Decision Date27 December 1954
Docket NumberNo. 6777.,6777.
Citation218 F.2d 276
PartiesJulian T. WILLIAMS, Charles G. Croft, Milton W. Johns, Albert D. Roth, William H. Overstreet, Thomas Pierson, Wilbur L. Dyches, and Harry Chassereau, Appellants, v. UNITED STATES of America, Appellee.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit

Ernest F. Hollings, Charleston, S. C. (Robert M. Hollings, Oliver T. Wallace, Paul N. Uricchio, Jr., and Klyde Robinson, Charleston, S. C., on the brief), for appellants Julian T. Williams and others.

Silas S. Seideman and Jack P. Brickman, Charleston, S. C., for appellant Harry Chassereau.

Theodore D. Stoney, Asst. U. S. Atty., Charleston, S. C. (N. Welch Morrisette, Jr., U. S. Atty., Columbia, S. C., and C. H. Whetstone, Sp. Asst. to Regional Counsel, Internal Revenue Service, Atlanta, Ga., and Sp. Asst. to Atty. Gen., on the brief), for appellee.

Before PARKER, Chief Judge, and SOPER and DOBIE, Circuit Judges.

DOBIE, Circuit Judge.

The appellants, Julian T. Williams, Charles G. Croft, Milton W. Johns, Albert D. Roth, William H. Overstreet, Thomas Pierson, Wilbur L. Dyches, and Harry Chassereau, were tried in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of South Carolina upon an indictment alleging a violation of Section 371, Title 18, of the United States Code, of conspiracy to violate a number of sections of the Internal Revenue laws relating to liquor. These appellants, with William J. Koster and Julius D. Zerbst, Jr., were convicted under Count One alleging conspiracy.

The indictment further charged Alfred M. McCormack, Edna Brown, Frazier Collier, Zeno Hutchenson, Joe Jenkins, George Kline, Julius Tealy, Eddie Mitchell, Abraham Washington, Pete Howard Altman and Fred Ross, Jr., as defendant conspirators with a number of other coconspirators not indicted. After the Government had rested its case, the Court directed judgments of acquittal on Count One, with the consent of the Government, as to Alfred M. McCormack, Edna Brown, Frazier Collier, Zeno Hutchenson, Joe Jenkins, George Kline, Julius Tealy, Eddie Mitchell, Abraham Washington, Pete Howard Altman and Fred Ross, Jr.

The indictment, besides the conspiracy charge in Count One, consisted of twenty-five other counts charging substantive offenses by certain of the appellants in violation of the Internal Revenue laws relating to liquor. The appellant, Julian T. Williams, was found guilty by the jury on substantive Counts Two, Three, Four and Five; the appellant William H. Overstreet was found guilty by the jury on substantive Counts Six and Seven; the Eighth and Ninth Counts were judgments of acquittal by the Court with the consent of the Government, as to Albert D. Roth and Alfred M. McCormack; on substantive Counts Ten and Eleven, the appellant Harry Chassereau was found guilty; on substantive Counts Twelve and Thirteen the appellant Harry Chassereau was acquitted by direction of the Court, with the consent of the Government; on substantive Count Fourteen the appellant Charles G. Croft was acquitted by direction of the Court, with the consent of the Government; on substantive Counts Fifteen and Sixteen the appellant Milton W. Johns was acquitted by direction of the Court, with the consent of the Government; on substantive Counts Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen and Twenty, the appellant Wilbur L. Dyches was found guilty by the jury; on substantive Counts Twenty-one, Twenty-two, Twenty-three and Twenty-four, the appellant William H. Overstreet was found guilty by the jury; on substantive Counts Twenty-five and Twenty-six, Julius D. Zerbst, Jr., was acquitted by direction of the Court, with the consent of the Government.

Sentence was duly imposed upon all of the appellants and upon William J. Koster and Julius D. Zerbst. William J. Koster and Julius D. Zerbst have not appealed. With the exception of Harry Chassereau, all of the appellants were members of the Police Force of Charleston County, South Carolina. Harry Chassereau operated a filling station, which was one of the distribution points maintained for whiskey, on which the federal tax had not been paid.

Appellants have set forth eight points as grounds for a reversal of the judgment below. We discuss these points in order.

"Point 1. The Government should not be allowed to string together for common trial two or more separate conspiracies to violate and numerous violations of the Internal Revenue Code when the only nexus among them lay in the fact that the defendants were all members of the same police department. Such lumping together was intentionally violative of the defendants\' rights to a separate trial and prevented a reliable presentation of evidence to the jury."

We proceed to dispose of the contention that the record fails to disclose sufficient evidence to take to the jury the question of a general conspiracy among appellants but that the record shows only numerous unrelated and separate violations of the federal internal revenue laws with the only nexus between these acts and these appellants lying in the fact that the appellants (with the exception of Harry Chassereau) were members of the same police department.

This evidence, which was quite voluminous and given by many witnesses, may be likened to the web of the spider. No single strand, or even several strands, would be sufficient. Yet when all these strands are considered together, and their interrelations and connections are considered, they form, we think, a complete web, which was more than sufficient to take to the jury the question of a general conspiracy among the appellants. On all this evidence, the jury might well have found (as we think they did find) that all those acts just could not have happened save on the theory of a consistent pattern of agreement between these appellants.

This evidence is far too voluminous to be discussed here in detail. Even a compact summary of the most important parts of it covers a dozen pages of the Government's brief. We content ourselves with mentioning only a few high spots of this evidence.

There was, for example, evidence that Harvey Grooms went into the illicit liquor business with Harry Chassereau upon the latter's assurance that the Charleston County Police Force had been "bought off" and would not interfere and, further, that if Grooms should be stopped by the police while hauling illicit liquor, Grooms was to tell the police that the liquor belonged to Harry Chassereau. A like assurance was made to Jordan Schofield who helped Grooms to haul this liquor.

Ample proof was offered of the cover-up activities of Sergeants Overstreet and Roth as to illicit liquor and of an extensive escort service for bootleggers operated by Overstreet and Police Officers Croft and Zerbst. Elaborate instructions seem to have been issued to members of the Charleston County Police Force by Lieutenant Welch and Sergeant Johns as to the proper method of handling bootleg cases, to the economic profit of policemen and the corresponding detriment of law enforcement. James Chassereau testified that in one instance, when a bribe was taken from a bootlegger named Moore, twenty-five dollars was to be paid to Chief of Police Williams; and James Chassereau further testified that Sergeant Johns and Officer Koster each took a case of the bootlegger's whisky.

Sergeants Roth, Limehouse and McCormack took whiskey from a bootlegger in part payment for his release. Solomon Ford, a bootlegger, stated that he had paid money to Chief Williams, Sergeants Johns and Croft and Officer Zerbst. Levinia Washington paid a weekly stipend to Officer Pierson for protection, and when she stopped these payments, Chief Williams raided her establishment. Chief Williams seems to have sold whiskey to Solomon Ford, Sergeant Croft collecting the money.

Particularly damaging to these appellants was the testimony of James Chassereau, who for some time was a member of the Charleston County Police Force, as to the sinister operating relationship between Chief Williams, Sergeant Johns, Sergeant Roth and Officer Koster. The testimony of West and Ford indicated the close cooperation with this group on the part of Officers Croft and Pierson. Agent Connell's evidence indicated an extensive and well organized system of police escorts for bootleggers operating in Charleston County, upon adequate compensation to the police, in which Officers Overstreet, Dyches and Zerbst were involved. On one occasion, Overstreet complained that he was not being paid enough money by Harry Chassereau for the protection of Chassereau's bootleg runners.

Further evidence of the sordid activities of appellants, as individuals and in various combinations, was given by witnesses Burroughs, Investigator Gwynne, distillery operator Causey, Barker, Schofield and Jones. The record here disclosed a police department honeycombed with graft, under the leadership of Chief Williams. There was more than ample evidence to support the jury's finding that the appellants were engaged in a well organized conspiracy to violate the federal internal revenue laws as to illicit whiskey.

The District Judge here, on hearing of a motion for a directed verdict, after the Government had rested, stated:

"Well, Mr. Hollings, if the evidence in this case, whether or not it can be believed or not, doesn\'t make a case of conspiracy, I have misread every case that I have ever read on conspiracy. The evidence is sufficient, to establish a conspiracy if the jury believes it. There doesn\'t seem to be any question about that. And I don\'t think you can read the cases and come to any other conclusion other than that."

See, generally, in this connection, Nye & Nissen v. United States, 336 U.S. 613, 69 S.Ct. 766, 93 L.Ed. 919; Blumenthal v. United States, 332 U.S. 539, 557-558, 68 S.Ct. 248, 92 L.Ed. 154; Kotteakos v. United States, 328 U.S. 750, 66 S.Ct. 1239, 90 L.Ed. 1557; Direct Sales Co. v. United States, 319 U.S. 703, 63 S.Ct. 1265, 87 L.Ed. 1674; ...

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4 cases
  • Sherman v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • March 8, 1957
    ...Cir., 170 F.2d 739; United States v. Wight, 2 Cir., 176 F.2d 376, 379; Shepherd v. Hunter, 10 Cir., 163 F.2d 872, 873; Williams v. United States, 4 Cir., 218 F.2d 276; Hayman v. United States, 9 Cir., 205 F.2d 891, 894; United States ex rel. Thompson v. Dye, D.C., 103 F.Supp. 776; Diggs v. ......
  • United States v. El Rancho Adolphus Products
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • April 19, 1956
    ...as a special assistant to the United States Attorney. A similar factual situation was held not to constitute error, Williams v. United States, 4 Cir., 1954, 218 F.2d 276. The defendants also contend that the order of closing argument was Defendants cite a number of state cases to the effect......
  • Richard v. United States, 6061.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • March 29, 1963
    ...United States v. Tramaglino, 2 Cir., 1952, 197 F.2d 928, cert. den. 344 U.S. 864, 73 S.Ct. 105, 97 L.Ed. 670; Williams v. United States, 4 Cir., 1954, 218 F.2d 276; United States v. Lee, 7 Cir., 1939, 107 F.2d 522, cert. den. 309 U.S. 659, 60 S.Ct. 513, 84 L.Ed. 1008; McFarland v. United St......
  • United States v. Bryant, 9510.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fourth Circuit
    • August 3, 1966
    ...count and should have been severed. We cannot agree with either contention. This case is similar to the case of Williams v. United States, 218 F.2d 276 (4 Cir.1954), which also arose in the Eastern District of South Carolina and involved a conspiracy among police officers and others to viol......

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