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United States v. Lederer.

January 15, 1944

UNITED STATES EX REL. BROWN, ADMINISTRATOR, OFFICE OF PRICE ADMINISTRATION,
v.
LEDERER.



Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division; John P. Barnes, Judge.

Author: Evans

Before EVANS, MAJOR, and KERNER, Circuit Judges.

EVANS, Circuit Judge.

Appellant prosecutes this appeal from a sentence imposed upon him in a criminal contempt proceeding wherein he was charged with a violation of an injunction which restrained him from selling meat at prices in excess of Revised Maximum Price Regulation No. 169.

Briefly stated, the evidence disclosed:

Appellant was engaged as a wholesaler of meats when the Emergency Price Control Act became a law, January 30, 1942, 50 U.S.C.A. Appendix § 901 et seq. His customers were retail butchers. This Act, Sec. 2(a) and (b), granted authority to the Price Administrator to regulate and establish maximum prices for commodities, and Sec. 4 made it unlawful to sell or deliver such commodities in violation of any regulation or order issued under Sec. 2. The Act also provided, Sec. 205(a), for the issuance of temporary or permanent injunctions upon a showing by the Administrator, of violations. Pursuant to such Act, maximum prices were established for the sale of beef and veal carcasses through what was called Revised Maximum Price Regulation No. 169, as amended.

When this Regulation was promulgated, Adolph and Arthur Lederer were partners engaged in the wholesale meat business in Chicago under the firm name of A. Lederer Co. After due investigation and upon sworn complaint the court was asked to enjoin both members of this firm from selling meat at prices in excess of those fixed in said Regulation. Affidavits accompanied the complaint and upon the hearing, which showed numberous violations, the court made findings of fact and conclusions of law and entered a preliminary injunction which enjoined said partners from "selling or delivering * * * any beef or veal carcasses or wholesale cuts at prices in excess of the maximum prices therefor, as established under the provisions of Revised Maximum Price Regulation No. 169, as amended." The defendants, who were in court, were each given a copy of said order.

Notwithstanding the Regulation, and in violation of the injunction, A. Lederer & Co., continued to sell beef and veal carcasses above the prices fixed as maximum prices in said Regulation. Thereafter upon petition of the O.P.A. Administrator, and upon the affidavit of an investigator, an application was made to the court to punish the partners for the violation of the injunctional order. The court forst appointed two attorneys to conduct the prosecution. A jury was waived, and a trial was had by the court. The evidence showed, and conclusively, that A. Lederer & Co. sold beef and veal carcasses to retail meat dealers at prices in excess of those fixed in said Regulation. The sales, which were of considerable amount, were accompanied by the firm's giving written invoices to purchasers wherein the price charged was the selling price fixed in said Regulation No. 169 or a little less. At the same time the purchaser was required to make cash payments in addition to the invoice prices, for the meat purchased. These additional prices were from 7? to 11 1/2? per pound.

Upon the conclusion of the evidence, and there was no dispute,*fn1 the court found the defendant, Adolph Lederer, not guilty, and the defendant, Arthur Lederer, guilty of the offense charged and imposed on him an imprisonment sentence of a year and a day.

The grounds urged for reversal on this appeal are:

(1) The proceeding for contempt of court was illegal because not prosecuted as a regular criminal case as provided by 50 U.S.C.A. Appendix § 925(b).

(2) The sentence imposed was excessive.

(3) The order to show cause was vague and insufficient to apprise the appellant of the charge he had to meet.

(4) There was no proof as to what the Maximum Price Regulation No. 169 provided, an essential to a valid conviction ...


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