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United States v. Lee

June 10, 1971


Duffy, Senior Circuit Judge, Stevens, Circuit Judge, and Campbell, Senior District Judge.*fn*

Author: Stevens

STEVENS, Circuit Judge.

Two proprietors and two employees of a gambling enterprise in Evansville, Indiana, were convicted of violating the Travel Act.*fn1 The two entrepreneurs appealed, contending (1) that evidence was seized pursuant to a void search warrant, and (2) that the trial court erroneously failed to instruct the jury that knowledge of their employees' interstate travel was an essential element of the crime.*fn2 We reject both contentions.


The challenged warrant authorized a search of "the premises known as Ray's Lounge, which is a two-story red brick building located at 718-720 North Third Avenue. * * *" Probable cause for searching the premises thus described was established by the affidavit presented to the Commissioner. Appellants contend, however, that the evidence presented in support of their motion to suppress proved that the description was too broad because the location was in fact a multiple occupancy building.*fn3

The building in question was owned by appellant Metcalf and his wife; it had three front entrances on North Third Avenue. The three entrances were separately numbered as 16, 18 and 20. A tenant operated a barbershop in No. 16, whereas Nos. 18 and 20 were under the control of defendants. The second story was only one-third the area of the first; it was located over No. 20 and housed the gambling operation.

During July, 1969, when F.B.I. agents surveilled and patronized the game, a tavern known as "Ray's Lounge" was operated in No. 18, and the first floor of No. 20 was being remodeled as an allnight pancake house. At that time access to the second floor was gained by entering the tavern, proceeding to the rear, and then climbing stairs at the back of No. 20. A few days before the raid, the pancake house opened, the door at the rear of No. 18 was locked, and apparently access thereafter was obtained directly through the first floor of No. 20. The apparent purpose of the change was to enable the tavern to comply with a 2:00 A.M. closing requirement without obstructing access to the principal business conducted on the premises.

Although appellants are correct insofar as they refer to the entire structure as a multiple occupancy building, the assertion is incorrect as applied to the premises described in the warrant, which was specifically limited to Nos. 18 and 20. The record indicates a single occupancy of the place to be searched and particularly described in the warrant.*fn4 Appellants' reliance on United States v. Hinton, 219 F.2d 324 (7th Cir. 1955) is therefore misplaced.*fn5 The fact that defendants conducted more than one business activity on the premises, particularly since the businesses were interrelated, does not invalidate the warrant or the search. Cf., Steele v. United States, 267 U.S. 498, 45 S. Ct. 414, 69 L. Ed. 757.


The evidence showed that appellants' two co-defendants had been employed in the Evansville gambling operation for several years, that they resided in Kentucky, and that they regularly commuted to work in a car displaying Kentucky license plates. The jury could reasonably infer that appellants had knowledge of their employees' interstate travel.

Appellants argue, however, that the instructions did not require the jury to find such knowledge in order to return a guilty verdict. We disagree with this interpretation of the instructions. They clearly required the jury to find that appellants had knowledge of their co-defendants' interstate travel.*fn6 They did not require a finding of knowledge that the activity violated federal law, but such a finding is not an essential element of the crime. United States v. Miller, 379 F.2d 483, 486-488 (7th Cir. 1967) cert. denied 389 U.S. 930, 88 S. Ct. 291, 19 L. Ed. 2d 281, see United States v. Roselli, 432 F.2d 879, 890-893 (9th Cir. 1970) cert. denied 401 U.S. 924, 91 S. Ct. 883, 27 L. Ed. 2d 828 (discussing Twitchell v. United States, 313 F.2d 425 (9th Cir. 1963) on which appellants rely here).


Neither the Supreme Court's recent decision in Rewis v. United States, 401 U.S. 808, 91 S. Ct. 1056, 28 L. Ed. 2d 493, nor our decision in Altobella v. United States, 442 F.2d 310 (7th Cir. 1971), raises any question about the validity of these convictions.

In Rewis the Court held that actual or foreseeable interstate travel by patrons of the gambling operation was not a sufficient basis for applying ยง 1952 to the illegal activity. There is, however, a clear distinction between travel by customers and travel by employees of an illegal business.*fn7 Whether that travel is merely commuting across a state line on a daily basis or involves ...

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