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United States v. Demet

decided: October 25, 1973.


Swygert, Chief Judge, and Kiley and Fairchild, Circuit Judges. Swygert, Chief Judge (concurring).

Author: Fairchild

FAIRCHILD, Circuit Judge.

Defendant was convicted by a jury of obstructing, delaying and affecting commerce and the movement of articles in commerce by extortion in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 1951, commonly called the Hobbs Act.*fn1 On this appeal defendant asserts error in jury selection, insufficiency of the evidence as to extortion and effect on interstate commerce, and erroneous rulings during the course of trial. We have considered these contentions, find none meritorious and affirm the conviction.

Viewing the evidence in a light most favorable to support the verdict, the following facts appear:

Louis King owned a Chicago cocktail lounge called "The Scene" during the period covered by the indictment, November, 1969 to February, 1970. King purchased some of the beer for his business from the Chicago branch of Anheuser-Busch. It was brewed outside Illinois. Some of the liquor he purchased came from distilleries in other states or countries.

During the period of the indictment, defendant was a Chicago police officer and vice coordinator assigned to the district where the Scene was located.

In late November or early December, 1969, defendant and several other police officers visited the Scene. They sat at the bar and defendant asked King how it was going and whether King had any problems. King described how a police sergeant would come into the lounge on weekend nights and require payment of $10 or $20 in exchange for not enforcing a late night parking ordinance which went into effect one hour before closing. King also told defendant that police officers would come on week nights and unjustifiably accuse him of staying open after hours.

This conversation occurred at about 2:00 A.M. when the lounge was busy. Defendant asked if there was a more quiet place where they could talk. King led defendant to a back room. Once in the room, defendant said, "In order to avoid all this bullshit why don't you pay so much a month." King asked, "Now, what's the mutuels?" To which defendant replied, "Well you tell us." King offered $50.00 a month, a sum which defendant found acceptable. King and his wife made the payment to defendant.

King testified that he paid the money to defendant because he feared that if he did not pay it might jeopardize his liquor license and lead to more "harassment."

Just before Christmas, 1969, defendant and three other officers all in plain clothes entered the Scene Lounge. During conversation with King one of the officers mentioned that a gift had been given or would be given to the "Commander." One of the officers asked what King was going to give. King displayed a bottle of Grand Metaxa. Then one of the officers asked, "Well what about us?" King replied, "O.K. Stop around Christmas and I will have something for you."

King testified that he inferred from this conversation that if he didn't cooperate he might be charged with liquor violations or risk loss of his license.

Later during the Christmas week, defendant stopped at the Scene between 7:00 and 8:00 P.M. before it had opened for business. He had previously called to make sure someone would be there. King had two cases of liquor and two extra bottles waiting for him when he arrived, and assisted in loading the cases into defendant's car. King estimated the value to be over $300.00.

Sometime between Christmas, 1969 and New Year's Day, King had another conversation with defendant at the police station. King complained to defendant that even though he was paying $50.00 a month, he had been forced to pay $300.00 to a sergeant and a patrolman the previous evening. Defendant professed ignorance of the incident and suggested that they go see the "boss." Defendant and King then went to the district commander's office. Defendant went in to see the commander and, after a few minutes, King was invited into his office.

In the presence of defendant, King related to the commander the incident of the previous night. King then asked, "Why am I paying $50.00 a month when I am brought into the station for after hours and forced to pay $300.00 a month?" The commander replied, "I will take care of this. Don't worry about it."

In January, 1970, defendant again visited King at the Scene in the company of other police officers. Defendant asked to see King for a few minutes. The two then went to a back room. King called his ...

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