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United States v. Finn

decided: September 12, 1974.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 72 CR 250. WILLIAM J. LYNCH, Judge.

Clark, Associate Justice,*fn* Cummings, Circuit Judge, and Beamer, Chief District Judge.*fn**

Author: Cummings

CUMMINGS, Circuit Judge.

The indictment in this case charged sixteen defendants and two others with conducting an illegal gambling business involving five or more persons in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1955. Defendants David Sprakfa, Charles Finn and Dennis Finn were also charged in additional counts with using a telephone in interstate commerce to carry on an illegal gambling business in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1952. After the Government advised the defendants that it intended to introduce at trial evidence obtained from wire communications intercepted pursuant to court authorizations, the defendants filed various motions to suppress the evidence.

The district court entered an order suppressing evidence from the wiretaps on the ground that the Department of Justice authorizations for the court orders approving interceptions did not comply with 18 U.S.C. § 2516(1). In the light of the subsequent holding in the similar case of United States v. Chavez, 416 U.S. 562, 94 S. Ct. 1849, 40 L. Ed. 2d 380, 42 LW 4660, this suppression order was erroneous.

At the same time, the district court ordered that all evidence and the fruits thereof obtained by the use of pen registers must be suppressed, stating as follows:

"it is clear that the use of 'pen registers' is not governed by the standards set up in Title 18 U.S.C. Sec. 2510 et seq. Therefore, the use of the 'pen register' in the instant case is governed by * * * [Title] 47 U.S.C. Sec. 605, as construed by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Dote, 371 F.2d 176 (1966). On the authority of that case, it is ordered that all evidence and the fruits thereof obtained by use of the 'pen register' be and are hereby suppressed."

On December 10, 1970, District Judge Austin authorized the use of a pen register in connection with a fifteen-day interception of certain telephone communications. On January 7, 1971, a similar order was entered for another ten-day period. Assuming that the use of these pen registers involved a search (see United States v. Giordano, 416 U.S. 505, n. 4 42 LW 4642, 4657 40 L. Ed. 2d 341, 94 S. Ct. 1820, (concurring and dissenting opinion of Justice Powell)), it should be noted that the two court orders authorizing the use of a pen register were based on affidavits of FBI Special Agent Bobby R. Gillham. The first affidavit consisted of thirty pages and satisfied Judge Austin that there was probable cause for him to authorize the use of the pen register. The second affidavit was sixteen pages in length and showed continuing probable cause for another ten-day authorization.

Some defendants argue that the showing of probable cause was insufficient. The Government questions our jurisdiction to consider this issue, arguing that 18 U.S.C. §§ 2518(10)(b) and 3731 make no provision for cross-appeals and that the district judge did not pass on the probable cause issue. We see no reason not to apply the general rule that an appellee may rely on any ground in support of the judgment. Langnes v. Green, 282 U.S. 531, 538-539, 75 L. Ed. 520, 51 S. Ct. 243; Dandridge v. Williams, 397 U.S. 471, 475-476 n. 6, 25 L. Ed. 2d 491, 90 S. Ct. 1153, The order appealed from is that certain evidence be suppressed, and if we should find that the warrant issued without probable cause, that order must be affirmed. We of course have discretion to remand this issue to the district court if we wish the benefit of that court's views or if the record is incomplete. Dandridge, supra. But we need not do so, and any rule that we must would be inconsistent with considerations of judicial economy and judicial restraint. Such a procedure could easily trigger two pretrial appeals by the Government, a result inconsistent with the reason behind the statutory direction that appeals under Sections 2518(10)(b) and 3731 be diligently prosecuted. It is also easy to imagine a case where the Government's proposed rule would require us to resolve a constitutional issue when the case could be disposed of on the basis of a statutory issue overlooked by the parties below. We conclude that the Government's appeal conferred jurisdiction to determine whether there was probable cause for electronic surveillance.

Defendants argue that probable cause was lacking because the inference mandated by 18 U.S.C. § 1955(c)*fn1 is unconstitutional, the involvement of defendant Charles Finn was insufficiently shown, and the informant regarding unindicted co-conspirator Chester Labiak was not reliable. We reject these arguments. The constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. § 1955(c) has already been established (United States v. Palmer, 465 F.2d 697, 699 (6th Cir. 1972), certiorari denied, 409 U.S. 874, 34 L. Ed. 2d 126, 93 S. Ct. 119), and we adopt the reasoning of that case. The reliability of the informant as to Labiak was adequately shown by past experience. See p. 17 of Exhibit 7 to Government's answer to defendant Scapillato's motion to suppress.

Pages 6 and 19-23 of the same exhibit show probable cause as to the involvement of Charles Finn. The affidavit incorporates multiple levels of hearsay, and the primary attack on its sufficiency is that the ultimate informant is not shown to be reliable. The ultimate informant is described as a Chicago bookmaker; there are no representations that he is known to be reliable. He charged that Charles Finn was running a gambling business from two specified phone numbers. Independent investigation showed that Finn frequently visited the address where one of these phones was located. This is equivalent to the affidavit which was held insufficient in Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410, 21 L. Ed. 2d 637, 89 S. Ct. 584. However, there is an additional corroborating fact here which was not present in Spinelli. The Chicago bookmaker was observed phoning the relevant numbers and placing bets and exchanging line information with persons at those numbers. The Spinelli opinion hinted that this would be sufficient corroboration (393 U.S. 410, 89 S. Ct. 584, 21 L. Ed. 2d 637) and we conclude that it is. The calls were observed by an informer referred to as source number one, who was known from lengthy past experience to be reliable and who explained the source of his information. Source number one informed Special Agent Inserra, who may be presumed reliable by virtue of his position, and he informed the affiant of his information and its sources. Multiple hearsay is of course acceptable so long as the reliability and source of knowledge of each declarant is sufficiently shown. United States v. Carmichael, 489 F.2d 983, 986 (7th Cir. en banc 1973); United States v. Wilson, 479 F.2d 936, 941 (7th Cir. en banc 1973).

Defendants also argue that the pen registers were forbidden by United States v. Dote, 371 F.2d 176 (7th Cir. 1966) and 47 U.S.C. § 605. Dote relied on what is now the second sentence of Section 605; that sentence has since been amended to apply only to radio communications and is therefore irrelevant. Korman v. United States, 486 F.2d 926, 931-932 (7th Cir. 1973). Defendants therefore rely on the first sentence of Section 605, which provides:

"Except as authorized by Chapter 119, Title 18, no person receiving, assisting and receiving, transmitting, or assisting in transmitting, any interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio shall divulge or publish the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning thereof, except through authorized channels of transmission or reception, (1) to any person other than the addressee, his agent, or attorney, (2) to a person employed or authorized to forward such communication to its destination, (3) to proper accounting or distributing officers of the various communicating centers over which the communication may be passed, (4) to the master of a ship under whom he is serving, (5) in response to a subpoena issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, or (6) on demand of other lawful authority."

The introductory exception does not help the Government, for a pen register does not hear sound and chapter 119, Title 18, authorizes only the "aural acquisition" of communications. 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510(4), 2516(1); Korman v. United States, 486 F.2d 926, 931 (7th Cir. 1973); see also United States v. Giordano, 416 U.S. 505, 42 LW 4642, 4657, ...

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