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People v. Luckett





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. KENNETH R. WENDT, Judge, presiding.


After a bench trial, Clarence M. Luckett (defendant) was found guilty of bribery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, par. 33-1(d)), and was sentenced to probation for 4 years with 120 days of periodic weekend imprisonment. He has appealed, urging that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress a statement which he made while in custody and that the evidence failed to prove him guilty of bribery beyond a reasonable doubt.

The State's theory is that defendant, an officer of the Illinois Bureau of Investigation (IBI), accepted money from a person who had been an informant in various narcotic cases. In return for this, defendant was to influence James Reilley, assistant State's Attorney, to act leniently in prosecuting this informant. The facts will be stated in a later portion of this opinion. Since the issue concerning the motion to suppress is, in our opinion, central to the issue of guilt, we will first summarize the proceedings with reference to said motion.

Prior to trial, defendant filed a written motion to suppress certain statements under a number of theories. Defendant's motion for new trial avers that the statements in question "were involuntary since they were elicited as a result of mental coercion." After a hearing, the trial court denied the motion to suppress. The parties by their counsel stipulated that no physical coercion was used by any agent of the IBI or of the State's Attorney's office against defendant while he was in custody. The State called two agents of the IBI and two assistant State's Attorneys. The parties have stipulated that defendant was arrested about 5:15 p.m. on October 29, 1971. The evidence shows that he remained in the custody of the IBI at their office in Chicago until about 2 o'clock the following morning when he was taken before the bond court and released on his individual bond.

Carroll Gibson, a special agent in charge of narcotics for the IBI, testified that he saw defendant in custody at the IBI headquarters in Chicago. In response to his inquiry, defendant told him that he had been advised of his rights. This was about 7 p.m. that evening; Gibson left the room and returned about 9 p.m. He did not notice anything unusual about defendant. He told defendant that he was suspending him from his position. He asked defendant about official equipment such as his badge, gun and credit cards. Defendant responded that he had some of this equipment at home. The witness then started to give defendant his Miranda warnings. At that time assistant State's Attorney James Reilley entered the room and completed the statement of rights to the defendant. Defendant was asked if he wished to make a phone call to his attorney but responded that he wished to call a lady friend. In response to an inquiry from the witness, defendant stated that he had no objection to monitoring of the telephone call by the witness. The defendant made the call and told his friend that he was in "big trouble down at the office" and that he wanted her immediately to go home and replace the telephone on the hook.

The witness then ascertained that defendant's gun and other items of official property were missing. Defendant informed him that they were at defendant's home and said he would have no objection if the witness went to get these items. A search warrant was obtained and defendant's residence was searched. At about 12:30 a.m. the witness returned. He did not notice anything unusual about defendant. Both the witness and Reilley asked defendant some questions. At that time Reilley asked the witness if the IBI had any objection to permitting defendant his liberty on his own bond. Defendant told Reilley that he did not wish to be taken to jail and asked if he could be released on his own recognizance. Reilley told defendant that he would not object to this procedure if the IBI did not. The witness made a telephone call to his superior who told him that the IBI had no objection to defendant's release on his own bond.

Terry Sullivan, an assistant State's Attorney, testified that he came to the IBI office about 8 o'clock that evening with James Reilley. The witness and Reilley first conferred with Officer Gibson. After about an hour all three of them went to see defendant. Gibson and Reilley both advised defendant of his rights although defendant had told them that this was unnecessary as he understood his rights. The witness went to defendant's home along with officers of the IBI. They returned at about 1 a.m. Regarding the interrogation, the witness testified that defendant first denied his guilt. After he returned from the search of defendant's home, Reilley again asked defendant if he wanted to tell the truth. Defendant stated, "yes" and then responded affirmatively to questions by Reilley as to whether he took a $420 bribe on October 29, 1971, in the Hub Restaurant from Wallace Davis to fix a case in narcotics court. The witness further testified that defendant then asked Reilley if he could be released on his own bond. Reilley responded that he did not wish defendant to make the statement he did just to be released from custody. Reilley added that this matter was up to the judge in bond court and repeated to defendant that he did not wish the defendant to make a statement because he was tired, wanted to be promised something or was hungry. Reilley asked defendant if his statement was the truth and whether it actually happened that way and defendant responded affirmatively.

Assistant State's Attorney James Reilley testified that he had known defendant previous to the arrest. Both the witness and Officer Gibson advised defendant concerning his Miranda rights although defendant stated that he understood his rights. The witness corroborated the conversation regarding the phone call by defendant to his lady friend and the return of State property. The witness, defendant and others present were supplied with hamburgers, doughnuts and coffee.

The witness testified in detail that, shortly after the return of the officers who had executed the search warrant, he asked defendant if he wished to tell the truth and after further conversation defendant responded affirmatively to his questions concerning whether the defendant took a bribe of $420 from Wallace Davis in order to fix a case. Defendant then asked the witness if he was going to be released on his own bond. The witness responded that, after conversations with officers of the IBI, he would recommend that the judge in bond court follow this procedure but that he could not tell defendant whether or not the judge would do it.

The witness testified that defendant further told him in response to questions that defendant was telling the truth and did not make his statement because he was hungry or tired. In response to further questions concerning the money, defendant stated that he threw the money away in the street. Defendant then told him that he would be willing to sign a written statement and that he would give him a statement before a court reporter on the following Monday, November 1, 1971. Defendant was then taken before the bond court.

The last witness for the State was Russell Cerceo, an agent for the IBI. He was present at the interrogation commencing about 10 p.m. He left shortly but returned about 10:30 and remained until about 1 a.m. He then left the room again but returned about 1:15 a.m. He testified that no tape recorder was operating and that the conversations with defendant were not taken in shorthand. Between 1:20 and 1:25 a.m., he heard the conversation concerning release of defendant on his own bond initiated by Reilley. Reilley told defendant that he would probably be released on his own bond provided that the judge accepted the request to that effect. Also, Reilley asked defendant if he would make a written statement on the following Monday concerning what he had said.

Defendant was a Chicago police officer for about 1 year. In 1969, he became a narcotics investigator for the IBI. On the motion to suppress, he testified that he was arrested and taken to the IBI offices with which he was familiar. He was searched several times and a comment was made that "the money" could not be found. Wallace Davis, the informer, was called into the room at one time and the officers showed defendant a microphone strapped to Davis' back. Reilley did not completely inform defendant of his constitutional rights but started and then stopped. Defendant testified to his return of official property and the fact that he gave the officers the key to his bureau office. He then asked if he could make a telephone call to his lawyer. Reilley asked who the lawyer was. Defendant responded that he did not know but that he would get the telephone number from his friend. Reilley refused to permit him to call his friend.

Reilley talked to the defendant and said that he could help defendant to avoid the "tough tactics" of another State's Attorney. Reilley then told defendant that if defendant did not tell him what he did with the money, Reilley would see that he went to the County Jail that night. Reilley told him, in effect, that the IBI could not obtain defendant's release on his own recognizance without the State's Attorney. Defendant testified that he did not wish to go to the County Jail that night because persons he had arrested were confined there.

Defendant also requested several times that money found upon his person at the time of his arrest be returned. He also asked if he could call his friend to obtain a telephone number for a lawyer. The response was that he could do so only if the officers were permitted to listen. Defendant corroborated previous testimony regarding the making of the monitored call. Defendant further testified that Reilley then told Officer Gibson that, even though the IBI would agree to defendant's release on his own bond, he would request the court to fix a cash bond concerning possession of marijuana. Apparently some of this substance had been found by the officers at ...

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