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People v. Ruffolo





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. MICHAEL A. ORENIC, Judge, presiding.


This appeal was brought by the defendant, Mario Ruffolo, from a conviction for armed robbery. The basis of the appeal is the trial court's denial of motions to suppress the evidence.

According to the testimony given at the trial, Eliezer Ventura was robbed of $21,000 at approximately 9:30 p.m. on August 12, 1976. The incident occurred when Ventura stopped at a 7-Eleven Store on his way home from work. The victim, comptroller of the Scala Packing Company, was carrying the drivers' receipts and deposit slips in a brown manila envelope inside of a black athletic bag marked with the word "TIME" in red letters.

As Ventura left the 7-Eleven Store, he was accosted by a man who said he had a gun and demanded the money in Ventura's car, refusing to take the money Ventura offered out of his pockets. The man's hand was on an object in his waist which looked like a gun.

After receiving the bag from Ventura, the man ran south from the 7-Eleven Store to a car and rode away. The car was an American model with a white body and brown or red top, and with three or four round taillights. Ventura admitted that it was not too bright where the car was parked, but said he could see it. From the time he was first approached until he handed the bag to this individual about a minute elapsed but he looked at the assailant's face for only about 10 seconds.

After the robber left, Ventura returned to the 7-Eleven Store and asked the sales clerk to call the police. The call was answered by Officer Ingram of the Bolingbrook Police Department. After a conversation with Ventura, Officer Ingram notified District Five State Police of the armed robbery and location, so they could broadcast a message to all State police cars in the area. The message included Ventura's description of the automobile, subject and property taken. Ingram testified at trial that the description of the man was that he was 5 feet 8 inches tall, with dark hair, wearing shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt with a U-type neck, and spoke with an accent. The subject was described as armed with a blue-steel weapon. The message also included Ventura's description of the car, a description of the black bag with the letters T-I-M-E written on the side in red, and a statement that the total amount of money taken was $21,000.

The radio dispatch about the robbery was heard at about 9:35 or 9:40 p.m. by Officer Silverman of the police department for the Village of Shorewood, located southwest of Bolingbrook. Silverman made some notes about the message on a note pad.

Silverman testified that at about 10 p.m., while proceeding eastbound on Route 52 near the exit ramp for I-55, he observed a vehicle similar to the one described in the dispatch come off the ramp and proceed westbound on Route 52. As Officer Silverman passed the vehicle, he observed one of the individuals in the car and made a U-turn. After he made the turn, the vehicle, which Silverman described as having a rust colored top over a white body, also turned around and headed back eastbound. Silverman also turned around, but then lost sight of the vehicle.

After losing sight of the vehicle, Silverman drove to the Holiday Inn in Shorewood near I-55. When he arrived at the Holiday Inn, he saw the same vehicle and watched the two occupants get out of the car from a distance of 30 to 40 feet. Silverman, who said the parking lot was lit up with overhead Mercury vapor lights, testified that the driver was a large white male, who may have had a small beard at the time. The passenger was a shorter white male, wearing a pair of short pants and a white sleeveless T-shirt. The shorter man, who was the passenger, had dark brown or black hair which was windblown and stuck out. The driver was carrying a black bag with red lettering, but Silverman admitted that he could not read the lettering. Officer Silverman watched the two men enter the motel and then radioed for assistance.

When Officer Toomey of the Shorewood Police Department arrived, both police officers entered the motel and spoke to the two desk clerks on duty. Deborah Nink, one of the desk clerks working on August 12, 1976, testified that two men came in about 10:15 p.m. and wanted room number 186. The sign-in sheet was filled out by the taller man, whom she identified as Bertucci, a co-defendant. She identified the defendant as Bertucci's companion.

After speaking to the desk clerks, Silverman went outside to the area of room 186 and waited behind a fence. With him from time to time were Officer Toomey and two deputies from the Will County sheriff's police. Silverman testified that he began his surveillance of room 186 at about 10:10 to 10:15 p.m.

At approximately 10:25 or 10:35, the two men came out of room 186. Officer Silverman and the two deputies approached the two men. Silverman asked one of the men for identification and he produced an Illinois Firearms Identification Card. At trial Silverman identified Bertucci as the one who produced the Illinois Firearms Identification Card. He identified the defendant as the man with Bertucci.

Silverman then asked Bertucci if he had come in the vehicle Silverman had seen before, and Bertucci said that he had. Silverman, who had received the Holiday Inn sign-in slip, which did not contain the same license number as the car driven by Bertucci, then asked Bertucci if he knew his license number and Bertucci did not know what the number was. Silverman testified that he asked Bertucci what they were doing in Joliet and Bertucci told him they had come to visit a friend named Rick, but that he did not know Rick's last name and did not know where he lived. Silverman asked Bertucci if he had been in Bolingbrook that night and Bertucci said that he had been there.

At that time Silverman and two other officers brought Bertucci and Ruffolo around to the front of the Holiday Inn near their vehicle. At a hearing on a motion to suppress, Silverman testified that he probably commanded the men to come with him and that the police took them around by the car and leaned them against the trunk of the car. Silverman also admitted that if the ...

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