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United States v. Harold Conn

decided: July 30, 1985.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
HAROLD CONN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 83 CR 983 -- John A. Nordberg, Judge.

Coffey, Flaum, and Wright,*fn* Circuit Judges.

Author: Wright

WRIGHT, Circuit Judge.

Conn appeals from a jury conviction on one count of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c) ("RICO"), and nine counts of violating the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1951.

The conviction resulted from the government's "Operation Greylord" designed to uncover corruption in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. The indictment charged that, while employed as a deputy clerk, Conn solicited and received money to influence public officials in the performance of their official duties.

This appeal presents three questions, each of which we answer in the affirmative:

(1) Whether the court properly admitted tape recorded conversations of third parties;

(2) Whether the government proved the requisite effect on interstate commerce;

(3) Whether the government proved that Conn participated in the conduct of the affairs of the Circuit Court of Cook County through a pattern of racketeering activity.

I. ADMISSION OF TAPE RECORDED CONVERSATIONS

Conn asserts that the court erred in admitting into evidence taped conversations of out-of-court witnesses. He contends that the evidence was hearsay, the prejudicial effect of which outweighed its probative value. He asserts also that his Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses was violated.

From September 1980 through January 1982, Conn solicited and received $1,610 from FBI Special Agent David Ries and FBI Project Development Specialist Terrence Hake to influence the disposition of seven state court cases involving traffic offenses, shoplifting, and criminal damage to property. During this time, Ries and Hake, while acting as criminal defense attorneys, engaged in over 40 tape recorded conversations with Conn and others.

The jury heard 27 tape recorded conversations. Defendant's pretrial motion in limine was directed only to five of these involving conversations with third parties:

(1) Hake spoke with Judge John Devine on July 7, 1981, regarding People v. Benson, a DUI case;

(2) Hake spoke with Judge Devine on August 6, 1981, regarding People v. Cramer, a DUI case;

(3) Hake spoke with Judge John Laurie on December 17, 1981, with reference to People v. McClain, a shoplifting case;

(4) Hake spoke with Judge Laurie on January 4, 1982, as to People v. McClain ; and

(5) Hake spoke with Police Officer James Trunzo on December 18, 1981, regarding People v. McClain.

Judge Nordberg cautioned the jury on the limited use of this evidence. To assist the jury in understanding the tapes, the court provided each juror with a notebook containing written transcripts. These notebooks included cautionary instructions both before and after ...


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