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12/22/89 the People of the State of v. Peter Santoro Et Al.

December 22, 1989

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

PETER SANTORO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



Before he issued the ticket, Villa received the computer printout on the license plate. The printout indicated that the status of the plate was "unavailable." No stops were in effect; there were no convictions of Santoro in the preceding 12 months, and he was not wanted on any warrants.

APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, SIXTH DIVISION

549 N.E.2d 708, 192 Ill. App. 3d 895, 140 Ill. Dec. 57 1989.IL.2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Daniel J. Lynch, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE EGAN delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA and LaPORTA, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE EGAN

This is a State appeal from an order allowing the defendants' motion to suppress evidence.

The defendants, Peter Santoro and John Kopel, were arrested on August 10, 1987. The State charged both defendants with possession of cocaine; Kopel was also charged with possession of cannabis. At the suppression hearing, the only witness was Officer Thomas Villa, who was called by the defendants. The defendants also introduced some documents. Villa's testimony, in substance, is as follows:

At approximately 4 a.m. on August 10, 1987, Villa, a Burbank police officer for five years, was on routine patrol duty in a marked police vehicle driving southbound at the 8100 block of Long Avenue in the Village of Burbank. He noticed a Ford LTD, approximately three car lengths in front of him, that had a partially open trunk with a bicycle sticking out. He believed the trunk obscured the driver's vision, a traffic violation. He then ran an information check on the car's license plate, 733 788.

The radio communications dispatcher, Vicki Guiterrez, informed Villa that the plate was registered to a 1973 Dodge van owned by Peter Santoro and that the plate had expired in November 1986. He thought that Guiterrez might have told him that the status of the plate was unavailable.

After receiving that information, Villa, who was alone, called over his radio for a backup and stopped the car. Santoro was driving, and Kopel was a passenger. It was dark out as Villa approached the car, and he turned on his flashlight. He went to the car window, which had been lowered, asked Santoro for his driver's license and used his flashlight to see into the car. He saw between Santoro's feet the butt of a gun sticking out from underneath Santoro's seat. At the time he saw the gun he was asking for Santoro's driver's license. After he observed the gun he pulled out his own gun and told both men to get out of the car; both men did so. For his own safety he had them put their hands on the vehicle, and he waited for his backup to come before he did any further investigation. After his backup arrived, he gave Kopel a "pat-down search."

While patting down Kopel to check for weapons, he came across a hard object in the crotch area of Kopel's pants. He had Kopel pull down his pants, and Villa retrieved a metallic pipe in a clear plastic bag that also contained a green leafy substance that appeared to Villa to be cannabis. He continued his search and found a cardboard cigarette package in Kopel's left shirt pocket. That package contained cigarettes and a small white envelope, identified on the street as a "snow seal," that contained a white powdery substance.

Officer Danny Gafney searched Santoro and pulled from his left pants pocket a white envelope "snow seal" with white powder, suspected cocaine. Gafney conducted a full search of Santoro, not just a pat-down search. After the defendants were arrested, Villa took the gun from the car. It was a toy replica of an Uzi submachine gun. Villa took both men to the police station and issued a traffic ticket to Santoro for fictitious plates. He never gave Santoro a ticket for driving while his vision was obstructed.

The defense established that the plates had been transferred from a 1973 Dodge to the 1978 Ford LTD on May 28, 1987, more than ...


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