Judges Opinions Public Notices, — February 10, 2021 12:22 — 0 Comments

Public Notices, February 10, 2021

Volume 58, No. 28

 

PUBLIC NOTICES

DECEDENTS’ ESTATES

NOTICE OF TRUSTEE

CHANGE OF NAME

NOTICE OF PRIVATE SALE

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Luis Almodovar-Rivera

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Letters Testamentary or of Administration have been granted in the following estates. All persons indebted to the said estate are required to make payment, and those having claims or demands to present the same without delay to the administrators or executors named.

 

FIRST PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF JUSTINE J. KREIFELS, late of Annville Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased, who died January 9, 2021. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

John J. Kreifels and Brigitte R. Jones, Co-Executors

 

John D. Killian, Esquire

Killian & Gephart, LLP

218 Pine Street

Harrisburg, PA 17101

 

ESTATE OF STANLEY P. RZEPLINSKI, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Gregory A. Rzeplinski, Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF AMY I. NYE, late of Swatara Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Pollyanna M. Nye, Executrix

 

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF MARGERY A. DADAMIO, late of 1 Boyd Street, Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Rita Jackson, Executrix

122 Norway Lane

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

Robert R. Kreitz, Esquire

Kreitz | Gallen-Schutt

1210 Broadcasting Road, Suite 103

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

ESTATE OF PATRICIA J. STIMA, late of Cleona Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Valerie S. Chenail, Executrix

111 Stonebrook Drive

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

Edward J. Coyle, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

P.O. Box 49

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF GARY R. DAUGHERTY, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, 17046, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Gail M. Rohland, Executrix

 

Horace M. Ehrgood, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF ANN T. KURY, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, 17046, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Thomas A. Kury, Executor

 

Horace M. Ehrgood, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF DORIS J. STALNECKER, late of West Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, 17545, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Stephanie A. Bell, Executrix

 

Horace M. Ehrgood, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF DORIS J. NELSON, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, 17042, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Horace M. Ehrgood, Executor

 

Horace M. Ehrgood, Esquire

410 Chestnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF JOAN S. BRIODY A/K/A JOAN BRIODY, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

 

Rebecca Briody, Executrix

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF MAEANNA J. MILLER, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executors.

 

Patricia J. Shirey, Executor

11 Edris Road

Womelsdorf, PA 19567

 

Robert G. Miller, Jr., Executor

71 Mill Road

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA, 17067

 

ESTATE OF JANET M. WERNER, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

 

Bruce M. Werner, Executor

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

SECOND PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF CAMELIA A. UNDERKOFFLER, late of 440 E. Lincoln Ave., Myerstown Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.


Colleen J. Hoch, Co-Executor

835 Blattadahl Rd.

Mohrsville, PA 19541

 

Sharon L. Gruber, Co-Executor

26 North Rd.

Robesonia, PA 19551

 

Robert R. Kreitz, Esquire

Kreitz | Gallen-Schutt

1210 Broadcasting Road, Suite 103

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

ESTATE OF JOANNE M. ROBB, A/K/A, JOANNE MOYER, A/K/A, JOANNE MARIE ROBB, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administratrix.


Samantha Schaeffer, Administratrix

 

Loreen M. Burkett, Esquire

Weiss Burkett

802 Walnut Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF THOMAS A. SHAAK, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executrixes.

 

Cathy L. Wise & Caren A. Butera, Co-Executrixes

 

James K. Noel, IV, Esquire

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC

570 Lausch Lane, Suite 200

Lancaster, PA 17601-3057

 

ESTATE OF RUTH E. DUNDORE, late of Jackson Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Cynthia L. Liskey, Co-Executor

494 Kutztown Road

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Lynnea Pellissier, Co-Executor

206 Peach Avenue

Hershey, PA 17033

 

Susan Dundore, Co-Executor

490 Stracks Dam Road

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA, 17067

 

ESTATE OF GERALDINE J. BOHR, late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executrixes.

 

Lois M. Padilione, Deborah L. Lutz and Rosanne E. Lutz, Co-Executrixes

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

ESTATE OF DOROTHY B. LASHINSKY, late of Cornwall Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.


Mary A. Lashinsky, Executrix

William G. Fenwick, Jr., Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF SUZANNE M. SHANKROFF, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Benjamin B. Shankroff, Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF AMELIA R. GALBRAITH, late of North Lebanon Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration, c.t.a. have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

  1. Kenneth Carpenter, Jr., Administrator, c.t.a.

108 Sandra Drive

Lebanon, PA 17046

 

Kenneth C. Sandoe, Esquire

Steiner & Sandoe, Attorneys

36 West Main Avenue

Myerstown, PA, 17067

 

ESTATE OF GARY E. LOY, late of Swatara Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

 

Michael K. Loy, Co-Executor

Kelly A. Loy, Co-Executor

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF ALLEN A. MILLER, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

Nathan S. Shearer, Co-Executor

Katherine E. Shearer, Co-Executor

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF DONNA J. ZIMA, A/K/A DONNA JEAN ZIMA, A/K/A DONNA ZIMA, late of South Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

Joshua D. Zima, Co-Executor

Tracy V. M. Deck, Co-Executor

 

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF ROBERT P. YOKLISCH, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration, c.t.a. have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Paul A. Lundberg, Administrator, c.t.a.

 

Reilly Wolfson Law Office

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

 

THIRD PUBLICATION

 

ESTATE OF ELIZABETH M. PHILLIPS, late of StoneRidge Poplar Run, 440 E. Lincoln Ave., Myerstown Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Ms. Mary S. Strickler, Executor

107 N. Elm St.

Wernersville, PA 19565

 

Robert R. Kreitz, Esquire

Kreitz | Gallen-Schutt

1210 Broadcasting Road, Suite 103

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

ESTATE OF PAULINE F. MANWILLER, late of No. 12 Brookside Circle, Township of Jackson, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, Deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

Linda L. Manwiller, Co-Executor

12 Brookside Circle

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

Larry L. Manwiller, Co-Executor

3995 Conrad Weiser Parkway

Womelsdorf, PA 19567

 

Jonathan B. Batdorf, Esquire

317 East Lancaster Avenue

Shillington, PA 19607

 

ESTATE OF DOLORES A. MILLER, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Co-Executors.

Michael R. Miller, Co-Executor

Thomas W. Miller, Co-Executor

 

Anthony J. Fitzgibbons, Esquire

279 North Zinn’s Mill Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

717-279-8313

 

ESTATE OF DEBORAH A. KENEAGY A/K/A DEBORAH ANN KENEAGY, late of North Cornwall Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.


Tyler S. Keneagy, Executor

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF FRANKLIN D. BOHR, A/K/A FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT BOHR, late of the Union Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Linda Mease, Executrix

 

Caleb J. Zimmerman, Esquire

Zimmerman Law Office

466 Jonestown Road

Jonestown, PA 17038

 

ESTATE OF KATIE M. MARTIN, late of the North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Patricia M. McPoyle, Executrix

 

Gerald J. Brinser, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF ALBERTA M. SIMPSON, late of Myerstown Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

Jeffrey S. Simpson

429 Royers Road

Myerstown, PA 17067

 

John D. Enck, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

Attorney

 

ESTATE OF WALTER G. MCANNEY, JR., late of Mount Gretna, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Gillian M. Hewitt, Executrix

 

Kevin M. Richards, Esquire

P.O. Box 1140

Lebanon, PA 17042-1140

 

ESTATE OF MIRIAM M. PATRICK, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, died 11/27/2020. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

Ferlin E. Patrick, Executor

 

George W. Porter, Esquire

909 E. Chocolate Ave.

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF JOANNE M. STROHM, late of North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, died 10/28/2020. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Kathleen M. Leo, Executrix

 

George W. Porter, Esquire

909 E. Chocolate Ave.

Hershey, PA 17033

 

ESTATE OF ROBERT T. WIERINGA, JR., late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

Eric R. Wieringa, Executor

4096 Silver Valley Drive

Lake Orion, Michigan 48359

 

Paul W. Kilgore, Esquire

Spitler, Kilgore & Enck, PC

522 South 8th Street

Lebanon, PA 17042

Attorney

 

ESTATE OF RODNEY L. KELLER, late of Palmyra Borough, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters of Administration have been granted to the undersigned Administrator.

 

Megan N. Warner, Administrator

 

Jessica Fisher Greene, Esquire

Walters & Galloway, PLLC

39 West Main Street, Mechanicsburg PA 17055

 

ESTATE OF JUNE L. MOONSHINE, late of the North Londonderry Township, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executrix.

Janine M. Patrick, Executrix

 

Keith D. Wagner, Esquire

  1. O. Box 323

Palmyra, PA 17078

 

ESTATE OF JACOB R. STOLTZFUS, late of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, deceased. Letters Testamentary have been granted to the undersigned Executor.

Elam G. Stoltzfus, Executor

 

Anthony J. Fitzgibbons, Esquire

279 North Zinn’s Mill Road

Lebanon, PA 17042

717-279-8313

 

NOTICE OF TRUSTEE

 

LOUISE P. RANDAZZO, Deceased. Late of the City of Lebanon, Lebanon County, Pennsylvania.

 

NOTICE is hereby given pursuant to Section 7755(c) of the Pennsylvania Uniform Trust Act that The LOUISE P. RANDAZZO Trust is in existence, that Louise P. Randazzo is deceased, and that Deborah A. Mogel is the Trustee. ALL persons indebted to the Trust or to the above named Decedent are requested to make payment, and those having claims or demands against the same will make them known without delay to:

 

Mrs. Deborah A. Mogel

928 Snapdragon Ct.

Lebanon, PA 17046 or

 

Scott C. Painter, Esquire

Attorney for the Trustee,

Deborah A. Mogel

906 Penn Ave., P.O. Box 6269

Wyomissing, PA 19610

 

CHANGE OF NAME

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that on January 8, 2021, the Petition of Lauren Kelly Noland was filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, to Civil Action No. 2021-00049, praying for a decree to change the name of Lauren Kelly Noland to Lauren Kelly.

The Court has fixed the 19th day of February, 2021, at 1:30 P.M., in Courtroom No. 2, of the Municipal Building, 400 South Eighth Street, Lebanon, Pennsylvania, as the time and place for the hearing of said Petition, when and where all persons interested may appear and show cause, if any they have, why the prayer of said Petition should not be granted.

 

FEEMAN LAW OFFICES

  1. SCOT FEEMAN

Attorney I.D. No. 80052

815 Cumberland Street, Suite 200

Lebanon, PA 17046

Telephone No.: (717) 273-1763

Fax No.: (717) 222-5337

rsfeeman@feemanlaw.com

 

NOTICE OF PRIVATE SALE

 

NOTICE is hereby given that on February 9, 2021, the Board of Directors of the Lebanon School District, filed a Petition for the sale of the following tracts of real estate:

 

Northwest Elementary School containing 2.65 acres located on the northwest corner of the intersection of North Ninth Street and Maple Street in Lebanon City; and the second parcel of land containing .95 acres, adjacent to the elementary school building, the identified tax parcel I.D. numbers are 07-2336938-372822 and 07-2336473-372837, respectively.

 

The Court has fixed the 2nd day of March, 2021, at 3:30 o’clock P.M. at Lebanon County Court of Common Pleas, located at 400 South Eighth Street, Lebanon, Pennsylvania 17042, as the time and place for the hearing on said petition when and where all persons interested may appear and show cause, if any they have, why the prayer of the petitioner should not be granted.

 

Michael S. Bechtold, Esquire

Buzgon Davis Law Offices

525 South Eighth Street

Lebanon, PA 17042-0049

Phone: (717) 274-1421

E-mail: Bechtold@buzgondavis.com

Solicitor for Lebanon School District

 

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION

 

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Articles of Incorporation-Domestic Nonprofit Corporation were filed with the Department of State at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on January 26, 2021, incorporating Lebanon County Library System as a nonprofit corporation under the provisions of the Nonprofit Corporation Law of 1988.

 

Michelle R. Calvert, Esquire

REILLY WOLFSON

1601 Cornwall Road

Lebanon, Pennsylvania 17042

 

 

JUDGES OPINION

 

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Luis Almodovar-Rivera

 

Criminal Action-Constitutional Law-Delivery of Controlled Substances-Omnibus Pretrial Motion-Probable Cause-Arrest-Seizure-Totality of the Circumstances-Receipt of Contraband-United States Postal Service-Conscious Dominion

 

Defendant was charged with drug related offenses after retrieving a package containing cocaine that was delivered by the United States Postal Service at a residence.  Defendant filed an Omnibus Pretrial Motion on the basis that law enforcement lacked probable cause to take him into custody and to seize the package when he entered his vehicle after retrieving the package from the residence without having opened it.

 

  1. Probable cause is established when the facts and circumstances within the knowledge of the officer at the time of the arrest are sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution in the belief that the suspect has committed or is committing a crime.

 

  1. In determining whether probable cause exists, the court must apply the totality of the circumstances test by considering all of the detailed facts and circumstances surrounding the arrest.

 

  1. In addition to factors including time, street location, the number of transactions and the movements and manners of the parties, other factors to be considered in determining the existence of probable cause include whether a trained narcotics officer observed either drugs or containers known to hold drugs or multiple, complex or suspicious transactions or was responding to a citizen’s or an informant’s tip.

 

  1. The experience of a law enforcement officer fairly may be regarded as a relevant factor in determining probable cause if the officer demonstrates a nexus between his or her experience and the search, arrest or seizure of evidence.

 

  1. Legal possession of an item occurs when an individual has the power and the intent to control the item.

 

  1. Mere receipt of a parcel cannot trigger legal possession.

 

  1. The totality of the circumstances is sufficient to establish probable cause to effectuate Defendant’s arrest and seizure of the contraband including information received by law enforcement by the United States Postal Service that a parcel bound for Lebanon contained cocaine, the parcel was addressed and delivered to Defendant’s residence, the parcel was addressed to Defendant’s middle and last names, screenshots tracking the package were located on Defendant’s phone, Defendant was observed in the delivery area forty-five (45) minutes after the delivery of the package and surveilled the package for fifteen (15) minutes, Defendant retrieved the package from the residence by parking near the residence, leaving the driver’s side door open and attempting to drive away quickly after he had retrieved the package and the law enforcement officer with experience and training in narcotics investigations testified that he believed that cocaine was shipped to Defendant for distribution.

 

  1. Defendant may argue at trial that he did not have knowledge of the contents of the package with the jury being instructed that mere receipt of the package without more cannot establish conscious dominion over the package.

 

L.C.C.C.P. No. CP-38-CR-0001040-2019, Opinion by Bradford H. Charles, Judge, January 9, 2020.

 

 

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CRIMINAL DIVISION

 

 

COMMONWEALTH OF                      : 

PENNSYLVANIA                                :                                                                                                                           :        NO. CP-38-CR-1040-2019

  1. :       

                                                          :

LUIS ALMODOVAR-RIVERA             :

:

ORDER OF COURT

 

 

AND NOW, this 9th day of January, 2020, in accordance with the attached Opinion, the Defendant’s Omnibus Pre-Trial Motion for Relief is DENIED.  The Defendant is directed to appear at the Criminal Call of the List scheduled for April 7, 2020 at 8:30am in Courtroom #3.  He is also directed to appear for the first day of Criminal Trials scheduled to commence on April 20, 2020 at 8:30am in Courtroom #3.

 

BY THE COURT:

 

__________________________J.

BRADFORD H. CHARLES

BHC/gb

Cc:    Court Administration (order only)

Joseph D. Caraciolo, Esquire// 112 Market Street, Harrisburg, Pa 17101

Nichole L. Eisenhart, Esquire// District Attorney’s Office

 

IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS LEBANON COUNTY

PENNSYLVANIA

 

CRIMINAL DIVISION

 

 

COMMONWEALTH OF                      : 

PENNSYLVANIA                                :                                                                                                                           :        NO. CP-38-CR-1040-2019

  1. :       

                                                          :

LUIS ALMODOVAR-RIVERA             :

:

APPEARANCES

 

Nichole L. Eisenhart, Esquire          For Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE

 

Joseph D. Caraciolo, Esquire For Luis Almodovar-Rivera

OPINION BY CHARLES, J., January 9, 2020

 

Probable cause justifying a warrantless arrest is determined by the “totality of the circumstances.” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983). This case involves delivery of a package, which contained a large amount of cocaine. The United States Postal Services notified the Pennsylvania State Police of the parcel then Police conducted a controlled delivery of the package. The Defendant was observed engaging in “counter-surveillance” activity in an attempt to ensure an unostentatious retrieval of the parcel. The Defendant was taken into custody once he attempted to flee with the package.  We determine based on a totality of circumstances, that police had probable cause to charge the Defendant.  Therefore, we will deny the Habeas Corpus motion filed by the Defendant.

 

  1. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Prior to May 30, 2019, the Pennsylvania State Police was notified that a package, which contained cocaine, was to be delivered to the residence of Luis Almodovar-Rivera (hereafter DEFENDANT). The State Police maintained surveillance on the package after it was delivered. The DEFENDANT was observed in the area forty-five (45) minutes after the package was delivered. The DEFENDANT spent fifteen (15) minutes engaging in what Trooper Long described as “counter-surveillance”; the DEFENDANT was observed watching the package from various locations and looking for anyone that may be out of place such as police or law enforcement. The DEFENDANT then went to the residence where the package had been delivered, parked his vehicle, left the driver’s door open, picked up the package, and returned to his vehicle. At that point, DEFENDANT was taken into custody. The name on the package was Manuel Rivera. DEFENDANT’s middle name and last names are Manuel Rivera therefore, the package was addressed to DEFENDANT.

Charges were immediately filed against the DEFENDANT for Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance and Criminal Attempt to do so.  During the pre-trial stage of proceedings, the DEFENDANT filed an Omnibus Pre-Trial Motion for Relief.  The issue proffered in that motion challenged the arrest and seizure of evidence based upon lack of probable cause.  We conducted a Factual Hearing on November 6, 2019.  At that hearing, Trooper Clint Long testified.  Following testimony, we solicited and received briefs.  The issue raised by the DEFENDANT’s Pre-Trial Motion is now before us for disposition.

 

  1. DISCUSSION
  2. Arguments of the Parties

The DEFENDANT complains that he was arrested before he even opened the package.[1]  DEFENDANT argues that the Commonwealth should have waited to observe his reaction to the contents of the package assuming he even tried to open the package. In addition, DEFENDANT argues that the Commonwealth has presented no evidence that the package was to be delivered to the him or that DEFENDANT knew or should have known what was inside the package.

The Commonwealth responds by arguing that the police had more than a probability of criminal behavior. The Commonwealth avers that DEFENDANT picked up a package that the affiant, an experienced and trained narcotic investigator, knew contained cocaine. Furthermore, DEFENDANT arrived in the area of the package and Troopers watched him for approximately fifteen (15) minutes as DEFENDANT surveilled the package.

  1. Legal Principles

Probable cause is made out when the facts and circumstances which are within the knowledge of the officer at the time of the arrest, are sufficient to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that the suspect has committed or is committing a crime. Commonwealth v. Rodriguez, 526 Pa. 268, 585 A.2d 988, 990 (1991). The question to ask is not whether the officer’s belief was “correct or more likely true than false.” Texas v. Brown, 460 U.S. 730, 742, 103 S.Ct. 1535, 75 L.Ed.2d 502 (1983). Rather, we require only a “probability, and not a prima facie showing, of criminal activity.” Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 235, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 76 L.Ed.2d 527 (1983).

In determining whether probable cause exists, we apply a totality of the circumstances test by considering all of the detailed facts and circumstances. Commonwealth v. Lawson, 454 Pa. 23, 309 A.2d 391 (1973).

“The time is important; the street location is important; the use of a street for commercial transaction is important; the number of such transactions is important; the place where the small items were kept by one of the sellers is important; the movements and manners of the parties are important.” Id.

 

Well-recognized additional factors give rise to probable cause. Id. at 753. These include whether a trained narcotics officer observed either drugs or containers commonly known to hold drugs, whether the police observed multiple, complex, suspicious transactions or whether the police officer was responding to a citizen’s complaint or to an informant’s tip. Id.

A police officer’s experience may fairly be regarded as a relevant factor in determining probable cause. Commonwealth v. Thompson, 985 A.2d 928 (Sup. 2009). We caution, however, that a court cannot simply conclude that probable cause existed based upon nothing more than the number of years an officer has spent on the force. Rather, the officer must demonstrate a nexus between his experience and the search, arrest, or seizure of evidence. Indeed, the very foundation of the totality test is the recognition that all relevant factors go into the probable cause mix. Id.

  1. Analysis

In this case, the Pennsylvania State Police received reasonably trustworthy information from the United States Postal Service that a parcel bound for Lebanon contained cocaine. The substance inside was field tested and yielded a positive result for cocaine. Furthermore, the weight and size of the package was of concern because it was large enough to contain a large amount of cocaine.

Employing the “totality of the circumstances” test, the following evidence tied the DEFENDANT to the parcel:

  • The parcel was addressed and delivered to DEFENDANT’s residence.
  • Although the package was not addressed to DEFENDANT’s first name, it was, however, addressed to DEFENDANT’s middle and last names – Manuel Rivera.
  • Screenshots tracking the package were found on DEFENDANT’s phone, which establish that he was tracking the package through the shipping and delivery phases.
  • DEFENDANT was observed in the delivery area forty-five (45) minutes after the package was delivered.
  • DEFENDANT spent approximately fifteen (15) minutes surveilling the package, seemingly to ensure the absence of law enforcement.
  • DEFENDANT parked his vehicle near the residence where the package was delivered, left the driver’s side door open, retrieved the package and, attempted to drive away with the package in haste.

In addition, we must consider Trooper Long’s experience and training in narcotic investigations. Trooper Long testified that he has been a Pennsylvania State Trooper since 2010. Between September of 2015 and February of 2018, Trooper Long was in the South Central Strike Force Unit with the Drug Law Enforcement Division. Thereafter, Trooper Long worked in the Central Interdiction Drug Law Enforcement Division. Trooper Long testified that he received specialized training in drug deliveries, identification and use. In addition, Trooper Long has filed charges on individuals who possessed controlled substances with the intent to deliver more than twenty-five (25) times. Trooper Long’s experience and training are important because it is his determination of probable cause that is now being challenged.

Trooper Long testified that he believed cocaine was shipped to DEFENDANT for distribution in Lebanon County.  Due to the presence of additional factors in support of Trooper Long’s conclusion that he witnessed a drug trafficking scheme involving the DEFENDANT, we find no error in Trooper Long’s conclusion that probable cause was present here.

The essence of the DEFENDANT’s argument is that mere receipt of a package cannot support criminal charges.  The DEFENDANT points out that a recipient of a parcel has no ability to control what is inside the parcel until it is opened.  He points out that possession is a crime of intent and until an individual undertakes conscious dominion over the contents of a parcel, that individual does not have the intent to possess those contents.

As a general proposition, we agree with the DEFENDANT’s legal position.  In Pennsylvania, legal possession occurs when an individual has the power and the intent to control an item.  See, Commonwealth v. Brown 48 A.3d 426, 430 (Pa.Super.2012).  Under this legal doctrine, mere receipt of a parcel cannot trigger legal possession.  If it did, sometimes unwitting recipients could find themselves charged for something in which they were not involved.[2]  Such a result would be profoundly unfair.

This case, however, involves far more than mere receipt of a parcel.  Here, the DEFENDANT was tracking the package using his phone.  Moreover, police were able to identify the DEFENDANT undertaking counter-surveillance activities for fifteen (15) minutes.  When the DEFENDANT did ultimately move to take physical control of the package, he did not do so in a casual manner; he left his car door open while he proceeded quickly to take possession of the package with the clear intent to take it back to his car.  The DEFENDANT’s counter-surveillance and manner of taking possession are indicative of someone who knew that contraband was located inside the parcel.  At a bare minimum, the DEFENDANT’s activities created probable cause for police to intervene.

At trial, the DEFENDANT will be able to argue that he did not have knowledge of what was inside the parcel that was on his porch.  We will instruct the jury that possession requires conscious dominion and that mere receipt of a package, without more, cannot establish conscious dominion.  From there, it will be the job of a jury to evaluate all of the testimony in order to ascertain if in fact the DEFENDANT possessed the power and the intent to control the cocaine inside the package on his porch.  All we declare today, is that we will not remove the responsibility for such a decision from a Lebanon County jury.

For reasons outlined above, we hold today that police had probable cause to effectuate the DEFENDANT’s arrest and seize the contraband inside the package that was delivered to his house.  Our decision connotes nothing more, but certainly nothing less.  It will now be the responsibility of the parties to present their evidence to a Lebanon County jury for a final decision as to whether the DEFENDANT exercised conscious dominion over the cocaine inside the parcel that was delivered to his house.

 

 

[1] He suggests that Trooper Long observed him for less than one minute.  Such assertion is contrary to Trooper Long’s testimony.

[2] It is for this reason that this Court prefers that arrests in controlled delivery cases be delayed until after a target suspect actually opens the package and fails to act as an innocent citizen would when coming into possession of contraband.

About the author

Lebanon County Legal Journal has written 703 articles for Lebanon County Legal Journal

Search