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United States v. Riehl

decided: May 9, 1972.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
MICHAEL A. RIEHL ET AL., APPELLANTS. APPEAL OF ARTHUR J. RINALDI. APPEAL OF JAMES L. CHICK



Adams and Gibbons, Circuit Judges and Becker, District Judge.

Author: Gibbons

Opinion OF THE COURT

GIBBONS, Circuit Judge.

This appeal brings before us for the first time the provisions of Title VIII of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. 18 U.S.C. §§ 1511, 1955 (1971); Act of October 15, 1970, Pub.L. No. 91-425, Tit. VIII, §§ 802(a), 803(a). 84 Stat. 936-40. Section 1511 prohibits conspiracies to facilitate an illegal gambling business by means of the obstruction of the enforcement of local laws.*fn1 Section 1955 prohibits the conducting of an illegal gambling business.*fn2 Appellants Riehl, Rinaldi and Chick were charged in Count One of the Indictment with violating § 1955 by operating an illegal intrastate gambling business in the City of Jeannette, Pennsylvania. A second count charged that Riehl, Rinaldi and Chick conspired in violation of § 1511 to obstruct the enforcement of the Pennsylvania anti-gambling laws with intent to facilitate the operation of an illegal gambling business in Jeannette conducted by James L. Chick. A third count charged that Riehl and Rinaldi conspired in violation of § 1511 to obstruct the enforcement of the Pennsylvania anti-gambling laws to facilitate the operation of an illegal gambling business in Jeannette conducted by Albert J. Abraham, an unindicted co-conspirator. In a jury trial all were convicted, Riehl and Rinaldi on all three counts and Chick on the first two. Each received a custodial sentence. On appeal all make these contentions:

(1) That Title VIII is not an exercise of congressional power authorized by the commerce clause and is hence unconstitutional.

(2) That Title VIII is an unduly vague criminal statute, and hence is void.

(3) That properly construed Title VIII did not reach the two small local gambling operations here involved because the number of persons established as having been involved in each of these operations was less than the number requisite for the application of §§ 1511 and 1955.

(4) That the Government made improper use, on the conspiracy counts, of the testimony of an informer.

To put these contentions in context one must start with the definition of an "illegal gambling business" which is found in identical terms both in § 1511 and § 1955:

"(1) 'illegal gambling business' means a gambling business which --

(i) is a violation of the law of a State or political subdivision in which it is conducted;

(ii) involves five or more persons who conduct, finance, manage, supervise, direct, or own all or part of such business; and

(iii) has been or remains in substantially continuous operation for a period in excess of thirty days or has a gross revenue of $2,000 in any single day." 18 U.S.C. §§ 1511(b) and 1955(b).

If the gambling enterprise in question meets all three prerequisites, anyone who "conducts, finances, manages, supervises, directs, or owns all or part" of it commits a substantive violation of § 1955. If the enterprise meets all three prerequisites, conspiracies to obstruct local law ...


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