Corrupt organization prosecution barred by prior conviction for acts included in the new charges


Commonwealth v. George, 2012 PA Super 32, 2/15/2012 (11 pages)

To Mr. George, it must have seemed like déjà-vu all over again.

In 2007, Mr. George was arrested for delivery of a controlled substance and conspiracy.  Following his arrest he gave investigators an account describing his participation in a drug distribution ring, identifying persons, places and events that were part and parcel of of the ring during the previous eight months. He cooperated with the investigators in the expectation that there would be no further criminal charges against him. After his arrest a state wide investigating grand jury was convened to investigate drug activity in the same area where Mr. George operated, and Mr. George testified before it, describing, among other things, his criminal activities with one Mr. Rafferty, who was part of the conspiracy which underlay the 2007 charges. In 2008 Mr. George pled guilty to the drug delivery and conspiracy charges. In 2010 a state wide investigating grand jury handed down a presentment charging the defendant with two counts of corrupt organization and a count of conspiracy to deliver cocaine arising from activity which predated Mr. George’s 2007 arrest. The presentment referenced persons (including Mr. Rafferty) and activity that Mr, George told the grand jury about before he pled guilty.

Mr. George filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging his arrest pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. §110, which bars prosecutions for any offense based on the same conduct or arising from the same criminal episode if the offense was known to the prosecuting officer at the time of the commencement of the first trial and occurred within the same judicial district. The common pleas court agreed, dismissing the charges with prejudice, and the Commonwealth appealed. The Superior Court affirmed.  The new charges were part and parcel of the events Mr. George participated in, was prosecuted for, and the Commonwealth knew about when it prosecuted him in 2007. Since the 2007 charges were part and parcel of the criminal episode underlying the new charges, and the prosecuting officer knew of them before Mr. George pled guilty, the common pleas court’s dismissal was affirmed.

The case can be found by following the links from here.

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