Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Diloreto

argued: September 8, 1989.

THE UNITED STATES
v.
PATRICK R. DILORETO, A/K/A "PATSY," A/K/A "CHEECH", RICHARD A. DILORETO, A/K/A "RICKY", PATRICK J. PIERI, SR., WALTER VON ELLIOTT, RONALD R. THOMAS, BARRY A. BAER, MICHAEL C. CLAYPOOL, PETER J. VELLA, RICHARD DILORETO, APPELLANT IN NO. 88-3635; THE UNITED STATES V. PATRICK R. DILORETO, A/K/A "PATSY," A/K/A "CHEECH", RICHARD A. DILORETO, A/K/A "RICKY", PATRICK J. PIERI, SR., WALTER VON ELLIOTT, RONALD R. THOMAS, BARRY A. BAER, MICHAEL C. CLAYPOOL, PETER J. VELLA, PATRICK J. PIERI, SR., APPELLANT IN NO. 88-3636; THE UNITED STATES V. PATRICK R. DILORETO, A/K/A "PATSY," A/K/A "CHEECH", RICHARD A. DILORETO, A/K/A "RICKY", PATRICK J. PIERI, SR., WALTER VON ELLIOTT, RONALD R. THOMAS, BARRY A. BAER, MICHAEL C. CLAYPOOL, PETER J. VELLA, MICHAEL C. CLAYPOOL, APPELLANT IN NO. 88-3660; THE UNITED STATES V. PATRICK R. DILORETO, A/K/A "PATSY," A/K/A "CHEECH", RICHARD A. DILORETO, A/K/A "RICKY", PATRICK J. PIERI, SR., WALTER VON ELLIOTT, RONALD R. THOMAS, BARRY A. BAER, MICHAEL C. CLAYPOOL, PETER J. VELLA, PATRICK R. DILORETO, APPELLANT IN NO. 88-3694; THE UNITED STATES V. PATRICK R. DILORETO, A/K/A "PATSY," A/K/A "CHEECH", RICHARD A. DILORETO, A/K/A "RICKY", PATRICK J. PIERI, SR., WALTER VON ELLIOTT, RONALD R. THOMAS, BARRY A. BAER, MICHAEL C. CLAYPOOL, PETER J. VELLA, PETER VELLA, APPELLANT IN NO. 88-3708



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, (D.C. Crim. No. 88-9-2 E), (D.C. Crim. No. 88-9-3 E), (D.C. Crim. No. 88-9-7 E), (D.C. Crim. No. 88-9-1 E), (D.C. Crim. No. 88-9-8 E).

Mansmann, Cowen, and Aldisert, Circuit Judges.

Author: Mansmann

Opinion OF THE COURT

MANSMANN, Circuit Judge

Each of the five defendants before us, convicted as a participant in a conspiracy to distribute narcotics, raises issues peculiar to his particular conviction. In addition, each adopts, pursuant to Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 28(i), the arguments of every other defendant. Hence, these appeals present us with a number of alleged errors. We conclude, however, that resolution of these appeals rests on one point in particular, common to all defendants. The credibility of the government's witnesses was a chief issue at trial, one contested by all of the defendants. Because in the course of the prosecutor's closing argument he engaged in improper vouching of witnesses who had been intimately involved in the drug operation, we will vacate the judgments of conviction and remand the cases for a new trial.

I.

In April 1988 a federal grand jury impaneled in Erie, Pennsylvania returned a 34 count indictment against defendants Richard A. DiLoreto, Patrick J. Pieri, Sr., Michael C. Claypool, Peter J. Vella, and Patrick R. DiLoreto.*fn1 The charges included conspiracy, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and other related drug offenses. It was the government's theory that the defendants were involved in a continuing enterprise to distribute marijuana and cocaine in and about Erie. Patrick D. DiLoreto was considered to be the head of this loosely knit drug distribution organization, responsible for locating and purchasing the cocaine and marijuana from other individuals. Patrick would then supply the illegal substances to the other defendants in quantities capable of redistribution.

The cases were joined for trial and tried to a jury. Each defendant was found guilty of his respective counts. All five defendants filed timely appeals. We have jurisdiction on appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 1291.

II.

None of the defendants testified at trial. Instead, their defense relied on cross-examination to assault the government's witnesses, admitted accomplices whose testimonies had been solicited vis-a-vis favorable plea agreements. Opening statements by the defense included such contentions as these:

That the witnesses that the government will call, will be witnesses who are testifying pursuant to deals, arrangements, prom [sic] promises of immunity. In fact, when [the prosecutor] indicated, during his presentation, that you are going to get an education about this particular aspect, I think you are going to get an education about how these people become witnesses. Because the testimony is clearly going to show and we will prove that every witness that testifies in this case would not be testifying as a witness in this case but for the fact they have a deal or some type of preferential arrangement with the government that allows them to walk out of a penitentiary or allows them to escape criminal prosection completely. And that testimony comes from a corrupt and polluted source.

The government's case, as has already been noted, rests largely on witnesses whose unsavory nature will be made clear to you by the evidence produced.

Additionally, each of the defendant's attorneys argued in his closing that the government's witnesses were biased and incredible. Excerpts from their closings reflect the following:

At the beginning of this case, I told you that every witness that would be called by the government had some type of special arrangement with the government. . . . And I also told you that these would be individuals who would be motivated by their own benefits, by their own interests, by their own motives. And I ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.