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Hobbs Act

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NEWS
October 24, 1986 | By Daniel R. Biddle, Inquirer Staff Writer
It is a law that, in the words of one former federal prosecutor, "recognizes the subtlety of political bribery and extortion. " The Hobbs Act is a sweeping anti-extortion statute under which the federal government yesterday accused two Philadelphia judges of obtaining $300 each from Roofers Union leader Stephen Traitz Jr. as a result of their judgeships, or in the legal language of the statute, "under color of official right. " Common Pleas Court Judge Esther R. Sylvester and Municipal Court Judge Mario F. Driggs were each charged with one count of violating the Hobbs Act when both were judges-elect in December.
NEWS
September 24, 1987 | By Daniel R. Biddle and Emilie Lounsberry, Inquirer Staff Writers
The night before the jurors found Judge Esther R. Sylvester not guilty of extortion, they began issuing cries for help. Please restate the elements of the crime, said foreman J. Bradford Wiley's first note to U.S. District Judge Clifford Scott Green. Half an hour later, a second note: "Please write out the four legal elements of the Hobbs Act. . . . All the jurors are not hearing the same thing. " And finally, this message: Jurors were "in disagreement" over the meaning of a few words: knowingly, willfully and intent to corrupt.
NEWS
October 22, 1987 | By JUAN GONZALEZ, Daily News Staff Writer
The city has been ordered to pay more than $350,000 in back pay and benefits to six Revenue Department employees fired three years ago amid charges that they had been absent without leave and that some had extorted money from companies they audited. Four of the employees, all former tax auditors with more than 15 years' experience in city government, reported back to work Monday, after arbitrator Charles L. Mullin ruled Sept. 28 that they be reinstated. Two other department supervisors were reinstated by the arbitrator after a separate hearing last spring.
NEWS
December 1, 1987 | By Mark Fazlollah, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
Gov. Casey nominated Deputy Attorney General Georganne Victoria Daher yesterday to replace former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Mario F. Driggs, who was convicted of extortion for accepting cash from the Roofers Union. Daher, whose nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate, had been on a list of 20 names recommended in February by the governor's judicial selection commission to alleviate the case backlog in the Philadelphia court system. Daher, 36, had been assigned to the civil litigation section of the Attorney General's Office in Philadelphia.
NEWS
February 3, 2013
A Norristown man was convicted in federal court Thursday of charges connected to following a tavern employee home, robbing him at gunpoint, then returning to the bar and stealing money from its safe. Marc Viney, 34, will serve prison time for robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, and possession of a firearm to commit a violent crime. He faces a stiffer sentence because the case was shifted from Montgomery County Court to U.S. District Court using the Hobbs Act, which a government website describes as prohibiting "actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce.
NEWS
August 25, 1990 | By Margaret N. O'Shea, Knight-Ridder News Service Inquirer wire services contributed to this article
Five state legislators were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday on charges of selling their votes, and two of them have resigned. A federal grand jury indicted state Sen. Rick Lee and state Reps. Danny Winstead and Bob Kohn, who are Republicans, and Democratic Reps. Luther Taylor and Robert Brown. They are accused of violating the federal Hobbs Act, which bans acceptance of money or gifts in return for votes or favors. Winstead was also indicted on a charge of obstruction of justice.
NEWS
October 3, 1990 | By Emilie Lounsberry, Inquirer Staff Writer
Former Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Mitchell S. Lipschutz was indicted yesterday on a federal extortion charge alleging that he illegally accepted $500 from former Roofers Union leader Stephen J. Traitz Jr. The federal charge is based on the same cash gift that was the basis of a state charge filed against Lipschutz three years ago but never taken to trial. Lipschutz - who was among 17 city judges implicated in the receipt of cash from the Roofers Union - was charged yesterday with a single count of extortion.
NEWS
November 13, 2003 | By Nancy Phillips and Emilie Lounsberry INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
A Philadelphia union leader who is a major supporter of Mayor Street has been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury that is investigating corruption in city government, according to a court-system source familiar with the labor official. Samuel Staten Sr., business manager of Local 332 of the Laborers' International Union of North America and a longtime Street ally, and his son, Samuel Staten Jr., president and assistant business manager of the union, both have been summoned, the source said.
NEWS
March 21, 1987 | By Henry Goldman, Inquirer Staff Writer
The issue of whether former City Councilman Harry P. Jannotti, who was convicted of conspiracy to take a $10,000 payoff in the Abscam scandal, may seek election to City Council in the May 19 primary will be decided by Wednesday by a Common Pleas Court judge. The issue came before Judge Lois G. Forer yesterday after one of Jannotti's opponents, Councilwoman Patricia A. Hughes, filed suit Monday to bar Jannotti's candidacy. Hughes cited a state constitutional provision prohibiting anyone "convicted of embezzlement of public moneys, bribery, perjury or other infamous crime" from holding public office.
NEWS
April 29, 1987 | By William W. Sutton Jr., Inquirer Staff Writer
A Commonwealth Court judge ruled yesterday that former City Councilman Harry P. Jannotti is not qualified to seek elective office because of his 1980 Abscam conviction. Jannotti has been campaigning to unseat Councilwoman Patricia A. Hughes, his former aide, and yesterday vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court before giving up. "If she thinks I'm just going to give up the fight, she better get ready for another one," Jannotti told KYW-TV (Channel 3) yesterday. The key question in the case was whether Jannotti is prohibited from running for office under a state constitutional provision that bars anyone convicted of embezzlement of public money, bribery, perjury or other "infamous crimes" from holding "any office of trust or profit.
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NEWS
February 3, 2013
A Norristown man was convicted in federal court Thursday of charges connected to following a tavern employee home, robbing him at gunpoint, then returning to the bar and stealing money from its safe. Marc Viney, 34, will serve prison time for robbery, criminal conspiracy to commit robbery, and possession of a firearm to commit a violent crime. He faces a stiffer sentence because the case was shifted from Montgomery County Court to U.S. District Court using the Hobbs Act, which a government website describes as prohibiting "actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce.
NEWS
November 13, 2003 | By Nancy Phillips and Emilie Lounsberry INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
A Philadelphia union leader who is a major supporter of Mayor Street has been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand jury that is investigating corruption in city government, according to a court-system source familiar with the labor official. Samuel Staten Sr., business manager of Local 332 of the Laborers' International Union of North America and a longtime Street ally, and his son, Samuel Staten Jr., president and assistant business manager of the union, both have been summoned, the source said.
NEWS
May 25, 1991 | From Inquirer Wire Services
The Supreme Court, in a ruling Thursday, blunted the federal government's primary weapon for fighting local political corruption by making it harder to prosecute officials accused of extorting payoffs. At issue was the nature of what was claimed to be a campaign contribution. The court, in a 6-3 vote, declared that to prove that a campaign solicitation moves beyond legal arm-twisting to extortion, prosecutors must show that the donor gave the money because of an "explicit promise" of help by the politician.
NEWS
October 3, 1990 | By Emilie Lounsberry, Inquirer Staff Writer
Former Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Mitchell S. Lipschutz was indicted yesterday on a federal extortion charge alleging that he illegally accepted $500 from former Roofers Union leader Stephen J. Traitz Jr. The federal charge is based on the same cash gift that was the basis of a state charge filed against Lipschutz three years ago but never taken to trial. Lipschutz - who was among 17 city judges implicated in the receipt of cash from the Roofers Union - was charged yesterday with a single count of extortion.
NEWS
August 25, 1990 | By Margaret N. O'Shea, Knight-Ridder News Service Inquirer wire services contributed to this article
Five state legislators were indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday on charges of selling their votes, and two of them have resigned. A federal grand jury indicted state Sen. Rick Lee and state Reps. Danny Winstead and Bob Kohn, who are Republicans, and Democratic Reps. Luther Taylor and Robert Brown. They are accused of violating the federal Hobbs Act, which bans acceptance of money or gifts in return for votes or favors. Winstead was also indicted on a charge of obstruction of justice.
NEWS
December 1, 1987 | By Mark Fazlollah, Inquirer Harrisburg Bureau
Gov. Casey nominated Deputy Attorney General Georganne Victoria Daher yesterday to replace former Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Mario F. Driggs, who was convicted of extortion for accepting cash from the Roofers Union. Daher, whose nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate, had been on a list of 20 names recommended in February by the governor's judicial selection commission to alleviate the case backlog in the Philadelphia court system. Daher, 36, had been assigned to the civil litigation section of the Attorney General's Office in Philadelphia.
NEWS
October 22, 1987 | By JUAN GONZALEZ, Daily News Staff Writer
The city has been ordered to pay more than $350,000 in back pay and benefits to six Revenue Department employees fired three years ago amid charges that they had been absent without leave and that some had extorted money from companies they audited. Four of the employees, all former tax auditors with more than 15 years' experience in city government, reported back to work Monday, after arbitrator Charles L. Mullin ruled Sept. 28 that they be reinstated. Two other department supervisors were reinstated by the arbitrator after a separate hearing last spring.
NEWS
September 24, 1987 | By Daniel R. Biddle and Emilie Lounsberry, Inquirer Staff Writers
The night before the jurors found Judge Esther R. Sylvester not guilty of extortion, they began issuing cries for help. Please restate the elements of the crime, said foreman J. Bradford Wiley's first note to U.S. District Judge Clifford Scott Green. Half an hour later, a second note: "Please write out the four legal elements of the Hobbs Act. . . . All the jurors are not hearing the same thing. " And finally, this message: Jurors were "in disagreement" over the meaning of a few words: knowingly, willfully and intent to corrupt.
NEWS
September 23, 1987 | By Emilie Lounsberry and Daniel R. Biddle, Inquirer Staff Writers
A U.S. District Court jury deliberated for more than 5 1/2 hours yesterday, then recessed for the night without deciding whether Common Pleas Court Judge Esther R. Sylvester illegally accepted $300 from Roofers Union leader Stephen J. Traitz Jr. in December 1985. The jury began deliberating at 3:12 p.m., after a day of closing arguments by the government and the defense and instructions from U.S. District Judge Clifford Scott Green on federal extortion law. Sylvester is charged with violating the federal extortion law known as the Hobbs Act, which makes it a crime for a public official to accept money - or anything of value - if the official knows that it is being given because of his or her position.
NEWS
July 11, 1987 | By Dan Rottenberg, Inquirer Contributing Writer
As I followed the seemingly endless semantic contortions of Philadelphia City Councilman Leland Beloff at his two recent trials, I found myself thinking of a scene from the British television series, Upstairs, Downstairs. When Sarah, the feisty maid, is caught stealing from the pantry, her fellow servants decide to call the police. Sarah is dumbfounded; after all, she says she's promised to make restitution. And besides, she stole from the master, not from them. "Aren't we all on the same side?"
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