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United States v. Abel

decided: July 11, 1958.


Author: Waterman

Before CLARK, Chief Judge, and LUMBARD and WATERMAN, Circuit Judges.

WATERMAN, Circuit Judge.

On August 7, 1957 a grand jury in the Eastern District of New York returned an indictment charging the appellant, Rudolph Ivanovich Abel, with having conspired to violate the espionage laws of the United States. Specifically, the indictment charged Abel with having conspired (1) to violate 18 U.S.C. § 794(a) by communicating information concerning the national defense of the United States to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; (2) to receive and obtain material connected with the national defense of the United States for the purpose of transmitting such material to the Soviet government in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 793(c); and (3) to violate 18 U.S.C. § 951 by acting in the United States as an agent of a foreign government without prior notification thereof having been given to the Secretary of State. Prior to his trial upon this indictment, Abel moved pursuant to Rule 41(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, 18 U.S.C. for the return and suppression of certain evidence obtained by the Government as a result of an alleged unlawful search and seizure. The motion was heard by Judge Byers who, after a hearing, denied it in an opinion reported at 155 F.Supp. 8. The appellant was tried to a jury and convicted on each of the counts in the indictment. On November 15, 1957 he was sentenced to a total of thirty years imprisonment.

The primary issue raised by this appeal is whether the Fourth Amendment prohibition of "unreasonable searches and seizures" was violated when government agents without a search warrant searched a hotel room occupied by Abel and seized certain articles which they found there. Also, we are called upon to determine whether there was sufficient evidence in the record to sustain a finding that Abel conspired to communicate to the Soviet Government information the transmission of which is prohibited by the espionage laws, see United States v. Rosenberg, 2 Cir., 1952, 195 F.2d 583, certiorari denied 344 U.S. 838, 73 S. Ct. 20, 97 L. Ed. 687; United States v. Heine, 2 Cir., 1945, 151 F.2d 813, certiorari denied 328 U.S. 833, 66 S. Ct. 975, 90 L. Ed. 1608, and to determine whether the trial judge erred by receiving in evidence the testimony of a non-commissioned Army officer that he cooperated with the Soviet Government while serving in the American embassy in Moscow. And lastly, counsel for the appellant urge that a new trial is required because the cumulative effect of a variety of minor errors alleged to have occurred during the trial was such that the appellant did not have a fair trial.

In early May 1957 one Reino Hayhanen entered the American embassy in Paris and informed the officials there that he was an espionage agent in the United States for the Soviet government. Hayhanen was interrogated by the officials and later was flown back to the United States where he was questioned by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was largely from the testimony of Hayhanen, though there was evidence from other sources as well, that the jury learned of the appellant's activities in the United States. Although there is no dispute about the sufficiency of the evidence to prove concerted activity between Abel and others on behalf of the Soviet government, a brief resume of the record developed at the trial will be useful to indicate the scope of the conspiracy which was proved and the means by which its purposes were to be accomplished.

Abel is a native of Russia, a citizen of the U.S.S.R., and a Colonel in the K.G.B., an espionage agency of the Soviet government. By his own admission he entered this country illegally in 1948 at an unknown point along the Canadian border. After this illegal entry the appellant, whose cryptonym is "Mark," adopted several aliases, one of which was Emil Robert Goldfus, the name of an infant who had died in New York City in 1903; while another was Martin Collins, a fictitious individual purportedly born in New York City. At the time of his arrest, on June 21, 1957, Abel was residing at the Hotel Latham in Manhattan and had rented an artist's studio in Brooklyn.

Hayhanen was also an agent of the K.G.B. and at the time of Abel's arrest held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, though at the time he entered this country several years earlier he had been a Major. Hayhanen entered this country in 1952 with the passport and identity of one Eugene N. Maki, a native of the United States who had left this country for Russia in 1927.*fn1 Upon his arrival in New York City Hayhanen, according to his instructions, placed a tack in a designated sign in Central Park. This prearranged signal was the means by which he was to notify Soviet agents in New York that he had arrived safely and was not under surveillance.

Prior to the time that he had left the U.S. S. R. Hayhanen had received extensive training in the techniques of espionage. Thus, he was given instruction in photography with emphasis on making "microdots"*fn2 and "soft film."*fn3 He was also taught how to secrete messages in hollowed out objects such as coins, bolts, screws and match books. In addition, he was given training in cryptography and assigned the cryptonym "Vik" which he was to use when communicating with other espionage agents. Hayhanen was also advised of the location of three "drops" in New York City. A "drop" is a hiding place used for the transmission of messages concealed in containers. Hayhanen was instructed to use these "drops," which were located in a wall on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, a bridge in Central Park, and a lamp post in Fort Tryon Park,*fn4 in communicating with his superiors.

Hayhanen had been sent to this country to serve as an assistant to an individual whom he then knew only as "Mark." Nevertheless, he did not meet Abel until the summer of 1954 when the two of them met in the men's smoking room at a theatre in Flushing. As far as appears, the only significance of this meeting was that Abel expressed some concern that Hayhanen obtain "cover work" which would not interfere with his espionage duties.*fn5 Thereafter, Hayhanen saw Abel frequently, received his salary from him, and carried out several missions at his direction. On several occasions he saw Abel make use of "drops" which had been assigned to him and once was told by the appellant that the latter had several agents under him. Abel admitted to Hayhanen that he had received coded messages and on one occasion Hayhanen observed Abel attempting to receive the signals of a short-wave radio station. This attempt was unsuccessful. Also unsuccessful were attempts by Abel to find a suitable location for the establishment of a radio station which he had received instructions from Moscow to establish.

The record contains no indication that Abel or any of his colleagues were ever successful in transmitting to the Soviet Government any information pertaining to the national defense, but as the legality of a conspiracy is not to be judged by its success, the failure to show success is of no relevance. United States v. Rabinowich, 1915, 238 U.S. 78, 35 S. Ct. 682, 59 L. Ed. 1211; United States v. Morello, 2 Cir., 1957, 250 F.2d 631. Considerable evidence is contained in the record establishing a continuous activity by the appellant on behalf of the Soviet government. This evidence need not be considered in detail; it will be sufficient to describe a particular episode which is relevant to issues raised by Abel on this appeal.

Sometime between July and December 1954 Abel received instructions from Moscow to locate a Soviet agent named Roy Rhodes, whose cryptonym was "Quebec." The instructions stated that Rhodes' wife owned several garages in Red Bank, New Jersey, but when, in late 1954, Abel and Hayhanen went to Red Bank they were unable to locate Rhodes. Abel instructed Hayhanen that in the latter's next message to Moscow he should request additional information about Rhodes. Hayhanen received a reply stating that Rhodes' family lived in Colorado and by some means not apparent from the record he and Abel were able to determine that the family lived in the town of Salida. Abel instructed Hayhanen to take a trip to Salida. Prior to the time that Hayhanen left, he and Abel went to the Central Library in Manhattan and obtained the name and telephone number of Rhodes' father.Hayhanen called this number when he arrived in Salida, stated that his name was Mike and that he would like to contact Rhodes. The party on the other end of the line, subsequently identified as Arlene Brown, a sister of Rhodes, informed Hayhanen that Rhodes was living in Tucson, Arizona. Hayhanen returned to New York and reported to Abel. Though there was some discussion as to whether Hayhanen should go to Tucson, Abel finally decided against it.

A discussion of Rhodes' role in the Soviet espionage system may be deferred until that portion of the opinion which deals with the admissibility of his testimony at the trial below. It is sufficient at this point to note the reason why Abel and his colleagues were so anxious to locate Rhodes. In the words of the witness Hayhanen:

"He [Abel] said that Quebec could be a good agent because he is - some of his relatives are working on - and he - on military lands.

"He meant Quebec's brother, who was working somewhere - I cannot remember exactly, but in some atomic plant, or what it was."

In the summer of 1955 the appellant took a trip to the U.S.S.R. He and Hayhanen did not meet again until the following summer. At that meeting and during the next few months, arrangements were made for Hayhanen to travel to Russia on leave. Hayhanen left New York aboard the Liberte on April 24, 1957. Shortly after arriving in Paris, he notified other Soviet agents, by prearranged signal, that he had arrived safely and that he was proceeding to West Berlin. Instead of proceeding with this plan, he went to the American embassy where he informed the officials of his activities.

As a result of these disclosures agents of the F.B.I. began an intensive investigation of the appellant - an investigation which led to his arrest on June 21, 1957 by agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

I. Search and Seizure

The search and seizure issue raised by the appellant involves three separate and distinct questions: (1) whether agents of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, when making a valid arrest pursuant to a deportation arrest warrant,*fn6 may, as an incident of the arrest, conduct a search of the hotel room in which the arrest is made without possessing a search warrant; (2) whether it was "clearly erroneous" for the distinguished trial judge to have found that the search conducted by the I.N.S. agents in the present case was conducted in good faith solely for the purpose of discovering weapons and evidence of alienage; or whether, contrary to that finding, the agents' true purpose in searching Abel's hotel room was to discover evidence of his espionage activities; (3) whether, assuming that the search was conducted in good faith, the articles seized by the I.N.S. agents might lawfully be seized in the absence of a search warrant.

Proper understanding of the several facets of the search and seizure issue raised by the appellant necessitates that we state in some detail the circumstances surrounding his arrest and the search of his hotel room. For, as the Supreme Court has frequently observed, only "unreasonable searches and seizures" are prohibited by the Fourth Amendment, and the determination of whether a search or seizure is unreasonable depends upon the particular facts and circumstances of each case. See United States v. Rabinowitz, 1950, 339 U.S. 56, 70 S. Ct. 430, 94 L. Ed. 653; Harris v. United States, 1947, 331 U.S. 145, 67 S. Ct. 1098, 91 L. Ed. 1399.

Almost immediately after Hayhanen's disclosures in early May of 1957, agents of the F.B.I. placed Abel under surveillance. On several occasions he was observed at 252 Fulton Street in Brooklyn, the address of the studio which he had rented. Also, on a date which does not appear in the record, F.B.I. agents rented the room in the Hotel Latham immediately adjacent to that occupied by Abel under the name of Martin Collins. Meanwhile, Hayhanen, who had been flown from Paris to New York, continued his cooperation with United States officials and directed F.B.I. agents to various espionage materials which he accused Abel of having given to him.

On June 13 agents of the I.N.S. were for the first time informed that the F.B.I. had information concerning an alien illegally in this country. This information was conveyed by one Sam Papich, the F.B.I. liaison officer with the I.N.S., to Mario T. Noto, Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Special Investigations of the I.N.S. Noto was also informed that there was evidence that the suspect, Abel, had engaged in espionage. At Noto's request Papich stated that he would attempt to obtain additional information relating to Abel's illegal entry and his status in the United States. Noto testified at the hearing on the motion to suppress that he had not asked Papich for any information concerning Abel's espionage activities "because my interest from a jurisdictional viewpoint is confined to the illegal status which he had in the United States." Noto further testified that Papich had not requested I.N.S. to treat the case in any particular manner and that, aside from this request by him for further information, no arrangements for cooperation were made between the two agencies. Approximately a week later Papich returned and gave Noto the additional information which the latter had requested, including the fact that the suspect's true name was Rudolph Abel, that he had entered the country by way of Canada, that in so doing he had used a birth certificate which was not his own, and that he had stated to several persons that he was in this country illegally. Noto was also informed that Abel was an officer in the Soviet espionage system. Prior to this time, Noto had conducted a search of I.N.S. records to determine whether I.N.S. had any information concerning the suspect.

After obtaining this additional information from Papich, and after acquainting General Swing, the Commissioner of the I.N.S., with the details of the case, Noto again met with F.B.I. agents. At one point during this meeting he informed the agents that he "would determine very shortly as to whether or not I would order that Mr. Abel be apprehended for immigration purposes * * *" Later, he informed the agents that he would "very quickly" order the arrest of Abel for "having failed to notify the Attorney General of his address in the United States as required by the Immigration and Nationality Act which makes it a deportable offense."*fn7 On June 20 Noto met with two other I.N.S. officers and informed them for the first time of the Abel case. These three men then went to the offices of the F.B.I. where the evidence against Abel was again reviewed. The I.N.S. officials agreed that the evidence was sufficient to justify issuance of a "show cause" order as to Abel's deportability and that an administrative arrest warrant should be drawn. The decision to use an administrative warant was, in effect, a decision that Abel should be held for a deportation hearing and not apprehended as one charged with a ...

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