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UNITED STATES v. GELB

May 12, 1959

UNITED STATES of America,
v.
Saul GELB, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRYAN

Defendant moves, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 and Rule 35, F.R.Cr.P., 18 U.S.C., to vacate and declare void a sentence of five years imposed upon him by Judge Irving Kaufman on April 24, 1958 upon his plea of guilty to a charge of conspiracy to violate the narcotic laws and to corrupt the Customs Service. He is presently under confinement on this sentence.

Defendant seeks release from confinement, leave to withdraw his plea of guilty and permission to plead 'not guilty', to have the time already served under this sentence credited to him against another sentence on which he is on probation, or against any new sentence which may be imposed, and for a hearing as to certain issues which he claims are raised by his petition.

 The main grounds for his application are (1) that Judge Kaufman had no power to impose the sentence of April 24, 1958 because at the time of sentencing defendant was on probation pursuant to a sentence upon his plea of guilty to another charge, and (2) that prosecution for the crime for which Judge Kaufman sentenced him on his plea of guilty was barred by the statute of limitations.

 The prior proceedings in this court may be briefly summarized as follows:

 On April 8, 1954 indictment No. C. 144-59 was returned against defendant, charging him, in five substantive counts, with violation of the narcotic laws on March 4 and 5, 1954. He pled guilty to this indictment on May 5, 1954, and Judge Sugarman sentenced him to five years imprisonment on each court to run concurrently.

 On April 12, 1956, while defendant was still confined under this sentence, a two-count indictment (No. C. 150-30) was returned charging him with unlawful transportation of stolen treasury bonds. He pled guilty to this indictment and was sentenced by Judge Ryan to a term of five years on each count to run concurrently. Execution of sentence was suspended and defendant was placed on probation for five years to commence upon his release from confinement under the prior sentence.

 Defendant was conditionally released from confinement on the five year sentence on November 14, 1957. Prior to his release still another indictment (No. C. 154-86) was returned against him on October 23, 1957, charging him, together with 45 other defendants named, with a broad conspiracy to violate the narcotic laws, to defraud the United States of its right to have the Customs Service administered free from corruption, and to bribe employees of the Customs Service. Nineteen of the 46 defendants were tried before Judge Kaufman and eighteen of them were found guilty on March 18, 1958. Defendant Gelb pled guilty to this indictment on January 30, 1958 and on April 24, 1958 Judge Kaufman sentenced him to imprisonment for five years, and a committed fine of $ 10,000. The defendant is now serving this sentence to which his present motion is directed.

 None of the contentions which the defendant makes have merit and they may be disposed of briefly as follows:

 1. Defendant contends that he was on probation pursuant to Judge Ryan's five years' suspended sentence on the stolen bond charge when Judge Kaufman sentenced him, and that Judge Kaufman was without power to sentence him to a prison term while he was on such probation. His argument seems to be that he had a right to remain on probation, which barred Judge Kaufman from imposing a prison sentence during that period, and that the prison sentence illegally overruled or voided Judge Ryan's sentence.

 At the time of Judge Kaufman's sentence defendant was under conditional release from Judge Sugarman's sentence, and the probation period on Judge Ryan's sentence had not yet begun to run. But even had he then been on probation this conferred on him no immunity from prosecution and sentence for a separate criminal offense. A defendant on probation may be convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for a separate and different offense while he is on probation. The prison sentence merely interrupts his probation and tolls the probationary period. See United States ex rel. Demarois v. Farrell, 8 Cir., 87 F.2d 957, certiorari denied 302 U.S. 683, 58 S. Ct. 31, 82 L. Ed. 527, rehearing denied 302 U.S. 775, 58 S. Ct. 135, 82 L. Ed. 600; McGuire v. Warden United States Penitentiary, D.C.W.D.Pa., 122 F.Supp. 699. Cf. United States v. Tacoma, 2 Cir., 199 F.2d 482.

 2. Judge Kaufman did not, as defendant contends, find him guilty of violation of the probation granted by Judge Ryan. Nor did Judge Kaufman revoke the probation nor attempt to modify or alter Judge Ryan's sentence in any way. Defendant was sentenced on a plea of guilty to an entirely separate conspiracy which was unrelated to the offense for which Judge Ryan sentenced him. Judge Kaufman had full power to impose such a sentence.

 3. The fact that the crime for which Judge Kaufman sentenced the defendant was committed prior to his sentence by Judge Ryan is of no consequence. Prior crimes committed by the defendant were not merged in the probationary term, nor did Judge Ryan's sentence bar any prosecution for them thereafter. There was no requirement on the Government to disclose to Judge Ryan any pending investigations against the defendant which might ultimately result in an indictment. Its failure to do so, if such an investigation were pending, did not affect in any way its right to obtain the later indictment.

 4. Defendant seems to contend that his indictment on the conspiracy charge placed him in double jeopardy in view of his previous plea of guilty before Judge Sugarman to the indictment on substantive narcotic counts. It is too well settled to require discussion that conspiracy and substantive charges are entirely separate and distinct crimes and that the conviction on a substantive offense does not bar a subsequent conviction for a conspiracy. Separate penalties may be imposed for each crime. See Pinkerton v. United States, 328 U.S. 640, 66 S. Ct. 1180, 90 L. Ed. 1489; United States v. Landi, 2 Cir., 240 F.2d 238.

 The fact that one or two of the overt acts charged in the conspiracy may have been the same as the acts charged to constitute the substantive offenses in no way alters this. Moreover, the conspiracy indictment charged a widespread conspiracy of international scope among some 46 persons extending over a period of several years and enumerated some 80 overt acts in pursuance of the conspiracy. The objectives of the conspiracy were not only to violate the narcotic laws but also to corrupt United States Customs officials. The ...


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