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United States v. Accardi

March 10, 1965

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
SAM ACCARDI, APPELLANT.



Author: Anderson

Before WATERMAN, SMITH and ANDERSON, Circuit Judges.

ANDERSON, Circuit Judge.

The Government offered evidence to prove and the jury could reasonably have found that a narcotics agent, Anthony Zirilli, spoke with co-defendant, DiGregorio on January 4, 1955 concerning the purchase of heroin.On the afternoon of January 31, Zirilli met with DiGregorio and co-defendant Russo at a Brooklyn restaurant.After some discussion about prices, Zirilli agreed to purchase a one-half kilogram of heroin for $5,000. The transfer of heroin for cash was to be made that evening. During the course of the discussion, Russo indicated that he was not the source of supply, that he needed to travel some distance to get it and that he would therefore need an hour and a half after receiving the cash before he could deliver the heroin.

In the early evening, after the cash had been advanced, narcotics agents followed DiGregorio and Russo to the neighborhood where the appellant Accardi resided in Bloomfield, New Jersey. The agents then lost track of the car. Back in New York around 9 o'clock the same evening, Russo handed over the narcotics to Zirilli.

In February, Zirilli staged a party for a special employee of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics to which he invited DiGregorio and Russo. During the afternoon before the party Zirilli had informed DiGregorio that he was dissatisfied with the heroin because it had been diluted, and that he would like to take up the matter with the source of supply. At the party Russo inquired about the trouble and offered to call his supplier. He then placed a call to Accardi's number in Bloomfield. After the call he told Zirilli that his man had said that the heroin was "pure, unadulterated," but that he could return the heroin for a refund if he were still dissatisfied. The offer was declined on the ground that the stuff had already been sold. But on February 12th Zirilli told DiGregorio that the "first buy" was no good, and that in the future he wanted to deal directly with the source, who by now was referred to as Sam. Four days later, February 16th, a meeting between Zirilli and Accardi was arranged in Bloomfield. Accardi vouched for the quality of the heroin, said it was "95% pure," although "[his] man said it was only 75% pure." He assured Zirilli that everything would be all right on the next buy, and that he should deal with Russo and DiGregorio and return the heroin if he were dissatisfied with the quality in the future.

A sale of approximately one kilogram was consummated on February 18th. Accardi was observed as a participant in the transaction, though DiGregorio was the direct supplier.

Later in February and again in April Zirilli spoke to DiGregorio about a proposal to pick up heroin in Italy. As a result of these conversations Accardi met Zirilli in a Bloomfield gas station. They discussed and agreed upon a purchase from Italy of ten kilograms of heroin for $40,000. Accardi agreed to write to his people in Europe to make the arrangements. On May 6, Zirilli was informed that Accardi received a letter from Italy refusing the proposal.

Accardi was arrested on August 3rd and indicted on August 15th. He pleaded not guilty to each count of the indictment and was released on bail in the amount of $75,000. He later failed to appear at a calendar call, and was next discovered in 1956 residing in Sicily. He was brought to the United States in custody in November 1963 under a Presidential warrant.

Accardi testified in his own defense. He denied knowing or meeting Zirilli at any time prior to trial. He admitted knowing Russo and DiGregorio*fn1, but denied discussions with them concerning narcotics or participation with them in the delivery of narcotics. He admitted his 1955 flight, which he said was provoked by concern for a fair trial and fears for his safety which were engendered by the violent manner in which he claimed he was arrested. The arresting agents denied this account of the arrest and denied ever threatening or even seeing Accardi subsequent to his arrest.

Accardi was charged in a five count indictment. The jury found him guilty on the first count which alleged that on or about January 31, 1955 he received, concealed, sold and facilitated the transportation, concealment and sale of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 173 and § 174. It also found him guilty on the second count which charged that on or about January 31, 1955, he sold, dispensed and distributed heroin which was not from the original stamped package, in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 4704(a), § 4701, § 4703, § 4771(a) and § 7237(a). It convicted him on the third count which charged him with a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 173 and § 174, similar to that in Count One but in connection with the events of February 18, 1955. It also found him guilty on the fifth count of conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws, 18 U.S.C. § 371.

Accardi has raised a large number of claimed points of error on this appeal, which essentially reduce themselves to the issues discussed.

He complains that the negative form of the definition of reasonable doubt given by the trial judge in his charge to the jury was improper and resulted in the denial of a fair trial. Accardi took no exception to that part of the charge which included the definition in question, and which was as follows:

"* * * A reasonable doubt is a doubt which is based upon reason. It is not a speculative doubt. It is a substantial doubt. It is that kind of doubt which would cause you to hesitate in the important matters of your life before you would take action. * * *"

This negative form of the definition of reasonable doubt was not only approved, but recommended by the Supreme Court in Holland v. United States, 348 U.S. 121, 140, 75 S. Ct. 127, 99 L. Ed. 150 (1954). The ...


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