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UNITED STATES v. DUFFY

April 10, 1968

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
John Joseph DUFFY, d/b/a Duffy's Tavern, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WYATT

WYATT, District Judge.

 This is a motion by defendant, presumably under Fed.R.Crim.P. 41(e), for the return of property and its suppression for use as evidence. The property is six bottles containing distilled spirits (hereafter simply "spirits"). The bottles were seized on March 16, 1967 by officers of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division of the Internal Revenue Service; these officers are called "special investigators" by the Service.

 Evidence was received at hearings held on March 4 and 8, 1968.

 Defendant is the operator of a public bar and grill, called "Duffy's Tavern", located at 4063 Boston Road in the Borough of the Bronx. In his tavern, he sells liquors, including spirits, and therefore must have, and doubtless does have, a license from the State of New York to sell liquor at retail to be consumed on the premises where sold (N.Y. Alcoholic Beverage Control Law, McKinney's Consol.Laws, c. 3-B, § 64). Defendant is also a "retail dealer in liquors" (hereafter usually "dealer") under 26 U.S.C. § 5122(a) and for the period July 1, 1966-June 30, 1967 paid the special tax levied by 26 U.S.C. § 5121. The Regulations under the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 define "liquor" as spirits, wine or beer. 26 C.F.R. § 194.11.

 In the late morning of Thursday, March 16, 1967, two officers of the Internal Revenue Service (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Division) went into the tavern of defendant which was then open to the public for business. Defendant was behind the bar. The officers identified themselves and stated that they were going to inspect the open bottles of liquor from which sales were being made. One of the officers went behind the bar and began testing open bottles; defendant, on request, produced two unopened bottles for comparison, or control, purposes. The officers found eleven bottles which from field tests then made seemed to them to have contents which were not the same as when the bottles had been originally filled. The officers sealed the eleven bottles in the presence of defendant who put his initials on the seals. They took away these eleven bottles, along with the two control bottles, giving defendant a receipt which defendant also signed, acknowledging the sealing of the bottles in his presence. Later the officers returned seven of the bottles, retaining the six bottles which are the subject of this motion.

 The officers had no search warrant and did not arrest defendant when they took the bottles.

 An information was filed on June 19, 1967 charging defendant in two counts. The first count charged him with refilling liqour bottles in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5301(c)(1) and the second count charged him with possession of such bottles in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 5301(c)(2).

 Defendant contends on this motion that the bottles were "illegally seized without warrant" (Fed.R.Crim.P. 41(e)(1)) because the search was "without * * * [the] consent" of defendant. Cited for defendant are Camara v. San Francisco, 387 U.S. 523, 87 S. Ct. 1727, 18 L. Ed. 2d 930 (1967) and See v. City of Seattle, 387 U.S. 541, 87 S. Ct. 1737, 18 L. Ed. 2d 943 (1967).

 By way of background, we should examine the federal relationship to spirits.

 An important source of revenue to the national government is the excise tax tax levied on spirits; this tax, like others, is administered and enforced by the Secretary of the Treasury (the "Secretary"; 26 U.S.C. § 7801).

 For the fiscal year ended June 30, 1967, over three billion dollars was collected by the federal government in excise taxes on spirits, out of a total of about fourteen billion dollars for all excise taxes (Annual Report of Commissioner of Internal Revenue (1967) p. 117).

 The tax on spirits is imposed at a specified rate on each "proof gallon" of spirits (26 U.S.C. § 5001(a)(1)) and a "proof gallon" is one which contains 50% of alcohol by volume (26 U.S.C. § 5002(a)(7) and (8)). Thus, the amount of tax payable depends on the percentage of alcohol in the spirits. The higher the percentage, the higher the tax.

 To protect the revenue and to prevent evasion of the tax on spirits, Congress has enacted various laws.

 The Secretary of the Treasury is authorized (among other things) to regulate the kind, size, use, etc. of containers for spirits. 26 U.S.C. § 5301(a). The Secretary, in order to identify the source where the original contents were put in liquor bottles, requires (among other things) that there be permanently marked in the bottle the year it was made, the permit number of the ...


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