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UNITED STATES v. CRAMER

November 5, 1973

The UNITED STATES
v.
John Cornelius CRAMER


Costantino, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: COSTANTINO

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

COSTANTINO, District Judge.

 This is a criminal prosecution charging defendant John Cornelius Cramer with two counts of theft of men's suits from foreign commerce in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 659 (1971). On September 17, 18, 19, 1973 a hearing was held to determine the disposition of defendant's motion to suppress written and oral statements made by him to the police and the suits and a wrapper seized by the police at the time of his arrest. Decision was reserved.

 The following facts adduced at the hearing are uncontroverted. At approximately 12:00 noon on August 9, 1971 Port Authority police at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City received a phone call informing them that two men were unloading articles from a Pan American Airlines truck and placing them in two cars located in an employees parking lot. The cars were described as a green Ford and a white Chevrolet. Detectives Frederick Shinkle and John LoPresto proceeded to the lot and located the two cars. Through the window of the Ford they observed a shopping bag containing several pints of whisky with Pan American markings. Nothing suspicious was observed in the Chevrolet. An automobile registration check was made on both cars and the Ford was found to be registered to Theodore Manos of Nutley, New Jersey. The Chevrolet was registered to Jack DeMichel of Lindenhurst, New York.

 Detectives maintained surveillance on both cars. At about 2:45 p.m. someone started to enter the Ford. The detectives approached him and asked that he identify himself. He said he was Theodore Manos, a supervisor at Pan American. When asked how he got the liquor, he said two Pan American employees who worked under him, John Cramer and Jack DeMichel, had put it there after Cramer had asked permission to take a truck over to the lot. Manos told the detectives that Cramer had asked him for his automobile keys and had said that he had something for Manos.

 After releasing Manos, Officers Shinkle and LoPresto joined other officers who were watching DeMichel's car. At approximately 3:00 p.m. someone approached that car and the officers asked him to identify himself. It was Jack DeMichel. Detective Shinkle informed him of his Miranda warnings and asked him what he had been doing earlier in the parking lot. DeMichel told the detectives that he had been helping Cramer load suits into Cramer's car. He said that Cramer had taken the suits from an aircraft. The detectives asked DeMichel to open the trunk of his car. He consented, but they found nothing suspicious.

 After unsuccessfully trying to locate Cramer's car in the parking lot, the officers ascertained his address from Pan American's records. It was 2717 Anthony Avenue, North Bellmore, New York. Shinkle called Nassau County Police and requested assistance in watching Cramer. Shinkle, LoPresto, and three detectives assigned to airport duty from the Queens County District Attorney's office drove out to Cramer's residence in North Bellmore. They met two Nassau County detectives, Austin and Crowley, who had been watching Cramer's house since arriving a few minutes earlier.

 What subsequently occurred is the basis for defendant's motion to suppress. Detectives Shinkle, LoPresto, and Austin all gave essentially the same description of the events of that afternoon. Austin and Crowley stood on the top step outside the side door of the house and rang the bell or knocked on the door. Detective Shinkle stood a few steps below them and the other detectives stood in the driveway. A man came to the door and Austin informed him that they were there investigating a crime. He asked the man to identify himself and defendant said he was John Cramer. The officers testified that Shinkle asked Cramer if he would prefer talking inside. After receiving an affirmative answer they went in. The other detectives followed the first three in and they all entered the kitchen which was just inside the side door.

 Detectives Austin, LoPresto and Crowley all testified that Austin sat down at the kitchen table and immediately began reading defendant the Miranda warnings. Shinkle recalled that as he entered the kitchen he saw George Eady, a friend of defendant's, and immediately took him aside to question him. After completing this questioning, Shinkle returned to the kitchen where Austin and LoPresto were talking with defendant. Shinkle testified that he took out a printed "rights" card and read defendant his rights. Austin recalled that Shinkle only started to read and that he, Austin, had interrupted Shinkle by saying that he had already given defendant his rights.

 Detective Austin testified that after defendant had been given his rights he said, "You got me. The suits are in the basement." Shinkle, who was in another room with Eady, could not hear this, but testified that when he returned to the kitchen Austin said to him that Cramer had already admitted taking the suits. Austin sat at the kitchen table and drafted a statement for Cramer to sign. Detectives LoPresto and Crowley testified to substantially the same effect. After Austin composed the statement and read it to Cramer, Cramer signed it. The statement reads as follows:

 
August 9, 1971
 
My name is John Cramer. I am 32 years old being born Dover, New Jersey. I reside at 2717 Anthony Avenue, Bellmore, N.Y. Home Phone CA1-4017.
 
I have been informed by the Detective that I have the right to remain silent and that any statement I'd make may be used as evidence against me in Court. Also that I have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any questions and to have an attorney present at any time.
 
Further, that if I cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be furnished me. And I have the right to remain silent until I have had the opportunity of consulting with an attorney. Having been informed of these rights, I wish to ...

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