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United States v. Doulin

decided: May 14, 1976.


Appellant challenges his conviction in the Southern District on four counts of an eight-count indictment charging him with perjury before two federal grand juries, 18 U.S.C. § 1623, principally on the ground that his false testimony was not material to the grand juries' proper inquiry. Affirmed.

Lumbard and Timbers, Circuit Judges, and Jon O. Newman, District Judge.*fn*

Author: Lumbard

LUMBARD, Circuit Judge:

William Doulin appeals from his conviction on four counts of an eight count indictment charging him with perjury before two federal grand juries, 18 U.S.C. § 1623. Judgment was entered in the Southern District on January 23, 1976 following a one and one-half week jury trial; and, on that same date, appellant was sentenced by Judge Ward to concurrent terms of two and one-half years imprisonment, the first six months to be spent in confinement and the remainder to be spent on probation.

Doulin has not, on this appeal, denied the falsity of his statements. Rather, he has argued that his perjurious testimony was immaterial to the proper inquiry of the grand juries and that, in any event, the questions which formed the predicate for the various counts of his indictment were multiplicitous. In addition, Doulin contends that he was prejudiced by the erroneous admission of hearsay evidence. Having heard oral argument and read the briefs, we affirmed appellant's conviction in open court on May 14, 1976. This opinion is in elaboration of that decision.

On August 22, 1972, a grand jury was empaneled and sworn in the Southern District to conduct an investigation into various alleged violations of federal law resulting from the purported attempt by local officials in Orange and adjacent counties to interfere with the enforcement of local gambling laws.*fn1 During the course of its inquiry, William Doulin, chairman of the Republican Committee of Orange County, was named as someone who, in exchange for illicit payoffs, had provided protection to illegal gambling operations in Orange County. The grand jury heard testimony that Doulin received hundreds of dollars per week from professional gamblers who also paid for his annual vacation in Florida. Doulin was furthermore identified as having interceded on behalf of one Richard Monell in connection with the latter's prosecution and sentence for assault in the New York State courts.

The thrust of the evidence before the grand jury suggested that appellant had been given approximately $1,500 by Mrs. Grant, Monell's grandmother and a lifelong friend of Doulin, to do what he could to insure that Monell would receive only a probationary sentence. As shown at trial, appellant then contacted Abraham Weissman, an assistant district attorney with higher aspirations, and indicated to him that his career would be advanced if he cooperated by recommending to the state trial judge that Monell be released without a jail sentence. Weissman agreed and the desired sentence was imposed.*fn2

In June 1973, Doulin was summoned to appear before the August 22, 1972 grand jury and provide his version of the above events. Essentially, he denied any improper behavior either with respect to enforcement of the gambling laws or with respect to Monell's criminal case. On February 12, 1975, appellant was called before a second grand jury which had been empaneled in January 1975 to continue the investigation into official corruption and also to inquire into the possibility of perjury having been committed before the first grand jury. Here too, Doulin denied any misconduct as he was questioned about both local gambling operations and the Monell prosecution.

Finally, on June 26, 1975, Doulin was charged in an eight count indictment with having made false statements before both federal grand juries in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1623, counts one to three relating to the first grand jury and counts four to eight dealing with his testimony before the second.

At trial, the government relied primarily upon the testimony of Florence Hall, Richard Monell's girl friend, to establish the falsehood of Doulin's testimony before the grand juries. Hall related in considerable detail her conversations with Mrs. Grant during which Mrs. Grant spoke of her efforts to secure the assistance of the appellant. In one such discussion, Mrs. Grant told Hall that Doulin "needed some money" to give someone else in order to secure the sentence of probation for Monell. Hall also admitted that she had served as intermediary, delivering reassuring messages from Mrs. Grant to Monell that aid would be forthcoming from Doulin. Hall furthermore indicated that she had accompanied Mrs. Grant to the latter's bank in Newburgh where Mrs. Grant withdrew $1,400. The two women then drove to Doulin's funeral parlor (he was an undertaker by profession) and Hall waited in the car while Mrs. Grant went inside with the envelope of money.

Hall's testimony was corroborated and amplified by Monell and Norman Shapiro, Monell's Legal Aid lawyer, both of whom repeated statements of Mrs. Grant that she had arranged with "Bill" Doulin for her grandson's probation.

The defense case consisted of Mrs. Grant's insistence that she had never contacted, let alone bribed, Doulin in an effort to influence Monell's sentence. Appellant, who took the stand in his own behalf, made similar protestations of innocence, specifically denying that he had known that Abraham Weissman, the assistant district attorney who handled Monell's sentencing, was interested in becoming the Republican candidate for District Attorney of Orange County. The defense moreover called a series of well-known public officials to vouch for Doulin's character and integrity.

In rebuttal, the prosecution introduced a letter from Weissman to Doulin in which Weissman expressed his appreciation for Doulin's efforts to get the incumbent district attorney to leave office, thereby opening the position for Weissman's presumed accession.

On the basis of the foregoing evidence, Doulin was convicted on four of the seven counts submitted to the jury, one count having been dismissed by the district judge prior to trial. Appellant's principal contention on appeal is that the government did not show, as it must under 18 U.S.C. § 1623, that any false statements which he made with regard to his unlawful interference in Monell's prosecution were material to the grand jury's investigation into a possible corrupt connection between local officials and illegal gambling interests. We are ...

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