Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Petito

decided: January 26, 1982.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEE,
v.
AMADIO PETITO, APPELLANT.



Appeal from a judgment of conviction entered in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Costantino, J., following a jury trial, for contempt in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 401 and perjury in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1623. Affirmed.

Before Timbers, Kearse and Cardamone, Circuit Judges.

Author: Cardamone

During a grand jury investigation in the Eastern District of New York into illegal payoffs to union leaders of Local 29 of the Blasters, Drillrunners and Miners Union, appellant, Amadio Petito, an officer of that union, was called as a witness and refused to testify. The district court thereupon granted him immunity.*fn1 When appellant still refused to testify after the grant of immunity, the district court advised him that he would "be held in custody for the life of the Grand Jury, or prior to that at such time as (he) may purge (him)self of contempt by testifying before the Grand Jury."

Subsequently convicted for criminal contempt and perjury, appellant has raised several issues for our consideration on this appeal. Principal among them is his assertion that the statement made to him by the district court led him to believe that the only result of his refusal to testify would be his liability for civil contempt, and that, upon appearing and testifying, no further consequences would be visited upon him. He claims that when held for civil contempt he was entitled-under notions of due process-to notice of the possibility that a charge could be laid against him for criminal contempt. Because we find this contention unpersuasive and the other issues raised without merit, we affirm the judgment of conviction.

FACTS

In 1979 a Special Grand Jury in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York began an investigation to determine whether Louis Sanzo, president of Local 29 of the Blasters, Drillrunners and Miners Union, had received illegal payoffs during the years 1974 through 1979, and whether Samuel Cavalieri, who was not a union member, actually controlled Local 29 and shared in the payoffs to Sanzo. Appellant Petito, who was secretary-treasurer of Local 29 during part of this time, was called to testify before the grand jury on July 20, 1979. When asked questions concerning Samuel Cavalieri and Local 29, Petito refused to answer, invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege and requested immunity from prosecution based on his testimony. He also refused to testify without a court ruling on whether certain questions proposed to him were based on information obtained from illegal electronic surveillance.

Petito appeared with counsel before Judge Henry Bramwell on July 20th. At that time the prosecuting attorney submitted an order signed by a New York State Supreme Court Justice authorizing surveillance of Sanzo's telephone. The prosecutor acknowledged that Petito would be interrogated before the grand jury on matters derived from this wiretap. Ruling that the wiretap order was facially valid, Judge Bramwell granted Petito immunity and directed him to testify. The court also warned Petito that failure to testify truthfully might result in his prosecution for perjury.

Appellant reappeared before the grand jury on the same day. For the second time he refused to testify concerning Cavalieri and the union, asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege, and declined to answer questions based on the allegedly illegal interceptions of his telephone conversations with Sanzo. The prosecutor then advised Petito that he could no longer withhold his testimony on these grounds and that his further refusal to obey the court's order could result in his being held in contempt and incarcerated until he agreed to answer questions. The parties returned to Judge Bramwell who once again ordered Petito to testify. After conferring with his attorney, he responded that he would not. Judge Bramwell found Petito in contempt of court and made the statement previously quoted.

Appellant was held in custody for twenty-seven days. He next appeared before the grand jury on August 16, 1979, at which time he made a statement that he still objected to answering questions but would do so because a judge had ordered him to. He proceeded to respond to a number of inquiries about himself, Cavalieri, Sanzo and the union.

The grand jury interrogated him with respect to his whereabouts and activities following a union nomination meeting held on May 4, 1978. At first he stated that he could not presently recall exactly the events of one specific night some fifteen or sixteen months in the past. The inquiry focused on whether Petito had visited a social club on Second Avenue between 109th and 110th Streets run by Samuel Cavalieri. Petito stated that at that time his father lived in the vicinity of Cavalieri's social club and that he might have gone to visit his father after the meeting, but that he could not remember whether he did or not. He concluded with "I am telling you that I possibly, yes, I might have seen (Cavalieri), I might have been with my father, I don't know."

The following day, Petito stated that he wanted to change part of his previous testimony which he believed was incorrect. He then said

I thought about it and I remember that I did not go (to Cavalieri's social club)... I mentioned to you that it was a possibility that if I did go to 109th Street it was a question of seeing my father who was alive at the time. But remembering after I left here, I had met my father outside of where we had this election... I remember meeting him and after the meeting and that's why I am saying now that I never went to 109th Street. Before I answered there was a possibility that I did or didn't. More or less the reason was to see my father, but I remember seeing my father outside of the election hall.

Petito later repeated that he did not go to Cavalieri's social club on May 4, 1978.

The grand jury filed an indictment on March 17, 1981 which charged Petito with criminal contempt*fn2 for willfully disobeying Judge Bramwell's order to testify after receiving a grant of immunity, and with perjury*fn3 for his August 17, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.