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Commonwealth v. Lavelle

ELR Citation: 16 ELR 20497
Nos. Nos. 83 CR615(a) et al., (Pa. Ct. C.P. Lackawanna Cty., 08/23/1985)

The court upholds the conviction of individuals and corporations involved in hazardous waste transportation and disposal for violating racketeering provisions of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code. The court rules that defendants' family business was an "enterprise" within the meaning of the Corrupt Organizations section of the Code, despite the lack of any connection to organized crime. It rules that individually and corporately they engaged in a pattern of racketeering by committing hundreds of thefts by deception during the period covered by the indictment. Defendants solicited customers for their hazardous waste disposal business by alleging that they were using state-approved facilities, when in fact they were knowingly disposing of the wastes illegally. The court next rules that defendants used proceeds from their racketeering activities to support their enterprise and to establish another one in violation of another provision of the Corrupt Organizations section. The evidence demonstrated that defendants invested the considerable proceeds of their illegal activities in their disposal firm and that after learning of the criminal conviction of another in the business, they transferred the assets of that company to a new hazardous waste transportation firm. The court rules that the successor transportation company was properly convicted even though it did not engage in illegal disposal. The doctrines extending tort liability to a successor corporation that is merely a continuation of a prior corporate wrongdoer can properly be applied in a criminal case. The transportation company received income and assets derived from the illegal activities of its predecessor. Finally, the court rules that there was no violation of defendants' accountant-client privilege, the claim was not barred by the statute of limitations, and the state established that the original company was Pennsylvania corporation.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Keith Welks
Strawberry Square, 16th Fl., Harrisburg PA 17120
(717) 787-3391

Counsel for Defendants
Albert J. Slap
Slap, Williams & Cuker
Suite 960, One Franklin Plaza, Philadelphia PA 19102
(215) 557-0099