Brief Fact Summary. In an investigation of call-girl activity, the police focused their attention on three prostitutes actively plying their trade on call, each of whom were using the Defendant, Lauria’s (Defendant) telephone answering service, presumably for business purposes. The Defendant and the three prostitutes were eventually indicted for conspiracy to commit prostitution.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The intent of a supplier who knows of the criminal use to which his supplies are put to participate in the criminal activity connected with the use of his supplies may be established by: (1) direct evidence that he intends to participate, or (2) through an inference that he intends to participate based on, (a) his special interest in the activity, or (b) the aggravated nature of the crime itself.
To establish agreement, the People need show no more than a tacit, mutual understanding between coconspirators to accomplish an unlawful act.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Under what circumstances does a supplier become part of a conspiracy to further an illegal enterprise by furnishing goods or services, which he knows are to be used by the buyer for criminal purposes?
Held. There is no proof that the Defendant took any direct action to further, encourage, or direct the call-girl activities of his co-defendants and there is also an absence of circumstances from which his special interest in their activities could be inferred. As a result, although the Defendant had knowledge of the call-girl activity, there was insufficient evidence that he intended to further their criminal activities and hence insufficient proof of his participation in a criminal conspiracy with his co-defendants to further prostitution.
Discussion. The court based its decision upon the fact that, although the Defendant had knowledge of call-girl activity, he did not intend to further their criminal enterprises. Among the evidence that points to this conclusion include the fact that excessive charges were not added for standard services and that there was not an unusual volume of business with call-girls. Further, the court noted that the offense that the Defendant was charged with furthering was a misdemeanor. The court found that there is a much greater duty to disassociate from felonious activity than there is for misdemeanor activity.