On appeal from the Essex County Court of Quarter Sessions.
For the plaintiff in error, Anthony A. Callandra and George S. Silzer.
For the state, William A. Wachenfeld and Joseph E. Conlin.
Before Brogan, Chief Justice, and Justices Case and Perskie.
The opinion of the court was delivered by
PERSKIE, J. Plaintiff in error was tried and convicted in the Essex County Court of Quarter Sessions upon an indictment which charged him and Joseph Silano with having violated what is known as the "Small Loan act." Pamph. L. 1932, ch. 62, p. 94. The charge was that on June 15th, 1934, and on other days thereafter up and until the day the indictment was presented, &c. (November 27th, 1935), the defendants,
Joseph Silano and Nicholas Guida, at Newark, New Jersey, "did unlawfully engage in the business of making loans of money * * * in the amount of * * * three hundred dollars and less and did charge, contract for, and receive a greater rate of interest, * * * therefor than six per centum annually, without having first obtained a license from the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance of the State of New Jersey, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided * * *."
After the jury was sworn and prior to the opening address by the prosecutor of the Pleas, Silano retracted his former plea of not guilty and entered a plea of nolo contendere which plea was accepted. The trial continued as against Guida. He was found guilty and the sentence of the court was that he be committed to the state prison at hard labor, for a minimum term of two and one-half years and for a maximum term of three years. It is the judgment based upon that conviction and sentence that is here challenged. The entire record is certified and is before us upon exceptions and reasons for reversal.
Sixty-three assignments of error and sixty-five reasons for reversal are set down for the plaintiff in error; twenty-one are argued. Few of those argued conform to the oft declared and well established applicable practice. They fail to point out with "sufficient precision" (State v. Blaine, 104 N.J.L. 325; 140 A. 566), or with "particularity" (McKenna v. Reade, 105 N.J.L. 408, 412; 144 A. 812), the judicial action alleged to be erroneous, complained of and sought to be reviewed. To refer to either an assignment of error or to a reason for reversal only by number, as is the fact here, without stating the contents thereof, is a practice which has been held to be "irregular and insufficient" (State v. Blaine, supra, at p. 329), and "pernicious" (McKenna v. Reade, supra, at p. 414).
At all events, we have carefully considered all the points argued and are of the opinion that none is well founded. But a few merit discussion.
First: Did the court err in refusing to direct an acquittal at the end of the state's case or at the end of the entire case? We think not.
It was open to the jury to find, if they so chose, that Silano and plaintiff in error by mutual arrangement undertook to and did engage in the business of making loans as charged; that Silano procured the borrowers and Guida advanced the moneys; that both pursued and attained, with full knowledge of all the facts, the same unlawful objective charged; that they acted in concert; that Guida was bound by the words and deeds of his co-conspirator and wrongdoer; that Silano by his plea of nolo contendere admitted his guilt; that the several loans made to Fitzsimmons, O'Sullivan and Robinson were made as charged in the indictment; that the rate of interest charged was more than six per centum annually. It will serve no useful purpose to detail the unconscionable and illegal rate of interest charged on these loans. We think that the proofs fully support and justify the jury's verdict finding defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And what has already been written likewise applies to the denial of the motion made in arrest of judgment in support of which were urged the same grounds that were advanced in support of the motions for an acquittal. To set aside ...