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State v. Maslo

Decided: October 15, 1963.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLIAM MASLO, DEFENDANT



Motion to suppress evidence pursuant to R.R. 3:2A-6.

Schulman, J.c.c.

Schulman

This is a search and seizure case. Defendant, during the course of trial in the municipal court for petty larceny with waiver of indictment, objected to introduction of evidence, and pursuant to R.R. 3:2A-6 motion was made to suppress said evidence before this court.

The only witness presented was a Mr. John F. Dolan, who stated that he was employed by the Waterfront Commission

as an investigator. He testified that on June 14, 1963 he was sent to Pier 9, Hoboken, to investigate a report that some shipment had been broken into. He testified that at 4 P.M. he had set himself at an observation post on the lower level, south side of said pier to watch the longshoremen coming out of said pier. At approximately 4:45 he observed defendant, subsequently identified as Mr. Maslo, leaving the pier by the lower gate. He stated that he noticed a bulge around the groin area of Mr. Maslo and he followed Mr. Maslo to his car unnoticed. He saw defendant get into his car, bend down, and remove a sweater from the fly of his pants. He saw on the sweater a label which he recognized as part of a shipment from Italy which had been on the docks that day. He opened the door of said automobile and asked defendant what he had there and defendant replied "give me a break." The witness further testified that he told defendant to come with him and both proceeded in defendant's car to the offices of the Waterfront Commission and reported said happening to the Commission, which resulted in a charge of violation of customs. On the way to the Waterfront Commission headquarters he asked defendant if he had any other items in the car and defendant answered "no." The officer then opened up the glove compartment of said car and found lighter fluid and other items in the car, as well as articles under the seat. After he had reported said incident to the Waterfront Commission office, defendant was released. Subsequently, about 12 days later, a sworn complaint was made in the municipal court by an officer of the American President Lines on a charge of larceny against defendant. No witnesses were produced by defendant at this hearing, although extensive cross-examination was made of the State's witness.

Defendant argues that the evidence seized at the time of the arrest or detention should not be used against him, in that there was an invalid arrest or detention, and the evidence was the forbidden fruit of the illegal arrest or detention and hence not admissible. He further argues that since the warrant for his arrest was not issued until 12 days subsequent to his

original arrest or detention, the State was in violation of R.R. 8:3-3, which provides as follows:

"A person making an arrest without a warrant shall take the arrested person, without unnecessary delay, before the nearest available magistrate and a complaint shall be filed forthwith and a warrant issued thereon."

In the instant case search and seizure was made without a search warrant. Hence its legality depends upon probable cause for arrest. State v. Scharfstein , 79 N.J. Super. 236 (App. Div. 1963). Defendant argues that there was no arrest in this case, merely illegal detention, and illegal detention could not give rise to arrest on probable cause wherein search and seizure might be incidental to such arrest or detention.

There is no doubt that a waterfront investigator can exercise police powers in the State of New Jersey. The bistate compact creating the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, set forth at N.J.S.A. 32:23-86, states as a power of the Commission the ability

"* * * [t]o designate any officer, agent or employee of the commission to be an investigator who shall be vested with the powers of a peace officer of the State of New York in that ...


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