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State v. Pipkin

Decided: July 10, 1968.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MOSES PIPKIN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Sullivan, Foley and Leonard. The opinion of the court was delivered by Foley, J.A.D.

Foley

After a non-jury trial defendant was found guilty on the fifth and sixth counts of a six-count indictment. The counts in question charged, respectively, that (1) on or about June 16, 1967, defendant unlawfully possessed, and (2) sold a narcotic drug, to wit, heroin, contrary to the provisions of N.J.S.A. 24:18-4. Judgments of dismissal were entered by the court, sua sponte, on the first, second, third and fourth counts.

On this appeal the principal issues, as stated by defendant, are:

"I. Can a narcotics offense be proved without expert testimony that there was in fact a narcotic drug involved, and with circumstantial evidence alone, when the existence of a specific drug was part of the substantive crime charged?

II. If a narcotics offense can be proved by circumstantial evidence alone, must there be expert testimony concerning narcotics and their effect?"

Defendant was an inmate or patient in St. Dismas Treatment Center, Paterson, New Jersey, an institution devoted to the rehabilitation of narcotics addicts. He entered the Center, voluntarily, in January of 1967 and left June 11, 1967.

Monsignor William N. Wall, Director of the Center, testified that from about June 10 until June 16 he observed the abnormal behavior of several of the inmates and suspected they that were using narcotics. He had them tested medically for the presence of narcotics in their blood streams. As the result of these tests he reported his suspicions of narcotics use to the police department of the City of Paterson. The Director also identified defendant at the trial and stated that he had seen him in the Center on June 11 and June 16.

Among the inmates who aroused the Director's suspicions were John Franciscone, Robert Turkowski, Alfred Portella, Jr. and John Brown, all narcotics addicts. These men gave statements to the police implicating defendant in the sale of narcotics to them during the month of June 1967 and were subsequently presented by the State as witnesses at trial.

Franciscone testified that he purchased a white substance in glassine envelopes from defendant at the solicitation of the latter on June 9, 11 and 16, at a cost of $5 per packet. He bought the packets believing that they contained heroin.

Turkowski testified that he had purchased from defendant a similar glassine envelope containing a white substance on June 16, 1967.

Portella said that on June 16 he had purchased from defendant such an envelope containing a white ...


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