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State v. Schlue

Decided: July 10, 1974.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CARL C. SCHLUE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Kolovsky, Leonard and Carton. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kolovsky, P.J.A.D.

Kolovsky

[129 NJSuper Page 352] Defendant appeals from the judgment of conviction entered on a jury verdict finding him

guilty of obstruction of justice. At common law it was, and under N.J.S.A. 2A:85-1 it still is, a misdemeanor "to do any act which prevents, obstructs, impedes, or hinders the due course of public justice." State v. Cassatly, 93 N.J. Super. 111, 118 (App. Div. 1966).

The indictment on which defendant was tried alleged, in essence, that between July 20, 1971 and August 15, 1971:

(1) The State police were conducting an investigation "concerning the activities of [defendant] and divers others associated with him in connection with the payment of sums of money by various individuals to [defendant] for the purpose of acquiring and retaining work as ironworkers," and

(2) Defendant, knowing of the investigation and knowing that one Ricci "had information germane to the said investigation," wilfully and corruptly sought to induce and persuade Ricci "to deny falsely, if questioned in the course of the investigation that he * * * had such information; to the obstruction, hindrance and impedance of the due course of public justice."

Defendant does not contend that the evidence adduced, consisting primarily of Ricci's testimony and a recorded tape of a meeting between defendant and Ricci, does not furnish plenary support for the jury's verdict. Ricci's testimony and the tapes, if credited, established that in the spring and summer of 1971 defendant, who knew that the State Police were conducting an investigation with respect to payments allegedly made to him by Ricci and others, sought to induce Ricci to mislead the State Police and tell them that he had no information as to any wrongdoing by defendant.

Ricci also testified to events which had allegedly occurred the year before, in April 1970. According to him, he had then paid defendant, who had some official connection with an ironworkers union, $2,100 and had agreed to, and thereafter did pay to defendant $10 for each day he worked, this in return for defendant seeing to it that Ricci procured a "union book" which enabled him to work as an ironworker.

Defendant concedes that evidence with respect to the payments allegedly made by Ricci to him would normally be

admissible to show his motive for seeking to induce Ricci to mislead the State Police. However, he contends that in this case the evidence was not admissible because, at a prior trial in October 1972 of an indictment charging him with a violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:93-8 by reason of his having received such payments from Ricci, a jury had found him not guilty. Further, defendant argues that the acquittal at the prior trial entitled him to invoke "double jeopardy" and "collateral estoppel" as a bar to his prosecution for obstruction of justice.

The several arguments are all without merit. The present prosecution for obstruction of justice based on acts committed by him in July and August 1971 was not barred by his prior acquittal in a prosecution for bribery based on acts done by him in April 1970, allegedly in violation of N.J.S.A. 2A:93-8, which reads as follows:

Any person who gives, offers or promises any money, real estate, service or thing of value to any foreman or person having other workmen or employees under his control or authority, for the purpose of influencing him to employ or retain any workman or employee in any position, or for the purpose of procuring employment or avoiding discharge therefrom, and any such foreman, or person in control or authority, who accepts or agrees or offers ...


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