On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey Law Division, Camden County.
King and Skillman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Skillman, J.A.D.
Defendant was indicted for conspiracy to commit theft by deception and/or uttering forged instruments, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2; bringing stolen property into New Jersey, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7; three counts of theft by deception, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4, and three counts of uttering a forged instrument, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1(a)(3). Before trial, the State dismissed one count of theft by deception and one count of uttering a forged instrument. A jury found defendant guilty of conspiracy, bringing stolen property into New Jersey, one count of theft by deception and one count of uttering a forged instrument. The jury also acquitted defendant of the remaining counts of theft by deception and uttering a forged instrument.
The court granted the State's motion to sentence defendant to an extended term as a persistent offender and sentenced him to a ten year term, with five years of parole ineligibility, on the conspiracy conviction. The court also imposed a consecutive five year sentence, with two and a half years of parole ineligibility,
on the conviction for bringing stolen property into New Jersey and concurrent five year terms on the convictions for theft by deception and uttering a forged instrument. All of the sentences were made consecutive to another sentence defendant was already serving.
On appeal, defendant makes the following arguments:
POINT I: THE CONVICTIONS FOR THEFT BY DECEPTION (COUNT 25) AND FOR UTTERING A FORGED INSTRUMENT (COUNT 26) MUST BE REVERSED BECAUSE THE OFFENSES WERE NOT COMMITTED IN NEW JERSEY, THEREBY PRECLUDING NEW JERSEY COURT JURISDICTION. (Not Raised Below).
POINT II: THE THEFT BY DECEPTION (COUNT 25) AND UTTERING A FORGED INSTRUMENT (COUNT 26) CONVICTIONS MERGE WITH ONE ANOTHER. (Not Raised Below).
POINT III: THE SENTENCING COURT ERRED BY IMPOSING CONSECUTIVE TERMS AND PAROLE INELIGIBILITY TERMS AS TO THE CONSPIRACY TO COMMIT THEFT BY DECEPTION AND/OR UTTERING FORGED INSTRUMENTS (COUNT 1) AND THE BRINGING OF STOLEN PROPERTY INTO NEW JERSEY (COUNT 24) CONVICTIONS. (Partially Raised Below).
We reject defendant's argument that the New Jersey courts lacked jurisdiction to convict him of the crimes of theft by deception and uttering a forged instrument. However, we conclude that defendant's conviction for uttering a forged instrument should have been merged with his conviction for theft by deception and that the trial court erred in imposing a consecutive sentence for bringing stolen property into New Jersey in addition to a maximum extended term for conspiracy. Accordingly, we remand for resentencing.
Defendant's convictions for theft by deception and uttering a forged instrument are based on a fraudulent scheme initiated in New Jersey and consummated in Connecticut. The victim, Paul Rebeschi, Jr., advertised a used race car for sale in a magazine called "The National Dragster." In response, he received a telephone call from a person identified as William Gaines (actually defendant or one of his confederates), who agreed to
purchase the car for $22,500. In order to transport the race car, defendant borrowed a trailer from a friend in New Jersey and had an accomplice, using a false identity, rent a U-Haul truck in New Jersey. Defendant then drove with codefendants Jack Dussell and Stephanie Massaro to Connecticut. Posing as William Gaines, Dussell met with Rebeschi and gave him a forged cashier's check, ostensibly issued by a New Jersey ...