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State v. Orji

Decided: December 8, 1994.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
SUNDAY ORJI, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Morris County.

Before Judges Muir, Jr., D'Annunzio and Eichen.

Eichen

The opinion of the court was delivered by

EICHEN, J.S.C., t/a

On this appeal, defendant claims that the Judge erred in refusing to allow proof that defendant rejected the State's offer of Pretrial Intervention (PTI). Defendant claims this evidence was relevant to show "consciousness of innocence."

After a jury trial, defendant was convicted of one count of third degree theft by deception (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4). The Judge sentenced defendant to a five-year probationary term conditioned upon serving 220 days in the county jail and payment of a $30 V.C.C.B. penalty. Restitution in the amount of $8,408.40 was also imposed as a condition of probation.

Although not raised in the Law Division, on appeal defendant also claims that the Judge failed to make proper findings as to defendant's ability to pay restitution and the amount of restitution in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:43-3 and 2C:44-2.

We affirm.

I.

Defendant was found guilty of theft by deception in connection with an organized check-kiting scheme which caused financial loss to Midlantic Bank in the amount of $8,408.40. Evidence of defendant's guilt was overwhelming. The evidence consisted of multiple eyewitness identifications, bank surveillance depicting defendant as he engaged in the alleged illicit acts, the presence of defendant's fingerprints on the checks in question, and defendant's proximity to the bank when he was arrested during what appeared to be a continuation of the check-kiting scheme.

Defendant contends that the trial Judge erred in excluding evidence at trial of his rejection of the State's offer to participate in PTI. Defendant proffered this evidence to establish his consciousness of innocence, contending it was relevant evidence on the ultimate question of his guilt or innocence of the offense charged.*fn1

On December 2, 1991, three days after his arrest, defendant signed a standard Pretrial Notice and Application form acknowledging that he had been advised about the availability of PTI and indicating his intention to participate in the program. Sometime thereafter ...


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