On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, 04-01-0219.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted February 7, 2007
Before Judges A. A. Rodríguez and Lyons.
After defendant Ronald J. Powell's motion to suppress his inculpatory written statement to police was denied, he entered a negotiated plea of guilty to three counts of third degree theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a; third degree possession of a weapon without a firearms purchaser identification card, N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3; and second degree certain persons not to have weapons, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b. The State agreed to dismiss a charge of fourth degree unlawful sale of a firearm, N.J.S.A. 2C:58-2. A sentence recommendation was not part of the agreement. The judge imposed concurrent four-year terms of imprisonment on all third degree convictions, and a concurrent eight-year term with a five-year period of parole ineligibility on the second degree conviction. We affirm the denial of the motion to suppress and sentences imposed on the third degree convictions, however, we vacate and remand for resentencing of the second degree conviction pursuant to State v. Natale, 184 N.J. 458 (2005).
At the hearing on the motion to suppress, the State presented one witness, Red Bank Police Detective Thomas Nuccio. According to Nuccio, defendant's father reported to the Red Bank Police Department the theft of his automobile, a 2003 silver Honda Accord, and two firearms, a Remington .22 caliber rifle and a BB rifle. He also indicated that the keys to the Accord, which were inside his home, were missing. Defendant's father indicated to the Red Bank Police Department that he thought defendant may have taken the items because defendant was the only person who had access to the Accord and the rifles.
On August 12, 2003, the Asbury Park Police Department contacted the Red Bank Police Department to report that the Accord had been recovered. Nuccio, who was familiar with defendant, attempted to locate him. During his investigation, Nuccio discovered that there were two open warrants against defendant that had been issued by the Superior Court, Monmouth County, for failure to comply with child support orders.
In the course of being questioned by defense counsel, during cross-examination, Nuccio testified that he had received information from a confidential informant regarding defendant. The following exchange occurred:
Q: Nobody reported ever seeing Ronald Powell actually with the guns, correct?
A: That's not correct, no.
Q: Did somebody report seeing Ronald Powell physically holding the guns?
A: There was information that we had received that Mr. Powell was trying to sell the firearms for drugs.
Q: And it's your testimony that you received that information prior to ...