On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Hunterdon County, 05-01-0024-I.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 2, 2007
Before Judges Winkelstein and Yannotti.
Defendant Samuel Verducci pleaded guilty to second-degree eluding, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2b (count one); third-degree receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7 (count two); and third-degree criminal simulation, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1c (count three). The court imposed a ten-year prison term on the eluding charge, and five-year prison terms on the receiving stolen property and criminal simulation charges, all concurrent with each other and with another sentence defendant was serving at the time.
In addition to the three charges in the indictment, defendant was charged with ten motor vehicle offenses: two charges of speeding; having no registration for the vehicle he was driving; having no insurance for the vehicle he was driving; not having a valid driver's license at the time he was driving the vehicle; reckless driving; failing to maintain a lane; not wearing a seatbelt; having an uninspected vehicle; and a marker violation. As part of his plea agreement, he pleaded guilty to one speeding charge, and to three additional charges: that he had no registration for the vehicle; that he had no insurance for the vehicle; and that he did not have a valid driver's license while he drove the vehicle. The remaining six motor vehicle charges were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
On appeal, defendant raises the following two points:
IT WAS PLAIN ERROR NOT TO ALLOW THE DEFENDANT TO WITHDRAW HIS PLEA; A REVERSAL IS WARRANTED (NOT RAISED BELOW).
THE SENTENCE IMPOSED WAS MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE AND SHOULD BE REDUCED.
According to defendant's testimony at his plea hearing, on March 18, 2004, he was stopped by the police for speeding in Readington Township, Hunterdon County. At that time, he had an outstanding warrant against him. Believing he was going to be arrested, he fled the scene, driving away at over 100 miles per hour. He called 911, asked the dispatcher to have the state police terminate their chase, and told the dispatcher that the high speed chase was creating a risk of death or injury to others. He was aware at the time that the vehicle he was driving was "purchased under false pretenses" and later reported stolen. He also testified that he had exhibited a fraudulently-obtained Arizona driver's license, in that it did not represent his real identity. He further acknowledged that the car was neither registered nor insured in his proper name.
At sentencing, defendant sought to withdraw his guilty plea. He asserted that he was innocent of the motor vehicle charges to which he had pleaded guilty; that he had a valid driver's license, that the car was registered and insured, even though the registration and insurance were in another name, and that his driver's license "was under one of [his] aliases." Defendant also asked the judge to make his sentence ...