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State v. Sanangelo

June 4, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JOSEPH SANANGELO, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment Nos. 00-01-0003 and 00-11-1253.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted January 9, 2008

Before Judges Payne and Sapp-Peterson.

Defendant Joseph Sanangelo appeals from the May 23, 2006 order denying his petition for post-conviction relief (PCR) in which he alleged ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. We affirm.

The evidence presented at trial disclosed that on August 8, 1999, a concerned citizen informed Officer Bachar Balhar of the Clifton Police Department that a white male driving a white Ford LTD with license number plate ZU-542E had offered to sell him a gun. Officer Balhar knew the citizen from his routine patrol. Upon look-up, the car was traced to defendant, who had an extensive criminal record. Three cars were dispatched to an area near defendant's home where a surveillance was set up. When defendant was observed driving near his residence, he was stopped by the police, who approached him with guns drawn and asked if he had anything illegal in the car. Defendant admitted that the gun was there, and it was found under the driver's seat. Defendant was arrested, and later a grand jury indicted defendant, charging him with third-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b), and second-degree possession of a weapon by a previously convicted person, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b).

Following the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence, a jury convicted defendant of both offenses. In addition to these offenses, defendant also pled guilty to third-degree possession of cocaine, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1), which had been charged in a separate indictment. The State moved, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7, for a discretionary extended term. The court granted the motion and sentenced defendant to an extended term, imposing an aggregate fourteen-year custodial sentence with a four-year parole disqualifier, along with appropriate fines and penalties. We affirmed his conviction and sentence on appeal. State v. Sanangelo, No. A-4674-00T4 (App. Div. Nov. 20, 2002). Defendant thereafter filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief (PCR), which was later amended after the court assigned counsel to represent him.

In both defendant's pro se petition and the amended petition filed on his behalf, defendant alleged ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. The allegation of ineffective assistance stems from defendant's contention that his trial counsel (1) failed to effectively litigate, at the suppression hearing, a statement he gave to police before being Mirandized;*fn1 (2) failed to seek disclosure of the citizen informant; (3) misadvised defendant as to the consequences of exposure to an extended term; (4) failed to investigate an alibi defense he proffered; (5) failed to honor defendant's request to call Robert Flick as a witness; (6) failed to properly consult with defendant in the preparation of his defense; and (7) failed to seek a discovery order granting the defense an opportunity to inspect and test the gun seized from defendant's vehicle.

Defendant also claims appellate counsel was ineffective because counsel submitted an eleven-page brief that raised only two issues on appeal. After considering the briefs and arguments and conducting an evidentiary hearing at which trial counsel and defendant testified, Judge Guzman denied the PCR petition.

Defendant raises the following points for our consideration:

POINT I

NO OTHER CONCLUSION CAN BE REACHED BUT THAT [THE] COURT BELOW ERRED IN CONCLUDING DEFENDANT HAD NOT BEEN DENIED EFFECTIVE ASSISTANCE OF COUNSEL.

POINT II

THE COURT BELOW ERRED IN FAILING TO ORDER AN EVIDENTIARY HEARING TO ADDRESS ALL OF DEFENDANT'S INEFFECTIVE ...


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