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State v. Friedland

June 18, 2008

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ROBERT FRIEDLAND, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Docket No. 04-10-2529.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 3, 2007

Before Judges A. A. Rodríguez and C. L. Miniman.

Defendant Robert Friedland was initially represented by counsel from the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) on three counts of second-degree issuing bad checks, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-5. Defendant moved to represent himself. The judge granted the request and ordered an Assistant Deputy Public Defender to be "standby" counsel. Defendant moved pro se to suppress evidence. Following an evidentiary hearing, the judge denied this motion. Defendant then filed pro se several motions. These were also denied. Thereafter, defendant moved successfully to reopen the motion to suppress. Upon re-hearing, the motion to suppress was denied again.

After all of these motions were decided, defendant negotiated a plea agreement with the State. He agreed to plead guilty to one count of second-degree issuing a bad check. In exchange, the State agreed to dismiss the two remaining charges and to recommend sentencing as a third-degree offender and imposing a three-year custodial sentence. In addition, the State agreed that jail credits from Monmouth and Ocean Counties would be awarded and that "[a]ll property [would] be returned to [defendant] when he is released from prison." In defendant's factual basis for the entry of his plea, he admitted that he knew when he issued a check for $450,000 that there were insufficient funds to cover it. The judge imposed a three-year term with 567 days credit for time already served. We affirm.

The facts can be summarized as follows. Defendant had plans to purchase a bed and breakfast in Point Pleasant Beach for $1,450,000. The sellers were represented by Richard Pepsny, Esq. Defendant issued a check in the amount of $450,000 to Pepsny's trust account. This check was not honored due to an insufficient amount of funds. The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office began an investigation and issued arrest warrants for defendant. Two detectives traveled to Elizabeth to arrest defendant. They, along with Elizabeth police officers, went to defendant's basement apartment on Westminster Avenue. Defendant was handcuffed, placed in one of the police vehicles, and driven to police headquarters. No search of the apartment took place at that time. The officers told defendant that they would obtain a search warrant and return to the apartment. Defendant gave the officers a key to the apartment so that they would not have to break down the door.

The officers obtained a search warrant from a Superior Court judge for the apartment and two vehicles used by defendant. The warrant provided that the following items could be removed by the police:

[A]ny and all records including but not limited to checks, ledgers, currency, receipts, titles, deposit slips, bank statements, financial wire statements, financial records, strong boxes, safes, computer systems, computer programs, computer software, computer hardware.

Also . . ., any or all records written or electronic. Any and all peripheral devices including but not limited to operating systems, software and associated manuals, et cetera.

The officers executed the warrant and seized several items, both from the apartment and from the cars, including computers and documents linked to defendant.

On appeal, defendant contends:

IT WAS ERROR TO DENY DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO RECUSE ...


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