On appeal from a final decision of the New Jersey State Parole Board.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Graves and Yannotti.
Appellant Moestafa Baldew appeals from a final determination of the New Jersey State Parole Board (Board), dated February 21, 2007, which denied appellant's application for parole and established a twenty-month future parole eligibility term (FET). We affirm.
Appellant is an inmate at South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He is serving a twelve-year term of incarceration, with a five-year period of parole ineligibility, for first-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) with intent to distribute.
It appears that the Narcotics Task Force in the Office of the Hudson County Prosecutor received information from a confidential informant that appellant was engaged in a large-scale scheme involving the distribution of CDS, specifically a drug called Ecstasy. The Task Force and other law enforcement authorities commenced an investigation, which resulted in appellant's arrest on January 10, 2002. At the time of his arrest, appellant was in possession of 25,000 tablets of Ecstasy.
Appellant first became eligible for parole on January 9, 2007. He received his initial parole hearing on September 15, 2006. Because of the serious nature of the offense for which appellant was incarcerated, the hearing officer referred the matter to a two-member adult panel of the Board. The panel considered the matter on September 22, 2006. In its notice of decision dated September 22, 2006, the panel denied parole and established a twenty-month FET. The panel found that there was a reasonable expectation that appellant would violate the conditions of parole if released on parole.
In its decision, the panel noted several mitigating factors, specifically appellant's lack of a prior criminal record, participation in programs specific to his behavior, participation in institutional programs, and "[a]verage to above average institutional report(s)." As reasons for denying parole, the panel found that there had been insufficient problem resolution, a lack of insight by appellant in his criminal behavior, and a minimization of that criminal conduct.
The panel additionally noted that appellant blamed his criminal activity on a gambling debt, and did not have "an adequate parole plan to assist in reintegration into the community." The panel suggested that appellant participate in institutional programs addressed to his criminal behavior, and complete moral recognition training.
Appellant filed an administrative appeal to the Board. Appellant asserted the record did not establish that he would violate the conditions of parole if released because he was subject to a federal detainer and faced potential deportation. Appellant also asserted that the panel had been "very selective" in its interpretation of the record. Appellant stated that he has been "infraction free" and this indicated he was "a prime candidate for parole release." Appellant also said that his pre-parole reports and the mitigating factors noted by the panel "are all clear indicators" of his character and show that he has "the propensity for being a law abiding person."
In addition, appellant asserted that the panel had "misconstrued material facts" regarding his offense. He stated that the panel was under the impression that he was earning $750,000 on the drugs. Appellant said that, although that was the "street value of the drugs confiscated[,]" "he never saw any money whatsoever." Appellant stated that he was being used as a "mule" in order "to pay off [a] gambling debt."
Appellant also asserted that the panel had erroneously based its parole decision on his ability to pay restitution. Appellant stated that the panel had asked him whether he would revert to his former criminal conduct in order to pay his gambling debt, which defendant said was $15,000. Appellant said that he would pay the debt "by working and paying [it off] little by little." Appellant ...