On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Bergen County, Indictment No. 06-01-0086.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Grall and Espinosa.
Defendant Shakar Saleem was convicted of second-degree conspiracy to possess marijuana in excess of twenty-five pounds with intent to distribute, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2. He was sentenced to a prison term of seven years with a three-and-one-half year parole disqualifier as well as the penalties required by law.
The State's principal witness in this case was Olinka Reyes, who had been indicted with defendant and testified pursuant to a plea agreement. Reyes testified that she had known the defendant since 2002 and was introduced by him to Mike Walker shortly thereafter. In late 2004, the defendant and Walker approached Reyes about receiving packages containing marijuana at the Glenpointe Condominium Complex in Teaneck where she worked as a security guard. Reyes agreed and suggested that the packages be shipped to a vacant apartment at the complex, 2 Alcott Court. Thereafter, either the defendant or Walker called Reyes to advise her of incoming shipments and Reyes intercepted the shipments when they were delivered to the complex by UPS. Reyes then notified defendant and he collected the packages. After Reyes received at least two shipments, defendant paid her approximately $2000.
On April 13, 2005, defendant advised Reyes that a package was due to arrive from California on the next day. However, by this time, 2 Alcott Court was no longer vacant. On the same date, the Teaneck Police Department learned from California authorities that an intercepted package was being shipped from California to Teaneck via UPS. The package contained 23.3 pounds of marijuana and was addressed to "Sharon Crane" at 2 Alcott Court.
Teaneck Police planned a controlled delivery to the Glenpointe apartment on Friday, April 15, 2005, and obtained an anticipatory search warrant for that address. The UPS driver for that route advised that he had another, identical package addressed to "Sharon Crane" at the same apartment on his truck for delivery. The police took possession of the second package and found that it contained 24.4 pounds of marijuana. Record checks for 2 Alcott Court revealed that the name "Sharon Crane" was fictitious.
When the package did not arrive during her shift, Reyes called the defendant. He suggested that it might be delivered later. Defendant picked up Reyes at the end of her shift to drive her to the airport for a weekend visit to relatives in Atlanta. While driving around the complex in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the UPS truck, defendant telephoned Walker to explain that the package had not arrived.
They later located the UPS truck and asked the driver whether there were any packages for 2 Alcott Court. The driver denied having any package for that address. He recognized Reyes as the security guard from Glenpointe and recalled delivering packages to her in the past, but could not clearly see the face of the other person in the vehicle.
This information was relayed to the police. Posing as a UPS delivery person, Detective Linda McNulty of the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office Narcotics Task Force drove to Glenpointe. She told a security guard, Daniel Gunn, that she had a package for 2 Alcott Court. When she tried to deliver the package to that address, a construction worker told her that there were no "Cranes" at that address and that the owners were not there. Detective McNulty returned to the security gate, where she again spoke to Gunn. He told her that Reyes was on the phone with him and had inquired about the package. Detective McNulty returned to the Teaneck Police Department.
Later, Reyes called Gunn and told him that "a resident by the name of James" would be coming to the gatehouse to pick up the package. Gunn told Reyes that the package had come, but he did not accept it because the circumstances of the delivery were "suspicious." Defendant was on the phone with Walker at that time, allowing both of them to hear the conversation between Reyes and Gunn. Defendant attempted to reassure Reyes that everything would be alright. In a telephone conversation that weekend, Walker told Reyes that he had lost money because a few of his shipments had been caught. Upon her return to New Jersey, defendant and Walker instructed her that the package was "dead" and she should not accept it.
On April 18, 2005, Detective McNulty returned to Glenpointe with a UPS delivery man while Reyes was on duty. After another unsuccessful attempt to deliver the package to 2 Alcott Court, the officer asked to leave the package with Reyes. She refused.
Reyes was arrested by the Teaneck Police Department later that day. She agreed to cooperate and described her involvement in a conspiracy with defendant and Walker to ship packages of marijuana from California to the Glenpointe apartment.
Reyes called defendant from the police station, told him that the packages had arrived and that he should pick them up. Defendant responded, "I'll get back to you in a minute," and hung up the phone. A few minutes later, Reyes called defendant a second time. Defendant again stated that he would "get back to Reyes in a minute." However, the defendant did not call.
At approximately 4:00 p.m., Teaneck police brought Reyes back to the Glenpointe gatehouse. Craig Douglas, the security guard on duty, was told to leave the booth. He went across the street to the Marriott Hotel, where he was able to see both the security gatehouse and undercover police officers in the vicinity. While Douglas was sitting in front of the hotel, defendant arrived and told him that he was working out at the hotel spa. Douglas ...