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State v. Cetta

September 22, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MICHAEL CETTA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Complaint No. W2007-371388-1493.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued June 2, 2009

Before Judges Parker and Yannotti.

Defendant Michael Cetta was granted leave to appeal from an order entered on March 6, 2009 denying his application for a stay of an order returning his leased Jaguar to the leaseholder, Jaguar Credit, pending appeal. The Jaguar was the subject of a forfeiture action by the State pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:41-3b. Upon his emergent application, filed April 13, 2009, we granted leave to appeal and a stay pending disposition of the appeal. We now affirm the March 6, 2009 order and dissolve the stay.

The background for this appeal is as follows. Defendant was arrested on December 18, 2007 and charged in a criminal complaint with third degree promoting gambling; first degree money laundering; first degree racketeering; second degree conspiracy to distribute heroin; and second degree bribery. Since his arrest and the filing of the complaint in December 2007, he has not been indicted. Nevertheless, the State proceeded with a forfeiture action and seized defendant's leased Jaguar. Jaguar Credit is currently in possession of the vehicle and was scheduled to auction it off when the emergent application was made.

In granting defendant's emergent application, we ordered that in addition to developing his argument that the Jaguar should be returned to him because he could demonstrate that it was leased with legitimate funds, both parties should brief the question of whether the forfeiture should proceed at all in view of the fact that defendant has not yet been indicted.

Pursuant to our order, defendant argues:

POINT ONE

THE PROPERTY SEIZED IS NOT SUBJECT TO FORFEITURE UNDER THE RACKETEERING STATUTE

POINT TWO

THE DEFENDANT/APPELLANT MICHAEL CETTA HAS BEEN SUBJECTED TO AN UNREASONABLE DELAY BY THE STATE IN PRESENTING THE CHARGES TO A GRAND JURY, THEREFORE, HIS PROPERTY SHOULD BE RETURNED

POINT THREE

PREJUDICE TO THE ...


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