On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Indictment No. 06-07-0574.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted October 14, 2009
Before Judges Carchman and Lihotz.
Defendant Edward R. Lindsay appeals from a final judgment of conviction and the imposed sentence. A jury found defendant guilty of three counts of fourth-degree retaliation for past official action, N.J.S.A. 2C:27-5 (counts one, two and three), and three counts of fourth-degree harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4(e) (counts four, five and six), resulting from June 14, 2006 telephone calls he made to a municipal court judge and the municipal court administrator. The court imposed an eighteen-month term of incarceration on count one, and eighteen-month terms on each of the remaining counts to run concurrently to the sentence imposed on count one. Applicable fines and assessments were imposed, along with a restraint against contact with the victim.
On appeal, defendant argues: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in allowing "an unfettered amount of other crimes and acts evidence," and (2) his sentence was manifestly excessive. We affirm.
These are the facts presented by the State during trial. On February 24, 2005, defendant appeared before the Watchung Borough Municipal Court (WBMC) for resentencing on a disorderly conduct charge. Municipal Court Judge Richard Sasso imposed a thirty-day sentence, to be served at the Somerset County Jail on weekends commencing Friday, March 4, 2005. Defendant failed to appear, as ordered, and a bench warrant was issued.
On March 10, 2005, defendant made an unscheduled appearance in the WBMC. Municipal Court Judge Sasso admitted he had "words" with defendant and admonished him. Municipal Court Judge Sasso was "upset" because defendant failed to present himself to the jail, as ordered, after he gave him "a break" in allowing the sentence to be served on weekends. Defendant told Municipal Court Judge Sasso that his attorney provided erroneous information regarding the date to appear. Municipal Court Judge Sasso rejected defendant's explanation because he recalled personally addressing defendant at sentencing. Municipal Court Judge Sasso immediately ordered defendant held for thirty days "straight time." At that point, defendant "started yelling," "got violent," "tried to attack [Municipal Court Judge Sasso]" and "tried to go over the bench[.]" Additional police officers were summoned and eventually subdued defendant after he was pepper-sprayed; thereafter they removed him from the municipal courtroom. As a result of that incident, defendant was charged with disorderly conduct.
On April 5, 2005, while presiding in the Warren Township Municipal Court, Municipal Court Judge Sasso noticed defendant seated among the litigants. Defendant did not have a matter before the court; he simply sat in the courtroom and stared at the municipal court judge. Two days later, defendant appeared in the WBMC. Although he had no scheduled business before the court, he sat in the courtroom and stared at Municipal Court Judge Sasso, moving his seat in order to retain a direct line of sight, holding a stack of money like a fan.
On June 12, 2006, defendant appeared before a conflict municipal court judge and pled guilty to disorderly conduct as a result of his actions in the WBMC on the March 10, 2005. Defendant was sentenced to a four-month custodial term and ordered to report to the Somerset County Jail on June 15, 2006 at 9 a.m. In the parking lot of the WBMC, defendant confronted the Assistant Prosecutor, Raymond Stine, stating "I'll see you on the streets." Stine took the comment as a threat.
On June 15, 2006, the court administrator of the WBMC, Pamela Steves, discovered three messages on her office answering machine left by an unidentified caller the prior evening. The first was directed to Municipal Court Judge Sasso, as follows:
This is for Mr. Sasso. Judge Sasso, you owe brother. I'm telling you right now all that yelling you did, brother, you owe and shit. So don't expect the unexpected when it happens, brother. Take it as a threat. I am going to tell you right now, it's a problem. You owe, brother. Justice will be served. Peace.
The second was similar and stated:
All that  yelling at me and all that shit, brother, you gonna pay, man. I'm telling you, bro, you're going to pay for that shit.
The third was directed to Steves:
This message is for Pamela Stevens [sic].
You owe too. You owe. You owe big time. Paybacks come. They comin' yo. Don't expect the unexpected and all that shit.
You do what the fuck you all had to do. I'm gonna to do what the fuck I got to do. It won't be my fucking surprise when it go down. You did the fuck what you had to do, I'm gonna do what the fuck I got ...