On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 04-09-1122.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted December 7, 2009
Before Judges Lisa and Alvarez.
After his suppression motion was denied, defendant, Christopher Gordon, entered into a plea agreement with the State, by which he would plead guilty to one count of an indictment against him, namely second-degree eluding, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(b), in exchange for a recommended sentence of seven years imprisonment, with all other charges in the indictment to be dismissed.*fn1 The plea agreement provided that if defendant failed to appear for sentencing, his plea would remain in effect, but any lawful sentence could be imposed. See State v. Subin, 222 N.J. Super. 227 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 111 N.J. 580 (1988). Defendant failed to appear for sentencing. He was apprehended several months later, and was sentenced to ten years imprisonment with a five-year parole disqualifier. After his motion to withdraw his guilty plea was denied, defendant appealed. He argues:
THE EVIDENCE RECOVERED FROM THE DEFENDANT-APPELLANT'S VEHICLE WAS OBTAINED AS A RESULT OF AN UNLAWFUL SEARCH AND SEIZURE.
THE SENTENCE IMPOSED BY THE COURT WAS GROSSLY EXCESSIVE AS A MATTER OF LAW.
We reject these arguments and affirm.
At about 9:30 p.m. on July 16, 2004, Plainfield Detective Kevin O'Brien received a tip from a confidential informant that a drug transaction was going to take place at about 9:50 p.m. at 240 East 9th Street. O'Brien immediately went to that location and established a surveillance. Other police units were in the area, and O'Brien was in radio contact with those officers. At about 9:50 p.m., a vehicle arrived driven by an individual later identified as defendant. Two other individuals were in the car. The front seat passenger was defendant's brother, Kwantre Gordon. The rear seat passenger was never identified.
After the horn was sounded several times, the rear seat passenger went to the door of the house, after which he immediately returned to the rear seat of the car. An individual came out of the house carrying currency. He leaned into the car, exchanged the currency for a plastic bag, and returned to the house. Based upon his training and experience, O'Brien believed he had just witnessed a drug transaction.
O'Brien communicated by radio with two other officers in the area, and requested that they detain the vehicle. One of those officers, Detective Daniel Staten, pulled his vehicle into the driveway, so that he was facing defendant's vehicle. The other officer, Sergeant Wayne Williams, activated his emergency lights, as did Staten. O'Brien walked toward defendant's vehicle. Defendant began backing out of the driveway until he hit a dumpster. The rear seat passenger then got out of the vehicle and fled on foot. O'Brien chased him on foot but was not able to catch him.
Defendant then drove off and led other officers on a high speed chase. Officers Stillman and Berlinsky located the car defendant was driving parked in a driveway in the 1100 block of West 7th Street. Staten arrived at that location. Searching the area with the use of a flashlight, he found ...