On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment Nos. 06-09-861 and 07-06-557.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 12, 2010
Before Judges Wefing, Grall and Messano.
Defendant appeals from his conviction and sentence on two indictments. Finding no harmful error and no abuse of the judge's sentencing discretion, we affirm.
Tried to a jury with his co-defendant Philip Thomas on Indictment No. 06-09-861, defendant Land Salomon was convicted of third-degree possession of cocaine, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); third-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); and second-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public park, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1. The jury acquitted Thomas.
Prior to his sentencing on Indictment No. 06-09-861, defendant pled guilty to a separate charge of third-degree possession of cocaine with intent to distribute alleged in a second indictment, Indictment No. 07-06-557. Due to convictions entered prior to his trial and plea, defendant qualified for a mandatory extended-term sentence with a minimum three-year term of parole ineligibility on his convictions for possession with intent to distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1).
N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6f. His guilty plea was entered pursuant to an agreement under which the State would recommend a five-year sentence, which is the minimum extended-term sentence, with a three-year period of parole ineligibility to run concurrently with the sentence on Indictment No. 06-09-861.
Defendant was sentenced on both indictments in one proceeding. The State waived its application for extended-term sentences on Indictment No. 06-09-861 but not on Indictment No. 07-06-557.
On Indictment No. 06-09-861, defendant's convictions for possession and possession with intent to distribute were merged with his conviction for possession with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a public park. The judge imposed the appropriate fines, penalties and assessments and sentenced defendant to a seven-year term of incarceration with a three-year period of parole ineligibility. On Indictment No. 07-06-557, defendant was sentenced to an extended term of five years, with a three-year period of parole ineligibility, which is the minimum period mandated. That sentence is concurrent with the sentence he received under Indictment No. 06-09-861.
This is the evidence that was presented at defendant's trial. Around 3:00 p.m. on June 4, 2006, Officers Vincent Flatley and David Conrad were conducting a surveillance of Jefferson Park in Elizabeth, an area known to the officers for narcotics transactions. They saw a woman approach Thomas and hand him money, which he put in his pocket. Thomas gestured to defendant, and defendant approached them, reached into his back pocket and handed the woman something small. She placed it in her pocket, walked away, got into a green car, and drove off.
The officers contacted others who were serving as their back-up, Officers Amilcar Colon and Kimberly Borras, to arrest defendant. Colon and Borras drove to the park and went up to defendant and Thomas. When defendant was arrested he had fifteen small plastic bags containing crack cocaine and $254.00 in cash. Thomas had $174. The officers did not find the woman.
On appeal, defendant challenges the jury verdict but not the factual basis or validity of his guilty plea. He also contends that his sentences on both indictments are excessive. He raises the following issues:
I. THE DEFENDANT WAS DENIED HIS RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL AS A RESULT OF TESTIMONY FROM A STATE'S WITNESS INFERENTIALLY CONNECTING THE DEFENDANT WITH ...