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State v. Ruzich

September 15, 2010

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MILDRED A. RUZICH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 08-01-0205.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 31, 2010

Before Judges Simonelli and Waugh.

Defendant Mildred Ruzich appeals the denial of her application into the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. We affirm.

I.

The following relevant facts are taken from the record. Based on information from a confidential informant that Ruzich was selling prescription pills from a safe in her mini-van, a Woodbridge Township police detective conducted a surveillance of her home in the Fords section of Woodbridge. During the surveillance, co-defendant Brian D. Erickson came to the front door of Ruzich's house and spoke with her. After the conversation, she went to her mini-van with cash and returned with some pills. After Erickson drove away, the police stopped him and seized the pills. He told the police that he had purchased them from Ruzich for thirty-five dollars.

The police applied for and received a search warrant for Ruzich's house and the mini-van. As the police were executing the search warrant on November 9, 2007, co-defendant Russell R. Borawski came to the house. Borawski told police that he and his girlfriend had come to Ruzich's house in order to purchase Oxycodone. He also told police that he had been purchasing Oxycodone from her for the past six months. His girlfriend told police she had been buying drugs from Ruzich for the past year. Borawski was also arrested.

The police uncovered numerous medications during the search, including nine Oxycodone pills, eighty-two Endocet pills, fifty-eight IBU 800 milligram Motrin pills, five Lidoderm patches, twenty-five Carisprodols, eight Demerol pills, ninety-four Alprazolam pills, and $269 in cash.

On January 31, 2008, Ruzich was charged with third-degree unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), Oxycodone, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1) (count one); third-degree possession with intent to distribute, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(5) (count two); and third-degree distribution, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and 2C:35-5(b)(5) (count three). Following indictment, Ruzich applied for admission into the PTI program.

On March 12, 2008, staff at the Middlesex County Criminal Division recommended rejection of her application for PTI. The report attached to the staff letter described the factual background set out above. The report gave the following reasons for recommending that Ruzich be rejected from PTI:

[Defendant] has many health conditions, is under the care of psychiatrist, a pain doctor and a general physician, and is prescribed medications. She has had many hardships in her lifetime and many overwhelming personal problems. [Defendant] obviously obtained prescription medication in excess of what she needed to take and sold the drugs for personal profit. [Defendant] denies involvement of drug sales, stating she gave co-[defendant] Erickson drugs after he hurt himself while working at her house. She may be minimizing her involvement in sales. Based on the co[defendant's] account of the length of time [defendant] was selling drugs, it is felt that the short term supervision provided by the PTI program is not enough of a deterrent for this [defendant]. The [defendant] is rejected from PTI and should be handled via traditional means.

By letter dated March 25, 2008, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office informed defense counsel that the prosecutor would not consent to Ruzich's admission to PTI. In addition to agreeing with the reasons expressed by the Criminal Division staff, the prosecutor added the following:

1. The nature of the offense and the facts of the case prohibit enrollment into PTI program. (Police observed defendant make sales to co-defendants and the police received information that the defendant was selling CDS from her motor vehicle). Admission into ...


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