On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment No. 09-11-1291.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted January 19, 2011
Before Judges Carchman and Messano.
The State appeals from an order of the Law Division rejecting the objections of both the prosecutor and the Passaic County Pretrial Intervention (PTI) Director and admitting defendant Ronnie A. Dumas to PTI. We reverse.
These are the relevant and undisputed facts derived from the police reports attached to the PTI denial notice. Defendant was charged by a grand jury with second-degree robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(1); first-degree using a juvenile to commit a crime, N.J.S.A. 2C:24-9; and second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1.
Subsequently, defendant and two accomplices were charged with robbing a seventeen-year-old victim of $220.00 in cash. The victim responded to defendant's online advertisement on Craigslist for the sale of an iPhone. Defendant communicated with the victim by cell phone text messages, negotiated a $220.00 cash price, and instructed the victim to meet him at School 16 in Clifton.
On April 7, 2009, at about 8:00 p.m., the victim rode his bicycle to School 16. Defendant arrived in a light-colored vehicle with two juvenile accomplices, D.G., the front seat passenger, and P.M., the rear passenger. D.G. asked the victim if he had the money and suggested that they go to the back of the school to finalize the sale. After the victim declined, defendant and D.G. exited the car and pretended to search for the iPhone in the trunk. In fact, defendant did not have an iPhone to sell, and the transaction was merely a ruse to lure the victim to the school for the robbery. Defendant returned to the car. D.G. knocked the victim to the ground and struck him about the face and upper body. D.G. also ripped a gold chain from the victim's neck and took $220 from him. D.G. entered the car, and defendant drove away. The three perpetrators later divided the proceeds, with one $100 bill given to defendant, one $100 to D.G., and one $20 bill to P.M. The victim sustained a nose bleed and bruises to his face and head.
The victim reported the incident to the police and provided the license plate of defendant's vehicle. He described the defendant driver as a black male wearing a red baseball cap and earrings, and the front passenger as a black male wearing a black t-shirt. Further investigation revealed that the vehicle was a white 1986 Mercury Sable owned by defendant's grandmother. On April 8, 2009, the Clifton Police located defendant at his residence in Morristown. Defendant agreed to speak with the police at headquarters.
Although "[i]nitially evasive," defendant indicated that he had located two potential buyers for an iPhone that he advertised on Craigslist. On April 7, defendant picked up P.M. and D.G. and drove to the Willowbrook Mall to sell the phone to a woman for $400. After the sale, according to defendant, D.G. told him that "he needed money." Defendant responded that he knew another buyer who wanted to buy an iPhone. Defendant admitted that they met the buyer at School 16, and pretended to search for the iPhone in the trunk. Defendant stated that the robbery netted $220, and his share of the proceeds was $100.00.
The police recovered a $100 bill from defendant, the red baseball cap worn at the time of the robbery and the cell phone that he used to communicate with the victim. After additional investigation, juveniles D.G. and P.M. were also charged with robbery.
Defendant applied to PTI and was interviewed by the PTI Director designee on January 4, 2010. The PTI Director issued a PTI Program Denial Notice which set forth his review of the ...