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State of New Jersey v. Charles Oglesby

July 6, 2011


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment No. 08-07-1765B.

Per curiam.


Argued May 24, 2011

Before Judges Carchman, Graves and Waugh.

Defendant, Charles Oglesby, a former Pleasantville police officer, appeals from an order denying his motion to suppress his statement to the police. The statement was taken as part of an investigation into the victim's allegations that defendant stole his jewelry and money. Defendant alleges that he did not knowingly and voluntarily waive his Miranda*fn1 rights because he believed he was the subject of an internal affairs investigation, and the court's failure to consider the prosecutors' violation of the Attorney General's guidelines for internal affairs interrogations was plain error. We affirm. These are the relevant facts.

On September 12, 2007, the victim, John Handy, filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs section of the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office. The complaint alleged that on July 11, 2007, officers from the Pleasantville Police Department, including defendant, stole $15,000 in cash and $5000 worth of jewelry from Handy's car and person. Handy also alleged that the officers stole another $5000 from his home in Pleasantville during the execution of a search warrant.*fn2 In January 2008, the Pleasantville Police Department Internal Affairs Unit and the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office Official Corruption Unit commenced an investigation. The investigation included recordings of telephone conversations, surveillance, interviews with witnesses and an interview with defendant.

After filing his complaint, Handy agreed to assist the prosecutor's office with its investigation of defendant by wearing a wire and contacting defendant regarding the jewelry. At various times in February 2008, Handy and defendant spoke by telephone or in person, and most of these conversations were recorded or observed by surveillance. At their initial encounter, defendant handed Handy a plastic evidence bag filled with jewelry. However, for the next few days, Handy still accused defendant of taking his money. Defendant then gave Handy $200 from his personal bank account so Handy would "leave [defendant] alone."

On March 3, 2008, defendant was scheduled to receive a promotion at a ceremony that evening. That morning, Sergeant Joseph Pepe, of the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, informed Captain Ruiz that investigators from the prosecutor's office wanted to interview defendant that afternoon. The Chief of the Pleasantville Police Department, Duane Comeaux, did not learn that defendant was the target of a criminal investigation until that day. Before learning of the investigation, the Chief had already planned to inspect defendant's gear before the promotion ceremony; the prosecutor's office knew of the Chief's plan and arranged to interview defendant after the inspection.

The decision to conduct the interview at the police department was based on officer safety concerns, the timing of the promotion ceremony and the fact that defendant would already be present at the station that day.

Defendant arrived at the station around 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. and went to the Chief's office to have his weapon inspected. The Chief performed the inspection, then placed defendant's gun belt and holster in another officer's office and asked defendant to follow him. The Chief told defendant, "the prosecutor's office wants to talk to you[.]" Defendant then entered the office where Sergeant Pepe and Investigator McManus were waiting, the Chief left and the door closed behind him, leaving defendant alone with Pepe and McManus. The following dialogue took place:

CO: Yeah I would like to know what it is about first.

JP: We have to do it, we have to tell you about it on tape.

HM: Right.

CO: I know my rights. I'll sign.

HM: Okay.

JP: Plus she has to do it on tape.

HM: This is Investigator Heather McManus with the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office. Currently located in Pleasantville PD. Present with me today is Sergeant Pepe and Detective Charles Oglesby. Charles, we just have to go through your Miranda with you, I know you know it. You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions, anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney at any time and have him present before and during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided if you so desire prior to any questioning. You have the right to stop answering questions at any time and have an attorney present. Do you understand these rights?

CO: Yes.

HM: Okay. Right down here. Down here that's it, yeah.


HM: Okay. Alright the reason we're here is uh, we had a complaint in reference to a search warrant that was conducted um, in July at Ridgewood Avenue.

CO: John Handy.

HM: Yep.

CO: [] I know all about it.

HM: Okay. Tell us what you know.

Defendant then admitted to having multiple conversations with Handy in the week before the interview. Defendant denied stealing money from Handy. He told investigators that he loaned Handy $200, because Handy needed the money to avoid eviction. After this interrogation, Pepe concluded that defendant was not telling the truth, and the following dialogue took place:

CO: This is what I know. He came here and said that we took his money and his jewelry and all that. I had his jewelry in evidence and I gave that back to him. He said we owed him money and I said look I don't have your money. . . .

JP: Um, I think I have a general flavor for the fact pattern um, I think that you gave us some glancing information covering all topics but from an investigative standpoint I believe that you have been less than truthful in some key areas.

CO: I [] can take the polygraph.

JP: Okay, unfortunately I couldn't polygraph you . . . .

CO: I mean truthfully do you think I would risk my career over Johnny Handy and all I did was try and help him out. I can't see it I mean.

JP: Okay, um, I mean we're obviously investigating this whole situation um, it is an internal affairs matter, there's um, a host of allegations that covers different topics um, dealing with the search warrant dealing with you know how things ...

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