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State of New Jersey v. Michael J. Beaty

August 23, 2011

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MICHAEL J. BEATY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Passaic County, Indictment No. 08-08-1147.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 10, 2011

Before Judges J. N. Harris and Fasciale.

Defendant Michael J. Beaty was convicted of one count of second-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and (b)(2), following his post-suppression motion guilty plea. Beaty appeals, claiming that his motion to suppress should have been granted in its entirety. We affirm.

I.

In April 2008, Detective Ronald Altman of the Paterson Police Department received information from a confidential informant about the potential sale of controlled dangerous substances occurring at 366 Fair Street, a multi-family apartment building in Paterson (the building). Specifically, Altman was advised that a third-floor resident of the building, Ali Martin, was selling drugs from a first-floor apartment. Altman also learned that a second individual was involved in the marketing and sale of the contraband along with Martin.

In addition, Altman received corroborating information from Paterson Detective Dimitri Clarke who advised that he had obtained similar reports from his own confidential informant regarding the manner of drug merchandising at the building. Clarke had conducted surveillance along Fair Street and observed numerous persons interacting with Beaty in the courtyard area of the building, and appearing to engage in incipient and completed drug transactions together. Later, Altman, while conducting his own surveillance, observed Beaty and Martin separately engage in similar behavior with several individuals.

On April 25, 2008, Altman received further information from a confidential informant who advised that Martin had just transported a cache of contraband from his third-floor apartment to the first-floor apartment where it was available for immediate sale. The confidential informant further indicated that Beaty was present in the first-floor apartment. Altman later observed Beaty interact with several individuals, including Martin, in the vicinity of the building. Four individuals who were observed in conversation with either Beaty or Martin, and who entered the building and emerged a few minutes later, were stopped by police a short distance from the building, found in possession of either heroin or cocaine, and arrested.

On April 28, 2008, Altman obtained a search warrant for the first-floor apartment at the building. During police surveillance before executing the warrant, Beaty was seen handing an individual a small item and in exchange, was handed what appeared to be paper money. The individual was stopped by police and found to be in possession of a glassine envelope containing what appeared to be heroin. Beaty was arrested shortly thereafter.

Within minutes of Beaty's apprehension and arrest, the search warrant was executed at apartment 19 in the building.

While that search was underway, Martin was apprehended a short distance away and arrested. Martin indicated that he resided in apartment 32 on the third floor of the building. The police investigation revealed that the principal resident at that dwelling unit was Martin's sister, who consented to a search of the apartment. Inside, the police recovered heroin, cash, mail addressed to Martin at that address, and packaging materials used to sell cocaine and heroin.

After being indicted, along with several others, Beaty moved to suppress the evidence seized in apartments 19 and 32. The Law Division denied the motion, concluding that (1) there was sufficient probable cause to support the arrests of the four individuals, (2) the warrant to search apartment 19 was valid, and (3) the search of apartment 32 did not ...


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