On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Warren County, Indictment No. 08-09-0355.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted August 17, 2011 Before Judges J. N. Harris and Fasciale.
Defendant Corey Allen Senior appeals (1) from his conviction for third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1), following an unsuccessful motion to suppress evidence and a guilty plea, and (2) the sanction imposed by the sentencing judge of a term of incarceration of five years. On appeal, Senior presents these arguments for our consideration:
POINT ONE: THE JUDGE ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE FOUND IN THE WARRANTLESS SEARCHES OF DEFENDANT AND THE SUV IN WHICH HE HAD BEEN A PASSENGER.
POINT TWO: UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS CASE, THE SENTENCE IMPOSED ON THE DEFENDANT WAS EXCESSIVE.
We have considered these arguments in light of the record and applicable legal standards. We affirm.
These are the facts derived from the motion record in which two witnesses testified: New Jersey State Police Officer James Agens and Senior. During the last week of March 2008, Agens -- then assigned to work in an undercover mode with the Warren County Prosecutor's Office -- received information from a female confidential informant that led to an investigation of Senior. The confidential informant, who was an acquaintance of Senior, was enlisted to participate in a controlled drug purchase.
The operation involved the surveillance of the confidential informant's automobile on April 2, 2008. Agens testified that he observed Senior and another individual enter the confidential informant's car upon which he surreptitiously followed the vehicle as the occupants drove to two separate locations in the vicinity of Mansfield. Agens saw Senior and the other man leave the automobile twice with a white paper bag and enter business locations, after which they returned to the automobile empty-handed. Agens opined that Senior's conduct was consistent with "selling an unknown product probably to gain currency to purchase  heroin."
After leaving the other man behind, the confidential informant and Senior drove east from Warren County to Newark, with Agens and other law enforcement officers in close pursuit. Upon reaching the corner of Hillside Avenue and Clinton Avenue, Agens watched from approximately seventy-five yards away as
[the confidential informant's] vehicle pulled to the left side of the roadway which is the opposite lane of travel. They pulled to the left side of the roadway. At that point they were at the corner of the street. Several Black males approached the driver's side of the vehicle.
We observed one of the Black males reach across the passenger or across the driver and over to the passenger who was Mr.
Senior. There was a hand-to-hand exchange observed. The Black males left that area, the vehicle immediately re-entered ...