On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, Indictment No. 07-10-0923.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Fuentes, Graves and Koblitz.
Defendant Hakeem Shaqui Roberson appeals from the June 3, 2009 order denying his application made prior to sentencing to withdraw his previously entered guilty plea. Defendant argues that he did not provide a sufficient factual basis for certain crimes to which he pled guilty, and satisfied the criteria under State v. Slater, 198 N.J. 145 (2009), to withdraw his plea. After reviewing the record in light of the contentions advanced on appeal, we reverse on sentencing issues conceded by the State and otherwise affirm.
In Union County Indictment No. 07-10-0923, defendant and eighteen other people were charged with various crimes in a forty-five count indictment. Defendant was charged with twenty-five of the forty-five counts. On July 30, 2008, defendant pled guilty to certain counts in the indictment pursuant to a plea agreement. Defendant initially agreed to plead guilty to the following counts: (1) first-degree racketeering, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:41-2(c) (count one); (2) second-degree conspiracy to distribute "cocaine and/or heroin," N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2(a) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and (b)(2) (count three); (3) second-degree conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2(a) and N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1) (count five); (4) second-degree possession of a community gun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a)(2) (count fifteen); (5) second-degree employing a juvenile in a drug distribution scheme, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-6 (count seventeen); (6) second-degree attempted aggravated assault against Carmen Dominguez and/or Jose Martinez and/or Calvin Wise and/or Hassan Ward on March 11, 2007, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1) (count nineteen); (7) second-degree attempted aggravated assault against Donald Blakney and/or Harry Caver on March 30, 2007, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1) (count twenty); (8) second-degree attempted aggravated assault against Ronald Fleming, Raheem Young and/or Michael Foster on April 11, 2007, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(1)(count twenty-one); and (9) third-degree distribution of heroin, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(3) (count twenty-four).
In exchange for his guilty plea to these crimes, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining sixteen counts against defendant. The State further agreed to recommend an aggregate sentence of eighteen years with a nine-year parole disqualifier.
During the plea hearing, the State and defendant agreed to amend the plea agreement. The State agreed to dismiss count fifteen and, in exchange, defendant agreed to plead guilty to count fourteen, second-degree possession of a .357 Lawman MK III Revolver and/or a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson Revolver and/or a .38 Rossi Revolver and/or a Mossberg 12 gauge Rifle and/or an SKS 762 x 39 Assault Firearm, and/or a Remington Airmaster 77 BB Gun, with purpose to use the firearm(s) unlawfully against the person or property of another, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a)(1).
Defendant set forth a lengthy factual basis for his guilty pleas. That factual basis was, in part, prompted by conversations recorded by the State. Throughout the hearing, defendant acknowledged their accuracy and used these conversations to refresh his memory as to what had occurred on certain dates.
Defendant indicated the following information. Between February 20 and the end of April 2007, he directed a group called the "Clinton Avenue Posse" in Plainfield, N.J. The group used the stop sign as a symbol, and defendant wore a chain with a "Clinton Av." pendant.
Defendant admitted to obtaining heroin and cocaine and selling the drugs to members of the Clinton Avenue Posse for resale to others. Those individuals included Rashid "Banks" Franco, Amir "Lick 'em Low" Madison, Kelso "Kel" Moseley and Pernell White. Defendant purchased heroin from Jason Greer. On a few separate occasions, Franco accompanied defendant to pick up drugs from Greer.
Defendant stated that he cumulatively distributed more than one-half ounce of drugs. He claimed, however, that he was more "like a wholesaler." He said people would come get drugs from him and then "do their own things[.]"
Defendant admitted to his involvement "in essentially guiding [the] rivalry with Sixth Street Posse or other individuals who would compete with [him] or threaten [his] group[.]" As part of that guidance, he devised plans to "threaten or even attempt to do violence to other individuals to protect [his] group[.]"
Defendant also took measures to protect himself and other members of his group from police apprehension. The Clinton Avenue Posse had a police scanner, and defendant's associates warned him if the police or members of rival groups, such as the Sixth Street Posse, were nearby.
Defendant admitted to possessing numerous guns, one of which was a .38 caliber Rossi firearm shared by defendant and other members of his group, including Franco, Madison, and Pernell White. He acknowledged the gun's purpose was to protect both the members of his group and their drugs. Furthermore, he admitted to planning shootings and telling other individuals in his group about plans to carry out beatings and shootings of rivals. Defendant stated that "[a]ll the shootings come [sic] from me and Pernell White." He also related the involvement of many other associates in his illegal drug business.
Defendant's female associates included: Waaliah Carter, Naisha Byrd, Sharlene Jackson, Danyelle "Danni" Jones, and Tayeesha "Freak" Heyward. Each woman knew of defendant's involvement in selling drugs. Jones delivered drugs for defendant in exchange for money. Byrd and Carter provided vehicles for defendant's use. Heyward allowed defendant to store marijuana and heroin at her apartment and brought heroin from her apartment to defendant on one occasion. In addition, all of these women assumed a protective function, warning defendant when either police or rival group members were nearby.
Defendant's male associates included: Franco, Madison, White, Mosley, Najee McCoy and two of defendant's brothers, Hameen and Hisham Muhammed. These individuals protected one another. They provided intelligence regarding both police and rival group presence, physical support, and transportation or other logistical support to facilitate transactions in illegal drugs. Defendant also admitted to using a juvenile to assist with his drug distribution.
Some of the specific factual details provided by defendant are as follows: Mosley, Madison and McCoy purchased drugs from defendant; when defendant traveled to Miami, he asked Mosley to manage his drug distribution business; on one occasion, Hisham*fn1 transported McCoy to meet with defendant to complete a drug transaction; Franco regularly used a police scanner to monitor law enforcement activity and, on March 28, 2007, was recorded voicing his desire to purchase heroin from defendant; Hisham also monitored the police scanner on at least one occasion; and Hameen sometimes delivered drugs to buyers and collected money on defendant's behalf. Defendant further stated that, at times, he had two separate phones. One was used exclusively for receiving calls from drug buyers.
Defendant's testimony also revealed an incident when Madison was in possession of drugs and called defendant to express his concern about being stopped by police. Defendant instructed Madison to hide the drugs and wait at someone's ...