On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FJ-13-2272-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Alvarez and Skillman.
D.F., a juvenile, appeals from adjudications of delinquency that would constitute disorderly persons hindering apprehension, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3(b), and obstruction, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1, if committed by an adult. The trial judge merged the two offenses and imposed a $250 fine. This appeal follows, and we affirm.
D.F. arranged to sell two television sets for approximately $2000 each on eBay through Maxum Rydzewski, who maintained an eBay vendor account. When the buyers did not receive the merchandise, Rydzewski was compelled to refund their money, $1959.52 and $1932.76, respectively. He then contacted D.F., who claimed the seller was a third individual, Steve Patterson, and that otherwise he knew nothing about the transactions.
Rydzewski reported the matter to police on November 24, 2009. Patrolman Kurt Robert Peins of the Old Bridge Police Department attempted to contact D.F. using the phone number supplied by Rydzewski. When Peins called the number, he spoke with an individual who identified himself as "Dan." Dan told Peins that he was the middleman in the transaction and that Patterson, who was the seller, would refund the money to Rydzewski. Dan gave Peins two phone numbers at which he could attempt to reach Patterson. The first number was never answered, and the second was disconnected.
Peins again called the number Rydzewski had given him and spoke to Dan. This time, Dan identified himself as "Dan Tores"*fn1
and gave his address as 10 Station Road in Marlboro. When Peins contacted the Marlboro Police Department, the closest name they found to Dan Tores was that of D.F.
Old Bridge Police Department Patrolman Charles Miller then attempted to contact D.F. using the phone number Rydzewski had supplied. After many calls which were disconnected by the person on the other end of the line, a male finally answered who said his name was "Chris Ortiz." He explained that D.F. was his brother and that they lived at 7 Station Road in Marlboro. The call was disconnected, and when Miller redialed the number, no one answered.
On December 1, 2009, Miller called D.F.'s home phone number and spoke to a male who said he was D.F., and that he lived at 822 Sloan Court in Matawan, D.F.'s actual address. When Miller arrived at the residence to interview him, D.F. became argumentative, cursed, claimed it "wasn't him," and that it "was his brother" who was in the house. Miller spoke with the only other person present in the home, D.F.'s sister, an adult, who provided the officer with D.F.'s cell phone number. It was the same number as the one provided by Rydzewski. In fact, when Miller dialed the number, he heard the cell phone ring in D.F.'s bedroom. This was also the same phone number that Peins called when he spoke to "Dan Tores." When D.F. was asked about the televisions, he repeated that he was only a middleman acting for Patterson.
Miller filed juvenile complaints against D.F. for theft by deception, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4, hindering, and obstruction.
The hindering complaint issued under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3(a), the section that makes it a crime to hinder the prosecution "of another . . . ." Accordingly, in closing, the juvenile's trial counsel pointed out that the State charged D.F. with the wrong section of the statute. The trial judge never actually ruled on the point, ultimately finding the juvenile guilty of hindering his own prosecution under the correct section of the statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3(b), and of obstruction, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1, based on D.F.'s ...