On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County, Indictment Nos. 08-10-2563 and 08-12-2954.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Lihotz, Waugh, and St. John.
Defendant Angel Cremadelly appeals from his conviction, following a guilty plea, for second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted person, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7, and fourth-degree violation of community supervision for life (CSL),*fn1 contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4. We affirm.
We discern the following facts and procedural history from the record on appeal.
On August 6, 2008, Atlantic City Police received a report that Cremadelly had threatened to kill his girlfriend and that he had been seen with a handgun at her residence. Several police officers, including Detective Sergeant Angelo Maimone, went to Cremadelly's residence. When they arrived, they placed Cremadelly under arrest for making terroristic threats. He was handcuffed and seated on the front porch of the house. At the time of his arrest, Cremadelly was wearing only a t-shirt and underpants.
Senior Parole Officer Joseph Martin and Assistant District Parole Supervisor James Stevens, who were also looking for Cremadelly because of the alleged threats and weapon possession, arrived at Cremadelly's residence soon after the police had placed him under arrest. Martin heard Cremadelly, who was still seated on the porch in his underwear, asking for his clothes.
Martin and Stevens had come to Cremadelly's residence to search his room for weapons, alcohol, and other contraband, possession of which violated the special conditions imposed on CSL parolees, such as Cremadelly.*fn2 Martin entered Cremadelly's room to conduct the search. Maimone accompanied him to obtain clothes for Cremadelly. Maimone noticed a pair of pants on a chair. When he picked them up, a handgun fell to the floor. Maimone seized the gun. Martin continued to search for additional contraband.
On October 30, 2008, Cremadelly was indicted and charged with third-degree terroristic threats, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(a) (counts one and two); third-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count three); fourth-degree possession of prohibited devices (hollow point bullets), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f) (count four); and possession of a weapon by a convicted person, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7 (count five). A second indictment, returned on December 11, 2008, charged Cremadelly with a single count of fourth-degree violation of his CSL, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4.
Cremadelly filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized on August 6, 2008. Following a two-day hearing in July 2009, the trial judge denied the motion in a letter opinion dated August 3, 2009. The judge found the State's witnesses to be credible. He found that Cremadelly had "selective memory of the events of that day" and characterized his testimony as "incredible." According to the judge's findings, Cremadelly's testimony "was a diametrically opposed version of the events and did not have [a] ring of truth," "was disjointed and irrational," and "lack[ed] any credibility."
Based upon his factual findings, the judge held that "[i]t is clear that parole was conducting a search pursuant to the terms of the CSL and was working in conjunction with police to carry out that function." He also held that, because the gun would inevitably have been discovered by the parole officer during his search, it was of no significance that Maimone discovered it first and without a warrant. The judge concluded that the "State ha[d] shown by clear and convincing evidence that the parole officers exercised their authority to search and the admission of the weapon into evidence [would] be valid under the inevitable discovery exception to the exclusionary rule."
Following the denial of the motion to suppress, Cremadelly accepted a plea offer under which he pled guilty to possession of a weapon by a convicted person and violation of CSL. The judge sentenced Cremadelly, in accordance with the plea offer, to an aggregate sentence of incarceration for five years, with no eligibility ...