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State of New Jersey v. Karen E. Golding

July 20, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
KAREN E. GOLDING, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Morris County, Indictment No. 06-05-0652.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted December 20, 2011 -

Before Judges Payne and Hayden.

Defendant, Karen Golding, appeals from the February 23, 2010 judgment of conviction for fourth-degree stalking, arguing that she should not have been terminated from the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program and her motion to vacate her guilty plea should have been granted. Having carefully considered the record and the applicable law, we affirm.

I.

On February 6, 2006, as the result of a lengthy investigation, defendant was arrested after entering Joseph Cryan's car and charged with fourth-degree stalking, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10(b) and third-degree burglary, N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2. On March 16, 2006, Judge John S. Triarsi, as a condition of bail, ordered defendant to have no contact with Cryan and three other people. Although the Union County PTI manager rejected defendant's application, on May 4, 2006, Judge Triarsi, with the consent of the State, granted defendant's motion to admit her into PTI for two years. As a condition of acceptance, the judge ordered defendant to continue psychological treatment and have no contact with Cryan and several other people.

On March, 28, 2007, defendant was charged in four criminal complaints with harassing four Cryan family members by calling them repeatedly on the telephone. On April 9, 2007, the matter was transferred to Morris County because one of the family members was married to a judge sitting in Union County. Defendant moved to be dismissed from PTI early due to what she considered her successful completion of the program, but the State opposed the motion as it planned to move to terminate PTI due to the new criminal charges.

On November 16, 2007, defendant appeared before Judge Salem Vincent Ahto and agreed to a consent order whereby the State agreed to extend PTI for another year, include the four new harassment charges in defendant's PTI program, and dismiss the third-degree burglary complaint with prejudice. In exchange, defendant agreed to enter a conditional guilty plea to the fourth-degree stalking accusation. Upon successful completion of PTI, the stalking conviction and the harassment charges would be dismissed. Defendant provided a factual basis for the stalking plea by admitting that between December 2005 and February 2006, she engaged in a course of conduct toward the female victim by phone and by mail, making statements that would cause a reasonable person to fear that someone was watching her and threatening her with bodily harm. In the consent agreement defendant also agreed to have no contact, including through third parties, with Cryan, some of his friends, and several members of his family. The order also required defendant to receive mental health counseling within thirty days.

In January 2009, the Morris County Probation Office notified defendant that she had failed to complete the court-ordered conditions and a termination hearing would be scheduled.

In April and May 2009, a five-day hearing was held before Judge Ahto on the proposed PTI termination. The State presented evidence at the hearing concerning several allegations of continued direct and indirect harassment of Cryan and his family. First, defendant had filed a judicial ethics complaint, eventually dismissed as unfounded, against a judge who was the husband of one of Cryan's sisters listed on the November 2007 no-contact list. Second, defendant filed three requests under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA), N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 to -13, with the Union Township Municipal Clerk's Office for the financial disclosure forms for about fifteen people, among them a municipal official who was another of Cryan's sisters. Next, defendant sought to obtain Cryan's prior email exchanges from both work and personal email accounts by asking a third party to file an OPRA request for the emails.

Additionally, defendant wrote a letter to then-Governor Corzine, dated November 5, 2008, in which she disclosed her personal relationship with Cryan and stated that he had caused her to suffer a "tremendous amount of abuse." Further, defendant failed to undergo long-term psychological treatment, which was a condition of PTI. Lastly, after having received notice of PTI termination proceedings, defendant wrote an email on March 10, 2009 to an attorney representing a defendant in a child pornography case, suggesting the defendant place some of the blame for his charges on Cryan, who had worked in the same office.

On May 11, 2009, the court terminated defendant from PTI after finding that defendant's continued violation of the no-contact order and her resistance to rehabilitation services showed that defendant was not fit to continue with the diversionary program. In November, defendant filed a motion to withdraw her guilty plea to fourth-degree stalking. After a hearing on December 23, 2009, Judge Ahto found that defendant had entered into the guilty plea voluntarily after a full explanation of the charges and had not made a colorable claim of innocence, and denied the motion.

On February 23, 2010, Judge Phillip J. Maenza sentenced defendant on the fourth-degree stalking conviction to two years probation conditioned on ninety days in the Sheriff's Labor Assistance Program. Defendant's motion to stay the sentence pending appeal was granted. Judge Maenza also ordered the Union County Prosecutor's Office to supply defendant with copies of the hard drives of her computers still ...


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