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State of New Jersey v. Israel Colon

August 29, 2012

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
ISRAEL COLON, A/K/A ERIC FIGEROEA, BRIAN CARNEY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, Indictment No. 09-06-934.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted August 13, 2012

Before Judges Ashrafi and Hayden.

Defendant Israel Colon pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1), -5b(2). He appeals from denials of his motions to suppress the cocaine and other evidence seized from his home and to reveal the identity of a confidential informant. He also appeals his sentence of twelve years imprisonment. We affirm.

A Middlesex County grand jury indicted defendant and two women jointly on twelve counts charging various second- and third-degree drug offenses. The indictment arose from police investigation of illegal drug sales in New Brunswick by one of the women, Raneesha Griffin. The police obtained information from confidential informants, conducted surveillance of defendant and Griffin, and arranged for controlled purchases of cocaine from Griffin by informants. They identified defendant as Griffin's boyfriend and also her supplier of illegal drugs. They obtained search warrants, including for defendant's home in Plainsboro. Upon execution of the warrant on March 16, 2009, defendant led the police to his bedroom closet, where they recovered 112 grams of cocaine and $2,502 in cash. The police also found digital scales, packaging materials, other drug paraphernalia, and a bullet-proof vest in defendant's home.

After indictment, defendant moved for disclosure of the identity of a confidential informant who had made controlled purchases of cocaine and suppression of the evidence seized from his home. The motions were denied by two different judges.

Defendant then entered into a plea agreement with the State and pleaded guilty to a second-degree count of the indictment. The plea agreement subjected defendant to sentencing in the first-degree range because of his record of prior drug convictions. Defendant expressly reserved the right to appeal from the pretrial rulings on disclosure of the confidential informant and suppression of evidence. See R. 3:5-7(d), 3:9-3(f); State v. Knight, 183 N.J. 449, 470-71 (2005). On September 13, 2010, defendant was sentenced to twelve years in prison with fifty-seven months of parole ineligibility, in accordance with Brimage guidelines established by the State Attorney General for plea agreements for drug offenses where a minimum mandatory sentence may be required.*fn1

On appeal, defendant argues:

POINT I

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DENYING MR. COLON'S MOTION TO COMPEL DISCLOSURE OF THE IDENTITY OF CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT CI#2.

POINT II

THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DENYING MR. COLON'S MOTION TO SUPPRESS ...


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