On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Indictment No. 06-06-0459.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Submitted September 12, 2012
Before Judges Fuentes and Grall.
A jury found defendant Agnes M. Sagrati guilty of trafficking in personal identifying information, a crime of the fourth degree. N.J.S.A. 2C:21-17.3. She was sentenced to two year's probation and ordered to pay a $25 monthly supervision fee and appropriate fines, penalties and assessments.
In November 2005, defendant's sister-in-law, Ann Armahizer, searched the Internet for her name and discovered it posted on several websites along with her address, date of birth, social security number, children's names, bank account information, place of employment, pay stubs and her likely passwords. One of the postings was on the "littlebluelight" website, a site which provided directions on "how to hack into people's bank accounts."
Armahizer suspected her husband Joe, who is defendant's brother, or defendant was responsible. At that time, Armahizer and Joe were separated and involved in divorce and custody litigation. Joe was living with defendant, and there were orders in effect that restrained Joe from contacting Armahizer and Armahizer from contacting either Joe or defendant.
As required by court rule, Armahizer had given Joe a case information statement, recent pay stubs and account statements. The website postings included her employee identification number, which appeared on her pay stubs. Outside of work, she did not use that number to identify herself. In addition, the website had a description of an accident Armahizer had at home, which she had not shared with anyone other than Joe and members of his family; defendant had frequently teased Armahizer about that incident.
Armahizer printed what she found on the "littlebluelight" website and gave it to the police. She also told the police that she believed defendant was collecting disability benefits from social security without reporting her income earned through selling items on E-bay.
Detectives from the prosecutor's office went to defendant's home to investigate. Defendant agreed to go to the prosecutor's office with them, and after waiving her Miranda rights*fn1 and a preliminary interview, defendant agreed to give a tape-recorded statement.
In her recorded statement, which the State introduced at trial, defendant responded to questions posed. She had "surf[ed]" the Internet and found "some guy who said that he would jam up [Armahizer's] computer so she couldn't mess with [defendant]." Defendant had looked for someone who would do that because Armahizer had put messages on Yahoo calling defendant "fat whale" and "things like that." In addition, defendant was upset about how the "nasty" separation and divorce was going and wanted to "get even."
Defendant e-mailed the man the description of Armahizer's accident and "all of" the information that she had about Armahizer. Defendant was not sure whether she had sent all of the information that appeared on the website. Nor was she certain whether she had obtained the information that she did send from documents Joe had or from documents Armahizer had given her on prior occasions.
Defendant did not know how the information she provided would help the man jam Armahizer's computer. She acknowledged that he had not asked her for Armahizer's social security number or account information, and she said that she had told him she did not want to know what he did. She just wanted him to "jam up [Armahizer's] computer."
The State's theory of the case was that defendant had access to Armahizer's personal information and posted it. The theory of the defense was that Armahizer, not defendant, did the postings in order ...