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Wiggins v. Robinson

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

July 7, 2014

ANDRE WIGGINS, Plaintiff,
v.
JEFFREY ROBINSON, Defendant.

OPINION

KEVIN McNULTY, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on the motion of the defendant, Detective Jeffrey Robinson, for summary judgment. (Docket No. 62). The plaintiff, Andre Wiggins, filed this 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit against the City of Hackensack, New Jersey, and Hackensack police officers for claims arising from his state arrest and prosecution. Plaintiff has voluntarily dismissed all claims except for a claim of malicious prosecution against Defendant Jeffrey Robinson. See Order of Dismissal (Docket No. 61); Opp. (Docket No. 66) at 6-7. Because I find that there is no genuine issue of material fact remaining in the case, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

The facts presented are taken from Robinson's Statement of Uncontested Material Facts ("SUMF"), submitted pursuant to L. Civ. R. 56.1 (Docket No. 62-7), and the exhibits submitted by the parties. Wiggins did not file a responsive statement of facts with his opposition to the motion for summary judgment.[1] The facts regarding the circumstances of Wiggins's arrest are taken from the New Jersey Appellate Division's decision affirming Wiggins's conviction. SUMF Ex. H. Wiggins generally denies the veracity of these facts. See Opp. at 1-3.

A. Statement of Facts

Andre Wiggins, an African-American, was arrested on September 15, 2003, after allegedly selling drugs to Detective Robinson on July 3 and July 8, 2003. At the time of these incidents, Robinson was a Paterson Police Officer temporarily assigned as an undercover officer to the Hackensack Police Department.[2] SUMF ¶¶ 1, 3. Robinson was assigned to work with Hackensack Detective Scott Sybel, Detective Albert Gutierrez, and Sergeant Linquito. SUMF Ex. H. at 5. Sybel showed Robinson a photograph of Carey Wiggins, Andre Wiggins's father, [3] and directed him to make an undercover purchase at Carey Wiggins's residence. Id. at 5-6.

On July 3, 2003, Robinson went to the apartment with Maribel Sanchez, a confidential informant, to make the purchase. Id. at 6. When they arrived, Andre Wiggins told him that the cocaine was not ready but that if they waited, his father "should be done cooking it." Id. Robinson witnessed Carey Wiggins stirring a pot of what appeared to be crack cocaine, which Andre Wiggins told him was "the best crack around." Id. Robinson watched Carey Wiggins package the cocaine into several one-half inch plastic bags. Id. Robinson paid Andre Wiggins $20 for one of the bags and left the apartment with Sanchez. Id. at 7. The drugs were then marked as evidence at the Hackensack police headquarters. Id.

On July 8, 2007, Robinson returned to the apartment without Sanchez to make a second buy. Id. Robinson gained admission to the apartment by identifying himself as Andre Wiggins's friend, but Carey Wiggins told him that he did not have drugs to sell. He directed Robinson to his son, who was in a nearby parking lot. Id. Robinson went to the parking lot, got into a red Toyota Camry with Andre Wiggins, and purchased a second small bag of crack cocaine for $20. Id.

Robinson returned to the Hackensack police headquarters where Linquito told him that Sybel and Gutierrez had stopped Wiggins's car. Id. Linquito and Robinson then drove past the scene of the stop and Robinson identified Wiggins as the person who sold him drugs. Id. Robinson later also identified Wiggins in a photo array. Id. Laboratory tests of the bags Robinson purchased confirmed that they contained crack cocaine. Id. When Carey and Andre Wiggins were arrested, no drugs, scales, large quantities of cash, or other contraband were found on their persons, in the apartment, or in the vehicle. Id. at 7-8.

Wiggins presents a very different account of these events. In his brief, he argues that Robinson fabricated evidence and acted in concert with other Hackensack officers to falsely incriminate him. Opp. at 1. Wiggins asserts that Robinson was off-duty and not acting in his official capacity when he went to Wiggins's apartment. Id. at 1-2. Wiggins also asserts that Robinson used informant Sanchez to introduce him to drug dealers so that he could satisfy his drug habit, and that he and Sanchez had a sexual relationship. Id. at 2. Wiggins claims that Robinson and Sanchez used crack cocaine together on multiple occasions, including on July 3, 2003 and July 8, 2003. Id. Wiggins denies selling any drugs to Robinson, and asserts that Robinson did not attempt to purchase any drugs from him. Instead, Robinson went to the apartment to smoke crack cocaine with Sanchez and Carey Wiggins. Id.

On January 26, 2004, a grand jury in Bergen County Superior Court indicted Wiggins on six counts charging him with various offenses in connection with the distribution and possession of cocaine on July 3, 2003 and July 8, 2003.[4] SUMF ¶ 4 (citing Ex. C). Wiggins rejected an offer of a plea agreement in November 2004 and elected to proceed to trial. Id. ¶ 5.

On December 16, 2004, a grand jury returned a superseding indictment that contained an additional count of knowingly maintaining or operating premises used for the manufacture of cocaine, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4. Id. ¶¶ 6, 7 (citing Ex. D). All told, Wiggins was charged with the following:

1. Distribution of cocaine on July 3, 2003 in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3);
2. Manufacture and/or possession of cocaine with intent to distribute on July 3, 2003 in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and 2C:35-5b(3);
3. Maintaining or operating a premises, place, or facility; or knowingly aiding, promoting, financing or participating in the maintenance of operations of said premises, at 6-8 Prospect Avenue, Apartment 404, on July 3, 2003 to manufacture cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4;
4. Simple possession of cocaine on July 3, 2003 in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1);
5. Distribution of cocaine on July 8, 2003 in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3).
6. Distribution of cocaine on July 8, 2003 on school property in violation of N.J.S.A. ...

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