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					                     NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE
                    APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

                                           SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY
                                           APPELLATE DIVISION
                                           DOCKET NO. A-4149-10T1

STATE OF NEW JERSEY,

     Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

RAHEEM M. LONG,

     Defendant-Appellant.
__________________________________________________

            Submitted September 11, 2012 - Decided              October 18, 2012

            Before Judges Messano and Kennedy.

            On appeal from the Superior Court of New
            Jersey, Law Division, Criminal Part, Union
            County, Indictment No. 09-11-0989.

            Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney
            for appellant (Kimmo Z.H. Abbasi, Designated
            Counsel, on the brief).

            Theodore    J.    Romankow,  Union    County
            Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Derek
            T.   Nececkas,   Assistant  Prosecutor,   of
            counsel and on the brief).

PER CURIAM

     Following a jury trial, defendant Raheem Long was found

guilty of third-degree distribution of heroin, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-

5(a)(1)      and        2C:35-5(b)(3)     (Count       One);     second-degree

distribution       of   heroin   within   500   feet   of   a   public   housing

facility,      N.J.S.A.       2C:35-7.1     (Count      Two);     third-degree
possession    of   heroin,    N.J.S.A.      2C:35-10(a)(1)        (Count    Three);

third-degree     possession     of    heroin    with    intent    to    distribute,

N.J.S.A.     2C:35-5(a)(1)      and    2C:35-5(b)(3)       (Count       Four);   and

second-degree      possession    of    heroin    with    intent    to    distribute

within 500 feet of a public housing facility, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1

(Count Five).1

     The judge granted the State's request to impose a mandatory

extended   term    pursuant     to    N.J.S.A.    2C:43-6(f)       and    sentenced

defendant to four years' imprisonment on Count One; a concurrent

term of eight years on Count Two; a concurrent term of four

years on Count Three; a concurrent term of eight years, with a

four-year period of parole ineligibility, on Count Four; and a

concurrent term of eight years on Count Five.                     The appropriate

penalties and license suspension were also imposed.

     Before us, defendant raises the following arguments:

           POINT I

           THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S
           MOTION TO SUPPRESS THE EVIDENCE AGAINST HIM

           POINT II

           THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S
           MOTION   TO    REVEAL   DETECTIVE   STATEN'S

1
  Defendant was tried with his co-defendant, Stephen Pinks, who
was charged with a single count of third-degree possession of
heroin, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1) (Count Six).    Pinks was also
convicted by the jury.   We deal only with the appeal filed by
defendant Long.



                                        2                                  A-4149-10T1
         SURVEILLANCE LOCATION AS THE DISCLOSURE OF
         THE   EXACT  LOCATION   OF  THE  UNDERCOVER
         SURVEILLANCE WAS CENTRAL TO THE DEFENDANT'S
         CASE

         POINT III

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S
         MOTION FOR ACQUITTAL NOTWITHSTANDING THE
         VERDICT AS THE JURY VERDICT WAS AGAINST THE
         WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE AND RESULTED IN A
         MANIFEST DENIAL OF JUSTICE TO DEFENDANT

         POINT IV

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S
         MOTION FOR A MISTRIAL

         POINT V

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED       IN PERMITTING THE
         STATE   TO   PRESENT AN     OVERLY  SUGGESTIVE
         HYPOTHETICAL

         POINT VI

         THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN DENYING DEFENDANT'S
         REQUEST TO SUBSTITUTE COUNSEL PRIOR TO THE
         COMMENCEMENT OF TRIAL

         POINT VII

         THE   SENTENCE    IMPOSED   ON    DEFENDANT'S
         CONVICTION WAS MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE AND
         CONSTITUTED AN ABUSE OF DISCRETION

We have considered these arguments in light of the record and

applicable legal standards.   We affirm.

                                I.

    At a pre-trial evidentiary hearing on defendant's motion to

suppress, the State called as its sole witness Plainfield police




                                3                         A-4149-10T1
detective Daniel Staten.          At approximately 3:13 p.m. on the

afternoon    of   June   16,   2009,   Staten,   who   had      fifteen    years

experience   as   a   narcotics   detective,     was   in   a   "confidential

surveillance location" in a "very high narcotics area." Staten

estimated that he had made 2000 narcotics arrests in the area.

     Staten knew defendant, having arrested him "several times

before in the past."       Staten observed defendant, who was with a

small group of individuals near 536 West Second Street, have

several conversations with passers-by.           After each conversation,

defendant would walk away from the group toward some "steps,"

reach down and pick up a soda can from the sidewalk.                      Staten

observed these individuals exchange cash with defendant and walk

away from the area.

     Staten saw a car approach the group, and Pinks exited from

the driver's side door.        Pinks raised two fingers, and defendant

motioned for Pinks to join him near the soda can.                  Staten saw

defendant "twist off the top of the can," remove some small item

and hand it to Pinks, who gave defendant some "currency."                  Pinks

got back into the car.

     Staten radioed for backup assistance.              Detective Michael

Black stopped Pinks' vehicle and advised Staten that Pinks was

in   possession    of    narcotics.        Detective    Troy     Alston     also

responded, arrested defendant and seized the soda can.                    Inside




                                       4                              A-4149-10T1
were additional bags of narcotics that bore stamped markings

identical to those on the two bags seized from Pinks.

    The     motion   judge    concluded       that   Staten     was   a   credible

witness, found probable cause for the arrests and seizure of the

narcotics and denied the motion.              Before us, defendant contends

that Staten's testimony lacked credibility because Staten was

unable to see the details of the transaction from his location

and acknowledged errors in his written report.                    As a result,

defendant claims his arrest and the seizure of the narcotics

were not based upon probable cause.

    The argument lacks sufficient merit to warrant extensive

discussion.      R. 2:11-3(e)(2).       We add only the following.

    In reviewing a decision on a motion to suppress, we "must

uphold     the   factual     findings       underlying    the    trial     court's

decision so long as those findings are 'supported by sufficient

credible evidence in the record.'" State v. Elders, 192 N.J.

224, 243 (2007) (quoting State v. Locurto, 157 N.J. 463, 474

(1999)).    A reviewing court will reverse only if it is convinced

that the trial judge's factual findings "are so clearly mistaken

'that    the     interests    of    justice      demand       intervention      and

correction.'" Id. at 244 (quoting State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146,

162 (1964)).       The Court has noted that "[p]robable cause cannot

be defined with scientific precision because it is a practical,




                                        5                                 A-4149-10T1
nontechnical     conception    addressing        the    factual      and   practical

considerations of everyday life on which reasonable and prudent

men, not legal technicians, act."            State v. Basil, 202 N.J. 570,

585 (2010) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted).

      The judge's findings in this case are adequately supported

by the evidence, and we find no basis to conclude otherwise.

Those factual findings demonstrate that defendant's arrest and

the seizure of the soda can were supported by probable cause.

We affirm the denial of defendant's motion to suppress.

                                           II.

      The jury was selected following two days of voir dire

questioning.      Immediately       before   opening       statements,       defense

counsel    advised    the   judge   that     defendant         was   "unhappy    with

[counsel's] services."        Counsel told the judge he was "prepared

to go to trial" and had "done all investigation which [he felt

was] proper."        When questioned by the judge, defendant stated

his   attorney    was   not   "representing            [him]    right,"    was    not

"call[ing]" him and providing "advice," and he "want[ed] another

public defender."

      The judge concluded that defendant's request was a "delay

tactic."    He further stated:

            [W]e're here on the day of trial, openings
            are   about  to   begin,  the   jury's  been
            selected, and for the first time defendant's
            brought to the Court's attention that he



                                       6                                    A-4149-10T1
           wants a new counsel. He has no substitute
           counsel ready to go. And he wants another
           counsel from the public defender's office.

                  . . . .

                . . . [T]here's been no showing by him
           of substantial cause other than he's just
           dissatisfied.   He   lost  the   motion [to
           suppress] and he feels [defense counsel]
           didn't diligently represent him.

In Point VI, defendant contends the judge erred in denying his

request to discharge his attorney and have substitute counsel

appointed.      We disagree.

       We have said that a defendant's right to secure counsel of

his own choice "is not absolute and cannot be insisted upon in a

manner that will obstruct an orderly procedure in courts of

justice   and    deprive    such   courts         of    the   exercise    of   their

inherent powers to control the same."                  State v. Harris, 384 N.J.

Super. 29, 59 (App. Div.), certif. denied, 188 N.J. 357 (2006)

(quotation marks and citations omitted).                  Additionally, "a court

may not require the Public Defender to assign new counsel to a

defendant who was dissatisfied with the attorney assigned to

represent him, absent a showing of 'substantial cause.'"                       Ibid.

(quoting State v. Coon, 314 N.J. Super. 426, 438 (App. Div.) (in

turn   quoting    State    v.   Lowery,      49   N.J.    476,   489-90   (1967)),

certif.   denied,    157    N.J.   543       (1998)).         "Disagreement     over

defense strategy does not rise to the level of good cause or




                                         7                                 A-4149-10T1
substantial     cause."       Coon,      supra,      314    N.J.     Super.    at    438

(citation omitted).

      In this case, defendant failed to assert any substantial

cause supporting the discharge of his appointed public defender.

Moreover,      despite     several      days    of      court      proceedings      that

occurred     beforehand     and    at   which      he   was      present,   defendant

waited until the jury was empanelled and the trial was about to

begin before voicing his concerns.                   The judge did not err in

denying defendant's request.

                                            III.

      We now consider those points regarding the conduct of the

trial and the testimony adduced before the jury.

      During    the    hearing     on    the    motion      to     suppress,     Staten

generally      described     the     distance        between       his   surveillance

location and the transaction between defendant and Pinks.                              On

cross-examination, Staten stated that he wore his eyeglasses but

used no binoculars or other equipment, made his observations

from an elevated point and had no obstructions in his line of

sight.      He further testified that "the surveillance location was

the   500    block    of   West    Second      Street      which    is   [a]   housing

complex."      There were no objections to this testimony, and the

record does not disclose any further discussion regarding the




                                          8                                    A-4149-10T1
issue of Staten's surveillance location before the detective's

testimony began at trial.

      On cross-examination in front of the jury, defense counsel

began   to   question     Staten    with       greater    specificity      about    the

surveillance location.            The prosecutor objected and argued at

sidebar that the exact location should not be disclosed, noting

"[w]e   talked    about    this    in   chambers.          This   is   a   protected

location."    Counsel for Pinks argued that before the judge could

grant such a request, an in camera hearing was necessary.                           The

judge   cleared   the     courtroom     and     took     testimony     from   Staten.

Thereafter, he sealed the record.

      The judge advised defense counsel that he had preliminarily

decided to grant the State's motion to prohibit disclosure of

the   surveillance      site,     but   that     he    would   entertain      defense

counsel's    attempt      to    "convince       [him]     otherwise."         Defense

counsel responded, "I'm not going to make an argument to change

the Court's ruling . . . to protect the site."                             The judge

permitted some additional questioning of Staten.

      The judge then ruled that he would issue a "protective

order" regarding the surveillance location "based on the fact

that there's a concern for the lives and property of anybody

else connected with this overall process.                      And it goes to a

substantial safety issue and potential reprisal issue."                             The




                                           9                                  A-4149-10T1
judge continued, "[T]he important public interest balances and

outweighs the need for disclosure . . . because of the public

safety that's involved here."                  The jury was brought back into

the courtroom and the trial continued.

       Before us, defendant contends he was denied his right to

effectively        cross-examine      Staten       as    a    result    of    the   judge's

decision      to   prevent      disclosure        of    the   surveillance      location.

Again we disagree.

       Following the Supreme Court's decision in State v. Garcia,

131 N.J. 67 (1993), the Legislature adopted N.J.S.A. 2A:84A-27,

now codified as N.J.R.E. 515, which provides:

              No    person   shall    disclose   official
              information of this State or of the United
              States . . . if the judge finds that
              disclosure of the information in the action
              will be harmful to the interests of the
              public.

When    the    State      asserts    this    privilege,         it     must   show     "that

disclosure would compromise an important public interest" and

"must   demonstrate         a   realistic      possibility       that     revealing       the

[surveillance]           location    would     compromise        present       or    future

prosecutions        or    would     possibly      endanger      lives    or    property."

Garcia, supra, 131 N.J. at 77-78.                      The trial court must conduct

an in camera proceeding to determine whether the standard has

been met. Id. at 78. Thereafter, a defendant may overcome the

privilege by making "a substantial showing of need[.]" Id. at 81



                                             10                                     A-4149-10T1
(citation omitted).            The court must balance "defendant's need

for      that      information        with         the      public's        interest       in

nondisclosure."         State v. Zenquis, 131 N.J. 84, 88 (1993).

      Even if the privilege applies, a defendant is entitled "to

inquire         about    certain       important           facts"         regarding      the

surveillance       to   help    the   jury        "critically        examine   testimony,

while      also    serving     the    State's        need      for    confidentiality."

Garcia, supra, 131 N.J. at 81. These facts include "the distance

from which the observation was made," whether "the witness used

[any]    vision-enhancing         article[s],"            whether     the    observations

were made from an elevated position, and information about the

witness's line and angle of sight.                  Id. at 81-82.           We review the

trial judge's decision under an abuse of discretion standard.

Id. at 81.

      In    this     case,     defendant      has        failed      to   articulate     any

substantial need for the exact surveillance location.                             There was

extensive cross-examination regarding Staten's location, line of

sight and ability to make the observations he claimed to have

made.      We also have reviewed the sealed transcript of the in

camera     hearing      conducted     by   the      judge.        The     judge    did   not

mistakenly        exercise     his    discretion          in   granting      the    State's

application        to    bar    disclosure          of     the    exact      surveillance

location.




                                             11                                    A-4149-10T1
      During cross-examination of Staten, counsel for Pinks asked

the   detective    to   demonstrate      the   transaction     he    saw    between

defendant and his client.              Staten was permitted to step down

from the witness stand and, after defense counsel likened the

demonstration to "a movie," the following exchange occurred:

           Q: . . . [W]ho do you want to play,
           [defendant] or Mr. Pinks?

           Staten:      Denzel Washington.

           Q.     No you can't --

           Staten:      Whoever.

           Q: Okay, you can be [defendant].

           Staten:      I ain't too happy about that

           . . . .

      At sidebar, defense counsel moved for a mistrial, arguing

that Staten was "casting character evidence into this case as to

his knowledge of [defendant]."            The prosecutor argued there was

"nothing prejudicial" about Staten's remarks as "he didn't say

anything about the character of [defendant]."                 The judge denied

the   request   for     a   mistrial    and    decided   to   give   a     curative

instruction. He told the jury:

           [B]efore we begin I want to give you what's
           called a curative instruction. As we were
           commencing to go into what's called a
           demonstrative role play the witness made a
           statement that he didn't appreciate playing
           a certain role. It's not for him to choose
           or not for him to say and it's not evidence.



                                        12                                 A-4149-10T1
            So I'm going to instruct the              jury   [to]
            disregard the last comment. . . .

                 It's something that is a demonstrative
            role and the witness really had no choice in
            that matter. So any comment he made must be
            disregarded and must not be considered by
            you as part of this case.

Defendant now argues the judge erred in not granting his request

for a mistrial.      We again disagree.

      As the Court recently stated in State v. Yough, 208 N.J.

385, 397-98 (2011):

            [W]hether   a   prejudicial   remark   can   be
            neutralized through a curative instruction
            or undermines the fairness of a trial are
            matters peculiarly within the competence of
            the trial judge. The grant of a mistrial is
            an extraordinary remedy to be exercised only
            when necessary to prevent an obvious failure
            of justice.    For that reason, an appellate
            court should not reverse a trial court's
            denial of a mistrial motion absent a clear
            showing that the defendant suffered actual
            harm" or that the court otherwise "abused
            its    discretion.        Furthermore,     when
            inadmissible    evidence   erroneously    comes
            before the jury, an appellate court should
            not order a new trial unless the error was
            clearly capable of producing an unjust
            result.

            [(Citations and quotation marks omitted).]

      Applying these standards to the facts at hand, reversal is

not     warranted.       The   judge    gave   an   immediate      and   clear

instruction to the jury.          The judge reminded the jury in his

final    charge   that   "[a]ny   testimony    that   [he]   may    have   had




                                       13                            A-4149-10T1
occasion to strike is not evidence and shall not enter into [the

jury's] final deliberations.        It must be disregarded . . . ."

Under these circumstances, we find no mistaken exercise of the

judge's broad discretion.

      The State called Jordan Jeffer, a detective with the Union

County Prosecutor's Office assigned to the gangs, guns, drugs,

and violent crime task force, as an expert in the field of

narcotics and narcotics distribution.         Defense counsel objected

"for essentially appellate purposes."         He argued that the use of

an   expert   was   inappropriate   because    the   jury   could    easily

understand the facts of the case and any probative value was

outweighed by potential for prejudice. The judge allowed the

questioning to continue.

      The prosecutor asked:

          Q: [A]t this time I'm going to place before
          you and the jury a hypothetical question.
          And after a hypothetical question I will ask
          you certain general questions relating to
          that hypothetical question.

               Assume you observed an individual in a
          high narcotics area being approached by an
          individual   on   the  street.  Assume  the
          individual has a brief conversation with
          this person and immediately walks with him
          over the steps of a public housing complex.
          Assume that on the steps of this housing
          complex is a soda can which the individual
          picks up and carries with him.

               Assume  the   individual  is  observed
          screwing the top of the can open like a jar



                                    14                              A-4149-10T1
           and the other person motions to him with two
           fingers. Assume the individual with the soda
           can reaches into the soda can and pulls out
           a small item and hands it to the other
           person. Assume that the person takes the
           item and hands over U.S. currency to the
           individual with the soda can.

                Assume they part ways and they are both
           subsequently arrested. Assume the soda can
           is   retrieved  and  contains   17  glassine
           envelopes of heroin. Assume these envelopes
           are stamped shrimp and broccoli. Assume he
           also has on him $157 in denominations of 22
           1s, 5 5-dollar bills, 3 10-dollar bills, and
           4 20-dollar bills.

                Assume the person who obtained the item
           from this individual is also arrested and is
           searched and is found to possess two
           glassine folds of heroin also stamped shrimp
           and broccoli.

                Based on the facts I have given to you
           in this hypothetical do you have an opinion
           as to whether the man with the soda can in
           the hypothetical question possessed those
           narcotics   for    personal  use   or   for
           distribution purposes.

           A: I do.

           Q: And what is your opinion?

           A: Based on the hypothetical . . . my
           opinion is that the man with the soda can
           possessed those drugs with the intent to
           distribute them.

Jeffer then identified "seven factors" upon which he based his

opinion.   He described, among other things, the manner in which

the drugs were packaged, the significance of the marking on the




                                15                        A-4149-10T1
packages and the use of a "stash" can with a screw-off top.                        As

he did, Jeffer frequently used the term "in this case."

      Defense counsel objected at sidebar to Jeffer's use of the

term "in this case."          The judge immediately gave a curative

instruction, advising the jury that Jeffer's responses were made

to the hypothetical question posed, and should not be "confused

with the case that is before you."                Defendant argues before us

that the judge erred in admitting any expert testimony and in

permitting     the    State      to     utilize        an     overly     suggestive

hypothetical.

      "Admission     of    expert     testimony    on       drug    possession     and

distribution techniques is permissible when reasonably required

to assist jurors in understanding subjects that are beyond the

ken of an average layperson."            State v. Nesbitt, 185 N.J. 504,

507 (2006) (citing State v. Odom, 116 N.J. 65, 81 (1989)). It is

well established that "the nature and purpose of the possession

of illegal drugs is a subject within the specialized knowledge

of   experts   and   not    something    generally          known   by   persons    of

ordinary understanding."         Odom, supra, 116 N.J. at 73.

      The   State    may   ask   an    expert     "a    hypothetical       question

mirroring the facts of the case, even though" the question may

be framed "'in terms of ultimate issues of fact.'" Nesbitt,

supra, 185 N.J. at 507 (quoting Odom, supra, 116 N.J. at 81).




                                        16                                  A-4149-10T1
"The hypothetical question should clearly indicate that it is

the witness' opinion that is being sought and that that opinion

was formed assuming the facts and circumstances adduced only at

trial."    Odom, supra, 116 N.J. at 82.            The trial court must

instruct the jury "on the proper weight to be given to an expert

opinion and to emphasize that the ultimate decision about a

defendant's guilt rests solely with the jury."            Nesbitt, supra,

185 N.J. at 513.

      We fail to see the necessity for the continued, pervasive

use by the State of expert testimony in drug prosecutions where

the   factual   testimony   is   straightforward    and   the   inferences

suggested therefrom obvious.        However, we cannot conclude that

admission of Jeffer's testimony was reversible error.            R. 2:10-

2.

      In this case, the judge appropriately instructed the jury

before Jeffer testified regarding the use of expert testimony

and repeated the instruction again at the end of the case in his

general charge.    Although Jeffer used the phrase "in this case"

in his responses to the hypothetical, taken as a whole, and

particularly in light of the judge's curative instruction, the

testimony did not express an opinion on the ultimate question of

defendant's guilt, and therefore did not constitute reversible

error.    Odom, supra, 116 N.J. at 79.




                                    17                            A-4149-10T1
       Moreover, the strength of the State's case was substantial.

Staten re-iterated the testimony he gave at the pre-trial motion

in a consistent fashion before the jury.                            Succinctly stated,

Staten    actually          observed       a    hand-to-hand       transaction         between

defendant       and    Pinks.             He    identified       both     men     in     court.

Detective Black testified before the jury regarding his stop of

Pinks' vehicle and the seizure of two glassine envelopes of

drugs    from    Pinks       that    bore       distinctive      markings.         Detective

Alston also testified before the jury regarding his arrest of

defendant and the seizure of narcotics in the soda can that

Staten had described.               Those narcotics bore the same distinctive

markings, and Alston recovered $157.00 in various denominations

from defendant.

       In sum, the admission of Jeffer's testimony does not "raise

a   reasonable        doubt"       that    it    "led     the    jury   to   a    result      it

otherwise might not have reached."                        State v. Jordan, 147 N.J.

409,    422   (1997)        (quoting       State     v.   Macon,    57     N.J.    325,      336

(1971)) (internal quotation marks omitted).                              Reversal is not

warranted.

       Following the conclusion of the State's case, counsel for

Pinks    moved        for    acquittal          arguing     that    the      evidence        was

insufficient      to        find    his    client       guilty    beyond     a    reasonable




                                                18                                     A-4149-10T1
doubt.     The judge denied the motion and Pinks elected not to

testify.

      Defendant testified and acknowledged his presence at the

scene.     However, defendant stated that when the police arrived,

they asked if the soda can was his.                  Defendant denied it was his

and   told   the    police   he    did        not     know    whose   can     it   was.

Defendant claimed he was playing dice with others in the crowd

and the money in his pocket was from his winnings.

      At the conclusion of all the evidence, neither defendant

nor Pinks moved for a judgment of acquittal, and neither moved

for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (j.n.o.v.) nor for a

new trial after the verdict.               Defendant now argues the judge

erred in denying his motion for j.n.o.v. because the verdict was

against the weight of the evidence.

      Defendant's    failure      to   move         for   a   new   trial   bars    our

consideration of this argument on appeal.                     See R. 2:10-1 ("the

issue of whether a jury verdict was against the weight of the

evidence shall not be cognizable on appeal unless a motion for a

new trial on that ground was made in the trial court").                        Even if

defendant had preserved the issue properly, any motion attacking

the sufficiency of the evidence would have been properly denied

because    the   substantial      proofs      we     alluded    to    above    clearly

supported the jury's verdicts.                Moreover, "[t]he trial court's




                                         19                                   A-4149-10T1
ruling on such a motion shall not be reversed unless it clearly

appears that there was a miscarriage of justice under the law."

R. 2:10-1.      There was no "miscarriage of justice" in this case.

                                       IV.

    Defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in

failing to articulate adequate reasons for imposing an eight-

year period of incarceration on the second-degree offenses and a

four-year period of incarceration on the third-degree offenses.

We disagree.

    Because of his prior record, defendant was subject to a

mandatory extended term pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(f). That

section also mandates "the imposition of a minimum term . . .

fixed at, or between, one-third and one-half of the sentence

imposed    by    the   court   or    three    years,   whichever   is   greater

. . . ."     Ibid.     The judge found aggravating factors three, six,

and nine.       N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(a)(3) (risk of re-offense), (6) (the

extent of defendant's prior record and the seriousness of the

offenses), (9) (the need to deter).                 He found no mitigating

factors.     N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1(b).            The judge imposed an aggregate

sentence of eight-years' imprisonment with a four-year period of

parole    ineligibility.        It    was    the   precise   sentence   defense

counsel requested.




                                        20                              A-4149-10T1
      In reviewing a "sentence challenged for excessiveness[,]

[t]he reviewing court is expected to assess the aggravating and

mitigating factors to determine whether they 'were based upon

competent credible evidence in the record.'"                       State v. Bieniek,

200 N.J. 601, 608 (2010) (quoting State v. Roth, 95 N.J. 334,

364   (1984)).      When      the   judge       has     followed     the    sentencing

guidelines,      and    his    findings     of       aggravating      and   mitigating

factors are supported by the record, an appellate court will

only reverse if the sentence "shocks the judicial conscience" in

light of the particular facts of the case.                    Roth, supra, 95 N.J.

at 364; accord State v. Cassady, 198 N.J. 165, 183-84 (2009).

      In this case, the aggravating factors found by the judge

were adequately supported by the record.                           As to aggravating

factor three, the trial judge found "a lack of success in prior

diversionary programs . . ., prior drug use, prior crimes of

similar   nature,      [and    a]   lack    of       stable   employment."      As   to

factor    six,    the      judge    noted        the     current     conviction      was

defendant's "fifth indictable." In finding aggravating factor

nine, the judge noted defendant's "failure to appreciate the

gravity of the offense" and his "extensive record".

      As to each count of the indictment for which defendant was

convicted,    the      judge    selected         a     term   of    years   that     was




                                           21                                 A-4149-10T1
approximately the mid-point of the permissible sentencing range.

The sentences imposed do not shock our judicial conscience.

    Affirmed.




                               22                        A-4149-10T1

				
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