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Higgins v. New Jersey Bureau of Securities

Decided: April 5, 1968.

ROBERT MICHAEL HIGGINS, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY BUREAU OF SECURITIES, RESPONDENT



Goldmann, Kilkenny and Carton. The opinion of the court was delivered by Carton, J.A.D.

Carton

Robert Michael Higgins appeals from an order of respondent Bureau of Securities revoking his registration as a securities agent in New Jersey. The grounds for the revocation were that Higgins' application for registration contains false and misleading statements in a material respect and that his character is such that he is not qualified to be an agent.

On November 30, 1966 Higgins filed an "Agent Application" form provided by the Bureau, seeking registration as a securities agent. Under oath he answered in the negative each of the following questions on the application:

"13. Have you:

d. been arrested or convicted of any crime, misdemeanor or disorderly persons offense?

g. been subject to any disciplinary action, past or pending, by any administrative, governmental or regulatory body?

h. been charged with a violation of any statute, rule, regulation or ordinance of any municipal, administrative, regulatory or other governmental body?

By virtue of N.J.S.A. 49:3-57(a), which provides that, unless denied by the Bureau, an application becomes effective

30 days after filing, Higgins was licensed on January 7, 1967 as an agent to sell securities. Thereafter, respondent served notice of an intention to revoke Higgins' registration, charging that his application contained false and misleading statements. Prior to hearing, respondent served supplemental charges that appellant was not qualified to act as an agent on the basis of character, by virtue of his false answers to the application and other occurrences during his military career.

Higgins' military service record, admitted into evidence at the hearing before the Chief of the Bureau, reveals court martial convictions spanning the years 1953 to 1956 for, among other things, A.W.O.L. violations, desertion, resisting arrest, and grand larceny by means of force and violence. For the latter offense appellant was sentenced to three years and six months at hard labor, forfeiture of pay and a dishonorable discharge in 1956. In addition, investigation by the Bureau showed that Higgins had been arrested on January 2, 1954 by the New York Police Department on a grand larceny charge arising out of an auto theft.

Higgins, in his defense to the charge of giving false answers, stressed that he did not think the questions called for him to divulge offenses or courts martial while in the military service. As to the charge of being unfit in character, he excused these episodes of his military career as youthful escapades attributable to an underprivileged childhood and drink and claimed he was now a reformed or redeemed person. He did, however, concede his involvement in a New York auto theft, his arrest by military police upon several occasions, and his knowing participation in the larceny with force and violence. As to this most serious charge, Higgins admitted that he and a friend had struck a sleeping fellow soldier with a tire iron and robbed him of $400 in Military Payment Certificates.

He also contended that after his discharge from the military in 1956 he had turned over a new leaf, and pointed to his record of employment and ...


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