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State v. Graves

Decided: April 2, 1971.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
GLORIA E. GRAVES, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Lewis, Matthews and Mintz. The opinion of the court was delivered by Mintz, J.A.D.

Mintz

Defendant appeals from a judgment of conviction for having obtained county welfare funds by false pretense through her failure to disclose a material fact, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2A:111-3. The indictment under which defendant was convicted charged her with having received financial assistance between October 1, 1967 and February 1, 1968 from the Essex County Welfare Board by failing to disclose that during the stated period she was living with her husband.

On appeal defendant assigns several grounds for reversal, including the contention that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence statements made by defendant in a custodial interrogation where the four-fold warnings required under Miranda v. Arizona , 384 U.S. 436, 86 S. Ct. 1602, 16 L. Ed. 2d 694 (1966), were not given.

The testimony discloses that defendant had been receiving continuing assistance from the welfare board since 1963. On May 24, 1967 she signed her semi-annual application for aid to dependent children, in which she indicated that her household consisted of herself and three children. In September or October of that year she began to receive aid for a fourth child.

On the application from the recipient of welfare funds is required to report immediately to the county welfare board any change in his or her living conditions, family situation or income from any source. This was undoubtedly known to defendant. The witness Mitchell Osur, a moving company owner, testified that he employed Harold Graves (defendant's husband) from November 1967 through February 1968. Osur said that Harold Graves gave an address identical to defendant's, and claimed four income tax exemptions, including himself.

Investigator Harry O'Boyle of the welfare board testified that four checks, each in the sum of $322, were paid to defendant as assistance for the months of November 1967 through February 1968. He further testified that on February

2, 1968 he interviewed Harold Graves, who told him that he had been living with defendant "for a period of time." He contacted the welfare board and was advised that on their reports Harold Graves was noted as not living at the home. O'Boyle then contacted defendant and arranged for an interview with her which was held that same day at the welfare office in the presence of Mr. Deangelus, supervisor of the fraud department of the welfare board.

At this point defendant requested and was granted a voir dire hearing to determine if the Miranda warnings were given before any confession or statement was elicited from her. O'Boyle then testified that defendant was informed by Deangelus of her right to counsel, her right to have counsel appointed if she was without funds to engage counsel, and that anything she would say could be held against her. It clearly appears that she was not told of her right to remain silent. Subsequently, a statement was taken from her in which she admitted that Harold Graves returned to her home in October 1967 and continued to reside there continuously up to the date of the interview. She indicated to him that she was afraid to notify the welfare board of this fact.

Defendant testified that the February 2, 1968 interview was held on the fourth floor of the welfare board's office (presumably the fraud section department) in the presence of six male investigators. She denied receiving any of the Miranda warnings.

At the close of the voir dire hearing, the trial court ruled that Miranda warnings were inapplicable to the type of interrogation here involved.

O'Boyle then testified before the jury to the same effect as he had in the voir dire hearing. The four checks were marked in evidence. O'Boyle further stated that had timely notification of Harold Graves' return to defendant's home been furnished the Welfare Board, a reduction to $186 monthly would have been made. To O'Boyle's knowledge, defendant did not notify ...


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