The undisputed facts as they appear from the pleadings and stipulations may be simply stated. Plaintiff Anthony Andriola was an employee of the County of Hudson from January 11, 1965 through November 18th, 1971, during which period he was a contributing member of defendant Hudson County Pension Fund. The termination of his employment resulted from a plea of guilty to the charges of conspiracy and misconduct in office.
On November 19, 1971 plaintiff declared his intention to withdraw from the Fund and requested the return of all contributions made thereto pursuant to N.J.S.A. 43:10-8, which application was denied. Plaintiff's total contribution to the Fund amounted to $2,882.68.
In October 1975 plaintiff instituted this action in lieu of prerogative writs to compel defendant to return all monies paid into the Fund, together with interest and costs. Plaintiff now moves for summary judgment.
The legal question presented is whether plaintiff is entitled to the return of his contributions to the Fund under N.J.S.A. 43:10-8, which provides in pertinent part:
Any employee entering the fund may at any time thereafter withdraw therefrom and shall be entitled to a refund of the moneys theretofore deducted from his salary hereunder * * *.
Defendant contends plaintiff's employment was terminated by operation of law pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:135-9 at the very instant of his guilty plea on November 18, 1971. N.J.S.A. 2A:135-9 provides:
Any person holding an office or position, elective or appointive, under the government of this state or of any agency or political subdivision thereof, who is convicted upon, or pleads guilty, non vult or nolo contendere to, an indictment, accusation or complaint
charging him with the commission of a misdemeanor or high misdemeanor touching the administration of his office or position, or which involves moral turpitude, shall forfeit his office or position and cease to hold it from the date of his conviction or entry of plea.
If the conviction of such officer be reversed, he shall be restored to his office or position with all the rights and emoluments thereof from the date of the forfeiture.
Consequently, it is the position of the Fund that plaintiff was not an employee of the county at the time he attempted to withdraw the monies and therefore could not qualify under N.J.S.A. 43:10-8. Defendant further contends that where the crime specifically touches upon the duties of the office held by the employee, he would not be entitled to the benefits of the Fund nor the return of contributions deducted from his salary during his period of membership.
Plaintiff contends he is entitled to the return of his contributions to the Fund under N.J.S.A. 43:10-8 regardless of whether his employment terminated before or after his demand for return of contributions, and regardless of whether termination of ...