This is an action in lieu of prerogative writ brought by the Hudson County Prosecutor to remove a North Bergen Police Officer from office pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:135-9 -- a statute mandating forfeiture of office upon conviction of certain offenses. By order of this court the governing body of North Bergen was added as a party defendant.
On February 8, 1974 Vincent DeCarlo was convicted of conspiring to violate public bidding laws. Although his office was declared forfeit on December 29, 1976, he was reinstated on January 14, 1977 following a determination by the Commissioner of Public Safety of North Bergen that the crime of which plaintiff was convicted is not one of moral turpitude.
N.J.S.A. 2A:135-9 provides as follows:
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 or 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.
It is not disputed that the office held by defendant is within the statute, that he was convicted of the first count of Indictment No. 65 of the 1971 term and that the indictment charges him with the commission of a misdemeanor which does not touch on the administration of his office. At issue is the question as to whether the offense of which he was charged and found guilty is one involving moral turpitude.
Our courts have not heretofore passed on the precise question as to whether a conspiracy to violate the bidding laws is a crime involving moral turpitude. They have however determined the meaning of "moral turpitude" in the context of other crimes.*fn1 Thus, guidance in resolving this otherwise unique case is available.
It is well settled law that where the intent to defraud is an essential element of a crime, that crime is one of moral turpitude. Jordan v. ...