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State v. Lee

July 17, 1992

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
DANNY LEE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Criminal Part, Cumberland County.

King and Carchman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Carchman, J.s.c. (temporarily assigned).

Carchman

The opinion of the court was delivered by

CARCHMAN, J.S.C. (temporarily assigned).

Defendant, Danny Lee, a senior corrections officer at Southern State Correctional Facility (Southern State), appeals from an order of the Law Division mandating forfeiture of his public office as a result of his conviction for theft by deception. Defendant asserts that exclusive jurisdiction for prosecution of forfeiture actions is in the Merit System Board of the New Jersey State Department of Personnel and that the Law Division acted without authority. We disagree and affirm the opinion by Judge Serata in the Law Division.

The facts are not in dispute. In addition to serving as a senior corrections officer, Lee served as a member of the New Jersey National Guard. In this latter capacity, he was ordered to report to Fort Drum, New York on July 6, 1990. He failed to arrive on July 6, 1990 but actually arrived on July 9, 1990. To facilitate reimbursement for his time served on military leave, Lee submitted a letter from the National Guard dated August 17, 1990, which said:

This is to certify that Sgt. Danny Lee attended annual training at Fort Drum, New York during period 6 July to 21 July 1990 . . . . (emphasis added.)

Thereafter, a second letter dated September 17, 1990 was forwarded directly by the National Guard to Southern State. This second letter said:

Sergeant Danny Lee . . . was absent without leave (AWOL) from Annual Training from July 6 to July 8, 1990. He reported to Fort Drum, New York on July 9, 1990.

I have compared the memorandum that Sergeant Lee submitted to [the personnel officer at Southern State], it was not the memorandum that I gave him. It had been altered by changing 9 July to 6 July. The memorandum that I gave him was the original . . . .

Based on the forged document, defendant received three days' pay from Southern State.

Defendant was indicted by a Cumberland County grand jury for official misconduct, N.J.S.A. 2C:30-3, (Count I); theft by deception of property valued more than $200, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4, (Count II) and forgery, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1a(2) and (3), (Count III). After a bench trial, defendant was convicted of theft by deception, a fourth-degree offense which was reduced to a disorderly persons violation. The record before us is unclear as to the reduction of the charge of theft by deception, fourth degree, to a disorderly persons offense. No transcript of the sentencing was provided to us. We assume that the reduction of the degree of the offense from a fourth-degree crime to a disorderly persons offense was based on a determination that the amount of the theft was less than $200. N.J.S.A. 2C:20-2b(3). The ...


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