On appeal from the Department of Treasury, Division of Lottery.
Before Judges Landau and Kimmelman. The opinion of the court was delivered by Kimmelman, J.A.D.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kimmelman
The opinion of the court was delivered by KIMMELMAN, J.A.D.
The issue presented on this appeal is whether a gubernatorial pardon for criminal offenses involving moral turpitude must be deemed to restore the pardoned person's good moral character so as to require licensure as a lottery agent.
Appellant Deborah Storcella, the operator of Storkey's General Store in Trenton, applied to the Division of State Lottery (Lottery) to add to her lottery agent's license Richard J. Storcella (Storcella), her father, as a Key Person. The Executive Director of the Lottery denied the application on January 11, 1996.
Between 1968 and 1974, Storcella was convicted of crimes which included bookmaking, working for an illegal lottery, possession of lottery slips, lottery on premises, conspiracy, bribery, and receipt of stolen property. Storcella was sentenced on all of the convictions and did serve time in prison. Significantly, it appears that all of the aforesaid crimes were committed on or adjacent to the premises of Storkey's General Store and that some crimes were committed subsequent to the legalization in 1970 of the State-run lottery. *fn1
By 1990, Storcella, the then owner of Storkey's General Store, had applied for and been denied a lottery license on nine separate occasions. On the last occasion of denial, in 1990, the Lottery acting executive director said:
It has been the Director's policy not to license convicted gamblers to serve as Lottery agents. This is done to avoid a perception by the public that the taint of illegal gambling is in any way connected with our operations. For this reason, I have decided to uphold the denial of the pending application.
The director pointedly added: "I do not think that it is in the best interest of the Lottery to have a professional gambler as one of our agents . . . ."
Storcella transferred ownership of Storkey's General Store to appellant, his daughter, following the last denial and she then became licensed as a lottery agent. Notwithstanding the transfer, the record indicates that Storcella remains a principal operator of the business. *fn2
On January 14, 1994, Governor Florio pardoned Storcella for the above-listed crimes. *fn3 A 1968 disorderly persons conviction for receipt of stolen property was not included in Storcella's petition for Executive Clemency and that conviction still remains part of his criminal record.
After the issuance of the pardon, appellant applied to amend her lottery license by adding her father as a Key Person to handle lottery transactions. In denying the application, the executive director said:
In rendering this final decision I have considered the Pardon and the nature of the criminal activities underlying Mr. Storcella's convictions. I am bound by the duty of my office to find that the need to protect the public perception of the integrity of the Lottery outweighs any evidence of rehabilitation. Mr. Storcella seeks to operate the Lottery on the same premises in which he previously conducted illegal bookmaking operations, worked for an illegal lottery, possessed illegal lottery slips and operated an illegal lottery. The additional criminal activities underlying convictions for conspiracy and bribing a public official directly bear upon Mr. Storcella's moral character and comprise conduct which would be detrimental to the integrity of the Lottery.
The Lottery depends upon public trust and an image of integrity and strives for the achievement of an absolutely clean operation in all respects and at all times. Licensed lottery agents are in a position of great importance in this regard because it is they with whom the patrons of the Lottery come in contact. . . . Mr. Storcella's history of prior illegal gambling, however long ago it was, stains the integrity of the Lottery ...