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Obanor v. Division of State Lottery


October 22, 2007


On appeal from the Division of State Lottery, Department of Treasury.

Per curiam.


Submitted October 11, 2007

Before Judges Lisa and Lihotz.

Appellant, Elvis Obanor, appeals from a final decision of the Division of State Lottery (Division), issued on August 1, 2006, revoking appellant's license as a lottery agent. The basis for the revocation was appellant's repeated failures to settle his weekly accounts with the Division, resulting in an aggregate unpaid balance of $13,079.57.

Appellant argues that the Division's decision is not supported by adequate evidence in the record. Specifically, appellant challenges the sufficiency and competency of the summarized reports submitted as proof of his deficiency. Appellant argues that those reports were based on certain printouts of his account that were never provided to appellant, nor submitted as evidence. We reject these arguments and affirm.

Appellate courts have a limited role in reviewing the decisions of administrative agencies. We will not reverse an agency decision unless it is arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, or it is not supported by substantial credible evidence in the record as a whole. In re Distrib. of Liquid Assets Upon Dissolution of the Union County Reg'l High Sch. Dist. No. 1, 168 N.J. 1, 10-11 (2001); R & R Mktg., L.L.C. v. Brown-Forman Corp., 158 N.J. 170, 175 (1999); In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 656 (1999); Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210-11 (1997). The scope of review of an administrative decision is "'whether the findings made could reasonably have been reached on sufficient credible evidence present in the record' considering 'the proofs as a whole,' with due regard to the opportunity of the one who heard the witnesses to judge of their credibility." In re Taylor, supra, 158 N.J. at 656 (quoting Close v. Kordulak Bros., 44 N.J. 589, 599 (1965) (quoting State v. Johnson, 42 N.J. 146, 162 (1964))).

We have reviewed the record, and we are satisfied that the Division's determination of appellant's delinquency is well supported by the record, and we will not interfere with that determination. Appellant's arguments on appeal lack sufficient merit to warrant extended discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D) and (E). We add these brief comments.

Lottery agents accept lottery tickets in trust for the Lottery, and bear the sole duty as fiduciaries of the Lottery to remit the net value of all tickets not returned. N.J.A.C. 17:20-6.1(c). Agents are required to segregate the proceeds of sales of lottery tickets in a trust bank account specifically designated as a New Jersey Lottery account. N.J.A.C. 17:20-6.3(b). Lottery agents are "absolutely liable for payment of such monies to the Lottery notwithstanding the degree of care exercised with respect to such monies by the agent." N.J.A.C. 17:20-6.3(d). A breach of these obligations provides a basis for revocation of a lottery license pursuant to N.J.A.C. 17:20-5.1(a)(4) (revocation authorized when agent engages in conduct detrimental to a sound business relationship with the Lottery), and N.J.A.C. 17:20-5.1(a)(5) (revocation authorized when agent acts in a manner that affects the integrity of the Lottery).

In the administrative proceedings, appellant constantly took issue with the records of the Division. He did not dispute that he was delinquent in his payments. He disputed the specific amount. In a letter dated August 29, 2003 to the Division, appellant acknowledged, "What we believe we owe the State is a sum $7950.21 . . . ." In his appellate brief, defendant continues to argue that the Division's proofs did not adequately support a debt of $13,079.57. He then asserts that "[f]or the purpose of proof a failure to establish any amount is a failure to establish all the amounts." This argument lacks any basis in law or logic. Appellant readily admits to owing a substantial amount, which, of itself, would justify revocation of his license.

We are satisfied that the Division's proofs were competent and adequate to establish a delinquency of $13,079.57 and that the Division acted within the scope of its authority in revoking appellant's license.



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