On appeal from a Final Decision of the Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of State Police, Docket No. 2003-0507.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued September 16, 2008
Before Judges Wefing, Parker and LeWinn.
Appellant Mark Moncho appeals from a final decision of the Division of State Police (the Division) rendered on August 2, 2007, finding him in violation of Article VI, Section 2.a of the Division's regulations (Performance of Duties), and imposing a ten-day suspension.
Moncho is a Sergeant First Class in the Division, assigned to the State Police Construction Inspection Unit (the Construction Unit). The Division charged Moncho with violating a series of rules and regulations involving billing and overtime. It is undisputed that between January 1, 2002, and April 18, 2003, Moncho earned approximately $101,000 in overtime. Evidence in the record indicated that this amount was approximately two and one-half times the amount of all other individuals who received overtime.
The Construction Unit is a component of the Traffic Bureau and operates as a partnership between the New Jersey State Police and the New Jersey Department of Transportation. It is staffed by a contingent of twenty-five to thirty state troopers who are specially trained in construction practice safety.
These troopers oversee highway work-zone sites for traffic enforcement activities; they also provide site safety supervision. The troopers escort construction equipment and monitor roadway traffic to assist construction workers. During the period of time in question, Moncho was the Assistant Head of the Construction Unit. In that capacity Moncho was responsible for overseeing five sergeants, who in turn supervised subordinate troopers. Moncho's responsibilities included: (1) reviewing the patrol charts and weekly reports of the sergeants and the subordinates; (2) time-keeping; and (3) day-to-day supervision of the Construction Unit. Moncho also participated in field activities such as conducting inspections of various work sites. Site inspections focused on the safety of the operation and oversight of the personnel assigned to the site. The record established that a site inspection could take anywhere between fifteen minutes to two hours.
Sometime in April 2003, a concern arose about possible double overtime payments to troopers in the Unit due to a system error. Seventeen individuals from the Unit, including Moncho, were identified as individuals who might have received double payments. An audit was then conducted to determine whether these individuals had in fact received such double payments. The Division did not identify any double payments paid out to personnel. However, Moncho became the focus of special attention because he was the highest overtime earner during the period under review.
As a result of the audit, the Division lodged the following five disciplinary charges against Moncho:
Charge #1 Violation of Article VI, Section 2.a, of the Rules and Regulations of th[e] Division (Performance of Duties), which states:
No member shall act or behave in an official capacity to the personal discredit of the member or to the discredit of the Division.
Specification #1 - Accumulation of overtime hours without verification of presence on site inspections
Specification #2 - Violation of order not to bill time for sites previously inspected
Specification #3 - Submission of 8.5 hours for shift differential pay hours [to which] he was not entitled
Specification #4 - Failed to complete, or incorrectly completed patrol charts documenting his inspections
Specification #5 - Improperly identified the funding source while attending court off duty
Violation of Article V, Section 5, of the Rules and Regulations of th[e] Division, which states:
No member's duty shall be performed in a culpably inefficient manner. As used in this Section, culpably inefficient manner is that efficiency for ...