On appeal from the State of New Jersey Casino Control Commission, 07-0003-ER.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Winkelstein and Fuentes.
Dana White appeals from the Casino Control Commission's (the Commission) December 12, 2007 decision denying her application to renew her casino employee license. We affirm.
Appellant was issued a casino employee license on March 13, 1995. In 2002, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (the Division) recommended that her application to renew her license be denied, listing what it considered to be negative information related to her character. That information included a May 2, 1996 conviction for shoplifting. In addition, appellant was charged in May and June 1998 with a number of offenses arising out of physical altercations she had with her sister. All charges were subsequently dismissed, although her sister obtained a restraining order against her. The Division further reported that in July 2000, appellant was found not guilty of aggravated assault and contempt of a court order, and in March 2001, she was charged with, but acquitted of, shoplifting.
The incident that led the Commission to deny appellant's application to renew her license occurred on April 2, 2003. At that time, appellant was receiving unemployment benefits and had applied for welfare benefits and financial assistance from social organizations. Eviction from the apartment where she lived with her daughter was imminent. On that date, appellant received a check in the mail from the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth. The check was payable to "Pitney Painting Co. Inc.," in the amount of $1943.05. The check had a notation in the bottom left corner that read, "Invoice 2162." Appellant endorsed the check with her signature and deposited it into her credit union account. When the check cleared two days later, she withdrew $1,950 from her account.
The check had mistakenly been delivered to appellant at 107 Whalers Drive in Absecon. The intended recipient was Pitney Painting at 107 Hickory Avenue in Absecon, a business with whom appellant has never been affiliated.
On September 24, 2003, appellant was indicted in Atlantic County for theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-6. On November 21, 2003, she became employed at Showboat Casino Hotel as a dealer. On December 5, 2003, she was admitted into the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), which required that she perform fifty hours of community service, pay $125 in court costs and fines, and pay full restitution of $1,943.05. Upon completion of PTI, the indictment was dismissed.
On October 26, 2005, appellant filed an application to renew her casino employee license. The Division filed a report recommending that the Commission deny the application.
Following a hearing, the Commission denied her casino license renewal, but permitted her to be employed in a non-credential hotel position.
At her hearing before a Casino Control Commissioner who was acting as a hearing examiner, appellant explained that she did not notice to whom the envelope containing the check was addressed; nor could she decipher to whom the check was made out. She admitted, however, that the name on the check did not appear to be hers. Despite having never been affiliated with the Benedictine Sisters of Elizabeth, appellant testified that she believed that she received the check as a gift. She stated, "I believed it was a gift. What are the chances of something like that coming to my front door when I'm three days from being evicted?" She continued: "And I believe that . . . you could put a million names on [the check]. I believe it came from a million people who said that I deserved a gift. I deserve not to be homeless and not to be [un]able to feed my daughter."
At the hearing, appellant presented the following evidence of her rehabilitation: successful completion of PTI; no reported negative information from her employment at Showboat; several recommendations from supervisors at Showboat; letters from her cousin, a friend and two co-workers attesting to her honesty; she made Dean's List at Villanova University and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa for her academic achievements; she was nominated to join the International Mission on Diplomacy because of her "exemplary leadership and outstanding academic performance"; and she was selected by her fellow dealers as a member of the "tote" committee.
Finding implausible appellant's claim that she believed that the check was a gift intended for her, the hearing ...