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Siaca v. Department of Corrections

May 4, 2009

RICHARD SIACA, APPELLANT,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.



On appeal from a Final Agency Decision of the Department of Corrections.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 23, 2009

Before Judges Lisa and Sapp-Peterson.

This is a prison disciplinary appeal. Richard Siaca (Siaca), an inmate currently confined at New Jersey State Prison (NJSP), appeals a final determination of the Department of Corrections (DOC) finding him guilty of a disciplinary infraction arising out of his possession of a cellular phone. We affirm.

In November 2007, a confidential informant alerted prison officials that Siaca and another inmate possessed and utilized cellular phones that had been confiscated from other inmates. Further investigation resulted in the subpoena of telephone records for the two phones. The numbers dialed from the phone allegedly used by Siaca coincided with telephone numbers identified on Siaca's prison phone number list. Prison officials confronted Siaca, who denied any wrongdoing and explained that because the phone in question had been confiscated from an inmate who had done legal work for him, that may explain the presence of phone numbers from his family in the records.

On February 7, 2008, Siaca was served a notice charging him with disciplinary infraction *.009, misuse or possession of electronic equipment not authorized for use or retention by an inmate such as, but not limited to, a cellular telephone(s), two-way radio(s), other communication device(s) and/or computer(s) and/or related device(s) and peripheral(s). N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1. He pled not guilty to the charge and was granted the assistance of a counsel substitute.

Following a hearing, the hearing officer found Siaca guilty. He concluded:

Based on the evidence presented, the report from [the investigator], the information from CI #07:005.02, the detailed phone records and the review of inmate Siaca's IPIN*fn1 records[,] it is reasonable to conclude that inmate Siaca had possessed the cell phone (#858-8219) and used that phone to call family members while confined to NJSP.

Therefore, there is substantial evidence to support that charge.

The hearing officer imposed a fifteen-day detention with credit for time served, 365 days of administrative segregation, 365 days of loss of commutation time, and a one-year loss of phone privileges. Additionally, the hearing officer referred the matter to the classification committee for consideration of permanent loss of contact visits.

Siaca filed an administrative appeal. In his appeal, he argued that he was never actually found in possession of the cell phone in question, his due process rights were violated because he was placed in temporary detention for two months before the investigation was completed, and his sanction should be reduced "because he only misused the cell-phone, he did not get caught with any phone in his possession." The decision of the hearing officer was upheld and the present appeal followed.

On appeal, Siaca raises the following points:

POINT I INMATE SIACA WAS DENIED HIS FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS TO DUE PROCESS BY THE ADMINISTRATOR HERE AT NEW JERSEY STATE PRISON BY PLACING HIM ON TEMPORARY CLOSE CUSTODY ("TCC") BY ...


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