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Barrenechea v. New Jersey Dep't of Corrections

August 21, 2009

LORENZO BARRENECHEA, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.



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

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted June 15, 2009

Before Judges Carchman and Parrillo.

Appellant Lorenzo Barranenchea, an inmate at East Jersey State Prison (EJSP), appeals from a final decision of the Department of Corrections (DOC) revoking the visiting privileges of appellant's visitor, Melissa Gell. The revocation was based on Gell's involvement in appellant's commission of three prohibited acts, N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1, within a one-year period. We affirm.

These are the relevant facts. Following two incidents occurring in June 2007 and April 2008, appellant was charged and adjudicated with violating prohibiting act *.703, "conduct with a visitor in violation of regulations," followed by a violation of prohibited act *.704, "perpetrating frauds, deceptions, confidence games, riots or escape plots."

In the first incident, occurring on June 20, 2007, the DOC found appellant guilty of prohibited act .703, when he engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct with Gell during visitation. As a result of that incident, appellant received sanctions including loss of contact visits for ninety days and his visitor, Gell, temporarily lost her visiting privileges.

Gell's visiting privileges were restored, but on April 27, 2008, she was involved in another incident involving sexual acts with appellant while she visited the prison. Again, the prison placed a temporary visitation ban on Gell, this time with a one year minimum, and appellant received sanctions including ten days detention and loss of contact visits for 180 days.

On June 4, 2008, the Department charged appellant with committing prohibited act *.704, "perpetrating frauds, deceptions, confidence games, riots or escape plots," by fraudulently obtaining money from EJSP inmates who sent money to appellant's intermediaries, Gell and her mother Justina Hildago, in payment for paralegal services rendered by appellant while in prison.

The DOC determined that forty inmates had sent fifty-eight money remits to Hidalgo, the mother and co-resident of Gell, at a post office box located in Rahway and registered in the name of both women. An investigator provided the content of a phone conversation between appellant and Gell in which appellant allegedly admitted performing paralegal work for inmates in return for money. During the conversation, appellant indicated that he would claim that the inmates had sent him "gifts" to demonstrate appreciation for his efforts.

Ultimately, the DOC concluded that there was substantial evidence demonstrating that appellant violated *.704. In its findings, the Department concluded that Gell and Hildago accepted money from EJSP inmates on behalf of appellant. As a result, the prison sanctioned appellant and permanently terminated Gell's visiting privileges.

Appellant sought reinstatement of Gell's privileges and after administrative review, the DOC determined that the ban was appropriate. This appeal followed.

On appeal, appellant raises ...


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