On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued telephonically on August 11, 2009
Before Judges Rodríguez and LeWinn.
Petitioner Miodrag M. Banic appeals from the August 29, 2008 order of the Law Division upholding the decision of the Township of Scotch Plains denying his application for a duplicate firearms purchaser identification card (FPIC). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
The pertinent factual background may be summarized as follows. In 2000, petitioner resided in Roselle Township and obtained an FPIC in that municipality. In 2008, petitioner moved to Scotch Plains and, on February 11, 2008, applied for a duplicate FPIC. On March 13, 2008, the Chief of the Scotch Plains Police Department informed petitioner by letter that the "application for a change of address within this jurisdiction" was denied because the police investigation "ha[d] concluded that the issuance of this permit [wa]s not in the interest of public health, safety and welfare."
On April 8, 2008, petitioner filed an appeal with the Law Division. In a letter dated April 28, 2008, Scotch Plains Township Attorney Brian J. Levine advised petitioner's counsel that an additional reason for denying petitioner's application was because of falsification of his application.
As set forth in Detective [Jason] Fiore's Investigative Report, [petitioner] indicated that he had never been convicted of a disorderly persons offense that had not been expunged or sealed, when in fact a criminal history background check revealed that [petitioner] pled guilty or was found guilty of improper behavior stemming from an incident in Scotch Plains on January 1, 1999.
Levine's letter enclosed discovery including Fiore's report. In that report, Fiore stated that Scotch Plains police officers had described petitioner's conduct on January 1, 1999, as "extremely belligerent and violent. His attempt to flee the scene prior to apprehension and falsifying his identity when interviewed show[ed] a genuine disrespect for authority."
Fiore also reported that petitioner had "a poor driving record involving traffic violations such as speeding and careless driving." Therefore, Fiore recommended that petitioner not be issued a duplicate FPIC based on his "previous behavior involving the arrest, the lengthy poor driving record, and the lie of never being convicted of a disorderly persons offense on the application . . . [which] all demonstrate a lack of law abiding behavior."
The trial judge heard oral argument on August 22, 2008. Levine stipulated that petitioner's prior conviction had been for a "petty disorderly persons offense, not a disorderly persons offense" and, therefore, withdrew the charge that petitioner had falsified his application.
Petitioner argued that only his driving record remained as a potential barrier, and noted that, over the course of eleven years, he had one speeding ticket, one careless driving citation and a fictitious plate ticket. Petitioner also pointed out that he was twenty-two years old when the 1999 charge arose; notwithstanding that charge, Roselle had issued him an FPIC, which he held without incident for eight years.
On August 29, 2008, the trial judge rendered his decision from the bench. In denying the petitioner's application, the judge stated:
Now when we're looking at this, the [petitioner] had pled guilty to a petty disorderly offense. And when . . . asked . . . whether he had been convicted of a . . . disorderly persons offense . . . on the application, the fact that he had been convicted of a petty disorderly is ...