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Eugene Corbesero v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

May 16, 2011


On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

Per curiam.


Submitted May 2, 2011

Before Judges Lisa and Sabatino.

Appellant, Eugene Corbesero, a New Jersey State Prison inmate at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC), appeals from a final decision of the Department of Corrections entered on October 13, 2010 adjudicating him guilty of committing prohibited act *.352, "counterfeiting, forging or unauthorized reproduction or use of any . . . official document," in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a). Appellant received sanctions of ten days detention, 125 administrative segregation, 125 days loss of commutation time, and job change. This appeal followed.

Appellant argues that the decision should be reversed because it is not supported by substantial credible evidence in the record and he was denied his due process rights. He also argues that the sanctions are excessive. We reject these arguments and affirm.

Appellant worked in the Education Department at the ADTC. His job duties included inputting data on the "Inmate Pass Locator." This process identified inmates who had a pass authorizing them to go to a particular area of the facility or to see a designated staff member. On October 3, 2010, appellant made entries indicating that two inmates had a pass to see "Mr. Silvera," who was designated as a "staff member." However, Silvera was not a staff member but was another inmate. The meeting between Silvera and the other two inmates was not an authorized meeting. Thus, the information appellant entered on the Inmate Pass Locator was false and fraudulent.

Appellant and Silvera admitted that they had discussed the matter in advance. Appellant contended that Silvera had spoken to a corrections officer, who told Silvera that the entry should be made. Appellant claimed that he had seen Silvera talking to the corrections officer, and therefore had no reason not to make the entry as Silvera directed. Appellant's defense was that if there was any inaccuracy in the information he entered, it was not intentional, but was the result of a mistake or mix-up.

The hearing officer rejected appellant's contentions. Based upon all of the evidence, she found that appellant's contentions were not supported by the record. She found him guilty of the charge and imposed the sanctions we have mentioned. Appellant filed an administrative appeal, and on October 13, 2010, the Assistant Superintendent upheld the decision. He was satisfied from his review of the file that all applicable regulations and due process requirements were satisfied and that the hearing officer's decision was based on substantial evidence.

We will not interfere with an agency's decision unless it is arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, or unsupported by substantial credible evidence in the record. Henry v. Rahway State Prison, 81 N.J. 571, 579-80 (1980). We have reviewed the record and we are satisfied that the reports and testimony relied upon by the hearing officer and Assistant Superintendent provided the required "substantial" evidence to support the disciplinary violations against appellant. See R. 2:11-3(e)(1)(D); McDonald v. Pinchak, 139 N.J. 188, 195 (1995); N.J.A.C. 10A:4-9.15(a).

We are further satisfied from our review of the record that the disciplinary proceedings were conducted in accordance with all applicable due process requirements. See Avant v. Clifford,

67 N.J. 496, 522 (1975). Appellant makes various arguments in support of his contention that his due process rights were violated. He contends that the hearing officer was not impartial, that his counsel substitute was prevented from seeing certain documents, and that the Assistant Superintendent failed to provide reasons for the decision. The record does not support the first two arguments. As to the third argument, the Assistant Superintendent is not required to set forth reasons beyond those set forth by the hearing officer, which he adopted based upon his review of the record.

Finally, we reject appellant's argument that the sanctions are excessive. The sanctions imposed are well below the maximum authorized for appellant's offense and the imposition of those sanctions did not constitute a mistaken exercise of discretion.

Any additional arguments raised by appellant not specifically discussed in this opinion lack sufficient merit to warrant ...

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