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Angelo Foti v. New Jersey Department of Corrections

SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION


July 1, 2011

ANGELO FOTI, APPELLANT,
v.
NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.

On appeal from the Department of Corrections.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted March 23, 2011

Before Judges Fuentes and Ashrafi.

Angelo Foti is an inmate at the New Jersey State Prison. He appeals from a finding of a disciplinary infraction made by the Department of Corrections (DOC) for the prohibited act *.004, fighting with a person, in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a). As a sanction, Foti received 10 days detention, 90 days administrative segregation, and 90 days loss of commutation time. On Foti's administrative appeal for leniency, the assistant superintendent of the prison suspended for 60 days the 90 day administrative segregation penalty and upheld the remainder of the sanction.

Foti now appeals, arguing the evidence presented was not sufficient to support the charge of fighting. We disagree and affirm.

On November 2, 2009, a corrections officer served Foti with the disciplinary charge of fighting with another person *.004, based on information gathered from an investigation conducted earlier in the day. The charge stated Foti and an inmate named John Crespo engaged in a fistfight on Unit 7-East the previous night, at approximately 9:30 p.m.

During a follow-up investigation, Foti gave a handwritten statement in which he admitted he and "Johnny [Crespo] by bed 12 where he lives got in to [sic] a fight over cigarettes." Other inmates intervened and broke up the fight. Despite this admission, Foti pled not guilty to the charge and the matter proceeded before a disciplinary hearing officer on November 6, 2009.

With the assistance of substitute counsel, Foti argued he and Crespo had been merely wrestling or involved in "horseplay," not fighting. Foti also emphasized he was the only person who sustained any injuries. After considering all of the evidence presented, including two defense witnesses and medical reports, the hearing officer found Foti guilty of committing disciplinary infraction *.004, fighting with a person.

Our review of administrative determinations is limited. We will not reverse an agency decision unless it is arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable, or it is not supported by substantial credible evidence in the record as a whole. In re Herrmann, 192 N.J. 19, 27-28 (2007). The charge against Foti was supported by competent evidence, and the agency's decision predicated on such evidence was not arbitrary or capricious.

Affirmed.

20110701

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