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State of New Jersey v. Amy G. Schultz

July 22, 2011


On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Accusation No. 08-05-01094.

Per curiam.


Submitted March 14, 2011

Before Judges A.A. Rodriguez and LeWinn.

Peter E. Warshaw, Jr., Monmouth County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (Mary R. Juliano, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).

In May 2008, defendant was charged in an accusation with forgery, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-1(a)(1); obtaining a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) by fraud, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-13; and possession of CDS, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1), all third-degree offenses. These charges stemmed from defendant's forgery of her prescription for Norco*fn1 , to increase the number prescribed from sixty to ninety. In June 2008, defendant was admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 to -13. She now appeals the termination of her participation in PTI, following which she entered into a negotiated plea agreement whereby she pled guilty to third-degree obtaining CDS by fraud and was sentenced to one year of probation. We affirm.

Upon being accepted into PTI, defendant received a notice informing her of the name of her probation officer, advising her of the duty to report to that officer as directed and requiring her to perform community service as a condition of PTI. The form noted further that by participating in PTI, defendant had "consented to the conditions of . . . supervision and acknowledge[d] that failure to comply constitute[d] a violation" of PTI.

On January 27, 2009, defendant's probation officer served her with a notice of termination of PTI, stating the following reasons: (1) failure to report to probation on five specified dates between July 2008 and January 2009; (2) failure to advise probation of a change of address after the probation officer unsuccessfully attempted to locate defendant at the home address she supplied; (3) failure to obtain a substance abuse evaluation; (4) submitting urine screens that tested positive for opiates in August 2008 and January 2009; (5) failure to pay certain financial obligations; (6) failure to perform community service; and (7) failure to meet the special conditions of strict random drug testing and drug counseling.

At a hearing on March 20, 2009, defendant claimed that she had difficulty meeting her probation officer on Mondays, as chosen by the officer, because she worked on Mondays; she also asserted that she was under the care of a physician for chronic bronchitis, which required her to be on bed rest and for which she was prescribed cough medicine containing a narcotic, which caused the positive urine screens. The judge concluded that defendant "cannot satisfactorily complete [PTI]." He added that he was "not satisfied that [defendant] was bedridden and couldn't show up for probation. She really hasn't done anything that she [is] supposed to do."

Defendant filed a motion for reconsideration supported by a certification from her attorney stating that: defendant was on sick leave for upper respiratory infections and pneumonia from "approximately" October 21 through December 1, 2008, and was unable to work or report to probation during that time; when she tried to schedule a substance abuse evaluation at the facility recommended by her probation officer, she was informed the facility did not accept her insurance; she started community service in January 2009; and during the six months defendant was in PTI, she was under a physician's care for "over [six] weeks." Defendant appended several prescription forms from her doctor, indicating the medications she was taking in October and November. The doctor also provided two notes of her inability to work for the weeks of October 21 and November 17 through December 1, 2008; one note indicated that "she may return to work 11/3/08[,]" and another indicated the same as of "11/17/08."

The judge denied reconsideration, noting that "defendant does not assert that this [c]court's decision . . . was not supported by the facts." The judge found that defendant's failure to comply with the specified conditions of PTI was undisputed, adding:

[D]efendant's motion for reconsideration is based on the reasons why . . . [she] failed to complete each of the requirements previously stated. There is nothing new being presented today that could not have been presented at defendant's termination hearing . . . .

Additionally, nothing has been presented by way of an expert report to show that defendant's prescriptions would provide a false positive on her urine tests. Additionally, although the prescriptions provided note defendant could not work, only one note noted bed rest from 11/17 until 12/1/08. The same was dated November 25, '08, . . . which means, although she couldn't go to work, there was nothing prohibiting her from going to probation.

Her only payment was on July 21, 2008, despite the fact that she had been working at a men's clothing store . . . . She can't report to probation because she's working, and she's making money, she should be able to pay her fines, which she didn't do. There's a contradiction there. Many of ...

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