On appeal from the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Espinosa and Guadagno.
Belton Brims, an inmate currently incarcerated at New Jersey State Prison (NJSP), appeals from a final administrative decision rendered by the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) imposing disciplinary sanctions for committing prohibited act .754, receiving money from another inmate, in violation of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1(a). Brims claims that there was insufficient evidence to support the determination, and that he was denied due process during the hearing. He also challenges the forfeiture of the funds he received for the first time on appeal. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.
On August 30, 2010, the Special Investigations Division (SID) of the DOC received information that several suspicious money orders had been received by NJSP inmates from the same source in Maryland. Further investigation by SID Investigator Dolce revealed that $32,417.81 was deposited into inmate Damen Brown's prison trust account from a source outside the prison on August 12, 2010. Brown transferred $3,222 of these funds to Larry Faison of Suitland, Maryland. Faison purchased three money orders totaling $2,900 and sent them to three other NJSP inmates. One of these money orders, in the amount of $1,000, was sent to Brims and was deposited into his inmate trust account. As a result of Dolce's investigation, a hold was placed on Brims's account on September 8, 2010.
When Brims learned of the hold, he wrote to SID and requested an explanation. On October 7, 2010, Dolce met with Brims and videotaped the interview. When Dolce asked Brims to explain why he received $1,000 from Faison, Brims initially stated, "I plead the fifth." Dolce then explained to Brims the interview was being conducted at his request. Brims then claimed that someone he knew only as "Larry" sent him the money. Brims described Larry as a friend from "the street" but admitted he had not seen Larry since they were "kids" and did not know why Larry sent him the money.
On October 26, 2010, Brims was notified by Dolce that he was being charged with receiving $1,000 from the friend of another inmate who had laundered the money in violation of .754 of N.J.A.C. 10A:4-4.1. That section prohibits: giving money or anything of value to, or accepting money or anything of value from, a member of another inmate's family or another inmate's friend with an intent to circumvent any correctional facility or Departmental rule, regulation or policy or with an intent to further an illegal or improper purpose Brims was given a copy of the disciplinary report which alleged:
An investigation has determined that inmate Brims received $1,000 from the friend of inmate Martin #449411. The investigation determined the money was originally sent by inmate Brown #69760 to a civilian who then laundered the money.
The disciplinary report also indicated that the charge was based on "confidential information."
The disciplinary hearing, originally scheduled for October 26, 2010, was adjourned to enable Brims to consult with counsel substitute and prepare his defense and for the hearing officer to review the exhibits and reports.
At a hearing on November 4, 2010, the hearing officer considered Dolce's report; a $1,000 postal money order payable to Brims; a NJSP Business Remit form for $3,225 payable to Larry Faison from inmate Damon Brown; the statements of Brims and his counsel substitute; and a confidential SID report that was not provided to defendant.
The hearing officer found Brims guilty of disciplinary infraction .754 and imposed fifteen days detention, sixty days loss of commutation time, ninety days of ...