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Sabino Valdes v. Alicia Morejon

October 2, 2012

SABINO VALDES, APPELLANT,
v.
ALICIA MOREJON, UNION CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION HUDSON COUNTY, RESPONDENTS.



On appeal from the School Ethics Commission, New Jersey Department of Education, Docket No. C-39-10.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Argued May 23, 2012 -

Before Judges Waugh and St. John.

Appellant Sabino Valdes appeals from the February 23, 2011 decision of the New Jersey School Ethics Commission (Ethics Commission) dismissing his complaint as frivolous, and sanctioning him $500. Following our review of the arguments advanced on appeal, in light of the record and applicable law, we affirm.

I.

The following pertinent facts and circumstances emerged from the administrative record. Valdes was an employee of the Union City Board of Education (Board), who was terminated from his position by the Board.

On November 17, 2010, Valdes filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission against Board member Alicia Morejon. He alleged that Morejon misrepresented her residence on her personal financial disclosure statement and suggested she was not a resident of Union City. Valdes contended that Morejon actually resided on Center Street in Ridgefield.

Each Board member must file an annual personal financial disclosure statement. N.J.S.A. 18A:12-25. As part of the statement, the Board member must provide his or her home address. A Board member who knowingly files a statement with false information is subject to penalty. N.J.S.A. 18A:12-25(3)(c).

On December 3, 2010, Valdes filed an amended complaint which stated that Morejon had purchased a home in Ridgefield on September 26, 2001. On the same day, Valdes filed a second amended complaint correcting that statement and admitting that Morejon had actually conveyed the Ridgefield property on September 26, rather than purchasing it. However, Valdes continued to contend that the home in Ridgefield was Morejon's domicile. He proffered as evidence a document from the Ridgefield Tax Assessor's office which described the home as a "mother/daughter" property.

On December 21, 2010, Morejon filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Valdes had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. She further asserted that Valdes' complaint was frivolous. Valdes opposed Morejon's motion but did not offer further proof that Morejon's residence was in Ridgefield.

In arriving at its decision, the Ethics Commission reviewed the standard for a frivolous complaint which provides:

"Frivolous complaint" means a complaint determined by the Commission to be either:

1. Commenced, used or continued in bad faith, solely for the purpose of harassment, delay ...


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