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State v. Sipler

Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division

May 22, 2013

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JOYCE J. SIPLER, Defendant-Appellant.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted May 8, 2013

On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Somerset County, Indictment No. 11-10-0632.

Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney for appellant (Daniel Gautieri, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, of counsel and on the brief).

Geoffrey D. Soriano, Somerset County Prosecutor, attorney for respondent (James L. McConnell, Assistant Prosecutor, of counsel and on the brief).

Before Judges Axelrad and Haas.

PER CURIAM

Defendant Joyce Sipler appeals from the December 16, 2011 order of the Law Division denying her motion to compel admission into the pre-trial intervention (PTI) program over the objections of the PTI director and the county prosecutor. We affirm.

The facts relevant to the issues raised on appeal are as follows. Defendant was hired as an accounts receivable clerk at Lampe Berger USA in 2005. In March 20ll, she was terminated for "poor performance." In reconciling defendant's files, her employer discovered that defendant had illegally diverted checks made payable to Lampe Berger to her own personal account. Defendant admitted to police that she began stealing checks from her employer in November 2010, which she deposited into her personal account. Defendant was unaware of the number of checks or amount of money she had stolen from her employer. Bank records revealed that in the nine months from June 27, 2010 to March 11, 2011, defendant deposited ninety-five checks that had been payable to Lampe Berger totaling $53, 392.76 into her personal account, after forging the endorsement of the company.

Defendant was indicted for third-degree theft, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3. She applied for entry into the Somerset County PTI Program. On October 26, 2011 her application was rejected by the PTI director pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12e(4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (14), and (17), and explained:

The instant offense was part of an ongoing antisocial behavior as the thefts occurred over a period of several months and involved multiple checks on individual dates involving over $40, 000. The victim in this case opposes the defendant's entry into PTI and the public need for prosecution to deter others from committing similar offenses outweighs the value of supervisory treatment for this defendant. Additionally the defendant would not be benefited by supervisory treatment as the instant offense appears related to financial gain, a situation that likely could not be corrected through supervisory treatment.

Defendant appealed, which was denied by Judge Julie Marino by order and written opinion of December 16, 2011. Defendant reappeared before Judge Marino on January 27, 2012 and entered a negotiated plea to the charge. Judge Marino subsequently sentenced her to two years of probation, fifty hours of community service and payment of the entire theft in restitution to her former employer. Appropriate fines, fees, and penalties were also imposed. This appeal ensued.

On appeal, defendant contends a remand is warranted because the trial court failed to adequately address whether the prosecutor and program director employed a presumption against admission into PTI based on the nature of the offense and whether individuals who committed similar offenses were being admitted into the program. Based on our review of the record and applicable law, we find this argument unpersuasive.

Our Supreme Court has described PTI as "a discretionary program diverting criminal defendants from formal prosecution." State v. Caliguiri, 158 N.J. 28, 35 (1999). Admissions into PTI are governed both by statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12(a)(1), and court rule, R. 3:28. See Guidelines for Operation of Pre-Trial Intervention in New Jersey, Pressler & Verniero, Current N.J. Court Rules, Guideline 1 on R. 3:28 (2013). The scope of judicial review is "severely limited[, ]" and interference by reviewing courts is reserved for those cases in which it is needed "to check [] the 'most egregious examples of injustice and unfairness.'" State v. ...


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