NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Argued May 30, 2013
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County, Accusation No. 09-12-2386.
Brian J. Uzdavinis, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause for appellant (Jeffrey S. Chiesa, Attorney General, attorney; Hillary Horton, Deputy Attorney General, of counsel and on the brief).
Miles Feinstein argued the cause for respondent.
Before Judges Sapp-Peterson and Haas.
The State appeals from an order granting defendant, Anna Padva-German, entry into the Monmouth County Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI) over its objection. We reverse.
Defendant was a licensed dentist employed by New Jersey Mobile Dental ("NJMD"), a practice comprised of a group of "mobile" dentists who provide on-site dental treatment at various nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and adult day care facilities throughout the State. In November 2008, during an investigation into the group's Medicaid billing practices, investigators discovered that several NJMD dentists, including defendant, charged Medicaid for services they did not render.
The investigation revealed that between September 2005 and March 2009, defendant overbilled Medicaid by approximately $65, 000. Defendant admitted her complicity in the fraudulent scheme and pled guilty to a third-degree charge of Medicaid fraud. Pursuant to the plea agreement, defendant agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $69, 365.80, a civil penalty in the amount of $69, 365.80, a five-year period of debarment from all Medicaid programs, and to "provide truthful testimony at all legal proceedings for the remainder of the defendants in this case."
Thereafter, defendant applied for participation in the PTI program. On March 9, 2010, a Monmouth County probation officer reviewed the application and recommended that defendant should be admitted into the program, reasoning that she is "a good candidate for PTI as this is her first Superior Court matter and [she] seems to have the motivation necessary to successfully complete the program." Nearly two years later, on March 22, 2012, the State objected to the enrollment of defendant into PTI.
The initial denial letter explained that upon consideration of the relevant factors enumerated in N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12e, in line with Rule 3:28, several factors militated against defendant's admission into PTI, namely: 1) the nature of the offense, 2) the facts of the case, 3) the motivation and age of the defendant, 7) the needs and interests of the victim and society, 14) whether or not the crime is of such a nature that the value of supervisory treatment would be outweighed by the public need for prosecution, and 16) whether PTI would adversely affect the prosecution of co-defendants. Each factor weighing against admission was followed by a short factual analysis.
Defendant filed a motion appealing the rejection. Following a hearing, the court determined that the State gave short shrift to the analysis contained in the probation officer's recommendation letter regarding defendant's motivation to succeed in PTI and instead focused solely on her motivation to commit the crime. The court opined that while the State is entitled to consider defendant's past conduct, it is likewise obligated to examine defendant's motivation to succeed in PTI in the light of her actions in the two years since the case was initiated. The court also believed the denial letter contained inadequate analysis to permit the court to "determine whether or not the State followed guidelines and case law to evaluate this particular application." The court therefore remanded the matter to the State with instructions to reconsider the factors.
Upon remand, the State once again issued another letter denying defendant's entry into PTI. The State acknowledged defendant's status as a first time offender who provided a voluntary sworn statement and guilty plea, testified before the grand jury, was willing to pay restitution and was motivated to complete PTI. Nonetheless, the State concluded these positive factors did not make defendant a candidate for PTI. The State outlined four reasons for withholding consent to defendant's enrollment in PTI: 1) the nature of the offense, 2) the motivation of ...