ADOLPH DIDARIO v. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

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Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division.

ADOLPH DIDARIO, Appellant, v. NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, Respondent.

DOCKET NO. A–5606–11T2

Decided: March 14, 2014

Before Judges Alvarez and Ostrer. Adolph DiDario, appellant pro se. John J. Hoffman, Acting Attorney General, attorney for respondent (Lisa A. Puglisi, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel;  Justin L. Conforti, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).

Adolph DiDario appeals the June 19, 2012 final decision of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) that he committed act *.207,  possession of money or currency in excess of $50 unless specifically authorized, N.J.A.C. 10A:4–4.1(a).   DiDario was sanctioned by the imposition of fifteen days detention with credit for time served, 180 days administrative segregation, 300 days loss of commutation time, and 365 days loss of phone privileges.   We affirm.

We summarize the relevant facts.   On June 8, 2012, DiDario was housed at Clinton Halfway House in Iselin, New Jersey.   While on furlough, he was scheduled to work at Telestar in Iselin.   When investigators attempted to meet with DiDario that day, they discovered he had been fired two weeks earlier from his job and was spending the time at his parents' home.

The investigation focused on two checks drawn on the account of “INFL HOPE, LLC 712 DRAKE PLACE, WESTFIELD, NJ.” The checks, which had come to the attention of the DOC on June 8, were drawn to the order of Adolph J. DiDario, were dated February 12, 2012, and were signed by DiDario's mother, Lorraine.   One check was for $495, the other for $496.   The address on the checks was that of DiDario's parents.

Upon being confronted regarding the checks, DiDario admitted that he forged them, cashed them, and made restitution totaling $991 when the checks did not clear to reimburse Acme Supermarkets and Ace Check Cashing.   DiDario also admitted that he had misrepresented his employment at the designated worksite.

That same day, DiDario was charged with prohibited act *.207;  the charges were delivered to him on June 12.   He entered a plea of not guilty, made no statement, and did not request any witness statement.

DiDario requested and received the assistance of counsel substitute.   As a result, the matter, originally scheduled for June 13, was postponed to June 15.   Hearing Officer Oszvart conducted the courtline hearing.   DiDario's account on this occasion was somewhat different;  he said that he had asked his mother for money and that she had written him two checks from her company, both of which failed to clear.   He claimed she gave him cash to cover the bad checks.   Again, DiDario did not request any witness statements.   He did not request the opportunity to confront any of the adverse witnesses.   After considering the evidence, Hearing Officer Oszvart found DiDario guilty based on his admission of the possession of money over $50 to pay a debt to a check cashing company and imposed the sanctions we have described.

On June 19, 2012, DiDario administratively appealed, and the adjudication and sanctions were affirmed.   DiDario now raises the following issues for our consideration:

1.  THE HEARING OFFICER FAILED TO DISMISS THE CHARGES WHERE THERE WAS A DIRECT VIOLATION OF N.J.A.C. 10A:4–9.[1]2.

2. THE HEARING OFFICER FAILED TO DISMISS THE CHARGE ( [*].207) WHEN NO CURRENCY WAS CONFISCATED BY SID INVESTIGATORS.

3. THE SANCTION IMPOSED WAS NOT PROPORTIONATE TO THE ALLEGED OFFENSE.

Our role in reviewing the decision of an administrative agency is limited.   In re Taylor, 158 N.J. 644, 656 (1999);  Brady v. Bd. of Review, 152 N.J. 197, 210 (1997).   We do not reverse an administrative agency determination unless we find it was arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable;  that it lacked fair support in the evidence;  or that the decision violated legislative policies.  In re Musick, 143 N.J. 206, 216 (1996);  Henry v. Rahway State Prison, 81 N.J. 571, 579–80 (1980).

It is equally well-established that disciplinary proceedings do not entitle a prisoner to the full spectrum of rights due to a defendant in a criminal proceeding.  Avant v. Clifford, 67 N.J. 496, 522 (1975).   The limited rights to which prisoners are entitled are intended to “strike the proper balance between the security concerns of the prison, the need for swift and fair discipline, and the due process rights of the inmates.”  McDonald v. Pinchak, 139 N.J. 188, 202 (1995).

DiDario's arguments on appeal do not meet the standard for reversal;  in fact, they fly in the face of common sense as well as the record of the proceedings.   The charges could not have been presented at an earlier date, because the checks were not brought to the attention of the prison authorities until June 8, 2012.   The fact the investigators did not produce currency at the hearing is irrelevant to the charge in this instance, where the authorities were in the possession of the actual checks drawn to DiDario's name, and where he himself acknowledged his guilt when initially interviewed and at the courtline hearing.

Given the nature of DiDario's conduct, which arguably could have resulted in far more serious charges and consequences, the sanctions imposed seem appropriate and proportionate to the violation.   We find that DiDario's arguments do not warrant further discussion in this opinion.   R. 2:11–3(e)(1)(E).   Ample evidence supports the hearing officer's determination, and it is clear from the record that during the proceedings, DiDario received the requisite level of due process.

Affirmed.

PER CURIAM

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