ASSEMBLY, No. 3180

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED JUNE 28, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman† DANIEL R. BENSON

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

Assemblyman† WAYNE P. DEANGELO

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Handlin

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Requires suspension of pay of local elected officials during period between indictment and conviction for certain offenses involving moral turpitude.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning suspension of pay of local elected officials when indicted for certain crimes, amending N.J.S.40A:5-33 and N.J.S.2C:51-2 and supplementing chapter 5 of Title 40A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

†††† Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

†††† 1.††† (New section) †The Legislature finds and declares:

†††† a.†††† Federal offenses and indictable State offenses, formerly known as felonies, are serious crimes with penalties ranging from heavy fines to prison sentences.

†††† b.††† The decision by prosecutors to charge a local elected official with a serious offense touching on his or her office is never taken lightly.

†††† c.†††† When the serious offense is related to the duties of office, the publicís trust in the elected official necessarily suffers.

†††† d.††† The public is rightfully indignant when an elected officialís public salary is used to fund a legal defense for actions that allegedly breached the public trust.

†††† e.†††† It is therefore appropriate and a public purpose to require the suspension of the salary and pension credit of any elected local public officer when they are indicted for a crime touching on their public office.

 

†††† 2.††† (New section) †A local elected official indicted on a charge of a crime or offense involving moral turpitude shall have their salary and pension credit, if any, suspended until either convicted or exonerated of that charge.† If the local elected official is convicted of a crime or offense involving moral turpitude that results in forfeiture of office, then calculation of loss of pension credit and benefits shall be computed using the date of suspension of pay under this section.† If a local elected official whose salary †has been suspended pursuant to this section is exonerated of the charge, then the official shall be entitled to a recovery of salary and pension credit, if any, from the date of the suspension of salary, provided a written application therefor shall be filed with the municipal or county clerk, as appropriate.

 

†††† 3.††† N.J.S.40A:5-33 is amended to read as follows:

†††† 40A:5-33.† a.† In addition to any oath that may be specially prescribed, every person elected or appointed to any office in any local unit shall, before assuming such office, take and subscribe to the oaths required by chapter 1 of the Title "Oaths and Affidavits" (R.S. 41:1-1 et seq.).† The oaths shall be filed with the county clerk
in the case of a county, and with the municipal clerk in the case of a municipality, and shall be preserved by these officials as public records.

†††† b.††† As a further qualification and condition to assuming their office or position, every person required to file an oath pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall be required to annex to their filed oath, a certificate signed by that person stating the following:

 

†††† I, ........................................... , certify that as a condition to assuming my elected or appointed office or position, I consent to the suspension of my salary and pension credit, if any, from the date of any indictment on a charge of a crime or offense that would, upon conviction, result in forfeiture of office, position, or employment pursuant to N.J.S.2C:51-2, to the date of conviction for that or a related offense.† If convicted, I agree that the suspended salary and pension credit shall be forfeited.†

(cf: N.J.S.40A:5-33)

 

†††† 4.††† N.J.S.2C:51-2 is amended to read as follows:

†††† 2C:51-2.† a. †A person holding any public office, position, or employment, elective or appointive, under the government of this State or any agency or political subdivision thereof, who is convicted of an offense shall forfeit such office, position or employment if:

†††† (1)†† He is convicted under the laws of this State of an offense involving dishonesty or of a crime of the third degree or above or under the laws of another state or of the United States of an offense or a crime which, if committed in this State, would be such an offense or crime;

†††† (2)†† He is convicted of an offense involving or touching such office, position or employment; or

†††† (3)†† The Constitution so provides.

†††† As used in this subsection, "involving or touching such office, position or employment" means that the offense was related directly to the person's performance in, or circumstances flowing from, the specific public office, position or employment held by the person.

†††† b.††† A court of this State shall enter an order of forfeiture pursuant to subsection a.:

†††† (1)†† Immediately upon a finding of guilt by the trier of fact or a plea of guilty entered in any court of this State unless the court, for good cause shown, orders a stay of such forfeiture pending a hearing on the merits at the time of sentencing; or

†††† (2)†† Upon application of the county prosecutor or the Attorney General, when the forfeiture is based upon a conviction of an offense under the laws of another state or of the United States.† An order of forfeiture pursuant to this paragraph shall be deemed to have taken effect on the date the person was found guilty by the trier of fact or pled guilty to the offense.

†††† c.†††† No court shall grant a stay of an order of forfeiture pending appeal of a conviction or forfeiture order unless the court is clearly convinced that there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits.† If the conviction be reversed or the order of forfeiture be overturned, he shall be restored, if feasible, to his office, position or employment with all the rights, emoluments and salary thereof from the date of forfeiture.

†††† Any official action taken by the convicted person on or after the date as of which a forfeiture of the person's office shall take effect shall, during a period of 60 days following the date on which an order of forfeiture shall have been issued hereunder, be voidable by the person's successor in office or, if the office of the person was that of member of the governing body of a county, municipality or independent authority, by that governing body.

†††† d.††† In addition to the punishment prescribed for the offense, and the forfeiture set forth in subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:51-2, any person convicted of an offense involving or touching on his public office, position or employment shall be forever disqualified from holding any office or position of honor, trust or profit under this State or any of its administrative or political subdivisions, and shall forfeit their salary and pension credit, if any, from the date of the indictment to the date of conviction.† As used in this subsection, "involving or touching on his public office, position or employment" means that the offense was related directly to the person's performance in, or circumstances flowing from, the specific public office, position or employment held by the person.

†††† e.†††† Any forfeiture or disqualification under subsection a., b. or d. which is based upon a conviction of a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense may be waived by the court upon application of the county prosecutor or the Attorney General and for good cause shown.

†††† f.†††† Except as may otherwise be ordered by the Attorney General as the public need may require, any person convicted of an offense under section 97 of P.L.1999, c.440 (C.2C:21-34), N.J.S.2C:27-2, N.J.S.2C:27-3, N.J.S.2C:27-5, section 100 of P.L.1999, c. 440 (C.2C:27-9), section 5 of P.L.2003, c.255 (C.2C:27-10), section 6 of P.L.2003, c.255 (C.2C:27-11), N.J.S.2C:29-4, N.J.S.2C:30-2, or N.J.S.2C:30-3 of this Title shall be ineligible, either directly or indirectly, to submit a bid, enter into any contract, or to conduct any business with any board, agency, authority, department, commission, public corporation, or other body of this State, of this or one or more other states, or of one or more political subdivisions of this State for a period of, but not more than, 10 years from the date of conviction for a crime of the second degree, or five years from the date of conviction for a crime of the third degree.† It is the purpose of this subsection to bar any individual convicted of any of the above enumerated offenses and any business, including any corporation, partnership, association or proprietorship in which such individual is a principal, or with respect to which such individual owns, directly or indirectly, or controls 5% or more of the stock or other equity interest of such business, from conducting business with public entities.

†††† The State Treasurer shall keep and maintain a list of all corporations barred from conducting such business pursuant to this section.

†††† g.†††† In any case in which the issue of forfeiture is not raised in a court of this State at the time of a finding of guilt, entry of guilty plea or sentencing, a forfeiture of public office, position or employment required by this section may be ordered by a court of this State upon application of the county prosecutor or the Attorney General or upon application of the public officer or public entity having authority to remove the person convicted from his public office, position or employment.† The fact that a court has declined to order forfeiture shall not preclude the public officer or public entity having authority to remove the person convicted from seeking to remove or suspend the person from his office, position or employment on the ground that the conduct giving rise to the conviction demonstrates that the person is unfit to hold the office, position or employment.

(cf: P.L.2007, c.49, s.5)

 

†††† 5.††† This act shall take effect immediately.†

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill provides that every person elected or appointed to any office in any local unit, which person is subject to the oath filing requirement of N.J.S.40A:5-33, shall, contemporaneous with taking and subscribing to the oath of office required pursuant to R.S.41:1-1, annex a signed certification stating that, if ever indicted for a crime or offense that would result, upon conviction, in forfeiture of office, position, or employment pursuant to N.J.S.2C:51-2, their salary and pension credit, if any, shall be suspended from the date of the indictment to the date of conviction.

†††† If a local elected official whose pay has been suspended pursuant to this bill is exonerated of the charge in the indictment, then the official shall be entitled to a recovery of salary and pension credit, if any, from the date of the suspension of pay, provided that a written application is filed with the municipal or county clerk, as appropriate.

†††† Federal offenses and indictable State offenses, formerly known as felonies, are serious crimes with penalties ranging from heavy fines to prison sentences. The decision by prosecutors to charge a local elected official with a serious offense touching on his or her office is never taken lightly.† When the serious offense is related to the duties of office, the publicís trust in the elected official necessarily suffers. The public is rightfully indignant when an elected officialís public salary is used to fund a legal defense for actions that allegedly breached the public trust. It is therefore appropriate and a public purpose to take a strong stand to warn public officials against such betrayals of the public trust, and require the suspension of the salary and pension credit of any elected local public officer from the date of their indictment for a crime touching on their public office to the date of their conviction.