Muni-mail – YOU’RE FIRED! Tampering results in loss of public office – State v. Kennedy

[05/02/11 – 10:33 pm] This morning, in a case captioned State v. Kennedy, the Appellate Division ruled that the criminal offense of tampering with physical evidence is a crime involving dishonesty. As a result, the defendant, who was a public employee is required to forfeit his public employment. In this case, the defendant was convicted of tampering by swallowing heroin that the police found in his possession. Although the criminal misconduct did not relate to his public employment with a municipality, the Court ruled that forfeiture is mandatory because tampering with physical evidence is, as a matter of law, an offense involving dishonesty.

It is important to note that this is only the second time that the Appellate Division has had the occasion to rule on whether the violation a particular statute constitutes an offense involving dishonesty. The previous decision, State v. Musto, 188 NJ Super. 106 (App. Div. 1983) was published 28 years ago. All of the other forfeiture of public office case law relates to the concept of “touching on the public office”.

(Download a copy of State v. Kennedy.)

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