In the matter of Gary Stolinski v. State of New Jersey, Division of State Police, A-2412-07T3, the Appellate Division considered whether Gary Stolinski, a New Jersey State Trooper, was entitled to an award of counsel fees pursuant to N.J.S.A. 53:1-30, as a result of having to defend against an indictment charging official misconduct, credit card fraud, and identity theft.

On July 15, 2005, Stolinski was indicted and charged with official misconduct, credit card fraud, and identity theft based on the allegation that he used a State Police computer to make online credit card applications through the use of false information and by assuming the identity of others. Subsequent to being indicted, Stolinski was suspended from the force without pay.   

The indictment was ultimately dismissed on December 15, 2005. Thereafter, Stolinski was reinstated and reimbursed for the pay withheld during his suspension. Stolinski then demanded reimbursement for the counsel fees he expended in defending against the indictment. In response, the Attorney General’s office advised that the request for the payment of legal fees incurred in seeking back pay would be honored. However, the Division rejected the remaining aspects of Stolinski’s request and asserted there was no statutory basis for the reimbursement of attorney fees associated with: (1) the defense of criminal charges; (2) responding to the administrative disciplinary charge; or (3) seeking the expungement of his criminal record. This appeal ensued.

The Appellate Division concluded that the Division’s final agency decision was neither arbitrary, capricious, nor unreasonable because it was based upon a correct understanding of N.J.S.A. 53:1-30 and an accurate application of its terms to the allegations contained in the indictment. N.J.S.A. 53:1-30 provides that a law enforcement officer is entitled to be reimbursed only for those fees incurred “in an action or legal proceeding arising out of or directly related to the lawful exercise of police powers in the furtherance of official duties.”   

The Court determined N.J.S.A. 53:1-30 did not provide support for Stolinski’s claim because the allegations of the indictment were not directly related to his lawful exercise of police powers in the furtherance of official duties. In this case, Stolinski was alleged to have used a State Police computer to make false credit card application. Regardless of whether the allegations could or could not be substantiated, it is clear Stolinski was not charged with conduct that was in furtherance of his official duties on that occasion. As a result, the Court affirmed the Division’s determination.       

         

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog (www.njpublicsafetyofficers.com) approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.