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Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division Affirms the Commission’s Revocation of Checker’s Registration for Association with Genovese Soldier

July 21, 2015

           On July 21, 2015, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, affirmed the decision of the Waterfront Commission to revoke the registration of checker Leonard Moravek.

           The Commission had charged Moravek with associating with Joseph Queli, a convicted racketeer who was identified by law enforcement authorities as a soldier in the Genovese crime family. Moravek had accepted a loan from Queli, and had owed Queli money over a period of two and a half years until the loan was repaid. After an administrative hearing, Administrative Law Judge Patrick McGinley found that the Commission established the charges against Moravek by a fair preponderance of the credible evidence, and recommended that Moravek’s registration as a checker be revoked. Having duly considered the record of the proceedings and the ALJ’s Report and Recommendations, the Commission revoked Moravek’s registration.

           On appeal, Moravek challenged the Commission’s interpretation of the association provisions of the Waterfront Commission Act as being a strict liability statute. He argued that the Commission failed to use the proper definitions of “association” and “inimical” in making its determination that he had associated with Queli under circumstances that were inimical to the polices of the Act. He further contended that the revocation of his registration was disproportionate to the alleged offense.

           The Appellate Division summarily rejected these arguments and found that the Commission’s findings of fact and conclusions of law were legally sound and supported by sufficient credible evidence of record. Citing the precedential opinion, In re Pontoriero, 439 N.J. Super. 24 (App. Div. 2015), the court upheld the Commission’s interpretation of “association” as encompassing the ordinary meaning of the term: “to keep company, as a friend, companion or ally." The court also endorsed the Commission’s interpretation of “inimical,” as being “adverse to the public confidence and trust in the credibility, integrity and stability of the waterfront and in the strict regulatory process of the Act.”

           The court observed that Moravek’s position as a checker was highly sensitive to corruption, and agreed with the ALJ’s conclusion that borrowing money from a member of organized crime was “a reckless act that could have led to dire consequences,” especially for a checker on the waterfront. As such, the court found that there was clear evidence that a reasonably objective observer could believe that Queli could have influenced Moravek in his role as a checker, making Moravek’s association with Queli inimical to the Act.

A complete copy of the Court’s Decision and Order is attached.

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Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor