Return to Browsing

13 N.J.A.R. 133

Gaming Enforcement, Division of v. Cornell, Charles and Cornell & Company, Inc
Formats: PDF | DjVu— Help viewing DjVu Files
Citation: 13 N.J.A.R. 133
Decision Date: 1988
Synopsis: The Division of Gaming Enforcement filed a complaint with the Casino Control Commission against respondents seeking revocation of their vendor registrations. Respondent Cornell & Company subse- quently applied for a casino service industry license. Both matters were transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law as contested cases and were consolidated for hearing. The complaint and objections to licensure were based on un- disputed payments in the form of condominium rent and automobiles by Charles Cornell, the principal qualifier, to a labor union official, Thomas Kepner. The Division argued that the payments constituted criminal violations which disqualified Cornell under sections 86(c) and (g) of the Casino Control Act. The administrative law judge assigned to the case concluded that Cornell was not guilty of the criminal offense of commercial bribery and unlawful labor practices in violation of the Taft-Hartley Act because he was the victim of extortion by Kepner. However, the judge recommended denial of the license application on the grounds that, because Cornell made the payments rather than notify authorities of the extortion, he failed to establish the requisite good character, honesty and integrity for casino licensure. Upon review, this initial decision was modified by the Casino Control Commission. The Commission found that Cornell had en- gaged in commercial bribery and unlawful labor practices, criminal offenses which disqualified Cornell from licensure. The Commission rejected the argument that Cornell had been a victim of extortion, noting that Kepner did not threaten or coerce Cornell to make any payments. In addition, Cornell had sufficient opportunity to alert police rather than cooperate with Kepner. The law requires a person in Cornell's position to expose corrupt practices unless the extortion is overpowering. The Commission noted that the fact that Kepner initiated the relationship with Cornell was not decisive in determining whether the transaction amounted to bribery or extortion; the critical element was whether Cornell acted under duress. With respect to the Taft-Hartley violations, the Commission de- termined that Cornell's alleged ignorance of the precise terms of the federal labor statute did not constitute a valid defense. The Commission found that Cornell was disqualified pursuant to sections 86(c)(1), (c)(2) and (g). The Commission noted that section 92(d) gives it discretion to license a service industry applicant despite a section 86 disqualifier if there is evidence of rehabilitation based on the factors enumerated in sections 90(h) and 91(d). However, the Commission concluded that the evidence of rehabilitation was not sufficient in this case to overcome disqualification. An important consideration was that Cornell had never come forward on his own to tell authorities about his relationship with Kepner. Finally, the Commission affirmed the administrative law judge's finding that Cornell did not establish requisite good character, honesty and integrity by clear and convincing evidence. Respondents had argued that non-gaming casino service industries were not required to affirmatively establish good character, but the Commission denied this, noting that the good character criteria are contained in N.J..4. C. 19:43-1.3(c). The application for licensure was denied. Respondents were prohibited from doing further business with casino licensees and appli- cants. Mitchell A. Schwefel, Assistant Attorney General, for petitioner (Peter N. Perretti, Jr., Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney) State of New Jersey 135 Joseph H. Kenney, Esq., for respondents (Kenney & Kearney, at- torneys)
Rule(s) Cited: 19:43-1.3(e) 
Statute(s) Cited: 5:12-86c