Former Jersey Shore cast member, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino is reportedly entering into a plea agreement in the Middletown Township Municipal Court to resolve assault charges stemming from a dispute with his brother at the tanning salon they co-own.
The plea agreement, which would reportedly see the matter downgraded from a quasi-criminal 2C disorderly persons offense to a municipal ordinance violation is in clear violation of state law and the Municipal Prosecutor Gerald Massell knows what he is doing is wrong. Almost two years ago, I wrote to Middletown to tell them that these plea deals violate the law and to discontinue the practice.
State law preempts municipal powers in this matter. It is illegal in the State of New Jersey to improperly downgrade statutory 2C charges to a municipal ordinance violation based on a November 18, 1998 directive from then Attorney General Peter Veniero and the case law from State v. Paserchia, 356 N.J. Super. 461, 466 (App.Div.2003).
New Jersey now has a diversion program for first time offenders in municipal court to complete a probationary period and avoid a criminal record. Improperly downgrading 2C offenses to a municipal ordinance violation prevents this system from accurately identifying first time offenders because an ordinance violation does not show up on a criminal history printout.
I previously complained about this unlawful practice taking place in the Middletown Township Municipal Court (as well as the Prosecutor and Judge having their private law offices in the same building, which is owned by the Prosecutor's father, a clear conflict), yet the Middletown court has failed to heed the legal warnings and continue acting as if they are above the law.
I believe Middletown Township has conspired to continue with these illegal plea deals for corrupt purposes, because an ordinance fine goes entirely to the township bank account as opposed to a state law violation, which must be shared with the state government.
Municipal Prosecutor Gerald Massell and Judge Richard Thompson should face criminal Official Misconduct charges, an ethics complaint and disbarment for their continued disregard of state law. What a situation.