The Court continued: Applying these definitions, to establish a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4(a) based on the theft of the ACO alleged in count one, the State was required to show that the NJDEP had a “legal interest” in contract rights that it transferred to defendants in the ACO, and that the contract rights had value. “The NJDEP’s general enabling statute, N.J.S.A. 13:1D-1 to -137, grants the agency vast authority to set policy and promulgate regulations ‘for the conservation of the natural resources of the State, the promotion of environmental protection and the prevention of pollution of the environment of the State.'” To achieve those purposes, the NJDEP is vested with the authority to “contract with any other public agency or corporation incorporated under the laws of this or any other state for the performance of any function” authorized by the NJDEP’s enabling statute. Thus, the NJDEP has a direct and exclusive interest, as vested by its enabling statute, in granting contract rights necessary to achieve its purpose of conserving natural resources, promoting environmental protection and preventing environmental pollution.
In the ACO, defendants obtained contract rights in which the NJDEP had an interest as the State agency vested with the responsibility to direct the State’s environmental policies, in which defendants were “not privileged to infringe.” The contract rights were also of value because they permitted defendants to operate the landfill, accept solid waste and collect tipping fees, and develop a solar power generation operation. The ACO granted defendants the contract right to collect the agreed upon millions of dollars in tipping fees which, as shown by the evidence presented to the grand jury, were stolen by defendants. The evidence further showed the NJDEP granted the contract rights in the ACO based on defendants’ deceptions.
Here we see a focus on enabling statutes and administrative law. Like contract law, administrative law almost always deals with civil litigation. Here, the Court’s criminal case analysis relies heavily on principles of both contract and administrative law.