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Mechanic’s Registration Revoked for Heroin and Cocaine Possession and Fraud, Deceit or Misrepresentation

October 13, 2021

The temporary registration of Keith Griffin, 58, of Metuchen, New Jersey, as a maintenance man was revoked and his application for longshoreman registration was denied following a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Andrew Hahn.

Griffin was issued a temporary registration by the Commission in March 2005 and was working as a mechanic at Port Newark Container Terminal (PNCT).

The evidence at the hearing showed that on May 15, 2020 at approximately 5:00 p.m., Griffin’s car was observed still, idling and partially on the front lawn of home in Metuchen, New Jersey. When police arrived, they observed Griffin behind the wheel and an incoherent female in the front passenger seat. Griffin was initially unresponsive to police but eventually became alert. Once he stepped out of his car, he was unsteady on his feet, slurring his speech, and unable to follow simple commands, such as to keep his hands away from his pockets. Police observed an open bottle of tequila in his car and placed him under arrest for Driving While Intoxicated. A search of his person revealed three glassine envelopes containing alleged heroin, an empty glassine of alleged heroin, and approximately ten Xanax pills for which Griffin had no prescription. A breath test later revealed Griffin’s blood alcohol level to be .19, over twice the legal limit.

In January 2021, Griffin pleaded guilty in Metuchen Municipal Court to Driving While Intoxicated, a motor vehicle offense, and was sentenced.

On February 4, 2021, Griffin was interviewed under oath by the Commission regarding his arrest and falsely denied that he had ever used heroin, admitted to having using cocaine but falsely testified about when he had last used it, and falsely swore that all the information on his original longshoreman Application was true and accurate. On his original Application submitted in 2005, Griffin had denied any prior use of narcotics. However, in his February 2021 sworn testimony, he admitted that he had used cocaine in his mid-20’s. Following the interview, Griffin later admitted that he had used cocaine only two days before the interview. Griffin had also testified in another sworn interview that he had regularly used both cocaine and heroin five to seven years ago while holding a longshoreman’s registration.

Based on all the evidence, ALJ Hahn found that the Commission had proven all the charges in the Notice of Hearing, including several counts of committing fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, both on his original Application and during his sworn interview on February 4, 2021 and that Griffin’s presence on the port constituted a danger to the public peace or safety. The ALJ stated, “While public policy may favor employment of those convicted of crimes, it does not favor or require the continued employment of a drug user who is responsible for heavy machinery and the safety of others.” Accordingly, the ALJ recommended revocation of Griffin’s temporary registration and the denial of his application. The Commission followed the ALJ’s recommendation.

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