TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator John A. Girgenti to upgrade the penalties for misusing public utility employee identification badges and establish penalties for making, selling and possessing public utility IDs was approved by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans’ Affairs Committee today.
“I am concerned about the number of instances in which New Jersey residents have been victimized by people posing as utility employees,” said Senator Girgenti, D-Bergen and Passaic and Chairman of the Senate panel. “There are steps consumers can take to protect themselves against home invaders posing as utility workers. It’s important that New Jerseyans be cautious about giving anyone access to their homes. Residents should not hesitate to call the utility to confirm if they have dispatched workers to their houses or neighborhoods.”
Senator Girgenti stated that, “Although these incidents are not new or unique to the State, I feel that we need to enhance our efforts to protect our residents by deterring ‘would be’ criminals with tough penalties.”
The bill, S-2680, would define and upgrade some of the penalties for public utility employees who loan or permit others to use their identification badges.
According to Senator Girgenti, “Currently, this crime is only a misdemeanor, and because the statute does not specify the penalty, it is considered a fourth degree crime with a penalty of imprisonment for up to 18 months and a fine of up to $10,000.”
The bill would make it a second degree crime to knowingly sell or forge public utility employee identification badges, is punishable by imprisonment for five-to-ten years and a fine of up to $150,000.
Senator Girgenti stated that, “Under the bill, people who use a forged badge would be guilty of a crime of the third degree, which caries a penalty of three-to-five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Senator Girgenti said that people who knowingly possess a forged badge would be committing a fourth degree crime with penalties of imprisonment of up to 18 months and a fine up to $10,000.
The bill now heads to the full Senator for consideration.