The Anti-Corruption Whistleblower Program (“ACWP”) promotes the detection of previously unreported corruption crimes by encouraging eligible individuals or corporations to self-report their involvement in such criminal activity.
Corruption crimes covered by the ACWP are limited to crimes involving bribery and corrupt influence under N.J.S.A. 2C:27-1, et seq.; crimes involving misconduct in or the abuse of office under N.J.S.A. 2C:30-1, et seq.; crimes involving false claims relating to government contacts under N.J.S.A. 2C:21-34; crimes involving theft under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-1, et seq., which relate to government entities, contracts, or funds; or any other crimes involving government contracts, government funds, or election funds.
The ACWP shall be liberally construed in order to achieve the criminal justice purpose of fighting corruption crimes in the State of New Jersey, and may be relaxed in the discretion of the Attorney General or designee in order to effectuate this stated purpose.
Individuals or corporations may make an initial report, either directly, anonymously, or through an attorney, by one of the following methods:
- Call the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) statewide Corruption Tipline:1-844-OPIA-TIP (1-844-674-2847) to leave a message for a detective 24/7 and your call will be promptly returned;
- Visit www.njdcj.org to submit an online report and apply for entry into the ACWP;
- Write directly to OPIA at the following address:
New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety
Division of Criminal Justice
Office of Public Integrity and Accountability
25 Market Street
P.O. Box 085
Trenton, NJ 08625-0085
ATTENTION: Anti-Corruption Whistleblower Program (OPIA)
- In order to be considered for entry into the ACWP, an applicant then must submit an ACWP Application Form prescribed by OPIA. The ACWP Application Form must be completed in its entirety and signed by the person seeking admission into ACWP and notarized. The ACWP Application Form must be emailed or mailed to OPIA at the above addresses.
- The ACWP Application Form may be obtained by requesting such form by the same methods as reporting, listed above.
- The person submitting the ACWP Application Form may, at the discretion of OPIA, be interviewed by OPIA with regard to the information the applicant is submitting for consideration. An applicant may also be required to give his or her verbal statement under oath and sign a written memorialization of his or her statement. Failure to supply any requested information for an application may result in denial of entry into the ACWP.
- OPIA will acknowledge receipt of an application in writing, via email or mail.
- Submission of an ACWP Application Form can only be construed as application for entry into the ACWP and cannot be construed as any waiver of prosecution.
- Any statements by the applicant on the ACWP Application Form may not be used in a direct case against the applicant in any New Jersey state criminal proceeding, except if the applicant provides false or misleading information or is ever a witness against the State at any trial or other judicial proceeding. The State may make derivative use of and may pursue any investigative leads against the applicant or others.
- OPIA may waive criminal prosecution for corruption crimes for an individual applicant if:
- The individual applicant is not an elected official;
- The information reported by the individual applicant is not already the subject of a referral to OPIA, an investigation by OPIA, an investigation by the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety or any other foreign, domestic, federal, state, county or municipal agency, and which conduct has not been publicly disclosed by another source;
- The individual applicant reports the illegal activity with candor, completeness and provides full, continuing and complete cooperation to the State throughout the investigation and prosecution; and
- The individual applicant did not recruit, convince, or coerce another party to participate in the illegal activity and did not have a controlling role in the illegal scheme.
- OPIA may waive criminal prosecution for a corporate applicant if:
- The criminal activity at issue was committed by others within the corporation, without knowledge, acquiescence or participation of the high level employees, officers, directors, or shareholders who now seek waiver of prosecution for the corporation;
- After discovering the illegal activity being reported, the corporation took prompt and effective action to terminate its part in the activity or reported the activity to law enforcement (including making this application), with the offer to either terminate its part in the activity or participate in covert acts under the direction of law enforcement in order to aid in the investigation of the criminal activity;
- The confession of wrongdoing is a corporate act made by and on behalf of the corporation, rather than as separate confessions by individual employees or officers;
- The corruption activity reported by the corporation must not already be the subject of a referral to OPIA, an investigation by OPIA, an investigation by the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety or any other foreign, domestic, federal, state, county or municipal agency, and must not have been publicly disclosed by another source;
- The corporation must report the illegal activity with candor, completeness and provides full, continuing and complete cooperation to the State throughout the investigation and prosecution; and
- The corporation did not recruit, convince, or coerce another party to participate in the illegal activity and did not have a controlling role in the illegal scheme.
- Any waiver of criminal prosecution for corruption crimes shall be limited to the crimes and criminal activity reported by the individual or corporate applicant and described in any non-prosecution agreement.
- Any waiver of criminal prosecution for corruption crimes shall not extend to any crimes not covered by any non-prosecution agreement, any crimes occurring prior to the reported criminal activity, or any crimes committed by the individual or corporate applicant after the date of that applicant’s report to OPIA under this program. Commission of additional crimes after the ACWP application may nullify any waiver of prosecution.
- Any waiver of prosecution is limited to DCJ and OPIA cannot bind federal, state, county, or municipal prosecuting agencies with respect to charges not specifically listed or described in any non-prosecution agreement. Any civil or administrative matter pending or which may be commenced in the future against the individual or corporate applicant by any government entity or third party is expressly excluded. It is within OPIA’s sole discretion to bring the terms of the non-prosecution agreement and the individual or corporate applicant’s cooperation to the attention of other agencies.
- Only one applicant will be entered into the ACWP. In the discretion of the DCJ Director or the director of OPIA, additional applicants may be entered into the ACWP if considered beneficial to the prosecution.
- When there are two or more applicants, the applicant who submitted his or her application first in time shall be considered for entry into the ACWP. If that applicant is not determined eligible or subsequently fails to satisfy any term or condition of the ACWP, the next applicant in line will be considered.
- OPIA will assign a “placeholder” to preserve an applicant’s position in line while OPIA reviews that application. The determination to issue a placeholder is in the discretion of the DCJ Director or the OPIA director, which includes but is not limited to the consideration of the sufficiency of the information contained in the application. As noted in the application procedure, additional information or statements may be requested by OPIA.
- Placeholders will not be issued to applicants who had knowledge of criminal, civil, or administrative investigative activity.
- A placeholder will expire after thirty days, subject to any extensions granted in the discretion of the DCJ Director or the OPIA director. If an applicant has not successfully completed the application when the placeholder expires, including providing any and all information requested by OPIA, the application will be rejected.
Determination and Notification of Eligibility
- Once an ACWP Application Form is fully complete, OPIA will review and make a determination of entry into the ACWP. As soon as practicable, OPIA shall notify the applicant in writing of OPIA’s determination.
- If approved for entry into the ACWP, OPIA will send the applicant a letter setting forth the terms and conditions of a conditional non-prosecution agreement between OPIA and the applicant which include, but are not limited to, the following:
- A description of the criminal activity for which waiver of criminal prosecution is sought and which will be limited to the disclosed criminal activity of the applicant;
- An acknowledgment by the applicant of his or her role in the criminal activity;
- A statement of the applicant’s request for and eligibility for waiver of criminal prosecution;
- A description of the cooperation to be provided by the applicant in exchange for waiver of criminal prosecution;
- A description of the nature of the waiver of prosecution, its conditional offer, and when it becomes final; and
- A statement of the conditions to which the agreement is subject, including any conditions that will result in its revocation.
- In cases of corporate applicants, the conditional non-prosecution agreement will specifically identify any “covered employees.” As indicated in the eligibility criteria above, high level employees, officers, directors, or shareholders who are seeking waiver of criminal prosecution will be “covered employees” only if the criminal activity at issue was committed by others within the corporation, without their knowledge, acquiescence or participation.
- In its discretion, OPIA reserves the right to include any additional terms and conditions as it deems necessary.
- The conditional non-prosecution agreement will not become final until all of its terms and conditions have been fulfilled by the applicant. At that time, OPIA will issue a final non-prosecution letter to the applicant. The final non-prosecution letter will incorporate the contents of the conditional non-prosecution letter, a statement that its terms and conditions have been fulfilled or waived by the State, and that the State will not seek prosecution of the applicant pursuant to the terms of the agreement.
- The decision to waive criminal prosecution is an exercise of prosecutorial discretion by OPIA. At any time before the final non-prosecution agreement is entered, OPIA may revoke acceptance into the ACWP for the following reasons:
- It determines that the applicant has made misrepresentations concerning any part of the leniency application or information provided in support thereof or failed to report such information with full candor;
- It determines that the applicant, or any covered employee in the case of an agreement with a corporation, has failed to comply fully and completely with the stated cooperation obligations; or
- It determines that subsequent to applying for the program the applicant, or any covered persons in the case of an agreement with a corporation, has engaged in any criminal activity.
- Should acceptance to the ACWP be revoked for any reason, any statements made or information provided by the applicant may be used without limitation.
Finality of Determination
The decision of the DCJ Director or the OPIA director regarding eligibility for entry into the ACWP and whether an applicant has fulfilled all terms and conditions of any agreement relating to waiver of criminal prosecution shall be final and shall not be subject to judicial review.
- Upon request of an ACWP applicant at the time the application is made, OPIA and any other governmental agency involved in the criminal proceeding shall not disclose the identity of the applicant, subject to any statute, rule of Court or judicial decision to the contrary which may require divulgence of such identity to certain parties including, in certain circumstances, a criminal defendant.
- All information, reports, applications or other documentation received or maintained by OPIA pursuant to the ACWP are confidential criminal investigatory records pursuant to the Open Public Records Act, N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1, et seq., and shall not be subject to public access.