Margate firefighter’s job loss over $7.98 theft was allowed, appellate rules

An appellate panel on Tuesday upheld a Margate firefighter and lifeguard’s loss of employment for stealing less than $8 worth of Wawa items.
Ashton Funk appealed both his 2016 shoplifting conviction, and the ruling that he forfeit his public employment.
Funk left the Margate Wawa at about 9 a.m. Aug. 17, 2015, with a breakfast sandwich, bottle of Gatorade, a bag of sunflower seeds and a cup of coffee, Longport Police Lt. John Baumgardner testified at trial. The items totaled $7.98.
Baumgardner knew Funk, and regularly went to that Wawa, according to the record.
He did not arrest Funk, but instead reported the incident to his police chief, who contacted the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Funk told Prosecutor’s Office Detective Jason Kangas that an unknown 6-foot-tall man in his late 50s with dirty blond hair had offered to pay for his items. A worker also later testified at trial that she recalled someone saying they would pay for items that day, but said she may have mistaken the day.
The man could not be found on surveillance tape, nor was there a record of the items being purchased that day.
The appellate panel agreed with DeLury’s decision to grant the public employment waiver.
DeLury found that even though it was “a relatively petty theft… the offense is one of moral turpitude.”
“The community is entitled to employ those of high moral character who do not stoop to petty theft, a theft that was done in the public view,” DeLury wrote.
Funk was again arrested last year as part of an alleged drug ring involving an Essex County doctor. He was charged with distribution of narcotics and/or conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
That case is pending.

An Egg Harbor Township family allegedly led an Atlantic County drug ring fueled by oxycodone prescriptions from a North Jersey doctor. Mary Connolly, her ex-husband, Douglas Patterson, and 28-year-old daughter, Lauren Connolly, were the ringleaders, according to Attorney General Christopher Porrino