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A former Superior Court judge and three colleagues at her present firm have lost their bid to dismiss a former partner’s suit accusing them of theft and computer hacking.

Former Essex County Superior Court Judge Carol Ferentz, Benjamin DelVento and DelVento’s sons Benjamin Jr. and Matthew moved to dismiss the suit by Maurice Donovan, but Essex County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Mitterhoff denied their motions Thursday in a half-hour oral ruling.

The suit says Donovan, a personal injury lawyer at DelVento’s Livingston firm from 1982 to 2016 who became an equity partner in 1993 under an oral partnership agreement, was denied his share of the firm’s profits. The suit also claims the defendants improperly removed files from Donovan’s computer. According to the complaint, Donovan’s relationship with the firm began to sour in 2013, when he was told it was a difficult year and there were no profits to share with him. The following year, according to the complaint, DelVento became ill and his sons took over operation of the firm, making decisions that Donovan objected to and denying him access to the firm’s records.

Ferentz joined the firm in July 2016 after serving on the Essex County bench from 1984 to 2004. The suit claims Ferentz and the DelVento sons orchestrated an unauthorized hacking of his office computer, prompting Donovan to resign.

Ferentz asserted in her motion to dismiss that the dispute involves DelVento and Donovan, and that the case has “nothing to do with” her, since she only practiced with Donovan for one month. Ferentz and DelVento also argued that counts against them under the state Computer Related Offenses Act lack merit because the computer in question belonged the firm, and Donovan could not allege that the defendants lacked authorization to access it, a necessary element for an offense under that act. Ferentz also argued that Donovan failed to allege that he was damaged in his business or property by the alleged hacking.

In addition, DelVento and his firm, Law Office of Benjamin M. DelVento P.A., state in their motion to dismiss that Donovan has no stake in the partnership because he identified himself as an association on his annual attorney registration statements. DelVento’s sons make a similar assertion.

Bruce Nagel of Nagel Rice in Roseland, who represents Donovan, said he was “pleased by the ruling—it was correct.” He said he has a videotape showing Ferentz and DelVento’s sons, examining Donovan’s computer. “We caught them red-handed,” Nagel said.

Wayne Positan of Lum, Drasco & Positan in Roseland, who represents DelVento and his firm, said the judge declined to dismiss the complaint based on the plaintiff’s attorney registration statement because it was not an integral part of his allegations. Positan said he will now file an answer and counterclaim.

“My client is very confident the truth will come out,” Positan said.

Joseph LaSala of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in Morristown, who represents Benjamin DelVento Jr. and Matthew DelVento, did not return a call.

Ferentz’s lawyer, Kevin Marino of Marino, Tortorello & Boyle in Chatham, stating that his client was only at the DelVento firm for six weeks of the more than 34 years Donovan spent at the firm, said, “The allegation that during those six weeks she destroyed his alleged partnership in the firm is baseless and irresponsible. I suspect Mr. Donovan will come to regret having made it.”

A former Superior Court judge and three colleagues at her present firm have lost their bid to dismiss a former partner’s suit accusing them of theft and computer hacking.

Former Essex County Superior Court Judge Carol Ferentz, Benjamin DelVento and DelVento’s sons Benjamin Jr. and Matthew moved to dismiss the suit by Maurice Donovan, but Essex County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Mitterhoff denied their motions Thursday in a half-hour oral ruling.

The suit says Donovan, a personal injury lawyer at DelVento’s Livingston firm from 1982 to 2016 who became an equity partner in 1993 under an oral partnership agreement, was denied his share of the firm’s profits. The suit also claims the defendants improperly removed files from Donovan’s computer. According to the complaint, Donovan’s relationship with the firm began to sour in 2013, when he was told it was a difficult year and there were no profits to share with him. The following year, according to the complaint, DelVento became ill and his sons took over operation of the firm, making decisions that Donovan objected to and denying him access to the firm’s records.

Ferentz joined the firm in July 2016 after serving on the Essex County bench from 1984 to 2004. The suit claims Ferentz and the DelVento sons orchestrated an unauthorized hacking of his office computer, prompting Donovan to resign.

Ferentz asserted in her motion to dismiss that the dispute involves DelVento and Donovan, and that the case has “nothing to do with” her, since she only practiced with Donovan for one month. Ferentz and DelVento also argued that counts against them under the state Computer Related Offenses Act lack merit because the computer in question belonged the firm, and Donovan could not allege that the defendants lacked authorization to access it, a necessary element for an offense under that act. Ferentz also argued that Donovan failed to allege that he was damaged in his business or property by the alleged hacking.

In addition, DelVento and his firm, Law Office of Benjamin M. DelVento P.A., state in their motion to dismiss that Donovan has no stake in the partnership because he identified himself as an association on his annual attorney registration statements. DelVento’s sons make a similar assertion.

Bruce Nagel of Nagel Rice in Roseland, who represents Donovan, said he was “pleased by the ruling—it was correct.” He said he has a videotape showing Ferentz and DelVento’s sons, examining Donovan’s computer. “We caught them red-handed,” Nagel said.

Wayne Positan of Lum, Drasco & Positan in Roseland, who represents DelVento and his firm, said the judge declined to dismiss the complaint based on the plaintiff’s attorney registration statement because it was not an integral part of his allegations. Positan said he will now file an answer and counterclaim.

“My client is very confident the truth will come out,” Positan said.

Joseph LaSala of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter in Morristown, who represents Benjamin DelVento Jr. and Matthew DelVento, did not return a call.

Ferentz’s lawyer, Kevin Marino of Marino, Tortorello & Boyle in Chatham, stating that his client was only at the DelVento firm for six weeks of the more than 34 years Donovan spent at the firm, said, “The allegation that during those six weeks she destroyed his alleged partnership in the firm is baseless and irresponsible. I suspect Mr. Donovan will come to regret having made it.”