MARGATE — A state judge has rejected a South Jersey man's bid to save his job as a firefighter and lifeguard after being convicted of shoplifting last year.

Ashton G. Funk, 34, of Northfield, was arrested and charged last September with stealing sunflower seeds, a breakfast sandwich, Gatorade and coffee all worth $7.98 from a Wawa in this Atlantic County city where he worked as a firefighter and beach patrol employee.

Although Funk was not on duty at the time of the crime, the county prosecutor took over the case because it involved a public employee.

The case went to trial and an Egg Harbor Municipal Court judge found Funk guilty of shoplifting.

In January, upon the prosecutor's request, Municipal Court Judge H. Robert Switzer, stripped Funk of his public employment with the city Fire Department and Beach Patrol.

Prosecutors argued that a public employee is "subject to the forfeiture of current employment if convicted of an offense involving dishonesty," regardless of whether they are on duty.

Funk appealed to a Superior Court judge, but lost.

He was earning a base salary last year of $79,708, pension records show.

His attorney, Louis Barbone, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

The judge's decision comes on the same week that a state trooper was charged with covering up his alleged habit of pulling over women on the highway in order to hit on them. Another State Police officer was indicted on charges that he purposely did not properly calibrate breathalyzers in a scandal that has thrown 20,000 DWI cases into question. Both officers face a loss of public employment if convicted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email

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