TPD Busts Alleged Crack Dealer, Seizes Multiple Illegal Firearms

March 6, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Director Sheilah A. Coley announced yesterday that a Trenton man had been arrested for multiple drug and firearm offenses on Mar. 4, 2021 after a joint city, county, and state operation seized dozens of doses of crack cocaine, multiple firearms, and thousands of dollars in suspected drug proceeds.

Pernell H. Shannon, 48, of Willingboro, New Jersey, was charged with possession of cocaine, possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute, possession with the intent to distribute within 1000 feet of a school, possession with the intent to distribute within 500 feet of a park, two counts of unlawful possession of a handgun, possession of a weapon during a narcotics scheme, and certain persons not to possess weapons.  

The arrest was carried out following a joint operation by detectives with the TPD Violent Crimes Rapid Response Unit (VCRR) and the N.J. Division of Criminal Justice, as well as SWAT team members from both the TPD Street Crimes Unit and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department.

Law enforcement executed search warrants for 110 Kirkbride Ave in Trenton, 6 Jed Court in Hamilton, and a 2012 Buick Lacrosse. When officers entered the premises at 110 Kirkbride Ave, they immediately encountered Shannon in the front room where he was handcuffed and secured without incident. Shannon was found with $400 in his pocket and 74 grams of crack cocaine contained in a clear sandwich type bag stuffed down the front of his pants.  

A search of the house revealed a Charter Arms .38 Special revolver loaded with six rounds found on the couch by the television in the front room. A .44 caliber black powder handgun was found underneath the same couch. Two boxes of .38 caliber ammunition were found on top of the kitchen cabinet and a digital gram scale was located on the kitchen counter. Two Richards 12-gauge black powder shotguns were found in a third-floor room.

Other officers searched the 6 Jed Court apartment where they confiscated a duffel bag with $3,564 in suspected drug proceeds. The Buick Lacrosse was towed to police headquarters pending forfeiture proceedings.

The three-week investigation revealed Shannon used the house at 110 Kirkbride Ave. to sell crack cocaine from mid-day through the night and as late as 5:00 a.m. on most days.

“This is another instance of TPD officers working proactively to ensure the safety of our residents by taking illegal guns and dangerous narcotics of the streets,” said Director Coley. “My thanks to the N.J. Division of Criminal Justice and the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance in this case.”

These charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. This is an ongoing investigation.

Laundry room fire damages Lawrence home

March 6, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP (MERCER)— Multiple fire companies responded to 2 Fairview Terrace just after 10:00 am for a reported fire in the laundry room. The first alarm was called when units arrived on scene with smoke showing.

The fire rapidly spread over the garage. Flames could be seen shooting from the windows of the rear and left side of the home. Two lines were stretched into operation to extinguish the fire.

The fire was placed under control just before 10:45 am.

Responding companies included all Lawrence Township Fire Companies, as well as mutual aid companies from Ewing and Princeton.


Statements from County Executive Hughes and Mayor Martin on Johnson & Johnson vaccine availability in Mercer County

March 5, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Mayor Jeff Martin and County Executive Brian Hughes release the below statements after visiting a Johnson & Johnson vaccination clinic held by the Hamilton Township Health Department at the Alvin E. Gershen Apartments.

Expressing his gratitude, County Executive Hughes stated, “just a week ago the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine received emergency use approval, and I thank the Biden Administration and Gov. Phil Murphy for laying a glide path to reach our most vulnerable Mercer County residents. We are committed to ensuring that every eligible adult receives their vaccine, and I thank Mayor Martin for his collaboration in helping us complete our mission.”

“I am grateful to all who made it possible – from President Biden to Governor Murphy and County Executive Hughes – for New Jersey’s own Johnson & Johnson vaccine to become available so quickly after emergency authorization by the FDA,” stated Mayor Jeff Martin.  “The quick turnaround made it possible for our local health department staff to organize 200 of our Hamilton seniors to get vaccinated today – all without having to leave their residence.  As more J&J vaccine becomes available, our staff plans to rotate vaccination clinics throughout our local senior complexes.  The single-dose vaccination being added as a weapon in this fight makes the light at the end of the tunnel in this pandemic that much closer.” 



Fugitive in Jackson Township fatal crash arrested in Texas

March 5, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

JACKSON TOWNSHIP (OCEAN)– Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on March 3, 2021, Roberto Alcazar-Sanchez, 27, of Jackson, a fugitive from justice relative to a fatal motor vehicle crash that occurred in Jackson Township on December 24, 2020, surrendered himself to United States Customs and Border Patrol Protection Agents in Laredo, Texas.  Alcazar-Sanchez is presently lodged in the Webb County Detention Center in Laredo, Texas, where he must quarantine for seven to ten days due to COVID-19 restrictions prior to his anticipated extradition to Ocean County.  When Alcazar-Sanchez is returned to Ocean County, he will be lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

On December 24, 2020, at approximately 6:00 p.m., Officers of the Jackson Township Police Department were summoned to the area of Cedar Swap Road and I-195 for a report of a motor vehicle crash with serious injuries. An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit and Jackson Township Police Department revealed that a 2010 Mercedes Benz, driven by Norman Shtab, 83, of Howell Township, was exiting I-195 at Exit 21.  His wife, Phyllis Shtab, 81, also of Howell, was a passenger in the vehicle.  As Mr. Shtab was attempting to make a left-hand turn onto Cedar Swap Road, his vehicle collided with a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado.

Mr. and Mrs. Shtab were transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune Township following the crash.  Mr. Shtab was treated for his injuries and later released.  On December 26, 2020, Mrs. Shtab succumbed to the injuries she sustained as a result of the crash, and was pronounced deceased at Jersey Shore Medical Center on that date.

The passenger in the Silverado, Jose Misael Pementel-Mendoza, 30, of Wrightstown, was likewise transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center following the crash; he was treated for his injuries and released.  The driver of the Chevrolet Silverado – identified through continuing investigation as Alcazar-Sanchez – fled the scene on foot.  Further investigation revealed that Alcazar-Sanchez then fled the United States and traveled to Mexico.  
On December 30, 2020, a warrant was issued for the arrest of Alcazar-Sanchez charging him with Knowingly Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, as well as operating a Motor Vehicle with a Suspended Driver’s License while being involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:40-22a.

Additionally, during the course of this investigation, Alcazar-Sanchez’s girlfriend, Reyna Mendez, 27, of Jackson, was questioned by law enforcement in connection with this matter.  It was determined that Mendez provided false information to Detectives during the course of her questioning; as a consequence, she was charged with Hindering Apprehension or Prosecution in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3a(7).  Mendez was charged on a summons and released pending a future court date.

“I am extremely grateful for the cooperative efforts of our law enforcement partners at the local, county, state, and federal levels in connection with this very thorough and intensive investigation.  Knowing full well that he was being relentlessly pursued by multiple law enforcement agencies for more than two months, Alcazar-Sanchez really had no alternative but to surrender himself to the authorities.  Soon, he will be returned to Ocean County where he will face justice,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Jackson Township Police Department, Jackson Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Jackson Township Police Department Special Emergency Response Team, Brick Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Field Services Unit/Warrants, United States Customs and Border Protection, Laredo Texas Police Department, and the United States Marshals Service, for their collaborative efforts and assistance relative to this investigation ultimately leading to Alcazar-Sanchez being taken into custody, and his projected return to Ocean County to answer for these very serious charges.



Maple Shade man arrested for murder of Lovelle Laramore

March 5, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

TRENTON (MERCER)– A 23-year-old Maple Shade man has been arrested and charged with the February 24, 2021 murder of Lovelle Laramore, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri
reported.

On Thursday, February 25, 2021, at approximately 9:30 a.m., Trenton Emergency Medical Services were dispatched to 407 Home Avenue on a report of an unresponsive male. Upon arrival, they found 60-year-old Lovelle Laramore on the couch with two gunshot wounds to the head. He was pronounced dead on scene.

An investigation by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department revealed that Davon Marecheau was with the victim, his great-uncle, inside the residence on February 24 at the time of the murder. Detectives were able to obtain video surveillance that recorded audio of the gunshots as well as video of Marecheau leaving the scene after the shooting. During an execution of a search warrant at Marecheau’s apartment on March 4, detectives located several thousand dollars that Marecheau had taken from the victim’s residence after the murder.

Marecheau is charged with murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon and theft. He is being held in the Mercer County Correction Center pending a detention hearing.

Despite having been charged, all persons are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.




Update: Rep. Smith asks National Guard chief to provide food per diem, other safe food options for Guard personnel

MARCH 5, 2021

WASHINGTONN D.C. –One day after learning that members of the New Jersey National Guard were sickened by raw and tainted food, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) today asked General Hokanson, the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, to provide food per diem and other safe food options for Guard personnel deployed at the Capitol.

“I urge you to provide food per diem to help ensure safety,” Smith said in a letter to General Hokanson. “And, I respectfully request that you explore the feasibility of using one of the congressional cafeterias currently closed for the exclusive use for food service for the Guard.”

Smith requested a meeting with the General and reiterated his urgent call to immediately terminate the current food provider’s contract.

On Wednesday, Smith asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi to investigate the matter and called for the contractor providing the bad meals to be immediately terminated. Speaker Pelosi’s spokesman reportedly indicated that the House Speaker agreed.

Smith had heard from his constituents—relatives of NJ National Guard members—of tainted food that had made several Guard members sick, including at least 30 from his home state. Some reportedly were vomiting in the Senate parking lot.

            “This is outrageous,” Smith said. “The women and men deployed here from New Jersey—and frankly from every state—to protect the Capitol deserve meals that are absolutely safe and healthy.”

            “The tainted food appears to be the exclusive fault of the private sector vendor, not the Guard,” Smith continued. “Many of the members of the Guard are now purchasing their own meals, underscoring the need for a food per diem.”

Prior MidJersey.news story here: NJ Guard deployed at Capitol sickened by bad food

Sardi’s Catering company released a statement as follows:

“We have the greatest respect for the men and women of the National Guard who bravely serve our
country and continue to protect our nation’s capital. We are proud to serve our food to the National
Guard troops who have deployed to Washington from around the U.S., and we stand by the quality and
safety of the food we deliver to the National Guard troops.

As a trusted provider of nutritious and safe meals for the National Guard, Sardi’s Catering adheres to our
own rigorous standards for food safety and quality, and we are in full compliance with all standards and
requirements in our National Guard Bureau contract as well as state and District requirements.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are required to pre-package individual meals for each recipient at our
own facilities, rather than setting up a kitchen on site. National Guard inspectors visit our facilities and
supporting kitchens regularly to conduct spot checks, ensure our supplies are up to their standards, and
that our food preparation and packaging is clean, safe, and fully compliant with federal regulations. No
issues have been recorded from these inspections.

Every delivery is inspected by an authorized representative of the National Guard and approved for
distribution. We have very clear timestamps on all deliveries indicating the exact time the food is
packaged and leaves our controlled environment, and we instruct the recipient to discard unused food
after four hours. We have no further control over the meals after they have been dropped off to the
National Guard’s Armory.

We are currently providing approximately 5,300 meals three times a day to the National Guard Armory.
When we receive a complaint referred to us by the National Guard, we investigate and take immediate
corrective action. The National Guard has estimated about less than .01 percent of the 1.2 million total
meals we have served since January 2021 have been undercooked. The National Guard has reported no
confirmed cases of foodborne illness. We have received requests from the National Guard to change the
menu — such as adding more protein to the breakfast menu and accommodating special dietary needs
— and we have made every effort to fulfill those requests.

We deliver the meals to the National Guard Armory in bulk, which are then allocated to the units by the
National Guard, so we have no control over the distribution process or the timing. It is not clear why or
how one particular state unit has recorded so many complaints, while there have been comparatively
few complaints from other state units, according to the National Guard. We are committed to providing
exceptional service to all our meal recipients, and we will continue to work closely with the National
Guard to address these concerns.

All of us at Sardi’s deeply appreciate the men and women who are participating in the essential mission
of protecting our nation’s capital. We are a trusted family business and an institution in the Washington
area, with a spotless reputation for quality, service, and integrity. The National Guard continues to
closely monitor the quality and safety of meals provided to its personnel, and we are working closely
with them to ensure our troops continue to have delicious and nutritious meals during their deployment
to Washington.”


Building fire quickly knocked by Trenton Firefighters

March 4, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

TRENTON (MERCER)– The Trenton Fire Department was dispatched to 221 East Hanover Street just after 6:00 pm tonight on a reported building fire. A resident of one of the apartments called 911 and said he could see flames coming from the window. Firefighters arrived on scene and confirmed the fire, calling the “all hands.” The fire was placed under control shortly after. No further information is available.




New Jersey Joins FTC, 37 Other States in Shutting Down Massive Robocall-Driven Charity Fund Raising Scam

March 4, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today that a lawsuit filed by New Jersey, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 38 states and the District of Columbia has permanently shut down a charitable fundraising scam operation that made 1.3 billion deceptive fundraising calls – the bulk of them illegal robocalls – while collecting more than $110 million dollars from trusting donors.

A complaint and series of settlement agreements filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan center on deceptive fundraising activities by Michigan-based Associated Community Services (ACS), as well as a number of related defendants. ACS and the other defendants have agreed to settle claims by the FTC, New Jersey and the other participating states and jurisdictions that they duped generous Americans into donating to charities that failed to provide the services they promised.

Under the settlements announced today, money surrendered by the defendants will eventually be contributed to one or more legitimate charities that support causes similar to those for which the defendants solicited. Those causes include supporting homeless veterans, victims of house fires, breast cancer patients, and children with autism, among others in need of assistance.

“The conduct of these defendants was outrageous, as they took advantage of the trust and compassion of people in New Jersey and across the U.S. by persuading them that they were raising money to aid some of our most vulnerable Americans,” said Attorney General Grewal. “In collecting more than $100 million in donations nationwide – most of which went into their own pockets — the defendants hammered hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents multiple times per hour with disruptive and annoying robocalls. In fact, the investigation showed that New Jersey residents were among the most frequently targeted by this sham operation, and we’re proud to have worked with the Federal Trade Commission and our partners in other states to end it. We’re also glad to join an effort that will see the defendants’ ill-gotten funds redirected to charities that do great work on behalf of those in need.”

The lawsuit names as defendants ACS and its sister companies Central Processing Services and Community Services Appeal, as well as their owners Dick Cole, Bill Burland, Barbara Cole, and Amy Burland, and ACS senior managers Nikole Gilstorf, Tony Lia, John Lucidi, and Scot Stepek (collectively, the “Associated Community Services defendants”).

In addition, the complaint names two fundraising companies allegedly operated by Gilstorf and Lia as spin-offs of ACS: Directele, Inc. and The Dale Corporation (which, collectively with Gilstorf and Lisa, are the “Directele defendants”).

According to the complaint filed today, the defendants were fully aware the organizations for which they were fundraising spent little or no money on the charitable causes they claimed to support. In some cases, that amount was as little as one-tenth of one percent. The defendants kept as much as 90 cents of every dollar they solicited from generous donors on behalf of the charities.

New Jersey was a favorite target of the bogus fundraisers, as ACS placed nearly 68 million solicitation calls to New Jersey residents between 2016 and 2019 – a number surpassed only by the scam operations’ call volumes in California, New York and Texas.

Of the calls to New Jersey targets, more than 125,000 individuals were called more than three times a day, more than 422,000 individuals were called two or more times in an hour, and more than 12,000 were called three or more times in an hour.

“These predatory fund raisers profited by robocalling thousands of New Jersey residents, just to exploit their trust and that of compassionate people all across the country,” said Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Kaitlin Caruso. “More than one million New Jersey residents give to charity each year, supporting causes they believe in. We at the Division of Consumer Affairs take a dim view of those who would prey on that generosity, and are committed to holding accountable any individual or group who does so.”  

Today’s announcement comes five-and-a-half months after Attorney General Grewal joined the FTC and other States in announcing the shutdown of a sprawling, New-Jersey-based charitable fundraising operation that scammed donors out of millions of dollars.

That case resolution – announced on September 15, 2020 – closed down the deceptive fundraising activities of multiple companies controlled by Mark Gelvan, a Florida resident who once lived in Montville, New Jersey. Gelvan’s network of sham charities claimed to use donations to help homeless veterans, retired and disabled law enforcement officers, breast cancer survivors and others in need, but kept most of the funds raised.

“Deceptive charitable fundraising can be big business for scammers, especially when they use illegal robocalls,” said Daniel Kaufman, Acting Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The FTC and our state partners are prepared to hold fraudsters accountable when they target generous consumers with lies.”

The ACS complaint filed today alleges that the defendants began making their deceptive pitches no later than 2008 on behalf of numerous organizations that claimed to support a number of causes that well-meaning individuals were enticed to help fund through the defendants’ high-pressure tactics.

ACS was also the major fundraiser for the sham Cancer Fund charities that were shut down by the FTC and States in 2015.

In many instances, the complaint alleges, ACS and later Directele knowingly violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) by using soundboard technology in telemarketing calls.

With that technology, an operator plays pre-recorded messages to consumers instead of speaking with them naturally. Each soundboard operator routinely handled three calls at once, allowing the defendants to contact more would-be donors much more frequently than a live agent working in a conventional telemarketing setting.

Use of such pre-recorded messages in calls to first time donors violates the TSR. Use of the technology in calls to prior donors also violates the TSR, unless call recipients are affirmatively told about their ability to opt out of all future calls and provided a mechanism to do so.

The defendants did not make that disclosure.

Today’s complaint also alleges ACS made harassing calls, noting that ACS called more than 1.3 million phone numbers more than ten times in a single week and 7.8 million numbers more than twice in an hour. More than 500 phone numbers were called 5,000 times or more.

The ACS defendants were the subject of 20 prior law enforcement actions for their fundraising practices. They stopped operating in September 2019.

Defendant Nikole Gilstorf purchased Directele and The Dale Corporation in October 2019 and, with defendant Tony Lia, the Directele defendants allegedly continued their deceptive fundraising and illegal telemarketing practices.

In addition to alleging violations of the TSR, today’s complaint alleges the defendants violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, the New Jersey Charitable Registration and Investigation Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act, among other laws in the participating States.

The terms of the settlements, which are currently pending court approval, are as follows:

Associated Community Services Defendants

Each of these defendants will be permanently prohibited from conducting or consulting on any fundraising activities, and from conducting telemarketing of any kind to sell goods or services. In addition, they will be prohibited from using any existing donor lists and from further violations of state charitable giving laws, as well as from making any misrepresentation about a product or service. The defendants will also be subject to the following monetary judgements:

  • Associated Community Services, Inc.; Community Services, Inc.; Central Processing Services, Inc.; and Richard “Dick” Cole are subject to a monetary judgment of $110,063,843, which is suspended due to their inability to pay.
     
  • Community Services Appeal, Inc. and Barbara Cole are subject to a monetary judgment of $110,063,843, which is partially suspended due to inability to pay. Barbara Cole will be required to turn over the proceeds of the sale of a vacation home in Michigan.
     
  • Robert W. “Bill” Burland and Amy J. Burland are subject to a monetary judgment of $110,063,843, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. Amy Burland will be required to turn over $450,000.

Directele Defendants and ACS Senior Managers Scot Stepek and John Lucidi
 

Each of these defendants will be permanently banned from any fundraising work or consulting on behalf of any charitable organization or nonprofit organization that claims to work on behalf of causes similar to those outlined in the complaint. They will also be prohibited from using robocalls for any form of telemarketing, using abusive calling practices, or making misrepresentations about a product or service. In addition, the defendants will be required to clearly and conspicuously disclose when a donation they are requesting is not tax deductible.

In addition, the two corporate defendants—Directele Inc. and The Dale Corporation—will be required to cease operations and dissolve. The defendants will also be subject to the following monetary judgments:

  • Scot Stepek will be subject to a monetary judgment of $110,063,843, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. Stepek will be required to sell a ski boat in his possession and turn over the net proceeds from the sale.
     
  • Directele Inc., The Dale CorporationNikole Gilstorf, and Antonio Lia will be subject to a monetary judgment of $1.6 million. Gilstorf and Lia also will be subject to a judgment of $110,063,843. The judgments are partially suspended due to an inability to pay. Gilstorf and Lia will each be required to turn over $10,000.
     
  • John Lucidi will be subject to a judgment of $110,063,843, which is partially suspended due to an inability to pay. He will be required to turn over $25,000.

Other state agencies joining in today’s complaint and settlement with New Jersey and the FTC include the Attorneys General of Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia,  Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Also joining are the Secretaries of State of Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Tennessee, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

Deputy Attorney General Monisha A. Kumar, of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section of the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, handled the ACS matter on behalf of the State.  


Woman Sentenced to 50 Years in State Prison for Human Trafficking Conviction— Forced Girl, 17, to Work as Prostitute

March 4, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

TRENTON (MERCER)– Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a woman was sentenced to 50 years in state prison today after being convicted at trial of first-degree human trafficking and other charges for forcing a girl, 17, to engage in prostitution at hotels in Mercer County, N.J.

Ashley Gardener, 32, of Trenton, was sentenced to 50 years in state prison, including 20 years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Darlene J. Pereksta.  Gardener was convicted by a Mercer County jury on Oct. 24, 2019 of conspiracy (1st degree), human trafficking (1st degree), facilitating human trafficking (2nd degree), promoting prostitution of a minor (1st degree), promoting organized street crime (1st degree), and endangering the welfare of a child (2nd degree).  She was sentenced to 25 years in prison with 20 years of parole ineligibility on the first-degree human trafficking charge, consecutive to 25 years in prison on the first-degree promoting organized street crime charge.  Gardener received concurrent sentences of 15 years, eight years, and eight years, respectively, on the charges of promoting prostitution of a minor, facilitating human trafficking, and endangering the welfare of a child.  She will be required to register under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life.

Deputy Attorneys General Katherine Morris and James Ruberton tried the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, Human Trafficking Unit.  The lead detective was Detective Rodrick Jones of the New Jersey State Police, supervised by Detective Sgt. John Cipot.

Gardener and co-defendant Breon Mickens, 28, of Trenton, were charged in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police and Division of Criminal Justice, assisted by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Lawrence Police Department, New Jersey Department of Children and Families, and U.S. Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force.  Mickens pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy and was sentenced to five years in prison in November 2019.  The investigation began when the victim escaped from a hotel where she was forced by Gardener and Mickens to engage in prostitution.

“This prosecution reflects our commitment to ensure that human traffickers like Gardener face justice,” said Attorney General Grewal. “These offenders prey on vulnerable victims, forcing them into a life of sexual slavery.  We will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners at all levels, as well as victim advocates, to raise awareness about human trafficking, rescue victims, and apprehend those responsible for these terrible crimes.”

“Through our human trafficking awareness efforts, we’re reminding the public that these crimes can happen anywhere, and your vigilance may save a captive victim,” Attorney General Grewal added. “If you suspect human trafficking, please call 1-855-END-NJ-HT. You are our eyes and ears.”

“I commend our trial team, the State Police, and all of the others who assisted the young victim in this case and helped us to convict Gardener,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “These crimes occur largely in the shadows, outside of public view, but this victim escaped and thanks to a concerned motorist and the swift response of the State Police and partnering agencies, she was rescued and her traffickers were successfully prosecuted.  This case should motivate other members of the public to alert authorities when they suspect human trafficking.”

“Trafficking anyone, man or woman, boy or girl, is a violation of basic human rights—it is appalling and indecent, and it will not be tolerated in New Jersey,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “I would like to commend all of our partners in this case, from the troopers who found the victim on the side of the road to the attorneys who secured the guilty verdict, for ensuring justice was served.”

On Jan. 11, 2018 at 11:00 p.m., troopers from the New Jersey State Police Hamilton Station were dispatched to investigate a report of a young woman walking along Interstate 295 in Lawrence Township.  Troopers located the 17-year-old victim, who reported that she escaped from a hotel where she was being forced to perform sex acts.  As a result, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Lawrence Police Department, and New Jersey Department of Children and Families responded to assist the New Jersey State Police with the investigation.

Investigators determined that Gardener and Mickens transported the victim to hotels against her will to engage in prostitution. For three days before she was rescued, the victim was forced by Gardener to engage in sexual intercourse with approximately four to 15 men per day.  The victim was deprived of food, given marijuana to smoke, and prohibited from calling her family.  The investigation revealed that Gardener and Mickens forced the victim to engage in prostitution on several other occasions between Dec. 27 and Jan. 11 at various hotels in the Mercer County area, refusing to let her leave the hotel for a period of two to three days and forcing her to have sex with multiple men each day.

Sexually suggestive ads featuring photos of Gardener and the victim were placed on Backpage.com.  The ads offered adult entertainment and listed a phone number to call. That number was Gardener’s phone number.  Gardener would arrange by telephone for the sexual services and a price to be paid by the client, or “John.”  When a client arrived, Gardener would collect cash from the client and tell the 17-year-old victim what sex acts she had to perform. Gardener sometimes would stay in the room, but other times she would leave.  Mickens acted as the “muscle” for the operation.  He also served as driver, receiving pay from Gardener to drive her and the victim to hotels.  The victim never received any of the money from the clients.

Shortly after the victim was rescued, members of the New Jersey State Police Trafficking Central Unit and Troop “C” Criminal Investigations Office located and arrested Gardener at a hotel in Lawrence Township, N.J.  On Jan. 14, 2018, the New Jersey State Police Trafficking Central Unit, Fugitive Unit, Electronic Surveillance Unit, and the United States Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force-Trenton Division located and arrested Mickens in Trenton.

Former Deputy Attorney General Sarah Mielke presented the case to the state grand jury.  Deputy Attorneys General Morris, Ruberton, and Mielke prosecuted the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, Human Trafficking Unit, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Erik Daab and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis.  Attorney General Grewal commended the detectives of the New Jersey State Police Trafficking Central Unit who led the investigation, as well as the State Police Troop “C” Criminal Investigations Office, Fugitive Unit, and Electronic Surveillance Unit.  Attorney General Grewal also thanked the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Lawrence Police Department, New Jersey Department of Children and Families, and U.S. Marshals Service New York/New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force for their valuable assistance.



Five juveniles facing charges after crashing stolen Audi

March 4, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

WALL TOWNSHIP (MONMOUTH)– Five juveniles are facing charges following a crash in Wall Township early Thursday morning.

The crash occurred in at approximately 1:14 am on March 4th. The Wall Township Police Department located a 2017 Audi that was reported stolen out of New Providence, after the car crashed into a telephone pole at the intersection of Allaire Road and New Bedford Road.

When officers arrived on the scene, they observed five occupants fleeing from the vehicle on foot. They were all apprehended a short distance from the scene of the crash. All five occupants of the stolen Audi are juveniles from Newark. They were charged with receiving stolen property, joyriding, obstructing the administration of justice, and multiple motor vehicle summonses.

The Monmouth County area has seen an increase in motor vehicle thefts as of recently. Wall Township Police Department is reminding residents to remove the keys from their vehicles along with all personal effects, and lock their car doors.



Robbinsville Township Professional Firefighters Assoc. IAFF Local #3786 Purchases $10,500. Fire Extinguisher Training Prop

March 3, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–The Robbinsville Township Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local #3786 recently purchased a $10,500.00 fire extinguisher training prop from the annual fund drive money. The extinguisher prop is manufactured by Lion and is the Bullex Intelligent Training System (I.T.S) and uses propane and water extinguishers that is safer and environmentally friendly compared to the old method. In years past the firefighters would mix gasoline and diesel fuel and place in a cut-in-half 55 gallon drum. Firefighters would light the old style prop using roadway flares and use dry chemical fire extinguishers were used to extinguish the fire leaving a mess behind to clean up. The new method is safer using the Bullex ITS prop and is controlled by a firefighter while another firefighter instructs people how to extinguish the fire. No residue is left behind because of use of a water extinguisher using a spray to simulate common fire extinguishers. The mock extinguishers can be refilled on the spot with water and an air hose.

The fire department is called upon several times a year to provide fire extinguisher training for commercial business requiring OSHA fire extinguisher training. Other uses for the prop will be when organizations visit the firehouse and several township events during the year. For several years the Robbinsville Township Fire Department has been training high school seniors on the proper use of fire extinguishers during the “Senior Awareness Day” event held each year at Robbinsville High School.



Robbinsville Night Off 2021 Is A Success

March 3, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Night Off was held tonight. According to the website Robbinsville Night Off is a chance to take advantage of a night of no homework and options for activities that allow you to enjoy an evening filled with family togetherness. The program is presented by Robbinsville Township Schools and the Robbinsville Township Recreation Department.

Several Township organizations and businesses come together to provide a fun relaxing night allowing people to get out and relax enjoy family and give back to the community.

Demonstrations were held at the Robbinsville Township Police Department and Robbinsville Township Fire Department. A Walk For Families In Mercer County was held at the gazebo.

One Project’s event sold out and had 65 families participate in an event to decorate and pack 1,300 snack bags for children. All snack bags will be donated directly to local Mercer County nonprofit organizations and Mercer County school districts to help in the fight against child food insecurity.

Mercer County Library System provided science kits that were available for pickup at the library.

People attending the events were required to wear masks and social distance.

Robbinsville Night Off Website

At the Robbinsville Police Department officers simulated a crime scene and explained how the process it. There were several demonstrations including ballistic processing, fingerprint lift, DNA collection and how blood is collected and other police equipment is used. The Robbinsville Township Police Department Bike Unit discussed bike safety tips.



The Robbinsville Township Professional Fire Firefighters Association, IAFF Local # 3786 used $10,500.00 of donations from the Union’s annual fund drive to purchase a Lion BullEx Intelligent Fire Extinguisher Training System The Intellegent Training System uses a propane prop to simulate a fire you would extinguish with a fire extinguisher. The new prop is not only safer but also environmentally friendly compared to the old way of burning a gasoline and diesel fuel mix. The extinguishers use a water spray that can be refilled on the spot and eliminate the usual messy cleanup after a fire extinguisher demonstration.



NJ Guard deployed at Capitol sickened by bad food

Update: Smith asks National Guard chief to provide food per diem, other safe food options for Guard personnel

March 3, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) today asked the Speaker of the House to investigate and take immediate action on credible reports of tainted food that has made several National Guard members sick, including at least 30 from New Jersey.

            “This is outrageous,” Smith said. “The women and men deployed here from New Jersey and elsewhere to protect the Capitol deserve meals that are absolutely safe and healthful.

            “I’ve learned that dozens of National Guard members from New Jersey have gotten sick from tainted food—with some vomiting in the Senate parking lot.

“The provision of this bad food—whether intentional or not—must be thoroughly investigated.

            “The tainted food appears to be the exclusive fault of the private sector vendor, not the Guard. It is my understanding that Sardi’s Catering has the contract for food service, and a new provider of food needs to be found immediately.”



Sardi’s Catering company released a statement as follows:

“We have the greatest respect for the men and women of the National Guard who bravely serve our
country and continue to protect our nation’s capital. We are proud to serve our food to the National
Guard troops who have deployed to Washington from around the U.S., and we stand by the quality and
safety of the food we deliver to the National Guard troops.

As a trusted provider of nutritious and safe meals for the National Guard, Sardi’s Catering adheres to our
own rigorous standards for food safety and quality, and we are in full compliance with all standards and
requirements in our National Guard Bureau contract as well as state and District requirements.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are required to pre-package individual meals for each recipient at our
own facilities, rather than setting up a kitchen on site. National Guard inspectors visit our facilities and
supporting kitchens regularly to conduct spot checks, ensure our supplies are up to their standards, and
that our food preparation and packaging is clean, safe, and fully compliant with federal regulations. No
issues have been recorded from these inspections.

Every delivery is inspected by an authorized representative of the National Guard and approved for
distribution. We have very clear timestamps on all deliveries indicating the exact time the food is
packaged and leaves our controlled environment, and we instruct the recipient to discard unused food
after four hours. We have no further control over the meals after they have been dropped off to the
National Guard’s Armory.

We are currently providing approximately 5,300 meals three times a day to the National Guard Armory.
When we receive a complaint referred to us by the National Guard, we investigate and take immediate
corrective action. The National Guard has estimated about less than .01 percent of the 1.2 million total
meals we have served since January 2021 have been undercooked. The National Guard has reported no
confirmed cases of foodborne illness. We have received requests from the National Guard to change the
menu — such as adding more protein to the breakfast menu and accommodating special dietary needs
— and we have made every effort to fulfill those requests.

We deliver the meals to the National Guard Armory in bulk, which are then allocated to the units by the
National Guard, so we have no control over the distribution process or the timing. It is not clear why or
how one particular state unit has recorded so many complaints, while there have been comparatively
few complaints from other state units, according to the National Guard. We are committed to providing
exceptional service to all our meal recipients, and we will continue to work closely with the National
Guard to address these concerns.

All of us at Sardi’s deeply appreciate the men and women who are participating in the essential mission
of protecting our nation’s capital. We are a trusted family business and an institution in the Washington
area, with a spotless reputation for quality, service, and integrity. The National Guard continues to
closely monitor the quality and safety of meals provided to its personnel, and we are working closely
with them to ensure our troops continue to have delicious and nutritious meals during their deployment
to Washington.”

Robbinsville Alternative Internet Provider Elawit Is Accepting Pre-Orders, Service Dependent On 500 Subscribers

March 3, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–If you are having trouble with one of the other Internet providers in town you may want to give Elauwit a try for Internet service. Elauwit now accepting pre-orders and the initial launch is dependent on 500 subscribers within the Town Center, Foxmoor, Cubberly Meadows, Sharon Mews and Sharon Meadows areas. If unable to reach its target goal, it will not be able to bring in-home internet service to Robbinsville Township. In that unlikely event, any pre-payment will be refunded.

To learn about this option for selected areas of Robbinsville Township go to this link: https://go.robbinswifi.com/

Michael Jackson and Alex Mendez, Paterson Councilmen Indicted on Charges of Election Fraud and Related Offenses

Four men are charged with criminal conduct involving mail-in ballots during the election.

March 3, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that Paterson City Councilmen Michael Jackson and Alex Mendez have been indicted by a state grand jury on charges of election fraud and other offenses related to the May 12, 2020 special election in the City of Paterson.

Jackson, 49, who is First Ward councilman, and Mendez, 45, who is Third Ward councilman, were initially charged by complaint summons on June 25, 2020, along with Shelim Khalique, 52, of Wayne, N.J., and Abu Razyen, 23, of Prospect Park, N.J. The original charges filed by complaint against Khalique and Razyen remain pending. All four men are charged with criminal conduct involving mail-in ballots during the election.

The investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity & Accountability (OPIA) began when the U.S. Postal Inspection Service alerted the Attorney General’s Office that numerous mail-in ballots were found in a mailbox in Haledon. Hundreds of mail-in ballots were also found in a mailbox in Paterson. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all voting in the May 2020 elections in New Jersey was done by mail-in ballots.

“These indictments are an important step in our prosecution of these two sitting city councilmen on charges including second-degree election fraud,” said Attorney General Grewal. “As we have seen all too clearly in recent months, public confidence in our democratic process is critical. If anyone tampers with an election in New Jersey and threatens that process, we will hold them accountable.”

“New Jersey’s criminal code includes various indictable offenses related to election fraud and, in particular, fraud involving mail-in ballots,” said OPIA Director Thomas Eicher. “With these indictments, we’re using those laws for their intended purpose— defending free and fair elections by prosecuting those accused of seeking to undermine them.”

Jackson and Mendez were charged by the state grand jury in separate indictments, Jackson on Feb. 17 and Mendez on Feb. 24.  They are charged with the following crimes:

  • Election Fraud (2nd Degree)
  • Fraud in Casting Mail-In Vote (3rd Degree)
  • Unauthorized Possession of Ballots (3rd Degree)
  • Tampering With Public Records or Information (3rd Degree)
  • Falsifying or Tampering with Records (4th Degree)

Mendez is also charged with False Registration or Transfer (3rd Degree) and Attempted False Registration or Transfer (3rd Degree).

Additional details regarding the alleged conduct of the defendants, as set forth in the criminal complaints initially filed against them, are contained in the press release posted at this link:

https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases20/pr20200625a.html

The indictments are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The investigation was conducted by prosecutors and detectives in the OPIA Corruption Bureau. Deputy Attorney General Eric C. Cohen is prosecuting the case, under the supervision of Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione.

Defense Attorneys

For Jackson: Theodore E. Kyles, Jr., Esq., of Clifton, N.J.

For Mendez: Paul Brickfield, Esq., Brickfield & Donahue, River Edge, N.J.

For Khalique: S. Emile Lisboa, Esq., Galantucci & Patuto LLC, Hackensack, N.J.

For Razyen: Brian Neary, Esq., Law Offices of Brian Neary, Hackensack, N.J.


Robbinsville Township Police Blotter February 2021

March 3, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Township Police Department Police Blotter for February 2021.




 Police Blotter
 
 February 2021
 
  
 1.       Narcotics
 Date:  February 5, 2021
 Time:  1248
 Location:  I-195
 Reporting Officer:  Sergeant Scott Kivet
  
 Accused:              Darryl Parkman Age 35
                                 Trenton, NJ
 Charged:              Possession of Ecstasy with Intent to Distribute
                                 Possession of Crack Cocaine
                                 Possession of Marijuana
                                 Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
                                 Suspended Driver
                                 CDS in a Motor Vehicle
  
 Charged and released pending Court. 
  
 2.       Narcotics
 Date:  February 5, 2021
 Time:  2014
 Location:  Gordon Road
 Reporting Officer:  Patrolman James Pica
  
 Accused:              Clarence Semmon Age 36
                                 Robbinsville, NJ
 Charged:              Possession of Marijuana Over 50 Grams
                                 Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute
                                 Driving Suspended
                                 CDS in a Motor Vehicle 
 Accused:              Kali Williams Age 31
                                 Robbinsville, NJ
 Charged:              Possession of Marijuana Over 50 Grams
                                 Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute
                                 Driving Suspended
  
 Charged and released pending Court. 
  
 3.       DWI/Narcotics
 Date:  February 6, 2021
 Time:  1032
 Location:  Route # 130
 Reporting Officer:  Patrolman Robert Morgano
  
 Accused:              Paul Rutzler Age 51
                                 Monroe, NJ
 Charged:              Driving While Intoxicated
                                 Possession of Heroin
                                 Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
                                 Refusal to Submit to Breath Testing
                                 CDS in a Motor Vehicle
  
 Charged and released pending Court. 
  
 4.       DWI
 Date:  February 8, 2021
 Time:  2101
 Location:  Route #33
 Reporting Officer:  Patrolman Ryan Meehan 
 
 Accused:              Brian Kelly Age 45
                                 Robbinsville, NJ
 Charged:              Driving While Intoxicated
                                 Failure to Submit to Breath Testing
 Reckless Driving
                                 Careless Driving 
                                 
 Charged and released pending Court.
  
 5.       Narcotics
 Date:  February 10, 2021
 Time:  1255
 Location:  I-195
 Reporting Officer:  Sergeant Scott Kivet
  
 Accused:              Kyle Witkowski Age 26
                                 Jackson, NJ
 Charged:              Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  
 Charged and released pending Court. 

 6.       Narcotics
 Date:  February 11, 2021
 Time:  1423
 Location:  I-195
 Reporting Officer:  Sergeant Scott Kivet
  
 Accused:              Robert Lagville Age 36
                                 Bradley Beach, NJ
 Charged:              Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
                                 Possession of Hypodermic Needle
  
 Charged and released pending Court. 
  
 7.       Narcotics
 Date:  February 12, 2021
 Time:  1413
 Location:  I-195
 Reporting Officer:  Sergeant Scott Kivet
  
 Accused:              Margareet Keeley Age 52
 Trenton, NJ
 Charged:              Possession of Marijuana
                                 CDS in a Motor Vehicle
  
 Charged and released pending Court. 
  
 8.       DWI
 Date:  February 13, 2021
 Time:  0204
 Location:  Hutchinson Road
 Reporting Officer:  Patrolman Ryan Meehan
  
 Accused:              Peter Glazewski Age 21
                                 Mercerville, NJ
 Charged:              Driving While Intoxicated
                                 Open Container of Alcohol
                                 Reckless Driving
                                 Careless Driving
                                 Speeding
  
 Charged and released pending Court.

 9.       DWI
 February 18, 2021 
 Time:
 Location:
 Reporting Officer:  Patrolman Michael Slininger
  
 Accused:              Daniel McSpedon Age 24
                                 Burlington, NJ
 Charged:              Driving While Intoxicated
                                 Careless  Driving 
                                 CDS in a Motor Vehicle
                                 Reckless Driving 
                                 Failure to Maintain Lane
                                 Speeding
  
 Charged and released pending Court. 
  
 10.   Narcotics
 Date:  February 20, 2021
 Time:  0055
 Location:  Route # 130
 Reporting Officer:  Patrolman David Fegler
  
 Accused:              Devon Barkley Age 30
                                 Willingboro, NJ
 Charged:              Possession of Hashish
                                 Possession of Narcotics with Intent to Distribute
                                                 Possession of Drug Paraphernalia 
                                                 CDS in a Motor Vehicle
                                                 Suspended Driver
  
 Charged and released pending Court. 
  
 11.   Narcotics
 Date:  February 27, 2021
 Time:  2336
 Location:  Walden Circle
 Reporting Officer:  Patrolman Ryan Meehan
  
 Accused:              Mario Flores Age 30                        
                                 Plainsboro, NJ
 Charged:              Possession of Heroin
                                 Possession of Cocaine
                                 CDS in a Motor Vehicle
                                 Speeding
  
 Charged and released pending Court.

 All accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a Court of law.  

Illegal Party House with Teenagers and Cocaine Shut Down by TPD

Charges Include Cocaine Distribution and Child Endangerment

March 2, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Director Sheilah A. Coley today announced that two Trenton men had been arrested for drug charges on Feb. 27, 2020 after officers broke up a party on 114 Elm Street.

Luis Santos-Bautista, 28, of Trenton, was charged with cocaine distribution, endangering the welfare of a child, possession with intent to distribute, possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school, possession with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a park, and maintaining a nuisance. Kenry Oliver Quintana-Martinez, 34, of Trenton, was charged with cocaine possession.

The arrests were carried out following an investigation by the Violent Crimes Rapid Response Unit (VCRR), which was responding to reports of afterhours parties and underage prostitution at the above location. When officers entered the premises, they found that the property had been converted into a “party house,” complete with speakers, loud music, a disco ball and flashing lights. While officers did not find any indication of prostitution, they did find alcohol and cocaine being sold on the premises.

Of the 32 people found at the house, most were teenagers and young adults, including a 16-year-old girl.

Santos-Bautista was found with 152 zip lock baggies containing 200 grams of cocaine, a digital scale, cutting agents, and $4,342 in suspected drug proceeds. Quintana-Martinez was found with single baggie of powder cocaine.

The partygoers were ejected from the house. The 16-year-old girl was brought to police headquarters where she was picked up by her father.

“We are working hard to put illegal bars out of business, especially when they endanger our children with alcohol and narcotics,” said Director Coley. “My thanks to the residents who reported this activity and the officers who shut the party down.”

These charges and allegations are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. This is an ongoing investigation.

Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried Along With Police Chief Nitti Release Joint Statement On Recent Marijuana Legalization Law

March 2, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried and Township Police Chief Chris Nitti released a combined statement in regards to recently signed marijuana legalization law. In addition below are statements from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police and the NJ State PBA on the marijuana law. Information also provided below from NJ Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and a link to the resource page for NJ police officers.


Statement from Mayor/Public Safety Director Dave Fried and Robbinsville Township Police Chief Chris Nitti on the Recently Signed Marijuana Legalization Law:  

Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed three bills into law decriminalizing marijuana and directs convictions and/or pending cases for marijuana possession be dismissed.

None of this came as a surprise, since an overwhelming majority of New Jersey residents recently voted to have marijuana legalized in our state. As an elected official and the Director of Public Safety for Robbinsville Township, I fully support the will of the people – as does Chief Chris Nitti.

As loving parents, we have the right to know when our children are involved in dangerous situations. Like many of you, we are concerned about some of the other aspects of the legalization bill. When officers now encounter juveniles who are in possession of marijuana and/or alcohol, the following restrictions now apply:

– The odor of marijuana and/or alcohol no longer constitutes “reasonable articulable suspicion” to initiate the stop of a person under the age of 21, and it no longer provides probable cause to search that person’s personal property and/or vehicle.- The unconcealed possession of an alcoholic beverage and/or marijuana observed in “plain sight” shall no longer constitute “probable cause” to initiate a search of a person under the age of 21, or that person’s personal property and/or vehicle to determine a violation of any law.- A person under the age of 21 who possesses marijuana and/or alcoholic beverages shall no longer be arrested, detained, or otherwise taken into custody “except to the extent required to issue a written warning.”- For any person under the age of 21 who possesses marijuana and/or alcoholic beverages as a first offense, these new laws forbid officers to contact his/her parent or guardian to advise him or her of such.To apply these new laws to a “real-life” situation, if an officer observes a juvenile of any age consuming alcohol and/or smoking marijuana in violation of the law, that officer CAN NOT contact the juvenile’s parent or guardian unless this behavior has been previously documented. Unless that child chooses to share this information, his or her parents or guardians will never know.Most problematic is the inability of the police to freely communicate with the parents and guardians of our children. The Robbinsville Township Police Department has always sought to divert juveniles from the criminal justice system by pursuing “non-punitive” measures for the vast majority of offenses. Only in the most serious of situations does it ever pursue juvenile delinquency complaints against children.

Statewide mandates regarding transparency required from law enforcement no longer apply regarding police interaction with kids. The RTPD has always worked closely with school officials to keep our children safe, to ensure there are open lines of communication with parents and guardians, and to provide referrals and access to programs and services that empower healthy, sound and safe decision-making. Aspects of this new law are counterproductive to years of relationship and trust-building. Most importantly, it is a serious detriment to safety and well-being of our children.

One of the RPD’s greatest strengths has been its renewed ability to foster positive relationships within the community, our juveniles in particular. Full-time School Resource Officers (SROs) are in all of our schools, in addition to the implementation of initiatives such as Coffee With a Cop, the Good Behavior Citation program, the RTPD Youth Academy and the S-T-A-R (Stop, Think, Act, Reflect) program, formerly known as D-A-R-E- (Drug Abuse Resistance Education).The priorities of the RTPD will never change, even if the means of achieving its goals of safety and security for all just may have to.
Thank you all. Please stay safe.



Statement of New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police


Today, the NJ Legislature approved, and Governor Murphy signed into law Assembly Bill
5342 in an attempt to decriminalize the use and possession of cannabis. The New Jersey State
Association of Chiefs of Police has been supportive of the decriminalization of cannabis for
adults and has recognized the importance of eliminating racial disparities that
disproportionately impact individuals of color in the context of antiquated drug
laws. However, the enactment of this legislation requires the Association to object strongly.
This legislation will severely impair the ability of law enforcement to surveil and police the
illegal drug market, underage possession and consumption of alcohol and tobacco and
criminalize very common and overwhelmingly non-controversial policing strategies. Under
this new law, a law enforcement officer is subject to criminal prosecution if he or she even
asks a minor or young adult under the age of 21 to consent to a search or otherwise conducts
such a search despite reasonable suspicious activity, such as the odor of alcohol or
marijuana. However, there are no tools available for an officer to know the ages of
individuals that may be encountered. An honest mistake in ascertaining someone’s age,
intentions or degree of impairment subjects the officer to prosecution for a crime. As a result,
an officer risks criminal liability for engaging with a class of individuals who may be breaking
the law or who may be engaged in the illegal drug market by utilizing persons under the age
of 21. We believe this severely limits the ability of our agencies to police our parks, schools,
beaches, and communities effectively, thereby increasing the risks to public safety, the risks to
children from illicit drugs and alcohol and the risks to society from criminal drug activity
cloaked by cannabis.
Although far from perfect, New Jersey has long been a progressive policing jurisdiction. This
Association supports decriminalization for adult use cannabis and our members work daily
across the state to increase positive interactions between law enforcement and the
communities we serve. We strive to increase the professionalism and training of our officers
and agencies while recognizing that there are bad actors in all occupations and walks of life
and such individuals deserve to meet the consequence of the law. However, criminalizing
honest and well-intended law enforcement is not the way to cure our society from the ills of
racial disparities and hundreds of years of systemic racism. Simply put, our communities will
be less safe and our children more at risk.


Marijuana Decriminalization & Cannabis Legalization



NJ State PBA Document: Frequently Asked Questions – Marijuana Decriminalization & Legalized Cannabis As of February 23, 2021

This document contains frequently asked questions (FAQs) to address some of the substantial issues, concerns, and situations that will arise for law enforcement as we all strive to understand, implement, and apply the new cannabis legalization and marijuana decriminalization laws. We anticipate expanding the FAQs as we encounter additional, and more subtle and complex, issues and gain experience and insight into the challenges presented by the new laws.

  1. What should an officer do if they smell marijuana coming from a vehicle during a motor vehicle stop?

    First, the officer should take the traditional investigative steps to determine if there is probable cause to believe that the driver is operating the vehicle while under the influence, in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. If so, the driver may be arrested and the vehicle may be searched. If the driver is not found to be under the influence, the new laws are clear that the odor of marijuana, either burned or raw, by itself does not establish reasonable suspicion to justify a continued stop, nor probable cause to conduct a search of the vehicle or the person, in a marijuana possession case or even in a low-level (fourth-degree) possession with intent to distribute marijuana case. As a result, the vehicle and occupants must be released once the initial reason for the stop has been addressed.
     
  2. May an officer initiate or continue a pedestrian stop of an individual based on the officer detecting the odor of marijuana?

    No, the new laws are clear that the odor of marijuana, either burned or raw, by itself does not establish reasonable suspicion to justify or continue a pedestrian stop. In addition, the odor of marijuana by itself does not establish probable cause to conduct a search in a marijuana possession case or even a low-level (fourth-degree) possession with intent to distribute marijuana case. The age of the person being stopped is irrelevant in these situations.
     
  3. What happens when a law enforcement officer encounters an individual under the age of 21 who is in possession of marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or alcohol?

    Law enforcement officers must be cautious when they encounter an individual under the age of 21 who is in possession of marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or alcohol. The officer can seize the marijuana, hashish, cannabis, and alcohol and issue the appropriate written warning. However, the new law also sets forth the following prohibitions on officers when investigating possession or consumption of marijuana, hashish, cannabis, or alcohol by an underage individual to determine a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15:
    • Officers may not request consent from an individual who is under the age of 21;
    • Officers may not use odor of marijuana to stop an individual who is under the age of 21 or to search the individual’s personal property or vehicle;
    • Officers who observe marijuana in plain view will not be able to search the individual or the individual’s personal property or vehicle.
    • Officers may not arrest, detain, or otherwise take an individual under the age of 21 into custody for a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15 except to the extent required to issue a written warning or provide notice of a violation to a parent/guardian
     
  4. Does the new law alter the use of my body worn camera (BWC) in any way?

    The law requires that whenever an officer is equipped with a BWC, the BWC must be activated when responding to or handling a call involving a violation or suspected violation of the amended N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15, which addresses the underage possession or consumption of alcohol, marijuana, hashish, or cannabis. The BWC may not be deactivated for any reason throughout the entire encounter. Underage refers to people under the age of 21.
     
  5. How does decriminalization and legalization change fingerprinting?

    Marijuana is still by definition pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-2 a “controlled dangerous substance,” and, therefore, appropriately charged violations involving marijuana or hashish are still subject to fingerprint compliance under N.J.S.A. 53:1-18.1. However, when law enforcement officers encounter an individual who has violated N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(12)(b) (distribution/possession with intent to distribute 1 ounce or less) or N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(3)(b) (possession of more than 6 ounces), the officer is prohibited under the law from arresting, detaining, or otherwise bringing that individual into the station, which means the officer will be unable to fingerprint the violator at the time of the incident. Therefore, those individuals must be fingerprinted at their first court appearance.

    Individuals under the age of 21 who are in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15(a)(1) are precluded from being fingerprinted under the new law

A21 – Legislation Act

A1897 – Marijuana Decriminalization

S3454 – Underage Possession & Use

AG Directive 2021-1 (Directive Governing Dismissals of Certain Pending Marijuana Charges)

Interim Guidance Regarding Marijuana Decriminalization

FAQs

New Jersey Lottery and the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey Raise Public Awareness of Problem Gambling

March 2, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued a Proclamation declaring March 2021 Problem Gambling Awareness Month in New Jersey.

“We are pleased to support this initiative and to be an integral part of spreading the Responsible Play message to the general public and to our Lottery retailers by launching the Lottery’s March 2021 Problem Gambling Awareness Month Campaign,” said New Jersey Lottery Executive Director James A. Carey, Jr. “’Awareness + Action’ is the theme for this month-long campaign.”

Throughout the month, the New Jersey Lottery will be working with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey, Inc. (CCGNJ) to educate the general public and health care professionals about the importance of playing responsibly and the warning signs of problem gambling.

As part of that effort, the Lottery and the Council have developed a video to raise awareness about Problem Gambling Awareness Month and to provide information about the help available both locally and nationally for anyone who may experience a gambling disorder. The video is available for viewing on the “Responsible Play” page of the Lottery’s website.

To reinforce that message, the Lottery launched an advertising campaign based on the message, “Dream big. Play responsibly. Life is about balance. The New Jersey Lottery is a provider of fun and entertaining games that should be played responsibly. The Lottery should not be considered or played as an alternative source of income.”

According to Neva Pryor, executive director of the CCGNJ, “The Lottery is a valuable partner with the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey in efforts to reinforce the message about the importance of playing responsibly and to share information about the warning signs that gambling is becoming a problem. We are pleased to partner with the Lottery in producing this video to raise awareness about gambling disorders. Call 1-800-GAMBLER if you or someone you know has a gambling problem: we offer support, treatment and hope.”



Delaware Scenic Byway Cleanup at Bulls Island Recreation Area

March 2, 2021


Spring Cleaning will be held Saturday March 20, 2021 at 8:15 a.m. for the first registration  FREE

For more information and to register please contact Stephanie Fox at StephanieFox@dep.nj.gov


DELAWARE TOWNSHIP, NJ (HUNTERDON)–Join the Delaware Township Environmental Commission and Bull’s Island Recreation Area for a towpath cleanup between Prallsville Mill and Bull’s Island Recreation Area in Hunterdon County.  Early Spring is a great time to pick up litter before the grass and brambles are growing. Due to COVID-19 we are asking for groups between the sizes of 4-8 people to adopt a cleanup area along the D&R Canal and Bulls Island. The groups must be comprised of people who have already been spending time together such as family groups, scout groups, church groups, sport teams, etc. Supplies such as gloves, bags and pickers will be provided.

Every group must have a designated leader who would be responsible for registration and be the point of contact for day of the event.  Each group will work in a separate location and registration times will be staggered for social distancing purposes and masks are required. There will be a limit of 6 groups so register early!

Meeting place: Bull’s Island Recreation Area, 2185 Daniel Bray Highway,

Time to meet: First registration begins at 8:15 and continues until 9:20 a.m.

What to wear: Layers, long pants, sturdy footwear. Clean-up tshirt provided!

What to bring:  Masks are required. We will be providing gloves but you are welcome to bring your own.

Restrictions:

Families are welcome, with at least 1 adult per 3 children under 13.

Children, ages 13 to 16, can be chaperoned with 1 adult per 5 children.

Waivers will be required

$1,000 Reward For Capture Of Robbery Suspects Who Stole Chain Saws And Other Equipment From Barg’s Lawn And Garden

UPDATE 63/3/2021: According to Detective Vincent Bonner of the Howell Township Police Department Detective Bureau the robbery occurred at approximately 2:30 am on March 2, 2021. The robbers smashed though the front door using a sledgehammer and took $15,000. Worth of merchandise. Police are looking for a Silver Ford Expedition 1997-2002 operated by heavyset Hispanic male. If you have information relevant to the robbery please call Detective Bonner of Howell Twp. Police Department at 732-938-4575 extension 2647 with any details.

March 2, 2021

HOWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Barg’s Lawn and Garden posted several videos of a robbery last night on their Facebook page and is reportedly offering a $1,000.00 reward. This family owned and operated business since 1954 and if you happen to know anything about the robbery contact please call Detective Bonner of Howell Twp. Police Department at 732-938-4575 extension 2647 with any details. In the videos you can see the robbers break in and steal several chain saws and other small equipment before leaving.




Governor Murphy Announces Expansion of Eligibility for New Jersey’s COVID-19 Vaccination Program

Expansion Includes Educators, Childcare Workers, Transportation Workers, and Other Frontline Essential Workers and High-Risk Groups

March 1, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Murphy today announced the expansion of eligibility for more frontline essential workers and high-risk groups in New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination program. Eligible groups include educators and staff in pre-k through 12th grade settings, childcare workers, and transportation workers, among others.  

“Our administration has built the infrastructure – including nearly 300 vaccination sites across the state – needed to support New Jersey’s COVID-19 vaccination demand,” said Governor Murphy. “As the federal government continues to make more vaccine doses available, we are confident in our ability to expand our vaccination program to reach more of our essential workers and vulnerable populations. Our goal is to provide every New Jerseyan with a vaccine when it is available and they are eligible.”

“As vaccine supply increases, this phased expansion of new eligibility groups keeps New Jersey moving forward toward our goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the eligible adult population,” said New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.

Beginning Monday, March 15, the following categories are eligible for vaccination:

  • Educators, including support staff, in pre-K through 12th grade settings;
  • Childcare workers in licensed and registered settings;
  • Public and local transportation workers, including bus, taxi, rideshare, and airport employees; NJ TRANSIT workers; and Motor Vehicle Commission staff;
  • Public safety workers who are not sworn law enforcement or fire professionals, including probation officers and fire safety inspectors;
  • Migrant farm workers;
  • Members of tribal communities; and,
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness and those living in shelters, including domestic violence shelters.

Additionally, beginning on Monday, March 29, frontline essential workers in the following categories are also eligible for vaccination:

  • Food production, agriculture, and food distribution;
  • Eldercare and support;
  • Warehousing and logistics;
  • Social services support staff;
  • Elections personnel;
  • Hospitality;
  • Medical supply chain;
  • Postal and shipping services;
  • Clergy; and,
  • Judicial system.

Additionally, the eligibility list will indicate that all individuals ages 16-64 with certain medical conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that increase the risk or might increase the risk of severe illness from the virus, are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination.

For more information about eligibility, statewide vaccination site locations, and to preregister for a vaccination, visit https://covid19.nj.gov/vaccine

For more information on CDC criteria for eligibility, please click here

“A healthy workforce is of critical importance for agriculture and the food industry supply chain,” said New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas H. Fisher. “We appreciate that Governor Murphy has prioritized the vaccination of our essential farmworkers as we ramp up for New Jersey’s growing season.”

“We appreciate Governor Murphy for recognizing the importance of keeping safe New Jersey’s front-line employees who are working in daily, face-to-face vital roles that protect and support our state’s children and families,” said New Jersey Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer. “For almost a full year now, childcare, child welfare and domestic violence shelter staff have remained in the field and on-the-ground, facing and overcoming their own pandemic fears, and loss, in service to others. Expanding distribution to these categories helps to ensure that they can continue their essential work, safely.” 

“Governor Murphy and I are committed to both reopening schools as soon as possible and making sure that our educators and students are safe. By expanding vaccination eligibility to educators, we advance both goals,” said New Jersey Department of Education Acting Commissioner Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan. “Schools are an integral part of our communities, and everyone in the school community needs to feel safe and secure as we work to safely reopen schools. The expansion of vaccine eligibility being announced today is another step to demonstrate our commitment to our school staff and students, and their families.”

“New Jersey has made great strides in opening vaccination to more and more residents, and we are very pleased to be able to expand availability to vulnerable communities such as individuals experiencing homelessness and critical workers such as those caring for older residents, children and providing social services supports,” said New Jersey Department of Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman. “We cannot express enough thanks to frontline essential workers for their commitment throughout this entire public health crisis and look forward to more and more of them getting protection against this virus and to further protecting our most vulnerable residents.”

“We are incredibly grateful that MVC workers will soon be eligible for COVID-19 vaccines,” said Motor Vehicle Commission Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. “Our employees have been working hard to serve NJ’s drivers, on the frontline, amidst the many challenges created by COVID-19’s threat to public health and safety.  We’re thankful for Governor Murphy’s leadership throughout the Public Health Emergency, and the MVC is proud to be part of NJ’s push to get vaccines in the arms of essential workers in an effort to beat this virus.”

“NJ TRANSIT is extremely grateful to Governor Murphy and his Administration for prioritizing our state’s indispensable transit workers,” said Kevin S. Corbett, NJ TRANSIT President & CEO. “Our dedicated frontline transit employees have been keeping our region moving, delivering service for essential workers and all those who depend on public transit, since the onset of this pandemic. The vaccine will add yet another layer of safety to the numerous measures we already have in place to provide the safest possible travel environment for our employees and customers.”

“Gov. Murphy’s announcement that he is adding educators to the vaccine priority list is an important step toward New Jersey’s emergence from this pandemic,” said Marie Blistan, President, NJEA. “With nearly 1.4 million students and over 200,000 adults, one out of every six New Jersey residents is connected directly to our public schools. Count the families they go home to and no institution in our state directly connects to more individuals than our public schools. The sooner educators are vaccinated, the sooner our entire state is safer. We call on the administration to immediately extend that access to employees in higher education who are equally as exposed and equally as critical to fully reopening our state for in-person instruction. At every level, New Jersey educators have worked tirelessly to educate our students and have advocated tirelessly to protect them and our communities throughout this pandemic by demanding high standards for health and safety. We stand ready to work with the Murphy administration, other elected leaders, school districts and colleges to ensure that our members can access the promised vaccinations quickly and efficiently.”

“Governor Murphy’s announcement today recognizing the value of all prekindergarten-to-12 educational and support staff is a good first step in reopening our schools,” said AFTNJ President Donna M. Chiera. “We welcome this news, and our educators look forward to having in-person instruction soon with their students. But let’s remember that the vaccines are just one tool in reopening schools safely. They’re not a substitute for regular testing, proper social distancing, thorough cleaning and appropriate ventilation. Vaccine availability must be aligned with these important mitigation strategies.”

“Warehouse workers, often immigrants and people of color, have kept our communities safe and our economy running during the pandemic,” said Lorenza Garcia, Worker Organizer, Make the Road New Jersey. “Too many have lost their lives to COVID-19. We thank Governor Murphy for extending vaccine eligibility to this critical population.” 

“Many thanks to Governor Murphy for prioritizing vaccinations for teachers and school personnel,” said Betsy Ginsburg, Executive Director, Garden State Coalition of Schools. “This moves us closer to the happy day when all our students can be back in our classrooms.”

“Our members have been on the frontlines moving the people of NJ around the clock, seven days a week during this pandemic and having the means to get our folks vaccinated is of the highest priority,” said Ray Greaves, Vice President, ATU International. “We appreciate the Governor for his steadfast commitment to seeing to it that our most vulnerable workforce gets the help they need to combat this virus that has already taken a huge toll on us.”

“As our state reopens, it is critical to ensure our hospitality employees are a priority in the vaccination process,” said Marilou Halvorsen, President, NJ Restaurant & Hospitality Association. “The hospitality industry is the state’s largest private sector employer, employing over $400,000 people and is critical to the state’s economic recovery. I appreciate the Governor prioritizing the industry and protecting our employees so that they can return safely return to work while protecting the public. By vaccinating the employees of this important industry, public health will truly create economic health.”

“We want to thank Governor Murphy for being steadfast and pushing our members to be eligible for COVID-19. We thank the Governor for knowing that we are the essential workers at the frontline of the pandemic,” said Jerome Johnson, President of SMART-TD Local 60. “It is also great that the Governor realizes that we come across fellow employees and citizens of the state of NJ that are more susceptible to COVID-19. We have to work amongst each other. The vaccination is a great asset for all of our members at SMART TD Local 60.

“We commend Governor Murphy for prioritizing drivers for vaccine access,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, Chief Executive Officer, Uber. “Over the last year, alongside others on the front lines, drivers have been a lifeline to their communities and an essential part of the infrastructure keeping our cities moving.” 

“Throughout the pandemic we have seen the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on people of color and those on the front lines of keeping our state going,” said Renee Koubiadis, Executive Director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey. “We applaud the expansion of vaccine distribution to social services support staff and teachers who are critical to public health and safety. We also call for frontline warehouse, retail, and other essential workers to be prioritized to realize racial equity in our recovery.”

“Expanding vaccine access to rideshare drivers is an important step in putting an end to this terrible pandemic, and we want to thank Gov. Murphy for his vision and leadership throughout this trying time,” said Doug Mehan, Senior Public Policy Manager, Lyft. “Rideshare drivers play an essential role in helping people access vital healthcare services and will be crucial in ensuring New Jerseyans can get to a vaccination site and receive their shot as quickly as possible.”

“We have continued to feed the community and our first responders throughout the pandemic; our restaurant employees have been on the frontline since day one,” said Carmen E. Mendiola, President, Jersey City Restaurant Association. “The New Jersey restaurant industry has been devasted by COVID-19; but we have continued to serve the people of New Jersey. We welcome Governor Murphy’s direction and recognition of food production and food distribution workers as front-line workers. The Jersey City Restaurant Association supports this much needed assistance and we are excited that we will be in the ranks to get our vaccines.”

“The ATU NJ State Council has been working tirelessly along with NJ Transit and the NJ Department of Health to put together a plan to distribute the COVID vaccine to our frontline heroes who have been hit hard by this pandemic,” said Orlando Riley, Chairman, ATU NJ State Council. “To the Governor’s credit he has delivered on his commitment to ensuring that transit workers get the much needed support they need to protect themselves and the public they proudly serve.”

“This is great news. Our MVC workers, our Child Protective Services workers, our workers from the Department of Health, and so many others, are helping others every single day under the most challenging circumstances,” said Hetty Rosenstein, President, CWA-NJ.  “It is so important that these frontline and essential workers have the chance to take care of themselves and their families, while they are caring for the public.”

Assembly approves Dancer bill extending early pension benefits for police and firefighters

March 1, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer and advanced by the Assembly today would help police and firefighters facing burnout from pandemic service by temporarily allowing them to retire, regardless of their age, if they have served for 20 years.  

Under the bill (A2562), members of the Police and Firemen’s Retirement System (PFRS) who have served for 20 years would not have to meet an age requirement to be eligible to retire, as long as they retire within two years of the law’s enactment. They would receive a pension equal to 50 percent of their final salaries, the benefit only available under current law for those who retire at 55 years of age or older with 20 years of service.

“The stress that comes with serving on the front lines night and day in law enforcement or fighting fires can be overwhelming. This past year, we have asked our first responders to step up like never before as the coronavirus took more than 20,000 lives in our state,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “New Jersey allowed police and firefighters of any age to retire with 20 years of service before, and that benefit should be extended to our brave men and women in uniform who experienced incredible risk, stress and difficulty over the past year.”

A law was enacted in 2000 that allowed PFRS members who were already enrolled to retire at any age with 50 percent of their final compensation upon attaining 20 years of service. Any member who enrolled in the retirement system after Jan. 18, 2000, is not eligible for this benefit.

“From past experience, we know that no more than 2 percent of members eligible to retire with 20 years of service will likely choose to do so. It’s more than just a job for those who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect and serve, but we must recognize that they can and do suffer from burnout,” explained Dancer. “If they believe that it is in their best interest to retire with two decades of service, knowingly giving up valuable health benefits, we should permit them to do so.” 

Members who retire at 20 years of service would not be eligible for health benefits, so those costs would not be imposed on the state and local governments. PFRS provides pension coverage to full-time county, municipal, and state police officers and firefighters. State police officers who are covered by the State Police Retirement System would not be covered by this bill. Local governments and the state both pay employer contributions.

The Senate unanimously passed an identical bill (S1017) in December. The bill now goes to Gov. Phil Murphy for his signature. 

The Young Professionals Group, 15th Annual All In Good Taste Virtual Beer and Wine Tasting Event

March 1, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–The Young Professionals Group (YPG) of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton Foundation is excited to announce their 15th Annual All In Good Taste Virtual Beer and Wine Tasting event. This year, the YPG is honoring Brian Hartmann, CFP and Partner at Granite Bridge Wealth, as Young Professional of the Year.

This year’s event will be held virtually. Attendees will purchase a “Tasting” package, which includes beer and wine vouchers, appetizers and dessert, access to the live event with beer and wine sommeliers, souvenir gifts and more.  Tasting packages can be picked up from Blend Bar & Bistro, where vouchers can be redeemed on-site.

Sponsorship opportunities and full event information can be found at www.rwjbh.org/allingoodtaste

WHAT: 15th Annual All In Good Taste Virtual Beer & Wine Mixer

WHO: Young Professionals Group (YPG) of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) Hamilton Foundation

WHEN: Thursday, April 29, 2021 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

HOW: Virtually

IMAGE ATTACHED: Brian Hartmann, CFP, Partner at Granite Bridge Wealth, Young Professional of the Year

Jackson Man Sentenced To 5 Years In NJ State Prison For Death By Auto

March 1, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on March 1, 2021, Douglas Thompson, 56, of Jackson, was sentenced by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., to five years New Jersey State Prison as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Death By Auto in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5a. This sentence is subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, meaning that Thompson will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility.  Furthermore, Judge Ryan ordered that Thompson’s driving privileges be suspended for life in connection with his sentence for Death by Auto.  Thompson pled guilty to this offense before Judge Ryan on November 19, 2020

At the time of he was sentenced on the Death by Auto offense, Thompson pled guilty to Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”) in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, for which Judge Ryan sentenced Thompson to 180 days incarceration to run concurrent with the five-year state prison sentence imposed on the Death by Auto conviction.  Judge Ryan suspended Thompson’s driving privileges for a period of ten years relative to the DWI offense, which as a practical matter will be subsumed by the life-time ban on his driving privileges imposed as a consequence of the Death by Auto conviction.  

On October 15, 2019, Toms River Township Police were dispatched to the intersection of Route 9 and Stevens Road for a report of a motor vehicle accident.  Thomas Marciano, 65, of Toms River, was stopped behind a motor vehicle making a left-hand turn when he was struck from behind by a vehicle operated by Thompson.  Mr. Marciano was transported to Community Medical Center and was subsequently flown to Jersey Shore Medical Center due to the severity of his injuries.  Mr. Marciano ultimately succumbed to those injuries on October 28, 2019.  Thompson submitted to chemical breath testing on the date of the crash, which revealed his Blood Alcohol Concentration to be .17 percent – more than double the legal limit under New Jersey law for purposes of alcohol consumption.    

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Robert Cassidy and Senior Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Schron who handled the case on behalf of the State, and commends the Toms River Township Police Department Traffic Safety Division, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Toms River EMS, and Silverton EMS, for their combined efforts in this investigation which ultimately resulted in Thompson’s guilty plea, state prison sentence, and life-time ban of his driving privileges.

Firefighter Ryan Frank Hired In Robbinsville

March 1, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Firefighter Ryan Frank who replaced Firefighter Ed Haemmerle who retired on Friday was sworn in at the Robbinsville Township Municipal Building this morning. Firefighter Frank was previously with the Upper Freehold/Allentown Fire Department and the Wilmington Fire Department in Delaware. Additionally, Firefighter Frank is a Robbinsville High School graduate and has been a volunteer firefighter with the Robbinsville Township Fire Department since 2014 and is a Robbinsville Township resident.




200+ Tires And Other Items Pulled From D&R Canal State Park, Duck Island Section

March 1, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–On Saturday 216 tires and other items were pulled from the D & R State Park area of Duck Island. The cleanup was organized by volunteers from the Central Jersey Stream Team, Hackensack Riverkeeper, D&R Canal State Park Staff and the owner of Tire Disposal Service. The funding for the cleanup event was sponsored by the Mercer County Clean Communities program.


PARTNERSHIPS! This is how we can achieve our goals in creating a healthier environment for all. On this past rainy Saturday morning 10 dedicated volunteers from the Central Jersey Stream Team and the Hackensack Riverkeeper, 3 D&R Canal State Park Service Staff and the owner of Tire Disposal Service pulled out 216 muck filled tires from the canal at the Duck Island section of the park. While these groups provided the muscle power, the Mercer County Clean Communities program funded the responsible disposal of the tires. Some of these tires date back to the 1960’s!!! We can’t thank all of these groups enough for taking on this challenge and look forward to PARTNERING with them again. There is more work to be done but with dedication of organizations like these we can make a difference. Please consider volunteering for a clean up near you, every set of hands is appreciated.



Robbinsville Firefighter Ed Haemmerle Retires

February 28, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)– Firefighter Ed Haemmerle of the Robbinsville Township Fire Department worked his last tour on Friday before leaving on retirement with 20 years of service. Ed started his career with the Robbinsville Township Fire Department when the department was being managed by the Washington Township Fire District #1. Haemmerle was sworn in by Mayor David Fried and presented his department badge by Fire Commissioner at the time Deborah Matson. In 2006 the department name was changed to the Robbinsville Township Fire Department along with a consolidation and Township name change.

Firefighter Haemmerle has over 32 years in the fire service starting as a volunteer firefighter in West Windsor before gaining employment with Union City EMS where he served for 8 years, and West Windsor Emergency Services before his career in Robbinsville.

 The Robbinsville Township Fire Department stated that, “During his tenure with the Robbinsville Township Fire Department, Firefighter Haemmerle has always been a committed professional, a trusted firefighter, and a valued member of the department.”






Toms River Man Sentenced To 5 Years In State Prison For Child Pornography

February 27, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 26, 2021, Henry Ziolkowski, 56, of Toms River, was sentenced to five years New Jersey State Prison by the Honorable Michael T. Collins, J.S.C., as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Possession of Child Pornography in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)iii.  Ziolkowski will also be subject to Parole Supervision for Life.  Ziolkowski pled guilty before Judge Collins on December 1, 2020.

This investigation was the result of several referrals from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which identified a residence in Toms River as the location of several uploads of child pornography.  On July 7, 2020, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit and Toms River Township Police Department executed a search warrant on the subject residence.  As a result, Detectives seized a computer belonging to Ziolkowski which contained numerous images of child pornography.  Ziolkowski was arrested and processed at Toms River Police headquarters.  He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since the date of his arrest.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Shanon Chant-Berry who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for their collective and combined assistance in this investigation leading to Ziolkowski’s apprehension, and ultimately his state prison sentence.

Allentown FFA “National FFA Week” Activities Go Virtual In 2021

February 27, 2021

National FFA Week Celebrated Virtually February 20 – 27, 2021

ALLENTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–During a normal year the Allentown FFA chapter holds many National FFA Week events. Some of the events include a sponsor’s breakfast, open house, display at Tractor Supply, and a visit to the 1st National FFA President’s gravesite with wreath laying in Freehold. The Allentown High School FFA Chapter moved their National FFA Week activities to virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to return to normal in person FFA Week activities in 2022.


Traditionally, the Allentown FFA Chapter would thank our sponsors and supporters at the Annual Sponsor’s Breakfast and Open House on this Day of FFA Week. As with many things this year, we had to change our format to deliver this event virtually! We want to thank you for your continued support of our program. Your support enables our members to develop premier leadership, personal growth, and achieve career success!

2021 Allentown FFA Sponsor’s Recognition Event –On the Friday of National FFA Week, the Allentown FFA Chapter recognizes and thanks our sponsors and supporters! This event helps showcase the accomplishments of FFA Members and how FFA can positive influence our students. Due to COVID-19, we were unable to meet in person. However, we still want to share our story!


MidJersey.news 2020 FFA Week coverage:

FFA Week: Allentown FFA At Tractor Supply

National FFA Week: Feb 22 to 29, 2020, Looking Back at 1988-89 Allentown FFA Banquet

Allentown FFA Wreath Laying Ceremony For First FFA President