South Brunswick Family In Need Of Help For Critically Injured Father In Robbinsville Crash

Yesterday’s Midjersey.News story about the crash here: BREAKING: Route 130 Closed By Voelbel For Accident Investigation, Driver Of Box Truck Rescued From Fire And Crash

October 30, 2020

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–A South Brunswick family is in need of funds and prayers for their father who was injured in a Robbinsville crash yesterday. Their father on his way home from work in his contractor style box truck was hit head on by a tractor trailer that crossed the median strip on Route 130. The vehicle caught fire during the crash and a valiant rescue effort from civilians, police and firefighters ensued, by using portable fire extinguishers until fire apparatus could arrive and fully extinguish the fire. Even after the fire was extinguished the man had to be extricated from the wreckage. Robbinsville Fire Department EMS and paramedics rushed the man to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. The man was transferred and flown to the burn unit at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia where the family has reported on their fog fund me page that he is critical condition.

The family is seeking prayers and help from anyone can help with the Go FundMe see link below:

Go FundMe page here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/Francescorussocontractors

Hi everyone, my name is Fabiana Russo. I am a senior in highschool, some of you may know my father the contractor Francesco Russo. I am raising money for him and his truck that burned down into flames with him inside, on October 29th due to a head on three vehicle collision. My dad was in his truck on his way back home after finishing a job, and head on got hit by a trailer tractor. This occurred in Robbinsville on route130, his box truck went in flames and unfortunately so did my father. He is in critical condition and I don’t know how he is going to make it out. I’m praying and I’m asking for all of you who see this your prayers as well. This money will go towards any of the surgeries if not covered as well as his truck that he has nothing left of. Me and my family would be beyond grateful for your contributes and thank you for listening. If you cannot contribute, I would just ask you to pray for my strong Dad. Thank you all! If you’d like to know further details here you go.

Link down below. https://midjersey.news/2020/10/29/breaking-route-130-closed-by-voelbel-for-accident-investigation-driver-of-box-truck-rescued-from-fire-and-crash/amp/


29 People Facing Charges For Racketeering And Various Criminal Gang Activities

October 30, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–An 8-month investigation into ongoing acts of gang criminality and organized street crime has led to charges against 29 people from Monmouth and Ocean counties for Racketeering, Conspiracy, Attempted Murder, drug and gun trafficking and Dogfighting, announced Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.  The probe revealed a power grab by a Bloods gang leader to consolidate his command of the gang’s criminal activities through violence, intimidation, illegal drug and gun sales, and the operation of a dogfighting ring. 

During the investigation titled “Operation Golden State,” law enforcement officers recovered numerous firearms, a vehicle used in criminal activity, various quantities of cocaine and marijuana, 12 canines used in the dogfighting operation, and other evidence related to the dogfighting operation.  The dogs are safe and currently being sheltered in an Ocean County animal facility.  Of the 29 people charged as part of this investigation, nine are facing charges of racketeering, five are facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder, two are facing charges as a leader of a dogfighting network, and four are facing dogfighting charges.

The joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, in cooperation with federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies, concluded that Xavier Reed, 30, of Hyson Road in Jackson Township, controlled a vast criminal enterprise operating in Asbury Park, Neptune Township, Freehold and Lakewood.  Reed, a/k/a “HS”, assembled a gang alliance consisting of G-Shine Bloods, 47 Neighborhood Crips and the Grape Street Crips that worked towards the unitary control of most illegal activity in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  Reed is currently incarcerated in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark on unlawful gun possession charges.   

As a G-Shine Bloods leader, Reed was responsible for administering punishment, controlling the channels for generating revenue from various quantities of drug sales (heroin, cocaine, prescription pills and marijuana) and the administration of the dogfighting ring, where thousands of dollars were typically earned during a single dogfight.  These activities served as a means of funding the violent crime carried out by the group, and to further advance Reed’s power. 

Reed intensified his energies to maintain control over criminal activity in Monmouth County by intimidating individuals who were disloyal to him or the organization, and engaged in efforts to violently retaliate against former members of his organization and rivals.  Reed’s intimidation tactics included a conspiracy with others charged to murder a pair of Reed’s rivals and a member of a Lakewood-based G-Shine set, who resisted Reed’s efforts to consolidate that set into his organization. 

Reed was cognizant of the ongoing wars between rival criminal street gangs, namely the G-Shine Bloods and Grape Street Crips, and boasted about his assembly of members from different gangs that worked towards a common criminal goal, which he and others referred to the group as “Golden State” and would retaliate against anyone who disrespected them.

The criminal enterprise also possessed, transferred and sold weapons within their organized crime alliance, and were responsible for more than a dozen shooting incidents that have recently plagued Asbury Park, Long Branch, Tinton Falls, Keansburg and Neptune Township. 

The investigation further revealed Reed and his affiliates in other criminal street gangs, including Daishon Smith a/k/a “Beefy” of Asbury Park, were responsible for violent criminal activity throughout Asbury Park, Freehold Borough, and Neptune Township.

The dogfighting part of the enterprise worked in cooperation with out-of-state breeding facilities that focused on training dogs to kill and engaged in interstate dogfighting events.  In one instance, Reed lost $5,000 on one of his own dogs in a dogfight held in Philadelphia.  In another instance, Reed bragged about maintaining his fighting dogs by feeding them chickens and rabbits, remarking how much the dogs loved killing the animals.

The Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized eight Pit Bull-type dogs in Monmouth and Ocean counties in February 2020. All the dogs are believed to be owned by Reed.  The dogs were left outside in sub-freezing temperatures and all had bite marks on their limbs, necks and ears indicative of dogfighting. 



Reed is charged with first degree Racketeering Conspiracy, first degree Gang Criminality, first degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, first degree Promotion of Organized Street Crime, Second Degree Aggravated Assault, Second Degree Solicitation to Join a Criminal Street Gang, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Leader of a Dog Fighting Network, Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Dog Fighting, Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering, Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Marijuana), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Reed was aided in his efforts by a network of people who are charged with various crimes:

Rashad Anderson a/k/a “C-Devine”, 39, is charged with second degree Leader of a Dog Fighting Network and third degree Conspiracy to Commit Dog Fighting.

Kaniesha Bacon, 30, of Hyson Road in Jackson, is charged first degree Racketeering Conspiracy, third degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering, third degree Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) [Marijuana].

Itayasia Berry a/k/a “TayTay”, 21, of Corlies Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), second degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), second degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), third degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine), and third degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Prescription Pills).

Jawaun Boggs a/k/a “Jig”, 24, of Atlantic Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession

of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Unlawful Use), Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Prescription Pills), Third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Prescription Pills), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

King Brent a/k/a “Pay”, 25, of Atlantic Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Prescription Pills).

Alahji Conteh a/k/a “Stash”, 25, of Atlantic Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm).

Thomas Cutillo, Jr., 25, of Garfield Avenue in Avon-By-the-Sea, is charged with third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Prescription Pills) and Third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Cocaine and/or Heroin).

Sammy Davis, 55, of Monroe Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Cocaine).

Nakee Davis-Ruffin a/k/a “Squad”, 21, of Third Avenue in Asbury Park is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.

Jahquan Fenn a/k/a “Capo” and “Trey”, 30, of Center Street in Freehold Boro, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Dale Ghee a/k/a “Budda”, 23, of Sewall Avenue in Asbury Park is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Marijuana).

Marciyah Gill, 25, of Bond Street in Freehold Boro, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine).

Richard Ivery, 35, of State Route 33 in Wall Township, is charged with Third Degree Possession of CDS (Marijuana) with Intent to Distribute and Fourth Degree Possession of Over 50 Grams of Marijuana.

Jy’Zaire Jones a/k/a “Ceemo”, 25, of Allen Avenue in Ocean Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (community firearm), Second Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine), and Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering.

A juvenile male from Asbury Park is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.

Tyree Kirkpatrick a/k/a “Ree”, 32, of Third Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), First Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Zion Langhorne a/k/a “Too Brazy”, 19, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, First Degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, and Second Degree Solicitation to Join a Criminal Street Gang.

Marcella Mallory, 57, of East Sunset Avenue in Red Bank, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine) and Third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Cocaine).

Mark McMillian a/k/a “Noodle”, 43, of Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Dog Fighting.

Julissa Miles, 32, of Third Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm).

Jose Mosely a/k/a “Brazy”, 33, of State Route 70 in Manchester Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), First Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Jamar Ousley, 37, of Colts Neck Road in Freehold Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy and Fourth Degree Solicitation to Join a Criminal Street Gang.

Daishon Smith a/k/a “Beefy” or “Atkins Ave.”, 29, of Atlantic Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine), Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Prescription Pills), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Rufus Squarewell a/k/a “Ru”, 38, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Dog Fighting.

Jimmy Tran, 29, of Broadway in Freehold Township, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Marijuana).

Melanie Tucker, 36, of Monroe Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with Second Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine).

Marcus Washington a/k/a “Mo Shine”, 25, of Brockton Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Shakon Winslow a/k/a “Stick-up” or “Wise”, 26, of Bangs Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, First Degree Gang Criminality, First Degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Second degree Aggravated Assault, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering, Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine), Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS, Fourth Degree Solicitation to Join a Criminal Street Gang, and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Prosecutor Gramiccioni would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance in conducting the investigation: New York/New Jersey Regional Task Force and Capitol Area Regional Task Force of the United States Marshal’s Office; the Red Bank field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) HIDTA, the New Jersey State Police; the New Jersey State Parole Board; the Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office; the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office; the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; and police departments in Union Beach, Keansburg, Highlands, Neptune Township, Neptune City, Tinton Falls, Eatontown, Long Branch, Howell, Spring Lake, Asbury Park, Freehold Township, Freehold Borough, Red Bank, Middletown, Jackson, Lakewood, Keyport and Oceanport.

If convicted of Attempted Murder, each defendant faces a minimum sentence of 30 years in a New Jersey state prison without parole and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. Each defendant would also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison.

The Racketeering charges allege that the defendants engaged in a continuous pattern of interrelated criminal conduct, namely drug trafficking, gun trafficking and dogfighting, among other crimes.  If convicted of first degree Racketeering, each defendant faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, and a period of parole ineligibility equal to 85% of the sentence imposed.  Additionally, the Racketeering counts will not merge with other charged counts. 

If convicted of Promoting Organized Street Crime, each defendant faces 15 to 30 years’ imprisonment and a fine up to $200,000.  If convicted of any other first degree crime, each defendant faces a sentence of up to 20 years in state prison.  If convicted of any of the second degree crimes, each defendant faces a sentence of five to ten years in state prison.  If convicted of any third degree crime, defendants face three to five years in state prison. 

The cases are assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Matthew Bogner and Joshua Carmel.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

TPD Requests Public Assistance Locating Missing Disabled Man

October 30, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Trenton Police Department is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Douglas Cauthen. Cauthen is 57 years old, 5’06” and approximately 150 pounds.

Cauthen was last seen in the 200 Block of West Hanover Street on Sept. 7, 2020. Cauthen is only known to frequent the area of West Hanover Street so his whereabouts are unknown as he left his residence on foot.

Cauthen was wearing a black t-shirt, tan army fatigue shorts and black Levi sneakers.

Anyone with information on Cauthen’s whereabouts are asked to contact the Trenton Police Department at 609-989-4000 or the anonymous tip line at 609-989-3663.

Governor Murphy Nominates Dr. Brian Bridges as Secretary of Higher Education

October 30, 2020

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced his nomination of Dr. Brian Bridges as the next Secretary of Higher Education.

“Making college more affordable and accessible has been a hallmark of our mission to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all,” said Governor Murphy. “After conducting a nationwide search for a new Secretary of Higher Education, we’ve found just the right leader to build upon our progress. Dr. Brian Bridges has the vision and experience needed to put a college education within reach for more students, including continuing our highly successful Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program. I know he’ll be a fierce advocate for our students and will work closely with both public and private college and university leaders to expand opportunity while promoting equity and access for all.”

“I would also like to thank Interim Secretary of Higher Education Diana Gonzalez for her capable leadership of the Office over the past few months,” continued Governor Murphy. “Diana has coordinated closely with our colleges and universities to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and will continue to serve the Administration as a critical member of our team.”

“I am humbled but invigorated by the confidence of Governor Murphy to serve as the next Secretary of Higher Education for the great state of New Jersey,” said incoming Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges. “I have a deep and abiding faith in the power of colleges and universities to not only provide life-changing educational experiences, but to also serve as economic engines and hubs of innovation and intellectual discovery. I look forward to working with leaders across the Garden State to develop and refine policies and practices that further improve student success, create efficiencies of scale, and strengthen the higher education enterprise.”

“Brian Bridges is a great choice to be New Jersey’s new Secretary of Education,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the United Negro College Fund. “Brian has led our research and institutional transformation work at UNCF, driving our strategy to ensure that our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) produce ever stronger results for the students they serve.  Brian is a passionate, committed, and relentless advocate for justice, equality, and equity in the academy.  All of us at UNCF will miss Brian, but we know that he will continue to champion the urgent cause of higher education access and affordability, and he will lead a new era of innovation and transformation for all of New Jersey’s colleges and universities and their students.”

“The challenges that confront higher education today are daunting, but the opportunities are unlimited.  I am excited by the nomination of Dr. Bridges, and look forward to a partnership with him that will seize on theopportunities before us and how, together, we can leverage New Jersey’s higher education resources to help make New Jersey fairer and stronger for everyone,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway

“Brian is just the leader we need at this time. He is dedicated to advancing equity in education and I’m excited that he’s decided to join our team and continue the work we began on behalf of students across New Jersey,” said former New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Zakiya Smith-Ellis. “I am looking forward to working with him and am confident that he has the skills necessary to assume the mantle of setting statewide higher education policy.”

“It has been an honor serving New Jersey’s higher education community as Interim Secretary at a time when institutions, students and families face unprecedented challenges during this ever-evolving public health emergency,” said Interim Secretary Diana Gonzalez. “I look forward to working closely with Dr. Bridges to continue making progress on our State Plan for Higher Education goals, including addressing college affordability and access through the Community College Opportunity Grant, to ensure we take an equitable approach to emerging from this crisis stronger than ever.” 

Brian Bridges, Ph.D., currently serves as Vice President of Research and Member Engagement at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in Washington, DC, where he leads UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI) and the Institute for Capacity Building (ICB). He serves as the organization’s chief research officer, principal editor and contributor for FDPRI’s publications, as well as the manager of internal and external projects involving capacity building, evaluation and assessment. Dr. Bridges also leads the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative, a project funded by the Lilly Endowment, to improve job placement outcomes at HBCUs and PBIs.

Prior to joining UNCF, Dr. Bridges was Vice Provost for Diversity, Access, and Equity at Ohio University. Previously, he was Associate Director of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education and has held various other roles, including Associate Director at the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). While at NSEE, he managed a million-dollar subcontract for the Building Engagement and Attainment of Minority Students project, a national initiative funded by Lumina Foundation to assist minority-serving institutions in their use of NSSE results for institutional improvement. He is a former Adjunct Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration at George Washington University. Throughout his career, Dr. Bridges has served on numerous panels and advisory committees on issues related to student engagement, HBCUs, learning environments at minority-serving institutions, and success factors for African American college students at predominantly white institutions.

Dr. Bridges earned his Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Higher Education Administration from Indiana University–Bloomington, a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Carolina–Charlotte, and a Bachelor’s of Arts in English Language and Literature from Francis Marion University.

Dr. Bridges was born in Brooklyn, NY and reared in Beaufort, SC. He will begin his new role on November 16, 2020.


Brian Bridges, Ph.D.

Vice President, Research and Member Engagemen

Brian Bridges, Ph.D., is UNCF’s vice president of research and member engagement and leads UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI) and the Institute for Capacity Building (ICB). He serves as UNCF’s chief research officer, principal editor and contributor for FDPRI’s publications and the manager of internal and external projects involving capacity building, evaluation and assessment. Bridges also leads the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative, a project funded by the Lilly Endowment, to improve job placement outcomes at HBCUs and PBIs.

Prior to joining UNCF, Bridges was vice provost for diversity, access and equity at Ohio University. He was associate director of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education and held various roles, including associate director, at the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). While at NSEE, he managed a million-dollar subcontract for the Building Engagement and Attainment of Minority Students project, a national initiative funded by Lumina Foundation to assist minority-serving institutions use of NSSE results for institutional improvement. In addition, he has served on numerous panels and advisory committees on issues related to HBCUs, learning environments at minority-serving institutions and success factors for African American college students at predominantly white institutions.

Bridges earned his doctorate in higher education administration from Indiana University-Bloomington, a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and a bachelor’s degree from Francis Marion University.

Electrical Fire Snuffed In Foxmoor’s Andover Glen Section

October 30, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–At 7:30 am the Robbinsville Police Department received a 9-1-1 call in Andover Glen from the 100 Block of Andover Place, for a bathroom fire with fire and smoke coming from the vent. Robbinsville Fire Department, Hamilton Township Fire Department, Allentown and West Windsor Fire Departments were dispatched to the scene. The occupant was instructed to evacuate and alert neighbors.

Upon arrival it was found that the fire was electrical in nature near the bathroom fan with some extension into the attic space. The fire was quickly extinguished and smoke had to be evacuated from the condominium. Firefighters used positive pressure fans to remove smoke from the structure.

The Robbinsville Township Fire Marshal was investigating the fire and appeared to be an issue with wiring.

The fire department remained on scene for about an hour until the investigation was completed.

No other information was available about the fire.

Pedestrian Struck And Killed In New Brunswick

October 30. 2020

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Anthony A. Caputo of the New Brunswick Police Department announced today that a pedestrian was killed the evening of October 28 after being struck by a vehicle.

The initial investigation conducted by Officer Peter Maroon of the New Brunswick Police Department and Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined a man, who is yet to be identified, was fatally struck on Livingston Avenue in the vicinity of Welton Street.  The male was pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. 

The motorist remained on scene to cooperate with law enforcement.  The investigation is active and continuing.  Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Maroon of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5005 or Detective Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4328.

County Road 539 at CR 537 Closed Due To Dump Truck Accident And Fuel Spill Clean Up

October 30, 2020

PLUMSTED TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–About 7:15 the New Egypt Fire Department (Ocean County Plumsted Station 39) and Hope Fire Company of Allentown were dispatched to County Road 539 by County Road 537 for a dump truck vs a Ford Explorer. Upon arrival it was determined to be on the Ocean County side of the line. As a result of the accident a fuel spill from the truck caused the roadway to be closed for clean up. Fire and HAZ-MAT crews are on scene working to clean up the fuel sill.

This is from on scene reporting and radio reports. Once Plumsted Township Police release information the story will be updated.

Pedestrian Struck On South Broad Street In Hamilton

October 29, 2020

Photos and Story by: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTION TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–A deaf man was struck by a car at South Broad Street and Sunnybrea Boulevard around 7:29 p.m. on a dark and rainy Thursday night. Hamilton Police, Hamilton Fire Department, Robert Wood Johnson EMS, and Capital Health Paramedics responded to the scene. The man was transported to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center. 

Three Men Arrested In Toms River Murder

October 29, 2020

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Toms River Township Police Chief Mitchell A. Little announced that Shadrach Correa, 18, Daivon Sullivan, 18, and Leyron Jones, 23, all of Toms River, have been charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) in connection with the death of Javon Cutler which occurred in Toms River on October 11, 2020. The three defendants were also charged with two counts of Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), and Conspiracy to Commit Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1).

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit revealed that on October 11, 2020, at approximately 8:15 p.m., Javon Cutler, 19, of Bayville, and two friends were attempting to leave Toms River Apartments – located on Main Street in Toms River – when an unknown individual opened fire on their vehicle. Mr. Cutler, who was seated in the rear passenger seat, was struck in the head as a result. The driver of the vehicle drove directly to Community Medical Center to seek medical treatment for Mr. Cutler. Mr. Cutler was subsequently transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries on October 14, 2020. A post mortem examination was performed by the Ocean County Medical Examiner on October 15, 2020. The Medical Examiner determined the cause of Mr. Cutler’s death to be intermediate distance gunshot wound to the head, and the manner of his death to be homicide.

After a very thorough and comprehensive investigation that spanned the course of nearly three weeks, it was determined that Correa, Sullivan and Jones acted together and in support of one another in carrying out the shooting of Javon Cutler. Correa was arrested and charged on October 28, 2020, while Sullivan and Jones were taken into custody and charged today. All three men were transported to the Ocean County Jail, where they are currently lodged pending a detention hearing.

“The investigative efforts leading to the arrest of these defendants were nothing short of outstanding, and the teamwork exhibited by everyone involved – Assistant Prosecutors, Detectives, and Officers alike – truly exemplifies the best in law enforcement,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “This heinous crime was not easily solved, but our team of professionals demonstrated an unwavering commitment identifying and investigating the individuals responsible for this senseless killing and bringing them to justice. The men and women in blue literally worked around the clock for nearly three weeks, putting the pieces of the puzzle together with a singular objective in mind: removing these incredibly dangerous young men from our streets,” Prosecutor Billhimer continued. “The residents of Ocean County can rest easier tonight knowing that Correa, Sullivan, and Jones are behind bars due to the painstaking efforts of our law enforcement community. I am extremely proud to work alongside these selfless men and women, and I commend them, as always, on a job well done. Now, our attention turns to securing justice for Mr. Cutler and his family,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Chief Little added: “It is extremely unnerving to have something like this happen in our town. I am so proud of the tenacity and dedication of all of the Officers and Detectives from all agencies who worked around the clock on this case to restore order and safety to our community.”

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Little acknowledge the following agencies for their tremendous and collaborative efforts in connection with this wide-ranging investigation which ultimately resulted in the apprehension of these three defendants: Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit; Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force; Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit; Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team; Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit; Toms River Township Police Department; Toms River Township Police Detective Bureau; Toms River Township Police Department Emergency Services Unit; Toms River Township Special Enforcement Team; Manchester Township Police Department; Barnegat Township Police Department; Berkeley Township Police Department; Seaside Heights Police Department; Brick Township Police Department; Lakewood Township Police Department; Jackson Township Police Department; South Toms River Police Department; Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit; New Jersey State Police; Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office; Ocean County Department of Corrections; New Jersey State Department of Corrections; New Jersey State Police; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The public and media are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Another Bank Robbery Reported, This Time In East Windsor

SEE RELATED MIDJERSEY.NEWS STORY HERE: Hold Up Man Strikes Chase Bank In Lawrence Township Today

October 29, 2020

From the East Windsor Police Blotter released today:

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)– On Thursday, October 22, 2020, at approximately 11:15 a.m., East Windsor Police responded  to the Bank of America located inside ShopRite for a reported bank robbery. Investigation revealed that a man passed a note to the teller demanding money. The teller  provided  an undisclosed amount of cash and the man left the area prior to police arrival. No weapon was displayed. The suspect and vehicle are described as follows:

Suspect:

  • Asian male
  • Approximately 20-30 years old
  • Approximately 5’07” in height with a slender build
  • Wearing a black baseball hat, light gray long sleeve shirt, dark gray sweat pants, gray sneakers, and a black facemask

Vehicle:

  • Blue Hyundai Elantra (newer model)
  • Temporary Registration (316587C – Unknown State)
  • No front license plate

Initial investigation revealed that the suspect committed another bank robbery at a bank located inside a ShopRite in Aberdeen, NJ earlier in the day, prior to this incident. The suspect has also committed a string of bank robberies in Connecticut and Morris County, New Jersey earlier in the month. The suspect committed several other bank robberies in New Jersey on October 27. Investigation is ongoing.

Jackson Man Among Those Charged Or Admit Guilt In Bank Fraud And Bribery Scheme

John Scott Brink, 59, of Jackson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

October 29, 2020

NEWARK, NJ —A Morris County, New Jersey, man was arrested and three co-defendants pleaded guilty today in connection with a conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank bribery, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Kurt Phelps, 52, of Flanders, New Jersey, was charged by complaint with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bank bribery. He made his initial appearance by videoconference today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk and was released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

Three co-defendants pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to their respective roles in the scheme: Douglas Arbolino, 59, of Central Valley, New York, and Gary Swenson, 59, of Hardyston, New Jersey, each pleaded guilty to informations charging them with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of bribery of a bank official; and John Scott Brink, 59, of Jackson, New Jersey, pleaded guilty to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From 2013 through 2019, Phelps, Arbolino, Swenson, and Brink, conspired to defraud Victim Bank-1, Phelps’s employer. The defendants obtained millions of dollars of credit from Victim Bank-1 for Starnet Business Solutions Inc. (Starnet), a now-defunct New Jersey-based printing company where Arbolino, Swenson, and Brink worked. Arbolino, Swenson, and Brink paid Phelps large cash bribes in connection with the fraud scheme

In 2013, Starnet provided materially false financial information to Victim Bank-1 and received a line of credit. Brink sent Victim Bank-1 inflated accounts receivable information, and Arbolino and Swenson provided other materially false financial information, such as semi-annual financial reports. Victim Bank-1 not only allowed Starnet to maintain the line of credit, it increased the credit available at various times. By 2018, the line of credit available to Starnet was worth approximately $8 million, and Starnet has not repaid it.

Phelps was aware that financial information Starnet provided to Victim Bank-1 was materially false. Phelps coached Starnet on how to defraud Victim Bank-1. Phelps would review draft financial information for Starnet and provide feedback on how his conspirators should falsify the information before submitting it. Phelps also worked to ensure that Victim Bank-1 did not detect the fraud scheme by helping Starnet avoid audits and other quality control measures employed by Victim Bank-1.

Phelps solicited large cash bribes – tens of thousands of dollars at a time – from Starnet in connection with the fraud scheme. Arbolino, Swenson, and Brink pooled cash to pay Phelps bribe payments, which were hand-delivered, and totaled hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bribery of a bank official, and bank bribery charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

Individuals who believe they may have information about this case may contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324).

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest and guilty pleas.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Suchorsky of the
Economic Crimes Unit.

The charges and allegations in the complaint against Phelps are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Defense counsel:
Phelps: Kevin F. Carlucci Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark
Brink: Amy Luria Esq., Roseland, New Jersey
Swenson: Robert Stahl Esq., Westfield, New Jersey
Arbolino: Kerry Lawrence Esq., White Plains, New York



TFD Quickly Extinguishes Garage Fire

October 29, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Trenton Fire Department was dispatched to the 1st block of Feeder Street for a garage fire attached to a home around 11:15 am. An “All Hands” was called at 11:16 am sending additional firefighters and equipment to the scene. Firefighters had the fire under control within 10 minutes. No further information was available about the fire.

Photos by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News

BREAKING: Route 130 Closed By Voelbel For Accident Investigation, Driver Of Box Truck Rescued From Fire And Crash

UPDATE AT 5:15 PM INVESTIGATION IS COMPLETE AND VEHCILES REMOVED FROM ROADWAY AND ROADWAY HAS REOPENED


South Brunswick Family In Need Of Help For Critically Injured Father In Robbinsville Crash


October 29, 2020

Preliminary report:

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–The Robbinsville Township Police were receiving multiple 9-1-1 calls for a two vehicle crash involving a tractor trailer and another vehicle on fire with a person trapped on Route 130 near Voelbel Road at 12:26 pm. The Robbinsville Township Police Department, Robbinsville Township Fire Department responded to the scene.

A witness stated, upon arrival civilians stopped to help as they were passing by, employees from Champion Carstar Collision ran over with extinguishers and Police used multiple fire extinguishers to knock down and hold back the fire from the occupant of the construction box van style truck.

When fire apparatus arrived firefighters quickly used a 1 3/4″ line to knock fire down the rest of fire in the engine compartment. Once fire was out the driver of the construction box truck had to be extricated using rescue tools then was turned over to EMS and Paramedics.

An additional rescue was called from Hamilton Township Fire Department, a total of 4 ambulances were called to the scene and two paramedic units.

The driver of the box construction truck was taken to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Medical Center in Trenton. The driver of the tractor trailer self extricated and was treated on scene, then transported. There was another injury reported on scene that refused medical advice and wished not to be transported.

The Robbinsville Township Police Department has the roadway shut down in the area on the North bound side and is rerouting traffic off of Route 130 in the area. Avoid the area until at least 5 pm this afternoon until the accident investigation is completed.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Serious Accident Investigation Unit was on their was to the scene at the time of this report and will be assisting the Robbinsville Township Police in the investigation.

This is from preliminary reports, radio reports, witness and on scene reporting. Once official information from the Robbinsville Township Police becomes available the story will be updated and any additions and corrections made if needed.





BREAKING: Serious Head-On-Crash In Hamilton

October 28, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 8:27 pm the Hamilton Township Police Department, Hamilton Township Fire Department, RWJ EMS, Capital Paramedics and Robbinsville EMS were sent to Crosswicks-Hamilton Square Road for a serious collision.

The accident happened on Crosswicks-Hamilton between HTFD Station 19 and Edgebrook Road. Three vehicles are involved in a head-on-crash with multiple injures at the scene.

Three ambulances were called to the scene. Two ambulances transported two victims to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center and “trauma alerts” were called. The third ambulance transported one to Hamilton.

Hamilton Township Police were on scene investigating the crash and Hamilton Township Fire Department Engine 19 was also on scene assisting with lighting.

No further information is available at this time.

This report was from radio reports and on scene reporting, once official information becomes available from HTPD the story will be updated and any corrections made.

Trenton Firefighters Quickly Extinguish Fire, Keeps Fire From Spreading To Entire Row

October 28, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 6:35 pm the Trenton Fire Department responded to the 100 Block of Garfield Avenue for a house fire. Upon arrival firefighters found the fire in the end of a row in the rear of the building, an “all hands” was called at 6:37 pm., sending additional fire apparatus to the scene.

Firefighters quickly put 3 lines in service and laid a supply line to the hydrant down the street. Firefighters were able to knock down the fire before spreading to the entire row of houses. No further information was available.

Police Investigate Reported Stabbing In Trenton

October 28, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 10:00 am the Trenton Police Department, Trenton Fire Department, Trenton EMS and Capital Paramedics were all sent to the 900 Block of South Broad near Cass Street for a stabbing. It was unclear what exactly happened with the stabbing but TPD was on scene investigating. No information was available.

Photos by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News

Trenton Police Department Requests Public Assistance Locating 15-Year-Old-Girl

October 28, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Trenton Police Department is looking for Jarielyz Romero, who has been reported missing and was last seen Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020 at her home on Tyler Street in Trenton.

Jarielyz Romero is a 15-year-old, white-Hispanic female, 5’1” tall, and weighs approximately 130 pounds. She has hazel eyes, light complexion, and medium brown hair. She was last seen wearing a bright pink spaghetti strap camisole top, light blue high waist jeans, bright pink sandals with black socks, and a dark green zippered hooded sweatshirt.

Jarielyz Romero is known to frequent the area of Chestnut Street (Columbus-Unity Park) and 501 Chambers Street (McDonald’s) in Trenton.

Anyone with any information on her possible whereabouts should contact Juvenile Officer Arlene Miranda of the Trenton Police Department, Youth Section at 609- 989-4083 or any Criminal Investigation Bureau detective at 609-989-4155, and/or their local police department.

Gas Leak In Robbinsville When Contractors Hit Gas Main

October 28, 2020 updated 12:45 pm

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Police, Robbinsville Fire Department and Public Works are on scene of a gas leak at the corner of Union Street and Washington Boulevard. It is reported that a contractor using a digger struck a gas line at 11:35 am. The gas main is leaking and crews are waiting for PSE&G to arrive and stop the leak.

PSE&G gas has arrived at 12:10 pm

PSE&G has stopped the leak at 12:45 pm. all police and fire units are returning to their stations.

Arrest Made In Seaside Park Shooting

October 28, 2020

SEASIDE PARK, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that a 17 year-old juvenile was taken into custody last night in connection with a shooting that occurred on October 27, 2020, in Seaside Park. The juvenile has been charged with Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1 and N.J.S.A. 2C11-3; Aggravated Assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(3); Robbery in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1; Possession of a Weapon For an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a; and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b(1).

On October 27, 2020, at approximately 11:45 a.m., the Seaside Park Police Department responded to the area of I Street in response to a 911 call for a reported shooting. Responding Officers were met by witnesses to the shooting; a short time later, a white BMW pulled up to a marked Seaside Heights Police vehicle in the Borough of Seaside Heights and advised that one of the passengers was the victim of the shooting. The victim was taken to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, treated for injuries, and released. Following a thorough investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Seaside Park Police Department, Seaside Heights Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, the subject juvenile was identified as the shooter. A warrant for the juvenile’s arrest was executed by the Ocean County Regional SWAT Team, and the juvenile was taken into custody without incident. The juvenile was processed at Seaside Park Police Headquarters, and is currently lodged at the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center.

Prosecutor Billhimer is grateful for the hard work and collaborative efforts of all law enforcement personnel involved in this comprehensive investigation leading to the juvenile’s apprehension, including the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team, Seaside Park Police Department, Seaside Heights Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit. “All the officers involved in this investigation worked at breakneck speed to identify and apprehend the individual responsible for this senseless act of violence, for which I am extremely grateful. As I have stated on numerous occasions, this unbridled lawlessness – whether perpetrated by an adult or a juvenile – will not be tolerated in Ocean County,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Hold Up Man Strikes Chase Bank In Lawrence Township Today

October 27, 2020 Updated at 5:23 pm (Ewing removed not confirmed through additional sources)

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, (MERCER)–According a source close to the investigation a bank robbery occurred at the Mercer Mall, Chase Bank inside Shop Ride on Route 1. The source also stated that there were possibly related robberies in Mount Holly, Burlington County. It was said that the perpetrator was driving a blue car with Texas temporary plates. The source also stated it is believed that this is the 5th robbery by the same suspect recently.

No other information is available at this time.

Update: Fatal Crash On Route 29, As Driver Operates Vehicle South Bound In North Bound Lanes

See last night’s MidJersey.News story here: BREAKING: Serious Accident Route 29 North At Mile Post 1 In Hamilton

October 27, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–According to NJ State Police Spokesman Trooper Charles Marchan, Troopers responded to a motor vehicle crash at 10:18 pm on State Highway 29 North Bound at Mile Post 1.

Based on a preliminary investigation Rossanna A. Allen, 23 year old female of Gibbsboro, N.J., was operating a Jeep northbound on State Highway 29.

Bob Whitaker, 63 year old male of Trenton, N.J.,  was operating a Ford northbound on State Highway 29.

Al H. Swaray, 37 year old male of Hatboro, PA,  was operating a 2004 Nissan southbound on State Highway 29 in the northbound lanes. The front of Swaray’s Nissan struck the front of Allen’s Jeep. The Jeep then collided with the driver side of Whitaker’s Ford.

As a result of the crash Al A. Swaray, suffered fatal injuries and Rossana A. Allen suffered serious injuries.

The crash remains under investigation and there is no further information available at the moment.

Trenton Man Among 3 Charged With Federal Sex Crimes After Attempting Sexual Contact With Children They Met Online

In mid-October 2020, Ryan Lee, 35, used an internet-based application to communicate with an undercover officer, who Lee believed was a 13-year-old child. During the conversations, which were sexual in nature, Lee repeatedly asked the individual who he believed was 13 to send him nude photographs, while also sending multiple photographs of his penis to the undercover officer. On Oct. 17, 2020, Lee travelled from Trenton to a location in Somerset County where he believed the minor was located. Law enforcement identified Lee as he approached the location and arrested him.

October 27, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Three men have been charged with various sex offenses after attempting to have sexual contact with individuals they believed to be children they met online, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Quentin Anthony Blount, 28, of Easton, Pennsylvania, Jesus Modesto Sanchez, 29, of New York City, and Ryan Lee, 35, of Trenton, New Jersey, are charged in separate complaints: Blount is charged with interstate travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and attempted sex trafficking of a minor; Modesto Sanchez is charged with interstate travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and possession of child pornography; and Lee is charged with attempted online enticement and attempted transfer of obscene materials to minors. Blount and Lee made their initial appearances by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III on Oct. 23, 2020, and were detained. Modesto Sanchez is expected to make his initial appearance later this week.

“Sexual crimes against children are among the most difficult cases we handle,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “I am proud my office is working hand in hand with our partners at the FBI and the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office to make sure these predators are identified and prosecuted with all the tools at our disposal.”

“Our children and their online safety is the utmost concern to us at the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office,” Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson said. “Social media apps allow predators into our homes and as law enforcement, we must do what we can to make it a safer environment. We hope that this operation will continue to be eye-opening for parents. Although, 12 online child predators have been arrested, parents must learn the apps that their children are using and the inherent dangers within.”

“Children are our most vulnerable population, and crimes such as these are unthinkable,” Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. of the FBI Newark Division said. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will stop at nothing to prevent these heinous crimes, safeguard our children, and bring justice to all.”

According to documents filed in these cases and statements made in court:

Special agents of the FBI and local law enforcement engaged in an operation targeting individuals who use the internet to exploit children. Blount, Modesto Sanchez and Lee were among several individuals identified and arrested.

On Oct. 15, 2020, Blount used an internet-based application to communicate with an individual who he believed was offering her 14-year-old daughter for sex in exchange for money. Unbeknownst to Blount, he was communicating with an undercover law enforcement officer. Blount travelled from Easton to a location in Somerset County, New Jersey, to meet with the mother and the minor. Upon his arrival, he provided a sum of cash to the undercover officer, who Blount believed was the child’s mother, and was arrested by law enforcement.

In mid-October 2020, Modesto Sanchez used an internet-based application to communicate with an undercover officer who Modesto Sanchez believed was a 13-year-old child. During the conversation, Modesto Sanchez offered to perform various sex acts. On Oct. 17, 2020, Modesto Sanchez travelled from New York to a location in Somerset County to meet with the child. Law enforcement identified Modesto Sanchez as he approached the location where he believed the minor to be, at which time he was arrested by law enforcement. A search of Modesto Sanchez’ cellular telephone revealed over 200 videos depicting the graphic sexual exploitation of children.

In mid-October 2020, Lee used an internet-based application to communicate with an undercover officer, who Lee believed was a 13-year-old child. During the conversations, which were sexual in nature, Lee repeatedly asked the individual who he believed was 13 to send him nude photographs, while also sending multiple photographs of his penis to the undercover officer. On Oct. 17, 2020, Lee travelled from Trenton to a location in Somerset County where he believed the minor was located. Law enforcement identified Lee as he approached the location and arrested him.

The charges of attempted sex trafficking of a minor and attempted online enticement each carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison. The charge of interstate travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. The charge of transferring obscene materials to a minor carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison. The charge of possession of child pornography carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Each count carries a fine of up to $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr.; detectives with the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson and Chief John W. Fodor, and officers with the Somerville, Bound Brook, and Hillsborough Police Departments with the investigation leading to these charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Barnes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Defense counsel:
Blount and Lee: Rahul Sharma Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark


Trenton City Hall To Close Until November 3, 2020 As 3 More City Employees Test Positive

This brings total to 6 City employees 3 at City Hall and 3 at Trenton Water Works

October 27, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora today announced that immediately following positive COVID-19 tests for three employees, City Hall will be closed until Nov. 3, 2020 so the building can be vacated and sanitized according to the City’s COVID-19 protocol.

City Hall employees are to work from home until Nov. 3, 2020 and cannot return to City Hall until they are evaluated for exposure to the virus. Essential services such as police, fire and sanitation will continue normally, and additional services will be restored as department employees are cleared for work. The City Clerk’s Office will remain open to accept provisional ballots leading up to the general election.

City residents who have traveled to City Hall and are concerned about possible exposure should contact the Office of Emergency Management at (609) 989-4200.

Three employees have also tested positive at the Trenton Water Works administration building. Water treatment and other critical services have been unaffected. Customer service professionals have already been equipped to work remotely and continue to respond to any customer concerns.

“We’re not taking any chances as a second wave advances on our city,” said Mayor Gusciora. “We acted as soon as we heard of the positive tests and closing City Hall is the best way to ensure employee and resident safety. I can’t think of a better sign to Trenton residents that we need to take this disease as seriously as ever. For the sake of your loved ones, make sure you wear a mask, observe six-foot social distancing at all costs, and get tested if you have any suspicion you might be infected. If you feel sick or show symptoms, stay home!”

Trenton has had 4,151 cases since March, including 80 COVID-19 related deaths. As of Oct. 19, 2020, national forecasts predict that 3,500 to 7,600 new COVID-19 deaths will be reported during the week ending Nov. 14, 2020. These forecasts predict 235,000 to 247,000 total COVID-19 deaths in the United States by Nov. 19, 2020.

The City’s Health Department has tracked an increase in COVID-19 positive cases throughout Trenton as residents resume house parties, sports and other social events.

In order to keep loved ones and first responders safe, city residents are asked to follow these recommendations from the CDC, the N.J. Department of Health, and the City of Trenton Department of Health:

  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer if you’re without soap and water.
  • Monitor your health through daily temperature checks and look for signs of COVID-19. Limit your contact with people who exhibit cough, fever, fatigue, chills, loss of taste or smell, diarrhea, vomiting, sore throat, difficulty breathing, congestion and runny nose.
  • Practice social distancing by remaining at least six feet apart from other residents and avoiding crowds.
  • Wear a face mask in public.
  • Call your healthcare provider for guidance if you have been around a COVID-19 positive person.
  • If you have traveled to a state with a high positivity rate, quarantine for 14 days when returning to Trenton.

For a list of current testing options, visit here.

The City of Trenton Department of Health will continue to monitor public events and restaurants for compliance with COVID-19 regulations.


On October 21, 2020 in the midst of an ongoing pandemic and an outbreak in the City of Trenton, was it smart on the City official’s part to hold a press conference with the media in the basement of police headquarters, cramped in tight quarters, elbow to elbow, in a basement room with no windows and limited ventilation?

BMW T-Bones Tree, Resulting A “River of flames” On East State Street

October 27, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 9:30 a BMW traveling on East State Street near Garfield Avenue crashed into a tree and burst into flames, resulting in a “River of flames” from fuel leaking on the ground as a result of the accident. Responding units reported a “column of smoke” in the air while en route to the scene.

Trenton Fire Department, Trenton EMS, Trenton Police and Capital Health paramedics responded to the scene for a vehicle into a tree and on fire with a person trapped. Upon arrival the driver self extricated and was no where to be found. Trenton Fire Department arrived and quickly doused the flames.

Fuel absorbent pads were used to help clean the resulting fuel spill from the accident. Hawks Towing removed the vehicle.

Trenton Police was investigating the crash, no further details were available at this time.

Breaking News report, from radio reports, witnesses and on scene reporting. If official information becomes available the story will be updated.

Photos by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News

BREAKING: Serious Accident Route 29 North At Mile Post 1 In Hamilton


MidJersey.News update here: Update: Fatal Crash On Route 29, As Driver Operates Vehicle South Bound In North Bound Lanes


October 26, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–A serious 2 vehicle collision occurred on Route 29 North Bound at Mile Post 1 tonight around 10:15 pm.

The accident was originally dispatched as a pedestrian accident in Trenton at the tunnel near Waterfront Park but when Trenton Fire Department and TEMS arrived it was determined to be in Hamilton Township. Hamilton Township Fire Department was also dispatched to the scene of the accident.

Reports were that one person was hevily entrapped and had to be extricated by the fire department. At least one person was transported to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center a “trauma alert” was called.

The NJ State Police Serious Accident Investigation Unit was on scene investigating the crash. An e-mail was sent to the Public Information Officer for information and once received the story will be updated and additions and corrections made.

This is a Breaking News Report from radio and on scene reporting. Once public information becomes available the story will be updated.

East Windsor Man Charged in New Brunswick Shooting

Kyale Simonson, 32, of East Windsor was charged with two counts of first-degree Attempted Murder, one count of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and one count of second-degree Possession of a Handgun without a Permit.

October 26, 2020

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Anthony A. Caputo of the New Brunswick Police Department announced today that an East Windsor man was arrested and charged in connection with a shooting that occurred on September 2, 2020.

Kyale Simonson, 32, of East Windsor was charged with two counts of first-degree Attempted Murder, one count of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and one count of second-degree Possession of a Handgun without a Permit.

Simonson was charged following an investigation by Detective Brandt Gregus of the New Brunswick Police Department and Detective Sean Sullivan of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, which identified Simonson as the gunman in a non-fatal shooting of two men near the intersection of Lee Avenue and Seaman Street. 

Simonson is being held at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center pending a Detention Hearing in Superior Court.

The investigation is active and continuing.  Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Gregus of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5200, or Detective Sullivan of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4060.

As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Simonson are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Colorado Man Busted And Charged With Smuggling Cocaine Into The United States At Newark Liberty International Airport

October 26, 2020

NEWARK, NJ –A Colorado man will make his initial appearance today on charges that he smuggled approximately two kilograms of cocaine into the United States, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Leandre Kemont Jefferson, 23, of Denver, Colorado, was arrested on Oct. 23, 2020. He is charged by complaint with one count of importation of controlled substances and is scheduled to appear by videoconference today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Oct. 23, 2020, Jefferson arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport aboard a flight from Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. During a screening, law enforcement officers discovered that Jefferson possessed approximately two kilograms of cocaine concealed inside of 12 vacuum packed bags, which were themselves wrapped in foil, and which was further concealed inside of clothing.

The count with which Jefferson is charged carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a potential maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, and a $5 million fine.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, New Jersey Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina; and officers of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, under the direction of Troy Miller, director of Field Operations, New York Field Office, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean M. Sherman of the Criminal Division in Newark.

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Defense counsel: Peter Carter Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark

Another Close Call On NJ’s Highways – This Time At Howell Township Crash Scene, Slow Down, Move Over, It’s The Law

PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND MOVE OVER!

October 26, 2020

HOWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A week has gone buy since we celebrated National Move Over Day when Howell Police investigating an accident scene on Route 9 North Bound near Casino Drive with emergency lights activated when a North Bound Driver on their cell phone ran into their patrol vehicle that was at the accident scene. Luckily no one else was injured at the emergency scene.








UPDATE: NJSP Col. Callahan And Govenor Phil Murphy Provide Update On Crash; Trooper Will Be OK After Being Thrown 30 Feet June 22, 2020




HOWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–This evening, Howell Police were investigating a collision on Rt.9 in the northbound lanes near Casino Drive. While the officers were out of their vehicles, another motorist who admittedly was using her phone struck one of the unoccupied patrol vehicles. The other motorist who is a Howell resident was not impaired or injured. Thankfully no one else was injured at the scene. The motorist was issued summonses. This is another reminder that it only takes a second to possibly ruin the rest of your life or someone else’s. We all are guilty of it on occasion but when there’s an active emergency scene that’s definitely not the time to be doing so. Move over or significantly slow for stopped emergency vehicles. This includes our tow/wrecker services.


New Jersey Statute 39:4-92.2

Procedure for motorist approaching certain stationary vehicle.

1. a. The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle as defined in R.S.39:1-1 that is displaying a flashing, blinking or alternating red or blue light or, any configuration of lights containing one of these colors, shall approach the authorized emergency vehicle with due caution and shall, absent any other direction by a law enforcement officer, proceed as follows:

(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or

(2) If a lane change pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection a. of this section would be impossible, prohibited by law or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.

b. The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary tow truck as defined in section 1 of P.L.1999, c.396 (C.39:3-84.6) that is displaying a flashing amber light, a stationary highway maintenance or emergency service vehicle that is operated by the State, an authority or a county or municipality and displaying flashing yellow, amber, or red lights, or a stationary sanitation vehicle displaying a flashing amber warning light pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2011, c.3 (C.39:3-54.27) shall approach the vehicle with due caution and shall, absent any other direction by a law enforcement officer, proceed as follows:

(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the tow truck, highway maintenance or emergency service vehicle, or sanitation vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or

(2) If a lane change under paragraph (1) of subsection b. of this section would be impossible, prohibited by law or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.

c. A violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500.

L. 2017, c.43, s.1.

Serious Crash On Rt 537 Near Great Adventure

October 25, 2020 Updated October 26 at 2:50 pm. to add official press release from Jackson PD below original story:

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Around 7:20 pm tonight a vehicle left the roadway near Top Gun Paint Ball near Great Adventure on Route 537 and crashed into a tree pinning the occupants. The Jackson Township Police, Jackson Township Fire Department, Jackson First Aid Squad and Millstone Township Fire Department, along with paramedics responded to the scene of the crash.

The fire departments performed the extrication, two medical helicopters were called to fly to a landing zone at Hurricane Harbor. The helicopters were canceled due to weather conditions. The vicitms were transported by ground to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton for treatment.

No further information is available at this time and the Jackson Township Police Department is investigating the crash. An e-mail was sent to the department and once public information becomes available about the crash the story will be updated and any corrections made.


Official Jackson Township Police Press Release:

The Jackson Township Police Department is currently investigating a single vehicle motor vehicle crash causing two occupants to be hospitalized.  

At approximately 1920 hours, officers responded to Monmouth Road for a report of a motor vehicle crash involving a single vehicle into the wooded area off of the right side of the road.  Upon officer’s arrival, a 1994 green Mercury Cougar was located off of the road which struck multiple trees. Both occupants were entrapped within the vehicle and needed to be extricated by responding emergency personnel. The occupants were identified as:  

Driver:  Ronald Nastasi Age 23 of Toms River, NJ  

Passenger:  Lauren Citrano Age 22 of Toms River, NJ  

Initial investigation revealed that driver one was traveling north bound on Monmouth Road in the right lane when for unknown reasons he left the roadway (right).  Vehicle one continued through the grass area where it struck a tree and was brought to rest. Both occupants were sent via medevac to the hospital as a result of injuries sustained.  

 At this time, the crash remains under investigation by Officer Lasko #252, Officer S. Cilento #274 and Sergeant Vidalis #251 of the Traffic Safety Unit.   

Anyone having witnessed the crash is asked to contact Officer Lasko at 732-928-1111 ext. 2406  

-The media and the public are reminded that any persons arrested or charged with any offenses or crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.   




Continuing Coverage: Trenton Police And Firefighters Continue Search For Person In Canal

October 25, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police called out the Trenton Fire Department around noon today to continue the search for a missing person in the Delaware-Raritan Feeder Canal near Old Rose Street, Route 1 and Southard street. The Trenton Fire Department uses side scan sonar that could locate a body beneath the water. There was no word on if anything was found this afternoon.

The Police and Fire Departments were out from around 11:00 pm last night until 12:15 this morning when the search came up empty and was suspended for the night. See last nights story below:

MidJersey.News story from last night here: BREAKING: Trenton Fire Department Searches For Person In Delaware And Raritan Canal

Check back for further information as we learn more.

Photos by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News