Multi Vehicle Accident on NJ Turnpike at Exit 7A

August 14, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–The Robbinsville Township Fire Department responded to the NJ Turnpike Exit 7A mile marker 61.2 north bound on the inner lanes for a multi-vehicle accident around 6:15 pm. It did not appear that there were serious injuries in the accident. NJ State Police is investigating no additional information was available about the accident.

Cancellation of “Tribute In Light” Creates Outcry — NEVER FORGET!

August 14, 2020

See earlier MidJersey.News article announcing the cancellation of the “Tribute in Light” : “Tribute in Light” Will Not Shine Over Lower Manhattan In 2020, Hopes To Return In 2021 For 20th Anniversary

As noted in the original post the SBA Sergeants Benevolent Association will be organizing the “Tribute In Light” this year: (bumped to the top so you can find it easier)

MIDDLETOWN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The Mayor of Middletown sent a letter to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to express deep disappointment and outrage against the decision not to have the “Tribute in Light” in New York City this year. Middletown Township lost 37 members of the community on 9/11. The mayor called not having the lights a disgrace and is disgusted that the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Board has cancelled the largest visible tribute to those who made the greatest sacrifice for our country.

Middletown Mayor Tony Perry states that Middletown, NJ would host the lights if New York City does not want to.

Union Beach, NJ has also stated they will host beams of light from their waterfront.

Personal Facebook statement from Al Lewandowski Borough of Union Beach Councilman: Ok so NYC can’t do the lights because it’s not safe… So starting on Friday September 11 at 7pm till 10 pm and Saturday the 12th same time Union Beach will keep their PROMISE. We’ll have the beams in the air from our waterfront. More to follow on this event. We would like to thank our Union Beach Recreation with this tribute. Never Forget!

NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association

NYC Belongs to the People, The Lights Will Go On…

Ed Mullins, the President of the 13,000 member NYC Sergeants Benevolent Association, announced today that the SBA will host a Tribute in Light on the evening of September 11, 2020. This is in response to the city canceling the annual commemoration of the 9/11 terrorist attacks because of COVID-19 concerns.

“Mayor de Blasio has once again failed to represent the people of this city with his inability to provide a viable alternative to this sacred annual event,” said Mullins.

“He allowed mass protests and riots in the city with no concerns whatsoever about the pandemic. He has shown time and again that he has no allegiance to crime victims in this city, whether they are killed in street encounters or by terrorists.

“The 9/11 attacks was an act of war on our nation, and the Tribute in Light remembrance paid tribute to the nearly 3,000 innocent victims who were murdered that day, as well as all of the people that continue to die from 9/11 related ailments and illnesses. These victims include members of the NYPD, PAPD, FDNY and other First Responders, as well as all of the people who went to work that day and died for our country.

“The mayor won’t find a way to honor these heroes, but the SBA will pay tribute to all of the fallen victims by arranging for a Tribute in Light. A twin beam of light will shine on the evening of 9/11. The men and women of the Sergeants Benevolent Association will make sure of that.

“The mayor might have a short and selective memory, but the members of the NYPD will NEVER FORGET the sacrifice of every person who lost their life that fateful day.”


9/11 Survivors Call for Reversal of Decision to Cancel Towers of Light

NEW YORK, NY: FDNY-Uniformed Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro released the following statement slamming the decision by the 9/11 Museum to cancel the 9/11 Tribute Lights that have brightened the sky above downtown Manhattan for 18 consecutive years in memorial of the lives lost on September 11, 2001:

“New York City Firefighters stand united in opposition to the cancellation of the annual Towers of Light. The first responders and New Yorkers who have lived through September 11, 2001, and now persevered through the coronavirus pandemic, are feeling betrayed. I haven’t spoken to a single tradesman that isn’t ready and willing to work — especially, to complete the honor of lighting the sky on the anniversary of the darkest day in American history. These are more than light beams displayed once a year — they are beams of solace for a still-grieving nation and the literal embodiment of ‘never forget.’

“The Towers of Light have been, and will always be, a symbol showing that New York City and this country can not be kept down, and will stand strong and proud in the face of any tragedy or disaster. It shines to the heavens as a reminder of those we have lost. There has been no time where this message is more relevant and poignant.

“To remove this display this year, of all years, is an indication that the museum does not understand the value, or the importance, of the sacred duties in which they have been entrusted. These lights are a symbol that brings about raw emotion from all New Yorkers, especially those who lost loved ones and responded that day. I call upon the museum to reverse their decision, or risk becoming a new source of loss as New Yorkers look above to an empty sky as we hope to emerge from these dark times. The Uniformed Firefighters Association is an organization of action and we will not stand by. We are prepared to take action if the decision is not reversed,” said Andrew Ansbro, President, Uniformed Firefighters Association.

The ceremonial “Towers of Light” that shine from NYC in tribute to those lost on 9/11 are an iconic symbol of hope. Because Tunnel to Towers is fully committed to the idea that we must NEVER FORGET, the Foundation is doing everything in its power to make sure that the Towers of Light will once again be illuminated. Read more:

New York Assemblyman Doug Smith

9/11 Tribute Must Happen: Yesterday, I sent this letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo requesting he call on the New York State Police to assist the National September 11 Memorial & Museum with anything they need to ensure the Tribute in Light memorial beacons at ground zero will shine again this year. #NeverForget

MidJersey.News was in Middletown and Atlantic Highlands on 9/11/2001 below are scenes from the Monmouth County shoreline. 37 Middletown residents and thousands of others never returned.

Never Forget:

Governor Phil Murphy: “The November 3rd Election will be primarily vote-by-mail”

August 14, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy reports November 3rd election will be primarily “Vote By Mail” See statement below:

The November 3rd Election will be primarily vote-by-mail.

All active registered New Jersey voters will automatically receive a prepaid return-postage vote-by-mail ballot.

No one should have to choose between their right to vote and their health.

TRENTON – Per Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement, the Nov. 3 General Election will be conducted primarily by mail-in ballots. This is similar to the way the July 7 Primary Election was held, and is to help reduce the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Mercer County Clerk’s Office is preparing to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters in the County.

Before the election, all voters, regardless of party affiliation, will receive a mail-in ballot, where they will be able to fill in their choices. Only blue or black ink will be allowed; red ink or pencil cannot be accepted. Postage on all ballots is paid. In addition to mailing in their ballots, voters will have the option of placing their ballots in one of the secure drop boxes throughout the County. There will be more drop boxes available than during the Primary Election. There will also be at least one polling place per municipality that will be open on Election Day, for voters who prefer to vote at the polls. Further details, including polling place and drop box locations, will be determined by the Mercer County Board of Elections.

Also, for those unregistered to vote, an online system will be launched on Sept. 4 to assist those people who need to be registered. More details about this system will be available as the weeks progress.

“The July 7 Election provided us a template on how to perform our Election duties in the midst of a crisis,” said Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami Covello. “The fact is, we all must continue to do our part to reduce the risk that COVID-19 poses to the public. For those who want to vote at the polls, they can still do so by provisional ballot.”

The earliest ballots will be mailed out in late September and early October. The deadline to register to vote in time for the Primary Election remains unchanged; that date is October 13. All ballots sent in must be postmarked no later than November 3 and received by the Board of Elections no later than November 10, one week after the Election. Alternatively, voters may return their ballots personally to poll workers. These do not need to be postmarked, but received within 48 hours of polls closing.

For more information on the Nov. 3 General Election, please visit the website for the Mercer County Clerk at You may also call the Elections department at 609-989-6494.

Smith Throws First Pitch at Babe Ruth State Tournament

August 14, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) tossed out the traditional first pitch at the Babe Ruth State Championship doubleheader featuring Hamilton/Northern Burlington squaring off against Atlantic Shore in the 2020 Southern NJ 15-year-old State Tournament Aug. 12.

     “It was good to get on the field with the Hamilton/Northern Burlington team and toss that first pitch,” said Smith, who for a number of years played in the annual Congressional Baseball Game. “Last night’s game one was a come-from-behind thriller, but unfortunately we couldn’t take game two. Still, it was a great night of baseball and the kids should be proud.”

     Smith took to the mound after the National Anthem as the 15-year-old all-stars from Atlantic Shore and Hamilton/N. Burlington watched his wind-up and delivery with interest. The congressman’s over-the-plate pitch was greeted by a round of applause. The announcer Keith Noonan, described the pitch as “Congressman Chris Smith came out and threw the first pitch and it was absolutely perfect. Right down the middle with some speed.” Co-announcer Joe O’Gorman said, “If you see a guy with a little grey hair take the mound for Hamilton-Northern Burlington, be a little suspicious today.”

Atlantic Shore, the all-stars from Atlantic County, won the State Championship with a 8-3 victory in game two of the double header. Hamilton/Northern Burlington forced the second game with a come-from-behind 7-6 win in the first game.

Man Rescued From Grain Bin

August 14, 2020

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Members of the Hope Fire Company of Allentown-Upper Freehold firefighters helped a man from a grain bin on Route 524 around 11:40 am. The man was stuck in the bin for a short time and was able to climb out to the roof of the bin prior to the fire department and EMS arrival. With help of farm staff firefighters helped the man to a lift and was lowered to the ground. The man was transported to RWJ at Hamilton Hospital by Capital Health ambulance for evaluation and appeared in good spirits and ok.

Robbinsville Reports No New Cases of COVID-19 in the Township

August 14, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–One of the few times since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic locally on March 22, Robbinsville has zero new reported cases of Coronavirus.

Mayor Dave Fried released a statement via his Facebook page:

This is really great news. All of the Mercer Hospitals have few to no cases. We also had no new cases in Robbinsville this week and now have no cases with symptoms. As we continue to open up be smart stay safe. Use kind words. Remember people will have different levels of comfort as we reopen. There is no right or wrong so be aware others may feel differently then you and that is ok. There is no rule book and the guidelines change daily. Do what is right for you and your family. Don’t worry about what others are doing. I will continue to encourage businesses to reopen and I have begun urging the State to allow restaurants to reopen. As the weather changes outside dining will become less and less practical. Please keep doing what you are doing wash your hands be aware about social distancing. There is plenty of divisiveness in the Country right now. We can lessen it by being respectful and paying it forward whenever you can. As our friend Steve would say make someone’s day today.–Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried

Five New Defendants Charged in Alleged Straw Donor Scheme Uncovered in Corruption Probe by Office of Public Integrity and Accountability

August 14, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced charges against five new defendants in the investigation of an alleged straw donor scheme that previously resulted in charges against an attorney, Elizabeth Valandingham.  The charges stem from a corruption investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) that led in December 2019 to five former public officials and political candidates being charged with taking bribes.

Valandingham, 47, of Morristown, N.J., was charged on June 17, 2020 with false representation for government contracts and misconduct by a corporate official, both second-degree offenses.  The charges relate to alleged conduct between 2012 and 2017 at the law firm where she worked.

It is alleged that Valandingham and an unnamed co-conspirator recruited straw donors in a scheme to make illicit campaign contributions on behalf of the law firm, often in excess of the contribution limits, and to avoid disclosure of those contributions.  Straw donors are individuals who contribute to a candidate but are unlawfully reimbursed by another person or entity, in this case the law firm.   Under New Jersey Election Law, it is illegal for a person to reimburse another person for a political contribution or to give or lend another person money to make a contribution to a specific candidate.

The straw donors recruited in the scheme involving Valandingham – including the five individuals charged yesterday – allegedly would routinely write checks on their personal checking accounts and in their own names to various candidates and political committees, while being contemporaneously reimbursed with cash deposits directly into their checking and/or savings accounts.  During the course of the scheme, the straw donors collectively contributed and were reimbursed in cash for approximately $239,000 worth of donations.

“New Jersey’s campaign finance and pay-to-play laws are designed to ensure that law firms and other contractors cannot purchase an unfair advantage in the competition for public contracts by making undisclosed or overly large campaign contributions,” said Attorney General Grewal.  “We are determined to hold individuals accountable if they seek to distort the political process and public contracting by making illegal contributions through the type of straw donor scheme alleged here.”

Each of the following straw donors allegedly made tens of thousands of dollars in contributions to various candidates and party committees only to be reimbursed by the law firm with cash deposits into one or more of his or her bank or financial accounts.  Each was charged yesterday by complaint-summons with fourth-degree concealment or misrepresentation of contributions.

  1. Vanessa Brown, 40, of West Caldwell, N.J.
  • Christopher Brown, 37, of West Caldwell, N.J.
  • Ricardo Balanzateguimaldo, 40, of Bogota, N.J.
  • Erin O’Reilly, aka Erin DeMauro, 41, of Lincoln Park, N.J.
  • Suzanne P. Gayet, 63, of Boonton, N.J.

Valandingham was previously charged in connection with her role in preparing and submitting annual proposals to municipalities for the law firm to be awarded public contracts for legal services.  In submitting proposals through which the firm successfully secured such contracts, she allegedly deliberately failed to disclose local political contributions the firm made during the prior year.  The municipalities required that such contributions be disclosed as part of the public contracting process, but Valandingham allegedly failed to disclose the contributions made by the straw donors and instead indicated the firm made no reportable political contributions.  Valandingham was charged specifically in connection with proposals for contracts in Bloomfield and Mount Arlington. 

For further details on the charges against Valandingham, please see the prior news release:

The defendants initially charged in the OPIA investigation – former Jersey City School Board President Sudhan Thomas, former State Assemblyman and Bayonne mayoral candidate Jason O’Donnell, former Morris County Freeholder John Cesaro, former Mount Arlington Councilman John Windish, and former Morris County freeholder candidate Mary Dougherty – face charges of second-degree bribery in official and political matters for allegedly taking thousands of dollars in bribes from a cooperating witness in the form of campaign contributions.  In return, they allegedly promised the cooperating witness – a tax attorney – that they would vote or use their official authority or influence to hire or continue to hire his law firm for lucrative government legal work. 

For further details on the bribery charges, please see the prior news release:

Valandingham and the defendants charged as straw donors are charged in connection with conduct that is not directly related to the bribery allegations against those other five defendants.

The investigation is being conducted by the OPIA Corruption Bureau, under the leadership of OPIA Director Thomas Eicher.  Deputy Attorneys General John A. Nicodemo and Anthony Robinson are prosecuting the cases, under the supervision of Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee and Counsel to the Director Anthony Picione.

Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. 

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Attorney General Grewal created the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability in September 2018 to combat corruption and strengthen public confidence in government institutions.  In December 2019, the Attorney General issued a directive codifying OPIA and making it a permanent part of the Attorney General’s Office.  That directive established the OPIA Corruption Bureau as the lead office within the Department of Law & Public Safety for the investigation and prosecution of state criminal violations involving corruption and abuse of public trust.

OPIA has a toll-free Tipline 1-844-OPIA-TIPS for the public to report corruption.  The AG’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption.  Information is posted at:

Defense Attorneys: Undetermined.

“Tribute in Light” Will Not Shine Over Lower Manhattan In 2020, Hopes To Return In 2021 For 20th Anniversary

August 14, 2020

NEW YORK — The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is reporting that the “Tribute in Light” will not shine over Lower Manhattan this year due to COVID-19 and the set up crew has to work in close proximity for weeks setting up the lights. When the weather is good the lights can be seen for miles in areas with less light pollution parts of Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties can usually see the lights if the conditions are good.

See official statement below:

Tribute in Light, the world’s beloved twin beams of light, will not shine over lower Manhattan as part of this year’s 9/11 commemoration. This incredibly difficult decision was reached in consultation with our partners after concluding the health risks during the pandemic were far too great for the large crew required to produce the annual Tribute in Light. We hope to resume this iconic tribute for the 20th anniversary. In a spirit of unity and remembrance, the city will come together for a “Tribute in Lights” initiative to inspire the world and honor the promise to never forget.

Suspended Police Officer Pleads Guilty To Possession of a Prescription Legend Drug Clenbuterol

August 14, 2020

*Clenbuterol according to Wikipedia is a bronchodilator and in some countries used for asthma. The drug also known by street name “bute” is used by bodybuilders in their “cutting” cycles for weight loss. As of 2011, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) listed Clenbuterol as an anabolic agent*

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A suspended Ocean Township police officer pleaded guilty Thursday admitting he unlawfully possessed Clenbuterol, a drug not approved for human use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but popular among human consumers as a weight loss supplement, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Ryan Vaccaro, 38, of Ocean Township, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree Possession of a Prescription Legend Drug (Clenbuterol), before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Lourdes Lucas, as part of a plea agreement with this Office.   During his plea, Vaccaro acknowledged that between May 1, 2018 and Feb. 19, 2019, he was knowingly in possession of five or more dosage units of Clenbuterol and that he did not have a lawful prescription for that substance.

Vaccaro was charged on February 19, 2019 with fourth degree Possession of a Prescription Legend Drug, second degree Possession with Intent to Distribute a Prescription Legend Drug, and second degree Distribution of a Prescription Legend Drug, as a result of an investigation connected to former Deal Police Officer Joseph Ammaturo, who entered a guilty plea last month.   The investigation revealed that Ammaturo obtained three boxes of Astralean Clenbuterol containing approximately 150 pills from Vaccaro and that Ammaturo distributed two of those boxes to other individuals.  The third box was ultimately recovered from Ammaturo’s residence.  Additional Clenbuterol pills were found in Vaccaro’s residence during the execution of a search warrant.

Clenbuterol is a drug used to treat breathing disorders in animals and is not approved for human use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  It is popular among human consumers as a weight loss supplement despite its banned status.

As part of his plea agreement, an order permanently barring Vaccaro from holding public office in New Jersey was entered and signed by Judge Lucas today. The plea agreement also permits Vaccaro to apply to the pre-trial intervention program.

 “We will continue to prosecute law enforcement officers who fail to respect their responsibilities to the community and to their colleagues who put their lives on the line each and every day,” Gramiccioni said.

“I am pleased that this case has finally concluded and we as an organization can put this behind us. The Ocean Township Police Department is a highly professional and community-minded organization and we will not let the actions of a former police officer overshadow the great work and dedication by the men and women of this department,” said Ocean Township Police Chief Steven R. Peters.

Sentencing is scheduled for October 9, 2020, at which time Vacarro faces a probationary sentence.

The case has been assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the office’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crimes Unit.

Vaccaro is represented by Richard E. Incremona, Esq., of Freehold.

UPDATE: Fatal Accident In Hamilton Township

See earlier MidJersey.News story here: BREAKING: Serious Accident on I-195 West At Exit 3A

August 13, 2020 Updated August 14, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–According to NJ State Police spokesperson Sgt. Lawrence Peele a crash occurred at 6:39 PM, on I-195 westbound in the area of Exit 3 in Hamilton Township, Mercer County.

Preliminary information indicates that a green Mitsubishi Galant was traveling westbound when it ran off the roadway and overturned. The three occupants were all transported to Capital Health in Trenton.  One occupant was pronounced dead at Capital Health, one occupant was last listed in critical condition, and the third occupant was listed in stable condition.  Cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Update August 14, 2020: NJ State Police Sgt. Philip Curry reports that the following were involved in the accident:

The driver, Karla Sanchez, 22, of Trenton, NJ sustained serious injuries.

Passenger Yelitza Rivera, 16, of Trenton, NJ sustained fatal injuries.

Second passenger- 16-year-old female of Hamilton, NJ sustained moderate injuries.

Shooting in Trenton in Front of Kingsbury Towers

August 13, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–More shots rang out in Trenton this afternoon around 12:30 pm in the area of Cooper Street, Market Street and Warren Street in front of the Kingsbury West Tower it was reported a female was shot in the leg. Trenton Police and Trenton EMS responded found the victim near Peter’s Pizza & Deli in the west tower. The female was transported to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center with a trauma alert called. No other information was available about the shooting.

Tractor Trailer Accident Closes Route 130

August 13, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–The Robbinsville Township Police Department responded to a truck accident on Route 130 sometime around 7:30 pm. A tractor trailer heading south lost control crossed over the grass median strip into the north bound lanes eventually striking a utility pole on the shoulder and coming to rest in the north bound lanes. Luckily there were no reported injures in this accident.

Robbinsville Township Police closed Route 130 north bound and diverted traffic until Treat’s Garage-Mackey’s Towing could remove the tractor trailer. North bound lanes were reopened around 8:20 pm.

BREAKING: Serious Accident on I-195 West At Exit 3A

See updated MidJersey.News story here: UPDATE: Fatal Accident In Hamilton Township

August 13, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Official details are not available from NJ State Police yet but this is what we know. The Hamilton Township Fire Department, RWJ EMS, Robbinsville Fire Department EMS, Mercer County Paramedics, and others were detailed to Interstate 195 West Bound at Exit 3A for a serious accident around 6:30 pm. From radio reports three were transported to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center and trauma alerts were called. NJ State Police is on scene doing an accident investigation.

An e-mail has been sent to NJ State Police once official information is made available the story will be updated. Everything contained in this article is from eye witness, on scene reporting and radio reports.

NJ Div of Fish and Wildlife and USDA Remove Plastic Container From Baby Deer’s Head

August 13, 2020

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife reports that the USDA Wildlife Services a (NJDFW partner) removed a plastic pretzel container stuck on a baby deer’s head on Monday, August 10. Technicians carefully immobilized the fawn deer, removed the container, and released the deer on site.

Murphy Administration to Open New Jersey’s Schools For In-Person Instruction Subject to Critical Health and Safety Protocols

Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Requiring Schools to Open for In-Person Instruction and Permitting Districts to Provide Remote-Only Instruction if They Cannot Meet Health and Safety Protocols Executive Order Also Allows Institutions of Higher Education to Resume Broader In-Person Instruction

August 13, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy and Department of Education Interim Commissioner Kevin Dehmer announced that New Jersey’s public and private school districts will be open for in-person instruction for the start of the school year. Public school districts can begin the school year via remote-only instruction if they cannot adequately meet critical health and safety protocols outlined in the state’s school reopening guidance, “The Road Back,” which was released in late June. Districts who need to delay the implementation of in-person instruction will be required to submit information to the Department of Education (DOE) describing the health and safety standards that they are currently unable to adequately meet, how they will address outstanding issues in a timely fashion, and a proposed timeline for reopening physical school spaces to students and staff for in-person instruction.  

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our students and educators, and we must ensure that schools reopen their doors only when it is safe for them to do so,” said Governor Murphy. “Since releasing our guidance on reopening, we have continued to have frequent discussions with stakeholders and educators across the state. Many districts have expressed that meeting critical health and safety criteria by the first day of school is proving to be a challenge. While we continue to believe that there is no substitute for being in the classroom, allowing districts to delay the implementation of in-person instruction will give them the time and flexibility they need to ensure buildings are ready and welcoming when they do open.”

Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 175, which directed the following for school districts:

  • Districts are required to certify to DOE that they can meet the health and safety protocols outlined in the Order, and further detailed in the “Road Back,” before resuming in-person instruction.  Private school districts will also be required to submit this certification;
  • Districts that can meet the health and safety protocols shall open to students for in-person instruction in the fall;
  • Even if school buildings are open for in-person instruction on the first day of the 2020-2021 school year, districts must provide a remote learning option for parents or guardians who request it for their children;
  • Districts unable to adequately meet health and safety reopening protocols must provide remote instruction to all students. These districts are required to submit documentation to DOE detailing which standard(s) the district is unable to satisfy, the anticipated efforts that will be taken to satisfy the standard(s), and a date by which the school anticipates resuming in-person instruction;
  • All schools required to participate in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program and those that voluntarily opt-in to those programs must offer required meals to all children on remote-learning days.

The Order also waives the use of student growth data from standardized assessments for this year’s educator evaluations. 

“This action reflects our responsiveness to the varying needs and challenges that each district faces as they prepare for the new school year,” said Kevin Dehmer, Interim Commissioner of Education. “We’re providing the flexibility that some school districts may need to ensure that reopening of schools and in-person instruction is done in as safe a manner as possible.”

“We are pleased to say that in East Brunswick we will be able to meet the health and safety standards outlined in the Department of Education guidance and return to our classrooms in the fall, all while keeping our students and staff safe,” said Dr. Victor Valeski, Superintendent of East Brunswick Schools. “While a return to full time in-person instruction is not possible for East Brunswick Public Schools, we are confident that the hybrid plan we are offering our students will ensure that all students, regardless of where they will be during the school day, receive a high-quality education.”

“While our goal remains to achieve in-person learning, our district determined that there is still much work to be done to ensure the health and safety of students and staff before we reopen our doors for in-person instruction,” said Dr. Neely Hackett, Superintendent of Willingboro Public Schools. “As a community committed to providing Willingboro students with an education grounded in 21st century thinking and learning, we remain committed and will work toward taking every necessary step to prepare our buildings, students, staff, and parents for in-person learning for the start of the second marking period.”

Executive Order 175 further permits institutions of higher education to resume in-person instruction not previously permitted under Executive Order 155, provided they can meet previously outlined health and safety protocols from the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, effective immediately. 

“We know how effective in-person learning is as it provides students academic and social supports that cannot be offered as efficiently in remote settings. As colleges and universities restart operations this fall, students will have a wider array of instructional options including in-person, remote, and hybrid learning,” said Interim Secretary of Higher Education Diana Gonzalez. “Regardless of the mode of instruction, our priority is to offer students the best college experience while prioritizing health and safety for all.”

Click here for a copy of Executive Order 175.

UPDATE: 64 Year Old From West Palm Beach, FL Found Dead In Car Fire

August 13, 2020

See last nights MidJersey.News story here: BREAKING: Fatal Car Fire In Hamilton Township On I-295

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–According NJ State Police spokesperson Sgt. Philip Curry, at 5:55 p.m., troopers responded to a car fire on I-295 north MP 59.6 (Exit 60 ramp) Hamilton Twp., Mercer County.  A Toyota Corolla traveling north caught fire and ran off the road striking the concrete barrier.  The driver Fevzi Denker, 64, of West Palm Beach, Florida, was pronounced at the scene. The ramp was closed for approximately 3 hours.

BREAKING: Fatal Car Fire In Hamilton Township On I-295

See MidJersey.News update here: UPDATE: 64 Year Old From West Palm Beach, FL Found Dead In Car Fire

August 12, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–According to NJ State Police spokesperson Sergeant Lawrence Peele, at approximately 7:55 p.m., troopers responded to a car fire on I-295 north on the Exit 60 ramp to I-195 in Hamilton Township,  Mercer County.  The driver of the Toyota Corolla was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of injuries sustained in the fire.  The exit ramp is currently closed.  No other vehicles were involved and cause remains under the investigation. 

From unofficial radio reports numerous calls came into the 9-1-1 center reporting the fire. Initial dispatch radio reports are that the vehicle was on fire from 9-1-1 witnesses and would not stop. Hamilton Township Fire Department, RWJ EMS and Mercer County Paramedics responded to the scene.

4th Bias Incident In Hamilton Since June

August 12, 2020

Read other MidJersey.News articles about the previous bias incidents in Hamilton Here:

Hamilton Township Police Seek Tips To Help Solve Bias Crime Incident

Hamilton Police Investigate Bias Intimidation Graffiti

More Bias Intimidation Graffiti Reported in Hamilton

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–On August 12, 2020, Hamilton Police were detailed to the area of 210 Ridge Ave., near the entrance of the Ahavath Israel Congregation Cemetery, on a report of a Bias Intimidation complaint regarding graffiti spray painted at that location.  Responding officers observed graffiti on the roadway of Ridge Ave. which read “Kill N****rs”, and was sprayed in red paint.

This criminal mischief appears to be the fourth such incident since June 11, 2020 involving the same suspect.  The first reported incident occurred on June 11, 2020 at Saint Mary’s Cemetery located at 1200 Cedar Ln. In that incident, the same words were sprayed in red paint on the roadway near Clover Ave.

Two additional Bias Intimidation complaints occurred this month, in which investigators believe involve the same suspect, using the same red spray paint. The first incident that occurred this month was on August 3, 2020, at the Shady Brook Park located at 655 Pitman Ave. The second incident occurred again on August 6, 2020 in the roadway of Clover Ave. in the cemetery.  In both incidents the same wording was used by the suspect, but a Swastika was also drawn in red spray paint. 

In each of these Bias Intimidation incidents, detectives have not been able to develop a suspect.

Anyone with additional information regarding these incidents is asked to contact Detective Lawrence MacArthur of the Criminal Investigations Section at (609) 689-5827, or via email at  The public can also contact the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at (609) 581-4008 with any additional information.

NJ Turnpike Accidents In Robbinsville

August 12, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Township firefighters were dispatched at 9:22 am for an accident on the New Jersey Turnpike at mile marker 59 south bound truck lanes. Upon arrival additional ambulances were called for several injures. Traffic was backed up over two miles at this accident.

At 7:15 pm Robbinsville Township firefighters were back out on the NJ Turnpike this time at mile marker 62.5 south bound inner roadway for an overturned van with injures. EMS and firefighters arrived on scene, the injured did not want transport to the hospital. Treat’s Garage-Mackey’s Towing of Robbinsville up righted the van and towed the vehicle from the scene.

Brick Township Couple Charged With Operating A Controlled Dangerous Substance Production Facility

August 12, 2020

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael T. Nolan, Jr. announced that Patrick Fasano, 31, and Maria Fasano, 27, both of Brick Township, have been charged with Operating a Controlled Dangerous Substance Production Facility in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4; Possession of Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(4); Possession of less than One-Half Ounce of Psilocybin Mushrooms with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(5); Possession of DMT in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Psilocybin Mushrooms in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of less than 50 Grams of Marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(4); Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2; Possession of a Firearm While in the Course of Committing a Controlled Dangerous Substance Offense in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1a; and Maintaining and Occupying a Fortified Structure in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4.1c.

The United States Department of Homeland Security alerted the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force that a parcel had been intercepted entering the United States from the Netherlands, which was addressed to Patrick Fasano at a Brick Township address. The parcel contained approximately 920 grams of DMT, a Schedule I Narcotic known to produce hallucinogenic effects. An undercover Ocean County Narcotics Strike Force Detective delivered the package to Maria Fasano at that residence, and she accepted delivery of the package. On August 11, 2020, Detectives executed a search warrant on the subject residence, which resulted in the seizure of quantities of DMT, Psilocybin Mushrooms, and Marijuana. They also seized numerous firearms, ammunition, and approximately $1900 in cash. Additionally, Detectives located numerous items suggestive of maintaining a Controlled Dangerous Substance Production Facility, and further observed the residence to have an exterior mounted surveillance camera system indicative of a warning mechanism against potential law enforcement entry. Patrick and Maria Fasano were transported to Brick Township Police Headquarters to be processed and are currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

First Assistant Prosecutor Nolan extends his gratitude to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, United States Department of Homeland Security, and Brick Township Police Department for their cooperative assistance in this investigation leading to these arrests.

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.

Recovery Advocates of America 8th Annual New Jersey’s Walk/Run for Recovery

August 12, 2020

Recovery Advocates of America 8th Annual New Jersey’s Walk/Run for Recovery held on September 19, 2020, at Mercer County Park (West Picnic Area) in West Windsor, NJ.

As you know, Covid-19 restrictions have caused the cancellation of some of our most popular fundraising events over the past several months. While the state of New Jersey’s reopening phases unknown at this time, the possibility remains that New Jersey will return to phase one of the reopening process. In the case we go back to phase one, our walk will be held virtually. For those of you who registered to attend in-person, we hope that we can count on your support. If this is the outcome, you will be registered automatically as a virtual participant.

The Recovery Advocates team is committed to the safety of our community and will be posting updates on Race Roster in accordance to any new restrictions and/or guidelines our state implements during the weeks approaching our event (masks, testing etc.). During the ongoing global pandemic, drug overdoses and substance abuse relapses have increased over 20% and we can’t stress how important your support is during such a critical time. Please join us in celebrating recovery and supporting those who are also fighting for their lives in the continuous struggle with alcoholism and addiction .

This year, our 5K Run/Walk for Recovery fundraising goal is $100,000. All proceeds from the event will go directly into sustaining and expanding RECOVERY ADVOCATES C.A.R.E. Program that is now endorsed by Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri and the State of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and our new education/prevention and awareness program throughout all New Jersey High Schools.

Substance use disorder has become a national epidemic.
We greatly appreciate any and all support to help us in our mission!

Link below is to register:

57 Year Old Flemington Man Sentenced To 7 Years For Distributing Images Of Children Being Sexually Exploited On File Sharing Network

Defendant was one of 40 offenders arrested in “Operation Statewide”

August 12, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a man was sentenced to state prison today after being convicted at trial of using a file-sharing network to distribute images of children being sexually exploited.  He was one of 40 offenders arrested in “Operation Statewide,” a child protection operation by the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which includes the New Jersey State Police, Division of Criminal Justice, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, and numerous state, county and local law enforcement agencies.

John M. Rudy, 57, of Flemington, N.J., was sentenced today to seven years in state prison, including five years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Angela F. Borkowski in Hunterdon County.  He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life.  Rudy was found guilty on Jan. 14 in a jury trial of second-degree charges of distribution of 25 or more items of child pornography and storing or maintaining 25 or more items of child pornography using a file-sharing network, and third-degree possession of 100 or more items of child pornography.

Deputy Attorney General Thomas Huynh and former Deputy Attorney General Supriya Prasad tried the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, with assistance from the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU) and Technical Assistant Gabrielle Pichler.

“By sharing child sexual abuse materials online, this defendant participated in a criminal network that promotes and perpetuates the brutal sexual exploitation of children,” said Attorney General Grewal.  “Our multi-agency efforts to patrol the internet and put these offenders in prison reflect our commitment to protect children and ensure justice for those who have been victimized.  I commend our attorneys and trial team, as well as all of the detectives and investigators who helped secure this prison sentence.” 

“We will continue to work with the State Police and law enforcement at all levels to disrupt the online market for these vile materials and send those who distribute them to prison,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “We are sending a loud and clear message that those who commit these crimes will face serious consequences.”

“The criminals who operate these file-sharing networks online depicting child pornography are no less dangerous than those who peddle narcotics on the street.  Their enterprise thrives on the pain and suffering of the victims and their families, and their deplorable behavior is a scourge on society,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to lead the charge against those who target our children by working cooperatively with our federal, state and local partners, whose collective resolve to bring child predators to justice is unwavering.” 

While monitoring a peer-to-peer file-sharing network popular with sex offenders, a detective of the New Jersey State Police DTIU downloaded more than 50 items of child sexual exploitation material from a shared folder at a computer IP address that was subsequently traced to Rudy.  Rudy was arrested on June 9, 2016 when members of the DTIU, assisted by the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office and the Raritan Township Police Department, executed a search warrant at his home and seized numerous devices, including a desktop computer, 97 flash drives, and eight SD cards.  Forensic examinations revealed the flash drives and SD cards contained child sexual exploitation material, and one contained over 100 items of such material.

Operation Statewide was a multi-agency child protection operation coordinated by the New Jersey State Police, as lead agency for the New Jersey ICAC Task Force, which led to arrests of 40 men in 2016, including defendants in every county of New Jersey.  During the operation, investigators linked all of the defendants to alleged use of the internet to download and distribute child sexual abuse materials. Peer to Peer, or P2P, file sharing networks play a major role in the distribution of such materials.

Because many of the videos and photos of child sexual abuse shared on these networks keep recirculating, they result in the perpetual re-victimization of the children who were sexually assaulted or abused to produce them.

Attorney General Grewal commended the attorneys and staff in the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau who prosecuted Rudy, as well as all members of the New Jersey State Police DTIU and other agencies in the ICAC Task Force who conducted Operation Statewide, including the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office and Raritan Township Police Department.

Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone with information about the distribution of child sexual abuse materials on the internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.

Defense Attorney: James R. Wronko, Esq., Wronko Loewin Bennuci, Somerville, N.J.

Hamilton Township 2021 Calendar to Honor ‘Hamilton Heroes’

Residents and Businesses Are Invited to Participate & Support

August 12, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin announces that the Township’s upcoming 2021 Calendar theme, ‘Hamilton Heroes’ will showcase frontline workers, essential personnel, as well as our residents and businesses who volunteered throughout our community during the pandemic. 

“The theme for our upcoming calendar, ‘Hamilton Heroes’, provides both our residents and businesses the opportunity to join us as a Township in saying ‘thank you’ to those who selflessly gave of themselves for the betterment of our community,” said Mayor Jeff Martin.  “As Mayor, I am proud of all of our Hamilton residents and organizations who have risen to the occasion time and time again, especially over the past several months – giving their time, energy, and talents.” 

In keeping with past tradition, we are also asking our residents and businesses to submit photos for the 2021 calendar consistent with this years’ theme.  Featured photographs for the upcoming calendar will be chosen by a selection committee and photographers will be credited for their picture. Those wishing to submit a photo along with a signed disclosure form can do so by visiting Rules for photo submission can also be found on this website. The deadline for photograph submission is Friday, October 2, 2020. 

Local businesses can also participate in the 2021 calendar by purchasing advertisements.  This is a great opportunity to reach every household and business in our community – that’s nearly 90,000 residents!  Advertisement information is available on our township website at .  Space is limited, and will be reserved on a first-come/first-served basis upon receipt of payment with a deadline of Monday, September 14.

The 2021 calendars are expected to be distributed to households and local businesses in late December. 

Ex-Operator of Wrightstown Municipal Utilities Authority Pleads Guilty to Crime Related to His Use of the Authority to Dump Septic Waste from His Private Firm- Aqua Clean Toilet Systems, LLC.

August 12, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that the former operator of the Wrightstown Municipal Utilities Authority pleaded guilty today to a criminal charge for using the municipal authority to dispose of waste from his private septic disposal company without proper authorization and failing to report that waste disposal to the state as required.

Rodman Lucas, 62, of Pemberton Township, N.J., pleaded guilty today to an accusation charging him with third-degree conspiracy to tamper with public records before Superior Court Judge Terrence R. Cook in Burlington County.  Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Lucas be sentenced to a term of probation, with a condition that he serve up to 364 days in the county jail.  He will be permanently barred from public office and employment.  Sentencing for Lucas is scheduled for Sept. 30, 2020.

Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis took the guilty plea for the Corruption Bureau within the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).  The investigation began with a referral from the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller, which initially investigated the matter.

“We formed OPIA to root out the type of misconduct and abuse of trust that undermines faith in government,” said Attorney General Grewal.  “This case was referred to OPIA after an initial investigation by the Office of the State Comptroller, which began when local residents complained about what they saw happening at the Wrightstown Municipal Utilities Authority.  We urge members of the public to contact our corruption tipline – 844-OPIA-TIPS – if they have reason to suspect that a public official is abusing his or her position and authority.”

Lucas was hired in October 2012 as the Wrightstown Municipal Utilities Authority’s (WMUA) plant operator/operations manager.  Within a few months of taking the job, Lucas, who also owns a private septic waste disposal company called Aqua Clean Toilet Systems LLC, began dumping septic waste collected by his company’s trucks directly into a manhole at the WMUA without proper authorization.  The WMUA at that time only processed incoming wastewater from the local sewage system, and it had not officially accepted septic waste privately collected from residential and commercial septic tanks for several years.  When the WMUA previously accepted such waste, it was always tested and documented, and if deemed acceptable, it was received through a special filtration line or channel.  Lucas continued regularly dumping his firm’s septic waste at the WMUA in this improper manner for about five years until complaints about the conduct were raised at a WMUA board meeting in September 2017.

Lucas ceased dumping at the WMUA a few months later, but the issue triggered an investigation by the Office of the State Comptroller.  That investigation and the subsequent OPIA investigation determined that over a period of approximately five years from early 2013 through early 2018, Lucas disposed of more than 600,000 gallons of Aqua Clean’s septic waste at the WMUA.

Wastewater management facilities like the WMUA must regularly file various reports with the state Department of Environmental Protection, including monthly “residuals transfer reports” (RTR’s) showing the amounts of incoming and outgoing waste, including the total amount of any septic waste received.  All of the RTR’s filed by the WMUA during Lucas’s tenure as plant operator, while he was dumping septic waste from Aqua Clean from 2013 through 2018, show only outgoing waste, but no incoming septic waste.  That is the basis for the criminal charge to which Lucas pleaded guilty. 

Attorney General Grewal created the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability in September 2018 to combat corruption and strengthen public confidence in government institutions.  In December 2019, the Attorney General issued a directive codifying OPIA and making it a permanent part of the Attorney General’s Office.  That directive established the OPIA Corruption Bureau as the lead office within the Department of Law & Public Safety for the investigation and prosecution of state criminal violations involving corruption and abuse of public trust.

OPIA has a toll-free Tipline 1-844-OPIA-TIPS for the public to report corruption.  The AG’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption.  Information is posted at:

Defense Attorney: Robert M. Perry, Esq., Rosenberg Perry & Associates, Mount Holly, N.J.

Trenton Man Arrested For Aggravated Assault After Striking Police Officer With Vehicle And Fleeing Scene

August 11, 2020

BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON)–The Bordentown Township Police Department announces that Jason Spencer, age – 34, of South Broad St. Trenton NJ was arrested for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer after striking a Township officer with his vehicle and fleeing the scene.

This incident originated on 8/10/20 at 5:15 pm after Ptl. Joshua Gardner of the BTPD effectuated a motor vehicle stop of a tractor-trailer on Rising Sun Rd. in the area of the Petro Truck Stop. Once Ptl. Gardner received the truck driver’s credentials he began walking back to his patrol vehicle which was parked behind the tractor-trailer with its emergency lights activated. At that point a 2020 Buick Regal operated by Jason Spencer drove by him at a high rate of speed and its passenger side mirror struck Ptl. Gardner’s right forearm. Spencer did not stop after striking the officer and fled the scene. Ptl. Gardner quickly ran back to his patrol vehicle after being struck, pursued the Buick and apprehended Spencer without incident behind a warehouse on Hedding Rd. Spencer was then charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer along with violations of the NJ move over law, reckless driving, careless driving, speeding, leaving the scene of a collision and failure to report a collision and was committed to the Burlington County Jail.

Ptl. Gardner sustained minor injuries as a result of this incident and was treated at RWJ University Hospital Hamilton and released.

Chief Pesce releases the following statement: “This incident underscores the inherent risk our officers face on a daily basis while performing their duties. Ptl. Gardner could have been seriously or critically injured and this is a sobering reminder that all drivers must SLOW DOWN and MOVE OVER when approaching an emergency vehicle.”

All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Other MidJersey.News stories involving the Slow Down Move Over Law:

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

BREAKING: NJ State Police Vehicle Destroyed By Dump Truck On NJ Turnpike

BREAKING: NJ State Police Vehicle Struck On NJ Turnpike Sending 1 To Hospital

SLOW DOWN MOVE OVER: NJTP Car Fire And Rubberneck 3 Car Accident

Neptune Man Arrested For Attempted Murder

August 11, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Neptune Township man was arrested and charged for his role in an attempted murder in Asbury Park in May, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Ryan Taylor, 29, of Neptune Township, was arrested and charged with first degree Attempted Murder, second degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, second degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, second degree Certain Person Not to Possess a Weapon, second degree Armed Burglary, and third degree Hindering Apprehension.

Asbury Park Police Department responded to a report of shots fired on May 15, 2020, around 10:33 p.m., in the area of the Asbury Park Village housing complex located on Atkins Avenue. Upon arrival, officers located a 26-year-old male victim suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune Township where he was treated and later released.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Asbury Park Police Department revealed the victim was standing in the courtyard of the apartment complex when two men approached the group of people, including the victim and began shooting. Taylor was later identified as one of the shooters, the second shooter has not been identified.

Anyone with information regarding the case can reach out to Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Ramon Camacho at (800)-533-7443 or Asbury Park Police Detective Cynthia Yost at (732)-774-1300.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; or by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available for iOS and Android –

If convicted of Attempted Murder, Taylor faces up to 20 years in a New Jersey state prison 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. He would also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison.

If convicted of Possession of Weapon for an Unlawful purpose, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Certain Persons Not to Possess a Weapon and Armed Burglary, Taylor faces a sentence of five to ten years in state prison, on each charge. If convicted of Hindering Apprehension, Taylor faces a sentence of three to five years in prison. 

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogner.

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.

Updated Quarantine Advisory Issued for Individuals Traveling to New Jersey, Bringing New Total to 33 States and Territories

33 States and Territories Include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Virgin Islands, and Wisconsin

August 11, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today advised individuals traveling to New Jersey from states or territories with significant community spread of COVID-19 to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state or territory. In addition to the Virgin Islands, the updated advisory includes two additional states Hawaii and South Dakota – with Alaska, New Mexico, Ohio, and Rhode Island removed from the list, bringing the total to 33 states and territories. The travel advisory applies to any person arriving from a state or territory with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents or a state with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.

As of Tuesday, August 11, there are currently 33 states and territories that meet the criteria stated above: Alabama; Arkansas; Arizona; California; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Iowa; Idaho; Indiana; Illinois; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maryland; Minnesota; Missouri; Mississippi; Montana; North Carolina; North Dakota; Nebraska; Nevada; Oklahoma; Puerto Rico; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Virginia; Virgin Islands; and Wisconsin

“To protect the steady progress we’ve made on our road back, we need everyone who has traveled to one of these impacted states or territories to practice self-responsibility,” said Governor Murphy. “I strongly encourage all individuals arriving from a hotspot to proactively get a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine to reduce transmission across our state.”

Travelers and those residents who are returning from impacted states should self-quarantine at their home, hotel, or other temporary lodging. Individuals should leave the place of self-quarantine only to seek medical care/treatment or to obtain food and other essential items. 
It is expected that individuals will follow the public health advisory to self-quarantine. The list of states will be updated on a rolling basis and is accessible here.

Delaware River Search After Empty Kayak Found South Of Wing Dam–Updated Person Found

August 10, 2020

August 11, 2020 update: According to the Hopewell Township Police the person from yesterday’s water search was found and is ok.

BREAKING NEWS REPORT: From on scene reports, radio reports and witnesses, if and when official information is made available story will be updated.

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP (MERCER)-LAMBERTVILLE-WEST AMWELL, NJ (HUNTERDON)–A kayak was found unoccupied in the Delaware River just south of the “wing dam” in the rapids located in West Amwell just south of Lambertville around 2:30 pm. Fire and rescue units from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania responded to the scene those included Hopewell Township, Lambertville, West Amwell, in NJ, New Hope, PA and others from the area. Rescue boats searching south of the wing dam launched at Fireman’s Eddy Boat Ramp just off of Route 29 in the D&R Canal State Park.

Units searching by boat reported over the radio finding a “debris field” of items from the kayak but after searching for hours no person was found. Areas north and south of the wing dam were searched.

No other information is available at this time about the search.

Fatal Crash On Route 9

August 10, 2020

MARLBORO, NJ (MONMOUTH)–On Monday, August 10, 2020 at approximately 1:00 pm, the Marlboro Township Police Department received several 911 calls regarding a motor vehicle accident on US Highway 9 southbound in the area of Union Hill Road. The vehicle, a Ford Edge, struck a telephone pole then crashed into a U-Haul truck that was parked in the U-Haul parking lot located at 415 Route 9 South. The telephone pole came down on top of the Ford Edge, trapping the driver inside.

The driver, who has not been identified pending the notification of her family members, was pronounced dead at the scene. The telephone pole that was struck caused other telephone poles near it to lean over the highway and wires to come down. The wires landed on 4 other vehicles, but did not injure anyone in those vehicles.

The wires stretched over both the northbound and southbound lanes of Route 9. As a result, the highway was closed in both directions from Texas Road in Old Bridge Township to Gordons Corner Road in Manalapan Township. The Department of Transportation responded and a detour was set up. JCP&L also responded to the scene and will be on location doing repairs for an extended period of time.

Responding to the crash included members of the Marlboro Township Police Department, New Jersey State Police, Robertsville Fire Department, Morganville First Aid Squad, Marlboro First Aid Squad and Paramedics from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

The crash is being investigated by Ptlm. David Stattel of the Marlboro Township Police Traffic and Safety Bureau. Anyone with information about the accident is asked to contact Ptlm. Stattel at (732) 536-0100 ext. 1116 or

Criminal Charges Brought In Serious North Brunswick Crash

August 10, 2020

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Kenneth P. McCormick of the North Brunswick Police Department announced today that a driver has been charged with causing a serious crash and injuring multiple people in the Township last night.

Christopher L. Mertens, 40, of the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick, was arrested and charged today with aggravated assault in the second degree, endangering the welfare of a child in the second degree, assault by auto in the third degree, endangering another person by knowingly engaging in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death in the third degree, three counts of assault by auto in the fourth degree, and obstruction of the administration of law in the fourth degree.

Patrolman Jason Zier of the North Brunswick Police Department and Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that on Saturday, August 8, 2020, at approximately 8:50 pm on Route 1 South just south of Route 130, Mertens was driving a 2018 Infiniti Coupe, accompanied by his two young children, traveling on Route 1 South at a high rate of speed while intoxicated. Mertens rear ended a 2003 Chevrolet Blazer causing it to roll over and catch on fire.

The driver of the Blazer, a 19-year old male from Chesterfield, New Jersey was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and then was transferred to St. Barnabas Hospital for the burns he sustained in the crash. His passenger, a 21-year-old woman from Suffern, New York was treated and released from Robert Wood Johnson. Mertens’ children were also taken to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital.

The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Patrolman Zier of the North Brunswick Police Department at (732) 247-0922 ext. 316, or Detective Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4328.

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