Day: January 7, 2020

Robbinsville over Allentown Boys Basketball 70-61

January 7, 2020

By: Dennis Symons, Jr.

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–The Robbinsville High School boys basketball team won their home game tonight against Allentown with a score of 70-61.

Photo gallery of the game:

Committee clears Dancer bill creating a loan program and tax credits for new vineyards and wineries in five counties

January 7, 2020

TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved a bill (A544), sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, that will establish a loan program and provide tax credits for new vineyards and wineries in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, Monmouth and Ocean counties.

“New Jersey’s wine industry is very valuable. It not only supports the state’s economy and jobs, but also tourism,” said Dancer. “It’s smart to encourage the growth of new wineries and vineyards and help existing wineries stay competitive.” 

Under the bill, the Economic Development Authority in consultation with the Department of Agriculture will develop a 10-year pilot program to issue low-interest loans to farmers for qualified costs for new vineyards. The costs can include preparing the land for planting, purchasing vines or trees, and equipment and supplies for that purpose. This bill also allows eligible taxpayers to apply for a tax credit against either their Corporation Business Tax or Gross Income Tax liability for 25 percent of the qualified capital expenses for establishing a new vineyard or winery, or capital improvements to an existing vineyard or winery in the eligible counties.

According to a study released by the Garden State Wine Growers Association, New Jersey’s wine industry had a $323 million economic impact on the state in 2016, an increase of nearly 40 percent from 2011. During that same five-year period, the number of wineries in the state increased from 38 to 50. In 2016, wine, grapes and related industries accounted for 1,979 jobs with the majority of the jobs being in the actual wineries and vineyards with an associated payroll of $85.57 million.

The EDA will submit annual reports to the governor and the Legislature summarizing the loan and tax credit programs, including the effectiveness of increasing acreage of commercial vineyards and the number of wineries in the eligible counties.

The bill passed the Senate in 2018 and needs a vote by the fully Assembly before going to the governor. 

Dancer bill excluding horse-boarding services from sales tax advances

January 7, 2020

TRENTON, N.J. – Today the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee advanced legislation (A1045) sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer that would exempt horse boarding, maintenance and related services from the state sales tax.

“There has been ongoing confusion in the industry about tax responsibilities, and as a result, stables have closed up shop and abandoned the state,” said Dancer (R-Ocean), who has been pushing the measure since November 2013.

Horse boarding, maintenance and servicing businesses are required to register as a seller with the Division of Taxation in the Department of Treasury. Under current law, they are being taxed as “space for storage.” The bill relieves these businesses and services from sales tax obligations.

“Horse-related business plays an important role in our state’s economy,” Dancer continued.  “Establishing clear sales tax guidelines will save New Jersey jobs and businesses. Horses are farm livestock, not ‘storage units’ in a warehouse and are stabled, not stored.”

The Rutgers Equine Science Center estimates the horse industry contributes more than $1 billion to the economy in a state with more than $4 billion in equine-related assets.

The bill will now go to the Senate President for consideration. It passed the Assembly in June 2018.

Dancer says it’s time to treat all veterans equally

January 7, 2020

TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly Military & Veterans Committee held a public hearing on a constitutional amendment to extend a veterans’ property tax deduction and a disabled veterans property tax exemption to all veterans and disabled veterans regardless of war time service this week. Assemblyman Ron Dancer, a veteran who sits on the committee and co-sponsors the resolution to amend the constitution, said it’s time all New Jersey’s veterans have access to uniform and consistent benefits.

“The property tax deduction is a good step forward, but it seems like we do it piecemeal in New Jersey rather than providing what other states in the nation provide,” said Dancer (R-Ocean).

Just this past November, voters overwhelmingly approved a statewide ballot question to give veterans living in retirement communities a $250 property tax deduction.

“We are tackling this issue little by little instead of addressing the real problem of how we define veterans in this state,” continued Dancer. “It is time we start treating all veterans equally.”

Dancer said he is a strong supporter of a “Vet is a Vet” bill that has been introduced in the Legislature in previous sessions. The bill would broaden the eligibility for various veterans’ benefits by eliminating the requirement that, to be considered a veteran, a person must have served during periods of war, in specific war zones or during periods of emergency.

“Veterans are confused as to what benefits they actually qualify for because New Jersey politicians decided to define veterans by dates of service rather than just their service. Veterans are trained and ready to serve whenever and wherever they are needed and sent,” said Dancer. “Veterans who have sacrificed and served this country with honor, received campaign badges and protected our freedoms have been shocked to come home and discover that the state doesn’t consider them a veteran. This discrimination has to stop.”

According to advocates, New Jersey is the only state in the nation that doesn’t offer the same benefits and opportunities to all veterans. New Jersey defines a veteran differently for different benefits in the state, including income tax exemptions and civil service preference.

Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Concludes Use of Force was Justified in February 4, 2015 Non-Fatal Police Shooting in Trenton

January 7, 2020

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) has completed its investigation into the February 4, 2015 use of force by a detective of the Trenton Police Department, and has concluded that the use of force was legally justified.  The MCPO determined that it is not necessary to present this matter to the grand jury because there were no material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of the use of force.  The investigation was conducted in accordance with the Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directive (July 28, 2015, Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Regarding Uniform Statewide Procedures and Best Practices for Conducting Police Use of Force Investigations) (“the 2015 directive”).  Pursuant to the 2015 directive, the Attorney General’s Office conducted an independent review of the use of force and agreed with the MCPO’s determination that there were no material facts in dispute and that the use of force by the officer in this case was justified. The Attorney General’s Office concurred with the MCPO’s conclusion to forego presentation of this matter to the grand jury.

On February 4, 2015, at approximately 1:45 a.m., members of the Mercer County Homicide Task Force (HTF) were activated to investigate this incident involving a detective of the Trenton Police Department (TPD).  The investigation, which encompassed statements of officers and witnesses, radio transmissions, photographs, and physical evidence, revealed the following facts:

On February 4, 2015, Trenton Police Detectives 1 and 2 were working in the capacity of an IMPACT Unit within the City of Trenton.  IMPACT is designated for proactive crime suppression in high-crime areas.  They were operating an unmarked police vehicle in which Detective 1 was driving and Detective 2 was the front passenger.  At approximately 1:15 a.m., as they were traveling on Chestnut Avenue, their vehicle headlights illuminated the interior of a dark-colored Saab that was parked in front of 52 Chestnut Avenue and was facing in the direction of their vehicle.  As their lights illuminated the passenger compartment of the Saab, it appeared that the driver of the vehicle leaned over in an attempt to not be detected.  The officers then reversed their police vehicle in order to conduct a suspicious person investigation.

Detective 1 positioned the police vehicle’s front driver’s side in close proximity to the Saab’s front driver’s side.  Detectives 1 and 2 then exited the police vehicle.  Detective 1 proceeded to the front driver’s side of the Saab and Detective 2 proceeded around the front of the Saab to the rear driver’s side.  The detectives were unable to determine if there were any other occupants in the vehicle because the Saab had tinted side windows.  Both officers observed that the Saab then shifted into gear.  Detective 2 turned to proceed back to the police vehicle in order to follow the Saab, which he believed was about to flee the area.

Detective 1 maintained a visual of the suspect in the vehicle.  He observed that the suspect, later identified as Jeremiah Sanchez, was moving around in the vehicle.  Detective 1 could not see the suspect’s hands so he drew his weapon and brought it up to the ready position.  The suspect vehicle then began to move forward and Detective 1 tried to step to the side, but his police vehicle was directly to his right.  The suspect vehicle hit Detective 1’s knee and the tire drove up onto his left boot.  Fearing that he was going to get pinned between his police vehicle and the Saab or pulled under the Saab, Detective 1 fired a shot at the suspect.  As Detective 1 was hit by the suspect vehicle, he continued to move with the Saab and as he was going down to the ground, he fired his second shot in the direction of the suspect vehicle.  Detective 1 fired a third and final shot in the direction of the suspect vehicle when he tried to regain his stance.  The suspect accelerated his vehicle past the police vehicle and proceeded on Chestnut Avenue toward East State Street and out of sight.

A vehicle pursuit by responding officers ensued.  The pursuit ultimately ended with the suspect vehicle crashing on East State Street in Hamilton Township.  Jeremiah Sanchez was taken into custody and transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton where he was admitted for his injuries, which consisted of a gunshot wound to the left side of this neck, a gunshot wound to the right bicep and a laceration to the forehead.

Detective 1 was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (RWJUHH) for medical treatment.  He was treated for left foot pain and a contusion of his left knee as a result of the encounter with Sanchez.

Detectives assigned to the investigation were advised that the suspect in this incident was involved in a domestic violence incident that occurred a few hours prior to the shooting.  The detectives were further advised that the officers involved in the police shooting were unaware of the earlier domestic violence incident at the time of the shooting.

Detectives assigned to the investigation proceeded to the scene at East State Street and Nottingham Way, where the suspect vehicle ultimately crashed.  The Saab driven by Sanchez was resting in front of 1739 East State Street and had sustained heavy damage.  Blood could be seen in the front passenger compartment and a blue beer can was observed between the front passenger seat and door.  The Saab was photographed by the before being towed to the NJSP Laboratory pending application of a search warrant.

Applying the 2015 directive to the undisputed material facts outlined above, the use of force by Detective 1 was justified pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:3-4, Use of Force in Self-Protection. The statute states that “the use of force upon or toward another person is justifiable when the actor reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”  The law defines a “reasonable belief” as one which would be held by a person of ordinary prudence and intelligence situated as the actor was.

The detective believed that discharging his weapon was necessary for the protection of his life.  An independent analysis of the undisputed material facts led to the determination that the detective’s beliefs were reasonable, and the use of force in this matter was justified pursuant to all applicable laws and the Attorney General Guidelines. This statement was prepared and disseminated to the public in accordance with §8 of the 2015 directive.

A law enacted in January 2019 requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.  This deadly force investigation preceded enactment of that law, therefore the investigation was conducted by the MCPO and reviewed by the Attorney General’s Office in accordance with the 2015 directive, which established strict procedures for conducting such investigations.