TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Office of the Secretary of Higher Education (OSHE) today published graduation guidance for institutions of higher education that outline considerations for drive-in/drive-through and modified in-person graduation ceremonies beginning on July 6, 2020. The guidance includes requirements that ceremonies be held outdoors, adhere to social distancing protocols, and restrict capacity to protect the health and safety of students and families celebrating these milestones amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “This year’s graduating class has embraced various challenges and triumphed in the face of a global public health emergency. We know it has been a long journey, and through our guidance published today, we are looking forward to working with institutions of higher education to give our students a sendoff that recognizes their scholastic achievements,” said Dr. Zakiya Smith Ellis, Secretary of Higher Education. “We cannot put New Jersey back on the road to progress and prosperity without our students. We are excited to see what the Class of 2020 will accomplish.” The guidance is available on OSHE’s website here.
Institutions of higher education should plan for multiple scenarios in order to select the ceremony type that best fits institutional needs and context and complies with the required level of social distancing restrictions in place at the time of the event. Only virtual ceremonies can be held prior to July 6, 2020. The decision regarding commencement ultimately belongs to each individual institution. Institutions should also keep local officials, including emergency management, law enforcement, and health officials, informed of ceremony plans. All institutions that plan to hold a drive-in/drive-through or modified in-person ceremony must certify to OSHE, via an online submission form that will be made available starting June 5, 2020 on https://covid19.nj.gov/, that the planned ceremony will comply with applicable requirements for gatherings, including those addressing social distancing. The form must be submitted no later than seven days prior to the scheduled date of the ceremony.
The guidance includes the following requirements for commencement ceremonies:
Drive-in/drive-through or modified in-person ceremonies may only occur after July 6, 2020;
Institutions must adhere to the relevant capacity limitation on in-person gatherings in place at the time of the ceremony (this may require institutions to hold multiple ceremonies over the course of several days to ensure capacity restrictions are not exceeded); and
Institutions must determine the minimum number of staff and faculty necessary to facilitate commencement ceremonies and adjust attendance requirements accordingly.
Institutions should stay informed of state and local rules and guidance, as the social distancing requirements in the guidance are subject to change. Institutions must further be proactive and clear in communicating guidelines and directions to those in attendance and consider sharing the same with students and families in advance of the commencement ceremonies.
BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON)–The Bordentown Township Police Department is investigating a fatal motor vehicle collision which occurred on May 26, 2020 that resulted in the death of a 27 year-old female Bordentown Township resident.
Preliminary investigation has determined that a 1999 Honda Civic operated by Tyler Phillips, age – 22, of Sagamore Lane Bordentown NJ was traveling northbound on Hedding Rd. in the area of the Grainger Distribution Center at approximately 3:54 pm when he lost control of the vehicle and it collided with a curb and utility pole on the northbound side of the road. The vehicle’s front seat passenger, Silvia Pulido – age 27 of Sagamore Lane Bordentown, NJ, sustained severe life threatening injuries as a result of the collision and was transported by ambulance to Capital Health Regional Medical Center where she was pronounced deceased at 8:34 pm. Township Police continue to investigate the cause of this collision and anyone who witnessed or who has information regarding this incident is requested to contact Sgt. Anthony Biddle at 609-298-4300, ext. 2220.
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Around 3:15 pm this afternoon the Robbinsville Township Fire Department was dispatched to 195 West Bound at mile marker 6 near the NJ Turnpike for an multi car accident. Robbinsville firefighters arrived and helped treat patients, additional ambulance from Hamilton Twp EMS were called to the scene for additional help. Traffic was backed up to Robbinsville-Allentown Exit 7 on 195. No further information is available at this time.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora and Trenton Public Schools Celebrate TCHS’s Graduating Class
More than 400 lawn signs, each with a photo of a graduating senior, rose like a monument on the front lawn of the newly built Trenton Central High School on Chambers Street, in celebration of the high school’s graduating class of 2020. Working together to place the signs were: Trenton Mayor W. Reed Gusciora; Trenton Central Principal Hope Grant; and Maria Jones, President of Trenton Central High School Alumni Association. The COVID-19 public health emergency prevented Trenton Public Schools from holding a formal graduation ceremony this year.
“We felt strongly about finding a way to publicly honor the graduating class of 2020; to let them know that the city, school and their leaders are proud of them and their accomplishments and that we wish them well as they begin a new phase of their personal and educational lives,” said Mayor Gusciora. “These students are the future and will help us rebound from the economic challenges caused by the pandemic.”
In Governor Murphy’s Executive Order No. 107 (EO 107), signed on March 21, 2020, the State of New Jersey officially prohibited gatherings of individuals for parties, celebrations, and other social events until further notice. On May 8, 2020, the state’s Department of Education released suggestions for holding virtual graduation ceremonies and celebratory events.
Jones commended all the students for their determination in a time of crisis. “Your ability to continue attending class and completing your homework in the middle of a pandemic demonstrates your resiliency and depth of character,” she said. “The Capital City is proud of what you have done and is eager to see what you will accomplish in the years to come.”
Principal Grant added, “I am deeply committed to seeing our students graduate, and also to let them know that we recognize their hard work and support all their efforts to make our communities better.”
MANALAPAN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Margaret Garnett, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced the arrest of RONALD ROMANO for attempting to deceive and price gouge New York City (the “City”) into paying him and his co-conspirators approximately $45 million for personal protective equipment that ROMANO did not possess and was not authorized to sell. ROMANO committed this scheme in an attempt to exploit NYC as it was trying to manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and obtain these resources to help protect the lives of hospital and other frontline workers. ROMANO is charged in a criminal Complaint, unsealed today, with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of conspiring to violate the Defense Production Act. ROMANO will be presented this afternoon in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ona T. Wang.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, used car salesman Ronald Romano saw the current health emergency as an opportunity to cash in, using lies and deception in what he envisioned as a get-rich-quick scheme. Romano allegedly lied repeatedly about his authority and ability to sell large quantities of personal protective equipment to the City – equipment he knew was desperately needed for use by frontline medical workers and first responders. And he allegedly offered to sell this phantom equipment to the City at grossly inflated prices. Now Ronald Romano’s short-lived second career as a purveyor of vital protective gear is over.”
DOI Commissioner Margaret Garnett said: “At a time when the pandemic was ravaging New York City, this defendant greedily preyed on the City’s desperate need for protective equipment to stop the spread of the virus. But, instead of reaping millions of dollars, the scheme received a dose of old-fashioned, New York City skepticism from procurement specialists at the City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), when the City called the supposed manufacturer to confirm the astronomical asking price. The defendant’s ruse unraveled, and these City workers proved that heroes have an array of titles. I thank the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York for its partnership on this important investigation, one that demonstrates there is no tolerance, at any time, in particular during this crisis, for individuals who seek to victimize this City by holding essential workers’ safety hostage to price-gouging and fraud.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
In approximately February 2020, ROMANO, a used car dealer, began attempting to obtain for resale large quantities of personal protective equipment (“PPE”), including N95 respirators. In furtherance of the scheme, ROMANO, among other things, created a fictitious authorization letter in March 2020, which falsely represented that ROMANO’s company was authorized to sell millions of units of 3M-brand PPE. Shortly thereafter, in mid-March 2020, brokers acting on ROMANO’s behalf approached New York City (the “City”), which at the time was in critical need of legitimate, potentially lifesaving PPE, including respirators, in order to supply frontline healthcare workers and first responders during the COVID-19 public health emergency. During ensuing negotiations, ROMANO and others repeatedly made false and fraudulent representations regarding, among other things, their authority and ability to supply 3M-brand PPE manufactured in the United States, and their track record in other PPE deals. In an effort to close a deal for seven million N95 respirators, ROMANO, among other things, submitted a false and misleading references document to the City, which, among other things, listed a PPE deal with the Florida Division of Emergency Management (the “FDEM”) that had never occurred and separately provided a co-conspirator as a reference. ROMANO hoped to get profit quickly through the scheme. As he described in a message to a co-conspirator, “I’m working on a few deals that if I get any of them you might be buying a Ferrari.”
In furtherance of this scheme, ROMANO attempted to sell PPE at prices far above the prices at which he hoped to acquire the PPE, including after such PPE was designated as scarce materials under the Defense Production Act on March 25, 2020. ROMANO offered three-ply N99 facemasks to FDEM at prices marked up by more than 500% from the manufacturer’s prices, and he separately offered the City millions of 3M-brand N95 respirators at more than a 400% markup from the list price for such respirators.
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ROMANO, 58, of Manalapan, New Jersey, is charged with one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and one count of conspiring to violate the Defense Production Act, which carries maximum sentence of not more than one year in prison. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Mr. Berman praised the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for their outstanding investigative work, and thanked the New York City Department of Investigation for their invaluable assistance with this matter. Mr. Berman also thanked the 3M Company for its assistance in the investigation.
Mr. Berman thanked the Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force. Attorney General William P. Barr created the COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force, led by Craig Carpenito, United States Attorney for District of New Jersey, who is coordinating efforts with the Antitrust Division and U.S. Attorneys across the country wherever illegal activity involving protective personal equipment occurs.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Nicholas W. Chiuchiolo and Timothy V. Capozzi are in charge of the prosecution.
The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Following the success of a very safe Memorial Day weekend, the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach is now ready to move forward with a broader reopening.
This morning, the Mayor, Chief of Police, Borough Administrator and Head of Public Works toured the boardwalk with business owners and their security personnel to make final decisions on the logistics needed for social distancing. At this meeting, it was determined that the proper pieces were in place for an opening of our boardwalk and northern beaches on Friday May 29th.
Opening up corridors on the boardwalk was ultimately deemed to be counterproductive to public safety and therefore all barriers will be removed accordingly.
Our Police Department has taken steps to ensure additional resources in order to handle this in a safe and orderly fashion. They have increased their numbers and will be at full seasonal strength within a few weeks.
Private businesses will be doing their part by providing social distancing ambassadors along the portions where they service customers. Hand sanitizing stations have been set up at every beach access point and signage will be going up shortly.
Rides, games and amusements remain closed by order of the Governor. Restaurants will be open for takeout only.
To accommodate this opening, on Friday May 29th parking restrictions will be partially scaled back to allow for private and public lots to be opened. The following Friday, June 5th, they will be repealed completely.
The inlet parking lot will be returned to normal operations effective Wednesday, May 27th. Guests must maintain a proper 6 foot distance at all times while fishing or conducting other activities.
Like every decision we make, these measures are subject to change if the COVID-19 situation does. We encourage all guests to take social distancing very seriously and help us create the safest environment on the Jersey Shore.
MidJersey.News has now obtained a full copy of the Federal lawsuit and is waiting on comments.
TRENTON (MERCER)-BELLMAWR (CAMDEN), NJ–Atilis Gym Bellmawr, LLC. has filed a Federal lawsuit in the United States District Court For The District Of New Jersey against Governor Philip D. Murphy Governor, Attorney General S. Grewal , New Jersey State Police Superintendent Patrick J. Callahan and NJ Department of Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli. The pages of the lawsuit obtained from a Facebook group and MidJersey.news as asked for comment and waiting for a reply. The full document is now posted below: