Day: September 4, 2020

Brielle Police Officer Admits Stealing From Police Union

September 4, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Brielle police officer pleaded guilty Thursday to taking more than $700 from the expense account of the local police union, announced Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Michael W. Palmer, Jr., 33, of Wall Township, pleaded guilty to an Accusation charging him with one count of third-degree Theft.   Palmer acknowledged during the plea before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregossa-O’Connor that between February 20 and March 25, 2020, while treasurer for the PBA, he took $734.25 in cash withdrawals from the PBA bank account for personal purposes and without authorization.

The sentencing recommendation will be non-custodial probation; however, Palmer is allowed to apply to PreTrial Intervention.  An order forfeiting his position as a Brielle police officer and permanently forfeiting public office in New Jersey was also entered today and was a condition of the plea.  Palmer also agreed to pay the victim, the Brielle PBA, $734.25 in restitution.  Sentencing is scheduled for October 22, 2020.

“We will continue to hold law enforcement officers accountable for their actions and will prosecute those who violate the law. Police officers who betray their oaths fail our citizens, their fellow officers, and make it harder for the law enforcement community to obtain the public’s trust.  We will not tolerate this conduct and the added burden that it places on the work of honorable law enforcement officers who are working tirelessly to serve their communities,” Gramiccioni said.

Palmer was charged in July after an internal affairs review by the Brielle Police Department and follow-up investigation by this Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crimes Unit revealed Palmer made several ATM cash withdrawals in Wall Township, Ocean Township and Neptune City from the expense account of the Brielle Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Local 395, while serving as their treasurer between January and June of this year.  These withdrawals were unrelated to PBA business and were made for personal reasons.

Palmer was employed as a Brielle Borough police officer on Dec. 1, 2018, where he earned $105,383. Prior to today’s forfeiture order, Palmer was suspended without pay.

“I can’t stress this enough; Mr. Palmer’s behavior was inexcusable and is by no means a representation of the high level of professionalism and integrity of every Brielle police officer. As a department, and as an association, we are very pleased with the outcome of this case and we look forward to moving on and recovering from this,” said Brielle Police Chief Gary J. Olsen.

The case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crimes Unit.

 Palmer is represented by Charles Uliano, Esq., of West Long Branch.

Governor Murphy and Superintendent Callahan Announce Administrative Order Prohibiting Smoking in the Indoor Portions of Casinos Open to the Public

September 4, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy and State Police Superintendent Colonel Pat Callahan today announced Administrative Order 2020-19, which prohibits smoking in the indoor areas of any casino or casino simulcasting facility that are open to the public. 

“We have looked closely at the science and agree with the experts who have concluded that allowing smoking indoors at our casinos is too big of a risk to take,” said Governor Murphy. “This action ensures that we can minimize the risk of transmission through second hand smoke on our casino floors.”

The order was issued in consultation with Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli, who has advised that smoking on casino floors poses a particularly high danger and that a temporary ban on smoking on casino floors is necessary to protect the large number of individuals on casino floors, including casino employees and other casino patrons. The order takes effect at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 5, 2020.

For a copy of the Administrative Order, please click here

Gloucester City Man Charged With Bombing Local Gym,Unlawful Possession of Explosives and Short-Barreled Rifle

September 4, 2020

A Camden County, New Jersey, man was charged today for detonating an explosive device at a local business and unlawfully possessing unregistered destructive devices and a short-barreled rifle, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Dwayne A. Vandergrift Jr., 35, of Gloucester City, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with malicious use of explosives, unlawful possession of two destructive devices, and unlawful possession of a short-barreled rifle. Vandergrift will make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams at a later date.

According to the complaint:

During the early morning hours of Aug. 26, 2020, Vandergrift placed an explosive device on the front door of a local gym near his home in Gloucester City. Security camera footage recorded Vandergrift fleeing the area moments before the device exploded, badly damaging the front door and shattering its glass. On Aug. 28, 2020, federal and local law enforcement officers executed a search warrant at Vandergrift’s home and found substantial quantities of bomb making materials, numerous weapons, including an unregistered short barreled rifle, several tactical vests outfitted with body armor and loaded 30-round ammunition magazines, and a marijuana grow operation containing approximately 85 marijuana plants. Upon examining Vandergrift’s personal computer devices, investigators discovered that he had recently researched how to construct and utilize various explosive devices, including pipe and pressure cooker bombs. Vandergrift was arrested by local authorities on Aug. 28, 2020, and charged by the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office. He is presently in custody on those charges.

The malicious use of explosive charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years and a maximum fine of $250,000. The charges for possession of the unregistered destructive devices and short-barreled rifle carry maximum prison terms of 10 years each and maximum fines of $250,000.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents and task force officers of the FBI’s South Jersey Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Driscoll and the FBI’s Philadelphia Joint Terrorism Task Force, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest. He also thanked officers of the Gloucester City Police Department, under the direction of Police Chief Brian Morrell; the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer; the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Gilbert L. Wilson; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson; the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, under the direction of Director Jared Maples; Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason Molina; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Gabriel J. Vidoni of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Camden.

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


Defense counsel: TBD

160th New Jersey State Police Recruit Training Class Completes Academy Training, 165 New Troopers Receive Badges in Trenton

September 4, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Philip D. Murphy, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan presented badges to New Jersey’s newest state troopers during graduation ceremonies at Arm and Hammer Park this morning.

The 160th New Jersey State Police Class graduated 146 men and 19 women. Of this graduating class, 85 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 15 percent are prior military, and 20 percent have prior law enforcement experience. Among the class, 71 were college athletes, 14 were firefighters, 14 were emergency medical technicians, 27 are married, 7 are engaged, 18 have family members that were former law enforcement officers, and 17 currently have family in law enforcement.

Normally a class would complete 24 weeks of strenuous physical and academic training consisting of classroom lessons and practical training scenarios. Recruits would report to the State Police academy in Sea Girt before dawn on Monday morning and would not return home until dismissal on Friday evening, but on Friday, March 20, in week 4 of their training, COVID-19 brought the class to an abrupt halt and forced them to vacate the academy.

Our academy staff worked tireless to modify training, and as a result, the class did not disband as they continued training virtually before being deployed statewide to assist with our COVID-19 response efforts. Recruits were tasked with patrolling testing locations and temporary hospitals as well as conducting vehicle decontamination details and staffing temperature checkpoints at state buildings.

On June 5, in-person training was resumed at an offsite facility, which was able to accommodate recruits and training staff while adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols, and on August 14, the class returned to the New Jersey State Police Academy at Sea Girt. To keep the class on schedule to graduate, the recruits completed their last 13 weeks of training without going home on the weekends like traditional classes. The life of a recruit is already demanding in many ways, but the COVID-19 pandemic added unprecedented challenges for the 160th New Jersey State Police Class.

The newly graduated troopers have been assigned to stations throughout the state, and over the next few months, they will begin their careers under the watchful eye of their Trooper-Coaches and supervisors.

“There is no greater calling than protecting and serving the people of New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy. “I’m honored to congratulate the exceptional men and women of the 160th graduating class for their commitment and perseverance during this unprecedented time.”

“The recruits of the 160th class will be forever revered for choosing to step up and serve in uncertain times knowing how much will be asked of them physically and mentally in the coming months. I commend them for their bravery and hard work in overcoming the challenges presented to them,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “I also believe these recruits, freshly sensitized and awakened to the systemic and racial injustices in our nation, and with their diverse skill sets and backgrounds, are up to the task and will succeed in protecting and serving the people of New Jersey. I offer my heartfelt congratulations and wish them the best in their careers in public service.”

“COVID-19 did not stop the 160th State Police Recruit Class from completing their training. On the contrary, it defined them as one of the most unique and adaptable recruit classes ever,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “This class adjusted to virtual learning and alternative training environments, and they learned the meaning of service early by assisting with COVID response and hurricane season preparations. In short, they exemplify the ‘can do’ spirit of the New Jersey State Police. I congratulate the 160th Class and wish them continued success as they begin their careers in law enforcement—careers that I am confident will be devoted to protecting and winning the trust of the communities they serve.”

“The 160th New Jersey State Police Class have a historic academy experience as no class has trained in the midst of a global pandemic,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “As these newly graduated troopers stand poised to embark on a career of service to the state, they begin their journey equipped with the knowledge and real-life experience gained during their academy training by working alongside enlisted members as part of our COVID-19 response efforts. I am confident that the adversity these graduates encountered will help them thrive as New Jersey State Troopers and will propel them into a long and prosperous career of service as they continue to uphold the core values and the traditions of the New Jersey State Police.”

In addition to honoring all graduates from the 160th class, Colonel Callahan presented the following awards:

The recipient of the “Father Grady Award” is Trooper Erin Folger, Ocean Gate, N.J. This award is presented to the recruit with the highest academic average.

The recipient of the “Captain Baxter Award” is Trooper Harry Papasavas, of Holmdel, N.J. This award is presented to the recruit with the highest marksmanship average.

The recipient of the “H. Norman Schwarzkopf Award” is Trooper Chase McCabe, of Howell, N.J. This award is presented to the recruit with the highest physical average.

The recipient of the “Dennis William Zilinski Award” is Trooper Chase McCabe, of Howell, N.J. This award is presented to the outstanding recruit who is currently serving or who has served in the U.S. military, demonstrated active support and service to the class, and exemplifies the State Police’s service to the citizens of this state.

The recipient of the “Commandant’s Award” is Trooper Michael Burwell, of Highland Park, N.J. This award is presented to the outstanding recruit selected by the academy instructors.

The recipient of the “Lieutenant James Walsh Award” is Trooper Sergio Castro, of Union, N.J. This award is presented to the person who exhibited dedication, commitment, loyalty, and unselfishness during training.

The recipient of the “Superintendent’s Award” is Trooper Steven Brodzik, of Vineland, N.J. This award is presented to the outstanding recruit selected by his or her peers.

2nd Alarm In Trenton

September 4, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Just before 1 pm the Trenton Fire Department was dispatched for a fire in the 100 block of Spring Street. Upon arrival there was heavy fire showing on the 3rd floor and a 2nd Alarm was called for sending additional apparatus to the scene. Firefighters had the fire under control in about 20 minutes. No further information was available about the fire.

Photos by: Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

September 11th Remembrance Ceremony in Hamilton

September 4, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Township will hold its annual September 11th remembrance ceremony on Friday, September 11, 2020 at 1:00 PM inside the Klockner Road Entrance of Veterans Park at the September 11th Memorial Grove.

The ceremony will include the participation of Hamilton Township Mayor Jeff Martin, Hamilton Township Council, Hamilton Police Chief James M. Stevens, Hamilton Fire Chief Richard Kraemer, Father Stanley Krzyston of St. Vincent de Paul Church, the Hamilton Township Patriotic Committee, as well as the Hamilton Township Police and Fire Honor Guards, the Hamilton Township Fire Department Pipe & Drum Band, and members of Hamilton’s Police, Fire and Emergency Management personnel communities.   

“Our nation will never forget the tragic events of September 11th, the lives we lost that day, nor those that were changed forever.  We thank all first responders for their service and sacrifices made not only on that somber day but each and every day,” says Mayor Jeff Martin.  “I invite all those who are able to join us for our annual somber September 11th remembrance ceremony at the September 11th Memorial Grove.”  

Veterans Park, home to Hamilton’s September 11th Memorial Grove and the location of this ceremony, holds a Steel Beam from the World Trade Center, as well as a Fire Fighter monument and a memorial to the five Hamilton residents we so tragically lost on September 11, 2001 (William Reed Bethke, Daniel Leonard Maher, Susan L. Schuler, Jeannine Damiani-Jones, and Richard Guadagno).

Seating for the ceremony will be limited and social distancing will be practiced, thus we encourage attendees to arrive early and bring their own lawn chairs.  Masks must be worn when social distancing cannot be maintained.  There ceremony will be held whether rain or shine.

Picture Show Entertainment to Re-Open East Windsor Theater Today

September 4, 2020

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Picture Show Entertainment today announces the official re-opening of its East Windsor, NJ theatre on Friday, September 4. Operating under state and local reopening guidance, Picture Show will open its doors to the public at 50% capacity. This decision comes after months of training and implementing new procedures to keep both Picture Show employees and guests safe and healthy.

Picture Show is excited to provide the affordably priced, luxury movie-going experience enjoyed by the residents of East Windsor and the surrounding area once more. During a time when the community is eager to reconnect and enjoy a night of family fun, audiences can finally come together to enjoy the sense of connection found by going to the movies.

In conjunction with new major Hollywood movie releases like Tenet, New Mutants and Wonder Woman 1984 that will begin rolling out this month, guests can expect to see past award-winning movies on the first weekend like Jurassic Park, Trolls World Tour, The Avengers, Beauty and The Beast and Inception at discounted prices. Guests will also have the chance to see the national premiere of The New Mutants, a new action and adventure film created in association with Marvel Entertainment.

Updated business hours and adjusted ticket prices have been implemented for the first phase of reopening. For new major Hollywood movie releases, Picture Show will continue to offer the lowest admission prices in the region at $9.50 for adult tickets and children’s and senior tickets for $8.50 before 4:00PM. Adult tickets are $11.50 after 4:00PM. Movie tickets for previous released blockbusters will be $2.00 for general admission and $1.00 on Discount Tuesdays.

Group rentals are being offered as an exciting VIP Experience with a maximum of 20 friends and family, for a value rate of $75.00 per Classic movie screening and $100 per new release movie screening, plus the ticket price for each guest. The theatre will be open daily at 11:15AM.

Visitors returning to Picture Show at East Windsor will have the opportunity to enjoy a full menu of food and beverage items including 99 cent hot dogs, delicious burgers, funnel cake fries, Coca-Cola Freestyle products, adult beverages, ICEE’s and of course, movie theater popcorn!

To ensure every precaution is met, Picture Show, in concert with the National Association of Theatre Owners and state and local health officials, has planned and executed an abundance of operational adjustments and safety measures including but not limited to; plexiglass barriers to reduce contact between team members and guests, enforcing and maintaining a six foot physical distance in all areas of the theater including lobby and auditoriums marked with floor signage and safely spaced luxury recliner seating. Guests are encouraged to visit to learn more about what to expect upon returning to the movies.

The Picture Show team of staff will continue to adhere to stringent cleaning and sanitizing protocols to mitigate and reduce touchpoints in high traffic areas, use personal protective equipment and hand washing on a frequent basis. Additionally, guests visiting the theater will be required to wear a face covering when in the lobby, concession areas, restrooms and hallways. Masks may be removed while enjoying refreshments when seated in the auditorium.

Mid-State Correctional Facility, Correctional Police Officer Charged With Falsifying Reports Concerning His Unauthorized Use of Pepper Spray Against an Inmate

On June 16, 2020, Jovanny Galindo, 32, of Neptune City, N.J, a Senior Correctional Police Officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility, allegedly confronted a seated inmate and sprayed OC spray into the face of the inmate without any apparent justification. 

September 4, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that a criminal charge has been filed against a senior correctional police officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility who allegedly falsified two New Jersey Department of Corrections reports concerning his unauthorized use of oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray, commonly known as “pepper spray,” against an inmate.

Jovanny Galindo, 32, of Neptune City, N.J., was charged yesterday, Sept. 3, 2020, by complaint-summons with third-degree conspiracy to tamper with public records or information.  The charge is the result of a joint investigation by the New Jersey Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division and the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).

On June 16, 2020, Galindo, a Senior Correctional Police Officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility, allegedly confronted a seated inmate and sprayed OC spray into the face of the inmate without any apparent justification.  In the “special custody report” and “use of force report” Galindo filed on the incident, he stated that the inmate ignored an order, became argumentative, and verbally threatened Galindo, which prompted him to use the spray.  It is alleged that Galindo’s statements in the reports were false and his use of force against the inmate was not authorized under the Department of Corrections’ Use of Force Policy. 

Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.  The charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by the OPIA Corruption Bureau.  Attorney General Grewal thanked the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division for its work on the investigation.

Defense Attorney: Undetermined.

Visitation and Services Announced For North Brunswick Police Director Kenneth McCormick

September 4, 2020

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The entire Township of North Brunswick is mourning today the death of Police Director Kenneth McCormick. Ken’s quick smile, sharp wit, intense integrity, unwavering compassion and dedication to family, friends, coworkers and officers made him a hero to those he knew and those he led.

Director McCormick was hired in September 1982 and graduated with the 38th Police Basic Training Class of the Middlesex County Police Academy. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1995 and then to Lieutenant in 2003. In 2004, while still a lieutenant, Ken was named the Director of Public Safety. He retired in 2008 but returned in 2009 to continue his public service as the Director of the Department of Public Safety.

The hallmarks of Ken’s tenure as Police Director were foresight, compassion and caring for the men and women of the department, and a dedication toward justice. Director McCormick leaves a legacy of ingenuity and integrity and his imprint upon our Township will be felt for generations to come.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, September 8th from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Peace Church on Route 130
Funeral Services will be held on Wednesday, September 9th at 11:00 a.m. on the Great Lawn at Community Park on Route 130.
Interment will be at Van Liew Cemetery on Georges Road.

Monmouth Mobile Home Park Creating Community Garden, Delivering Free Food to Residents During COVID-19

September 4, 2020

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The Monmouth Mobile Home Park has created a garden to help provide nutritious food to help families who are struggling during COVID-19. 

According to a recent Monmouth University Poll, “the coronavirus outbreak has made a major impact on the lives of 7 in 10 New Jersians.” As New Jersey residents grapple with the economic fallout from the coronavirus due to layoffs and furloughs, many families are unable to access safe, nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables. 

“The staff at Monmouth Mobile Home Park will be harvesting fresh vegetables and delivering ‘farm baskets’ to residents free of charge,” said Dan Mandell, manager of Monmouth Mobile Home Park. “Our focus is on feeding families and encouraging healthy eating during these uncertain times.” 

Monmouth Mobile Home Park started the community garden program last year and it was a huge success.  “We want to do everything we can to give back to the community and we really thought that providing nutritious food was a great way to do this,” Mandell said.  In light of what was going on in N.J. and the country, the program was expanded this year to try to feed as many people as possible.  The Park has also worked in conjunction with the South Brunswick Food Pantry and also Patel Brothers Market to get food to anyone who might need it.

It can be difficult for families to cope with the stress of being quarantined, out of a job, while taking care of their loved ones. This drastic change in our daily routines often increases anxiety and disrupts health eating habits. It’s easier to reach for a favorite salty snack or raid the cookie jar because of boredom or feeling on edge, however processed foods lack much nutritional value and can leave us feeling worse. 

According to a recent article published by the Harvard Medical School, “certain nutrients in foods have been shown to reduce anxiety or spur the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine” which increases our moods. When people are stressed out it actually worsens feelings of depression or anxiety and it suppresses our immune system. Therefore, eating more vegetables may have a dual effect – it will increase our mood and boost our immunity. 

Monmouth Mobile Home Park prides itself on its strong feelings of community spirit and its engaging staff are immersed in community events and are active members of township activities. The MMHP enjoys a convenient location located near the flourishing commercial district, which offers both entertainment and job opportunities.