Day: September 10, 2020

Red, White & Blue Thrift Store Donates 2,000 Pairs Shoes For Soles4Souls In Robbinsville

September 10, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–The Red, White and Blue Thrift Store in Hamilton has given 2,000 pairs of shoes to Zachary Miller a Robbinsville resident that collects shoes for Soles4Souls

So far Zachary reports that he has collected 19,000 pairs of shoes with today’s donation from the Red, White and Blue Thrift Store. The donation was made possible though with help of the store’s manager Roselia Campos and Richard Carmichael who dropped off the shoes today at the Old School House without Zachary knowing. Zarchary was surprised arriving at the Old School House to see the donation of 2,000 pairs of shoes.

Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried presented the Mayor’s Service Award to Zachary Miller for his drive to collect 25,000 pairs of shoes.

Soles4Souls turns unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity, by keeping them from going to waste and putting them to good use. This provides relief, creates jobs and empowering people to break the cycle of poverty.

Soles4Souls disrupts the cycle of poverty by creating sustainable jobs and providing relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world. The organization repurposes product to supply its micro-enterprise, disaster relief and direct assistance programs. Since 2006, we have distributed more than 35 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries. Visit for more information.

If you would like to learn more about Zachary Miller’s 25,000 Robbinsville Shoe Drive click here.

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Extending MVC Deadlines and Streamlining Processes During Pandemic

September 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Murphy today signed legislation (A4486) which authorizes the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to use stored driver’s license or identification card photos for longer than eight years and limits certain appointment times at MVC locations to senior citizens and persons with certain medical conditions during COVID-19 pandemic.  The Governor also signed A4520, which temporarily extends deadlines to register vehicles and obtain driver’s licenses for new State residents during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“The temporary, but necessary closure of our MVC facilities earlier this year has resulted in an undeniable burden on many residents,” said Governor Murphy. “Under the leadership of Chief Administrator Sue Fulton, the MVC has made great progress in providing residents with the services that they need, under unprecedented circumstances. This legislation will reduce wait times and allow our vulnerable populations to have the access they need to obtain critical services.”

“Over the past year we’ve more than doubled our online transactions; A4486 will allow even more New Jerseyans to ‘Skip the Trip’ to Motor Vehicle Centers,” said MVC Chief Administrator Sue Fulton. We continue to work collaboratively with our legislative partners and the Governor’s office to overcome the obstacles posed by COVID-19, reduce wait times, and keep New Jerseyans on the road.” 

Primary Sponsors of A4486 include Assemblymembers Daniel R. Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Aura K. Dunn, and Senators Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., and Nicholas P. Scutari.

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, businesses across the nation have designated seniors-only hours for elderly residents. I am pleased the MVC will now do the same,” said Assemblyman Benson. “With designated appointment times, seniors will be able to access MVC services while largely avoiding crowds. Additionally, extending the time the MVC can use stored photos to update driver’s licenses will limit the number of times seniors need to visit the MVC amid this public health crisis.”

“Seniors are at a higher risk of experiencing complications from COVID-19. As a result, many are exercising an abundance of caution when it comes to going out in public,” said Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle. “Allowing seniors to use stored photos to update their licenses will reduce the amount of trips they need to make to the MVC, and designating specific ‘senior hours’ at agencies will limit their exposure to the public during the pandemic.”

“As we work through these unprecedented times it is important that we mitigate the need to be physically present at MVC locations,” said Senator Diegnan. “These laws will help MVC locations function more efficiently, reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, and accommodate our seniors and immunocompromised so they are not forced to risk their health over a visit to the MVC.”

“As we continue to work through this public health crisis, it is imperative we take an agency-wide look at the MVC’s operations to ensure all possible steps are being taken to protect the public, especially our most vulnerable residents,” said Senator Scutari. “It is vital that we provide relief by loosening regulations in order to achieve maximum efficiency during these tough times, extending deadlines is a simple way to aid our residents and cut down lines.”

A4486 extends the validity of all driver’s license and identification card photographs from a maximum of eight years to a maximum of 12 years. The bill further allows residents 65 years of age or older to be eligible to use a stored photograph for each standard driver’s license or standard identification card renewal. The legislation also requires the chief administrator, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, to reserve one day per week or a certain time each day or each week, to be determined by the chief administrator, at certain commission agency locations to offer appointments exclusively to the following individuals to register a newly purchased, newly acquired, or transferred motor vehicle: (1) senior citizens, and (2) customers who, due to a medical condition diagnosed by a licensed medical doctor or osteopathic physician and evidenced by proof, in a form prescribed by the chief administrator, cannot wear masks or face coverings.

Primary sponsors of A4520 include Assemblymembers Daniel R. Benson, Anthony S. Verelli, and Ralph R. Caputo, and Senators Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., and Shirley K. Turner.

“While the pandemic put many things on hold, we still need the ability to get new driver’s licenses or register vehicles during this crisis,” said Assemblyman Benson. “We have to do whatever it takes to fix the MVC, so you don’t have to camp out overnight or wait all day at an agency just to get these simple tasks done. This law will give many drivers relief, while helping the MVC eliminate its backlog.”

“New residents who’ve just moved to New Jersey cannot update their documentation online,” said Assemblyman Verrelli. “With only two months to register vehicles and get new licenses, new residents are rushing to MVC agencies to get their new information squared away. By doubling the amount of time they’ll have to visit the MVC, we’ll make the process easier on the agency and residents alike during these difficult times.”

“The MVC won’t be able to clear its backlog overnight,” said Assemblyman Caputo. “One way we can help alleviate this burden is by staggering when new residents need to visit the MVC. This law will grant this flexibility to new residents, which in turn will give the MVC some much-needed relief.”

“It has been two months since the MVC offices reopened and they are still struggling to overcome the backlog that accumulated during their closure,” said Senator Turner. “This extension will provide greater leeway for new residents of the state, allowing them to avoid the long lines and postpone registering their vehicle and obtaining a New Jersey license.”

A4520 provides that a person who is allowed to operate a motor vehicle as a non-resident has 120 days (up from 60 days) to obtain a New Jersey driver’s license and to register a motor vehicle upon becoming a resident of the State, if that person becomes a resident during the Coronavirus 2019 public health emergency, which is defined as the period of time during which Executive Order No. 103 of 2020, and any subsequent executive order extending the public health emergency, is in effect. 

The legislation will take effect immediately.

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Designating Juneteenth as a State and Public Holiday

September 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation (S19), which designates the third Friday in June as a State and public holiday, known as Juneteenth Day. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved people of the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and their freedom.

“It gives me great pride to celebrate emancipation and New Jersey’s great diversity by designating Juneteenth as an official State holiday.” said Governor Murphy. “Commemorating this date is just one component of our collective approach to end a generational cycle of pain and injustice that has gone on for far too long. Every Juneteenth, we will celebrate the end of the physical chains which once held Black Americans down. While more work lies ahead to undo the oppression that remains, Juneteenth is important marker that reminds us of our mission to create a society that enables our Black communities to achieve the full equality which they deserve.”

“Juneteenth has always been an important day in the African American community. It represents a day of true liberation of Black people from slavery in America. It’s also a reminder that centuries later, not all of us are treated equally and that freedom and democracy are not a given. Our fight for civil rights and freedom from discrimination and oppression continues today,” said Lt. Governor Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “Now, Juneteenth will forever be observed and celebrated so that we can collectively reflect upon the indelible mark that slavery has left on our country as we fight for meaningful reforms. I commend and thank Governor Murphy and the legislators who have chosen to make Juneteenth a State holiday.”

“I am a direct descendant of slavery. My great grandmother, my great-great grandmother, that is my family. It is not even a past stain,” said SZA. “It is a current reality that we are living through the post traumatic slave syndrome, the PTSD, and the effects of that currently, right now. Thank you, Governor Murphy for this.”

“Juneteenth marks a day of freedom for Black Americans who suffered the cruelty of slavery and an opportunity to honor the history and contributions of African Americans,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “This takes on greater significance as the entire country is confronting the racism and inequality that is the bitter legacy of slavery. We can use June 19th and the days that follow to undue past harms and renew our commitment to justice and equality for all.” 

We have a lot to learn from our history and unfortunately the delay in ending slavery and the lasting impact the institution has on our country is not taught enough,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham. “We want everyone to remember that Juneteenth is part of the history of all Americans. Hopefully, through this law, as well as deeper education and a more honest review of our nation’s history, more New Jerseyans can realize the significance of Juneteenth and understand the systemic issues that have continued to plague our country since that day in 1865.’”

“Juneteenth is not only a holiday on the ending of slavery in this country, but also a reflection on the history of slavery and the suffering sustained by the Black community since 1619,” said Senator Ron Rice. “Black history in this country is a continued battle for social progress, and right now we are seeing people from all backgrounds fight for that progress and improve upon what has been gained. I am glad more people are learning about Juneteenth because the more we educate people, the more we can start a dialogue on how to fix the racial divide in this country. I look forward to Juneteenth next year where everyone in New Jersey will celebrate and reflect together.” 

“This is a way of recognizing the end of slavery in America as an important milestone in the Nation’s history,” said Senator Joe Cryan. “A state holiday won’t change everything, but it will provide a platform to increase the understanding of what has happened in the past so that we can learn from it. When we recognize the experiences of history, we are better for it. We can be enriched as a state and more able to move towards equality for everyone.” 

In a joint-statement, Assemblymembers Jamel Holley, Benjie Wimberly, and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson said: 

“We’re at another set of crossroads in this country’s history—just as we were in 1863— where we can decide to move humanity forward by once again acknowledging the wrongs committed against African Americans and taking bold action to correct them. A visual illustration of the impact of centuries of systematic and institutionalized racism has our country reeling over the question, ‘Why?’ Why does this continue to persist in our communities today? Juneteenth was a defining moment in American History, claiming the beginning of African American independence in this country. It is time for the commemoration of a pivotal moment in history to become an official state holiday, underscoring its importance to our communities and giving time for reflection on how far we have come and have to go to achieve equality and justice for all.”

Bayville, NJ and Delray Beach, FL Men Charged In $2.5 Million Healthcare Fraud and Unlawful Disclosure Of Patient Information

Keith Ritson, 40, of Bayville, New Jersey, and Frank Alario, M.D., 63, of Delray Beach, Florida, are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, as well as individual acts of health care fraud and wire fraud. Both men are charged with a second conspiracy to wrongfully obtain and disclose patients’ individually identifiable health information. Alario is additionally charged with making false statements in a health care matter, and Ritson faces additional charges of conspiring to commit money laundering and substantive counts of money laundering.

September 10, 2020

CAMDEN, NJ –A federal grand jury has returned a 16-count indictment charging a physician and pharmaceutical sales representative with defrauding New Jersey state health benefits programs and other insurers out of more than $2.5 million by submitting fraudulent claims for medically unnecessary prescriptions, as well as unlawfully obtaining and disclosing individually identifiable patient health information protected by HIPAA, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Keith Ritson, 40, of Bayville, New Jersey, and Frank Alario, M.D., 63, of Delray Beach, Florida, are charged with conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud, as well as individual acts of health care fraud and wire fraud. Both men are charged with a second conspiracy to wrongfully obtain and disclose patients’ individually identifiable health information. Alario is additionally charged with making false statements in a health care matter, and Ritson faces additional charges of conspiring to commit money laundering and substantive counts of money laundering.

The cases are assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden. The indicted defendants are expected to make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ann Marie Donio in Camden federal court via videoconference on Sept. 10, 2020.

According to the indictment:

Compounded medications are specialty medications mixed by a pharmacist to meet the specific medical needs of an individual patient. Although compounded drugs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are properly prescribed when a physician determines that an FDA-approved medication does not meet the health needs of a particular patient, such as if a patient is allergic to a dye or other ingredient.

The conspirators recruited individuals to obtain very expensive and medically unnecessary compounded medications from a Louisiana pharmacy, Central Rexall Drugs Inc. (Central Rexall). The conspirators learned that certain compound medication prescriptions – including pain, scar, antifungal, and libido creams, and vitamin combinations – would be reimbursed by insurance providers in amounts in the thousands of dollars for a one-month supply.

The conspirators also learned that some New Jersey state and local government and education employees, including teachers, police officers, and state troopers, had insurance coverage for these particular compound medications. An entity referred to in the indictment as the “Pharmacy Benefits Administrator” provided pharmacy benefit management services for the State Health Benefits Program, which covers qualified state and local government employees, retirees, and eligible dependents, the School Employees’ Health Benefits Program, which covers qualified local education employees, retirees, and eligible dependents, and other insurance plans. The Pharmacy Benefits Administrator would pay prescription drug claims and then bill the State of New Jersey or the other insurance plans for the amounts paid.

In the first charged conspiracy, Ritson recruited individuals with prescription drug benefits administered by the Pharmacy Benefits Administrator to receive unnecessary compound medication prescriptions, which Alario signed without examining, speaking with, or establishing a physician-patient relationship with the patient. Alario sent a form to Central Rexall’s compliance program in which he falsely attested that he saw and spoke with patients in person and established a physician-patient relationship prior to prescribing Central Rexall medications. Ritson and Alario earmarked established patients of Alario’s medical practices who had insurance that covered the expensive compound medications. Alario prescribed the medications not for the patient’s need or request, but for the benefits he and Ritson stood to gain. The scheme caused the Pharmacy Benefits Administrator to pay over $2.5 million for the fraudulent prescriptions. For his role in the scheme, Ritson received a percentage of the amount that Central Rexall received from the Pharmacy Benefits Administrator for the medications, and Alario benefitted by receiving free meals, entertainment, travel, and other remuneration from Ritson.

The indictment also charges Ritson and Alario with a separate scheme to wrongfully obtain and disclose individually identifiable patient health information for their own personal gain and commercial advantage. As a sales representative not affiliated with Alario’s medical practices, Ritson should not have had access to patients’ confidential information. However, since only certain insurances covered the compound medications promoted by Ritson, the defendants accessed patient files and other identifying information to ascertain patients’ insurance coverage. On at least one occasion, Ritson and Alario jointly accessed patient information on an office computer for the purpose of determining insurance coverage for the medications. Ritson also had access to parts of Alario’s office where patient information was stored or could be heard and observed, including employee-restricted areas with medical files, fax machines, and computers. Ritson was also frequently present in exam rooms during patient appointments with Alario for the purpose of promoting the compound medications, at which time Alario commonly introduced Ritson to his patients as his “nephew” or gave the impression that Ritson was affiliated with the medical practice. By being present during the patient exams, Ritson had access to patients’ medical files and protected health information.

The health care fraud and wire fraud conspiracy count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison; each wire fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison; each health care fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; the false statement count and the conspiracy to wrongfully obtain or disclose individually identifiable patient health information count each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison; and the money laundering charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. All of the offenses are also each punishable by a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited agents of the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark; and the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka, with the investigation leading to the indictment. He also thanked the Division of Pensions and Financial Transactions in the State Attorney General’s Office, under the direction of Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Division Chief Aimee Nason, for its assistance in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christina O. Hud and R. David Walk Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.

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


Defense counsel:
Alario: Kevin Marino Esq., Chatham Township, New Jersey
Ritson: Eric Kanefsky Esq., Newark

Nevada Firearms Dealer Will Stop Selling Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines into New Jersey and Pay $50,000 to Settle Lawsuit After Illegal Online Sales to Undercover State Investigators

September 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that Nevada-based firearms dealer New Frontier Armory LLC has agreed to stop advertising, offering for sale, and selling large capacity ammunition magazines (“LCMs”) to New Jersey residents, and to pay the State $50,000, to settle the State’s civil lawsuit against the company. The suit was filed last year after the company twice sold LCMs online to undercover State investigators, in one instance after having received a cease-and-desist letter from the Attorney General’s Office.

New Jersey law prohibits the possession and sale of firearm magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. LCMs allow a shooter to fire a high number of bullets at a time, often dozens, without requiring the shooter to pause and reload. As a result, gun violence involving LCMs can result in more shots fired, persons wounded, and higher fatalities than other gun attacks. Given their heightened deadliness, LCMs have frequently been used in tragic mass shootings.

“Large capacity magazines, which significantly increase a shooter’s ability to injure and kill large numbers of people quickly, are illegal in New Jersey, and we have zero tolerance for their sale here,” said Attorney General Grewal. “This settlement not only holds New Frontier Armory accountable for its unlawful conduct, but also puts gun dealers on notice that we are closely monitoring internet weapons sales and will take immediate action against anyone who endangers our residents by selling and shipping deadly and unlawful firearms and magazines into our state.”

The settlement resolves allegations against New Frontier Armory that were set out in the State’s complaint against the company, which was filed in New Jersey Superior Court in June 2019.

The complaint alleged that New Frontier Armory, which operates a walk-in retail store in North Las Vegas and sells firearms and related supplies online via its website, engaged in unconscionable commercial practices and deceptive conduct in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act and the Hazardous Products Regulations. Specifically, it advertised, offered for sale, and sold LCMs despite knowing that their sale is illegal in New Jersey and without warning New Jersey purchasers that possession of LCMs subjects the buyer to criminal prosecution.

The complaint also alleged that New Frontier Armory engaged in “misrepresentations and knowing omissions of material fact” in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act by falsely stating on its website that it would cancel any order that involved shipping LCMs to areas where they are illegal, and by failing to provide a disclaimer on its website cautioning that possession of an LCM by a New Jersey resident is a crime.

27 of the 30 magazines New Frontier Armory offered through its website for sale in New Jersey could hold 15 to 100 rounds of ammunition, in violation of State law.

“New Frontier Armory’s continued advertisement and sale of illegal large capacity magazines in New Jersey, which persisted even after the company was directed to stop, demonstrated a willful disregard for our laws,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “By taking action against this business we are not only preventing dangerous, illegal weaponry from coming into our state, we are fulfilling our duty to provide transparency in our marketplace. New Frontier Armory must now clearly and conspicuously disclose on its website that high capacity magazines are illegal in New Jersey, and make consumers aware of the serious consequences they face for purchasing them in this state.”

In addition to the monetary payment of $50,000, the settlement requires New Frontier Armory to take action to prevent its firearms from being sold in New Jersey. It will block the shipping of any LCM to any New Jersey address; clearly and conspicuously post on its website a list of states and municipalities that restrict firearm magazine sales, which will include a link to New Jersey’s LCM restrictions; and specify that knowingly possessing an LCM in the state is a fourth-degree crime punishable by fines and imprisonment. Under the terms of the settlement, New Frontier Armory must also continue to make and keep all documents concerning sales and attempted purchases of LCMs to any New Jersey shipping address.

The lawsuit against New Frontier Armory was filed after the company twice sold LCMs to State investigators working undercover.

In August 2018, a detective from the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice purchased three 30-round magazines from New Frontier Armory through the company’s website, which the detective then picked up at a New Jersey shipping address.

On January 7, 2019, Attorney General Grewal issued a cease-and-desist letter to New Frontier Armory, advising the company that its sales of LCMs into New Jersey violated New Jersey law and demanding that it stop advertising, selling, and/or shipping LCMs to New Jersey. Two weeks later, the retailer responded that it had notified its staff of the law, and that purchases in states where LCMs are prohibited would be cancelled. 

Nevertheless, in May 2019, an undercover State investigator was able to purchase a 100-round magazine, a 30-round magazine, and a 15-round magazine from New Frontier Armory online, and pick up the purchased LCMs at a New Jersey shipping address.

New Jersey law has long prohibited the possession and sale of large capacity magazines capable of carrying 15 rounds or more. In June 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a package of common-sense gun safety measures that included a bill reducing the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines from 15 to 10 rounds.

The lawsuit against New Frontier Armory is one of several filed as part of Attorney General Grewal’s ongoing efforts to protect New Jersey residents from illegal firearm products and gun violence.

Investigators Aziza Salikhova and Ediz Laypan of the Office of Consumer Protection within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation in the New Frontier Armory matter. Deputy Attorney General/Assistant Section Chief Jesse J. Sierant and Counsel for Affirmative Civil Enforcement Lorraine K. Rak within the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group of the Division of Law represented the State in the action against New Frontier Armory. 

New Jersey to Provide Opioid-Overdose Antidote Naloxone for Free to Residents September 24-26 at Participating Pharmacies Across the State

Residents Can Obtain Free Naloxone at 322 Participating Pharmacies Without Providing Name or a Prescription

September 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Murphy and Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson today announced the state will offer the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone (commonly called Narcan) for free to residents at participating pharmacies throughout New Jersey from September 24th through 26th.

As part of the Murphy Administration’s continued effort to combat the opioid crisis, New Jerseyans can visit participating pharmacies and anonymously obtain naloxone for free with no prescription and no appointment. Each naloxone pack contains two doses.

The free naloxone will be available at 322 pharmacies, including several locations of Acme, CVS, Rite Aid, Sav-On, ShopRite, Stop & Shop, Walgreens, Walmart, Weis Markets and independent pharmacies. 

For participating pharmacies, please visit

This will be the Murphy Administration’s second free naloxone distribution to residents. Human Services in June 2019 oversaw a free naloxone distribution at pharmacies that led to residents receiving 32,000 doses of naloxone.

“The ongoing opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities across our state,” said Governor Murphy. “By expanding access to Naloxone, New Jerseyans will have this lifesaving medication readily available to help those who may be suffering from an overdose.”

“This is all about saving lives,” Commissioner Johnson said. “We’re continuing to find innovative ways to combat this epidemic that has taken far too many lives. We urge everyone to visit a participating pharmacy to get a free pack of this overdose reversal drug because, quite frankly, you never know when you’re going to need it to save a life.”

The naloxone will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis while supplies last.

Naloxone can reverse overdoses from opioids by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain. Those who obtain naloxone will also be given information regarding addiction treatment and recovery. 

Participating pharmacies have standing orders from the Department of Health for dispensing of naloxone. The distribution is a Human Services program approved by the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy.

Human Services has also distributed 53,000 free doses of naloxone to police departments, 11,352 free doses to EMS teams, 1,200 free doses to shelters for those experiencing homelessness and 400 free doses to libraries.

“Last year’s turnout showed there is a strong demand for naloxone.  New Jerseyans stood up and said they want to help and be ready to have the opportunity to save someone’s life,” Commissioner Johnson said. “We want to build on last year’s event and get naloxone into as many hands as possible. We want to save lives.”

Those who pick up free naloxone will be given information regarding the state’s addiction treatment helpline, 1-844-ReachNJ, a 24-hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week addictions help line, where people facing addiction or their friends and family can get immediate assistance and support from live, New Jersey-based, trained addiction counselors. ReachNJ assists callers regardless of their insurance status.

“Giving people this live-saving antidote is an opportunity to get people on the path to recovery,” said New Jersey Department of Human Services Assistant Commissioner Valerie Mielke, who manages Human Services’ Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. 

“Treatment works and recovery is possible,” Commissioner Johnson said.

Governor Murphy Orders Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Observation of 9/11 Anniversary

September 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Governor Phil Murphy ordered that U.S and New Jersey flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on Friday, September 11, 2020, in remembrance of the nearly 3,000 innocent people, of whom almost 700 were New Jersey residents, that were killed in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“The September 11th terrorist attacks occurred nineteen years ago, but the pain and sorrow are still fresh,” said Governor Murphy. “We will never forget the lives cut short that day, and the first responders who selflessly saved so many more from perishing.”

Copy of Executive Order #184

AG Grewal Moves to Intervene in Suit Accusing Telecommunications Contractor of Failing to Pay Prevailing Wages and Submitting False Claims to State

Contractor Allegedly Billed UMDNJ, Successor Entities for Prevailing Wage Work But Failed to Pay Prevailing Wage Rates, Denying Workers at Least $392,000 in Wages Owed

September 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Seeking to hold accountable a company that allegedly defrauded the State while denying workers hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today filed court papers to intervene in a lawsuit being pressed against the company by a former employee.

In a motion to intervene and proposed complaint filed in New Jersey Superior Court, the State alleges that Adalex Enterprises Corp. (which does business as Adalex Communications) and its affiliate, Advance Telecom Resources, Inc., (together, “Adalex”) committed multiple violations of the New Jersey False Claims Act between 2010 and 2017, while contracted to perform telecommunications work for the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (“UMDNJ”) and UMDNJ’s successor entities (collectively, “State Entities”).  UMDNJ was restructured in 2013, with most of its units being integrated into Rutgers University. 

Adalex Communications | 145 Talmadge Road Ste 15 Edison, NJ 08817

The complaint alleges that Adalex submitted nearly 1,400 false claims to the State Entities in invoices for work subject to prevailing wage laws. According to the State, Adalex impliedly represented that its workers were being paid in accordance with the prevailing wage laws, while, in fact, the company paid its workers only a fraction of the required rates, shorting them by at least $392,046 in the aggregate. 

“Through this action, we seek to hold accountable a company that allegedly pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars that should have been paid to its workers,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We are committed to protecting New Jersey workers by ensuring they receive the wages they’re due under the law, and we will take action against any contractor who tries to defraud the State – and take advantage of New Jersey taxpayers – with falsehoods about its costs.”

Among the categories of telecommunications services that Adalex provided to the State Entities between 2010 and 2017 were infrastructure work, such as cable installation and repair; day-to-day operational support; and other work based on purchase orders.

Each of these categories included work to be performed by either a “journeyman” electrician or a “foreman,” with workers required by law to be paid the prevailing wage for work they performed.

The State’s complaint notes that UMDNJ’s Request for Proposal (RFP) on the contract included language indicating the winning bidder must pay its workers prevailing wages for prevailing wage work. The complaint also asserts that, as early as November 2010, UMDNJ’s manager of purchasing sent a letter to Adalex making plain that prevailing wage laws applied under the contract.   

Nevertheless, today’s court filings allege that, throughout the course of the contract, Adalex paid its employees well below prevailing wages for their prevailing wage work. 

The complaint includes multiple examples illustrating how Adalex paid workers at an effective rate of less than $30 per hour, including benefits, while billing the State Entities in excess of $100 per hour for their labor. Under prevailing wage laws, the employees should have been paid more than twice as much.

The alleged fraud came to light after former Adalex employee Russell Mollica, who served as a project manager on the UMDNJ contract, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Adalex in 2016. Mollica alleges that he was terminated in June 2015, shortly after advising his employer in writing that it was not in compliance with prevailing wage laws governing the UMDNJ contract.

The State initially declined to join Mollica’s lawsuit, but with today’s filing seeks permission to participate in the wake of intervening developments, including an attempt by Adalex to settle Mollica’s lawsuit without compensating the State for its fraud.

The State is represented in this matter by Assistant Attorney General Janine Matton of the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group and Deputy Attorney General and Section Chief Lara Fogel, Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Section Chief Kenneth Levine, Deputy Attorney General Carla Pereira, Deputy Attorney General Dana Vasers, and Attorney Jedediah Pencinger, all of the Government and Healthcare Fraud Section.

NJ State Board of Medical Examiners Votes to Propose Rule Changes To Abortion

September 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The State Board of Medical Examiners (“the Board”) voted to propose amendments to its rules to expand access to reproductive health care and to repeal outdated rules that place medically unwarranted restrictions on abortion in New Jersey. The Board unanimously agreed to propose several changes to its regulations to remove barriers to care that do not offer corresponding health benefits. The proposed regulatory changes will be published in the New Jersey Register in the coming months, at which time the public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposal. Key aspects of the proposed regulatory changes include: 

  • repealing the Termination of Pregnancy rule that singles out abortion care for targeted regulation by, among other things, requiring that all terminations of pregnancy be performed only by a physician, and barring office-based terminations beyond 14 weeks gestation;
  • clearing the path for Advanced Practice Nurses, Physician Assistants, and Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Midwives to perform early aspiration terminations of pregnancy (in addition to medication-based termination of pregnancy, which is already permitted); and
  • updating the regulations to integrate reproductive care within the generally applicable rules designed to ensure the safety of patients who undergo surgery or special procedures in an office setting.

 The Board’s vote to propose the changes follows the recommendations of a Board subcommittee empaneled in December 2018 to examine New Jersey’s current regulations in light of both advances in the field of abortion care and recent case law. Medically unnecessary rules that create barriers and place undue burdens on individuals seeking abortion care have been struck down by the United States Supreme Court. The Board’s subcommittee reviewed rigorous, nationally-recognized medical and public health studies demonstrating that general rules governing health care procedures are sufficient to secure health and safety and that certain early abortion procedures can safely be performed by non-physician clinicians. Such studies also note that medically unnecessary over-regulation of abortion itself creates public heath harms through disruptions in access to essential care. Based on such evidence, other states have moved to similarly expand access to reproductive health services. In response to the Board’s vote today, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said: “We applaud the Board for moving to expand access to reproductive health care services, based on its careful consideration and assessment of the medical evidence. The Board’s evidence-based modernization of its rules will bring New Jersey into line with states across the country that have already taken action to increase access to quality care.”  The Division of Consumer Affairs’ staff supports 51 professional and occupational licensing boards that together license approximately 720,000 professionals working in the State. The Boards, whose members are appointed by the Governor,  are responsible for promulgating and enforcing rules governing professional and occupational standards. 

Fatal Accident In East Brunswick On NJ Turnpike

September 10, 2020

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–NJ State Police spokesperson Trooper Alejandro Goez told MidJersey.News that an accident was reported at 4:28 am on the south bound inner roadway at milepost 80.2 in East Brunswick.

There were multiple vehicles involved and one fatality.

State Police reported that the inner roadway remains closed for the accident investigation. All traffic has been diverted to the outer roadway.