Day: September 30, 2020

BREAKING: 2nd Alarm In Seaside Park

BREAKING NEWS REPORT: From radio, witness and on scene reporting. Once official information becomes available story will be updated and any additions or corrections made.

September 30, 2020

11:20 pm update, command reports they have the main body of the fire knocked down and checking for extension.

SEASIDE PARK, NJ (OCEAN)–Just before 11 pm the Seaside Park Fire Department responded to a fire in the 1st block of Stockton Avenue. Upon arrival a 2nd alarm was called for. Command was reporting a fire in a 2 1/2 story with exposure issues. Witness on scene said block was being evacuated and sent the photo in prior to being pushed back.

This is an active fire and firefighters are working at the scene at this time.

When updates become available they will be added to the story.


At 22:51 hours on 9/30/20 Station 45 responded to Stockton Ave for the working structure fire. Stations 27, 44, 53, 26, Tri-Boro EMS and SPPD responded to the scene. Station 28 handled the cover assignment. No civilian or first responder injuries were reported.



Illegal Interstate Gun Traffickers Charged

September 30, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Three New Jersey men and a man and woman from Florida have been charged with conspiring to illegally sell firearms, including handguns and a semi-automatic rifle, in and around Monmouth County, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Enrique Quijada, 23, a/k/a “El Enano 13,” a/k/a “Kike,” of Freehold, New Jersey; Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, 30, a/k/a “Chino,” of Bartow, Florida; his brother, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, 31, a/k/a “Manin,” of Freehold, New Jersey; Javier Rodriguez-Valpais, 31, a/k/a “Broly,” of Morganville, New Jersey; and Jacquelyn Dejesus, 41, of Bartow, Florida, are each charged by criminal complaint with one count of conspiracy to engage in the business of unlicensed firearms dealing. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Rodriguez-Valpais are each additionally charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Dejesus are also charged with one count of unlawfully selling a firearm to an individual that they knew did not reside in their state of residence, namely Florida.

Quijada, Rodriguez-Valpais and Dejesus were arrested today are scheduled to appear by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zahid N. Quraishi. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria remain at large,

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From May 2020 through September 2020, Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, Quijada, Rodriguez-Valpais, and Dejesus were members of a gun trafficking conspiracy that spanned from Florida to New Jersey. Dejesus allegedly assisted Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria – the alleged leader of the conspiracy – by acting as a “straw purchaser” of firearms in Florida. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and Dejesus then transported the firearms from Florida to Monmouth County, where Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, assisted by Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria and Rodriguez-Valpais, allegedly sold the firearms to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI. In addition, Rodriguez-Valpais allegedly sold a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle to Quijada, who, in turn, allegedly sold the rifle to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI.

The counts of conspiracy to engage in the business of unlicensed firearms dealing and unlawfully selling a firearm to an unlicensed resident of another state each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to the charges and arrest. He also thanked the FBI Tampa Division, the ATF Newark and Tampa Field Divisions, and the Freehold Borough, New Jersey, Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information, please see: Project Guardian. 

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

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

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Defense counsel:
Quijada: David Schafer Esq., Lawrenceville, New Jersey
Rodriguez-Valpais: Brian Reilly Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton
Dejesus: Bruce Throckmorton Esq., Trenton

All Hands Fire In Vacant House Quickly Knocked Down

BREAKING NEWS REPORT: From radio and on scene reports, if official information is released the story will be updated and any corrections made.

September 30, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 5:35 pm the Trenton Fire Department was dispatched to the 100 block of Wayne Avenue for a house fire. The first arriving units reported smoke was showing on the 2nd floor and an “All Hands” was called, sending additional units to the scene. The reports from radio and on scene that there was fire in the walls on the 2nd floor and was quickly knocked down. The fire was under control within 15 minutes. No injuries were reported and no further information was available.


OnScene News Photos by: Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

Overturned Vehicle In Hamilton

September 30, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, (MERCER)–Around 4:45 pm a vehicle lost control and overturned in front of 1870 Kuser Road near Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road. Hamilton Township Fire Department, RWJ EMS and Hamilton Police responded to the scene. The occupant of the car was out of the vehicle prior to arrival and no serious injures were reported.


Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Designating September as “Safe Haven Awareness Month”

September 30, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Governor Phil Murphy signed SJR92, which designates September of each year as “Safe Haven Awareness Month” in New Jersey.

“Safe haven sites are designated in communities across this state so that new moms and dads can surrender their babies safely and anonymously,” said Governor Murphy. “I am proud to sign this legislation to bring awareness to the Safe Haven Act and thank my legislative partners and the Department of Children and Families for their work on this critical issue.”

“Many thanks to the Legislature and Governor Murphy for recognizing the importance of NJ’s Safe Haven Law by formally designating September as Safe Haven Awareness Month,” said DCF Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer. “Twenty years ago, our state began a journey to save infant lives from injury or harm resulting from young parents’ fear and panic. To date, 77 babies have been safely surrendered and adopted into loving families. These success stories are made possible only through awareness. We need to ensure that information about the Safe Haven Law continues to reach those who most need it, before they need it. For more information about Safe Haven, go to http://www.njsafehaven.org.”

SJR92 will bring awareness of the Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, which allows an individual to surrender an unwanted infant without fear of arrest or prosecution. The New Jersey Department of Children and Families (DCF) ensures that an infant is placed in a foster or adoptive loving home. 

“We’ve all read the tragic news stories of unprepared parents abandoning their newborn in dangerous and sometimes deadly manners,” said Senator Kristin Corrado. “New Jersey has laws in place that allow the safe, legal, and anonymous drop-off of infants at hospital emergency rooms, police, fire, or EMS stations staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The more people we can make aware of this life-saving program, the more babies will be rescued.”

Joint statement from Assemblymembers Herb Conaway and Carol Murphy:
“As one of the first states to enact a Safe Haven Law back in 2000, New Jersey took an important step in preventing babies from tragically and needlessly losing their lives as a result of abandonment. Sometimes a new parent is overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for an infant in the midst of dealing with their own distressing life challenges. In those instances, parents in crisis need a safe place where they can surrender their baby and know the child will be well-taken care of by professionals. This law has already saved 77 babies in New Jersey since its enactment and could save even more if there was greater public awareness. Not everyone knows that an infant can legally be surrendered at a Safe Haven site or how to find one of those sites, and might otherwise choose to abandon their baby somewhere dangerous, which is why it’s so important to spread the word.”

“For more than a decade, the New Jersey Safe Haven Infant Protection Act has saved dozens of precious newborn babies and brought a measure of comfort and peace to struggling and anxious parents,” said Assemblyman Jay Webber. “I am pleased that the State continues to raise awareness of this important law and applaud Governor Murphy for signing this measure into law today.”

Philadelphia Man Gets 19 Years For 2016 Robbery Of Ocean Township AT&T Store

September 30, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Philadelphia man was sentenced to 19 years in state prison today after his conviction in February on charges he robbed employees at an Ocean Township AT&T store in 2016, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Anthony Clark, 42, of Philadelphia was sentenced to a combined 19 years in a New Jersey state prison Wednesday afternoon by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Ellen Torregrossa-O’Connor. The sentence is subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA), requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. The sentence follows his February conviction after a five-week trial on charges of first degree Armed Robbery, third degree Criminal Restraint, second degree Possession of a Handgun for an Unlawful Purpose, second degree Theft of Movable Property, and third degree Receiving Stolen Property.

At trial it was revealed Clark and four co-conspirators traveled from Philadelphia to Ocean Township on Sept. 6, 2016, in a stolen motor vehicle with plans to rob the AT&T store located on Route 35. Clark, posing as a customer, entered the store first and goaded a store employee into the far corner of the store under the guise of purchasing a cellphone. Shortly thereafter, three of his co-conspirators entered the store and forced the two store employees into a back inventory room at gunpoint. The store employees were forced to their knees and bound about their hands and feet with zip ties. While his co-conspirators proceeded to zip tie the staff members at gunpoint, Clark kept watch in the front of the store while communicating with another co-conspirator who was parked across the highway. Clark proceeded to fill numerous laundry bags with store merchandise, which were eventually loaded into the stolen motor vehicle. In total, Clark and his co-conspirators made off with over $130,000 worth of store merchandise.

The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Joshua D. Detzky and Keri-Leigh Schaefer.

Clark is represented by Allison Friedman, Esq. and Anthony Cherry, Esq., of Freehold.


New Brunswick Man Charged In Damage To Police Officers Memorial

September 30, 2020

NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–On September 16th 2020, it was discovered that damage had been done to the Police Officers Memorial Monument that sits just North Brunswick Police Headquarters. It was apparent that the damage was purposeful, as all electrical lighting for the Memorial had been stomped and damaged. The damage is believed to be a few thousand dollars. The subsequent investigation led to the arrest of Edwin Marroquin, 21, of New Brunswick. He was charged with several charges and is awaiting Court proceedings. The damage will be repaired by North Brunswick PBA Local 160 the caretakers of the Memorial. *All arrestees are to be considered innocent until proven guilty in Court.



Victim In 3rd Alarm Trenton Fire Identified, Fire Under Investigation


Previous related MidJersey.News stories here:

Continuing Coverage: Trenton 3rd Alarm Now “Fire and Suspicious Death” Investigation

Update: 3rd Alarm In 2 Family Home With “Collyer’s Mansion” Conditions Turns Fatal

3rd Alarm On Southard Street


September 30, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Update to last week’s suspicious fire and death in Trenton.  The victim has been identified as Severn Drew, 65.  An autopsy was conducted and Drew’s cause of death was determined to be carbon monoxide asphyxiation.  The manner of death is undetermined.  The fire and death remain under investigation.



6 Charged In NJ With Health Care Fraud

Six Charged in New Jersey in $100 Million Telemedicine Scheme; Three Men Admit Guilt in Unrelated Frauds

September 30, 2020

NEWARK, NJ — Six individuals have been charged in New Jersey for their roles in a massive nationwide prescription medication and durable medical equipment telemedicine scheme, and three others admitted their roles in three other health care fraud cases. The announcements are part of a federal law enforcement effort to crack down on health care fraud nationwide.

U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, District of New Jersey, announced charges against six people: Mark Belter, 46, of North Ridgeville, Ohio; David C. Laughlin, Jr., 46, of Buckeye, Arizona; Stephen Luke, 52, of Phoenix, Arizona, were charged by complaint with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute. In a separate complaint, Ethan Welwart, 32, of North Brunswick, New Jersey; William “Ben” Welwart, 66, of Staten Island, New York; and Elan Yaish, 51, of Tel Aviv, Israel, also were charged with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute for their roles in the same scheme. Ethan Welwart, William Welwart, and Yaish had their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III on Sept. 3, 2020, and Belter, Laughlin, and Luke had their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre on Sept. 10, 2020.

Attorney for the United States Rachael A. Honig, District of New Jersey, announced guilty pleas from three defendants in three cases:

Andrew McCubbins, 39, of Draper, Utah, the owner of a telemedicine company, pleaded guilty by videoconference on Sept. 24, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count each of conspiring to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.

Christian Mohases, 38, of Santa Ana, California, pleaded guilty by videoconference on Sept. 24, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.

Luis Roa, 51, of Santiago, Chile, pleaded guilty by videoconference on Sept. 24, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.

The announcements are part of a nationwide federal law enforcement effort to combat telemedicine fraud, prescription fraud and durable medical equipment fraud. As part of this effort, the Department of Justice is announcing today the largest amount of alleged fraud loss ever charged – $4.5 billion in allegedly false and fraudulent claims submitted by more than 86 criminal defendants in 19 judicial districts around the country – related to nationwide schemes involving telemedicine: the use of telecommunications technology to provide health care services remotely.

Belter et al.

Beginning in January 2016 and continuing for more than three years, the six defendants exchanged kickbacks and bribes with each other and others. Belter, who owned and operated a marketing company in Ohio called Health Pain Solutions, identified Medicare beneficiaries and targeted them for specific prescription medications or durable medical equipment (DME) like braces. He then sent the beneficiaries’ information to Laughlin and Luke, who owned RediDoc. Belter paid Laughlin and Luke kickbacks for each signed prescription and doctor’s order for those beneficiaries that Laughlin and Luke collected from doctors under contract with RediDoc. Laughlin and Luke in turn paid those doctors kickbacks for each prescription and doctor’s order they signed. Laughlin and Luke transmitted the prescriptions to Apogee, a pharmacy owned and run by Ethan Welwart, William Welwart, and Yaish, and doctor’s orders to DME providers, who submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicare and other insurers. Ethan Welwart, William Welwart, and Yaish at Apogee subsequently paid Belter kickbacks from the reimbursements they received, in exchange for Belter’s actions in originating the beneficiaries’ claims.

After identifying target beneficiaries, Belter or his employees telephoned them, purportedly to obtain their medical history and consent to receive medications or DME. The purpose of these calls was so that Belter could record the conversations with the beneficiaries and convince them to try certain medications or DME. Belter had no medical licenses or training.

Belter purposely did not tell the beneficiaries what doctor would prescribe the medication or DME. The conspirators believed that the beneficiaries may not consent to receive medication or DME from an unknown doctor. In an email to William Welwart and another Apogee employee on Jan. 15, 2018, Belter wrote that, when he called beneficiaries, he did not provide specifics: “I think you might lose some people [beneficiaries] when you mention a Doctor name they have never heard of.”

After obtaining the beneficiary’s medical history and purported consent, Belter transmitted a beneficiary intake form, the recorded call, and a pre-filled prescription for medication or DME order to Laughlin and Luke at RediDoc. Under a contract, Belter paid Laughlin and Luke a fee of approximately $95 for each prescription that RediDoc obtained from one of its contracted doctors; $100 for each DME order; and $115 for a prescription and a DME order.

RediDoc recruited and contracted with doctors around the country to sign prescriptions and DME orders. RediDoc paid its contracted doctors anywhere from $7 to $30 per “consultation,” depending on whether they prescribed medication, DME, or both. For example, according to one RediDoc contract, RediDoc agreed to pay a doctor $15 per “consultation” by telephone with no prescription; $20 per “consultation” resulting in a medication prescription or DME order; and $30 per “consultation” resulting in a medication prescription and DME order. RediDoc had similar contracts with doctors across the country and paid them over $5.5 million during the scheme.

The defendants and other conspirators caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to health care benefit programs, including Medicare, in excess of $100 million for prescription medication and DME.

The charge of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute is punishable by a potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater.

The government is represented in this case by Senior Trial Counsel Jason S. Gould and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Mastropieri and Hayden Brockett of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark, as well as Senior Trial Counsel Barbara Ward of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit in Newark.

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

McCubbins

McCubbins owned and operated a telemedicine company based in Utah that purported to provide health care services through health care professionals to Medicare beneficiaries. McCubbins and others paid kickbacks and bribes to various parties in exchange for referrals and orders for medically unnecessary genetic cancer screening tests (CGX Tests) for Medicare beneficiaries, ultimately leading to approximately $89 million in Medicare payments.

In order to generate referrals of Medicare beneficiaries to the telemedicine company, McCubbins and others paid kickbacks and bribes to individuals operating call centers targeting Medicare beneficiaries for CGX Tests. Once the telemedicine company received the referrals, health care professionals acting on its behalf wrote medically unnecessary orders for CGX Tests for the Medicare beneficiaries. McCubbins bribed medical doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants to prescribe the CGX Tests for Medicare beneficiaries. These health care professionals wrote medically unnecessary orders for CGX Tests without performing legitimate medical consultations and after only cursory telephonic interactions with the Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, the Telemedicine Company also bribed doctors to purportedly “supervise” nurses and other health care professionals in order to legitimize the their prescriptions for CGX Tests. In reality, however, the supervising physicians had no legitimate clinical or collaborative relationship with the health care professionals they claimed to supervise.

Mohases

Mohases and his conspirators owned and operated multiple call centers through which they obtained doctors’ orders for DME, namely orthotic braces, and patient referrals for genetic CGX tests for Medicare beneficiaries. Mohases and his conspirators provided these orders and referrals in exchange for bribes from certain companies that provided the braces and performed the CGX Tests, ultimately leading to approximately $8.5 million in Medicare payments for medically unnecessary DME and CGX Tests.

Mohases and his conspirators obtained the DME orders and CGX Test referrals through the use of marketing call centers and telemedicine companies. Mohases used telemedicine companies to generate DME orders that were medically unnecessary because they were generated without any legitimate physician-patient relationship and without complying Medicare’s telemedicine requirements. In order to conceal the kickback arrangements, Mohases and his conspirators entered into sham contracts that made it appear that they were providing legitimate services. Mohases generated false invoices to match the sham contracts and to conceal the kickback scheme.

Roa

Roa and his conspirators owned and operated multiple call centers through which they obtained doctors’ orders for DME, namely braces, and patient referrals for CGX tests for Medicare beneficiaries. Roa and his conspirators provided these orders and referrals in exchange for bribes from certain companies that provided the braces and performed the CGX tests, ultimately leading to approximately $6.9 million in Medicare payments for medically unnecessary DME and CGX tests.

Roa and his conspirators obtained the DME orders and CGX test referrals through the use of marketing call centers and telemedicine companies. Roa used telemedicine companies to generate DME orders that were medically unnecessary because they were generated without any legitimate physician-patient relationship and without complying with Medicare’s telemedicine requirements. In order to conceal the kickback arrangements, Roa and his conspirators entered into sham contracts that made it appear that they were providing legitimate services. Roa generated false invoices to match the sham contracts and to conceal the kickback scheme.

The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater.

The government in the cases against McCubbins, Mohases and Roa is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean M. Sherman, J. Stephen Ferketic, and Ryan O’Neill of the Opioid Abuse Prevention & Enforcement Unit, and Senior Trial Counsel Ward.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito and Attorney for the United States Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch. Jr. in Newark; the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Scott J. Lampert; the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Leigh-Alistair Barzey; and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher F. Algieri with the ongoing investigations.

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TRAFFIC ALERT: Serious Fire On 195 East In Upper Freehold Township

UPDATE 9:53 I-195 East Bound Completely Closed

UPDATE: 11:30 roadway has been reopened

BREAKING NEWS REPORT: A email was sent to NJSP for official information this is what we know from radio, witness and on scene reporting. Once official information is released the article will be updated

September 30, 2020

Updated at 9:52 that may not have been a crash, and fire related. Once more information is available story will be updated.

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–At 6:49 am the Hope Fire Company of Allentown and the Millstone Township Fire Departments were dispatched to Mile Marker 12.8 East Bound for a vehicle fire. It was reported all occupants were out of the vehicle. There was at least one serious injury that was transported by ambulance to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton.

I-195 East Bound was closed to 1 lane of traffic in the east bound direction and at the time of this report (8:40 am) there was a 2 mile backup east bound. This will be expected until the serious accident investigation is completed.