Month: November 2020

Attorney General Grewal Issues Additional Guidance to Prosecutors on Handling Low-Level Marijuana Possession-Related Cases

November 25, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today issued additional guidance to prosecutors concerning the prosecution of low-level marijuana cases, supplementing his August 29, 2018 and November 4, 2020 guidance.

Attorney General Grewal directed all New Jersey municipal, county, and state prosecutors to adjourn, until at least January 25, 2021, any juvenile or adult case solely involving the following marijuana possession-related offenses:

  • possession of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(a)(3);
  • possession of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(a)(4);
  • being under the influence of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(c);
  • failure to make lawful disposition of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(d);
  • use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia under N.J.S. 2C:36-2 involving only marijuana or hashish;
  • possession of a controlled dangerous substance while operating a motor vehicle in violation of N.J.S. 39:4-49.1 involving only marijuana or hashish; and
  • any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense subject to conditional discharge pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:36A-1 involving only marijuana or hashish.

For cases involving the above-enumerated charges as well as other offenses, the Attorney General directed prosecutors to use their discretion to either postpone the case in its entirety or seek dismissal, without prejudice, of the marijuana possession-related charge(s) and proceed with prosecution of the remaining charges. Notably, today’s guidance does not affect the prosecution of cases charging distribution of marijuana or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. 

“Fairness demands that we suspend prosecution of marijuana possession-related cases while we await direction from the Legislature on the parameters for decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of regulated adult-use cannabis,” said Attorney General Grewal. “It simply does not make sense or serve justice to proceed with prosecutions on charges that may be foreclosed soon through legislative action.”

Previously, on November 4th, the Attorney General issued guidance to law enforcement emphasizing that they have broad discretion in handling low-level marijuana offenses, and encouraging them to exercise that discretion in light of anticipated legislative action that may decriminalize marijuana.

Attorney General Grewal reiterated that more comprehensive guidance, including direction on handling previously adjudicated matters, will follow when the Legislature provides details of the framework for marijuana decriminalization and the legalization of adult-use cannabis.

Guidance for Marijuana Possession Cases Pending in Municipal and Superior Courts: click here.

Guidance Regarding Municipal Prosecutors’ Discretion in Prosecuting Marijuana and Other Criminal Offenses, August 29, 2018: click here.

Interim Guidance on the Constitutional Amendment Legalizing Cannabis, November 4, 2020: click here.

Department of Community Affairs Issues Outdoor Dining Guidance to Help Restaurants and Similar Establishments Adapt to the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic

Guidelines Outline Requirements for the Use of Outdoor Space During the Winter Months

November 25, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) today issued guidance for restaurants and similar establishments on the utilization of outdoor space during the winter months.

In June, the Division of Codes and Standards within DCA provided guidance on the issuance of permits, and the use of tents, tensioned membrane structures, and canopies per the Uniform Fire Code (UFC) and Uniform Construction Code (UCC). Due to the approaching winter weather conditions, establishments that want to maintain the use of tents past November 30, 2020, are required to apply for a UCC permit from their local construction office. Additionally, a permit for any electrical equipment, electrical wiring, or mechanical equipment that would otherwise require a permit must also be filed. Municipalities are encouraged to waive permit fees for tents in use past the November 30th deadline provided that the tents meet the snow bearing requirements or meet the guidance issued today.

In addition to the UCC permit, “operational items” such as portable cooking equipment used around and/or under the tent should be maintained in accordance with the Uniform Fire Code (UFC) and addressed by the local fire official.  This would apply to the operation/usage of portable propane heaters and similar items.

“We recognize the restaurants in our state have been hit extraordinarily hard by the pandemic. We are doing everything we can to help these businesses stay afloat until we can return to more normalcy,” said Governor Murphy. “The guidance issued today is part of our effort to help ease the burden this pandemic has placed on eating establishments. We are leaving no stone unturned as we work to assist the restaurant community.”  

 “Today’s guidance demonstrates our commitment to ensuring a safe outdoor dining experience while working with business owners to meet their needs,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as DCA Commissioner. “We urge all our municipalities to suspend permit fees for tents as much as possible to help our restaurants survive this winter season.”

The Division of Fire Safety is constantly evaluating new products and alternative solutions to see if any are acceptable to meet the needs of outdoor dining. It is the intent of the Division to ensure that outdoor dining is done safely and in a code-compliant manner while at the same time working with business owners to meet their needs.

Tents that are already erected may not meet the structural provisions of the UCC building subcode, including winter conditions and snow loads. Local construction offices may issue a variation to allow the tent to remain under the conditions set forth in UCC. Construction officials are strongly encouraged to work with businesses to determine an appropriate variation.  When a variation is granted, a snow plan must be filed with the construction official that would take effect in the event of a forecasted weather event that would exceed the certified conditions of the variation. 

Establishments must file the UCC permit application and request for a variation, if applicable, by November 30, 2020. In order to provide sufficient time for the processing of permit and variation applications, municipalities may grant establishments a two-week extension from the November 30th deadline to remove the tent, provided that the establishment has filed a snow plan with the permit application that will be put into effect in the event of a forecasted weather event occurring within the time period of the extension.   

Dining domes, including bubbles, igloos, huts, etc., are permitted for outdoor dining, subject to applicable restrictions.  These structures, including pop-up covers, may be erected for use without a UCC permit when limited to less than 120 square feet in area.  The dome should be able to be deconstructed on a daily basis, if needed, and should be secured, but not anchored, so that it can be readily lifted for emergency evacuation.  Domes that are 120 square feet or greater in area and used during December 1 to March 31 would be subject to the UCC permit and variation provisions as noted above for tents. In either case, if temporary heating is provided (e.g. portable and/or cord and plug), the local fire official would oversee the heat source clearances.

Finally, as noted in DCA’s previous guidance, if barriers are erected around the newly created outdoor dining areas, they should provide for egress openings similar to those provided for assembly uses.  Existing plumbing facilities should be maintained within the building for use by patrons; the restaurant or similar assembly space should establish a proper protocol for maintaining social distancing for the usage of such facilities like restrooms.

In addition to the UCC, the International Code Council’s “Considerations for Converting Outdoor Spaces into Temporary Seating Spaces” provides supplemental guidance and should be utilized.  This guidance notes the applicable sections of the International Building and Fire Codes that would apply as adopted by the UCC.  It can be accessed at:

Previous guidance for Outdoor Dining and UCC/UFC permit issuance can be found at

Establishments can direct questions to DCA’s Code Assistance Unit at (609) 984-7609.

NJ State Police Release Thanksgiving Weekend Tips for Motorists

November 25, 2020

Post by Tyler Eckel

West Trenton, N.J. – The day before Thanksgiving is typically one of the busiest travel days of the year, but this holiday season has proven to be anything but typical. Although we expect fewer motorists on the road this year, the message of the New Jersey State Police remains the same. If you must travel during the holiday, we encourage you to take the time to prepare for unexpected emergencies by following a few safety tips that will surely come in handy if you find yourself in a jam. Before you head out, please consider the following:

•Fill up your gas tank
•Check fluids (including windshield washer fluid and antifreeze)
•Check tire pressure
•Bring a mobile phone charger
•Carry a flashlight with new batteries
•Bring bottles of water and nonperishable snacks
•Do not drive drowsy. Symptoms of driving tired are similar to those of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Use service areas to rest, stretch your legs, or grab a cup a coffee
•Let someone know your travel plans
•Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly

The easiest tip to follow to ensure not only your safety, but the safety of fellow motorists and pedestrians this holiday is to not get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. During the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday period, there were six fatal crashes that resulted in six deaths on New Jersey roadways. Drug and/or alcohol impairment was found to be a contributing factor in two of the crashes. These types of tragedies can be easily avoided by making responsible decisions and staying at home if you plan to drink alcohol.

The New Jersey State Police will have more than 90 additional troopers statewide during the holiday period in addition to normal patrols. Troopers will focus their efforts on speeding, aggressive driving, seatbelt usage, cell phone violations, distracted driving, and DWI.

“Although we will be celebrating the holiday differently this year, DWI education and enforcement remain a top priority for the New Jersey State Police,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Safety starts with sober driving, so we ask that you do your part by making responsible choices this holiday. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, and please do not drink and drive.”

The 2020 Thanksgiving holiday period begins on Wednesday, November 25, at 6:00 p.m. and ends on Monday, November 30, at 6:00 a.m.

TPD Investigates Shots Fired Call This Morning

November 25, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Sources tell MidJersey.News that Trenton Police responded to gunfire in the area of Belmont Circle at 7:24 am and that around 12 shots were fired. The source also said that a Mercedes Series 300 silver in color was seen speeding from the scene. No further information was available.

Governor Murphy Directs U.S. and New Jersey Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of Former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins

November 25, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today ordered that the U.S. and New Jersey flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on Monday, November 30, 2020, in honor of former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins, who passed away on Monday, November 23rd. Dinkins was born and raised in Trenton, where he graduated from Trenton Central High School.

“The son of a Trenton barber and real estate broker, David Dinkins rose to lead New York City out of a time of political turmoil, seeking with a steady hand to heal longstanding rifts that had divided its residents,” said Governor Murphy. “That he was New York’s first Black mayor cemented a place for him in history, but he brought in other leaders who mirrored the City’s diversity, and initiated many of the changes that renewed its place on the world stage as a cultural center. Tammy and I send our condolences to David Jr. and Donna, and their families and friends, and all who worked alongside Mayor Dinkins. May he Rest In Peace.”

Yesterday’s MidJersey.News story here: Statements by Governor Murphy, Trenton Mayor Mayor W. Reed Gusciora, and Columbia University on the Passing of Former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins

UPDATE: Stolen Vehicle Pursuit On NJ Turnpike Between Exits 10 and 8A, Leads Host Of Charges Including: DUI, Aggravated Assault, Marijuana, Drug Paraphernalia And More

November 25, 2020

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Sgt. Philip Curry of the New Jersey State Police Public Information Bureau told MidJersey.News that yesterday at approximately 9:51 p.m., NJ State Troopers attempted to stop a Chevrolet Tahoe, later discovered to be stolen from New York, for a traffic violation on the New Jersey Turnpike inside of Interchange 10, Edison Twp., Middlesex County. 

The driver refused to stop and fled onto the Turnpike southbound inner roadway at a high rate of speed.  The vehicle continued south before exiting the Turnpike at Interchange 8A and proceeded to intentionally strike a NJ State Police vehicle before becoming disabled on Cranbury South River Road in South Brunswick, N.J. 

Troopers removed the two occupants from the vehicle and placed them under arrest.  There were no serious injuries reported. 

The driver, Ryan Williams, 25, of Bronx, N.Y., was charged with receiving stolen property, eluding, possession of marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, possession of a distributable amount of drug paraphernalia, money laundering, criminal mischief, resisting arrest, aggravated assault, and driving under the influence.  The passenger, Twinkle Murray, 29, of Bronx, N.Y., was charged with receiving stolen property.  Williams was lodged in the Middlesex County Jail pending a detention hearing, and Murray was released pending a court appearance, according to NJ State Police.

Last night’s MidJersey.News story here: Developing: Pursuit Off NJ Turnpike Ends Off Exit 8A

Illegal Clammers Busted In South Brunswick With 110 Pounds Of Thumbnail Clams

November 25, 2020

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Conservation Police Officer Recruit Bickerton, CPO Garofalo and Lt. Mascio responded to the Millstone River in South Brunswick for a report of illegal clamming. After performing surveillance, the officers performed a field inspection and issued three individuals a total of nine summonses for illegal clamming in prohibited waters. Approximately 11,000 Asian Thumbnail clams weighing 110 pounds were confiscated. All the clamming equipment was also seized as evidence.

Hamilton Crash Sends One To Hospital

November 25, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–At 8:15 am the Hamilton Township and Robbinsville Township Fire Departments were dispatched to an accident at the intersection of Yardville-Hamilton Square and Kuser Roads. Originally the 9-1-1 callers reported an overturned vehicle with entrapment but upon fire department arrival there was one minor injury and no vehicles were overturned.

Hamilton Township Police were directing traffic around the accident and also performing a crash investigation at the scene. RWJ Hamilton ambulance transported one person to RWJ at Hamilton Hospital. No further information was available.

I-195 Accident Backs Up Traffic Over 2 Miles

November 25, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Around 6:08 am this morning 3 vehicles collided on I-195 East Bound in the area of Mile Marker 8, between Exits 7 and 8, temporarily blocking the highway. Hope Fire Company and Robbinsville Township Fire Department and EMS were sent to the scene. Upon arrival there were no life threatening injuries and persons involved refused medical advice.

Traffic was backed up over two miles until tow trucks could move the vehicles from the roadway. The NJ State Police was on scene investigating. No further information is available.

Developing: Pursuit Off NJ Turnpike Ends Off Exit 8A

Updated MidJersey.News story here: UPDATE: Stolen Vehicle Pursuit On NJ Turnpike Between Exits 10 and 8A, Leads Host Of Charges Including: DUI, Aggravated Assault, Marijuana, Drug Paraphernalia And More

November 24, 2020

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–A pursuit for an unknown reason started on the New Jersey Turnpike south bound prior to the 80 mile marker. The vehicle being pursued exited Exit 8A in Monroe Township, the pursuit ended in the driveway of 1100 Cranbury-South River Road in South Brunswick Township about a 1/2 Mile from Exit 8A. Sources say that two suspects were in custody. No further information is available tonight, this is a developing story so check back for further information once it is released. (according to mapping software 1100 Cranbury-South River Road is South Brunswick Township 300 feet from the Monroe Twp. border but street address is listed as Monroe Twp.)

Statements by Governor Murphy, Trenton Mayor Mayor W. Reed Gusciora, and Columbia University on the Passing of Former New York City Mayor David N. Dinkins

November 24, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Murphy released a statement on the passing of former New York City Mayor David Dinkins:

“The son of a Trenton barber and real estate broker, David Dinkins rose to lead New York City out of a time of political turmoil, seeking with a steady hand to heal longstanding rifts that had divided its residents. He faced early on the forces of discrimination that he would later commit his public career to breaking down when, as a student at Trenton Central High School, he wasn’t allowed to use the school’s swimming pool because of the color of his skin. That he was New York’s first Black mayor cemented a place for him in history, but he brought in other leaders who mirrored the City’s diversity, and initiated many of the changes that renewed its place on the world stage as a cultural center. Tammy and I send our condolences to David Jr. and Donna, and their families and friends, and all who worked alongside Mayor Dinkins. Our flags will fly at half-staff in his honor. May he Rest In Peace.” Governor Phil Murphy

Mayor Gusciora Statement on the Passing of Former NYC Mayor David Dinkins

Today we mourn the passing of David Dinkins, Trenton native and former Mayor of New York City. We offer our sincere condolences to his friends and family.

For many he was a historic icon, the first and only Black Mayor for our country’s largest city. For us, he was an important part of the Trenton community, a resident of Spring Street, a graduate of Trenton High School, and a member of the Shiloh Baptist Church, where his father was a Deacon. Mayor Dinkins often came back to visit our city over the years.

I like to think that living in this city helped shape his progressive positions on economic and racial equality, taking the values we hold dearly in Trenton and broadcasting them to an even bigger stage.

He looked forward to the dedication ceremony for the new Trenton Central High School last year but was unable to attend due to declining health. But I’m sure his memory will live on and inspire future generations of Trentonians to improve the lives of the disadvantaged, not just here but throughout the country. —Mayor W. Reed Gusciora

From Columbia University:

“The Columbia community mourns the loss of David N. Dinkins. We feel with his passing the end of an era. We knew David as the rest of New York did, as a person of wisdom, empathy, uncompromising integrity, and homespun humor, all qualities regrettably becoming vanishingly rare in public life. David was also a cherished member of the Columbia community for more than 25 years. He convened timely and meaningful public discussions, taught students in the classical method of the tutorial, and brightened our ceremonies and official functions with his ever-charming personal warmth and dapper self-presentation. 

David was a steadfast leader for social justice, in detail and as a symbol. And, for me, he was a trusted and endlessly supportive advisor and friend. At this moment, I cannot help but remember how (as on so many occasions) he stood with me at a raucous public hearing before Community Board 9 voted on the Manhattanville campus. Then, as now, I felt stronger for his presence. Jean, who had a special bond with David, joins me in expressing the sense of irreplaceable loss.”

Lee C. Bollinger


Columbia University

From Columbia University school directory, School of International and Public Affairs, Professor of Professional Practice in the Faculty of International and Public Affairs

Mayor David N. Dinkins joined Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) as a Professor in the Practice of Public Policy in 1994.  He serves on SIPA’s Advisory Board, and has hosted the annual David N. Dinkins Leadership & Public Policy Forum for over two decades.  The inaugural David N. Dinkins Professorship Chair in the Practice of Urban & Public Affairs at SIPA, Michael A Nutter, 98th Mayor of Philadelphia was selected in 2015.  2015 also welcomed the opening of the David N. Dinkins Archives and Oral History Project at the Columbia University Libraries. 

Mr. Dinkins began his public service career in 1966 as a member of the New York State Assembly.  He was president of the New York City Board of Elections, and served as City Clerk for 10 years before his elections as President of the Borough of Manhattan in 1985 and 106th Mayor of the City of New York in 1989.

As Mayor, Dinkins was responsible for the establishment of numerous widely heralded cultural staples such as Fashion WeekRestaurant Week, and Broadway on Broadway. His administration initiated the revitalization of Times Square and secured an unprecedented deal to keep the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in New York for the next 99 years. This arrangement generates more annual financial benefits to the city than the Yankees, Mets, Knicks, and Rangers combined. Mayor Dinkins also instituted “Safe Streets, Safe City: Cops and Kids,” a comprehensive criminal justice plan that expanded opportunities for the children of New York and continued to reduce crime in the years that followed his term.

In 2013, Dinkins published his memoir A Mayor’s Life: Governing New York’s Gorgeous Mosaic, chronicling his career as a devoted public servant and New Yorker in love with his city.

This former mayor has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his long career, most notably, the renaming of the David N. Dinkins Municipal Building on October 15, 2015. In July of 2017, Dinkins celebrated his 90th birthday and stepped down from teaching his popular course at SIPA the following year.  He continues to play an active role at Columbia University and serves a variety of civic and charitable organizations and Boards that assist young people including the Association to Benefit Children, Children’s Health Fund, Coalition for the Homeless, Jazz Foundation of America, The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, and Posse Foundation, to name a few.

David N Dinkins is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Advisory Board of the International African American Museum; serves on the steering committee of the Association for a Better New York and the Advisory Council of New York Urban League.  He is a founding member of the Black & Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus of New York State and The One Hundred Black Men; a former vice president of the United States Conference of Mayors; Member-at-Large of the Black Leadership Forum; chairman emeritus of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS; Honorary Life Trustee of the Community Service Society of New York; Honorary Trustee of the Friends of Harlem Hospital; and Lifetime Member of the NAACP. 

David N Dinkins graduated with honors from Howard University in 1950 with a B.S. in mathematics and an LL.B. from Brooklyn Law School in 1956; he maintained a private law practice prior to entering public service. He is a recipient of The Congressional Gold Medal for his service as a Montford Point Marine in the United States Marine Corps, during World War II.

David N Dinkins and his wife, Joyce Burrows Dinkins raised their children, David Jr. and Donna Dinkins Hoggard, in Harlem and continue to enjoy life in his beloved City of New York, though he was born in Trenton, New Jersey. They have two grandchildren – Jamal Hoggard and Kalila Dinkins Hoggard.

Berkeley Township Man Charged With Murder

Related MidJersey.News stories here:

Berkeley Township Man Charged With Murder Now Has Additional Charges Of Child Porn Found On Phone

Berkeley Township Man Charged With Murder

Man Charged With Attempted Murder In Berkeley Township

November 24, 2020

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that Angelo Grenci, 44, of Berkeley Township, has been charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), in connection with the death of Carlton Williams, 50, of Seaside Heights.

During the evening hours of November 14, 2020, Officers from the Toms River Township Police Department and Berkeley Township Police Department responded to Community Medical Center in Toms River relative to a report of a male victim having been stabbed. Responding Officers found Carlton Williams with an apparent stab wound to his neck. Mr. Williams was subsequently flown to Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in New Brunswick, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries on November 21, 2020. A post mortem examination was performed by the Ocean County Medical Examiner on November 22, 2020. The Medical Examiner determined the cause of Mr. Williams’s death to be anoxic brain injury, secondary to massive bleed from a stab to the neck, and the manner of death to be homicide.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Berkeley Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, determined that Grenci stabbed Mr. Williams in the neck during an altercation that occurred in the area of Magnolia Avenue in the Manitou Park section of Berkeley Township at approximately 7:00 p.m. on November 14, 2020. On November 16, 2020, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Regional SWAT Team, and Berkeley Township Police Department Detective Bureau, executed a court-authorized search warrant at Grenci’s residence in Berkeley Township. Grenci was taken into custody and was originally charged with Attempted Murder. That charge was amended to Murder after Mr. Williams succumbed to the injuries inflicted upon him by Grenci. Grenci has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his apprehension, where he remains pending a detention hearing.

“Fortunately, this appalling and senseless crime was solved expeditiously as a result of the hard work and dogged determination of all the Officers and Detectives involved in this investigation,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “Through their combined efforts, an extremely dangerous person has been removed from the streets of Ocean County. We will now turn our focus to ensuring that justice is accomplished for Mr. Williams and his family,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Regional SWAT Team, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Berkeley Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Toms River Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, Ocean County Department of Corrections, State of New Jersey Department of Corrections, and New Jersey State Parole Board, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this matter leading to Grenci’s swift apprehension and appropriate charges.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

AG Grewal Announces Settlement with Home Depot over Data Breach that Compromised Personal Data of Millions

NJ to Receive more than $579,000 Share of $17.5 Million Settlement

November 24, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today that New Jersey will receive $579,623 as part of a settlement with Home Depot that resolves allegations the retailer had inadequate security measures in place when data thieves infiltrated its information systems in 2014, compromising the personal information of millions of consumers across the United States.

Altogether, Home Depot will pay $17.5 million to 45 states and the District of Columbia, to resolve a multi-state investigation launched in the wake of a breach of the company’s point-of-sale information systems – specifically those involving its self-checkout kiosks.  New Jersey served on the Executive Committee for the investigation.

In addition to its monetary terms, today’s settlement requires Home Depot to implement extensive reforms designed to prevent future breaches by strengthening its data security systems and encryption protocols.

“We’re committed to ensuring that companies adopt the cybersecurity measures necessary to protect their consumers’ sensitive information and to prevent identity theft,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Multi-state settlements like the one announced today incentivize companies to adopt best practices. And with our creation of the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Section in the Division of Law, New Jersey is increasingly playing a significant role in multi-state investigations to protect the privacy of consumers across the country.”

“As self-checkout options proliferate and shoppers increasingly elect to pay using their phones or credit cards, retailers have a greater responsibility than ever to safeguard not only their online data systems, but their point-of-sale systems as well,” said Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Paul R. Rodríguez. “If retailers are going to receive consumers’ personal information and retain it in a database, they have a duty to be vigilant about securing their data. The terms of this settlement are designed to ensure that happens going forward.”

As a result of the data breach at Home Depot, intruders obtained the names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and security codes of more than 40 million individuals between April 10, 2014 and September 13, 2014. In addition, the attack resulted in the compromise of 53 million consumer email addresses and passwords. Home Depot did not discover the breach until months later.

The multi-state investigation looked at how intruders bypassed Home Depot’s cyber protection measures and placed malware enabling the theft of consumer information that consumers entered at store self-checkout kiosks.

Settlement Agreement:

The settlement includes a host of injunctive terms designed to shore up cyber security at Home Depot, including requirements that the company:

  • Create an Information Security Program headed by an executive or officer whose chief role will be to implement the program and advise Home Depot’s CEO and Board of Directors on security issues;
  • Provide security awareness and privacy training for all Home Depot personnel whose jobs involve access to, and responsibility for, the company network or consumers’ personal data;
  • Maintain encryption protocols designed to encrypt personal information stored on laptops or other portable devices, or when transmitted across public networks wirelessly;
  • Seek to devalue payment card information through such methods as encrypting  that information throughout the course of a retail transaction at a Home Depot store;
  • Take steps to scan and map the connections between its cardholder data environment and the rest of Home Depot’s company network to determine avenues of traffic and identify potential vulnerabilities;
  • Implement password policies that use controls designed to manage access to, and use of, Home Depot’s individual accounts, service accounts and vendor accounts. The policies must require strong and complex passwords and password rotation, and prohibit the use of default, group, shared, or generic passwords;
  • Adopt a two-factor authentication approach both for the company’s system administrator accounts and for remote access to the company network; and
  • Employ firewall policies and use software and hardware tools that restrict connections between Home Depot’s internal networks and its cardholder data environment.

Deputy Attorney General Kashif T. Chand, Chief of the Data Privacy & Cybersecurity Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group and Deputy Attorney General Jesse J. Sierant, Assistant Section Chief of the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, handled the Home Depot matter on behalf of the State.

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation to Bring Changes to the Use of Body Worn Cameras by New Jersey Law Enforcement

S1163 Requires Every Patrol Officer to Wear a Body Camera and A4312 Regulates the Use of Body Worn Cameras by Law Enforcement Officers

Executive Order Establishes Working Group to Further Facilitate Implementation of Body Worn Cameras

November 24, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Acting on a commitment to further promote transparency in policing and build trust between police officers and the communities they serve, Governor Phil Murphy today signed two pieces of legislation (S1163 and A4312), which concern the use of body worn cameras by members of law enforcement. The Governor also signed executive Order No. 201, which establishes a 14-member Interagency Working Group to provide recommendations to the Governor’s Office and Attorney General regarding technology solutions to facilitate the statewide implementation of body worn cameras in law enforcement agencies. The Working Group will work to identify barriers to adopting body worn cameras and recommend technology solutions to facilitate their implementation. 

“We’ve made it clear that New Jersey will be second-to-none in enacting vital reforms to promote transparency and boost public confidence in law enforcement,” said Governor Murphy. “Body worn cameras are a wise all-around investment in public safety that not only redouble our commitment to transparency and accountability, but also ensure that members of law enforcement are equipped with an important tool to help them carry out their sworn duties. Today represents another step down what we know is a long road to full understanding and lasting trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

“New Jersey has made great strides to promote a greater degree of professionalism, accountability, and transparency within our law enforcement agencies, and our state is committed to ensuring that our officers feel supported when they are in the line of duty,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “This legislation being signed today is about developing greater accountability and establishing trust between police officers and the people who rely on them every day to keep our communities safe.” 

“We are in the midst of a national reckoning on racial justice, which has highlighted a lack of trust between law enforcement and many of the communities we serve,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “Since day one, we have been committed to rebuilding and strengthening that trust, and we know that body worn cameras are an important tool in those efforts. They encourage professionalism, promote better interactions between police and the public, and have been universally welcomed by agencies across our state. Today, we not only take an important step towards the uniform, statewide use of body worn cameras, but also towards making New Jersey a national leader on yet another set of policing policies and best practices. I thank the Governor and the Legislature for their leadership and support in these efforts.”

“Today is a great day for New Jersey law enforcement and the communities we serve. The statewide implementation of body worn cameras represents an important step in strengthening the bonds of trust between police departments and communities while fostering greater transparency and accountability,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “The New Jersey State Police has learned that recording interactions with the public from patrol vehicles for the last two decades has been a valuable asset in protecting both our citizens and our troopers alike.  The addition of body worn camera technology is yet another layer of protection for our men and women in law enforcement and the communities they serve.”

“I would like to thank Governor Murphy and his staff for their relentless efforts in making sure all officers have body cameras for the protection of the community as well as law enforcement,” said Reverend John Taylor, New Jersey State Police Chaplain. “What a great day for New Jersey to be leading the way for the nation.”

“The body worn camera has proven to be an excellent tool for law enforcement officers,” said Quovella Spruill, Executive Vice President, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives NJ Chapter. “Unfortunately, the principal detraction to this valuable technology is the cost. This has made them unattainable for many jurisdictions. These bills for body worn camera usage and funding are long overdue. Law enforcement and the community agree on the transparency needed to aid in protecting everyone’s rights. As a mother of teenagers, woman of color, and law enforcement executive, I see how these tools can better serve in improving our relationships with our youth and citizens.”

The signing of this bill into law today is a win for our communities and law enforcement,” said Carolyn Chang, Past President and Current Social Justice Committee Chair, Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey. “On behalf of the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey, we thank the Governor and leaders in both chambers for enacting this new law.

“I commend Governor Phil Murphy for taking the necessary steps to ensure the statewide use of this effective public safety tool,” said Camden Mayor Frank Moran. “In our community, body worn cameras have proven to be instrumental in the protection and accountability of police officers and residents alike.”

“Today, as law enforcement, we must work with our community and policy leaders with reflection and deliberation on the topics of policing and social justice reform,” said Wayne Blanchard, President of the State Troopers Fraternal Association. “When we have conversations, we get results that equal progress. I thank the bill sponsors and Governor Murphy and his team for including the STFA in the important conversations with respect to legislation on BWC.”

“This bill will ensure transparency for both the public and our law enforcement members,” said Pat Colligan, President, New Jersey State Police Benevolent Association (NJSPBA). “It will enhance officer safety and help us continue the extraordinarily high level of service we continue to provide the residents of our state.”

“The Fraternal Order of Police endorses Assembly Bill 4312 and it passage into law today,” said Bob Fox, President of the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police. “Body worn cameras are a definitive tool to ensuring the safety of our brave men and woman in law enforcement, as well as, the people they serve. Body worn cameras represent another tool for law enforcement to  utilize in the quest for the safety and security of the people while providing the latest technology in our pursuit of transparency. This law and its funding will help help continue the public trust and ensures the technology-based applications are used for the betterment of all New Jersey residents.”

S1163 requires every uniformed State, county, and municipal patrol law enforcement officer to wear a body worn camera, subject to funding appropriated by the Legislature. Exceptions are permitted for officers engaged in undercover assignments, meeting with confidential informants, performing administrative or non-uniformed duties, and when directed by a superior officer for a lawful purpose.

The bill was sponsored by Senators Shirley Turner and Linda Greenstein, and Assemblymembers Herb Conaway and Cleopatra Tucker.

“Police body cameras have become an essential part of community policing today,” said Assemblymembers Cleopatra Tucker, Herb Conaway, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and Shavonda Sumter, in a joint statement.  “They aim to ensure accountability for any actions which take place during a police stop, whether it is by the officer or a resident. Tensions surrounding community policing escalated after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The distrust between communities of color and law enforcement was once again highlighted in the national spotlight. A body camera is only one way of ensuring greater transparency and accountability for law enforcement, and to rebuilding community relations; however, it will be a uniquely powerful tool in getting there.”

A4312 regulates the use of body worn cameras by law enforcement officers. Under the bill, officers would be required to keep the camera activated when responding to a call for service or when initiating a law enforcement or investigative encounter. When immediate activation of the camera is impossible or dangerous, an officer would be required to activate the camera at the first reasonable opportunity to do so. Officers would be required to notify subjects that the camera is activated and, under certain conditions, may deactivate a camera upon the subject’s request. To protect the privacy of civilians in sensitive situations, the bill limits the use of body worn cameras while officers are on school property, in medical facilities, and in houses of worship.

The bill was sponsored by Assemblymembers Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Shavonda Sumter, and Cleopatra Tucker, and Senators Nia Gill and Shirley Turner.

“As we work to improve policing in New Jersey, setting clear guidelines for body camera usage is crucial for transparency, accountability and public confidence, safeguarding both citizens and law enforcement officers,” said Senator Gill. “These regulations will provide clear guidelines for how these body cameras are used allowing for consistency and reliability when footage is needed and pulled.”

“In recent years, body cameras have become a valuable tool for transparency, exposing instances of police misconduct and helping to hold officers accountable,” said Senator Turner. “They also protect officers against false accusations and reduce the legal costs associated with use-of-force lawsuits, which are ultimately paid for by taxpayers.  Body cameras will help to create safer communities, and both officers and civilians will benefit greatly from rebuilding trust between police officers and the communities they have sworn to serve and protect.”

A copy of Executive Order No. 201 can be found here.

Manasquan Inlet Reef Site Expanded With 6,000 Tons Of Concrete From Maher Terminals

November 24, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–New Jersey’s artificial reef network has been significantly expanded through a deployment of 6,000 tons of concrete on the Manasquan Inlet reef site, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced.

Material for the first deployment on Oct. 28 consisted of 74 concrete forms, measuring 40 feet x 8 feet x 1.5 feet each, donated by Maher Terminals in Elizabeth, Union County. Another 77 forms were deployed Nov. 10. The forms, once used by U.S. Customs to scan shipping containers, were no longer needed and were slated to be recycled.

“This beneficial collaboration gives new life to these materials, keeping it out of landfills and providing habitat for a wide array of marine life, including species important to New Jersey’s world class commercial and recreational fishing sectors,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “We are proud to partner with Maher Terminals to enhance the marine ecosystem of our coastal waters.”

Artificial reefs are typically made up of concrete, steel, decommissioned ships and barges and provide a habitat for a variety of marine life. DEP studies have shown that these materials are colonized quickly with organisms such as algae, barnacles, mussels, sea stars, crabs, sponges and corals. 

The structure of the reef, and the feeding opportunities provided by the animals growing on the reef, attract species such as black sea bass, tautog and lobster, and provide excellent opportunities for recreational anglers and divers.

“Maher Terminals recognizes the significant interconnection between providing efficient port and terminal-related services and our responsibility to the environment and communities where we operate and call home,” said Gary Cross, CEO of Maher Terminals. “The deployment of this reef off the New Jersey coast is part of our broader commitment to strengthening the local marine ecosystem and to investing in a greener future. We’re excited to give these concrete platforms a second life as part of New Jersey’s Artificial Reef Program.”

Encompassing a total of 25 square miles of ocean floor, the New Jersey Artificial Reef Program began in 1984, and currently consists of four reefs in New Jersey waters and 13 in federal waters. The program is administered by the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Fisheries Administration. The program is sustained largely by donations of reef materials from private organizations and companies.

The Manasquan Inlet reef is approximately two miles east of the inlet and is one of the newest reefs in the artificial reef system. Center point coordinates are 40° 04.617’ N and 073° 59.040’ W. The reef footprint encompasses 0.84 square miles, but only two deployments had been made prior to today. The new material adds nearly 1.25 acres of artificial reef habitat on what was formerly featureless sand bottom.

This new feature inside the Manasquan Inlet reef site will be called the Maher Terminals Reef in recognition of the donation of material. Maher Terminals has also committed to revisiting the reef site annually for several years to document the progression of material from bare concrete to a reef ecosystem.

Earlier this year, New Jersey deployed  a 150-foot long caisson gate on the Deepwater reef site, a tugboat on the Sandy Hook reef site and a memorial reef on the Atlantic City reef.

Around 1,600 Pounds Of Frozen Turkey Distributed This Afternoon At Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church

November 23, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Willing Workers of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church and members of Mercer County’s PBAs (Police Benevolent Associations) distributed frozen turkeys and food baskets late this afternoon at the church on North Clinton Avenue.

There were at least thirty boxes of frozen turkeys distributed with an average weight of around 55 pounds per box for a total of about 1,600 pounds. There were numerous baskets of food and turkey baking supplies provided to go along with the frozen birds.

There were several locations today for turkey distribution see this morning’s MidJersey.News story here: Mercer County PBA Assists With Turkey Distribution

Trenton Man Charged With Human Trafficking For Allegedly Prostituting A 16-Year-Old Girl

November 13, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick J. Callahan today announced that a man was arrested on human trafficking charges for allegedly prostituting a 16-year-old girl at a hotel in Trenton, N.J.

Ronald D. Harris, 40, of Trenton, N.J., was arrested at his residence on Thursday, Nov. 19, by the New Jersey State Police and charged with the following offenses:

  1. Human Trafficking (1st degree),
  2. Facilitating Human Trafficking (2nd degree),
  3. Promoting Prostitution of a Minor (1st degree),
  4. Promoting Organized Street Crime (1st degree),

Harris was charged in an investigation by the New Jersey State Police.  He is being prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice Human Trafficking Unit.  The human trafficking investigation stemmed from an earlier investigation by the New Jersey State Police, Trenton Police Department, Ewing Police Department, and Hamilton Police Department, which led to Harris’ arrest on weapons charges in July.

“Far too often we uncover this tragic form of human trafficking, where a vulnerable underage girl is trapped in commercial sexual exploitation involving multiple men per day so that a trafficker can ruthlessly reap the profits,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We will continue to work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners at all levels, as well as victim advocates, to raise awareness about human trafficking, rescue victims, and bring those responsible for these terrible crimes to justice.”

“Human traffickers lack any sense of morality or compassion as they essentially treat their victims, who are often children, as commodities rather than human beings, allowing them to be sexually abused repeatedly,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “This type of cruelty is unimaginable, and the New Jersey State Police and our partners will do everything in our power to remove these despicable criminals from the streets and ensure that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

“Our Human Trafficking Unit works closely with the State Police and other law enforcement partners throughout New Jersey to uncover these heinous crimes and aggressively prosecute those responsible,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice.  “Because these crimes so often are hidden from view and involve victims who feel helpless to escape, we urge the public to be vigilant and call our human trafficking hotline if they see a child or teenager in suspicious circumstances.”

Members of the public who suspect human trafficking can report it confidentially by calling the Division of Criminal Justice’s Human Trafficking Hotline 1-855-END-NJ-HT.

On July 21, 2020, members of the New Jersey State Police and the Trenton Police Department conducted a joint operation that resulted in the arrest of Harris on weapons charges.  When officers activated their emergency lights and attempted to stop Harris’ SUV in Trenton, he sped away, striking an unmarked police vehicle, running a red light, and reaching speeds of up to 80 mph before crashing into a taxi.  Harris tried to run away with a black duffle bag, but was apprehended.  The duffle bag was searched and found to contain three handguns, two of which had illegal large-capacity magazines.  Harris was charged with possession of a weapon as a convicted felon and numerous other weapons offenses. He also was charged with eluding, resisting arrest by flight, and various traffic violations.

At the time of his arrest, Harris had a 16-year-old girl in his vehicle who police determined had been reported missing and was a victim of ongoing commercial sexual exploitation.  The girl provided statements that Harris had rented a room at a hotel in Trenton for her to engage in prostitution on the night of the arrest. Search warrants were authorized for three phones found in the vehicle.  Examination of the phones revealed messages showing Harris was actively promoting the prostitution of the 16-year-old girl at the hotel.  Messages revealed Harris to be demanding additional money for specific sexual services which the girl was to provide to various men on the date of his arrest.

Deputy Attorney General Katherine Morris is prosecuting the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, Human Trafficking Unit, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.  Detective Kyle Feigley is the lead detective for the New Jersey State Police Intelligence and Criminal Enterprise Section, Violent & Organized Crime Control Central Bureau, Crime Suppression Central Unit, under the supervision of Detective Sgt. 1st Class Blair Astbury and Lt. Daniel Strassheim.

The first-degree human trafficking charge carries a sentence of 20 years without parole to life in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000.  The charge of promoting organized street crime carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison, consecutive to the sentence for any underlying crime.  The other first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000.  Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Defense Attorney: Public Defender’s Office

Mercer County PBA Assists With Turkey Distribution

November 23, 2020

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–All chapters of the Mercer County PBA are assisting with turkey distribution in Mercer County today. This morning at Saint Phillips Baptist Church, members unloaded over 600 pounds of turkey for distribution at that location.

There were two other locations with many more pounds donated this morning including the Hamilton YMCA.

The distribution will continue this evening at the Willing Workers of Jerusalem Baptist Church in Trenton at 4:00 pm.

AG Grewal Announces Actions Against 5 Doctors for Indiscriminately Prescribing Powerful Opioids in Exchange for Kickbacks from the Opioid Manufacturer Insys Therapeutics

November 23, 2020

NEWARK – Continuing New Jersey’s efforts to hold accountable those responsible for fueling the State’s opioid epidemic, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that his office has filed complaints against four physicians for inappropriately writing “off-label” prescriptions for high dosages of the powerful opioid and cancer pain medication “Subsys” without regard for the associated risks of addiction, overdose, and death. In a fifth case, the State successfully revoked the license of doctor for the same conduct. All five doctors wrote prescriptions for non-cancer patients after receiving substantial payments from the drug’s manufacturer, Insys Therapeutics, Inc., which tried to disguise the kickbacks to doctors by funneling them through a sham speaker program funded by the company. 

The four doctors whose licenses the State seeks to suspend or revoke for their role in the scheme and for inappropriately prescribing Subsys are: Dr. Mukaram Gazi of Hamilton, Dr. Serge Menkin of Holmdel, Dr. Kieran Slevin of Hainesport, and Dr. Felix Roque of West New York. 

Subsys, a highly addictive, fast-acting fentanyl spray fifty times more potent than heroin, is  approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only for the narrow purpose of treating breakthrough cancer pain in opioid-tolerant patients. 

From 2012 through 2016, Doctors Gazi, Menkin, Slevin and Roque received more than $50,000 each from Insys disguised in the form of speaking and consulting fees, and, as a result, prescribed Subsys indiscriminately in circumstances for which the drug was not approved. One patient of Dr. Roque overdosed, while in other cases, the doctors’ patients were placed at heightened risk of addiction, overdose, and death. 

In a separate action, the State successfully revoked the license of Dr. Alexandru Burducea, who was recently sentenced to nearly five years in prison by a New York federal court for his role in the Subsys kickback scheme. 

“We will hold accountable all those whose misconduct has helped fuel the opioid epidemic in New Jersey,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Today, we’re taking action against multiple doctors who sold their medical licenses and prescription pads to Insys and put their personal financial interests above their patients’ health and well-being. These actions should serve notice to those who unlawfully push opioids from their exam rooms that they are not above the law and are no different than those that push heroin on street corners.” 

“As our actions today demonstrate, we are committed to holding everyone accountable who is involved in illegal and unethical kickback schemes that have contributed to the overdose epidemic in this state,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We will not allow patients in this state to be used as pawns in moneymaking schemes that pose extreme dangers to patient safety, violate basic principles of medical ethics, and erode trust in the medical profession.” 

“These five doctors acknowledged that they had read the risks associated with Subsys and understood that it was approved only for narrow uses as a cancer pain medication,” said Sharon Joyce, Director of NJ CARES. “Nevertheless, they chose to ignore the unequivocal risks to their patients in favor of the easy money Insys was offering. Their unsavory collaboration with Insys endangered their patients and undermined efforts to end the opioid crisis and prevent more lives from being lost.” 

Actions to Suspend or Revoke Licenses of Four Doctors

The Attorney General is asking the State Board of Medical Examiners to suspend or revoke the licenses of the four physicians the State alleges indiscriminately prescribed Subsys in exchange for kickbacks from Insys summarized as follows:

  • From 2013 through 2015, Dr. Mukaram Gazi, a urologist, allegedly accepted Insys-funded dinners described as “lectures,” trips for “training,” and payments totaling more than $132,000, which Insys thinly disguised as “speaker’s fees.” In addition to allegations of indiscriminate prescribing for multiple patients, the State’s complaint notes that Gazi’s signature appeared on forms used to obtain insurance coverage for Subsys prescriptions, which incorrectly identified Gazi’s specialty as oncology and provided false explanations for why Subsys was being prescribed. Gazi Complaint
  • From 2012 through 2016, Dr. Serge Menkin, a pain management specialist, allegedly accepted $111,000 from Insys, which also paid for travel and expenses for both him and his guests. According to the State, Insys repeatedly paid Menkin thousands of dollars to deliver remarks before audiences that included zero to one prescriber; in at least one instance, Insys paid Menkin in full for an event that was cancelled. Menkin Complaint 
  • From 2013 through 2016, Dr. Kieran Slevin, an anesthesiologist, allegedly accepted more than $83,000 in cash payments that Insys thinly disguised as “speaker’s fees,” as well as lavish dinners posing as “lectures,” and all-expense paid trips for “training.” According to the State’s complaint, Slevin’s speaker events were held at high-end restaurants chosen by him and were sparsely attended, often by repeat attendees, including those who did not have any prescribing authority. Slevin Complaint 
  • From 2013 through 2015, Dr. Felix Roque, a pain management specialist, allegedly accepted more than $53,000 in “speaker’s fee” payments from Insys, in addition to meals and travel. As alleged in the complaint, an Insys sales representative advised her superiors that Roque would not prescribe Subsys “until he attended a conference,” and that he had asked “to be put up” at the Fairmont Princess, a luxury hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona. Shortly thereafter, Roque attended a conference in Arizona, funded by Insys and subsequently began prescribing Subsys. As also alleged in the complaint, one of Roque’s patients overdosed on a Subsys prescription he wrote. Roque Complaint 

Subsys is one of six transmucosal immediate release fentanyl (“TIRF”) medications that instantly deliver the powerful painkiller fentanyl through the oral membranes. Because TIRF medicines carry a high risk for misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, and serious complications due to medication error, the FDA has subjected these medications to significant restrictions. 

Each of the physicians in today’s complaints allegedly prescribed Subsys for patients without cancer, despite the fact that the FDA had approved Subsys only for breakthrough cancer pain in patients who had grown tolerant to other opioids. In many cases, they prescribed the drug to patients who were already on steady pain management regimes, in amounts that exceeded the authorized starting dosage. 

In some cases, after starting their patients on Subsys, the State alleges that the doctors steadily, without justification or regard for patient safety, increased the dosage strength resulting in more money for Insys because higher doses cost more. The doctors’ medical records often provided little or no medical justification – and sometimes no explanation at all – as to why patients were switched to Subsys or why their dosages were increased or started at an amount exceeding the authorized starting dosage.  

The State is seeking to suspend or revoke the doctors’ licenses on grounds of fraud, professional misconduct, gross negligence that endangered the life and safety of their patients, and/or indiscriminate prescribing of a controlled dangerous substance. 

The Division of Consumer Affairs’ Enforcement Bureau conducted these investigations. The cases are being handled by DAsG from the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group and from NJ CARES. Assistant Section Chief David M. Puteska is representing the State in the Roque matter; DAG Kathy Stroh Mendoza is representing the State in the Slevin matter; DAG Kelly Elizabeth Levy is representing the State in the Gazi matter; and DAG Michael Antenucci is representing the State in the Menkin matter. 

Actions Against Other Indiscriminate Prescribers of Insys Products 

The complaints against Drs. Roque, Gazi, Menkin, and Slevin are only the latest of the State’s actions to hold accountable prescribers who indiscriminately prescribed Subsys after receiving suspect payments from Insys. 

Attorney General Grewal also announced today that the Board of Medical Examiners has revoked the New Jersey medical license of Manhattan anesthesiologist Alexandru Burducea, who pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court last year to accepting $68,000 in bribes and kickbacks from Insys in exchange for prescribing Subsys. In January 2020, he was sentenced to nearly five years in federal prison. During his sentencing, it was revealed that Burducea had also cheated on the examination required for him to be permitted to prescribe Subsys, lied to FBI agents about his involvement in the Insys speaker program, and posted false patient reviews online for two doctors who fired him after he was arrested for his involvement in the scheme. 

Based on his criminal conviction and personal conduct, the Board revoked Burducea’s license, finding that he engaged in repeated acts of gross negligence and professional misconduct, indiscriminate prescribing, and other conduct that violated the laws and regulations of the medical profession. 

Before the actions announced today, New Jersey barred from practice the following doctors who indiscriminately prescribed Subsys to non-cancer patients:

  • Kenneth P. Sun, a Phillipsburg pain management practitioner, had his licensed revoked in August 2018, after he accepted $117,000 from Insys and prescribed Subsys to patients who did not meet the federal criteria for receiving it.
  • Vivienne Matalon, a Cherry Hill family physician, had her license revoked in May 2018, for indiscriminately prescribing Subsys to three patients who did not meet the federal criteria for receiving it, including one who died from an overdose.
  • Manoj Patharkar, who owned pain management centers in Middlesex and Passaic counties, had his license revoked in November 2016, for indiscriminately prescribing Subsys, among other misconduct.
  • Louis Spagnoletti, a Marlton pain management specialist, was temporarily barred from treating patients in March 2018, amid allegations he indiscriminately prescribed opioids including Subsys to seven patients. Spagnoletti died before disciplinary action against was concluded.

DAG Nisha S. Lakhani from the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group is representing the State in the Burducea matter. 

Holding Insys Management Accountable 

Finally, a separate lawsuit brought by the State against Insys’s founder, John N. Kapoor is pending in Superior Court in Middlesex County and accuses Kapoor of directing and approving the payment of bribes to New Jersey doctors who participated in the speaker program so that they would inappropriately prescribe Subsys, among other fraudulent conduct. Today, the state filed its motion for summary judgment in that case and the filing explains that “[t]he harm that Kapoor’s scheme has inflicted on New Jersey and its residents continues to this day. Thousands of New Jerseyans die annually from drug overdoses – most of them opioid overdoses. And tens of thousands more would be dead but for emergency medical interventions and costly treatment for opioid addiction.” 

The State’s motion for partial summary judgment would resolve only certain claims against Kapoor, without the need for a trial. The amount of money that Kapoor must pay the State would be determined later.

Insys also is a defendant in the State’s lawsuit against Kapoor, but litigation against the company has been on hold since the company declared bankruptcy and filed a plan of liquidation. 

The Kapoor case is being handled by Section Chief and Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Lara Fogel, and DAsG Eric Boden, Brian DeVito and Dana Vasers, all from the Government & Healthcare Fraud Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group.   

Burducea Consent Order 

Kapoor Brief in Support of Motion 

19 Year Old Hamilton Man Dies In East Windsor Crash

November 23, 2020

On Sunday, November 22, 2020, East Windsor Police responded to Route 133 West near Route 571 for a report of a motor vehicle off the roadway engulfed in flames. Upon patrol arrival, the vehicle, a 2017 BMW was located down an embankment on the north side of the roadway at the curve just prior to the exit ramp for Route 571 West. The vehicle had driven off the roadway and struck a tree. The East Windsor and Hightstown fire companies extinguished the fire. The lone occupant Rashawn Young, 19, of Hamilton and driver was found deceased inside the vehicle.

The Traffic Safety Unit of the East Windsor Township Police Department and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Officer Serious Collision Response Team are investigating the crash.

Responding agencies: East Windsor Township Police Department, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Serious Collision Response Team East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 1, Station 42, East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 2, Station 46 Hightstown Engine Company No. 1, East Windsor Rescue Squad #2

Earlier MidJersey.News story here: Serious Crash On Rt 133 In East Windsor

Serious Crash On Rt 133 In East Windsor

Updated: 19 Year Old Hamilton Man Dies In East Windsor Crash

November 22, 2020

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Around 5:45 pm the East Windsor Police received 9-1-1 calls reporting a vehicle off the road and on fire about 1/4 mile from Princeton Hightstown Road on Route 133 West Bound (Hightstown Bypass).

East Windsor Police, East Windsor and Hightstown Fire Companies and East Windsor First Aid and Rescue Squad along with Capital Health Paramedics responded to the scene. Upon arrival firefighters quickly knocked down the flames.

The crash is under investigation by the East Windsor Police Department. There is no other details available at this time.

No further information is available at this time. A press release most likely will follow sometime tomorrow so check back for an update.

Minivan Crashes Into Tree

November 22, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A person most likely having a medical issue ran their minivan into a tree on South Warren Street and Assunpink Drive around 3:15 pm this afternoon. Trenton Fire Department, Trenton EMS responded to the scene. One of the doors was jammed making it difficult for the person to get out of the car. The door was forced open and the person was eventually transported to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center. No other information was available about the crash.

Car Fire On NJ Turnpike

November 22, 2020

MANSFIELD TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Several 9-1-1 calls reporting a car fire on the New Jersey Turnpike north of Exit 7 in the north bound lanes in Bordentown Township ended up to be the wrong location.

Bordentown Township and Robbinsville firefighters were dispatched at 2:03 pm to an area between Exit 7 and Exit 7A for a car fire. Upon arrival at the originally reported location they could see a column of smoke south of Exit 7, firefighters continued to the call and found the vehicle fire just north of the interchange turn for the PA Turnpike Extension on the north bound side of the highway at mile marker 51.8 outer lanes. Firefighters once on location quickly extinguished the flames. No other information was available about the call.

BREAKING: Bloody Sunday As Carnage Continues In A City Of Chaos

November 22, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–This morning around 3:00 am a shooting occurred in the 100 Block of Coolidge Avenue with a man shot in the arm according to sources. The person was transported by Trenton EMS to Capital Health Regional Medical Center.

Then again at 1:08 pm this afternoon a sprawling crime scene stretched almost a 1/4 mile from Chestnut and Faircrest Avenues, proceeded down Chestnut towards East State and ended in the area of 60 Wall Street. Crime scene tape crisscrossed the roadway blocking off the crime scene as detectives arrived to process the scene.

Trenton EMS, and Capital Health Paramedics responded to that scene to treat a woman shot in the neck and two other places. She was in serious condition at the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center.

There is no updated word on the condition of that victim at the time of this report.

Tonight we believe another two separate incidents occurred.

There were four people shot at Hoffman Avenue and Stuyvesant Avenue. Two were transported by Trenton EMS and Capital Paramedics to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center, with trauma alerts called. Two more people were driven to the trauma center in private vehicles for a total of 4 shot at that location.

We have reports of another possible scene (unconfirmed report) another person was shot after their vehicle was involved in a motor vehicle crash. The person they were involved in the car accident reportedly shot them.

As with most shootings, stabbing and other violent crime in the City of Trenton, there is no information available until it is fatal and then it is released by Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. If no information is released we will tell you what we know from on scene reporting. If official information is released at a later date the story will be updated, corrections and additions made. This is what we know and able to tell you as a “breaking news” story.

Photos and video by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News

As with most shootings, stabbing and other violent crime in the City of Trenton, there is no information available until it is fatal and then it is released by Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. If no information is released we will tell you what we know from on scene reporting. If official information is released at a later date the story will be updated, corrections and additions made. This is what we know and able to tell you as a “breaking news” story.

Piscataway Woman Dies In I-287 Crash Another With Serious Injuries

November 22, 2020

PISCATAWAY, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–NJ State Troopers responded to a motor vehicle crash at 12:17 a.m. on I-287 south MP 5.2, Piscataway Township, Middlesex County.

NJ State Police stated, based on a Preliminary investigation, a 2003 Honda Accord was being operated by Tamiyka N. Scott, 49 year old female from Piscataway, N.J. and occupied by passenger Sherine T. Rollins, 48 year old female from Staten Island, N.Y. was traveling on I-287 south in the area of MP 5.2. The Honda exited the right of the roadway struck multiple trees and overturned. As a result of the crash Scott was partially ejected and suffered fatal injuries and Rollins was ejected and suffered serious injuries.

Hamilton Township Fire Department Quickly Knocks Down Garage Fire, That Was Extending Into A Home

November 21, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 3:35 pm the Hamilton Township Fire Department responded to a well involved garage fire attached to a home in the 2500 Block of Whitehorse Mercerville Road. (Next to CVS and Across from the Mercerville Shopping Center).

Firefighters quickly arrived and called an “all hands” for a full 1st alarm sending additional apparatus to the scene, the fire was extending from the garage to the home though a breezeway. Two hose lines initially were placed in service and a supply line to a fire hydrant was set up to establish a water supply, then two more handlines were placed in service. The fire was quickly knocked down saving the living space of the home and was fully under control in about 20 minutes. The fire was investigated by the Hamilton Township Fire Marshal and was no word of the cause.

Crash Knocks Out Power In Part Of Upper Freehold

November 21, 2020

Update: Power was restored by 6:45 pm

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Around 3:15 pm a vehicle lost control crashed into a utility pole and came to rest in a farm field on County Road 524 near Tractor Supply. Hope Fire Company of Allentown and Millstone Township Fire Departments were sent to the scene, a Robbinsville Township Fire Department Ambulance was also on scene. A utility pole was severed at the bottom and wires wrapped up in the vehicle. Power was out in the area and JCP&L Outage Map showed between 501 and 1,500 customers without power with an estimated restoration time of 8:00 pm.

Hope Fire Company reports on their Facebook Page: Route 524 will be closed from Sharon Station Rd to Imlaystown Hightstown Road for an unknown period of time due to a damaged utility pole with primaries down. Please use alternate route.

Governor Murphy Directs U.S. and New Jersey Flags to Fly at Half-Staff in Honor of United States Air Force Senior Airman Richard Asey Samaroo

November 20, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today ordered that the U.S. and New Jersey flags be flown at half-staff at all state buildings and facilities on Monday, November 23, 2020, in honor of U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Richard Asey Samaroo, who tragically passed away while on active duty in South Korea.

Samaroo was a resident of North Brunswick. “Senior Airman Samaroo was taken from us far too soon, at the young age of 21,” said Governor Murphy. “Richard served his community, his state, and his country with honor and distinction. Tammy and I would like to express our deepest condolences to Senior Airman Samaroo’s family, friends, and colleagues during this time.”

Copy of Executive Order #199

Richard “Rico” Asey Samaroo, Senior Airman USAF

Rico Samaroo passed away while on active duty at Osan Air force Base in South Korea. He was 21 years old.

Rico was born in Guyana and came to the United States in 2003. He resided in New Brunswick, Parsippany, Flemington and Northampton Pennsylvania before moving back to North Brunswick where he has lived since.

He attended Livingston Park Elementary, Linwood Middle School and North Brunswick High School where he graduated class of 2017 with honors. He soon after enlisted in the United States Air Force. Rico completed his basic training at Lackland Airforce Base in Texas then completed his military schooling at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. Rico served in Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany for two years and Osan Air Force Base in South Korea since May of 2020.

He was the recipient of the National Defense Service Medal, The Global War on Terror Medal, the M-16 Expert Qualifying Medal and the Air Force Training Ribbon.

He was predeceased by his Grandfather Albert Samaroo.

Rico is survived by his parents Richard and Bibi Samaroo, a sister Zhane Samaroo, His grand parents along with many aunts, uncles, cousins, extended family and friends.

Friends and family may visit from 5-9 MP on Thursday evening at the Gleason Funeral Home 1360 Hamilton Street in Somerset. A brief funeral ceremony will take place on Friday morning at 8:30 AM at the funeral home. Burial will follow at Brig. General William C. Doyle Veteran Cemetery in Wrightstown, NJ. Due to cemetery restrictions, graveside services at the cemetery will be by direct invitation from the family.

Please know due to the COVID-19 outbreak we must limit capacity inside the funeral home.
Face coverings must be worn at all times and social distancing must be observed.

We also ask you please enter the funeral home, pay your respects to the deceased and the family, then please take your leave so others may come inside.

By request of the family, please do not send flowers.

We thank you for your understanding in this matter.

Governor Murphy Signs Bill Revising Law Governing Junior Firefighter’s Auxiliary Members

November 20, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Governor Murphy signed the following bill:S-238/A-1106 (Singleton, Sarlo/Murphy, Stanfield, Schaer) – Revises law governing training and duties of Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary members. 

The Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness
Committee reports favorably Assembly Committee Substitute No.

As reported and amended by the committee, Assembly Committee
Substitute for Assembly No. 1106 revises current law regarding the
Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary.

Under current law, a person between the ages of 14 and 21 who
obtains permission from a parent or guardian may become a
member of the Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary with a volunteer fire
department. This committee substitute reduces the age limit for
membership to persons between the ages of 14 and 18.

The committee substitute also allows a fire district, regional
authority, or county in this State that maintains a paid or volunteer
fire department to establish a Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary. Under
current law, only volunteer fire departments are permitted to
establish a Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliary.

In addition, the committee substitute requires Junior Firefighters’
Auxiliary applicants to be interviewed by officers of the fire
department with a parent or guardian present. Junior Firefighters’
Auxiliary applicants also are required to submit documentation
from a qualified physician verifying that the applicant is medically
able to perform the activities of the auxiliary.

Current labor law provides that minors under the age of 18 are
prohibited from participating in certain work-related tasks, but
allows an exemption for members of the Junior Firefighters’
Auxiliary who are 16 years of age or older and perform authorized
fire-related duties. This committee substitute reduces this age
exemption from 16 to 14 years of age.

The committee substitute also requires entities establishing
Junior Firefighters’ Auxiliaries to provide a minimum amount of
workers’ compensation insurance to auxiliary members who
perform certain duties. Current law requires auxiliary members to
be provided with insurance coverage identical to that provided to
regular members of the fire department or district.

The committee substitute also grants the Commissioner of
Community Affairs authority to promulgate regulations pertaining
to the training of Junior Firefighter Auxiliary members and
establish the duties they may perform at training events and
emergency scenes. The regulations are to become effective
immediately upon being filed with the Office of Administrative
Law and remain in effect for 180 days. Thereafter, the
commissioner is required to amend, adopt, or readopt the
regulations in accordance with “Administrative Procedure Act.”
Finally, the committee substitute replaces the term “firemen”
with the preferred, gender neutral term, “firefighter.”

As reported by the committee, Assembly Committee Substitute
for Assembly No. 1106 is identical to Senate Committee Substitute
for Senate No. 238 which also was amended and reported by the
committee on this date