Day: December 10, 2020

Christmas Tree and Menorah Lighting Held At City Hall

December 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora and other officials hosted a small Christmas tree and menorah lighting at City Hall tonight. This year’s lighting was scaled back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lakewood Man Charged Murder Of Infant Daughter

December 10, 2020

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that David Smith, 36, of Lakewood, has been charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), in connection with the death of his infant daughter on December 8, 2020.

On December 5, 2020, Detectives from the Lakewood Township Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit responded to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood for a report of a three-month-old infant, purportedly found to be unresponsive by her father, David Smith. Smith claimed that he immediately contacted 911 upon finding the infant unresponsive. The infant was initially taken to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus by emergency medical service personnel and subsequently transferred to Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick for further evaluation and treatment. An examination by doctors at RWJ revealed that the infant was suffering from significant internal injuries. Further investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and Special Victims Unit, working with the Lakewood Township Police Department and Detective Bureau, determined that Smith was at home with the infant on December 5th when she sustained her injuries.

On December 8, 2020, the infant succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased at Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. On December 9, 2020, a post mortem examination was performed on the infant. The Ocean County Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be Shaken Baby Syndrome with blunt force trauma to the head, and the manner of death to be Homicide. Following a thorough and extensive investigation, Smith was identified as the individual responsible for the infant’s death.

On December 9, 2020, Smith was arrested at his residence in Lakewood. He was processed at Lakewood Township Police Headquarters, and is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

“The facts and circumstances uncovered in this investigation are beyond tragic. What happened to this innocent baby is disturbing,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “We in law enforcement will always stand up and fight for the most vulnerable members in our society, and no one is more vulnerable than an infant. Parents are supposed to protect, not harm, their children. Justice will be accomplished for this precious baby,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Detective Bureau, Jackson Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative and meticulous efforts relative to this investigation.

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.

Chesterfield Woman Charged With Stealing $60k+ From Youth Football And Cheerleading Program

December 10, 2020

MANSFIELD, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Mansfield Township Police Department Chief Ronald G. Mulhall Jr. announced that a Chesterfield woman was charged with stealing more than $60,000 from a youth football and cheerleading program while serving as the organization’s treasurer over a five-year period that ended last year.

Stacy Cassidy, 45, of Monmouth Road, was charged with Elements of Computer Theft (Second Degree), Misapplication of Entrusted Property (Third Degree), Theft by Deception (Third Degree), and Forgery by Uttering (Fourth Degree). She was lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility pending a hearing tomorrow in Superior Court in Mount Holly.

The investigation began earlier this year after members of the Northern Burlington Junior Greyhound Athletic Association contacted law enforcement officials with suspicions that Cassidy had been embezzling funds from the organization and using them for personal expenses while serving as treasurer between January 2015 and December 2019.

The investigation revealed that during that period, Cassidy made 542 unauthorized transactions totaling $60,654.28. She used the money to help pay for her mortgage, cell phone bill, groceries, gas, and home heating oil, among other items. Included in that activity were 84 unauthorized ATM cash withdrawals totaling more than $21,000 that coincided with family vacations on cruises and to Disney World.

The investigation further revealed that, in an attempt to conceal the scheme, Cassidy restricted access to account statements, fabricated reports misrepresenting the organization’s financial position, and forged documents to falsely indicate that insurance premiums had been paid and coverage was being maintained.

A search warrant was executed this morning at Cassidy’s residence. She was taken into custody with the assistance of the Chesterfield Township Police Department and the

New Jersey State Police

T.E.A.M.S. Unit.

Cassidy will be prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Remy, supervisor of the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit. The case was investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office and the Mansfield Township Police Department. The lead investigators are BCPO Detective Nicholas Schieber and Mansfield Township Police Detective Ken Allen.

All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Monmouth County Man Charged With Being Felon in Possession of a Weapon

December 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER): A Monmouth County, New Jersey, man made his initial appearance today after being charged with illegally possessing a handgun, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Lashawn Alford, 27, of Asbury Park, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He appeared by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Arpert and was detained pending a bail hearing.

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

On July 20, 2020, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detectives and Neptune City Police Officers responded to an apartment complex in Neptune City to conduct surveillance of suspected gang activity. Law enforcement officers observed Alford, a previously convicted felon, exit an apartment and get into the back of a car that drove out of the complex. Law enforcement knew Alford to be a member of the Queen Street II Bloods street gang and determined that Alford had an outstanding warrant for his arrest in Asbury Park. Law enforcement stopped the car and arrested Alford. A loaded Smith and Wesson, model M&P Compact, .22 caliber pistol was located on the floor of the car where Alford had been sitting.

The felon in possession of a firearm charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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 about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Trenton Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson in Newark; officers of the Neptune City Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Matthew Quagliato; and detectives of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni, with the investigation leading to today’s charges.

The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Matthews of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

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

First Virtual Public Auction for City-Owned Properties Breaks Previous Record with $4.15 million in Winning Bids

December 10, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER): Mayor W. Reed Gusciora today announced the successful completion of Trenton’s first virtual auction, which sold 49 city-owned properties for a total of $4.15 million in winning bids.

Most of the 49 properties are residential and require the bidder to commit to living at the property for five years. The auction included multiple commercial properties and vacant lots as well.

The auction was run by Trenton’s Department of Housing and Economic Development (HED), which partnered with New Jersey-based government software provider GovPilot to develop a new web-based portal where prospective bidders could register, make a deposit, and bid on each property electronically.

The previous auction on Sept. 16, 2019 sold 76 properties for $2.92 million. Not only did yesterday’s auction attract $4.15 million in winning bids, the online format also allowed for improved participation with 372 registered bidders, which greatly exceeded the previous 75-person limit from past auctions in City Council chambers.

“Successful auctions are key to our redevelopment efforts, especially when they get promising properties into the hands of tax-paying residents who can renovate them for the benefit of the surrounding community,” said Mayor Gusciora. “And with the residency requirement for many of these properties, we know they will be cared for by Trentonians who are proud to finally own a stake in their hometown.”

41 properties were sold to unique bidders. Only four bidders bought more than one property.

“This auction was tailor-made to benefit Trenton residents – including first-time homeowners – over outside investors,” said HED Director Ben Delisle. “Even with a Trenton residency requirement for many of these properties, we received 1,554 bids from 284 different participants, indicating the demand for real estate in Trenton is strong. We will closely review each bid to make sure the residency restrictions are followed.”

One of the successful bidders is looking to own the very same property in which she is a tenant. “I’m very happy that I don’t have to relocate and I’m proud to own the home where I have enjoyed living for the last 20 months,” said Delmy Tabora, who placed the winning bid on her home on Cummins Ave in Trenton. “The website was very practical and easy to use, and I would recommend it to others.”

There was an average of 30 bids per listing, with some winning amounts coming in 67 percent above tax assessments. The average sale price was $84,760.

The City hosted two virtual public information sessions leading up to the event, which included practice bidding so participants could become familiar with the auction process. All properties were open for physical inspection prior to the auction.

While registration for the auction was free, all bidders were required to make a deposit of $1,000 in order to participate. The deposit will be credited to the purchase or refunded to bidders who do not successfully bid on any property.

Successful bidders are required to make a non-refundable deposit of 10 percent of the successful bid within 24 hours of the day of the auction. The successful bidder will be notified by the City of the date and time to come to City Hall to execute the contract of sale. All other terms and conditions are available at https://bit.ly/38UR4Hl.

Typically, not all the winning bids go through final sale. Any properties that are not successfully closed will be put up at the next auction.