Story by: Dennis Symons, Photos by: Tyler Eckel and Brian McCarthy
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 2:30 pm, Trenton Fire Department, Trenton EMS, Capital Health Paramedics, and Trenton Police responded to the 1200 Block of Genesee Street for an overturned vehicle with children trapped. The children were extricated though the windshield of the vehicle prior to fire department arrival. At least two were transported by Trenton EMS to Capital Health Regional Medical Center. Trenton Police are investigating the crash. No further information is available about the crash.
The first Mercer County COVID-19 vaccine clinic was held in Hamilton today at Station 17
December 28, 2020
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Township in collaboration with the Mercer County Health Officer Association (MCHOA) held the first COVID-19 vaccine clinic earlier today to Phase 1A healthcare workers.
In order to maximize COVID vaccination efforts, the Mercer County Health Officers Association has joined together to serve all communities within Mercer County throughout the four phases of the COVID-19 vaccination distribution. Under CDC and State health guidelines, the Moderna doses will first be distributed to healthcare workers who qualify under Phase 1A and who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19 through their employer or the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care (LTC) Program administered through CVS and Walgreens.
This MCHOA is currently planning a series of COVID-19 vaccination clinics to support ongoing efforts to vaccinate healthcare workers which include emergency medical services. The MCHOA will administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations at clinics throughout Mercer County municipalities point of dispensing (POD) locations. The clinics will be held twice a week on a rotating schedule and have the capacity to handle 500 vaccines per week.. The COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be by appointment only and subject to the availability of vaccine doses on hand or accessible within the supply chain.
“Hamilton Township is proud to partner with the Mercer County Health Officer Association in order to ensure that those on the frontlines in our fight against this virus receive the vaccine as quickly as possible,” said Mayor Jeff Martin. “The arrival of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is a continued step forward to provide protection to more of our community’s critical healthcare workforce and eventually the general adult population.”
“Vaccination is a critical component to protecting our residents,” stated Hamilton Township Health Officer Christopher Hellwig. “Working together to safeguard the citizens of Mercer County is exactly what the founding members of the MCHOA had in mind when they formed in 1972. Our vaccination clinics will continue that ideal and work to protect the public’s health particularly those that have been most impacted by COVID-19, while giving us a clear end to this pandemic.”
Local Health Departments are one piece of the puzzle to vaccinate the State goal of 70% of the adult population in 6 months. This collective effort will ensure that our residents are provided with the opportunity to receive their vaccination in a timely manner and in a safe medical setting. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be rolled out in phases determined by the State. The Mercer County Health Officers Association collaboration will continue to work closely with federal, state, and local partners.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has announced the culmination of a two-month, multi-agency cooperative investigation into illegal drug activity in the Ocean County area. Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force and the Beachwood Police Department Detective Bureau identified a residence in Beachwood as being utilized to store and distribute quantities of Heroin.
On December 18, 2020, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force along with members of the Beachwood Detective Bureau and Patrol Division executed a search warrant at the Beachwood residence. Just prior to the execution of the search warrant, John Vaughn and Jennifer Vuono left the residence and were subsequently detained. As a result of the investigation and the execution of the search warrant, Detectives seized approximately 48 Bricks or 2,400 dosage units of Heroin, along with approximately $4,000 in cash.
John Vaughn, 47, of Beachwood, was arrested and charged with Possession of Heroin in a quantity of more than One Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces with the Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Possession of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); and Possession of a Hypodermic Syringe without a Valid Prescription in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-6a. Jennifer Vuono, 38, of Beachwood, was arrested and charged with Distribution of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Possession of Heroin in a quantity of more than One Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces with the Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2);two counts of Possession of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); and Possession of a Hypodermic Syringe without a Valid Prescription in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-6a. Both Vaughn and Vuono were transported to the Ocean County Jail and released pending a future court date.
Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit, Beachwood Police Department Detective Bureau and Patrol Division and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.
The press and public are reminded that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–This year has been like none before it, but we don’t want to let the outstanding work officers have done go unnoticed. Each May we hold an awards ceremony recognizing the works or bravery and perseverance of officers and citizens. This year that has not been possible, but over the course of the past two weeks, we have given officers awards individually. These awards were submitted to a committee of officers for a determination of their merits. A final report was submitted to the Chief of Police who authorized the awards. Chief Raymond Hayducka said, “These officers’ actions stopped violent criminals, saved lives, and enhanced our community. This has been a difficult year, but reviewing these awards just reinforces what a great department we have. I also want to thank the community members who step up year after year to make our Township great.”
The 2020 Awards are broken down into 4 categories – Exceptional Service Award, Lifesaving, Community Service / Letter of Commendation, and Civilian Award and recognize efforts during 2019.
I. Exceptional Service Award – This award is given out to recognize the outstanding work of officers and detectives to track down suspects, solve cases, and bring justice for victims. It is the highest award given out this year. Exceptional Service Award – Exploited Victims Investigation
Detective Brian Sites
Detective Sites investigated a series of crimes where young women were being exploited and extorted on the internet. Detective Sites conducted a four-month investigation that included the procurement of numerous court orders, the execution of search warrants, seizure of digital evidence, and the examination of thousands of images. He coordinated with the New Jersey State Police Cyber Crime Unit and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office to pursue this suspect. His investigation determined the suspect had been victimizing young women for several years. His comprehensive investigation led to the arrest and conviction of the suspect. His work brought closure to the victims and an end to the sexual exploitation.
Exceptional Service Award – Dark Web Drug Operation Arrests
Lieutenant Jeffrey Russo
Lieutenant Russo conducted a yearlong joint investigation along with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Agency into narcotics trafficking over the “Dark Web.” The joint investigation concluded with the execution of multiple search warrants throughout the state of New Jersey. The investigation resulted in the largest seizure of Xanax in the State. Five subjects were arrested and charged with multiple counts of trafficking narcotics. Lieutenant Russo’s hard work, dedication, and inter-agency coordination led to the successful conclusion of this case.
Exceptional Service – Dispute Investigation
Officer Michael Urstadt
On June 30th, Officer Urstadt investigated a dispute incident where the actor reported that he was the victim of a stabbing. The actual victim was afraid to call the police because she suffered significant abuse by the male. Officer Urstadt’s investigation determined that the true victim in the assault was the woman and the man had staged the crime scene. The woman was treated for substantial injuries and the man was arrested. Officer Urstadt’s diligent investigation ensured a strong evidence-based prosecution.
Exceptional Service Award – Fatal Hit and Run Arrest
Traffic Safety Bureau -Sergeant Gary Holsten, Officer Michael Leung, Officer Jesse Blake, Officer William Merkler
On August 8th the Traffic Safety Bureau responded to a fatal hit and run motor vehicle crash on County Route 535. The investigation was complex, including the processing of three separate crime scenes over a five-mile area, multiple witness interviews, DNA/evidence collection, and multiple search warrants. The investigation resulted in tracking down and arresting the suspect responsible for the death. The investigation demonstrated initiative, skill, and dedication.
Exceptional Service – Handgun Arrest
Lieutenant Scott Reeves & Officer Bryan Garrison
On August 13th, Officer Garrison responded to a report of an individual who had brandished a firearm. Officer Garrison quickly located the suspect vehicle and coordinated a high-risk motor vehicle stop with other officers, removing all occupants. Lieutenant Reeves canvassed the route the suspect vehicle had traveled, successfully recovering a loaded firearm with hollow point ammunition. The coordination of efforts led to the arrest of the actor with no injuries to the victims, suspect, bystanders, or officers.
Exceptional Service Award – Robbery Arrest
Detective Domenick Delucia, Detective Brian Sites
On October 11 and while off duty, Detective Delucia observed a vehicle matching the description of a vehicle involved in a recent gas station armed robbery. Detective Delucia quickly coordinated assistance with other officers and Detective Sites responded. The suspect exited a store and officers approached to speak with him. The suspect fled on foot with detectives in pursuit. The detectives captured the suspect after a half-mile foot chase. The investigation brought an end to a robbery spree that spanned two states and three counties. Detective Delucia and Detective Sites’ awareness and quick actions led to take a dangerous criminal off the streets.
Exceptional Service Award – Armed Suspect Arrest
Sergeant Richard Hutchison, Officer Gagan Chopra, Officer George Morgan, Officer Jarrid Harpster
On December 22nd, officers responded to a hotel on a report of a wanted man with a stolen shotgun. Officers quickly arrived and officers conducted a systematic search of the five-story hotel. The team of officers ultimately located the armed suspect behind a banquet table. They were able to take him into custody without any injury to hotel guests, officers, or the suspect. The quick actions of this team neutralized a dangerous situation.
II. Life Saving Medal – This award is given to officers whose actions saved the life of a person.
Officer George Vit, Officer Joseph Marrero, Officer Joseph Rausch, Officer Jason Stonkus
On September 17th officers responded to a report of an 88-year-old male who was unresponsive. The officers’ quick response and teamwork allowed them to promptly administer CPR and an automated external defibrillator. The man regained a pulse and made a full recovery. Their actions saved his life.
Officer Jarrid Harpster, Officer Kent English
On December 10th Officer Harpster and Officer English responded to a report of a male that had stabbed himself in the chest multiple times. Officer Harpster determined that the male was suffering from a sucking chest wound. Officer Harpster improvised and utilized a plastic bag with duct tape to create a chest seal to stabilize the victim. Officer Harpster and Officer English continued to provide lifesaving care until the arrival of advanced emergency medical services. Their prompt actions saved the man’s life.
Officer Daniel Rodriguez, Officer Michael Urstadt, Officer Tyler Harpster, Officer Jason Stonkus
On August 1st officers responded to a report of a 49-year-old male who was unresponsive. The officers’ quick response and teamwork allowed them to promptly administer CPR and an automated external defibrillator. The man regained a pulse and made a full recovery. Their actions saved his life.
Officer Christopher Magee-Vanderveen, Officer Daniel Rodriguez, Officer Michael Urstadt
On July 22nd, officers responded to a report of a 48-year-old male who was unresponsive. The officers’ quick response and teamwork allowed them to promptly administer CPR and an automated external defibrillator. The man regained a pulse and made a full recovery. Their actions saved his life.
III. Community Service Award / Letter of Commendation – This award is given to officers who make the actions and efforts to improve the lives of residents and enhance the community.
Community Service Award
Sergeant Nathan Labuda
Sergeant Nathan Labuda has organized the Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run in South Brunswick Township for the last seven years. Sergeant Labuda coordinated fundraising efforts which resulted in substantial donations to the New Jersey Special Olympics. Sergeant Labuda also partnered with the South Brunswick School District to include special needs athletes from three different schools in a portion of the run. Sgt. Labuda’s efforts reflect the best of our department and community partnership.
Community Service Award
Officer George Morgan
Officer Morgan has become deeply involved with the South Brunswick Community both in an official capacity and as a volunteer for many community events. From his work raising funds for people in need to his coaching young people in basketball, he embodies community engagement. His efforts have fostered a positive relationship and partnership with the community, juveniles, and numerous other organizations. His efforts reflect well on our department and community.
Letter of Commendation
Public Safety Tele communicator (PST) John Muccioli
On October 11, PST Muccioli exhibited excellent discretion and communication skills in coordinating a rapidly evolving foot pursuit of a robbery suspect. With little warning, detectives broadcasted that they were in a foot pursuit of a robbery suspect. PST Muccioli was able to provide precise and vital information, which greatly aided in the coordination for responding patrol units. His efforts helped lead to the capture of the robbery suspect.
Letter of Commendation
Detective Timothy Hoover
Beginning in June of 2019, Detective Hoover led an investigation involving the Distribution of CDS. He coordinated efforts with other agencies. The operation was dynamic and Detective Hoover handled all avenues of the investigation with excellence. A large quantity of CDS was taken off the street. The efforts of Det. Hoover showed initiative, professionalism, and quick thinking.
Letter of Commendation
Officer Brooke Labell
On September 24th, Officer Labell, as a member of the department’s crime scene evidence technician program was assigned to process a burglary scene at a residence. Officer Labell’s detailed crime scene processing led to the recovery of latent fingerprints from the point of entry. The New Jersey State Police lab linked the latent fingerprints to a suspect who was later arrested.
Letter of Commendation
Officer Matthew Hagood
Officer Hagood responded to a report of a teen being dehydrated and lost in a heavily wooded area. Officer Hagood located the juvenile who was stuck in the mud up to his knees. The juvenile was assisted out of the mud and provided with medical attention. Officer Hagood’s actions led to safely locating the juvenile.
IV. Civilian Awards – This category represents citizens whose efforts over the past year helped the South Brunswick Police Department.
Citizens Appreciation Award
On February 19th, Mr. Fazil Syed observed a Nixle during the late evening hours alerting his neighborhood about a missing 10-year-old nonverbal autistic child. Mr. Syed immediately left his home and began to search his neighborhood. Mr. Syed quickly located the child and alerted the police. The child had been outside in the cold for several hours. Mr. Syed’s selfless act resulted in the child being safely reunited with his family.
Civilian Staff Recognition Award
For over thirteen years, Caryl Greenberg worked hand in hand with the police department in helping members of our community while serving as a social worker. Caryl proved to be an invaluable resource and problem solver for our officers. The lives she has positively impacted could never be measured. Caryl’s service and leadership have been vital to the success of the South Brunswick Police Department.
Chief’s Safety Award
Mildred Torres – Domestic Violence Response Team
Mildred Torres is awarded the Chief’s Safety Award for assisting victims of domestic violence in South Brunswick for over ten years. The Domestic Violence Response Team has proven to be an effective tool to support victims in breaking the cycle of domestic violence. Mildred Torres’s service and leadership has been vital to the success of the Domestic Violence Response Team’s partnership with the South Brunswick Police Department.
Chief’s Safety Award
Christine Caputo-Raddatz is awarded the Chief’s Safety Award for protecting the children of South Brunswick Township day in and day out by serving as a crossing guard for over 10 years.
Citizens Appreciation Award
Francis White and Francis White Jr.
On December 10th, Mr. Francis White and Mr. Francis White Jr. observed a male stabbing himself in the chest with a knife. Both men wrestled the knife away from the male. Mr. White provided live-saving care and directed officers to his location. The efforts of Mr. White and Mr. White Jr saved the man’s life.
JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on December 24, 2020, at approximately 6:00 p.m., the Jackson Township Police Department were summoned to the area of Cedar Swap Road and I-195 for a report of a motor vehicle crash with serious injuries. An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit and the Jackson Township Police Department revealed that a 2010 Mercedes Benz driven by Norman Shtab, age 83, of Howell Township, was exiting I-195 at Exit 21. As Mr. Schtab was executing a left hand turn on to Cedar Swap Road, his vehicle collided with a 2003 Chevrolet Silverado.
The driver of the Chevrolet Silverado fled on foot. Further investigation revealed that the driver of the Chevrolet Silverado is believed to be Roberto Alcazar-Sanchez, age 27, of Jackson. Gerardo Castillo-Mendoza, age 30, of Wrightstown, who was a passenger in the Chevrolet Silverado, was transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center, treated for his injuries and released.
Mr. Schtab and a passenger in his vehicle, his wife, Phyllis Shtab, age 81, of Howell Township were transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune. Mr. Schtab was treated for his injuries and released. On December 26, 2020, Mrs. Schtab succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead at Jersey Shore Medical Center.
“We are currently trying to positively identify and locate the driver of the Chevrolet Silverado. This is an active and ongoing investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Jackson Township Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit. If anyone has information regarding this investigation, please contact Detective Anthony Carrington of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027 or Officer Tristan Bennett of the Jackson Township Police Department at 732-928-1111,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.
The Facebook post by a family member of the victim has since been removed from the Internet. The photo is still available below:
291 LTC Facilities Currently Scheduled for Vaccinations — Covering Over 83,000 New Jerseyans
OLD BRIDGE, NJ (MIDDLESEX)—Governor Phil Murphy, joined by New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and CVS Health Regional Director Kat Kingston, today visited Roosevelt Care Center in Old Bridge to mark the launch of New Jersey’s vaccination effort of residents and staff of long-term care facilities. The vaccinations are being administered pursuant to the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), CVS, and Walgreens to facilitate on-site COVID-19 vaccination services. Through the Federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, New Jersey already has 291 long-term care facilities scheduled and over 83,000 residents and staff slated to receive vaccinations through the beginning of February 2021, with more sites to be added in the coming weeks.
“Long-term care facilities across New Jersey and the entire nation have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “Over the past nine months, we have paid an incredible cost, but today is another positive step forward in our fight against this virus. New Jersey’s comprehensive and inclusive vaccination plan prioritizes individuals living in high-risk, congregate settings, such as nursing homes, Veterans Homes, and assisted living residences. We are incredibly grateful to CVS and Walgreens for their work with the Federal Pharmacy Partnership program to ensure that we have the resources to vaccinate and protect our most vulnerable populations.”
“Throughout this pandemic, the residents and staff of our long-term care facilities have been among the most severely impacted,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “With the start of this large-scale vaccination effort today, we are continuing to strengthen protections for our most vulnerable populations, along with the staff who have been truly courageous in caring for them.”
“Today’s rollout is the culmination of months of internal planning and demonstrates how the private sector can use its expertise to help solve some of our most critical challenges,” said Larry J. Merlo, President and Chief Executive Officer, CVS Health. “I’m grateful for the herculean efforts of everyone involved, including our health care professionals who will be deployed throughout the country to bring peace of mind to long-term care facility residents, staff, and their loved ones.”
“Walgreens is very proud to be a part of this historic milestone to begin administering Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to our most vulnerable populations in New Jersey and across the country,” said John Standley, President, Walgreens. “With more than a decade of experience administering various vaccines, we have the deep expertise to support this unprecedented effort to allow our nation to emerge from this pandemic.”
“Today marks an incredibly important day as we work together to protect the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents and frontline workers at New Jersey’s long-term care facilities,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “I applaud Governor Murphy for helping facilitate this federal Pharmacy Partnership with CVS and Walgreens. These vaccination protocols will help ensure we come through this unprecedented public health emergency together and return to living our lives with our families and friends.”
“Our long-term care facilities have suffered unimaginable heartbreak and loss due to COVID-19. I am hopeful that the start of vaccinations for our most vulnerable seniors will also mark the beginning of the end of the public health emergency,” said Senator Sam Thompson. “The long, torturous pandemic has claimed lives, taken jobs, and interrupted daily life in New Jersey, but today we have cause for optimism as we prepare to close the door on 2020.”
“This marks the beginning of a new, important phase of our battle against the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Joe Vitale. “The distribution of the vaccine is reason for hope and optimism, but the health crisis is far from over. The threat is still very real, especially for the residents and front-line workers in long-term care facilities who are so vulnerable. We have to make the best use of vaccines as the supply becomes available and we have to continue all the other safety measures as we go through this stage of the Covid crisis.”
“It is an understatement to say that this has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us in healthcare, on many levels,” said Esther Moodey, Staff Nurse and the first LTC staff recipient of the COVID-19 vaccine in New Jersey. “I am thankful for the COVID-19 vaccine and honored to be the first staff member at our facility receive it, in solidarity with my colleagues in other long term care facilities around New Jersey. The vaccine brings hope and optimism about the future and promise of a return to ‘normal.’”