TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–On January 28th, 2021 at approximately 11:30 PM, multiple Toms River Police, Fire and EMS units responded to Loxley Drive for a reported structure fire. Upon arrival, officers observed a two story, single family home actively on fire. Due to strong winds in the area responding officers evacuated surrounding residences.
Neighbors believed the homeowner was still in the residence at the time of police arrival. Officer Rebecca Sayegh forced entry through the front door and located the homeowner in the foyer who was unable to open the door and exit due to the heavy smoke. Officer Sayegh confirmed that there were no other occupants inside the residence and escorted the homeowner, and her pets, across the street to the neighbors’ residence where she was evaluated by Toms River EMS.
Multiple Fire Departments responded and assisted in extinguishing the fire. Toms River Fire Companies 1 and 2, East Dover Fire Department, Silverton Fire Department, Pleasant Plains Fire Company, and Island Heights Fire Department, as well as, Brick Twp Fire and EMS Mass Care Response Team. Toms River Police Detectives Roger Hull and Travis Seaman were on scene along with Toms River Fire Inspectors Matthew Janora and Dana Mitchell.
Due to freezing temperatures, Toms River Department of Public Works responded to the area to sand and salt the roadways to prevent hazardous road conditions.
One firefighter was transported to Community Medical Center for treatment of a minor injury. The cause of the fire is under investigation by Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention and is believed to be accidental.
The Attorney General’s Office today released video footage which captured events surrounding a single-vehicle accident in which Keron Roundtree, 23, of Trenton, N.J., was injured when he sped away from Bordentown Township Police Officer Keith Alexander after an attempted traffic stop on Oct. 27, 2020. Mr. Roundtree succumbed to those injuries on November 17, 2020, at which time the investigation transferred from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office to the Attorney General’s Office, pursuant to P.L. 2019, c.1.
Video recordings from the officer’s body-worn camera and vehicular mobile video recorder are being released pursuant to policies established by the Attorney General’s Office in 2019 that are designed to promote the fair, impartial and transparent investigation of fatal police encounters. Prior to today’s release, investigators met with Mr. Roundtree’s relatives to review the video recordings with them.
On the night of Oct. 27, Officer Alexander was on patrol on Route 206 Southbound in a marked police vehicle when he saw a Nissan Maxima traveling southbound in the left lane brake abruptly. The car, which was driven by Mr. Roundtree, resumed traveling southbound. Officer Alexander then followed Mr. Roundtree and observed him commit several motor vehicle infractions.
At approximately 8:51 p.m., about two minutes after he began following Mr. Roundtree’s car, Officer Alexander activated his overhead lights and siren to make a motor vehicle stop. At that point, Mr. Roundtree’s car sped off, traveling at speeds that reached in excess of 110 mph. Approximately one minute later, and without coming into contact with another car, Mr. Roundtree’s car crashed into a wooded area on the right side of Rt. 206. His car traveled into and out of the woods, coming to rest on the right shoulder of Route 206 Southbound.
Officer Alexander exited his vehicle and located Mr. Roundtree’s car. The car, which was heavily damaged, contained two occupants: Mr. Roundtree and an adult male passenger. Two bystanders assisted Officer Alexander in removing and rendering aid to both. Once ambulances arrived, the occupants of the Nissan Maxima were transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, N.J. Mr. Roundtree remained in the hospital until his death on Nov. 17, 2020. The passenger was admitted for treatment and later released.
The video recordings from Officer Alexander’s body-worn camera and the mobile video recorder in his police vehicle are posted online: Click here for recordings.
The investigation is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time.
This investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L. 2019, c.1), which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct all investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. Separately, the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which was issued by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal in December 2019, outlines a 10-step process for conducting these investigations. The Directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are conducted in a full, impartial and transparent manner. Under both state law and the Directive, when the entire investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury, typically consisting of 16 to 23 citizens, to make the ultimate decision regarding whether criminal charges will be filed. At present due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regular grand juries are not sitting and hearing cases.
TRENTON (MERCER)– Trenton Cats Rescue was made aware of a hoarding situation where the owner of the residence passed away, leaving approximately 50 cats. After the passing, the resident’s caretaker was still feeding the cats and letting them in and out of the house.
After being notified of the situation, Trenton Cats Rescue (TCR) immediately readied their volunteers to rescue the cats from the residence.
On January 20, volunteers of TCR responded to the residence in the City of Trenton, where they began to set up traps. Within the first few days, TCR was able to trap 45 cats. Traps have been placed at the location to catch the remainder.
All cats rescued needed medical care, including spaying/neutering, vaccines, deworming, and flea/mite treatments. The cats are now spending the next few weeks in volunteer foster homes to allow them to gain weight, recover from various wounds, get dental surgeries, additional antiparasitic treatments, and overall become more healthy.
All of the adoptable cats from this incident should be available through Trenton Cats Rescue, EASEL, and All God’s Creatures sometime in mid to late February.
TCR would like to thank all of the volunteers and those who have donated through their website and their Facebook page for their care and consideration of the cats.
Trenton Cats Rescue is an all volunteer, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to helping community, sheltered and family cats in Trenton, New Jersey. Trenton Cats Rescue does not have a building, receives no state or government funding and relies on donations and volunteers. To volunteer or DONATE go to www.Trentoncats.org.
TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Just after 11:30 pm last night a fire broke out in the 600 Block of Loxley Drive. The first arriving officer reported a well involved 2nd floor and fire though the roof. Additional fire apparatus was called to the scene. Ariel master streams were set up to combat the heavy fire conditions. A rehab unit from Brick Police Department was requested due to the cold temperatures. There were radio reports of one firefighter transported for a foot injury. No further information was available about the fire.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has announced that Donald Rutter, 61, of Tuckerton, a fugitive from justice who was charged on January 6, 2021 with the Attempted Murder of Thomas Jarvis, 55, of Little Egg Harbor, was apprehended by the United States Marshals Service in Atlantic City on January 28, 2021.
On January 5, 2021, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Little Egg Harbor Township Police were dispatched to Jarvis Marine on Radio Road in response to a 911 call which related that an individual had been shot. Responding Officers found Thomas Jarvis with an apparent gunshot wound to his midsection. Mr. Jarvis was transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. He has since been released from the hospital and is reportedly recovering from his injuries.
An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit revealed that Rutter was, in fact, the individual who shot Mr. Jarvis. An exhaustive search of the surrounding area by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Park Police, United States Marshals Service, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and Tuckerton Police Department, was unsuccessful in locating Rutter in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. As such, a warrant was issued for Rutter’s arrest charging him with Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), as well as Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1).
On January 28, 2021, Rutter was ultimately located in Atlantic City and taken into custody, without incident, by the United States Marshals Service. He is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.
“I am extremely thankful for the outstanding teamwork exhibited by all the law enforcement agencies involved in locating Rutter. This is a prime example of law enforcement at its best, with our partners at the local, county, state, and federal levels coming together – working tirelessly for more than three weeks – to capture a fugitive from justice. Their collaboration and perseverance certainly paid off today, as Rutter is now lodged in the Ocean County Jail,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.
Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Park Police, United States Marshals Service, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and Tuckerton Police Department for their collective efforts in connection with this investigation resulting in Rutter’s apprehension.
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.
CARTERET TOWNSHIP (MIDDLESEX)– Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced today that a Carteret man has been charged with fraudulent voting.
Frederick Gattuso, 43, of Carteret was arrested without incident and charged with one count of third-degree fraudulent voting.
Gattuso was charged following an investigation by Detective Ryan Tighe of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, which determined Gattuso voted twice in November’s General Election as different people with similar names. Gattuso is pending an initial appearance in Superior Court on March 4, 2021.
The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Tighe at (732) 745-4335.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charge against Gattuso is merely an accusation and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– The Mercer County Narcotics Task Force (MCNTF) concluded a month-long investigation this week with three arrests and the seizure of 11 guns, high-capacity rifle magazines, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and approximately $1,000 in methamphetamine, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.
At approximately 5:45 p.m. on Wednesday, January 27, members of the New Jersey State Police TEAMS Unit, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, the Hamilton Township Police Division, the Trenton Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, under the command of the prosecutor’s Special Investigations Unit, executed a search warrant for the residence of 255 Route 31 Northbound in Hopewell. During the search warrant execution, residents Charlene Else and Carmen Morelli were located and detained in the rear yard. Bobbi Lynn Sensinger, also a resident, was located and detained in the second floor front bedroom.
A subsequent search of the residence revealed eight long guns and three handguns, including a loaded Browning Arms .22 caliber rifle, a loaded Winchester Model 94 3030 lever action rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, a Winchester Model 1917 bolt action rifle, an Iver Johnson 12-guage single shot shotgun, a Remington Model S12 bolt action .22 caliber rifle, an Ithaca double barrel 12-gauge shotgun, a Marlin bolt action Model SS 12-gauge
shotgun, a Haus Firearm Company .22 caliber revolver handgun, a loaded Raven Arms MP-25 handgun and a Para Ha semi-automatic handgun.
Detectives also seized seven 30-round AR style rifle magazines, hundreds of rounds of assorted ammunition, 10 grams of methamphetamine with an approximate street value of $1,000, drug packaging materials and $2,150 in cash.
Else, 58, Morelli, 45, and Sensinger, 45, were each charged with numerous narcotic- and weapons-related offenses, and lodged at the Mercer County Correction Center pending future court proceedings.
Despite having been charged, all persons are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Assemblyman Ron Dancer is putting the brakes on an animal cruelty trend that involves locking up dogs in trunks of cars and having them fight to the death. His bill released by the Assembly Agriculture Committee yesterday bans ‘trunk fighting’ and makes it a third-degree animal cruelty offense.
“Pitting two animals against each other in a fight to the death for money is sickening enough. Now these criminals have gone mobile,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “They have taken their gambling rings on the road in order to avoid raids by law enforcement.”
Trunk fighting, which began as a fad in Florida, involves placing two dogs or other animals in the trunk of a car, and then aggravating them with loud music or other measures to provoke them to fight. Bettors wager on which animal will come out alive or the least injured. The fights often last until one of the animals is killed, while any animal that survives is likely to be used again in another fight.
“We have to send a clear message to these criminals that New Jersey has no tolerance for such depravity. They will face strict penalties if they are caught engaging in this reprehensible act,” said Dancer.
Dancer’s bill (A3231) criminalizes the conduct of trunk fighting, making offenses punishable by fines up to $15,000 and three to five years in prison.
NEWARK, N.J. – A Burlington County, New Jersey, doctor was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for his role in a telemedicine scheme to prescribe expensive compounded medications to patients who did not need them, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Bernard Ogon, 48, of Burlington Township, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark federal court to one count of health care fraud conspiracy. Judge Vazquez imposed the sentence today by videoconference.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Ogon admitted he signed prescriptions for compounded medications (medications with ingredients of a drug tailored to the needs of a particular patient) without having established a doctor-patient relationship, spoken to the patient or conducted any medical evaluation. Ogon often signed preprinted prescription forms – with patient information and medication already filled out – where all that was required was his signature. Then, instead of providing the prescription to the patient, Ogon would return the prescriptions to specific compounding pharmacies involved in the conspiracy. Ogon was paid $20 to $30 for each prescription he signed, and his participation in the conspiracy caused losses to health care benefit programs of over $24 million, including losses to government health care programs of over $7 million.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Vazquez sentenced Ogon to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $24.3 million and forfeiture of $75,000.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr.; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Hegarty, and special agents of the Department of Health and Human Services, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
The government is represented by Jason S. Gould, Acting Chief of the Violent Crimes Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.
Defense counsel: Daniel M. Rosenberg Esq., Mount Holly, New Jersey
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – Three New Jersey residents were arrested today for allegedly participating in a long-running scheme to defraud the New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury Fund (TBI Fund), a publicly funded health care benefit program, of more than $4.5 million, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Harry Pizutelli, 62, of Edison, New Jersey, and C.R. Kraus, 55, and Maritza Flores, 43, both of Toms River, New Jersey were arrested by special agents of the FBI and IRS this morning and are charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. They are scheduled to appear later today by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
The TBI Fund is a publicly funded program run by the New Jersey Division of Disability Services, a component of the New Jersey Department of Human Services. The TBI Fund’s purpose is to provide New Jersey residents who have suffered a traumatic brain injury with services and support in order to maximize their quality of life when funding from insurance, personal resources, or other programs is unavailable to meet their needs. Services funded by the TBI Fund include physical, occupational, and speech therapy; service coordination; assistive technology; cognitive therapy; neuropsychological services; pharmaceuticals; wheelchair ramp installation and other home modifications; and general home management and maintenance.
After a prospective patient applies for services, TBI Fund personnel review the application and, if approved, the patient is authorized to secure designated services from a third-party vendor. Once a patient receives services approved by the TBI Fund, the vendor or service provider submits an invoice to the TBI Fund for payment. When an invoice is received, TBI Fund personnel review the invoice to ensure that the patient had been approved to receive the services. If the invoice is approved, an internal payment voucher is generated, authorized by TBI Fund personnel, and then submitted to the New Jersey Department of the Treasury for payment, which issues a check directly to the vendor.
Pizutelli was the manager of the TBI Fund and was responsible for the its day-to-day operation. He supervised, managed, and oversaw the process by which third-party vendors were paid for services rendered to eligible TBI Fund patients. From 2009 through June 2019, Pizutelli, Kraus, Flores, and others conspired to defraud the TBI Fund by misappropriating more than $4.5 million in fraudulent vendor payments for purported services that were never actually provided. Pizutelli orchestrated the distribution of fraudulent vendor payments to Kraus, Flores, and others by generating and processing false invoices and internal payment vouchers. Pizutelli generated these invoices and vouchers to give the appearance that Kraus, Flores, and other conspirators had provided approved services to eligible patients when, in fact, they had not provided any services. Pizutelli then approved and transmitted the internal payment vouchers so that his conspirators received vendor payments even though they had performed no services to eligible patients. Pizutelli orchestrated these fraudulent payments to maintain and further romantic and/or sexual relationships with Flores and other conspirators.
Pizutelli orchestrated the fraudulent payment of more than $4.5 million from the TBI Fund to members of the conspiracy, including more than $4 million in fraudulent distributions to Kraus and Flores, which they used for their own personal benefit and enrichment. To obscure their fraudulent conduct, Kraus and Flores also made material misstatements on their federal income tax returns, by significantly underreporting the income they had derived from the fraudulent scheme.
The health care fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and of $250,000 or twice the gross receipts to the defendants or gross loss sustained by any victims, whichever is greater.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., and special agents of the IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez, with the investigation leading to the charges. She also thanked the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Division of Law, and the New Jersey Department of Human Services, for their assistance.
The government is represented by J. Brendan Day, Attorney-in-Charge of the Trenton Branch Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Pizutelli – Benjamin West Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton Kraus – Bruce L. Throckmorton Esq., Trenton Flores – Aidan P. O’Connor Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey
STAFFORD TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on January 27, 2021, Jeydon Lowe, 24, of Barnegat, pled guilty to Vehicular Homicide in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5, before the Honorable Linda G. Baxter, J.S.C. At the time of sentencing on March 19, 2021, the State will be recommending a term of seven years New Jersey State Prison, subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2. Additionally, Lowe pled guilty to Driving While Intoxicated in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.
On March 25, 2020, at approximately 5:30 p.m., members of the Stafford Township Police Department responded to a single vehicle crash on Stafford Avenue near Hilliard Boulevard. An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Stafford Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit revealed that a 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt operated by Lowe was traveling eastbound on Stafford Avenue at an extremely high rate of speed. Lowe lost control of the vehicle as he was attempting to navigate a right-hand turn, and consequently crashed into a tree. A passenger in the front seat of the vehicle, Robert Parlin, 24, of Little Egg Harbor, succumbed to his injuries as a result of the crash and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Lowe sustained minor injuries and was taken to Hackensack Meridian Health Southern Ocean County Medical Center in Stafford Township. A search warrant was obtained for a draw of his blood. On April 14, 2020, Detectives received the laboratory results from the blood draw which indicated that Lowe had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of nearly .12 percent. An operator of a motor vehicle is presumed to be over the legal limit for purposes of alcohol consumption where his/her BAC is .08 or greater.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligence of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Schron who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Stafford Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation which ultimately resulted in Lowe’s guilty plea.
LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on January 27, 2021, Elioenai Aguinaga, 32, of Lakewood, pled guilty to Robbery in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(2), before the Honorable Rochelle Gizinski, J.S.C. At the time of his sentencing on March 24, 2021, the State will be seeking a term of eight years New Jersey State Prison, subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.
On March 26, 2020, Officers of the Lakewood Township Police Department were summoned to Taylor’s Pharmacy on Madison Avenue for a report of a robbery. Responding Officers learned that a male suspect had entered the pharmacy, brandished a semi-automatic handgun at the store clerk, and demanded money from the cash register. The suspect took approximately $130 and fled the pharmacy.
A subsequent investigation by the Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau ultimately determined that Aguinaga was, in fact, the individual who committed the robbery at Taylor’s Pharmacy on March 26th. On April 25, 2020, Aguinaga was arrested by Officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department, processed at Lakewood Township Police Headquarters, and transported to the Ocean County Jail – where he has been lodged since his apprehension.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligence of Assistant Prosecutor Kaitlyn Burke who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the hard work and determination exhibited by Officers of the Lakewood Township Police Department and Detective Bureau in their investigation of this matter which ultimately resulted in Aguinaga’s guilty plea.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– On January 8, 2021, it was announced by the Diocese of Trenton that Trenton Catholic Academy, a Pre-K through 12th grade school, will permanently shut its doors on June 30, 2021.
Trenton Catholic Academy, also known as McCorristin High School and St. Anthony’s High School, have been a cornerstone of Catholic education in the community since its establishment in 1962, with outstanding academics and athletics, a 100% graduation rate, and 100% college acceptance rate. Despite the changing of names, the school’s icon remains the Iron Mike, paying respect to Michael P. McCorristin, the man who built the school with volunteers and contractors, and made it all possible.
“It is a sad day for the Diocese of Trenton, Trenton Catholic Academy (TCA), and Hamilton Township,” said Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin in his statement. “Whether known as Anthony’s, McCorristin, or TCA, there has always been a great partnership between the school and the Township. Hamilton is committed to helping TCA and the Diocese in the months to come. On behalf of the Township, I thank them for their nearly 60 years of providing a high quality, well-rounded education to those in our greater Hamilton community,” Martin continued.
The school has sent many of their students to top colleges and universities. Iron Mike alumni have gone on to prestigious careers and several have advanced to play professional sports. “Most importantly, the school has succeeded in meeting the hopes of the school’s late founding president St. Joseph Sister Dorothy Payne, who wanted her students to be: ‘Good kids that live good lives that make the world a better place,'” Diocese of Trenton said in a statement.
The group is made up of alumni, administrators, coaches, business people, and supporters.
ironmikesfund.com is available now to accept tax-deductible donations. “We are asking for your financial support, or better yet, your investment in the future of our children and our world. A united group of alumni, administrators, coaches, business professionals and supporters are currently working on a detailed plan to keep the doors open for many years to come. Please help by donating to www.ironmikesfund.com. Your gift to the Iron Mikes Fund provides the financial means to keep our school open as an independent school. This will help our students to continue to excel in academics, athletics and overall student life. Your contribution will have far reaching rewards into the future,” ironmikesfund.com told MidJersey.News.
ironmikesfund.com would like to thank donors in advance for your careful consideration and tax-deductible pledge to save their school.
EWING TOWNSHIP (MERCER): Around 12:40 Wednesday afternoon, Ewing Police and Ewing Fire Department responded to 113 Beacon Avenue after received a call from a delivery driver reporting some coming from a house.
Officers arrived on scene to find heavy smoke coming from the residence and were quickly alerted by a neighbor that a resident was inside. From there, Officers immediately entered the house, but were driven back to do the heavy fire conditions.
While responding to the scene, a Ewing Township fire officer received the update from police and called the “All hands,” sending additional manpower, fire equipment, and additional EMS/paramedics to the scene.
Within minutes of Ewing firefighters arriving to the scene, they located a man deceased inside of the burning home. The fire was placed under control at approximately 1:03 pm.
Ewing Police detectives and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office are currently investigating the cause of the fire. The identity of the victim has not yet been determined.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The $1.25 billion Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey must pay New Jersey over the next 18 years needs to be used to reduce premiums, says Assemblyman Ron Dancer. The lawmaker recently introduced a constitutional amendment to guarantee lower health insurance costs for policyholders.
“Unless the annual assessments are constitutionally dedicated, they could be raided through the budget process to pay for unrelated things because the annual appropriations bill can override any statutory dedication of funds,” explained Dancer (R-Ocean). “We have to learn a lesson from diversions such as the use of energy bill taxes to pay for New Jersey Transit rather than true clean energy initiatives as intended. We must put the money in a constitutional lock box so that it can’t be used to balance the budget or for pet projects.”
New Jersey’s largest health insurer is required to make payments to the state, including $600 million this year, as part of legislation Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed allowing Horizon to transition from a not-for-profit business entity to a not-for-profit mutual holding company.
“Nearly half of the money happens to arrive in an election year,” said Dancer. “The $600 million can certainly make for a more electorate-pleasing budget, especially when there is less revenue due to Covid and business restrictions. The public will only be made more cynical about government priorities if we blow this windfall on new spending instead of dedicating it to help the 3.6 million Horizon members who paid it in the first place.”
If Dancer’s proposed constitutional amendment (ACR207) is advanced by the Legislature, voters would need to approve it during the following election.
“Neither this year’s payment nor the 17 following assessments are dedicated to any specific use whatsoever,” said Dancer. “We should be lowering the costs of health insurance for Horizon’s policyholders, not letting the state cash a check worth $1.25 billion dollars that it can spend at a whim.”
Dancer’s resolution has been referred to the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.