Month: January 2021

Car crashes into tree, damages pole in Hamilton

January 26, 2021

Published by: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TWP (MERCER): A single car crashed into a tree shortly after 10:00 Tuesday night at the corner of Arena Drive and Gropp Avenue. The tree was snapped in half and scattered across the roadway and a nearby resident’s lawn. A utility pole was also damaged in the crash.

Hamilton Fire Department responded to the scene as a precaution to secure any hazards that may have been present.

No one was injured in the crash.

The tree was removed from the roadway and is pending pickup by the Township.



Congressman Chris Smith applauds Federal grant to support NJ vaccination sites

January 26, 2021

Published by: Tyler Eckel

Federal dollars flow from legislation he supported

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) applauded this week’s announcement that the federal government is sending $216,000,000 to New Jersey to reimburse the state for vaccination efforts against COVID-19.

“I greatly welcome this important federal reimbursement to assist New Jersey’s six mega sites in the distribution of vaccines,” said Congressman Smith.

“People across New Jersey are eager to move ahead and receive the vaccine,” Smith continued. “We must not let up, but instead redouble our efforts to ensure that the infrastructure is in place so that vaccines can be distributed as they are available—including 24 hours a day if necessary. I will do everything I can to ensure the federal government remains a robust partner in our state’s efforts to get this vaccine to the people who need it, as fast as possible,” he added.

Smith said the funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will help pay for medical supplies, containers for medical waste, transportation and proper storage of the vaccines, medical and support staff, and PPE among other onsite infection control and disinfection measures in accordance with CDC guidance.

This award represents roughly half of the amount FEMA is planning to reimburse to the State of New Jersey for running the mega sites through April 30.  

The State of New Jersey is distributing and administering COVID-19 vaccines to New Jersey residents primarily through the NJ Department of Health including at six mega sites across the state. The sites are in addition to dozens of other access points, such as hospitals, pharmacies and community-based vaccination sites run by multiple counties with state oversight.

The federal grant comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA disaster relief fund, which received $45 billion from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act of 2020—legislation that Smith strongly supported.



Burlington County man admits interfering with law enforcement officers during civil disorder

January 26, 2021

Published by: Tyler Eckel

TRENTON (MERCER): A Burlington County, New Jersey, man today admitted attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder when he attempted to set fire to a police vehicle during a riot in the City of Trenton, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Killian F. Melecio, 20, of Columbus, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to an information charging him with one count of attempting to obstruct, impede, or interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder affecting commerce.

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

On May 31, 2020, large-scale protests were held throughout the United States, including in Trenton, in response to the death of George Floyd. Although the May 31st protest in Trenton was peaceful earlier in the day, violence erupted later. A group of individuals proceeded down East State Street in downtown Trenton and began to riot, smashing store fronts, looting stores, and attacking multiple marked Trenton Police Department vehicles parked on the 100 Block of East State Street.

A City of Trenton street camera and other video footage taken by an individual present on the street captured Kadeem Dockery light an explosive device and throw it through the open front driver’s side window of a Trenton Police Department vehicle. Dockery then removed his shirt and handed it to Melecio, who then attempted to stuff the shirt in the gas tank of the police vehicle and ignite it. Melecio was then assisted by Justin Spry in attempting to set fire to the police vehicle. Law enforcement officers on scene arrested Spry, but Melecio and Dockery fled. Law enforcement later identified Melecio and Dockery through analysis of street camera and other video footage. They were arrested on Aug. 5, 2020.

The charge of attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil order carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Scheduling is scheduled for May 26, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI and task force officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley; troopers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; and officers of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, under the direction of Commissioner Marcus O. Hicks, for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander E. Ramey and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

The charges and allegations remaining against Kadeem Dockery and Justin Spry are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


See MidJersey.News’ previous news story here: Trenton burns as rioters torch cars, loot stores, and clash with police after “peaceful protest” goes violent at dusk.

See MidJersey.News’ previous breaking news story here: BREAKING: Chaos in the City; peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest turns violent at dark.



BREAKING: Robbinsville Firefighters Rescue Man Trapped In Vehicle

January 26, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Around noon a vehicle lost control on Route 130 south bound near the Robbinsville Fire Department and overturned on the right shoulder of the highway trapping a male driver inside.

The Robbinsville Fire Department and Police Department immediately called in the overturned vehicle and responded to the scene across the street from the firehouse. Robbinsville Police shut down the south bound lanes of Route 130 while Robbinsville firefighters extricated the man from the vehicle.

An ambulance from Allentown First Aid-Capital Health responded to the scene and reportedly transported the man to RWJ at Hamilton Hospital.

Robbinsville Township Police are investigating the crash. No further information is available at this time.

Robbinsville’s 2021 St. Patrick’s Day Parade Cancelled Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

January 26, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–After careful consideration and with much regret, the Robbinsville St. Patrick’s Day Parade, scheduled for March 20, 2021, has been cancelled due to the ongoing global pandemic. In the interest of safety of everyone involved, including attendees and marchers, Robbinsville Township and the Robbinsville Irish Heritage Association (RIHA) decided the event could not be held safely at this time. We are looking forward to the day when we can all gather together again for the events many of us hold so dear. Anyone wishing to purchase 50/50 raffle tickets to support future parade events are encouraged to contact Dave Doran at davedoran864@gmail.com before Saturday’s drawing at the Senior Center.

Hamilton Township announced yesterday that their 2021 St. Patrick’s Day Parade was also cancelled, you can read the MidJersey.News story here.

Last year’s 2020 parade was cancelled by the COVID-19 Pandemic you can read about the parade at these links:

November 9, 2019 Robbinsville’s Irish Person of the Year and Grand Marshal Announced for St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2020

Cancelation of the 2020 parade was made on March 12, 2020



Committee Releases Dancer Bill To Improve Forest Stewardship In The Pinelands

January 26, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–With the goal of encouraging greater coordination and cooperation between government entities and private landowners, the Assembly Agriculture Committee released Assemblyman Ron Dancer’s bill creating a Pinelands Forest Stewardship Working Group.  

“Responsible forest stewardship protects natural resources and contributes to healthy and resilient landscapes while considering the economic benefits for future generations,” explained Dancer (R-Ocean). “New Jersey’s vast pinelands include both public and private lands. Better coordination between all parties will greatly enhance our ability to effectively manage and preserve this valuable natural asset.”

New Jersey’s pinelands cover 1.1 million acres and encompass portions of seven counties. There are parks, dense forests, wildlife refuges and military bases on the public portion, and 56 communities and nearly a half million residents on private pinelands land. 

“The pinelands are much more than trees – we have miles of blueberry fields and cranberry bogs that help support jobs in rural communities, and picturesque parks and waterways that serve as prime recreational destinations for families,” said Dancer. “Sound stewardship practices sustain local economies, help people recover from fires, and maintain the beauty of the pinelands.”

Dancer’s bill (A4846) would establish a working group in the Department of Environmental Protection that consists of 14 members representing government entities, nonprofits, private landowners and foresters. A year after organizing, the group would submit a report to the governor and Legislature with its findings and recommendations on how to improve and enhance coordination to promote greater forest stewardship in the pinelands.

Dancer has been a leading voice on forest stewardship, having ushered through the Legislature the 2018 “Prescribed Burn Act” (P.L.2018, c.107) to authorize and promote the use of prescribed burning to protect people and wildlife from out-of-control forest fires. 

AG Grewal Announces Finding of Probable Cause in Pregnancy Discrimination Case Against National Retailer – America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Inc.

January 26, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced yesterday that the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has issued a Finding of Probable Cause against national retailer America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Inc. for allegedly subjecting a former employee to discrimination based on her pregnancy and for failing to provide her with a suitable place to express breast milk.

A Finding of Probable Cause means that DCR has concluded its preliminary investigation of a civil rights complaint and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a claim that a state anti-discrimination law has been violated.

America’s Best is a discount provider of eye examinations, eyeglasses and contact lenses with 700 stores nationally, including 15 branch locations in New Jersey.

Jalaia Hill, a former employee at an America’s Best store in Burlington, filed a complaint with DCR alleging unlawful pregnancy-based discrimination by the company after returning from maternity leave to learn her hours had been cut from full-time to part-time. The reduction to part-time status also eliminated her from eligibility for employer-provided healthcare coverage.

Hill also alleged that America’s Best failed to reasonably accommodate her request for a place to express breast milk. Specifically, Hill told DCR, she was forced to use an oft-accessed utility room that did not have a lock on the door and that was filled with boxes of supplies. She alleged that while expressing milk she was forced to lean up against the unlocked door in an attempt to ensure privacy, yet she would still be periodically interrupted by workers who walked in to obtain supplies. She also alleged that she was frequently ordered by her manager to “hurry up and finish” because there were customers waiting.

“New Jersey is committed to protecting the equal rights of pregnant employees and breastfeeding employees,” said Attorney General Grewal. “New Jersey law goes farther than federal law when it comes to protecting pregnant and breastfeeding employees and employers must ensure they know what state law, as opposed to federal law, requires.”

“Employers cannot punish employees for having children or taking parental leave, and being forced to express breastmilk in a room without a lock on the door, with colleagues walking in and out, while being reprimanded to ‘hurry up and finish,’ would be a clear violation of the LAD,” said DCR Director Rachel Wainer Apter.

Hill began her employment with America’s Best as a full-time sales associate in May 2018, earning an hourly wage plus sales commissions. Because she worked more than 30 hours per week she was considered full-time, and received healthcare benefits for herself and her children.

Hill took maternity leave beginning on November 19, 2018 and returned to work on March 4, 2019.

In her complaint, Hill alleged that in February 2019 – only days before she was scheduled to return to her full-time sales associate position – she had a telephone conversation with her manager in which he informed her that only part-time hours were available because another employee had taken over her hours while she was out on leave.

According to Hill, she was never restored to full-time hours, despite also informing the company’s district manager of her situation, and despite an alleged promise from that same district manager to arrange additional work hours for Hill at the Audubon store to qualify Hill as a full-time employee.

Three of Hill’s Burlington store co-workers corroborated Hill’s assertion that she was a full-time employee before she went on maternity leave, but that her hours were reduced upon her return. (Time sheets obtained by DCR showed that Hill worked an average of 34 hours per week prior to her maternity leave, but worked an average of only 28 hours a week after returning.)

As to the failure to provide her an adequate place to express breastmilk, DCR’s investigation showed that America’s Best eventually installed a lock on the utility room door where Hill was forced to express milk on May 29, 2019 – nearly three months after Hill’s return to work from pregnancy leave.

In its response to Hill’s complaint, America’s Best denied having discriminated against Hill.


https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases21/FPC Hill v. America’s Best FINAL SIGNED.pdf


The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights enforces the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and works to prevent, eliminate, and remedy discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation throughout New Jersey. To view a fact sheet on pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination, go to https://www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/downloads/fact_BRST.pdf. To find out more information, go to http://www.njcivilrights.gov.


Running for office? Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order on Petition Requirements for Upcoming Elections, Including the June Primary Election

January 26, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy signed Executive Order No. 216 to permit both electronic and in-person collection of signatures and submission of petitions for the upcoming June Primary Election and elections scheduled to occur before then. The Governor noted that all campaigns should adhere to proper COVID-19 health and safety guidance.“During the pandemic, we will continue to hold elections to ensure that New Jersey voters are able to have their voice heard in a safe manner,” said Governor Murphy. “Today’s executive order will allow voters to fully participate in the electoral process and let qualified candidates meet nomination requirements for these elections.” 

Copy of Executive Order No. 216 

Recent Banner Placement Indicates Planet Fitness And Stem Academy Still Coming To Robbinsville, NJ Location

January 25, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Recent banners placed at the Foxmoor Shopping Center on Washington Boulevard indicate Planet Fitness is still coming to Robbinsville. According to one store owner in the center the banners were noticed late last week and it was good news that the fitness center and academy were still coming to the shopping center. The store owner believes the delay is because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Planet Fitness has not announced the Robbinsville location on their website yet but once construction starts usually Planet Fitness posts a “Coming Soon” on their Gyms Near Me page.

Read MidJersey.News story about Planet Fitness Coming to Robbinsville from December 19, 2019.


2021 Hamilton St. Patrick’s Day Parade Cancelled Due To COVID-19, Committee Looks Forward To 2022

Statement from Mayor Martin and Chairman Vince McKelvey of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee of Hamilton:

January 25, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–It is with great disappointment and regret that after careful consideration of the Hamilton Township St. Patrick’s Day Parade Board of Trustees, the 2021 Hamilton St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been canceled. In the best interest of all involved, including attendees, it was mutually decided that the Parade could not be held safely during the COVID-19 pandemic we continue to face.

While Hamiltonians are saddened that they could not celebrate and honor the 2020 Grand Marshal Jerry Sheridan and Miss St. Patrick Nicole Brown, we remain thankful for the outpouring of support the Parade Committee has continued to receive, particularly from our partners including the Ancient Order of the Hibernians, IBEW Electrical Workers Local Union No. 269, First Bank, and Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 9. Perhaps most of all, we thank the loyal parade attendees, who we hope stay safe and well during these troubling times. We look forward to safely celebrating St. Patrick’s Day together in 2022. Erin go Bragh!

Photos and video from last year’s Saint Patrick’s Day, Lia Fail Pipes and Drums played a couple of songs in front of Hamilton Township Fire Department Station 17 since the 2020 parade was canceled and wanted to honor the tradition of St. Patrick’s Day.

Read the 2020 MidJersey.news Saint Patrick’s Day story here



BREAKING: House Fire Extinguished In Hopewell Township

January 24, 2021

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 9:40 am Hopewell Township along with several other area fire departments were dispatched to the 400 Block of Lambertville Hopewell Road for a house fire. The first arriving fire officer on scene reported smoke from the structure calling for a 1st alarm and a 2nd Alarm tanker task force was called to the scene. This is remote a non-fire hydrant area and water needs to be trucked in by tankers.

There were reports of advancing a 2 1/2 inch line to the second floor along with other hand lines. The fire was under control by 10:17 am. A witness photo provided from the driveway and the street shows that fire was though the roof at one point during the fire and it appears that the majority of the home was saved.

Departments from Mercer, Hunterdon and Middlesex responded to the scene of the fire.

This is a breaking news story from radio reports and witnesses on scene once official information is received the story will be updated and any additions and corrections made.



Man transported to hospital after being struck by car in Hamilton

January 23, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER): Hamilton Police and EMS responded to Route 156 and Yardville Allentown Road just before 10:00 pm for a person that was struck by a vehicle. The man was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in stable condition.

The intersection was shut down for a short period of time.

Mega Millions $1 Billion Ticket Sold In Michigan, $1Million In Ocean County, $10K Tickets Sold Locally, Tonight’s Cash 5 Passes $2 Million Record

January 23, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–

TRENTON (Jan. 23, 2021– One Michigan ticket matched all five of the five white balls and the Gold Mega Ball drawn winning the $1.05 billion Mega Millions jackpot. The estimated cash value was $776.6 million.

In New Jersey, there was one second-tier prizewinning ticket sold for the Friday, January 22, drawing that matched five of the five white balls drawn winning the $1,000,000 prize. The ticket was purchased at 7-Eleven #11027, 2075 Route 88, Brick in Ocean County.

There were ten third-tier prizewinning tickets sold that matched four of the five white balls and the gold ball winning $10,000. Those tickets were purchased at the following locations:

  • Bergen County: Krauszer’s Food Store, 403 Midland Ave., Garfield;
  • Burlington County: Wawa #8423, 76 Springside Rd., Westampton;
  • Mercer County: 7-Eleven #27391, 1517 Pennington Ave., Ewing;
  • Mercer County: Pennington Luk Oil LLC, 2558 Pennington Rd., Pennington;
  • Middlesex County: Park Deli, 80 Raritan Ave., Highland Park;
  • Monmouth County: Little Silver Family Pharmacy, 10 Church St., Little Silver;
  • Morris County: Krauszer’s Food Store, 95 West Main St., Chester;
  • Passaic County: 7-Eleven #11463, 356 Rifle Camp Rd., Woodland Park;
  • Sussex County: 7-Eleven #37251, 63 Water St., Newton; and,
  • Warren County: Mini Mart, 1312 US Highway 22 East, Phillipsburg.

In addition to the second and third-tier prizes won, 236 players matched four of the five white balls drawn making each ticket worth $50015 of those tickets were purchased with the Megaplier option, multiplying the prizes to $1,000. Moreover, 389,264 other New Jersey players took home $1,455,848 in prizes ranging from $2 to $400. The winning numbers for the Friday, January 22, drawing were: 04, 26, 42, 50, and 60. The Gold Mega Ball was 24, and the Megaplier Multiplier was 02.

The jackpot resets to $20 million for the next drawing on Tuesday, January 26, at 11:00 pm. All New Jersey Lottery Mega Millions tickets must be purchased before 10:45 pm to participate in the drawing. Mega Millions tickets cost just two dollars; by adding the Megaplier option for an extra dollar per play, players can increase their non-jackpot winnings up to five times. Mega Millions tickets are sold in 46 participating jurisdictions. Drawings are held on Tuesdays and Fridays.


Jersey Cash 5 Boasts the Biggest Cash Jackpot EVER

Jersey Cash 5 Leaps to Record $2 Million Jackpot

TRENTON (Jan. 23, 2021) – New Jersey Lottery would like to announce the record-breaking jackpot for tonight’s Jersey Cash 5 drawing. The drawing for the all-cash jackpot of $2 million happens tonight at 10:57 pm, so be sure to get your tickets in time. The $2 million jackpot is the highest jackpot for Jersey Cash 5, ever – topping the 2013 record of $1.96 million.

With daily drawings and jackpots starting at $100,000, seeing jackpots top the million-dollar milestone is a rare treat for the game’s loyal players, but the two-million-dollar jackpot breaks new ground for the Jersey Cash 5 record books. For just a dollar, Jersey Cash 5 is a great option for players to pick their lucky numbers – or go with a Quick Pick option – and hope for the five-out-of-five match tonight.

Jersey Cash 5, which held its first drawing in 1992, has already proven to be a vital component of the Lottery’s offerings to support our State.

Trenton Fire Department Quickly Knocks Down Fire

January 23, 2021

Photos, video and story by: Michael Ratcliffe

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Quick work by the Trenton Fire Department this morning (Jan. 23, 2021). The fire department was alerted at about 11:17 a.m., crews from E1, E10, E9, L1, R1 and Bn1 arrived to find a working fire at the rear of the duplex at 688-690 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The “all hands” was transmitted, adding E7, L4, SS1 and Bn2 to the assignment. Multiple hoselines were stretched and the blaze was quickly brought under control.


Photos, video and story by: Michael Ratcliffe

Photos, video and story by: Michael Ratcliffe

Wall Collapse Seriously Injures Person In Trenton

January 23, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 10:00 am Trenton Police, Trenton Fire Department, TEMS and Capital Paramedics responded to Farragut Avenue between Garfield Ave. and Oakwood Alley for a person trapped by a collapse. Upon arrival the person was removed from a wall collapse and was seriously injured. Trenton EMS and Capital Health Paramedics transported the person to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center and a “trauma alert” was called. No further information is available at this time.

Man Rescued From Peddie Lake In Area Of The Falls

January 23, 2021

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–A man became trapped near the falls when he entered the Peddie Lake under his own volition this morning around 8:36 am. and had to be rescued according to Hightstown Borough Police Department, Sergeant Benjamin L. Miller.

Hightstown Police stated that on Saturday, January 23, 2021, at 8:36 a.m., officers were dispatched to the Peddie Lake, near the waterfalls, Main Street, for a male in the lake.  Upon arrival, officers observed an elderly male subject standing, who appeared disoriented, in the lake; the officers immediately requested the Hightstown Fire Department’s water rescue unit and an ambulance for the extraction and care of the subject.  The subject was assisted by fire personnel up a ladder and removed from the lake.  The subject was transported to Princeton Medical Center by the Hightstown First Aid Squad for evaluation.

Responding the the scene, Hightstown Police Department, Hightstown Fire Company, Capital Health Paramedics, and Hightstown First Aid Squad. Robbinsville Township Fire Department, East Windsor and Plainsboro Fire Departments were dispatched but were not needed and turned around en-route.

Wrightstown, NJ Native To Command Los Angeles-Class Fast-Attack Submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773)

January 22, 2021

Photo and Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael B Zingaro

WRIGHTSTOWN, NJ (BURLINGTON)–PEARL HARBOR, HI — The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) conducted a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Jan. 22.

Cmdr. Samuel Bell, from Wrightstown, New Jersey, relieved Cmdr. John Gonser, from Amityville, New York, as Cheyenne’s commanding officer, during the ceremony which was held in the Submarine Squadron 1 War Room.

“USS Cheyenne has a storied legacy in the submarine force,” said Gonser. “Sailors are rightfully proud to join that tradition. When I took command, I challenged the crew to make those who came before us, who built that legacy, proud of us. For the past 41 months, this crew did just that. I am humbled and awed to call each and every one of them a shipmate.”

Under Gonser’s command, Cheyenne completed two Western Pacific deployments, in which they conducted five missions vital to national security and five exercises that expanded undersea warfighting experimentation. Cheyenne received the Battle Excellence (“E”) Award in 2020, the Navigation (“N”) Award in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and the Retention Excellence Award in 2018 and 2019. Over 150 submariners earned their Submarine Warfare designators with Gonser at the helm.

“Thank you for staying positive and connected through a schedule that would have been challenging even if COVID-19 did not exist,” said Gonser. “While I cannot discuss the nature of the operations, these Sailors helped preserve our national defense for today while building the next generation of undersea warriors.”

Gonser is going to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon.

Capt. Michael Majewski, commodore, Submarine Squadron 7, presided over the small ceremony, consisting only of essential personnel due to COVID-19 mitigations and safety procedures in place.

“Cheyenne has been my go to boat since I became commodore of Squadron 7 last year, but she was the go to boat long before that,” said Majewski. “She is the most capable 688 in the fleet and has proven it time and again with her performance.”

Bell comes from the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy.

“The Cheyenne is well known in the submarine force as a command where Sailors want to be, and has recently been recognized for continued excellence,” said Bell. “I look forward to becoming a part of the legend.”

Cheyenne was commissioned Sept. 13, 1996 and is the third ship to be named after Cheyenne, Wyoming in the United States Navy. Measuring 360 feet long and displacing more than 6,900 tons, Cheyenne has a crew of approximately 140 Sailors. Cheyenne is capable of supporting various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.



Tonight’s Mega Millions Jackpot Hits $1 BILLION DOLLARS

January 22, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot has been increased to $1,000,000,000, the second-largest Mega Millions jackpot in history, and the third-largest jackpot for all North American games. The estimated cash value is $739.6 million.

Playing the lottery is a form of entertainment and so players are urged to keep in mind the importance of playing responsibly. Please remember to stay safe and socially distant if you choose to purchase lottery tickets and be sure to wear a mask and wash your hands.

Friday’s $520 million Mega Millions drawing will be held at 11:00 pm. All New Jersey Lottery Mega Millions tickets must be purchased before 10:45 pm to participate in the drawing.

NJ Lottery

Mega Millions with Megaplier

Mega Millions drawings are held every Tuesday & Friday at approximately 11:00 pm. Purchase your Mega MIllions tickets prior to 10:45 pm on Tuesday & Friday for the drawing.


Air Force Officer Charged With Distributing Child Pornography

January 22, 2021

CAMDEN, NJ — A Camden County, New Jersey, man was charged today with allegedly distributing videos and images of child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Ryan Osinski, 31, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, an Air Force officer, is charged by complaint with one count of distribution of child pornography. He appeared scheduled to appear by videoconference later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen M. Williams.

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

In December 2020, law enforcement officers interviewed Osinski after receiving information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that images of child sexual abuse were shared from an IP address assigned to Osinski’s residence. During and after the interview, law enforcement officers lawfully reviewed the contents of Osinski’s cell phone, which contained numerous images and videos of child sexual abuse. Additional investigation revealed the existence of links and folders on a cloud storage website controlled by Osinski that Osinski transmitted to others using a social media application on his cell phone. These links and folders contained numerous images and videos of child sexual abuse, including materials that depicted prepubescent children and sadomasochistic conduct.

The count of distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a fine of $250,000.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Cherry Hill Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina, and the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crimes Unit, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer, with the investigation leading to today’s charge. She also thanked the Department of the Air Force, Office of Special Investigations, for its assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Bender of the Camden Office.

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

21-025


Former Meter Reader for New Brunswick Water Department Sentenced to Five Years in State Prison for Reducing Bills in Return for Bribes

January 22, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a former meter reader for the New Brunswick Water Department has been sentenced to state prison for participating in a scheme with two other former water department employees to reduce the water and sewer bills of numerous customers in return for bribes.

Guillermo Quinones, 51, of Somerset, N.J., was sentenced yesterday, Jan. 21, to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch in Union County. He pleaded guilty on Feb. 14, 2020 to official misconduct. Quinones forfeited his job with the water department and is permanently barred from public employment in New Jersey.

Two other former employees of the New Brunswick Water Department who participated in the scheme with Quinones previously pleaded guilty to official misconduct. Joseph DeBonis, 58, of Toms River, N.J., a former senior account clerk, and William Ortiz, 59, of North Brunswick, N.J., a former meter reader, were each sentenced to five years in prison by Judge Kirsch on Oct. 4, 2019.

Deputy Attorney General Samantha Keleher represented the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability at the sentencing hearing for Quinones.  She prosecuted Quinones, DeBonis and Ortiz with former Deputy Attorney General Anthony Robinson, under the supervision of Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee and Counsel to the Director Anthony Picione. The defendants were charged in an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).

“The prison sentences we have secured in this case reflect our resolve to investigate and aggressively prosecute public employees who unlawfully use their positions for personal gain,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We now have secured five-year prison sentences for three water department employees who corruptly profited at the expense of the City of New Brunswick and its residents. These prosecutions should deter other government employees who might consider betraying the trust placed in them by the public.”

“One of our primary missions in OPIA is to ensure that government employees who break the law and corruptly exploit their public positions are held accountable,” said OPIA Director Thomas Eicher.  “Quinones and the other two water department employees we sent to prison took bribes from dozens of customers in return for falsely and dramatically reducing water and sewer bills. Their criminal conduct cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

In addition to the three defendants employed by the water department, 11 residents were charged with allegedly paying cash to have their water and sewer bills reduced.  One resident pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful benefit to a public servant for official behavior and was sentenced to probation.  The other 10 were charged with theft by unlawful taking and admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention program on the condition that they pay full restitution. 

Quinones, Ortiz and DeBonis illegally reduced water and sewer bills for roughly 50 different properties over a period of several years in return for bribes totaling approximately $20,000.  Quinones and Ortiz would solicit bribes from customers and then arrange for bill reductions through DeBonis, who had access as a senior account clerk to the city’s water and sewer database. After Quinones and Ortiz received bribes, they provided DeBonis with information about the customer’s properties, and DeBonis modified the customer’s water and sewer bills to dramatically reduce the charges.  Fees were reduced at times by as much as 90 percent. DeBonis took a share of the bribe payments in return for falsifying the bills.

Attorney General Grewal created the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability in September 2018 to combat corruption and strengthen public confidence in government institutions. In December 2019, the Attorney General issued a directive codifying OPIA and making it a permanent part of the Attorney General’s Office. That directive established the OPIA Corruption Bureau as the lead office within the Department of Law & Public Safety for the investigation and prosecution of state criminal violations involving corruption and abuse of public trust.

OPIA has a toll-free Tipline 1-844-OPIA-TIPS for the public to report corruption.  The AG’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption. Information is posted at: http://nj.gov/oag/corruption/reward.html.

Defense Attorney: David Oakley, Anderl & Oakley, PC, Princeton, N.J.

Mercer County Sheriff Warns Of Phone Scam

January 22, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Once again, Mercer County Sheriff Jack Kemler has issued a warning to area residents regarding telephone scammers posing as Mercer County Sheriff’s Officers. Over the past month, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous complaints about suspected phone scams asking residents for personal bank account information or cash payments. Some calls have reached residents throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The scammers identify themselves as Mercer County Sheriff’s Officers along with fictitious badge numbers. The callers state they have an arrest warrant related to money laundering charges and need access to their bank accounts. The scammers also suggest meeting at a location and to bring cash for bail or fines. Otherwise, they will be taken into custody. “I can state with confidence the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office will never call anyone and ask for their bank account number or to meet in an odd location to pay bail or fines with cash,” said Sheriff Kemler.Unfortunately, it is difficult to crack down on telephone scammers because calls are often generated from phone banks located out of state. While the calls remain under investigation, the best advice is to exercise common sense. If a resident suspects a particular telephone call may be a scam, do not give out any personal information and simply hang up. Anyone who receives such a call and is uncertain of its validity should report the call to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office at 609-989-6111.

Vessel Deployments at Little Egg and Manasquan Inlet Reefs

January 21, 2021

MANASQUAN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–On  Thursday, January 14, the Division’s Bureau of Marine Fisheries expanded the state’s artificial reef network through deployments on Little Egg and Manasquan Inlet Reefs. 

A 200-foot-long barge along with a 45-foot tugboat and 40-foot push boat were deployed at the Little Egg Reef site. These deployments were sponsored by the Beach Haven Charter Boat Association’s Junior Mate Program with donations by The Sportfishing Fund.

A 65-foot tugboat was sunk at the Manasquan Inlet Reef. The deployment was sponsored by the Manasquan River Marlin and Tuna Club with donations by The Sportfishing Fund.  This deployment was in memory of past Manasquan River Marlin and Tuna Club Lifetime Member John Geiges.

Mayor Gusciora to Veto City Council Ordinance Creating Separate Legislative Counsel Position

January 21, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor. W. Reed Gusciora today gave the following statement announcing his intent to veto City Council Ordinance 20-60, which seeks to create a new Legislative Counsel position in Trenton government that replicates many of the powers and responsibilities that already fall under the City Attorney:

“To put it simply, this ordinance clearly violates the Faulkner Act, which outlines the separate powers of the Council and Mayor, the latter of which appoints the City Attorney per statute. And despite repeated warnings from the City’s Law Department that this effort was illegal, it still passed by a 4-3 vote.

As Judge Jacobson already ruled in McBride v. Gusciora in May 2020, ‘the Council has limited authority under the Faulkner Act, and cannot, on their own, appoint counsel to represent them.’

So why are we treading back down this path? We share Council’s concerns for unnecessary legal fees. But understand that we are bound to uphold municipal law and would have no other choice but to oppose this ordinance in court. This ordinance would in effect create a separate law department that would be a waste of taxpayer dollars. 

When I heard that Council President offered an ‘Olive Branch’ to the administration, I was hopeful that it was out of a sincere desire to better cooperate moving forward. I’m still hopeful that is the case. But this ordinance is not an olive branch: it’s a thorn bush.

As such, I will veto this ordinance to spare us more legal battles, so we can focus our renewed cooperation on the major issues affecting our community, including crime, economic development, and COVID-19.”

UPDATE: Cranbury Amazon Warehouse Fire Under Investigation

January 20, 2021

Read last night’s breaking news story here: UPDATED: Multi-Alarm Fire At Amazon TEB6 In Cranbury

CRANBURY TOWNSHIP, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Michael J. Owens of the Cranbury Police Department announced that authorities are investigating a warehouse fire.

On January 19, 2021, at approximately 11:27 P.M., officers of the Cranbury Police Department along with members of several fire departments and first aid crews responded to an Amazon warehouse on Hightstown-Cranbury Station Road following a report of smoke in the building. The fire was located and extinguished. No one is reported injured at this time.

The investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Sergeant Greg Pfremmer of the Cranbury Township Police Department at (609) 395-0031 or Detective Kevin Schroeck of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4194.



Woodbridge Fatal Fire Under Investigation

January 20, 2021

WOODBRIDGE, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Robert Hubner of the Woodbridge Police Department announced today that authorities are investigating a fire in which one person perished.

This morning, at approximately 9:12 A.M., authorities responded to 88 South Inman Avenue in the Avenel section of Woodbridge following a report of a structure fire.  The victim, whose identity has not yet been confirmed, was discovered after personnel arrived on scene.

The cause of death remains undetermined pending the completion of an autopsy by the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office.  No firefighters or police officers were injured. 

An investigation into the cause of the fire is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Jorge Quesada of the Woodbridge Police Department at (732) 634-7700 or Detective Kevin Schroeck of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4194 or Avenel Fire Official Cory Spillar of the Avenel Fire Prevention Bureau at (732) 855-974.

UPDATED: Multi-Alarm Fire At Amazon TEB6 In Cranbury

January 20, 2021 Updated at 10:50 am January 20, 2021

MidJersey.News update here: UPDATE: Cranbury Amazon Warehouse Fire Under Investigation

CRANBURY TOWNSHIP, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Around 11:30 pm a fire broke out inside the Amazon Warehouse TEB6 located at 22 Hightstown-Cranbury Station Road. Firefighters arrived and found a heavy smoke condition pushing from the south-west side of the warehouse. Employees were outside and evacuated to the parking lot covered in space type blankets to keep warm. Firefighters put two lines in operation and the fire was reported “extinguished” at 12:27 am. Two or three aerial units laddered the building to open sky lights and any possible vents in the roof to remove smoke. There was extensive overhaul of the fire and units were still being called to the scene at 2:00 am.

The warehouse by Google Maps satellite measurement is approximately 560 feet wide by 1,765 feet for an estimated 988,400 square feet in size. Photos from prior events at the warehouse posted online show that the building has “rack storage” inside and storage like that is usually protect by ESFR sprinklers (Early Suppression Fast Response sprinklers). If a rack storage would catch fire the ESFR sprinkler system would activate sending thousands of gallons per minute onto the fire, the fire would be extinguished or held in check until firefighters could arrive to finish extinguishing the fire.

The partial list of fire departments dispatched and/or involved so far are and fire is quite possibly a 2 or 3 alarms in size equivalent: Cranbury Fire Company, Hightstown Fire Company, East Windsor # 1 and # 2, Robbinsville Township Fire Department, West Windsor Fire Company, Princeton Junction Fire Company, Plainsboro Fire Department, Monroe Township Fire Department, South Brunswick-Monmouth Junction and Kendall Park, Jamesburg Fire Company, North Brunswick and East Brunswick. More departments were still being added as of 2:18 am. for covers. Hamilton Township Fire Department was added at 2:39 am for a cover. (This list included fire departments dispatched that may not have made it to the scene for man power or were diverted to cover other firehouses in the area)

Two ambulances stood by during the firefight but there were not known reports of injuries to firefighters or workers at the facility.

Jenna Hilzenrath, Amazon Spokesperson said in a statement ““We can confirm that there was a fire at our fulfillment center in Cranbury, New Jersey last night. There’s nothing more important than the health and safety of our employees and we’re grateful that all our employees are safe and accounted for. We thank our local fire department for their quick response.”

Amazon also said that employees waited at a designated evacuation point before being sent home with pay. We’ll continue to work with the local Fire Department to ensure that the building is safe before reopening later today.



UPDATED: Man Stabbed On South Broad Street Near Liberty Street

Updated January 20, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–According to Captain Peter Weremijenko, on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at approximately 9:31 pm, Trenton Police Officers J. Rose and S. Demko responded to 1200 S. Broad Street on a report of a stabbing in progress. While en-route to the location, the dispatcher relayed further information stating that a victim was inside the liquor store with a stab wound and that unknown suspects attempted to rob him.

Upon arrival, Officers were able to ascertain from the victim that he was walking near the area of Liberty Street and Adeline Street, when he was approached by 3-5 males, all wearing dark colored clothing. One of the males struck the victim in the back of the head and stabbed him about the right side of his body with what he believed to be a knife. The suspects relieved the victim of $50 dollars and fled the scene in an unknown direction. The victim was able to run from the scene and contact police. The victim sustained non-life threatening injuries. 


January 19, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–There were reports of a stabbing tonight in the 1200 Block of South Broad Street near Liberty Street around 9:30 pm. Sources said a man was found stabbed in the side and a group of individuals were on scene trying to control the bleeding. Sources also said that the main was hit over the head and stabbed for $50.00 Trenton EMS and Trenton Police responded to the scene. The main was taken to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center. No other information is available at this time. If official police information becomes available the story will be updated.

New Jersey Files Nine New Lawsuits Challenging Trump Administration’s Last Minute Environmental Rollbacks

January 19, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–On President Trump’s last full day in office, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that New Jersey has filed nine new lawsuits challenging a series of environmental rollbacks rushed through during the waning days of the Trump Administration. The announcement comes on the heels of a major litigation victory, in which a federal appeals court agreed with New Jersey that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) acted unlawfully in 2019 when it repealed the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan for addressing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The nine lawsuits announced today touch on issues including protections for clean air, energy efficiency requirements for appliances, and measures to protect migratory birds and endangered wildlife species.

All nine challenges to the Trump Administration’s “midnight rules” are being pursued by coalitions of states that share New Jersey’s commitment to protecting the environment and public health. Attorney General Grewal is leading one of the six lawsuits, which challenges a rule that weakens Clean Air Act protections for major sources of emissions.

“The environmental impacts of the Trump Administration’s lame duck rulemaking will be devastating if all of these rules remain in place,” said Attorney General Grewal. “So last week, we promised that the last-minute rules would not go unchecked. With today’s lawsuits, we’re making good on that commitment. Between these lawsuits and the policy changes expected in the Biden Administration, the Trump Administration’s environmentally disastrous actions won’t last long.”

“We will not allow Trump loyalists to continue to undermine science and threaten our State’s and nation’s air, water and wildlife in the waning hours of this Administration,” said Shawn M.  LaTourette, Acting Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. “While we are confident that brighter days are ahead for environmental protection, New Jersey will continue to join our sister states in fighting the short-sighted Trump legacy of environmental ignorance and degradation.”

The federal rules challenged in the nine environmental protection lawsuits filed by Attorney General Grewal since Friday, January 15, are:

An EPA rule that will allow major sources of hazardous air pollutants to reclassify themselves as less regulated “area sources” under the Clean Air Act, abandoning the “once-in, always-in” policy that had been in place for 25 years. Among other things, the state attorneys general contend that the rule increases Americans’ risk of cancer and other serious health problems traceable to hazardous air pollutants like cyanide and hydrochloric acid by reducing the number of pollution sources using maximum available control technology; violates the Clean Air Act and the Administrative Procedure Act; and is unsupported by the necessary evidence and analysis. The petition for review on behalf of 13 states and the cities of New York and Chicago was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

An EPA rule on greenhouse gas emission standards for airplanes that fails to adequately mitigate public health and environmental harms from such emissions, including the environmental justice impacts on residents living near airports, which disproportionately include disadvantaged minority and low-income communities. Among other things, the attorneys general have argued that EPA’s rule does not reflect a reasonable assessment of aircraft-related pollution and the technological feasibility of more effective emissions controls. The petition for review on behalf of 12 States and the District of Columbia was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

An EPA rule maintaining the national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for ozone at a level that fails to protect public health and welfare based on the existing scientific evidence. State attorneys general have alleged that the EPA’s decision not to strengthen the primary or secondary ozone NAAQS is the result of a flawed and hasty process that gave short shrift to the evidence showing that more protective standards are necessary to protect human health and public welfare. The petition for review on behalf of 15 states, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit/

An EPA rule that will skew how the agency weighs the costs and benefits of rules under the Clean Air Act by excluding important public health benefits from the analysis while inflating the costs. In particular, the rule will cause future EPA rules to undercount the harmful effects of carbon emissions that lead to climate change and distort the value of “co-benefits,” the often-substantial benefits of rules that addresses more than one pollutant. Among other flaws, this biased approach is contrary to EPA’s core mission to protect human health and the environment, as well as to economic principles and the legal requirement that EPA base its standards on the best available information. The petition for review on behalf of 17 States, the District of Columbia, and the City of New York was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

An EPA rule weakening the Clean Air Act’s new source review program for major modifications to existing major stationary sources of emissions. The rule will subject New Jersey residents to lower air quality and will make it more difficult for downwind States like New Jersey to attain or maintain federal air quality standards. The petition for review on behalf of seven states and the District of Columbia was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Rules from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service that will make it harder to protect endangered and threatened species by narrowly defining critical “habitat” and establishing a skewed process for excluding areas from critical habitat designations. The lawsuit alleges that the rules violate the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act; lack a reasoned explanation; and violate procedural requirements for rulemaking, among other flaws. The complaint on behalf of 18 States and the City of New York was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

A rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that rolls back protections for migratory birds. The lawsuit alleges that the rule will increase the risk of death for birds that migrate within and through New Jersey and other States, depriving residents of scientific, recreational, and birdwatching opportunities, and undermining the ecological balance that the birds help maintain, including by controlling insects and rodents, pollinating, and dispersing seeds. The complaint on behalf of 12 States was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and alleges that the rule violates the Endangered Species Act, other laws, and principles of international comity.

An EPA rule that unlawfully and arbitrarily limits the scientific evidence that the agency can consider when adopting rules and standards to protect human health and the environment. Rather than enhance the integrity of EPA’s regulations, the rule undermines EPA’s core responsibilities to implement environmental laws through use of the “latest,” “generally accepted,” and “best available” science. The lawsuit alleges that in adopting the rule, EPA not only violated its duties under those laws but also exceeded its legal authority, acted arbitrarily and capriciously, and impermissibly made the rule effective immediately. The complaint on behalf of 18 states, the cities of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, and King County, Washington as filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

A U.S. Department of Energy rule that will weaken federal energy efficiency standards for consumer appliances and industrial equipment by making it easier for manufacturers to obtain waivers from product testing requirements. While national efficiency standards have been highly effective in reducing consumer and industrial energy costs, and reducing the environmental impacts associated with energy production, the new rule will undermine energy efficiency standards to the detriment of consumers and product manufacturers who comply with existing test procedures. State attorneys general contend that the rule violates the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975, among other legal flaws. The petition for review on behalf of 14 states, the District of Columbia and the City of New York was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases21/Petition (Aircraft).pdf

https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases21/Petition (Cost Benefit).pdf

https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases21/ESA Habitat.Complaint.pdf

https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases21/Complaint. Migratory Birds.pdf

https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases21/ScienceRule.Complaint.pdf

https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases21/InterimWaivr.Petition.pdf

                   


Monmouth County Prosecutor Warns Be Aware Of COVID-19 Scams

Scams Seek Personally Identifiable Information

January 19, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni is urging residents to beware of becoming victims of COVID-related scams, especially those scams targeting senior and elderly residents.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, scams targeting citizens, in particular the elderly, have taken a new twist and a new sense of urgency. Con artists are calling senior citizens offering early access to the COVID-19 vaccine for some form of payment, offering to ship the vaccine directly to you for a deposit or fee, offering to place you on a waiting list, or offering added medical testing and treatment when obtaining the vaccine. The offers come from scammers pretending to be a doctor’s office, insurance company or COVID-19 vaccine center. The scammer will ask for personal or medical information to determine if you “qualify” for the vaccine. Information sought will often include a social security number, Medicare ID number, date of birth, credit card or bank account information, or other personal information.

“We live in a world where scammers will try anything to get your personal information, medical information, and even your life’s savings using devious tactics. They are willing to pretend to be anyone just to take advantage of you. Please be vigilant – if it seems questionable, then trust your instincts that it is,” warned Prosecutor Gramiccioni.

Other scams are found on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other popular platforms showing ads from unknown sources advertising access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Federal authorities have created a public awareness campaign that includes useful information below to help identify these scams and where to find other information about the schemes.

“The most important piece of advice during this unusual time is to be overly skeptical of any unsolicited offers of any kind, to stay vigilant no matter how convincing the voice on the other side of the phone may be. Just because it is on the internet does not make it safe or true. Do not share personally identifiable information ever over the phone – social security numbers, Medicare ID numbers, your date of birth, credit card or bank account information – obtaining this information to defraud you is the ultimate objective,” Prosecutor Gramiccioni added.

Federal authorities are warning the public about several emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines after receiving complaints of scammers using the public’s interest in COVID-19 vaccines to obtain personally identifiable information and money through various schemes. We continue to work diligently with law enforcement partners and the private sector to identify cyber threats and fraud in all forms.

The public should be aware of the following potential indicators of fraudulent activity:

• Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee

• Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list

• Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine

• Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee

• Unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine recipients’ eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine

• Claims of Food and Drug Administration approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified

• Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources

• Individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or by email to tell you the government or government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

Tips to avoid COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud:

• Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtaining a vaccine through such channels.

• Check the Food and Drug Administration’s website (fda.gov) for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.

• Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.

• Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.

• Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.

• Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other trusted medical professionals.

General online/cyber fraud prevention techniques:

• Verify the spelling of web addresses, websites, and email addresses that look trustworthy but may be imitations of legitimate websites.

• Ensure operating systems and applications are updated to the most current versions.

• Update anti-malware and anti-virus software and conduct regular network scans.

• Do not enable macros on documents downloaded from an email unless necessary and after ensuring the file is not malicious.

• Do not communicate with or open emails, attachments, or links from unknown individuals.

• Never provide personal information of any sort via email; be aware that many emails requesting your personal information may appear to be legitimate.

• Use strong two-factor authentication if possible, using biometrics, hardware tokens, or authentication apps.

• Disable or remove unneeded software applications.

If you believe you have been the victim of a COVID-19 fraud, immediately report it to your local police department.

For accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit:

http://coronavirus.gov/

http://cdc.gov/coronavirus

http://usa.gov/coronavirus

http://fbi.gov/coronavirus

http://justice.gov/coronavirus

http://oig.hhs.gov/coronavirus

Hamilton Police seeking assistance in locating man missing since August

January 19, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER): Hamilton Police are seeking information in regards to a man that hasn’t been seen since August of 2020.

On January 14, 2021, Todd Dekis was reported missing by a family member. The family member told police that they have not seen Dekis since August of 2020. Dekis’ family also reported seeing anonymous Facebook posts suggesting that Dekis may be hospitalized. Police contacted all local hospitals, but Dekis was not located.

Dekis is described as a 35 year old white male, 6’0”, 140 lbs., blue eyes and black hair. It is unknown what Dekis is wearing and the family does not believe he has a cell phone. Dekis may be homeless at this time and may be in the Trenton area.

Anyone with any information regarding the missing person is asked to contact Detective Dan Inman of the Hamilton Police Criminal Investigation’s Section at 609-581-4035 or the the Hamilton Police Division Tip Line at 609-581-4008.