ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)– Firefighter Ed Haemmerle of the Robbinsville Township Fire Department worked his last tour on Friday before leaving on retirement with 20 years of service. Ed started his career with the Robbinsville Township Fire Department when the department was being managed by the Washington Township Fire District #1. Haemmerle was sworn in by Mayor David Fried and presented his department badge by Fire Commissioner at the time Deborah Matson. In 2006 the department name was changed to the Robbinsville Township Fire Department along with a consolidation and Township name change.
Firefighter Haemmerle has over 32 years in the fire service starting as a volunteer firefighter in West Windsor before gaining employment with Union City EMS where he served for 8 years, and West Windsor Emergency Services before his career in Robbinsville.
The Robbinsville Township Fire Department stated that, “During his tenure with the Robbinsville Township Fire Department, Firefighter Haemmerle has always been a committed professional, a trusted firefighter, and a valued member of the department.”
TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 26, 2021, Henry Ziolkowski, 56, of Toms River, was sentenced to five years New Jersey State Prison by the Honorable Michael T. Collins, J.S.C., as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Possession of Child Pornography in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)iii. Ziolkowski will also be subject to Parole Supervision for Life. Ziolkowski pled guilty before Judge Collins on December 1, 2020.
This investigation was the result of several referrals from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which identified a residence in Toms River as the location of several uploads of child pornography. On July 7, 2020, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit and Toms River Township Police Department executed a search warrant on the subject residence. As a result, Detectives seized a computer belonging to Ziolkowski which contained numerous images of child pornography. Ziolkowski was arrested and processed at Toms River Police headquarters. He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since the date of his arrest.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Shanon Chant-Berry who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for their collective and combined assistance in this investigation leading to Ziolkowski’s apprehension, and ultimately his state prison sentence.
National FFA Week Celebrated Virtually February 20 – 27, 2021
ALLENTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–During a normal year the Allentown FFA chapter holds many National FFA Week events. Some of the events include a sponsor’s breakfast, open house, display at Tractor Supply, and a visit to the 1st National FFA President’s gravesite with wreath laying in Freehold. The Allentown High School FFA Chapter moved their National FFA Week activities to virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and plans to return to normal in person FFA Week activities in 2022.
Traditionally, the Allentown FFA Chapter would thank our sponsors and supporters at the Annual Sponsor’s Breakfast and Open House on this Day of FFA Week. As with many things this year, we had to change our format to deliver this event virtually! We want to thank you for your continued support of our program. Your support enables our members to develop premier leadership, personal growth, and achieve career success!
2021 Allentown FFA Sponsor’s Recognition Event –On the Friday of National FFA Week, the Allentown FFA Chapter recognizes and thanks our sponsors and supporters! This event helps showcase the accomplishments of FFA Members and how FFA can positive influence our students. Due to COVID-19, we were unable to meet in person. However, we still want to share our story!
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Hamilton Police are investigating a robbery that occurred at the Subway on Route 33 in Hamilton
The robbery occurred sometime after 7:00 pm on February 26. Hamilton Police were detailed to the Subway located at 233 Route 33 on a robbery investigation. Responding officers were met by a juvenile employee who advised officers that he was robbed by a white male that brandished a knife. After ordering a sandwich, the suspect displayed a knife and demanded money from the cash register. After taking the money, the suspect fled the store on foot down Route 33 towards Nottingham Way.
The suspect is described as a white male, 5’8” tall, wearing a gray winter jacket, black pants, tan ski cap, white button up shirt, gloves and a surgical mask.
Anyone with additional information regarding this incident or can identify the suspect is asked to contact Detective Joseph Ialacci at (609) 689-5822 or via email at email@example.com. The public can also leave a message on the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at (609) 581-4008.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)— On February 26, Hamilton Police were detailed to the unit block of Coral Drive on a robbery investigation that included a firearm being discharged.
Police received multiple 911 calls just after 4:00 pm stating a person on Coral Drive pulled out a gun and shot it. Responding officers were met by a male and female victim that reported they were approached by a black male suspect armed with a handgun, as they were exiting their vehicle. The male suspect demanded money and a backpack from the victims. During the course of the struggle, the gun was discharged, and the male suspect, along with a second suspect towards Alton Road.
Neither of the victims sustained gunshot injuries, however one of the victims was assaulted by the suspect.
The first suspect was described as a black male, 5’8” tall, wearing a black hoodie, gray face mask, and displayed a semi-automatic handgun.
The second suspect was described as a taller black male, wearing a tan or yellow hoodie, and a black face mask.
No arrests have been made.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective Nicholas Schulte of Hamilton Police Division’s Criminal Investigations Section at (609)689-5825. Detective Schulte can also be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The public can also contact the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at (609)581-4001.
BREAKING NEWS REPORT: This is a breaking news report from on scene information, radio reports, and sources. Once official information is available, the story will be updated.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Hamilton Police are investigating a possible shooting that occured in the unit block of Coral Drive just after 4:00 pm this afternoon.
Officers responded to Coral Drive near Alton Road after multiple 911 callers stated a person pulled a gun out and shot it. No one was shot in the shooting, but one man was whipped with the weapon. EMS responded to the scene and the victim was treated for his injuries.
It is not yet confirmed if the gun was discharged or not.
This incident remains under investigation by Hamilton Police Division.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton (RWJUH) Hamilton, 1 Hamilton Health Place, Hamilton, NJ, now offers a post-COVID-19 recovery program through its rehabilitative therapy services. The program uses the latest research to help patients recuperate from COVID-19. This three-phase program is customized to each patient to help them regain strength and functional abilities following COVID-19.
Telehealth and in-person treatments are available for physical, occupational and speech therapy. The team evaluates each patient’s needs and goals for their post-COVID-recovery and also screen for other needs with which RWJUH Hamilton can provide support.
The program includes physical therapy to reduce weakness, to improve breathing, gait and balance, and to build endurance. Occupational therapy helps patients to become more able to independently complete activities of daily living and cognitive rehabilitation and speech therapy focus on swallowing and speech difficulties.
The post-COVID-19 physical therapy rehab program is offered at RWJUH Hamilton’s Columbus, Ewing, Hamilton, Howell, Lawrenceville and Windsor rehab services locations; speech and occupational therapy for the COVID-19 rehab program is offered at select offices. For more information or to schedule a consultation for a location convenient for you, call 877-342-2795 or visit rwjrehab.com
Located in Hamilton Township, NJ, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, serves communities within a five-county area and includes an acute care hospital, cancer center, affiliated medical group, Lakeview Child Centers and the RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center. RWJBarnabas Health and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton, in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey – the state’s only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center – brings a world class team of researchers and specialists to fight alongside you, providing close-to-home access to the latest treatment and clinical trials. For more information, visit us at www.RWJBH.org/Hamilton and follow the hospital on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– In response to the State’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget proposal including $6.86 million in K-12 school aid funding for Hamilton Township – a 9.1% increase from Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 21), State and local leaders provided the following statements:
In response to the increased aid, Hamilton School District Superintendent Dr. Scott Rocco stated, “The Hamilton Township School District is appreciative of the recent announcement of increased state aid funding to our schools. This additional funding will allow us to continue to invest in our students academically and support our students socially, and emotionally as we turn the corner on the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a district, a town, and a community we are grateful for the commitment of these dollars to our students and our schools. In addition, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to our local, county, and state partners who’ve worked to make this come to fruition.”
“There is no greater investment than an investment in education,” commented Mayor Jeff Martin. “This significant increase in funding will aid Hamilton Schools to continue to safely and effectively educate our children as we continue through this pandemic.”
“With COVID-19 hitting our communities hard, we must ensure that school districts not only have the resources to protect students and staff from spreading and contracting COVID-19, but also to continue to deliver the quality education inherent in New Jersey public schools,” said Senator Linda Greenstein. “I am excited to see this large increase in funding for the Hamilton School District and will continue to fight for the resources needed to support our community.”
“We have long advocated that large suburban school districts like Hamilton deserve more state funding, given the many needs and challenges they have faced, made even more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Assemblyman Daniel Benson. “I am pleased that the Governor’s budget includes over $6 million more in aid to meet the needs of our children, while providing tax relief to Hamilton’s seniors and families.”
“In a time where our students have been receiving instruction remotely, it is important now more than ever that our schools are supported,” said Asm. DeAngelo. “I join my colleagues Senator Greenstein, Assemblyman Benson and Mayor Martin in celebrating the announcement of $6.8 million being directed towards the Hamilton Township school district. Our students and families will certainly benefit from this funding.”
NEWARK– A Suffolk County, New York, man was arrested today for illegally possessing a firearm, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Keith Richter, aka “Conan,” 62, of Bay Shore, New York, is charged by criminal complaint with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is scheduled to appear by videoconference this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Richter is the national president of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, an outlaw motorcycle gang known by law enforcement to engage in illegal activity, including narcotics trafficking, weapons trafficking, and violent crimes.
On February 20, 2021, the Pagans hosted a party in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While Richter was traveling home from the party late at night, he was stopped by law enforcement officers in Mercer County, New Jersey. Officers recovered a loaded Ruger P345 .45 caliber handgun from the vehicle.
Richter was previously convicted of felony offenses, including conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, for which he served 16 years in prison.
The count of being a felon in possession of a weapon carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson in Newark; special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Timothy D. Sini; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to these charges.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Frazer, R. Joseph Gribko, and Samantha C. Fasanello, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
New Law Will Continue to Guarantee Tuition-Free Community College Education to More than 50,000 New Jersey Students Each Academic Year
Fulfilling his promise to make tuition-free community college a reality, Governor Phil Murphy today signed A4410, permanently establishing the Community College Opportunity Grant Program (CCOG), which will allow qualified students to attend any New Jersey community college without tuition or educational fees.
“For far too long, higher education has been out of reach for countless New Jerseyans due to its high cost,” said Governor Murphy. “Today’s bill signing underscores our continued commitment to college affordability, ensuring that our young people and working adults have the opportunity to earn post-secondary degrees and advance their promising careers.”
“Today represents a huge win for college affordability and a transformative moment in our state’s history. In the years to come, CCOG will continue offering thousands more eligible students equitable access to a college education for free,” said Dr. Brian Bridges, Secretary of Higher Education. “To emerge stronger and fairer from the COVID-19 pandemic, we are investing in future generations today by expanding affordable options to ensure students’ lifelong success.”
“New Jersey now sends a clear message: county college is tuition-free for students with family incomes of $65,000 or below,” said David Socolow, Executive Director of the New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA). “Governor Murphy has enabled HESAA to back up that promise by filling students’ remaining financial aid gaps with more than 25,000 Community College Opportunity Grants since the spring 2019 semester. The impact of this commitment reaches still further, by making an up-front, tuition-free price guarantee that enables tens of thousands of additional students to focus on their postsecondary education without concern about paying the tuition sticker price. Many students can now consider enrolling in college with full confidence that their entire county college tuition will be covered by the State of New Jersey. By raising awareness that college is more affordable, we can encourage more students to pursue courses of study that will enhance their lives and careers here in the Garden State.”
CCOG, which will be administered by the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority (HESAA), will provide last-dollar grants to eligible county college students for those tuition costs and fees not already covered by any other State, federal, and institutional need-based grants and merit scholarships. Students with adjusted gross incomes of $65,000 or less will be eligible to receive this financial grant for a total of five (5) semesters. This legislation also directs the Legislature to appropriate funding for the “Student Success Incentive” to the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, for distribution to each county college. This funding will be used to support outreach and student success initiatives to further the goals of the CCOG grant program.
Since taking office, the Murphy Administration has taken meaningful steps toward tuition-free community college. The CCOG grant program was first enacted through budget language in the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations act. The grant program received a $20 million appropriation in Fiscal Year 2019 and a $25 million appropriation in Fiscal Year 2020. The appropriation to the grant program for the Fiscal Year 2020 three-month budget extension totaled $10 million and the appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations act for the nine-month period was also $10 million, making the total financial aid funding for that 12-month period $20 million. For the current Fiscal Year budget of 2022, the Governor has proposed $27 million to support the CCOG grant program.
“County colleges have long played a vital role in educating students from working-class families across New Jersey. By providing ‘last dollar’ financial aid to eligible students, we will make sure they have every opportunity to graduate without having to take on burdensome student loans,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham, chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee. “I am grateful to see this meaningful initiative codified into law, ensuring it will continue to help low-income New Jerseyans for many years to come.”
“The Community College Opportunity Grant Program has provided valuable opportunities for low-income students and working parents to advance their education and expand their career opportunities. It represents a monumental step towards a more equitable higher education landscape by ensuring an associate’s degree is accessible to all New Jersey residents regardless of their economic status,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Education is our greatest equalizer and today, by codifying this program into state law, we have assured that it will be available to all who need it in the years to come.”
“The rising costs of college tuition, books and fees are often out of reach for many college students and their families,” said Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, and Assemblyman Daniel Benson, in a joint statement. “A college degree has become the standard for entry into many industries and workplaces, but too many students must take on enormous debt in pursuit of higher education and a successful career. The Community College Opportunity Grant closes the gap for middle class and low-income students, helping to balance costs not covered by State and federal aid. It makes college more affordable and accessible for students who may not otherwise be able to further their education. We’ve already seen this program’s outstanding potential to open doors for students across New Jersey. We are proud this new State law will benefit future generations.”
“CCOG is an important investment in our students and in our state’s economic future. The program has the potential of transforming the lives of a generation of New Jersey residents,” said Assemblyman Nicholas A. Chiaravalloti. “This tuition scholarship program supports our most vulnerable residents, for whom a college education is unaffordable. CCOG not only assists individuals in earning a degree or credential, but also builds a skilled workforce that will close critical skills gaps in our state. As someone who works in higher education, I have seen the incredible benefit of the CCOG program. At Hudson County Community College (HCCC), I am constantly amazed by the perseverance of the students who attend. They come to class every day prepared and ready to learn, and I have found that this has not changed even though we have switched to remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They serve as a daily inspiration. CCOG will help remove a barrier to their success.”
“As a result of this investment, thousands of New Jerseyans are able to embark on career pathways, to prepare for jobs that pay family-supporting wages, and to contribute directly to the state’s economic growth and recovery,” said Aaron Fichtner, President of New Jersey Council of County Colleges.
“Our Hudson County Community College family is honored to welcome Governor Murphy to our campus for the signing of Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) legislation that will permanently fund this vital financial aid program,” said Dr. Chris Reber, President of Hudson County Community College (HCCC). “We thank the Governor, our state and local officials, HCCC Trustees, students, alumni, friends, and colleagues. CCOG is an investment in the people of our communities and their dreams. The program is providing life-changing opportunities for students to acquire postsecondary educational credentials that open doors to fulfilling careers with family-sustaining wages. We are exceedingly grateful to Governor Murphy for his leadership and support for CCOG and New Jersey’s 18 community colleges.”
TRENTON (MERCER)– The Mercer County Narcotics Task Force concluded a two-month investigation this week with one arrest and the seizure $40,000 in drugs, $17,000 in cash, and a handgun, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.
At approximately 5:25 a.m. on Thursday, February 25, 2021, members of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, the Hamilton 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 at an apartment at 113 Centre Street in Trenton. The target of the investigation, Frederick Hostick, was located in the rear bedroom and detained. A subsequent search of the apartment revealed 76 bricks of heroin, 20 grams of crack cocaine, a loaded Glock .40 caliber handgun with an extended magazine, and $17,160 in cash.
Onofri stated that seized heroin has approximate street value of $38,000 and the seized cocaine, approximately $2,000.
Hostick, 37, was 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.
LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced that on February 25, 2021, Jahvontae Debose, 24, of Lakewood, was charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) relative to the shooting death of Dajour Randolph during the evening hours of February 21, 2021.
On February 21, 2021, at approximately 7:40 p.m., Lakewood Township Police were summoned to the area of Tudor Court in response to a 911 call regarding a male who had collapsed in the middle of the road. Responding Officers found Dajour Randolph, 20, of Little Egg Harbor, with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest. Mr. Randolph was transported to Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, in Lakewood, where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased. On February 22, 2021, the Ocean County Medical Examiner performed a post-mortem examination of Mr. Randolph’s body. The Medical Examiner determined the cause of Mr. Randolph’s death to be multiple gunshot wounds, and ruled the manner of death to be homicide.
Debose was charged on February 23, 2021 with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1); Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(11); Possession of more than Fifty Grams of Marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(3); Possession of a Firearm in the Course of Committing a Drug Offense in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1a; Being a Certain Person not to Possess a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b(1); and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C: 39-4a(1). Debose was taken into custody without incident by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force in Pleasantville, New Jersey, following a motor vehicle stop on February 23, 2021. He was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he remains lodged pending a detention hearing.
A thorough and extensive investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit between February 21, 2021 and February 25, 2021 revealed that Debose was, in fact, the individual responsible for Mr. Randolph’s death. Dubose was served today in the Ocean County Jail with the complaint charging him with Mr. Randolph’s murder.
Anyone in possession of additional information concerning this investigation is urged to contact Detective Brant Uricks of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, or Detective Eric Cicerello of the Lakewood Township Police Department at 732-363-0200.
“Law enforcement officers at the local, county, state, and federal levels demonstrated outstanding teamwork in connection with this very deliberative and comprehensive investigation. I am extremely grateful for their hard work and perseverance in expeditiously solving this horrendous and senseless crime,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.
Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Meyer commend the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit, New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center, Brick Township Police Department, Manchester Township Police Department, Toms River Township Police Department, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Pleasantville Police Department, and the United States Marshals Service, for their collective and collaborative efforts relative to this investigation, ultimately leading to Debose’ arrest and appropriate charges.
The press and the public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office said this afternoon, “The Mercer County Homicide Task Force is investigating a homicide that occurred on Home Avenue in Trenton. The victim found this morning has been identified as Lovelle Laramore, 60. Suffering from a gunshot wound to the head.”
Maria Del Cid, William Wallace, and Sam Delgado to be Appointed to the CRC, Joining Commission Chair Dianna Houenou and Krista Nash
February 25, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Murphy today announced three additional appointments to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), completing the five-member commission after previously announcing the appointments of Commission Chair Dianna Houenou and Krista Nash. The Governor will appoint Maria Del Cid and William Wallace to the CRC. The Governor will also appoint Sam Delgado as a member of the Commission, upon the recommendation of Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.
“As we move forward to establish a legal adult-use cannabis marketplace, we could not have a better slate of appointees to lead these efforts,” said Governor Murphy. “It will take time before we see legal adult-use sales begin, but I know that each and every one of these individuals will act to ensure that the marketplace for adult-use recreational cannabis is equitable, fair, and inclusive of all communities.”
“Sam Delgado’s professional and military service is outstanding and I strongly believe he is the best person to serve on the Cannabis Regulatory Commission,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “Sam is an expert in the fields of community leadership, business management, strategic planning, supplier diversity and regulatory policy. He will bring these talents to the Commission and is a valued addition.”
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission will both regulate New Jersey’s medical cannabis marketplace and also provide oversight for the soon-to-be-established adult-use recreational cannabis marketplace.
Maria Del Cid currently serves as the Director of Policy and Legislative Services at the New Jersey Department of Health, where she serves as a liaison with the Governor’s Office and to the Legislature. Previously, she served as Chief of Staff to the late Assemblyman Jerry Green. A resident of Union County, Ms. Del Cid received a Bachelor’s Degree from Seton Hall University. She holds an M.A. in Public Affairs and Politics from the Edward Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy at Rutgers University. She also holds an Associate’s Degree from Union County College, where she founded the Del Cid Dreamer Scholarship, which is awarded to full- or part-time students who are naturalized U.S. citizens, permanent legal residents, DACA recipients, or undocumented immigrants pursuing higher education at Union County College. Ms. Del Cid is involved in many civic organizations throughout New Jersey, including Latino Caucus Coordinator for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
William Wallace is the Director of the Professional Division of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union Local 342, where he also serves on the Executive Board. In this position, Mr. Wallace represents and serves union members across multiple companies in New Jersey, Delaware, and New York. He previously served as President of UFCW International Union Local 100R. Additionally, Mr. Wallace previously worked as a Pharmacist-In-Charge at several pharmacies across the state of New Jersey. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the Rutgers University College of Pharmacy and is a resident of Green Brook.
Sam Delgado most recently served as Vice President of External Affairs for Verizon, a position from which he retired in 2019. Before retiring, Mr. Delgado was responsible for managing the allocation of grants, supporting Verizon’s philanthropic endeavors, and furthering Verizon’s environmental commitments. In his 21 years at Verizon, Mr. Delgado also served as Director of Supplier Diversity, Director of External Affairs for Union and Middlesex Counties, and as a Human Resource Manager. Mr. Delgado served in the United States Marine Corp from 1978 to 2000, retiring as a Major. He also served as a Military Advisor to the U.S. State Department in Port-au-Prince, Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy from 1994 to 1995. He is a recipient of several military honors, including the National Defense Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Armed Forced Reserve Ribbon. A resident of Perth Amboy, Mr. Delgado has been engaged civically throughout his career. He currently serves on the Boards of Felician University, the Middlesex County Improvement Authority, and the Raritan Bay Area YMCA. He has previously served on Governor Murphy’s Transition Team, on the Board of the Newark Alliance, and as a Board Member of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. Mr. Delgado received his Bachelor’s Degree from Marist College.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office reported to MidJersey.news that Desean Seale, 26 of Trenton, was pronounced dead a short time ago from injuries from Monday’s accident. There are no updates to the investigation.
Earlier today the Prosecutor’s Office said: “On Monday, February 22, 2021 at 4:20 pm Trenton Police Officers responded to State Route 29 and Calhoun Street after receiving calls for a serious motor vehicle crash. Officers discovered an overturned vehicle and a victim in critical condition. Early investigation indicates it was a one-vehicle collision with the driver/victim being the only occupant of the vehicle, a black BMW. There were reports of the vehicle driving at a high rate of speed prior to the collision and there is no evidence that indicates any additional vehicles were involved. It remains under investigation by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Serious Collision Response Team.”
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Hamilton Fire Department was dispatched to 105 Paterson Avenue, First Class Auto Salvage, around 11:37 this morning on a reported vehicle fire.
The first due engine arrived on scene and reported a large pile of debris and vehicles on fire. Additional engines and an additional squad were requested to the scene. Multiple lines were stretched, quickly extinguishing the flames. No one was injured in the incident.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–According to Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Casey DeBlasio a 26-year-old man from Trenton, remains hospitalized in critical condition.
DeBlasio said: “On Monday, February 22, 2021 at 4:20 pm Trenton Police Officers responded to State Route 29 and Calhoun Street after receiving calls for a serious motor vehicle crash. Officers discovered an overturned vehicle and a victim in critical condition. Early investigation indicates it was a one-vehicle collision with the driver/victim being the only occupant of the vehicle, a black BMW. There were reports of the vehicle driving at a high rate of speed prior to the collision and there is no evidence that indicates any additional vehicles were involved. It remains under investigation by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Serious Collision Response Team.”
Mental Health Care Professionals Can Now Partially Satisfy Continuing Education Requirements with Volunteer Work
February 25, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–As part of the State’s efforts to expand access to mental health care during the COVID-19 public health emergency, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) is taking action to encourage mental health care professionals to provide free services to New Jerseyans in need. Under an Administrative Order signed by Acting DCA Director Kaitlin A. Caruso, mental health professionals will be allowed to partially satisfy their continuing education requirements by providing free services to low income, uninsured individuals or frontline healthcare workers. The Order also allows mental health professionals to partially satisfy their continuing education requirements by volunteering with organizations that provide mental health services – including crisis intervention and referrals – to low-income, uninsured individuals or to individuals in crisis. A non-exhaustive list of such organizations is available on DCA’s website. “This week’s action by the Division of Consumer Affairs will make it easier for New Jersey residents who face mental health challenges to get help,” said Attorney General Grewal. “I commend the Division and the professional boards for coming together to find a way to promote access to care for those in need, including frontline healthcare workers experiencing stress related to their support of the COVID-19 response.” The Order allows mental health professionals to use hours spent providing eligible volunteer services to satisfy a portion of the continuing education credits required for license renewal, with the cap depending on the type of license they hold. Practitioners may offset one hour or one credit of continuing education for every two hours spent on eligible volunteer work. However, practitioners will not be able to offset continuing education requirements specifically allocated to required topics such as ethics, cultural competency, opioid prescribing, or jurisprudence. “By partially freeing up time for mental health care professionals this Order will make it easier for practitioners to give back during this time of crisis,” said Kaitlin A. Caruso, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We all want, at-risk residents to have more access to professional mental health care services at this time of need.” “The mental and emotional health effects caused by worry, stress or isolation related to coronavirus has hit especially hard those already suffering from mental health conditions and substance use disorders,” said Sharon Joyce, Director of the Office of the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES). “Increasing access to mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic is critical for this vulnerable population and the State’s fight against the opioid epidemic.” “These have been difficult and stressful times, and we are committed to doing everything possible to expand access to mental health care across the state,” Human Services Acting Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “This is another step to further improve access to mental health care for healthcare workers and individuals with lower incomes.” The caps on the number of continuing education contact hours or credits that may be offset by providing volunteer services were established by DCA in consultation with the presidents of the relevant professional boards:
A licensed marriage and family therapist may offset up to 20 contact hours;
A licensed associate marriage and family therapist may offset up to 10 contact hours;
A licensed professional counselor or licensed associate professional counselor may offset up to 20 contact hours;
A licensed rehabilitation counselor may offset up to 10 contact hours;
A licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor may offset up to 10 contact hours;
A certified alcohol and drug counselor may offset up to 15 contact hours;
A licensed art therapist may offset up to 10 contact hours;
A physician who provides psychiatric services may offset up to 10 Category I continuing medical education credits;
An advanced practice nurse who provides psychiatric services may offset up to 15 hours of continuing education;
A licensed psychologist may offset up to 10 credits of continuing education;
A State-certified psychoanalyst may offset up to 5 credits of continuing education; and
A licensed clinical social worker may offset up to 10 credits of continuing education.
The Order authorizing professionals to offset continuing education requirements with volunteer work will expire automatically at the end of the state of emergency or public health emergency, whichever is later, if not revoked or superseded earlier. Eligible volunteer services provided while the Order is in effect may be used to offset continuing education requirements in any biennial renewal period during which the Order remains in effect for more than one day. Additional information is available on DCA’s website. The Department of Law & Public Safety is committed to eliminating stigma around receiving mental health services. DCA encourages all healthcare professionals who wish to receive mental health services to do so without fear of jeopardizing their licenses. Similarly, the Attorney General has established the New Jersey Resiliency Program for Law Enforcement to ensure that law enforcement officers are provided with the tools they need to cope with the unique stressors of their jobs. NJMentalHealthCares is New Jersey’s behavioral health information and referral service. Trained staff are available to provide free emotional support seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. by calling 1-866-202-HELP (4357), sending an email to email@example.com, or texting NJHOPE to 51864. Healthcare workers can call HEAL NJ Healthcare Workers help line for emotional support at 1-833-416-8773 and first responders can reach RISE NJ First Responders help line at 1-833-237-4325 for free and confidential assistance. Anyone can also call New Jersey Suicide Prevention Hopeline at 1-855-NJHopeline (654-6735), or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.Those battling addiction, can contact ReachNJ at 1-844-ReachNJ. For emergencies, call 911.
BARNEGAT TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Barnegat Township Police Chief Keith A. Germain announced that on February 12, 2021, Juan C. Piedrahita, 49, of Hollywood, Florida, was charged with Theft by Deception in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4.
The charges are the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Unit and Barnegat Township Police Department Detective Bureau in January 2021. The investigation revealed that Piedrahita, posing as an attorney, telephonically contacted an elderly victim advising him that his nephew had been in a motor vehicle accident. Piedrahita convinced the victim that his nephew was under arrest and that $10,000 cash bail was needed to secure his release. The victim obtained the cash and met Piedrahita – now posing as a courier – at a CVS parking lot in Barnegat. After leaving the parking lot, the elderly victim was contacted once again and instructed to provide an additional $10,000 as payment to the alleged victim of the purported motor vehicle accident. It was only when the victim was questioned by bank staff that he contacted his nephew and confirmed that his nephew was not in actual trouble. Detectives were able to obtain surveillance footage of the area surrounding the CVS parking lot, which captured the rental vehicle Piedrahita had rented at Newark International Airport, and were thereafter able to confirm Piedrahita’s identity based on that footage.
Juan C. Piedrahita’s location is presently unknown, and a Warrant for his arrest has been issued. Anyone in possession of information concerning Piedrahita’s whereabouts is urged to contact Detective James Purcell of the Barnegat Township Police Department at 609-698-5000, extension 262.
“Sadly, these types of scams targeting senior citizens are all too prevalent in Ocean County,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “I urge our residents to speak with their elderly family members about potential scams that target seniors, so as to prevent them from falling victim to predators seeking to cheat and extort them,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.
Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Germain commend the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Unit and Barnegat Township Police Department Detective Bureau for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.
The press and the public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy delivered his fourth annual budget address on Tuesday, outlining a responsible spending proposal for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY2022) that includes critical investments to help New Jersey emerge from the pandemic stronger, fairer, and more resilient, while making a full pension payment for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, providing the highest level of school funding in history, delivering direct tax rebates to over 760,000 middle-class families, and providing $200 million in relief for small businesses.
“This budget lives up to our stronger and fairer mission,” said Governor Murphy. “Stronger to come out of the pandemic with an economy that works for every New Jersey family. Fairer to help families and small businesses hit hard and left behind in the pandemic’s brutal wake. This budget will continue to stabilize property taxes for hardworking families. This budget will continue the hard work of moving forward – not only from the pandemic – but from years of neglect. Our problems weren’t created overnight and, frankly, they won’t be fixed overnight. But I know that brighter days lay ahead.”
The proposed FY2022 budget makes good on the Governor’s promise to public employees by including an additional $1.6 billion to meet the goal of contributing 100 percent of the Actuarially Determined Contribution (ADC) to New Jersey’s pension system a year earlier than initially planned. The proposed $6.4 billion pension payment, which includes contributions from the State lottery, would mark the first time the State has made a full contribution since FY1996.
The State has been on a 1/10 ramp up plan as it works its way up to meeting the full pension contribution and was initially slated to contribute 90 percent of the full contribution this year. The Governor’s decision to make a 100 percent contribution a year early will substantially reduce the State’s obligation in the coming years, saving taxpayers $861 million over the next 30 years. The combined pension contributions by the Murphy Administration in four years will roughly total an unprecedented $18 billion, which is $9.4 billion more than the prior Governor contributed over two terms.
The $44.83 billion spending proposal assumes 2.4 percent growth in total revenue and includes a sizable surplus of $2.193 billion, just under five percent of budgeted appropriations and dwarfing the average of the previous administration. Revenue projections have improved in part due to record high stock markets, federal stimulus that directly aided individuals and businesses, as well as what economists describe as a K-shaped recession, which has seen middle and high-income households recover more quickly while low-income households have continued to struggle.
The budget proposal aims to address these inequities by directing resources where they are needed most in order to build a stronger post-pandemic New Jersey. The Governor is committed to investing significant resources to ensure the State does not repeat the same mistakes made during the Great Recession when New Jersey was one of the last states to recover from the financial crisis after drastically cutting state aid.
As a result of last year’s millionaires tax enactment, the proposed FY2022 budget includes $319 million in direct tax relief for middle-class families, which will provide up to a $500 rebate to over 760,000 couples and individuals with qualified dependents. The budget also includes $1.25 billion in funding to support various property tax relief programs. Additionally, it includes funding to:
Expand the Veterans’ Property Tax Deduction to those who served in peacetime;
Make the Child and Dependent Care Credit refundable and expand eligibility to families making up to $150,000, more than doubling eligibility to aid 148,000 taxpayers; and
Expand eligibility for the Earned Income Tax Credit to roughly 70,000 senior citizens without dependents.
The proposed budget also includes a new multi-departmental economic growth initiative that will boost economic recovery in New Jersey communities, provide access to capital for minority-owned businesses, and help government support sustainable economic growth. This roughly $200 million investment initiative includes:
$100 million allocated from the recently passed Economic Recovery Act Main Street Recovery Finance program ($50 million is available in FY2021 and an additional $50 million is proposed for FY2022);
$25 million for EDA’s lending programs such as Premier Lender and Microbusinesses;
$20 million for the NJRA’s Urban Site Acquisition Fund and Redevelopment Investment Fund, the first State investment in the NJRA since 2002;
$15 million for Permit Modernization across State departments and for local governments;
$13.5 million for the Department of Transportation’s Local Aid and Economic Development Grants, including the Transit Village, Safe Streets to Transit, and Bikeways programs;
$10 million for EDA’s Black and Latinx Seed Fund initiative;
$6.5 million for DCA’s Neighborhood Preservation Program and Main Street New Jersey, allowing each to expand to significantly more communities;
$5 million for the Department of State’s Business Marketing Initiative;
$3.2 million for the Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology;
$1 million for EDA’s NJ Ignite; and
$500,000 to double funding for EDA’s Small Businesses Bonding Readiness Assistance program
The proposed FY2022 budget furthers the Governor’s historic commitment to education by increasing formula aid by $578 million. Over the last four years, direct pre-K through grade 12 spending statewide has increased by nearly $1.5 billion, putting New Jersey on the path to fully funding the constitutional school funding formula. The Governor’s proposed budget will:
Expand the state investment in pre-K by $50 million, including $26 million for new programs.
Increase Extraordinary Special Education Aid by $25 million; and
Provide $50 million in Stabilization Aid,
Additionally, the proposed budget boldly strives to make higher education more attainable for more New Jersey students and further assist colleges by:
Allocating $50 million to fund The Garden State Guarantee, which provides two years of free tuition at four-year institutions for students with household incomes of less than $65,000;
Investing $27 million in the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program, which provides tuition-free community college for eligible students;
Increasing funding for the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) by $2.8 million for a total of $51.8 million, which will cover the identifiable undergraduate student capacity needs for the academic year for the first time; and
Increasing aid to community colleges by $5 million, aligned with an outcomes-based framework.
The budget proposal also includes significant quality of life investments to make New Jersey a healthier and more affordable place to live, including:
Investing an additional $25 million in NJ Health Plan Savings subsidies;
Launching the “Cover All Kids” initiative with the ultimate goal of ensuring affordable, accessible health coverage is available to nearly 88,000 children without coverage;
Raising the income threshold by $10,000 for the Pharmaceutical Assistance for the Aged and Disabled and Senior Gold programs, which will benefit over 20,000 seniors;
$19 million to support the new Reproductive Health Care Fund, which will cover costs for contraceptive, prenatal, labor, and delivery care for those without access to medical assistance;
$19.5 million for Family Planning Services, bringing the total the Governor will have provided over four years to nearly $74 million, after years of defunding by the prior administration;
$8.5 million to expand Medicaid coverage for 365 days postpartum and $2 million to create a new pilot program to support rental assistance for expecting mothers, both of which will advance the First Lady’s Nurture NJ initiative; and
$20 million for the Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency’s Down Payment Assistance program, providing nearly 2,000 mortgages for first time homebuyers.
The Governor is also proposing significant direct appropriation investments, including $200 million for the Offshore Wind Port and $200 million for current Schools Development Authority (SDA) projects to reduce debt issuance; $75 million for the SDA’s Capital Maintenance and Emergent Needs Grant program; $60 million to support the continuation of the Drinking Water and Clean Water Infrastructure Fund; and $86.6 million for critical capital improvements, including emergent life safety and IT projects.
The FY2022 budget proposal also increases total resources for NJ TRANSIT to $2.65 billion, nine percent over FY2021 and 15 percent over FY2019. It also continues to reduce diversions from the agency’s capital fund for operating costs, marking the lowest transfer in 15 years, and for the fourth consecutive year there will be no fare hike.
The proposed budget also continues to build on the progress the Murphy Administration has made to address the inequities in New Jersey’s criminal justice system by including funding to help lessen the burden on individuals seeking expungement of criminal records; equip local police officers with body-worn cameras; develop software to make law enforcement forfeiture actions more transparent; allow incarcerated individuals placed in isolated confinement to undergo daily examinations by health professionals; and support implementation of the “Earn Your Way Out” law.
Additionally, the proposed budget includes both new and increased investments for the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) and the Department of Corrections (DOC):
$5 million to improve internet infrastructure for DOC’s incarcerated population to access education, employment, and legal materials;
$4.2 million more for county Youth Services Commissions to reduce juvenile delinquency;
$3 million to help fund non-profits that facilitate re-entry;
$2.25 million for the Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prison Program; and
at least $2 million in support for a new career training program at JJC and an apprenticeship program and other career services for DOC inmates.
Additional one-page policy papers on the central commitments that have underpinned Governor Murphy’s first four budget proposals – record pension payments, historic education funding, rebuilding NJ TRANSIT, investing in economic growth, expanding access to housing. and continuing progress on criminal justice reform – are also available here.
TRENTON (MERCER)– The Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Shooting Response Team are investigating a shooting that occurred Monday night that left one dead, one hospitalized, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J Onofri reported.
The shooting occurred around 6:30 pm Monday, when Trenton Police responded to the Sunoco Gas Station located at 110 Sanhican Drive on multiple calls reporting two people shot. Upon arrival, Trenton Police discovered two males shot out front of the store. Both victims were transported to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center.
Khalil Gibbs, 25, of West Windsor was shot in the torso and transported to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead a few hours later. A second victim, a 20-year-old Trenton resident, was shot in the face and remains hospitalized.
No arrests have been made in connection to the shooting.
Trenton Police Director Sheilah A. Coley released in a statement, “First and foremost, our condolences go out to the families of the victims of this senseless violence. The Trenton Police Department has been working with the community in an effort to reduce crime in the city, particularly violent crime. After a very difficult 2020, our cooperative efforts seem to be helping. We have not seen a murder in the city for 76 days. While this is not a cause for celebration, we believe it was because of our efforts to work directly with the community and we will continue to do so. Additionally, our law enforcement partners play an integral part in crime reduction. We will continue to work alongside our county, state, and federal law enforcement partners as part of a coordinated plan to root out drugs and guns in our neighborhoods. The result of such coordination was seen in a recent joint operation just last month that seized multiple firearms and arrested 18 individuals, several of whom were wanted for murder.”
This is Trenton’s first homicide of 2021.
Anyone with information is asked to call (609)989-6406. Information can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
BREAKING NEWS REPORT: This report is based off of radio reports, on scene information, and sources. If more information becomes available, the post will be updated.
TRENTON (MERCER)– The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating a serious crash that occurred at Route 29 and Calhoun Street Monday night.
It occurred around 4:20 pm, when Trenton Police were sent to the scene on multiple callers reporting a serious crash. Officers discovered an overturned vehicle with a person trapped. Trenton Fire Department responded and quickly extricated the patient. The patient was handed over to Trenton EMS and Capital Health Paramedics in critical condition.
LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP (OCEAN)– Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced that on February 21, 2021, at approximately 7:40 p.m., Lakewood Township Police were summoned to the area of Tudor Court in response to a 911 call regarding a male who had collapsed in the middle of the road. Responding Officers found Dajour Randolph, 20, of Little Egg Harbor, with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest. Mr. Randolph was transported to Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, in Lakewood, where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.
Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Meyer wish to emphasize that this is an active and ongoing investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and that there is no known danger to the public at this time.
Anyone in possession of information concerning this investigation is urged to contact Detective Brant Uricks of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, or Detective Eric Cicerello of the Lakewood Township Police Department at 732-363-0200.
BREAKING NEWS REPORT: This is a breaking news report based off of radio talk, on scene information, and close sources. Once information becomes available, the story will be updated and corrections will be made.
TRENTON (MERCER)– Two people were transported to the hospital with gunshot wounds Monday night after shots rang out in the 100 block of Sanhican Drive.
The double shooting occurred around 6:27 pm. Trenton Police responded to 110 Sanhican Drive, at the Sunoco Gas Station, after receiving multiple calls reporting two people shot. Officers arrived on scene and did, in fact, located two people shot at the location.
Trenton EMS, Capital Health Paramedics, and EMS engines from the Trenton Fire Department responded to the scene. Trenton EMS and Capital Health Paramedics transported both victims to Capital Health Regional Medical Center with “Trauma Alerts” called.
Sources close to the investigation tell MidJersey.News that early reports indicate that one of the victims is in critical condition.
The shooting is under investigation by Trenton Police Shooting Response Team.
Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 22, 2021, Mashon Wilson, 30, of Lakewood, was sentenced by the Honorable Steven F. Nemeth, J.S.C., to six years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Knowingly Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, relative to a motor vehicle crash that occurred on November 25, 2018 in Lakewood. Judge Nemeth likewise sentenced Wilson to forty-five days in the Ocean County Jail with credit for time served, and suspended his driving privileges for a period of six months, regarding his guilty plea to Driving While Suspended in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, also in connection with the November 28, 2018 motor vehicle crash. Additionally, Wilson was sentenced to four years NJSP by Judge Nemeth as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to an unrelated charge of Burglary in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2. The sentences will run concurrently. Wilson pled guilty to all charges on January 8, 2021 before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C.
On November 25, 2018, at approximately 7:00 a.m., Lakewood Police responded to the area of West County Line Road and Cedar Road to investigate a two vehicle accident involving a fatality. Upon arrival, they found that a 2019 Chevrolet Suburban had crashed into a tree; the driver was critically injured, and the passenger was pronounced dead on the scene. Further investigation determined that the other vehicle involved in the accident, a 2018 Nissan Sentra, had fled the scene. Police traced the car to a residence in Lakewood. At the residence, they located Wilson and two other individuals — Shayna Lee (49) and Iyanna Hall (30) — both of Lakewood. Lee and Hall told police that Lee was the driver of the Nissan in question, and had left the scene of the accident. Subsequent investigation revealed that Wilson was, in fact, the driver of the vehicle, and that Lee and Hall had given false statements to the police. Lee and Hall were both charged with Hindering the Apprehension of Another by Giving a False Statement to a Police Officer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3a(7). Those charges remain pending.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts 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, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, ultimately resulting in Wilson’s state prison sentence.
Enabling Legislation Creates a Well-Regulated Adult-Use Cannabis Market
Additional Legislation Brings Equity and Fairness to Outdated Drug Laws
February 22, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed historic adult-use cannabis reform bills into law, legalizing and regulating cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years and older (A21 – “The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act”) and decriminalizing marijuana and hashish possession (A1897). The Governor also signed S3454, clarifying marijuana and cannabis use and possession penalties for individuals younger than 21 years old.
“Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice, which is why for years I’ve strongly supported the legalization of adult-use cannabis. Maintaining a status quo that allows tens of thousands, disproportionately people of color, to be arrested in New Jersey each year for low-level drug offenses is unjust and indefensible,” said Governor Murphy. “This November, New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly in support of creating a well-regulated adult-use cannabis market. Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model.
“This legislation will establish an industry that brings equity and economic opportunity to our communities, while establishing minimum standards for safe products and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on real public safety matters,” continued Governor Murphy. “Today, we’re taking a monumental step forward to reduce racial disparities in our criminal justice system, while building a promising new industry and standing on the right side of history. I’d like to thank the Legislature, advocates, faith leaders, and community leaders for their dedicated work and partnership on this critical issue.”
“At long last, New Jersey is turning the page on our previous treatment of marijuana use,” said Dianna Houenou, incoming Chair of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). “I am excited to get to work building on the successes of the medical program and standing up the adult-use cannabis industry. It’s an honor to be part of this historic movement in New Jersey.”
“The failed War on Drugs has systematically targeted people of color and the poor, disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities and hurting families in New Jersey and across our nation,” said U.S Senator Cory Booker. “Today is a historic day, and I applaud Governor Murphy, the legislature, and the many advocates for racial and social justice whose leadership is ensuring that New Jersey is at the forefront of equitable marijuana legalization policy. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to end the federal marijuana prohibition so we can finally begin healing the wounds of decades of injustice.”
“This is a historic reform that will have a real-life impact on social justice, law enforcement and the state’s economy,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “We can now move forward to correct social injustices at the same time that marijuana is made legal for adults. This will launch a new cannabis industry with the potential to create jobs and generate economic activity at a time when it is desperately needed. The decriminalization law is the most sweeping measure of its kind in the country and is a groundbreaking step in our continued effort to make criminal justice reforms that are fairer and more effective. This will help reduce the racial disparities and social inequities that have long plagued our criminal justice system.”
“For the last fifty years, marijuana criminalization has been used as a tool to propel mass incarceration,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham. “It has done immeasurable harm to Black and Brown communities around the country, and today we begin to right the ship here in New Jersey. I look forward to seeing the tangible impact this legislation has on our communities in the years to come.”
“I am proud to have been a driving force behind the most progressive decriminalization law in the country and I am grateful to finally see it enacted,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz. “Every day roughly 100 people in New Jersey are arrested for marijuana possession, this law is a move that offers individuals a second chance and ensures they do not become entangled in the criminal justice system. This is yet another step towards bringing justice and equity to our communities. Going forward, we must continue to look for creative solutions to reverse the generational impact the War on Drugs has had.”
“This will usher in a new era of social justice by doing away with the failed policy that criminalized the use of marijuana,” said Senator Nicholas Scutari, the leading advocate of legalizing adult-use marijuana in New Jersey over the past decade. “Too many people have been arrested, incarcerated and left with criminal records that disrupt and even destroy their lives. We don’t want the criminal justice system to be an unfair barrier to success. By implementing a regulated system that allows people age 21 and over to purchase limited amounts of marijuana for personal use we will bring marijuana out of the underground market where it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been for decades. New Jersey will now be a leader in legalizing a once stigmatized drug in ways that will help the communities hurt the most by the War on Drugs and realize the economic benefits of the new adult-use cannabis market.”
“We’re moving closer to the long-overdue need to end cannabis prohibition,” saidAssemblywoman Annette Quijano. “So much time, effort, and thought have gone into this legislation. We’ve continued conversations, for what I believe, has produced a stronger piece of legislation with a focused eye toward social justice and equity. This is the beginning of a new era of economic opportunity, social justice for marijuana possession, and hope for a better future for thousands of New Jersey residents.”
“With legalization comes an unprecedented opportunity for residents to clean the slate with expungement provisions and for communities to grow their economic base with businesses,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “A key component of cannabis legalization is addressing social justice concerns. The fact that Black New Jerseyans are 3 or 4 times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges has contributed to the disenfranchisement of black communities. We have the opportunity here to also right the wrongs in our society in regards to past criminal possession of cannabis. No matter where you stand in the legalized marijuana debate, there has been a clear understanding that minorities within our urban communities have been hit hardest in the so-called War on Drugs. During this entire campaign for legalization, there has been one united vocal stance: There was harm done in the past and it must be corrected.”
“This new law includes real, enterprising opportunities for New Jersey communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, along with more defined employment opportunities and a commission that requires diversity,” said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. “This will be a clear revenue generator for the State, and the social justice and diversity portion in the legislation remains imperative.”
“Undoubtedly, this is the largest regulatory undertaking the state has considered since the Casino Control Commission,” said Assemblywoman Angela McKnight. “Remaining at status quo meant continued disparity in arrests for African Americans and teens for amounts now to be considered personal use. We are moving the state in a direction more compassionate for cannabis and in line with what is happening across the country in regards to legalization.”
“This has been a long time coming in our State,” said Assemblyman Joseph Danielsen. “who chairs the Assembly Federal Relations and Oversight Reform Committee led the discussion on the bill in today’s hearing. “Social justice for black and brown communities, which have been generationally impacted by cannabis prohibition, and equity in business are priorities in this legislation. We cannot fairly, or effectively provide regulation without ensuring these communities stay at the forefront of the conversation.”
“New Jersey voters on November 3rd issued the Legislature a mandate: to provide the infrastructure for the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey. Today, we move on that directive by presenting legislation for discussion with fellow legislation and statewide stakeholders,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “The War on Drugs in many ways became a war on particular communities, incarcerating millions of black and brown people and affecting families irreparably for decades. Our work on refining this legislation aims to correct the economic and social justice disparities surrounding cannabis use.”
“With Governor Murphy’s signature, the decades-long practice of racist marijuana enforcement will begin to recede, in a shift that emphasizes the urgency of building the most equitable framework possible for cannabis legalization,” said Amol Sinha, Executive Director of theAmerican Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which is a founding member ofNew Jersey United for Marijuana Reform. “With this historic reform, New Jersey also shifts our approach to youth possession and use by moving away from the punitive status quo to a framework that values public health, harm reduction, and the well-being of young people. Our state’s cannabis laws can set a new standard for what justice can look like, with the removal of criminal penalties for possession and an unprecedented portion of tax revenue dedicated to addressing the harms wrought by the drug war. Signing these laws puts in motion the next phase of this effort: to work relentlessly to transform the principles of legalization into greater racial and social justice in New Jersey. This is a new beginning – and the culmination of years of advocacy – and we must keep in mind that it is only the start.”
Under A21, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) will promulgate regulations to govern the medical and adult-use industries and oversee the applications for licensing of cannabis businesses. The legislation further provides for the Legislature to reinvest cannabis revenues in designated “impact zones”; directs the CRC to promote diversity and inclusion in business ownership; and contains critical employment protections for people who engage in lawful behavior with respect to cannabis.
A1897 reforms criminal and civil penalties for marijuana and hashish offenses, as well as provides remedies for people currently facing certain marijuana charges. The bill prevents unlawful low-level distribution and possession offenses from being used in pretrial release, probation, and parole decisions and provides certain protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation. The bill also creates a pathway to vacate active sentences for certain offenses committed before enactment of the enabling legislation.
The Governor today also signed S3454 into law, clarifying penalties for marijuana and cannabis possession and consumption for individuals younger than 21 years old. The legislation corrects inconsistencies in A21 and A1897 concerning marijuana and cannabis penalties for those underage.
“I have been working on decriminalizing adult-use marijuana for well over three years now, and I am happy to finally see it become a reality,” said Senator Ronald Rice. “This is a common-sense and just law that gives an equal playing field for folks in communities of color. Many have argued that legalizing adult-use marijuana has been for social, economic and criminal justice, however, decriminalization for me, is equally as important. I will continue to watch closely and fight to ensure communities of color are treated equally.”
“This is only one piece in the many parts of change that must be done in the name of social justice for our communities. The War on Drugs in many ways became a war on particular communities, incarcerating millions of people and affecting families irreparably for decades,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “The action we take now to help our black and brown communities who have been disproportionately affected by current laws surrounding cannabis use is critical to trauma for future generations.”
“There have been far too many people, especially those from Black and Hispanic communities, who have been negatively impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “There have been long-term impacts on the lives of all people in this state, but considerably those of color. This law is the product of taking a hard look at our current laws, listening to the will of the majority of New Jerseyans and taking a common-sense approach to cannabis offenses.”
“Black New Jerseyans are up to four times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges than White people. It is a sad fact, a further painful reminder that so people in our communities have been disenfranchised for far too long,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “There have always been glaring social justice concerns and obvious inequity in the high number of arrests of minority residents. Now, finally, this is the time for it to stop.”
“It’s time for the change we seek,” said Assemblywoman Angela McKnight. “New Jersey residents are not happy with the status quo and we need to move in a direction of compassion for the communities that have long been targeted by current regulatory criteria. The call for action, for social justice reform, is resounding throughout our nation. And it begins in New Jersey today.”
“Decriminalization and expungement for those who have been disproportionately incarcerated for marijuana offenses is well overdue in New Jersey and many other states throughout this nation,” said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. “A criminal marijuana charge has a detrimental effect on an individual’s opportunity to access higher education, obtain gainful employment, receive housing support, and address child custody issues. Not all communities are impacted equally by marijuana enforcement, measures to reduce the collateral consequences of criminal records are ones of racial, social, and economic justice. This is about social justice for a people who have endured the inequities in the law for generations.”
In December 2019, Governor Murphy signed one of the most progressive expungement reforms in the nation, giving individuals entangled in the criminal justice system the opportunity to fully participate in society. S4154 eliminated fees for expungement applications and additionally created a petition process for “clean slate” expungement for residents, as well as required the State to implement an automated clean slate expungement system. Furthermore, the bill required that low-level marijuana convictions be sealed upon the disposition of a case, preventing those convictions from being used against individuals in the future.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation (A1176) which requires the Department of Health to license certain hospitals to provide full-service diagnostic cardiac catheterization, primary angioplasty, and elective angioplasty services. This will expand access to these critical preventative measures and put them within reach of more New Jerseyans.“All New Jerseyans deserve easy access to procedures that can prevent serious illness or death, no matter where they live,” said Governor Murphy. “This law will allow for more hospitals to provide angioplasty services and ensure that those living in lesser populated areas of state are still able to take advantage of these preventative measures.”A1176 addresses a longstanding lack of licensed angioplasty facilities in several counties in the state. Under the legislation, hospitals that are not currently licensed surgery centers will be able to apply to the Department of Health to provide the following:
Full-service diagnostic cardiac catheterization services, provided the hospital thereafter performs at least 250 catheterizations per year, with each interventional cardiologist performing at least 50 catheterizations per year. The hospital must also participate in the DOH’s data collection programs and in national registries to monitor quality, outcomes, and compliance with State regulations;
Primary (emergency/acute) angioplasty services, provided the hospital has been licensed to provide full-service adult diagnostic catheterization services under the bill for at least six months; and
Elective angioplasty services, provided the hospital is licensed to provide primary angioplasty services under the bill or was licensed to participate in the C-PORT-E clinical trial or the State Elective Angioplasty Demonstration Project, and, thereafter, performs a minimum of 200 elective angioplasty procedures per year, with each interventional cardiologist performing at least 50 elective angioplasty procedures per year. The hospital must also ensure all prospective elective angioplasty patients undergo careful selection, screening, and risk stratification.
“Heart disease can be a very treatable illness when the right health measures are able to be taken by a patient in consultation with their medical professional,” said Assembly primary sponsors Andrew Zwicker, Roy Freiman, and Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, in a joint statement. “Angioplasty saves lives every day, but far too often they are performed only in emergencies. Elective Angioplasty as a preventive measure can lessen symptoms, improve quality of life, and reduce mortality rates. Ensuring more medical centers are licensed for full-service elective angioplasty and its linked care will increase access to safe and preventative healthcare measures for residents combatting heart disease.” “Life-saving cardiac procedures have been modernized and made far safer over the last decade, so it is only fair and pragmatic for those seeking these critical surgeries to have every opportunity to access them with the greatest convenience possible,” said Senator Joseph Vitale, chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.“Right now there are only 29 hospitals in New Jersey licensed to provide elective angioplasty. That may sound like a lot, but the problem is that most of those hospitals are clustered in only 14 counties,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “This law is a way to give more opportunity to more residents who might seek out these services.”“Eleven New Jersey hospitals without on-site cardiac surgery units are now authorized to provide elective angioplasty and continue to do so,” said Senator Paul Sarlo. “This law will expand access to this procedure more widely, to more facilities, so that all those who seek to benefit from such surgeries and procedures are not hampered by logistical obstacles.”
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced Executive Order No. 225, which increases capacity limits for religious services and large sports and entertainment venues. Additionally, limited spectators will be allowed at collegiate sporting events, mirroring last week’s announcement on youth sporting events.“As our COVID-19 metrics continue to trend in the right direction and as we continue our aggressive vaccination effort, we believe we can safely take this step,” said Governor Murphy. “We have always strived to make accommodations wherever safely possible, be it with religious services, sporting events, entertainment venues, or in other sectors. I am pleased that we are able to increase these limits today and hopeful that the numbers continue to point in the right direction for further reopening steps.”The changes are as follows:
Religious Services Effective immediately
Religious services and celebrations, including wedding ceremonies, funerals, and memorial services that involve a religious service, will be able to operate at 50% capacity of the room in which they are held, with no cap on the number of individuals permitted to attend. Services were previously limited to 35% of the room, up to 150 individuals.
Individuals attending services will still be required to wear masks and sit six feet apart from those outside of their household group.
Collegiate Sporting Events Effective immediately
Operators of indoor and outdoor collegiate sports practices and competitions may allow up to two parents or guardians per each participating athlete.
Even including this limited number of parents and guardians, the total number of individuals at an indoor practice or competition cannot exceed 35% of the capacity of the room, and any outdoor space needs to accommodate all attendees with appropriate room for social distancing.
Collegiate athletic conferences retain the discretion to impose stricter protocols regarding spectators, including for events that take place in large venues.
Large Sports and Entertainment Venues Effective Monday, March 1 at 6:00 a.m.
Large sports and entertainment venues with a fixed seating capacity of 5,000 or more will be permitted to host a number of patrons and members of the public equal to 10% of capacity indoors and 15% of capacity outdoors.
Facilities that host such events must ensure that all attendees at the event remain six feet apart from other attendees, except that individuals who purchase or reserve tickets together may be seated together. Attendees will also be required to wear masks within the facility, except when eating or drinking.
Update from South Brunswick Police on Friday Night’s warehouse fire:
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–At 7:05 pm Friday night, South Brunswick Police received a 911 call of a fire at the Sonoco warehouse at 5 Stults Road. All three South Brunswick Companies (Monmouth Junction, Kingston, and Kendall Park) responded, along with Monroe Fire District 3, Jamesburg, Plainsboro, and North Brunswick Fire Co. #2. Over 50 firefighters responded to the 2-alarm fire.
Firefighters from East Brunswick’s Old Bridge and Brookview Fire Companies, Griggstown, and Montgomery Township covered the empty South Brunswick stations.
Monmouth Junction Fire Chief Scott Smith said, “Firefighters encountered frozen hydrants on the property and on Stults Road, and had to use tankers from Cranbury, Jamesburg, Plainsboro, and Monroe to supply water to fight the fire.”
The fire involved the finished cardboard canisters manufactured by the facility, which were stored on plastic pallets and shrink-wrapped, then stacked 3 pallets high. Smith said, “Fortunately the sprinkler system and fire pump contained the fire to several stacks of the palletizing goods. Unfortunately, the fire and water caused several pallets to collapse, making it difficult for firefighters to locate and extinguish the seat of the fire.”
Firefighting crews had to be rotated frequently due to the manpower intensive efforts necessary to reach the seat of the fire, which was approximately 300 feet deep into the warehouse. A heavy smoke condition further complicated efforts, and took several hours to ventilate using large trailer-mounted fans from the Edison and Millstone Valley Fire Departments.
Firefighters remained on scene for several hours. Monmouth Junction First Aid Squad and North Brunswick First Aid and Rescue Squad were on scene but no injuries were reported. The fire is under investigation by the South Brunswick Township Fire Safety Bureau.