Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Acting Chief Larry Cattano of the Perth Amboy Police Department announced today a man has been charged with setting fire to a mixed-use building, which housed several residences and a local bar.
On September 6, 2021, Rey Zarzuela-Severino, 36, of Ocean Grove was charged and arrested for second-degree aggravated arson, second-degree aggravated assault, third-degree criminal mischief, third-degree possession of a destructive device, and fourth-degree causing risk of widespread injury or damage.
On September 6, 2021, at approximately 2:59 A.M., officers of the Perth Amboy Police Department along with local firefighters were dispatched to the Casanova Lounge, located at 983 State Street, following the report of a structure fire. As a result, multiple residents who were later transported from the scene to a nearby hospital where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
An investigation conducted by Officer Jorge Irizarry II of the Perth Amboy Police Department and Detective Jose Rosario of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office as well as local and county fire officials determined Zarzuela-Severino broke a bar window and set a fire within the structure. The investigation also determined smoke from the fire entered into multiple, occupied residences located above the bar.
Zarzuela-Severino is presently lodged at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center where he is detained pending a pre-trial detention hearing in Superior Court.
The investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Irizarry of the Perth Amboy Police Department at (732) 324-3800 or Detective Rosario of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4045.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Zarzuela-Severino are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Newly available grants focus on stopping spread of infectious disease, including coronavirus
September 8, 2021
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration today announced the award of more than $6.7 million in grants to 37 nonprofit organizations nationwide to fund education and training programs to help workers and employers recognize infectious diseases, including coronavirus health hazards, and identify preventive measures for a safe workplace. In addition to hazard control, the training will also include understanding worker rights and employer responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970.
The award includes “Workplace Safety and Health Training on Infectious Diseases, including the Coronavirus” grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The grants derive from the Susan Harwood Workplace Safety and Health Training program, named for in honor of the late Susan Harwood, former director of OSHA’s Office of Risk Assessment. In her 17-year OSHA career, she helped develop federal standards to protect workers from bloodborne pathogens, cotton dust, benzene, formaldehyde, asbestos, and lead in construction.
The program funds grants to nonprofit organizations, including community and faith-based groups, employer associations, labor unions, joint labor-management associations, colleges and universities. Target trainees include small-business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries. These grants are a critical element in supporting OSHA’s role in educating workers on their rights and assisting employers with providing safe workplaces.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
Susan Harwood Training Grant Program American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 FY 2021 Grant Recipients
New Jersey State AFL-CIO, Community Services Agency Inc. Trenton NJ $200,000
New Jersey State AFL-CIO, Community Services Agency proposes to provide 1 to 4 hours of COVID-19 training to 1,010 employers and workers in manufacturing, food manufacturing, wholesale and retail grocery, food service, retail, electrical, and critical infrastructure construction industries. The targeted audience includes essential, temporary, limited-English proficient, young, and other at-risk workers in high-hazard/high fatality industries. Training will include PPE, personal hygiene, and housekeeping. The organization plans to revise existing materials and will include a train the trainer training.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, RBHS-SPH Piscataway NJ $172,489
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, RBHS-SPH proposes to provide 4 and 7.5 hours of training on COVID-19 to 465 employers and workers in the building management/custodial and healthcare industries. The targeted audience includes workers from high-hazard industries, limited-English speaking, small businesses, and temporary workers. Training will include respiratory protection for airborne diseases/contaminants and managing a respiratory program for airborne infectious diseases. The organization plans to use and revise existing training materials. Training will be in English and Spanish.
Work Environment Council of New Jersey, Inc. Trenton NJ $85,000
Work Environment Council of New Jersey, Inc. proposes to provide between 1 and 4 hours of COVID-19 training to 227 employers and workers in the retail, warehousing, logistics, manufacturing, restaurant, transportation, and food service industries. The target audience includes temporary, minority, youth, and other hard-to reach workers. Training will include OSHA’s guidance on mitigating/preventing the spread of COVID-19. The organization plans to use existing training materials and develop new training materials. Training will be in English and Spanish.
FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Shrewsbury man has been criminally charged with embezzling more than $750,000 from the Colts Neck-based company he once worked for as an accountant, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Wednesday.
Mark S. Bloom, 45, is charged with second-degree theft by unlawful taking.
A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Colts Neck Police Department led to a financial analysis of D’Angelico Guitars of America, a musical instrument manufacturer headquartered on Route 537.
The analysis revealed that sometime in early 2020, Bloom had created a new personal PayPal account and began surreptitiously transferring funds into it from the company’s American Express business account and its PayPal business account. Using the personal PayPal account, Bloom then spent much of the more than $750,000 he embezzled on online gambling.
Bloom was charged via summons on Tuesday pending the scheduling of a hearing to take place in Monmouth County Superior Court. He is being represented by Randolph H. Wolf, Esq., with an office in Red Bank.
The case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Anastos of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit.
Despite the aforementioned pending charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced a partnership with rideshare companies Uber and Lyft in conjunction with United Way Worldwide and NJ 211 to provide access to free and discounted rides to New Jersey residents who lost a personal vehicle as a result of Tropical Storm Ida.
Over the next two weeks, New Jersey residents who lost a vehicle and need help accessing essential services can text NJIDARIDE to 898-211 to request a Lyft or Uber ride. Those without access to a smartphone can dial 2-1-1 from any phone line.
“In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Ida, we must come together as a community and pick one another up,” said Governor Murphy. “I want to thank both Uber and Lyft for their generous offer of transportation for New Jerseyans in need.”
“Nobody should have to worry after a natural disaster how they will get to essential places like the grocery store and medical appointments. Lyft is proud to join Governor Murphy in helping New Jerseyans get where they need to go until they can get back on their feet,” said Lyft Social Impact Director Lisa Boyd.
“It is critical that everyone come together to support those in need and we are proud to work with Governor Murphy to provide essential transportation services across the state. We hope to play a small role in helping New Jersey residents get back on their feet,” said Alix Anfang, spokesperson, Uber.
“NJ 211 continues to answer the call for help from those impacted by Tropical Storm Ida. Over 1,000 contacts have been handled since the storm hit. We are thrilled to partner with Lyft and Uber to provide this essential service to our residents,” said Melissa Acree, Executive Director of NJ 211.
Some limitations may apply to the transportation offerings available from each company, so riders can contact 211 for additional information.
Tropical Storm Ida produced massive flooding throughout New Jersey, leaving thousands of residents without basic needs such as housing and transportation. Governor Murphy has declared a State of Emergency, which will facilitate access to federal relief aid. In the short term, the state has made available $10 million to help small businesses with rent payments as they recover from the storm. On Monday, the governor announced FEMA has approved a Major Disaster Declaration in Bergen, Gloucester, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Passaic, and Somerset counties, with more assessments and additional counties expected to be included as the process develops. The declaration allows individuals in the six approved counties to register at www.disasterassistance.gov for direct assistance for Ida-related recovery, which may include home repairs, temporary housing, low-cost loans, and other programs to help recover from the effects of the tropical storm.
BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced that an inactive correctional police officer for the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) was criminally charged today for allegedly using unjustified force and breaking the wrist of a male resident at the JJC Juvenile Medium Security Facility in Bordentown, N.J.
Lt. Edward Day, 52, of Paulsboro, N.J., who worked as a correctional police officer at the JJC Juvenile Medium Security Facility, was charged today by complaint-summons with third-degree aggravated assault by the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). The charge is the result of an investigation by the OPIA Corruption Bureau and JJC’s Office of Investigations.
On Oct. 25, 2020, Lt. Day and other correctional police officers were escorting a 16-year-old juvenile resident from his room to another location in the facility, with his arms handcuffed behind his back, when Day, without apparent cause or justification, allegedly grabbed the victim’s ankle from behind, pulled his leg back, and pushed him face forward onto the ground. Day then allegedly grabbed hold of the juvenile’s handcuffed wrists and twisted and broke one of them.
Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis is prosecuting the case under the supervision of OPIA Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione. Acting Attorney General Bruck thanked JJC’s Office of Investigations for assisting in the investigation.
Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000. The charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Murphy Administration took another step toward electrifying New Jersey’s transportation sector today, unveiling a statewide municipal ordinance that makes it easier for people to drive electric by streamlining the local approval process for installing convenient and cost-effective charging infrastructure. The model ordinance, which provides minimum requirements and consistent guidance for electrification, is the result of legislation signed by Governor Phil Murphy in July and is effective immediately in each of the State’s 565 municipalities.
Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey is confronting the climate crisis by reducing emissions and enhancing the state’s resilience. Reducing transportation emissions, which comprise more than 40 percent of the state’s climate pollution, is a key component of Governor Murphy’s plan for achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The model ordinance released today follows the Murphy Administration’s investment of over $100 million in clean, equitable transportation, its proposal to limit emissions under the state’s Climate Pollutant Reduction (CPR) rules, and the launch of multiple electric vehicle (EV) incentive programs, including Charge Up New Jersey and NJZIP.
New Jersey’s efforts are underscored by President Biden’s issuance earlier this month of an Executive Order targeting car and truck emissions and requiring that half of all new vehicles sold in 2030 be electric. The President also proposed new emissions standards to cut pollution through 2026.
“Earlier this year, I announced an investment of more than $100 million in clean, equitable transportation projects to improve air quality and reduce the effects of climate change while moving New Jersey towards 100 percent clean energy by 2050,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “Making smart investments in our transportation infrastructure, such as encouraging electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the state, will help build a stronger, fairer, and greener New Jersey for generations to come.”
New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) developed the statewide municipal ordinance to ensure that Electric Vehicle Supply/Service Equipment (EVSE) and Make-Ready parking spaces would be permitted uses in all areas of the state in order to enable EV adoption among residents who can’t charge at home and to alleviate “range anxiety” by increasing the proximity of charging infrastructure and giving residents the confidence to drive electric.
Several sections of the model ordinance, including requirements for municipal approvals and permits, EV-ready development, and minimum parking requirements, are directives from the July law and cannot be altered. Other sections, specifically those related to health and safety factors (lighting and signage, for example), provide minimum guidance for consistency, but allow for municipal modifications as needed. The statewide municipal ordinance will supersede requirements in communities with existing EV charging ordinances.
“New Jersey municipalities are on the front lines of the climate crisis, both in responding to its impacts and leading the charge to reduce their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Lt. Governor and DCA Commissioner Sheila Oliver. “This statewide municipal ordinance provides them with consistent guidance on how to make those changes in the most efficient and cost-effective way and is a big step toward ensuring that our communities are ready for a carbon-neutral future.”
“The transportation sector is New Jersey’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, impacting air quality and generating more climate pollution,” said DEP Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “It is vital that we facilitate New Jersey’s rapid transition to an electric vehicle future, which will improve air quality, particularly in communities most overburdened by pollution, and reduce the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that continue fueling climate change. The steps we are taking across the Murphy Administration will move us closer to a clean energy future and help us to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
“Governor Murphy is committed to building a stronger, greener economy in New Jersey, and he understands that supporting clean energy is not only critical to addressing the dangers of climate change, but will also drive economic growth and support more vibrant, healthier communities,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Clean energy is a rapidly growing sector that is driving economic growth and job creation in New Jersey, and making it easy for New Jersey drivers to switch to electric vehicles will help us continue to grow this important industry while advancing environmental justice and fostering safer, cleaner communities throughout the state.”
“Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan is a holistic approach to New Jersey’s energy landscape and for the first time includes transportation, which accounts for over 40 percent of our emissions,” said BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “We have a moral responsibility to reduce our emissions so that we can mitigate climate change and improve public health. The BPU, in partnership with our sister agencies, will continue to craft the necessary tools for a seamless transition to electrification while simultaneously greening the grid with renewable energies like solar and offshore wind.”
Electrifying New Jersey’s transportation sector is critical to achieving the Murphy Administration’s vital climate goals, including a transformation to 100 percent clean energy and an 80 percent reduction in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions relative to 2006 levels.
These initiatives are outlined in the Global Warming Response Act 80×50 Report, released in October 2020, which found that New Jersey must rapidly implement an economy-wide transformation to transition from gasoline-powered vehicles to EVs.
In April, New Jersey proposed regulations modeled after California’s Advanced Clean Truck Rule, which requires manufacturers to sell an increasing number of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the state. If adopted, the requirements would begin with model year 2025 and ramp up to model year 2035.
To further encourage EV use, Governor Murphy signed the Electric Vehicle law in January 2020, establishing purchase and use metrics for EVs, charging infrastructure, parking spaces, and the makeup of state fleet vehicles.
The state also uses the bulk of Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction proceeds to invest in vehicle electrification strategies, focusing primarily on environmental justice communities that have experienced a disproportionate burden of air pollution issues.
New Jersey also provides EV charging station funds through the DEP’s “It Pay$ to Plug In” grant program as well as cash-on-the-hood rebates for new EVs through BPU’s Charge Up New Jersey incentive program. State agencies are also leading by example with BPU’s Clean Fleet EV incentive, which provides grant funding for state and local governments to convert their vehicle fleets to electric and install EV charging stations at their facilities.
Other significant steps to electrify transportation include:
Forming the New Jersey Partnership to Plug-In, a first-of-its-kind, statewide interagency partnership to create a strategic and streamlined framework to increase the number of EVs in New Jersey.
Signing landmark legislation to boost EV use in New Jersey by setting aggressive goals for New Jersey EV sales and public charging stations, requiring the establishment of rebates for EV purchases, and directing the state to electrify its fleet.
Releasing a comprehensive Energy Master Plan that includes rigorous goals and spans multiple sectors and governmental agencies to achieve the 100 percent clean energy goal. The Energy Master Plan defines clean energy as 100 percent carbon-neutral electricity generation and anticipates that the vast majority of electricity will come from carbon-free resources by 2050.