Day: September 9, 2021

DHS to Increase Civil Penalties for Violations of the Federal Face Mask Requirement

The new range of penalties, which take effect Friday, September 10, 2021, will be $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders. 

September 9, 2021

Today, the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will increase the range of civil penalties that may be imposed on individuals who violate the federal mask mandate at airports, on commercial aircraft, and in various modes of surface transportation, including passenger railroads, intercity bus services, and other public transportation.  The federal mask mandate for transportation, which was implemented by TSA on February 2, 2021, will remain in effect until January 18, 2022.   

The new range of penalties, which take effect Friday, September 10, 2021, will be $500-$1000 for first offenders and $1000-$3000 for second offenders. 

“Wearing a mask protects the traveling public and all of the personnel who make the travel experience safe, secure, and comfortable,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas.  “We will continue to enforce the mask mandate as long as necessary to protect public health and safety.”

“We appreciate the majority of travelers each day who voluntarily follow the requirement, but find this action necessary to maximize the protections for those who use and work within the transportation system, and to contain COVID-19,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. “By doubling the range of penalties, we seek to reinforce the importance of voluntary adherence.”  

TSA will provide updated signage at airports regarding these increased civil penalties.  For more information about the federal face mask requirement, visit the TSA Coronavirus webpage.

These federal mask mandate-related civil penalties are separate from the civil penalties the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issues for individuals who engage in unruly and unsafe behavior.

Robbinsville Twp. Fire Department awarded $1.35M federal grant to hire four new full-time firefighters

Fed. funds will help fire dept. expand emergency response services for growing town

September 9, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–The Robbinsville Township Fire Department will receive a federal grant totaling $1,349,440 from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program to hire four new full-time firefighters, said Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) today.

            “The firefighters and first responders at the Robbinsville Township Fire Department put their lives on the line every day to protect their neighbors when emergencies strike and help ensure overall safety and well-being,” said Rep. Smith, a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “This substantial federal grant will enable the town to expand its fire crew and to continue providing quick and effective emergency response services to those in harm’s way who need immediate help as the Robbinsville community continues to grow.”

            “Mayor Fried, Fire Chief Schaffener and all those serving at the Robbinsville Township Fire Department are to be congratulated for their steadfast commitment to the town and their tenacity in applying for and earning this significant federal grant,” Smith said.

            Supported by Smith, the Robbinsville Township Fire Department applied for the SAFER grant earlier this year, competing against thousands of other fire departments around the country seeking federal assistance to expand and improve their life-saving operations.

            “Without the direct support of our application and the overall program support of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program by Congressman Smith, our department would be faced with difficult realities regarding the safety of our firefighters and residents,” said Robbinsville Fire Chief Dan Schaffener. “The addition of four firefighters will provide an enhanced level of staffing to our growing community, while reducing risk in order to better meet the present and future needs of Robbinsville residents.”

            The SAFER funds awarded to Robbinsville will cover all of the costs—including salaries and benefits—associated with hiring the new firefighters over three years, increasing the town’s fire crew from 17 to 21 firefighters.

            “Grant support such as this via SAFER will enable our firefighters to meet the needs of our ever-expanding community,” said Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried. “Rep. Smith has been a longtime advocate for not only our Fire Department, but for all of Robbinsville Township in the form of important legislation and unwavering support. The benefits of this award for our Fire Department and local residents, and the help it provides to our municipal budget over the next three years, is immeasurable.”

            Administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency, the SAFER grant program supports fire departments with staffing and deployment capabilities, including hiring more firefighters; retaining or recruiting volunteer firefighters; and increasing response capabilities to fires and other emergencies in the local community.

            “The Robbinsville Township Fire Department is extremely thankful to Congressman Chris Smith and his staff for their assistance and support during the application process,” said Fire Chief Dan Schaffener. 

            Since 2002, the Robbinsville Township Fire Department/Township of Robbinsville has received $3,090,401 in federal funding to assist the mission of protecting its residents, according to municipal officials.

Serious Pedestrian Accident On Route 130 and Route 571 In East Windsor

September 9, 2021

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)– On Thursday, September 9, 2021, at approximately 10:52 a.m, East Windsor Police responded to Route 130 North at the intersection with Route 571 for a report of a struck pedestrian.

Upon arrival, East Windsor Police, Robert Wood Johnson EMS, Capital Health Paramedics, and East Windsor Rescue Squad #2 personnel immediately began administering first aid to the pedestrian who sustained serious injuries. The pedestrian was transported Capital Health Regional Medical Center by Robert Wood Johnson EMS. The driver of the vehicle was not injured.

Police say that the preliminary investigation revealed that the pedestrian was struck while crossing the Route 130 northbound lanes of travel as a 2020 Freightliner driven by Francisco Garcia of Jackson, NJ was turning left from Route 571 east on to Route 130 north. The Traffic Safety Unit of the East Windsor Township Police Department and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Serious Collision Response Team are actively investigating the crash.

Responding Agencies:

East Windsor Township Police Department

Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Serious Collision Response Team Robert Wood Johnson EMS

Capital Health Paramedics

East Windsor Rescue Squad #2

State Police Charge Man with Vehicular Homicide in Fatal Boating Crash in Toms River

June 9, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Colonel Patrick J. Callahan and Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced today that Juan A. Fernandez II, 18, of Towaco, N.J., has been charged with vehicular homicide as a result of a boating crash in Toms River that killed Corey T. Molinari, 19, of Whippany, N.J. and injured 4 others.

On Sunday, June 13, at approximately 1:13 a.m., troopers from the New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau responded to Antiqua Avenue for the report of a serious vessel crash in Barnegat Bay. Upon their arrival, officers from the Toms River Police Department and local first responders were on scene treating the injured. Four occupants were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, and Corey Molinari was airlifted to Jersey Shore Medical Center where he later succumbed to his injuries.

As result of the investigation led by the Troop “C” Criminal Investigation Office, along with the NJSP Crime Scene Investigations Unit and investigators from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, detectives determined that Juan Fernandez II was operating a 2014 Bennington Pontoon boat in the Barnegat Bay when he struck Intracoastal Waterway Marker #26 head on. After the crash, he was able to navigate the vessel to Antiqua Avenue where he met Toms River police and first responders. Initially, Fernandez claimed that there were a total of six occupants on the vessel, but through various investigative means, detectives later determined that there were a total of nine occupants on the vessel prior to the crash, three who were let off just prior to the collision. At the time of the crash, two occupants were ejected.

As a result of a toxicology report on blood obtained from Fernandez on the morning of the crash and information obtained as a result of the investigation, the New Jersey State Police working in cooperation with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office charged Juan A. Fernandez II with Vehicular Homicide (2nd Degree), Strict Liability Vehicular Homicide (3rd Degree), and Hindering (Third Degree).

Juan A. Fernandez II was arrested in Boonton, N.J. on Wednesday, September 8. He was taken to NJSP Tuckerton Station where he was processed and then later lodged at the Ocean County Jail pending a bail detention hearing.

The case is being prosecuted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.

Charges are mere accusations, and the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Related MidJersey.News story here:

19 Year Old From Whippany, NJ Killed In Boating Accident; 5 Others Injured When Pontoon Boat Strikes Marker

Dancer calls for policyholders, not executives, to reap windfall benefits

September 9, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Revenues generated from a mutual holding company, now Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, should go toward reducing health insurance costs for policyholders and not lining the pockets of executives. Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would ensure policyholders catch a financial break, not just executives who are already well-paid.
“With record enrollment, profits and bonuses, we must ensure that revenues go toward reducing skyrocketing health insurance premiums,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said.
Dancer expressed concerns that overall compensation for Horizon executives climbed 20 percent last year, with out-going Chairman Kevin Conlin’s compensation rising to more than $5.1 million for 2020. His bonus for 2020 — $3.9 million, up from $3.4 million in 2019 — was determined by independent board members, according to Other executives have seen bonuses climb six figures as well.
Dancer’s amendment (ACR207) would ask voters if state assessments paid by Horizon should be dedicated to lowering health insurance costs. If passed, Horizon’s payments to the state of an initial $600 million, and 17 subsequent annual assessments of up to $650 million, would be dedicated to reducing policyholders’ insurance costs. The existing law requiring those assessments does not dedicate the funds. 
Horizon, presently the state’s only health service corporation, applied with the Department of Banking and Insurance to reorganize as a nonprofit mutual holding company on Feb. 4, 2020. That change would allow Horizon to invest billions into health care businesses across New Jersey and save it nearly $50 million annually in taxes.
Horizon’s revenue jumped 7% to $12.3 billion, driven by Medicare plan enrollments that swelled membership from 3.5 million to 3.7 million enrollees.
Meanwhile, insurance premiums are expected to rise an average of 4.4%, according to the Society for Human Resource Management. Employees pay an average premium of $1,745 after employer contributions. Independent health insurance plans can cost families thousands per month. Horizon did refund individual policyholders an average $367 a person back in February when projected 2019 health care costs came in lower than expected.
“The average person will never see a pay increase of more than 20% in a year and will never see a bonus in the millions of dollars. Horizon’s mission statement talks about affordability for its members, a statement I heartily endorse,” Dancer added. “There’s no good reason executives and policyholders can’t share the wealth.”
The Senate version, sponsored by Senator Samuel Thompson (R-Ocean), was introduced in June.

Monmouth Medical Center to Present Free Expert Panel on Managing Your Mental Health

Event Will Address Mental Health Issues, New Feelings of Anxiety and Fear Due to COVID, and Share Community Resources

September 9, 2021

LONG BRANCH, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Monmouth Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, will host a free virtual expert panel event titled “Managing Your Mental Health” on Friday, September 10th at 11 a.m., coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day. The event will provide support and behavioral health resources to members of the community who are coping with existing mental health issues or who may be facing new feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to the physical toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on New Jersey residents and individuals across the country, the pandemic has also had a substantial impact on mental health. According to survey data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 30% of adults aged 18 and over reported symptoms of anxiety or depression between late July and early August 2021, an increase of nearly 20% from the same period in 2019.

Monmouth Medical Center has the largest and most comprehensive behavioral health program in Monmouth County, with treatment provided to adults, children and adolescents and adults diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. The panel will feature Monmouth Medical Center mental health experts Stan Evanowski, LCSW, LCADC, Administrative Director of Behavioral Health; Stephanie Petrucha, LCSW, Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health; Donna Martini, LCSW, Program Director, Early Intervention Support Services Program; Tia A. Susak, BSN, RN, Children’s Crisis Intervention Services Unit; and Johnna Malter, MA, Child and Family Crisis Clinician, Psychiatric Emergency Screening Services.

Moderated by Emmy-nominated journalist and former NY1 News political reporter Molly Kroon, the free community panel event will explore the effect COVID-19 has had on mental wellness. During the event, panelists will answer frequently asked questions around coping with mental health issues, the additional mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic, and how to manage your mental health. Experts will also share information on the variety of mental health resources and support available to the community.

“Our goal as a hospital and as a system is to deliver quality, patient-centered care, which means that in addition to prioritizing our patients’ physical health and safety amid the pandemic, it is equally important to identify and address the toll it has taken on our community’s mental well-being,” said Eric Carney, President and CEO of Monmouth Medical Center and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus. “By hosting this expert panel, we’re continuing to raise awareness around the heightened mental health challenges our community is currently facing as well as serve as an educational resource for people who are struggling by letting them know there is help available and how they can access it.”

The webinar is free and open to all. Those interested in attending can register at:

Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Releases Findings Of November 21, 2019 Non-Fatal Officer Involved Shooting In Tuckerton

September 9, 2021

TUCKERTON, NJ (OCEAN)–The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office (OCPO) has completed its investigation into the November 21, 2019 use of force by one patrolman of the Tuckerton Police Department and has concluded that the use of force was legally justified. The OCPO determined that it is not necessary to present this matter to the grand jury because there were not material facts in dispute regarding the lawfulness of the use of force. The investigation was conducted in accordance with the then applicable Attorney General’s Independent Prosecutor Directives (Attorney General Supplemental law Enforcement Directive Regarding Uniform Statewide Procedures and Best Practices for Conducting Police Use of Force Investigations Directive 2006-5 and the Independent Prosecutor Directive 2019-4) (“Directives”). Pursuant to those Directives, the Attorney General’s Office conducted an independent review of the use of force and agreed with OCPO’s determination that there were no material facts in dispute and that the use of force by the officer was justified. The Attorney General’s Office concurred with OCPO’s conclusion to forego presentation of this matter to the Grand Jury.0

The incident occurred on November 21, 2019, at 10:22am in the Borough of Tuckerton. Officer 1 of the Tuckerton Borough Police Department attempted to effectuate a motor vehicle stop of a Black Nissan Altima at Delta Gas Station located at 109 East Main Street. Officer 1 was in uniform and approached the Nissan and advised the driver and front seat passenger, Miguel Angel Villegas, that they were being stopped for obstruction of view and a seatbelt violation.  Officer 1 could not identify a valid motor vehicle license under the name the driver provided and had asked her to exit the vehicle.

The driver exited the vehicle briefly before reentering the Nissan and accelerated out of the gas station heading north on North Green Street. The Nissan then collided with the left side of an unrelated northbound vehicle.  The Nissan came to an uncontrolled rest in the front yard of a residence on the southbound side of the road.  Officer 1 pursued the Nissan and stopped at the scene of the accident.  As he approached the unrelated vehicle on the northbound side of the road to check on the occupant, he observed Villegas and the driver outside their vehicle next to the passenger side of the Nissan on the opposite side of the road. Officer 1 further observed that Villegas had his hands in his waist area and ordered him to show his hands multiple times.  At that point in time, Villegas removed a dark colored handgun from under his clothing, pointed it at Officer 1 and began firing at him.  Officer 1 discharged his weapon in response as he had no other option to protect his life.  Neither Villegas, Officer 1, nor any bystanders were hit in the gunfire.  Villegas fled south on foot towards East Main Street, where he broke into a garage, stole a bicycle and ultimately secured a Lyft ride to North Jersey.  Officer 1 did not have a body worn camera and his vehicle was not equipped with a mobile video recorder (MVR). Surveillance video was recovered from the Delta Gas Station showing the suspect vehicle departing from the initial motor vehicle stop conducted by Officer 1. Additionally, detectives were able to recover video from the Wawa convenience store showing Villegas entering a Lyft car which enabled him to travel to North Jersey.

The driver/victim was interviewed and indicated that Villegas was her boyfriend and that he had ordered her to drive him to New Jersey from Connecticut because he was wanted by police there.  The parties traveled to Tuckerton to get fuel on their trip back home from the Atlantic City area.  Villegas had told her to provide a fake name to Officer 1 during the traffic stop, pointed a handgun at her and told her to drive while pushing her foot on the accelerator pedal.  She recalled being in the accident and being between Villegas and Officer 1 when the gunfire started and that Villegas had the gun shortly before the gunfire started.

There were multiple witnesses who observed the incident. One witness observed the entire exchange between Officer 1 and Villegas.  He confirmed that Officer 1 gave multiple verbal commands to Villegas to show him his hands to which Villegas did not comply. The citizen also observed Villegas pull out a gun and fire upon Officer 1 at which time Officer 1 returned fire. An additional witness stated she did not see the events leading up to the shooting, however, she did see a male matching the description of Villegas shooting in the direction of a police officer at the scene of the accident. A third witness observed the collision between the suspect vehicle and a third party vehicle. She observed Officer 1 order a male matching the description of Villegas to the ground with negative results. She also observed Villegas brandish a firearm and fire it toward the third party vehicle, which was in the direction of Officer 1. It was at that time she was pulled behind a vehicle by Officer 1 for protection and Officer 1 returned fire. A fourth witness observed a male matching the description of Villegas standing next to his vehicle shooting across the street in the direction of a police officer. All four of these witness accounts corroborate the timeline of events as described by Officer 1.

After a joint effort by local, county, state and federal partners, Villegas was located in New York City hours later.

Ballistic reports indicate that a total of twenty-three shots in total were fired off and accounted for during the shooting. Two of those shots were reportedly from a 9mm handgun, matching the description of the weapon in Villegas’ possession. Twenty-one shots were fired from a 40 caliber weapon, matching that of Officer 1.

Villegas was charged with Attempted Murder, Kidnapping, and Possession of Handgun for an Unlawful Purpose and Possession of Handgun without a Permit. He waived extradition to New Jersey.  On February 4, 2020, Villegas was indicted on the Attempted Murder of Officer 1, Kidnapping, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Hindering Apprehension, and Aggravated Assault by Auto, Eluding, and Aggravated Assault of a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest, Burglary, and Certain Person Not to Possess a Firearm. 

On August 13, 2021, Villegas pled guilty to first degree Attempted Murder and third degree Hindering Apprehension. At the time of sentencing, the State is seeking 15 years New Jersey State’s Prison on the Attempted Murder charge, subject to the No Early Release Act, concurrent to a 5 year flat term on the Hindering Apprehension charge. He is to be sentenced before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C. on September 27, 2021.

The Office of the Attorney General and Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer are satisfied that the undisputed facts establish that Tuckerton Patrolman used the appropriate force necessary to protect his life and that of innocent bystanders and that he was legally justified in doing so. 

Related MidJersey.News story here:

New Haven, CT Man Pleads Guilty For Attempted Murder And Hindering Apprehension After Shooting At Police Officer In Tuckerton Borough In 2019

Celebrate Marty’s Place Howl-o-Ween On October 23

Canine Costume Contests, a Leisurely Walk, Hay Rides, Live Music,  Games, Activities, Food, Vendors and more will Highlight Festival

September 9, 2021

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Celebrate the joys of autumn—with or without your canine companion—and help raise funds for senior dogs at Marty’s Place’s Howl-o-Ween Family Fest.

The dog-friendly festival will be celebrated at Marty’s Place, located at 118 Route 526 in Upper Freehold, on Saturday, October 23 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Rain date is Sunday, October 24.)  Highlights will include canine costume contests, a fun leisurely walk, hay rides, pet photo booth, K-9 police dog demonstrations, sanctuary tours, live music from the SunDog Band, vendors, food trucks, basket and 50/50 cash raffles, and other fall-inspired games, challenges and activities for children, adults and canines.

“This is our largest fundraiser of the year, and we’re so glad that we can gather again in-person to celebrate our four-legged friends and help raise much-needed funds to help senior dogs,” said Doreen Jakubcak, founder and executive director of Marty’s Place. “Senior dogs are the least likely to be rescued or adopted from shelters and are most at risk of being euthanized. We want to continue to help as many as older dogs as we can and the proceeds from this event will allow us to save more seniors.”

Adults, children and dogs are welcome to dress in costume (if your pooch enjoys dressing up) and participate in a variety of fun costume contests. Prizes will be awarded in several categories including: best and scariest costumes, dog / owner duo costume, and best overall.

Admission for the event is $5 for adults; children under six are free. All proceeds will benefit the senior dogs cared for by Marty’s Place.

Sponsors supporting Marty’s Place and the event include:  Arya Properties LLC, Crossroads Realty, Golden Grange Kennels, Heartland Veterinary and Boarding, HomeLight, Sandra M. Iammatteo, Esq., Nancy Karpf, Morgan Engineering LLC, Viacomp Inc., and Pamela White.

About Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary

Inspired by a senior dog adoptee named Marty and the plight of other aging canines with nowhere to safely and comfortably live out their “golden” years, Marty’s Place Senior Dog Sanctuary was founded in 2015. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization provides a permanent and protected environment for dogs aged seven and older when their owners or other animal rescue/shelters can no longer care for them. 

While adoption may be an option for some residents, when it isn’t, Marty’s Place provides senior dogs a loving home for life in a cage-free, family-like environment with full, personalized attention given to their needs for the rest of their lives.

Situated on 25 acres, the 8,000-square-foot facility in Upper Freehold, N.J., also offers a swim program for its residents and non-resident dogs of all ages in its indoor, saltwater pool.  

For more information visit: or call 609-259-1278.

East Windsor Police Blotter Though September 8, 2021

September 9, 2021

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–The East Windsor Township Police Department initiated the following police reports through Wednesday, September 8, 2021.

1)            Drugs

Location: Route 130/Route 571 Time/Date: 2:00 PM, 9/3/2021

The officer conducted a motor vehicle stop on Route 130 near Route 571 after observing a vehicle with a broken tail light. During the motor vehicle stop the individuals admitted to possessing drugs. The officer conducted a vehicle search and located heroin, methamphetamine, and hypodermic needles. The individuals were placed under arrest and later released pending court action.

Defendant:                         Erica Cooper Hamilton,  NJ 38 Years of Age

Charges:              Possession of Heroin

Possession of Hypodermic Needles Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Possession of Methamphetamine Driving While Suspended Unlicensed Driver

Maintenance of Lamps CDS in a Motor Vehicle

Defendant:         Edward Erwin Pemberton, NJ 33 Years of Age

Charges:              Possession of Heroin

Possession of Hypodermic Needles Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Arresting Officer: Patrol Officer Nicholas Hoffmann

2)            DUI

Location: Route 33/Woodside Avenue Time/Date: 2:50 AM, 9/4/2021

The officer responded to Route 33 near Woodside Avenue for a reported erratic driver. The officer located the vehicle and conducted a motor vehicle stop after observing it fail to maintain the lane of travel. The individual exhibited signs of impairment and was placed under arrest after failing field sobriety tests. The individual was later released pending court action.

Defendant: Charges:

 Olvan Lopez-Flores South River, NJ

41 Years of Age


Careless Driving Reckless Driving

Failure to Maintain Lane

 Arresting Officer: Patrol Officer Michael Pidhorecki

3)            DUI

Location: Burger King (450 Route 130 South) Time/Date: 9:30 PM, 9/5/2021

The officer responded to Burger King on Route 130 for a citizen dispute. The officer located the involved individual in the drive-thru lane arguing with store employees. The individual exhibited signs of impairment and was placed under arrest after failing field sobriety tests. The individual was later released pending court action.

Defendant: Edwin Feliciano East Windsor, NJ 49 Years of Age

Charges:              DUI

Careless Driving Reckless Driving

Arresting Officer: Patrol Officer Tyler Clark

4)            DUI

Location: Route 33/Route 133 Time/Date: 6:45 PM, 9/6/2021

The officer responded to Route 33 near Route 133 for a single vehicle motor vehicle accident. Investigation revealed that a motorcyclist lost balance and crashed after attempting to avoid colliding with another vehicle while traveling on Route 33 West.  The individual  exhibited  signs of impairment and was placed under arrest after failing field sobriety tests.  The individual  was later released pending court action.

Defendant: Charges:

 Ryan Szczesny East Windsor, NJ 33 Years of Age


Careless Driving Reckless Driving

 Arresting Officer: Patrol Officer Brian Rust

5)            Shoplifting

Location: Walmart (839 Route 130 North) Time/Date: 9:05 AM, 9/7/2021

The officer responded to Walmart for a reported shoplifting.  The officer located the individual in a nearby parking lot. Investigation revealed that the individual left the store without paying for merchandise valued at $228.54.  The individual  was arrested  and later released pending court action.

Defendant: Charges:

 Abigail Abbott East Windsor, NJ 26 Years of Age


 Arresting Officer: Patrol Officer Evan McNamara

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

BudBandit’s Vehicle Goes Up In Smoke in Trenton Arson

September 9, 2021 — Updated

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Trenton Fire Department was detailed for a vehicle fire sometime around 5:00 a.m. in front of 312 East State Street. Upon arrival they found a marked BudBandit’s “PotTrooper” vehicle smoking and on fire. Once the fire was extinguished fire department called for the on duty Fire Marshal. The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Arson Unit was also detailed to the scene. The fire is under investigation by Trenton Police and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. No additional details are available at this time.

Trenton Police Sgt. Ponticiello told that the investigation as an arson is ongoing.

Early Morning Truck Fire Extinguished On NJ Turnpike Near Woodrow Wilson Service Area

September 9, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Township and Bordentown Township firefighters were called to the NJ Turnpike, North Bound Service Ramp to the Woodrow Wilson Service Area for a truck fire at 5:05 a.m. When firefighters arrived they found a well involved tractor trailer fire and the driver disconnected the trailer to save the tractor. The truck was reportedly hauling vegetables and the original fire started in the brakes/wheels areas of the trailer and quickly spread to the contents. Additional tankers were called to the scene for additional water supply. The NJ State Police shut down the north bound ramp to the service area while firefighters extinguished the flames. Firefighters were sill on scene at the time of this report but some engines and tankers were released around 6:40 a.m.

No further information is available at this time.

State Police Arrest 3 and Seize $70,000 worth of Drugs and Cash In Trenton

September 9, 2021

Trenton, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey State Police have arrested Malcolm Echols, 29, Abdul Patilla, 40, and Anthony Brown, 29, all of Trenton, N.J., and seized $70,000 worth of drugs and $23,000 cash.

On August 27, 2021, while investigating alleged drug activity in Trenton, detectives with the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression Central Unit along with members of the New Jersey State Police Opioid Enforcement Task Force obtained information that narcotics were being distributed out of a residence on Fulton Street.

Through various investigative means, detectives determined that Echols, Patilla, and Brown were distributing narcotics in the area and operating out of the residence. Later that day, detectives executed search warrants at the residence and on a vehicle registered to Brown. As a result, detectives arrested Echols, Patilla, and Brown and seized five pounds of marijuana, more than two pounds of ecstasy pills, and $23,000 cash.

Malcolm Echols was charged with possession of ecstasy with intent to distribute, possession of CDS with intent to distribute within 500 feet of a park, and money laundering. Abdul Patilla was charged with money laundering and loitering. Anthony Brown was charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and money laundering. They were all lodged at the Mercer County Jail pending a bail detention hearing.

To date, the OETF has conducted 227 enforcement operations and seized more than 1,013,016 individual doses of packaged opioids valued at $5,065,080, more than 93 kilograms of raw heroin valued at $5,580,000, more than 84 kilograms of fentanyl valued at $4,200,000, more than 76,000 fentanyl based pills valued at $760,000, more than 55 kilograms of cocaine valued at $1,980,000, more than 27 kilograms of methamphetamine valued at $270,000, more than $4,174,962 in U.S. currency, and 205 firearms. The OETF has also disrupted or dismantled 46 fully operational opioid packaging facilities, seven fully operational fentanyl pill-pressing operations, and arrested 486 suspects during this time.

This case is being prosecuted by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.

Charges are merely accusations, and the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.