Day: October 15, 2021

Project Freedom Celebrates 30 Years At First Location In Robbinsville, NJ; Co-Founder Norman Smith Honored

October 15, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Project Freedom celebrated 30 years of operation today at it’s Freedom One location now known as the Legacy Location on Hutchinson Road. Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried presented a special Proclamation to new Executive Director Tracee Battis and co-founder Norman Smith on this most festive day. Co-founder Norman Smith who is known as a trailblazer for Project Freedom was honored with a special award for 30 years of service and celebrating his legacy at Project Freedom.

 Project Freedom is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that develops and operates barrier-free housing to enable individuals with disabilities to live independently. Supportive services such as recreation, training and advocacy are offered.

In addition to being a developer of accessible, affordable housing, Project Freedom also offers supportive services, whereby self-directed people with disabilities empower themselves to live independently in a non-medical environment.

West Long Branch Man Indicted For Lewdness And Possession Of Child Sexual Abuse Material

October 15, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)—A Monmouth County grand jury has returned a three-count indictment against a West Long Branch man accused of being in possession of cocaine, having child sexual abuse files stored on a drive connected with his email address, and videotaping himself while masturbating in a local park, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Friday.  

Michael K. Russo, 51, is charged with third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child via Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material, third-degree Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance, and fourth-degree Lewdness.

Russo was among more than a dozen people arrested since April as the result of a series of investigations led by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and the Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. In this case, the investigation, initiated by a referral from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), revealed that Russo had uploaded several dozen digital files constituting child sexual abuse material to his Google Drive over the span of about nine months in 2019.

Additional evidence recovered during the course of the investigation served as the basis for the two additional charges; according to the evidence, Russo allegedly exposed himself while at a public park in Asbury Park on or around July 25, 2019.

The Monmouth County ICAC Task Force includes members of the following police departments: Bradley Beach, Eatontown, Howell, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlboro, Neptune Township, Spring Lake, Tinton Falls, Keyport, Keansburg, Belmar, Holmdel, and Red Bank; the Task Force also receives investigative support from the police departments in Long Branch, Colts Neck, Highlands, Hazlet, Howell, Union Beach, Keansburg, Red Bank, West Long Branch, Ocean Township, Freehold Township, and Freehold Borough, as well as the New Jersey State Police (Hamilton Barracks).

This case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Russo is being represented by Joshua Hood, Esq., with an office in Freehold.

Anyone with information about Russo’s activities is being asked to contact MCPO Detective Michael Arduini at 1-800-533-7443.

Convictions on charges of this nature are punishable by up to five years in state prison, as well as the defendant being registered under Megan’s Law and assigned parole supervision for life.

Despite these 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.   

City of Trenton’s Radio Woes: Statement From Mayor W. Reed Gusciora on City Council President Kathy McBride’s Shortsighted Decision That Places All City Residents and Visitors in Danger

October 15, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–At Thursday’s docket review, Council President Kathy McBride pulled a critical Resolution authorizing the expenditure of $4-million from the American Rescue Plan fund to replace the city’s radio system, which does not meet current public safety standards. Previously, Council tabled a Resolution to pay the city’s current police and fire radio-system vendor, MPS Communications, of Trenton, the $218,418 due and owing to the company for services rendered to Trenton municipal government. The city has a new vendor ready to come online.

President McBride’s shortsighted and reckless action places in immediate danger more than 80,000 city residents, as MPS Communications will shut off the city’s radio system at midnight on October 31st. That means the Trenton Police Department, Trenton Fire and Emergency Services, including TEMS, and Trenton Water Works emergency personnel will lack the ability to dispatch emergency services to responders in the field. Shutting the system off will also subject police officers and firefighters to substantial risk due to a lack of expeditious communication.

I am appealing today to President McBride to reverse her decision—to put the Resolution back on the Council docket to be voted on by the seven-member legislative body. I am calling on her Council colleagues to intervene immediately to convince Council President McBride to put the residents of Trenton first, as is our responsibility as elected officials. And I am calling on residents to flood the City Clerk’s office at (609) 989-3187 with pleas for the Council President McBride to come to her senses.

Despite what Council President McBride erroneously believes about MPS Communications, including the overall performance of the radio system, which functions according to established parameters, this is not the time for politics and misplaced hostility. Council President McBride’s action not only exposes the city to additional, expensive litigation, but it also endangers the lives of our residents, our children, our seniors, our properties, everyone. 

We will probably end up in Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson’s courtroom to halt this recklessness. But as we prepare for that eventuality, I have to take action to protect our residents. 

Mercer County Homicide Task Force Makes Arrests in Two Recent Homicide Cases

October 15, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced today that investigations conducted by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force have resulted in charges being filed in two recent homicide cases.

“The tenacity and resolve of the Homicide Task Force are truly remarkable,” Prosecutor Onofri said.  “Even with the continual shooting violence in Trenton, their hard work never lets up.  Their efforts are a demonstration of the commitment and efforts to ensure safety in the city and bring justice to the families ruined by the plague of gun violence.”

Just after 11 p.m. on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, Trenton police received a Shot Spotter activation for multiple rounds at 900 Southard Street.  Also, a Trenton Police Donnelly Homes post was parked stationary approximately 50 yards away from the shooting and heard gunshots.  The officers immediately drove toward the shots and encountered the male victim who was suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.  The victim, identified as 26-year-old Melvin Williams of Trenton, was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center and pronounced dead a short time later.

Investigation revealed that Williams and the suspect engaged in a verbal dispute in the same area shortly before the shooting.  The suspect fired at Williams multiple times, and when Williams tried to run away, the suspect chased him and continued firing, striking Williams multiple times in the face and body.  Eight spent shell casings were located by detectives at the scene.  After reviewing several area surveillance cameras, HTF detectives were able to identify the shooter as a 16-year-old Trenton male whose name is being withheld because he is a juvenile.

The 16-year-old suspect is charged with murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.  He was taken into custody Thursday evening and is being held in the Middlesex County Juvenile Detention Center.

Quamir Bradley, 28, of Levittown, Pa., was also arrested on Thursday in Trenton by members of the HTF and the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force.  Bradley is charged with murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon and certain persons not to possess a firearm for the September 17, 2021 shooting death of Jeff Charles.  The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Bradley pending trial.

Trenton police were dispatched to a home on Race Street at approximately 12:50 a.m. on September 17 after Charles was discovered by a family member unresponsive in his bed.  Investigation revealed that Charles, 37, was shot in front of his residence on Race Street at approximately 12:30 a.m.  There was a gathering across from the victim’s house and, at some point, he was at the gathering and engaged in a verbal dispute with the suspect.  Charles was shot in the shoulder and two .40 caliber shell casings were found at the scene.  Through the review of video surveillance and witness interviews, detectives were able to identify Bradley as the suspect.

Despite having been charged, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Hamilton Township Mercer County Man Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison For Loaded Handgun With 30 Rounds Of Ammunition In Furtherance Of Drug Crime

October 15, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Mercer County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for possessing a handgun in furtherance of a drug crime, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Armond Holloway, 45, of Hamilton, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp via videoconference to Count Two of an indictment charging him with possession of a firearm in furtherance of possession with intent to distribute heroin. Judge Shipp imposed the sentence by videoconference today.

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

On July 31, 2017, Holloway was on parole after having served a term of imprisonment. Holloway’s parole officer received information from an anonymous source that Holloway, who had known gang affiliations, was in possession of a gun, 300-400 bricks of heroin, and a large amount of money at his residence.

On Aug. 1, 2017, the parole officer, along with other law enforcement officers, conducted a parole search of Holloway’s residence, where they recovered a Masterpiece Arms 9 mm firearm with an obliterated serial number, loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition, under Holloway’s bed. They also found a barrel extension that fit the gun. Also recovered from Holloway’s bedroom was more than $14,000 in cash and more than 400 bricks of heroin from Holloway’s basement.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Shipp sentenced Holloway to five years of supervised release.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Matthews in Newark; the New Jersey State Parole Board, under the direction of Chairman Samuel J. Plumeri Jr.; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Elisa T. Wiygul and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.


Defense counsel: Lisa Van Hoeck Esq. and Brian P. Reilly Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defenders, Trenton