ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — The Coast Guard medically evacuated a man after he was found unconscious aboard a fishing vessel approximately 90 miles east of Barnegat Township, New Jersey, Thursday, November 4, 2021. Watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay Command Center received a relayed notification from watchstanders at the Coast Guard 1st District Command Center regarding a crewmember who was found unconscious and in need of immediate medical attention while aboard the fishing vessel Lady Anna. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, New Jersey was launched to the scene. Once on scene, the aircrew was able to successfully hoist the crewmember and transfer him to AtlantiCare Trauma Center in Atlantic City for further medical care. “Medical evacuations are always complex evolutions and can be especially challenging at night,” said Lt. Humberto Hernandez, one of the Dolphin pilots from Air Station Atlantic City. “Our crews remain ever ready and due to the quick actions from the command center and air station personnel, we were able to quickly get this gentleman to the hospital where he could receive immediate medical treatment.”
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)– Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy M. Thompson announced that a Mercer County man was charged Wednesday with receiving stolen checks and for allegedly using a corporate bank account to receive the stolen funds.
Wayne Bessant, 40, of Hamilton, N.J., was indicted on second-degree receiving stolen property and second-degree misconduct by a corporate official. The indictment was handed up by a state grand jury on November 3, 2021.
Between August 9, 2019 and September 16, 2019, Bessant allegedly received twenty-three stolen checks. Bessant was also charged with second-degree misconduct by a corporate official for allegedly using the company, New Tech Restoration LLC, to receive more than $75,000 in stolen funds.
The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
Deputy Attorney General Jennifer L. Menjivar presented the case to the State Grand Jury for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor under the supervision of Bureau Chief DAG Cheryl Maccaroni, and Assistant Bureau Chief Crystal Callahan of the Private Insurance Fraud Bureau. Sergeant Wendy Berg and Detective Matthew Armstrong investigated the case under the Supervision of Lieutenant Kelly Howard.
Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson noted that many cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the website at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution, and conviction for insurance fraud.
MARLBORO TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH) – A physical attack and attempted sexual assault of a jogger in a county park earlier this week is under active investigation, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Saturday.
The incident took place shortly after 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, approximately 100 feet off the Henry Hudson Trail in Marlboro Township’s Big Brook Park, not far from the Trail’s eastern terminus at Boundary Road. An investigation involving members of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Bureau and the Marlboro Township Police Department determined that the victim, an adult female, was running in the area when she noticed a male stretching nearby.
Moments later, the man physically attacked her, causing her to fall to the ground, and brandished a knife, which he used to cause minor injuries to her arms. The man then allegedly exposed himself and attempted to sexually assault the woman, but she managed to fight him off, causing him to flee in an unknown direction.
The suspect is described as a tanned white adult male with medium-length hair, standing approximately 6 feet tall and weighing approximately 240 pounds, wearing a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants. He also reportedly had a raised scar on one ear, light facial hair, and a distinctive neck tattoo; a sketch of the suspect created Friday by the New Jersey State Police is being provided along with this press release.
This investigation remains ongoing, with MCPO personnel working with authorities in neighboring jurisdictions to determine whether this incident is in any way connected with other recent similar incidents. Anyone with information about this matter is being urged to contact MCPO Detective Joshua Rios at 1-800-533-7443.
This suspect is to be considered armed and dangerous, and anyone who believes they have encountered him is urged not to approach him and instead immediately dial 911.
PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP, BROWNS MILLS, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced that a 62-year-old man was found guilty of causing the deaths of his elderly mother and her companion who perished in a house fire in October 2018 in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton Township.
Kurt Smith, who lived at the residence in the 500 block of Willow Boulevard, was convicted by a jury on two counts of Reckless Manslaughter (Second Degree). The verdict was returned October 26 following approximately 10 hours of deliberation over two days.
The Hon. Christopher J. Garrenger, J.S.C., scheduled sentencing for January 7. Smith has been lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly since his arrest a few days after the fire.
Smith was accused of igniting flammable material with a cigarette lighter in the garage of the residence, then unsuccessfully attempting to extinguish the blaze.
In addition to the homicides, Smith was charged with arson. The jury was unable to come to a verdict on the arson charge.
The fire killed his mother, Lore Smith, 92, who was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Her companion, George Pikunis, also 92, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Autopsies performed by Burlington County Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood concluded the cause of death in each instance was smoke and soot inhalation, along with thermal burns.
Smith was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Remy and Assistant Prosecutor Bob Van Gilst, supervisor of the BCPO Major Crimes Unit, Violent Crimes Section. The investigation was conducted by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, the Pemberton Township Police Department, and the Burlington County Fire Marshal’s Office. The lead investigators were BCPO Detective Erica Ridge and Pemberton Township Detective Tom Lucas.
DELANCO, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Delanco Township Police Chief Jesse DeSanto announced that the volunteer chief of the Delanco Fire Department has been charged with touching the breasts of a woman from another local emergency services agency who had come to the fire house for work purposes.
Todd R. Johnsen, 45, of Center Avenue, was charged with one count of Criminal Sexual Contact (Fourth Degree) in connection with the June 19 incident inside the Delanco Fire House. He is scheduled for a hearing in Central Judicial Processing Court on December 6.
The investigation began after the victim reported the contact to Delanco police. The investigation revealed that Johnsen entered the room where the victim was seated at a table, then leaned over and wrapped his arms around her. It is alleged that Johnsen placed an arm under her breasts and pushed them up as he put his head down on top of her breasts, leaving it there for several seconds before removing himself from her and walking away.
Johnsen is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Eife, supervisor of the BCPO Major Crimes Unit – Special Victims Section. The investigation was conducted by the Delanco Township Police Department. The lead investigator was DTPD Det. Vince Epifano.
All persons are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
EAST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Diversified Rack & Shelving partnered with East Windsor Township Mayor Janice S. Mironov, to present $10,000 in donations to four community organizations: $2,500 to RISE Community Service Partnership to support their food distribution program, $2,500 to Mercer County Meals on Wheels, $2,500 to Jewish Family & Children’s Service for their mobile food truck, and $2,500 to the East Windsor Senior Trust Fund for senior programming. According to Dave Longo, President & CEO of Diversified Rack & Shelving, “These donations are part of a long-standing tradition and corporate philosophy of Diversified Rack & Shelving to support local charitable causes.”
Mayor Janice Mironov stated, “These generous donations by community spirited business Diversified Rack & Shelving provide valuable support for food distribution programs and for our valued senior citizen programs in our East Windsor community. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to work and collaborate with each of these worthy organizations which provide such tremendous support services in our community.” Mayor Mironov added, “Food distribution especially has been key during the pandemic so we especially value our private caring business partners such as Diversified Rack & Shelving.”
RISE Community Service Partnership is a local based center of social support which helps families and individuals by providing them with a variety of services including maintaining a year-round pantry of food and goods. Mercer County Meals on Wheels serves homebound seniors who are 60 years and older who are unable to cook or shop for themselves through regular home visits by agency volunteers.
Jewish Family & Children’s Service mobile food truck brings the food pantry to community members who may experience transportation barriers, physical mobility or financial limitations for healthy food choices. The East Windsor Senior Trust Fund provides resources for a diverse array of senior programs and socialization opportunities facilitated through the East Windsor Senior Center.
Diversified Rack & Shelving, located on Route 130 North, is a family-owned business since 1990 that supplies industrial racks and shelving of all sizes and configurations. They are one of the largest suppliers of used racks, shelving and material handling equipment on the East Coast, providing a sustainable and environmentally friendly option to their customers.
FREEHOLD , NJ (MONMOUTH)–A former Holmdel Township man was sentenced to a total of 10 years in a New Jersey State Prison relating to an arson and firing a weapon into a township business, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.
Leonard J. Mazzarisi, III, 32, formerly of Burgundy Drive in Holmdel, was sentenced on Friday November 5, 2021 by Superior Court Judge Lourdes Lucas to five years for second degree Aggravated Arson and an additional five years with 42 months without parole for second degree Possession of a Weapon For an Unlawful Purpose. Both sentences are set to run consecutively.
Mazzarisi was previously convicted on Friday July 30, 2021 after a month-long jury trial before Judge Lucas.
On Aug. 19, 2017, Holmdel police responded to a report of a possible arson at 51 Main Street in the township, the site of the Neuhaus Realty Agency. Evidence collected there suggested that a fire that damaged a portion of the rear of the building was purposefully set. A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Holmdel Township Police Department determined the fire was purposefully set by a male captured on video surveillance cameras from August 17, 2017.
On Jan. 27, 2018 at about 10:18 p.m., Holmdel police responded to a second fire at the same Main Street location, finding heavy smoke and fire emanating from the rear of the structure. Firefighters from the Holmdel Fire Department responded to the scene but the structure sustained extensive damage. An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the Holmdel Township Police Department and the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office determined this second fire to also be an act of arson, closely resembling the August 2017 fire.
On May 29, 2018, Holmdel police were dispatched to 4 South Holmdel Road on the report of a BB gun being fired into the building. The location is the newest location for Neuhaus Realty, which had been forced to relocate as a result to the January 27th fire damage. Detectives from Holmdel Township Police Department reviewed additional surveillance video to determine Mazzarisi was responsible for firing the BB gun into the window of the building, and that he was driving a vehicle that matched the vehicle seen in the video at the January 2018 arson at the former Neuhaus Realty location.
The following day, on May 30, 2018, Mazzarisi was located at a hotel in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he was arrested on outstanding warrants stemming from the investigation. Mazzarisi was held at the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Stafford, Virginia until he was extradited back to New Jersey on June 12, 2018 to face these charges.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Anthony Puglisi.
Mazzarisi was represented by John J. Perrone, Esq., of Long Branch.