Day: December 16, 2021

State Police Charge Woman with Arson in Fire at Arthur Brisbane Child Treatment Center

Fire Caused more than $3.5 Million worth of Damage

December 16, 2021

WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH) – The New Jersey State Police have charged Evelyn V. Alvino, 20, of Pinellas Park, FL, after an 18-month arson investigation of a fire that destroyed the Arthur Brisbane Child Treatment Center in Monmouth County in 2020.

On May 30, 2020, detectives from the Troop “C” Criminal Investigation Office began investigating a large-scale fire at the child treatment state facility located in Wall Township. As a result of the fire, investigators determined that the building sustained more than $3.5 million worth of damage and had to be demolished. During the investigation, detectives discovered that the building and structures in the vicinity had been burglarized prior to the fire.

Through various investigative means, detectives determined that Alvino entered the center, burglarized the building, and started a fire that engulfed the entire structure. On September 7, 2021, detectives charged Alvino with aggravated arson, burglary, criminal trespassing, and criminal mischief and a warrant was issued for her arrest.

During the ongoing investigation, detectives obtained information that Alvino fled New Jersey and was staying at a residence in Pinellas Park, FL. On November 9, members of the U.S. Marshals Service and the Pinellas Park Police Task Force located and arrested Alvino in Pinellas Park. She was lodged in the Pinellas County Jail and extradited to New Jersey on November 30.

The site where the fire occurred is restricted and trespassing is strictly prohibited.

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

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

Ewing Firefighters Respond to Crash on Bear Tavern Road at Nursery Road

December 16, 2021

EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–At 12:59 p.m. Ewing Township firefighters responded to the intersection of Bear Tavern Road and nursery Road with reports of injuries and entrapment. Engine 30 and Rescue 33 arrived and found everyone out of the vehicles. Firefighters assisted with injuries until Capital Health Paramedics and Ewing EMS could arrive. Ewing Township Police Department is investigating the crash. No further information was available.

Photos by: Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

Acting AG Bruck Announces Initiatives to Promote Racial Justice Using Broad Authority of Department of Law and Public Safety

December 16 2021

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced an expansive package of initiatives to use the broad reach of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety to promote racial justice throughout New Jersey. The package includes a number of significant policy changes, including rulemaking to root out discrimination among New Jersey’s 720,000 licensed professionals and a directive to prioritize racial justice through civil investigations and enforcement actions. In July 2021, on his first day in office, Acting Attorney General Bruck directed the Department’s 17 divisions to identify specific projects to advance racial justice that they could complete using their existing authorities in the next six months.

Today’s announcement provides the first public summary of the projects underway across the Department as part of the “LPS Racial Justice Initiative,” which Acting Attorney General Bruck identified as one of his top priorities in office.

 “While the Department of Law and Public Safety cannot fix longstanding racial disparities and injustices on its own, we have a moral obligation to use the tremendous reach of the department to achieve the maximum impact in promoting racial justice,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “I’m grateful that the leaders and staff of our many divisions have fully embraced this crucial initiative. The programs announced today underscore Governor Murphy’s commitment to pursue racial equity for all New Jerseyans, and we’re proud to take on this important work in our department.” 

“I’m proud that our office is advancing this important, department-wide initiative for the benefit of New Jersey’s residents,” said Lora Fong, Assistant Attorney General and the Department’s Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer. “Each of our divisions has responded to Acting Attorney General Bruck’s directive with a sharp focus on how our systems and services can be more inclusive and equitable, and is committed to taking specific steps and swift action.” 

“The LPS Racial Justice Initiative is an important step forward in strengthening and expanding our community engagement efforts across the state,” said Bryn Whittle, Senior Counsel to the Acting Attorney General and Director of Community Engagement. “By establishing this as a priority across the department, we are sending a strong message to our stakeholders that we are dedicated to promoting and advancing racial justice and equity in underserved communities. I appreciate Acting Attorney General Bruck’s vision and leadership on this significant issue.” 

In response to Acting Attorney General Bruck’s call to action, the Department’s divisions and offices proposed a total of nearly 100 new initiatives designed to advance racial justice and equity for underserved communities. The initiatives—which rely on the Department’s enforcement and regulatory authorities, community engagement, grantmaking, and other tools—include initiatives in the following areas, among others:

  • Combatting bias, discrimination, and hate.
  • Ensuring fairer treatment for justice-involved individuals.
  • Promoting equity and addressing past wrongs.
  • Strengthening relationships with the community.

Highlights of the racial justice initiatives being pursued by the Divisions include:

  1. Acting Attorney General Bruck has proposed anti-discrimination regulations for all professional boards supported by the Division of Consumer Affairs. If adopted, the proposal will make clear that discrimination and bias-based harassment constitute professional misconduct that provides a basis for a board’s disciplinary action. The rule will apply to approximately 720,000 licensees overseen by 51 professional and occupational boards.
  2. Today, Acting Attorney General Bruck issued a directive to the Department’s civil enforcement divisions—the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, the Division of Consumer Affairs, the Division on Civil Rights, the Division of Gaming Enforcement, and the New Jersey Racing Commission—instructing them to prioritize racial justice when identifying matters for investigation and enforcement. The Directive includes strategies and best practices to ensure that the Department deploys its civil enforcement tools to more effectively serve the needs of historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. No other state attorney general’s office has ever issued a directive that so comprehensively incorporates racial justice into its enforcement priorities.
  3. The Division of Administration is creating an interdisciplinary grant review team and revamping the process for evaluating grant applications to promote the equitable distribution of funds. The Department awards millions of dollars of grants every year, many of them to assist underserved individuals or victims of crime. The Division will lead efforts to make the teams reviewing grants reflect the diversity of those applying for them, which will promote the equitable expenditure of funds.
  4. To provide greater access to work opportunities in the alcohol industry for people with histories of criminal justice involvement, the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control is revisiting how it implements disqualifications to individuals seeking to be licensed or employed by the liquor industry. This work is focusing on what constitutes a crime of “moral turpitude,” and easing the financial burdens for those applying for reinstatement permits. Additionally, in response to Attorney General Directive No. 2021-8 and following the Division’s acknowledgement of past misconduct against the LGBTQ+ community, the Division will be supplementing its findings on whether its enforcement authority was historically used in a discriminatory manner against marginalized groups.
  5. The Division on Civil Rights is introducing a training on bystander intervention for the workplace, launching a virtual seminar on the factors that inhibit and encourage bystander intervention, especially in situations involving bias, harassment, and discrimination. Participants also will learn about the Law Against Discrimination and the importance of bystander intervention within the context of civil rights law.
  6. The Division of Criminal Justice is leading the development of an innovative pilot program focusing on domestic violence occurring in two underserved immigrant and low-income communities. This pilot program, which will be undertaken with one or two County Prosecutors’ Offices, will create a one-year diversionary program for certain domestic violence cases as a means of reducing collateral consequences for victims and the community stemming from police involvement in domestic violence incidents. Eligible participants will be required to participate in court-ordered programming (for example, anger management, substance use disorder counseling) and remain arrest-free, in order for charges to be dismissed.
  7. The Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor is launching community engagement and outreach initiatives focused on vulnerable communities to promote equitable enforcement of the law. The first will focus on reducing the victimization of and improving reporting of fraud in communities with limited-English proficiency and barriers to communication—communities where past outreach efforts have been insufficient. The second campaign, in coordination with the Elder Protection Task Force, will address elder abuse in underserved communities, marginalized communities, and communities of color through targeted engagement and outreach to key stakeholders, including by working with clergy and community coalitions.
  8. The Juvenile Justice Commission is revising its mission statement to include a focus on racial justice and ensuring equitable outcomes for youth, and will analyze the implementation of select policies to ensure equitable outcomes are achieved. In addition, the JJC is establishing a community liaison role for a focused engagement with community stakeholders and to provide the community with voice in policy and programming decisions.
  9. The newly created Office of Justice Data is leading a data needs assessment with the goal of using data transparency to promote racial justice and advance equity in myriad ways. Among other things, the Office will coordinate with the Department’s divisions to identify what data collection or analysis resources are needed to implement racial justice initiatives. The Office also will work with community stakeholders to identify areas of interest and priorities where the Department does not currently provide a comprehensive data picture.
  10. The Office of the New Jersey Coordinator of Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJCARES) is raising public awareness about the opioid epidemic’s increasing toll on communities of color. In recent years, an increasing percentage of drug-related deaths are occurring among Blacks and Hispanics. NJCARES co-sponsored a statewide webinar this month to share these findings with the public and explore strategies for addressing the underlying causes, and it will make this information available to the public on its website.
  11. The Attorney General’s public integrity watchdog, the Office of Public Integrity & Accountability, is improving detection of public corruption affecting underserved communities through more inclusive and accessible outreach to individuals with limited English language proficiency and/or other barriers to communication, including the launch of Spanish-language resources for reporting corruption.
  12. The New Jersey State Police is expanding its Citizens’ Academy program, which is designed to improve community relations by educating and engaging communities, allowing State Police to have more ambassadors throughout New Jersey. The Citizens’ Academy enrolls leaders and members of New Jersey’s diverse communities in weekly classes in which they learn about the responsibilities and operations of the State Police, while also having open conversations with NJSP troopers and commanders about critical issues of mutual concern.
  13. The Victims of Crime Compensation Office is expanding outreach and training to promote awareness of the agency and to establish trust with and provide support to victims and family survivors. The effort will focus on Victim Witness Coordinators and Hospital Violence Intervention Programs to build trust with impacted communities so they may be more willing to utilize services. 

In addition to the package announced today, the Department of Law and Public Safety is continuing its ongoing efforts to promote racial justice in other ways. The Office of Public Integrity and Accountability recently completed a sweeping overhaul of the state’s use-of-force policy to address police conduct that disproportionately affects communities of color and to require regular analysis of racial disparities going forward. The Division on Civil Rights is finalizing rules to implement the historic Fair Chance in Housing Act, which is focused on dismantling systemic racial disparities in access to housing. And all New Jersey State Troopers, as well as all prosecutors and detectives employed by the Division of Criminal Justice and 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices, have received implicit bias training. Acting AG Bruck also announced today the receipt of resources to help implement aspects of the racial justice initiative through the award of two competitive U.S. Department of Justice grants totaling more than $1 million to combat hate crimes in New Jersey:

  • $750,000 for Public Awareness Campaign. This grant, from the Collaborative Approaches Toward Preventing and Addressing Hate Crime-Demonstration Projects Program, will fund a major public awareness campaign using television, print, radio, digital, and social media to encourage New Jersey residents to confront the rising tide of hate by, among other things, recognizing and reporting bias incidents and crimes. It also will fund community events and training programs for law enforcement and victim services professionals.
  • $300,000 to Enhance Bias Incident Reporting. This grant, from the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crimes Program, will be used to improve bias incident reporting by funding upgrades to record management systems to enable law enforcement agencies to participate in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

The need for action was underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic, which exposed and exacerbated racial disparities that have long plagued our country and New Jersey. To cite just a few examples, Black infants in New Jersey are four times more likely than white infants to die in their first year; people of color make up approximately 44 percent of New Jersey’s population, but represent over 75 percent of the state’s prison population; and among New Jersey’s Asian American Pacific Islander population—which makes up 10 percent of the State’s total population—36 percent have limited English language proficiency, adversely affecting employment, earnings, and access to services.

Tinton Falls Man Found Guilty for 2017 Endangering Welfare of a Child, Invasion of Privacy

December 16, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH) – A Tinton Falls man was found guilty by a Monmouth County Jury in connection with the 2017 possession and distribution of child sexual abuse materials and invasion of privacy, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Friday.

Robert Mack, 35, of Tinton Falls was convicted of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material, third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material and third degree Invasion of Privacy.

A 2017 investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, along with NJ ICAC Task Force and the Tinton Falls Police Department revealed that Mack was downloading and sharing child sexual abuse materials from a computer located at his residence in Tinton Falls. Mack was also in possession of hard drives containing child sexual abuse materials. Further investigation concluded that Mack also had videos of an adult female with her intimate parts exposed without her permission.

Mack was indicted in October 2018.

Mack faces more than 10 years in a New Jersey State Prison. Mack must also register for Megan’s Law, he will be under Parole Supervision for Life and will have Internet Restrictions when he is sentenced by Monmouth County Superior Court by Judge Lourdes Lucas on February 14, 2022. This case is being handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Mack is being represented by Michael Chazen, Esq., of Freehold.

East Windsor Township Again Achieves Silver Level Sustainable Jersey Certification

December 16, 2021

EAST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)—Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Green Team members were once again awarded the Sustainable Jersey Silver Level Certification in a recent ceremony by Sustainable Jersey Executive Director Randall Solomon.  Sustainable Jersey is a certification program for municipalities that want to go green, save money and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term.  Launched in 2009, Sustainable Jersey is a 100% voluntary certification program for municipalities in New Jersey. 

East Windsor was honored for the third time with Silver Level Sustainable Jersey Certification with 33 actions in 12 categories for a total of 365 points.  East Windsor Township previously earned Silver Level Sustainable Jersey Certification in 2018 and in 2015.  East Windsor earned silver certification action points for many Township initiated programs and actions undertaken by Mayor Mironov and Council Members, including creation of a Green Team, community outreach programs, emergency communications planning, municipal on-site solar system, farmland preservation plans, community garden, sustainable land use pledge, business recognition programs, open space preservation, environmental assessment ordinance, green grounds and maintenance policy, pest management, community recycling/paper shredding events, backyard composting program, and “Cut it and Leave it” program. East Windsor is one of only 25 municipalities statewide that achieved Sustainable Jersey Silver Level Certification in 2021.

            Mayor Mironov stated, “This certification recognizes the Township’s pro-active efforts in community partnerships and outreach, composting and recycling, emergency management, natural resource and farmland preservation, sustainable land use practices, energy conservation, and furthermore enables East Windsor Township to be eligible for future grants and funding opportunities.  We are extremely proud of the substantial achievements of our municipality and this prestigious statewide recognition, and the dedicated efforts of our many volunteers.” Mayor Mironov added, “‘Green’ programs such as open space and farmland preservation and tree replacement efforts have always been a priority of East Windsor Township.  We appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate our level of achievement with Sustainable Jersey, and we are honored to be recertified as a statewide Silver Level municipality.”

            The members of the East Windsor Green Team are:   Chairperson Ronald Balint;  Mayor Janice S. Mironov;  Deputy Mayor Peter Yeager;  Council Member John Zoller;  East Windsor Municipal Utilities Authority Executive Director Richard Brand;  Dave Bahniuk;  Michael Baskin;  John G. Donnelly;  Edward M. Kelley;  Joseph Miczak, and student member Rajiv Srinath.

Trenton, NJ Man Among 11 Members of Salem City Drug Ring Indicted on Conspiracy and Drug and Weapons Offenses

William Burden, 48, of Trenton, was allegedly one of Jerome Armstead’s suppliers and also faces weapons offenses in connection with a search of his home on Oct. 1, 2021, when police uncovered a blank gun, cocaine, and marijuana. As a result, Burden and his live-in girlfriend, Deborah Derricott, 55, of Upper Deerfield, N.J., were also indicted on second-degree possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes.

December 16, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)—Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of the alleged head, supplier, and other associates in connection with a drug ring that was dealing heroin, crack cocaine, and fentanyl in Salem City. During the course of the investigation and subsequent search warrants, law enforcement seized two handguns, an assault firearm, and a blank gun (imitation firearm that shoots blanks) from members of the trafficking organization.

The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment on Wednesday, December 15, charging alleged members and associates of a Salem City drug ring on second-degree conspiracy, and various drug and weapons offenses.

The charges stem from “Operation Worldwide,” a 10-month long investigation led by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau which led to arrests and charges against the defendants in October 2021. During the investigation and subsequent search warrants, two handguns, an assault firearm, over 17 ounces of crack cocaine, 17 ounces of suspected heroin, and 6 ounces of fentanyl were seized by law enforcement.

“Indictments like this show that law enforcement is best when we collaborate to investigate and prosecute organizations that put communities at risk,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “We are committed to holding those who profit from illegal drugs and utilize crime guns to support their criminal activity accountable.”

“Operation Worldwide is a great example of our commitment to investigating, prosecuting, and dismantling criminal organizations that fuel violence in our communities,” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Let this indictment be a warning to those engaging in criminal behavior, you will be held accountable.”

“This operation resulted in the takedown of a drug ring that was allegedly distributing some of the most highly addictive and deadly narcotics sold on the streets, and as a result of the drug and gun seizures, there will undoubtedly be a positive impact on Salem City and its surrounding communities,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “An operation of this magnitude requires a tremendous amount of collaboration and planning between law enforcement agencies, and I commend all of our detectives and partners who worked tirelessly to dismantle this trafficking network.”

Jerome Armstead, aka “Worldwide,” 47, of Salem, N.J., who allegedly ran the drug set, was indicted on second-degree conspiracy and first-, second-, and third-degree drug offenses. When search warrants were executed on Oct. 8, investigators seized a handgun in an area in close proximity to the Elm Street residence where he allegedly hid contraband. As a result, he was also indicted on two counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, second-degree possession of a weapon as a convicted felon, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine.

The following defendants were indicted on Dec. 15 on second-degree conspiracy, and various second- and third-degree drug offenses. Defendants with an asterisk also face weapons charges:

  • Kunta K. Reeves, 43, of Carneys Point;
  • William Burden*, 48, of Trenton;
  • Deborah Derricott*, 55, of Upper Deerfield, N.J.;
  • Kaleb Morris*, 18, of Salem, N.J.;
  • Damyja Noel*, 20, of Salem, N.J.;
  • Ronnell Booker, 44, of Salem;
  • Jake Saxton, 43, of Salem;
  • Arthur Armstead, 50, of Salem;
  • Artaj Northrop, 26, of Salem; and
  • Monique Noel, 39, of Salem.

William Burden, 48, of Trenton, was allegedly one of Jerome Armstead’s suppliers and also faces weapons offenses in connection with a search of his home on Oct. 1, 2021, when police uncovered a blank gun, cocaine, and marijuana. As a result, Burden and his live-in girlfriend, Deborah Derricott, 55, of Upper Deerfield, N.J., were also indicted on second-degree possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes.

Members of the New Jersey State Police and U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Kaleb Morris, 18, of Salem, N.J. on an outstanding warrant for a firearms offense. Investigators seized additional drugs, a handgun, and ammunition from his residence. As a result, Morris and Damyja Noel, 20, of Salem, N.J., are also charged with various weapons charges including second-degree possession of a firearm during the commission of certain crimes, and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine.

The indictment is posted online here: View Indictment

Deputy Attorney General Veronica Vizzard and Deputy Attorney General Aaron Witherspoon are lead prosecutors on the case for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.

The lead investigator in Operation Worldwide Det. Michael Cresci of New Jersey State Police Intelligence and Criminal Enterprise Section, Violent and Organized Crime Control South Bureau and Crime Suppression South Unit. The investigation was conducted by detectives of the New Jersey State Police Intelligence and Criminal Enterprise Section, Violent and Organized Crime Control South Bureau and Crime Suppression South Unit, working in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force, Salem Police Department, Salem County Prosecutors Office, Bridgeton Police Department, Carneys Point Police Department, Salem County Sheriff’s Department, Camden County Police Department, Camden County Sheriff’s Department, Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, and Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office.

First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000, while second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, and fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

This investigation is another step towards reducing gun violence in New Jersey, one of Acting Attorney General Bruck’s key priority areas. In addition to long-term enforcement actions, the Attorney General’s Office and local, state, and federal law enforcement partners are establishing a statewide gun violence task force, holding a series of gun buyback programs around the state this summer, as well as performing targeted sweeps of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants for violent offenses, as part of a comprehensive strategy to combat gun violence.

Defense Attorneys

Jerome Armstead: D. Coleby Rogers, Esq., Westmont, N.J.

William Burden: Andrew Imperiale, Esq., Ventnor City, N.J.

Deborah Derricott: Scott R. Cohen, Esq., Cherry Hill, N.J.

Kunta K. Reeves: Durann Neil, Esq., Atlantic City, N.J.

Kaleb Morris: Logan Terry, Esq., Cinnaminson, N.J.

Ronnell Booker: Logan Terry, Esq., Cinnaminson, N.J.

Monique Noel: Public Defender Kevin Walker, Mercer County

For Others: Undetermined