Day: February 11, 2022

Robbinsville Ice Hockey Shuts Out Lawrence 6-0

February 11, 2022

WEST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–The Robbinsville – Allentown High School Cooperative Ice Hockey team shuts out Lawrence Township High School with a final score of 6-0 in the Mercer County Tournament.

The Robbinsville – Allentown will advance to the semifinal round to be held at 8:00 p.m. on February 16, 2022. The match up will be decided after Notre Dame and Hopewell play their quarterfinal game on Monday, February 14, 2022.

Community Medical Center, Children’s Specialized Hospital and RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group Break Ground on Medical Hub in West Tom’s River

New 86,000-square-foot medical building to expand convenient access to outpatient services for adults and children in Ocean County

February 11, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Executives from Community Medical Center, Children’s Specialized Hospital, and RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group, together with local officials gathered on February 9th to celebrate the groundbreaking for a new 86,000-square-foot medical hub located at 171 Saint Catherine Boulevard in Toms River, N.J. Once complete, the three-story medical building will be shared by Community Medical Center and Children’s Specialized Hospital, both RWJBarnabas Health facilities, with an anticipated opening slated for early 2023.

 Designed to serve as Community Medical Center’s hub for patients in western Toms River, their space in the new medical office building will encompass 37,594 square feet offering a range of outpatient services including imaging, ambulatory surgery, pre-admission testing, and physical and occupational therapy. RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group’s primary care and orthopedic physicians will also have offices onsite.

“Our new medical hub will serve as a premier healthcare destination for Toms River and the surrounding areas, enabling us to transform how we deliver care by bringing a range of services directly to the community,” said Patrick Ahearn, Chief Executive Officer, Community Medical Center. “We are excited to break ground on this project and look forward to its completion so we can continue to provide our patients with improved access to the world-class care they have come to expect.”

Further expanding and enhancing access to specialized outpatient services for children, Children’s Specialized Hospital (CSH) will bring the services currently offered in its Lakehurst Road and Stevens Road offices into the remaining 48,406 square feet of the new building – providing their care in one convenient location. These services include developmental and behavioral pediatrics, neurology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry and psychology, and occupational, physical, and speech therapy.

“Children’s Specialized Hospital has a longstanding commitment to children and youth with special healthcare needs,” said Matthew B. McDonald III, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Children’s Specialized Hospital. “Today is a remarkable milestone on their behalf where we will have the opportunity to better serve those kids in this community. Thanks to the teamwork of CSH, Community Medical Center and RWJBarnabas Health we are ensuring every child has access to the programs and services they need to reach their full potential.”

Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation is in the midst of the largest fundraising campaign in its 35-year history, with a goal of $45 million to support the hospital’s expansion into new communities – including this new site in Toms River. As part of this effort, Todd Frazier, MLB All-Star and Olympian, and his wife, Jackie, have signed on as honorary co-chairs of this Transforming Lives 2.0 campaign that has secured over $34 million to date.

“We are so excited to see this new facility brought to our community to uplift Toms River and hopefully change a lot of children’s lives,” said Todd and Jackie Frazier. “It was really a simple decision for us to support this campaign – an easy home run as we say in baseball. We can’t wait to see all the children whose lives will be impacted in such positive ways and hope we can put a smile on some of their faces.”

Additional N.J. community leaders that have pledged their support to the Transforming Lives 2.0 campaign include Mark Montenero, CSH Foundation Board of Trustees, Campaign Co-Chair and President of Autoland Toyota, Chrysler, Jeep and RAM Trucks; and Ed McKenna, CSH Foundation Board of Trustees, Campaign Co-Chair, Senior Partner at McKenna, Dupont, Stone & Washburne and former mayor of Red Bank.

Additionally, RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group will bring orthopedic and primary care services to the space.

“Our goal is to make quality care more accessible in the communities we serve,” said Andy Anderson, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group. “This new healthcare hub demonstrates our commitment to that goal and increases our ability to foster enhanced health and wellness for individuals and families in Ocean County.”

Lacey Township Man Pleads Guilty to Maintaining a Controlled Dangerous Substance Production Facility

February 11, 2022

LACEY TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 11, 2021, Andrew Bradley, 22, of Lacey Township, pled guilty before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., to Maintaining a Controlled Dangerous Substance Production Facility in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4. At the time of his sentencing on April 1, 2022, the State will seek a term of ten years New Jersey State Prison.

An investigation conducted by the Lacey Township Police Department Detective Bureau between 2017 and 2020 determined that Bradley was utilizing a residence in the Forked River section of Lacey Township to store and distribute cocaine and marijuana. As a result, Detectives from the Lacey Township Police Department performed a motor vehicle stop on Bradley’s vehicle in Lacey Township on October 1, 2021, at which time Bradley was detained. Lacey Township Detectives – with the assistance of the Stafford Township Police Department K-9 Unit – thereafter executed court-authorized search warrants on Bradley’s vehicle and residence. As a result, Detectives seized quantities of cocaine, psilocybin mushrooms, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), dimethyltryptamine (DMT), marijuana including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), drug paraphernalia, and equipment and supplies indicative of manufacturing and distributing cocaine, from Bradley’s residence. Bradley was taken into custody and transported to the Ocean County Jail, and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Kristin Pressman, Senior Assistant Prosecutor Ashley Angelo, and Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill, who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Lacey Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Lacey Township Police Department Patrol Division, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, and Stafford Township Police Department K-9 Unit, for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Bradley’s apprehension, guilty plea, and soon his state prison sentence.

Brick Township Man Sentenced to Three Years in NJ State Prison for Terroristic Threats at Jenkinson’s Pavillion Boardwalk Amusements

February 11, 2022

POINT PLEASANT BEACH, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 11, 2022, Nkosi Jones, 20, of Brick Township, was sentenced by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., to three years New Jersey State Prison as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Terroristic Threats in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(a), in connection with incidents that occurred on June 3, 2021 and June 4, 2021, in Point Pleasant Beach. Jones pled guilty to the charge on December 6, 2021, before Judge Ryan.

On June 3, 2021, at approximately 1:15 p.m., a bomb threat was called in to the main office of Jenkinson’s Pavilion Boardwalk Amusements. The caller indicated he would be planting a bomb on the boardwalk. The call was reported to the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department, and the boardwalk was evacuated by law enforcement. The boardwalk reopened for business approximately three hours later. The following day, Jenkinson’s employees fielded another call alluding to a bomb threat. The boardwalk was once again cleared, and reopened after several hours. An investigation by the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department Detective Bureau and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit revealed that Jones – an employee of Jenkinson’s Pavilion – placed both of the threatening calls through the voice over IP app TextNow. On June 17, 2021, Jones was arrested as he reported to work at Jenkinson’s. He was transported to the Ocean County Jail, and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Kristin Pressman and Assistant Prosecutor Shanon Chant-Berry who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department, Point Pleasant Beach Police Department Detective Bureau, Point Pleasant Beach Police Department K-9 Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Point Pleasant Borough Police Department, Brick Township Police Department K-9 Unit, Middletown Township Police Department K-9 Unit, West Windsor Township Police Department K-9 Unit, New Jersey State Parks Police K-9 Unit, Bradley Beach Police Department K-9 Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, resulting in Jones’ apprehension, guilty plea, and state prison sentence.

State Police Charge Duo for Placing Illegal Gambling Machines Across the State

Detectives Believe Machines Generated more than $10,000 a Month

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to assist with investigating the placement of illegal “coin pusher” gambling devices at various convenient stores in Lakewood, N.J.

February 11, 2022

Wallington, N.J.- The New Jersey State Police have arrested Daniel Kohan, 31, and Yuriy Yakubov, 34, both of Brooklyn, N.Y. for allegedly setting up illegal gambling machines at various locations across the state that were believed to be generating more than $10,000 a month.

In October 2021, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Financial Crimes North Unit were contacted by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to assist with investigating the placement of illegal “coin pusher” gambling devices at various convenient stores in Lakewood, N.J. A “coin pusher” is a boardwalk style game with coins and other prizes in it. It is only approved for certain venues including arcades and boardwalks. When used properly, it will dispense tickets or tokens to the winner.

Through various investigative means, detectives determined that Kohan and Yakubov placed these machines at various locations throughout New Jersey, and Kohan was collecting the proceeds. On February 1, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Financial Crimes North Unit obtained information that Yakubov was in the Bergen County area and arrested him after they observed him servicing a gambling device at a convenience store in Wallington, N.J. A short time later, Kohan turned himself in to troopers at State Police Meadowlands Station and was arrested.

Daniel Kohan and Yuriy Yakubov were charged with possession of a gambling device. Kohan was also charged with money laundering and promoting gambling. They were released pending a future court date.

Anyone with information on illegal “coin pusher” gambling devices may contact the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 973-504-6200. Anonymous tips are welcome.

This case is being prosecuted by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.

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

Lakewood Man Sentenced to Sixteen Years in NJ State Prison for Aggravated Manslaughter

February 11, 2022

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 11, 2022, Darneil Reeves, 38, of Lakewood, was sentenced by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., to sixteen years New Jersey State Prison as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to Aggravated Manslaughter in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4a(1), in connection with the stabbing death of Hassan Parker in Lakewood Township on June 22, 2015. This sentence will be subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, meaning that Reeves will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility. Reeves pled guilty to the charge before Judge Ryan on December 22, 2021.

On June 22, 2015, Lakewood Township Police Officers, who were working an off-duty road detail, witnessed a motor vehicle crash into a telephone pole at the intersection of John Street and River Avenue in Lakewood. As Officers approached the vehicle, Hassan Parker, 32, of South Toms River, exited the vehicle, indicated that he had been stabbed, and collapsed. Shortly thereafter, paramedics arrived on scene; once in the ambulance, Mr. Parker expressed that Reeves was the individual who stabbed him. Mr. Parker was transported to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

A subsequent investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, determined that Reeves stabbed Mr. Parker in the chest in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Center Street. Mr. Parker then drove away and crashed into the telephone pole.

On June 30, 2015, Reeves surrendered to the United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force with his attorney, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since that date.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the diligent efforts of Executive Assistant Prosecutor Michelle Armstrong and Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Kristin Pressman who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Lakewood Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and United States Marshals Fugitive Task Force, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, resulting in Reeves’ apprehension, guilty plea, and lengthy state prison sentence.

Hit-n-run Driver Arrested, Bicyclist and Officer Injured in South Brunswick

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka announced the arrest of a 41-year-old North Brunswick man in connection to a series of crashes that left a bicyclist and an officer injured Thursday afternoon. “We were very lucky today. When you see the police vehicle and hear from witnesses who saw the bicyclist run over, you realize it is a miracle,” said Chief Hayducka.

The incident began at 1:29 PM when the bicyclist, a 40-year-old East Brunswick man, was riding on Route 522, crossing over Route 130 to Fresh Ponds Road. At the same time, a 2017 Ford passenger van driven by Ankur Khajuriwala age 41 of North Brunswick made a left-hand turn from Route 522 onto Route 130 northbound and ran over the bicyclist. The van never stopped and headed northbound on Route 130. South Brunswick officer, PFC Joseph Marrero, was out of his patrol SUV across the highway and witnessed the bicyclist get struck. PFC Marrero got back in his vehicle and headed Route 130 north attempting to locate the van that had fled. As he headed northbound traffic began to slow and he took evasive action. His SUV left the roadway and hit a berm which sent the vehicle airborne. The SUV then struck a sign and a utility pole before coming to rest in a parking lot.

The Monmouth Junction Fire Department responded to the scene and freed PFC Marrero from the vehicle. South Brunswick EMS and paramedics transported PFC Marrero to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, while Monroe EMS transported the bicyclist to the same hospital. Both the officer and bicyclist were released from the hospital late Thursday evening.

The bicyclist was able to provide officers with a partial license plate of the van that struck him. Police dispatchers were able to isolate the van and determined it came back to Rainbow Home Adult Day Care in Somerset. After making contact with the business, Mr. Khajuriwala returned to the scene. The investigation found that Mr. Khajuriwala knew he struck something and continued to drive northbound. A few minutes later he realized he was headed in the wrong direction and traveled southbound on Route 130 passing both the crash involving the officer and the bicyclist who had been struck. Mr. Khajuriwala was arrested and charged with Endangering an Injured Victim, leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving, and several other motor vehicle offenses. In addition, Rainbow Home Adult Day Care was cited for having an unregistered vehicle and improperly licensed driver using their vehicle.

South Brunswick Police Sergeant William Merkler is the lead investigator and anyone with information is asked to call him at (732) 329-4646.

Chief Hayducka added, “The bicyclist had amazing composure even after being struck to remember the majority of the license plate number. I am thankful that everyone was released from the hospital, but aggravated at the conduct of the driver who started everything.”

South Brunswick Police would like to thank the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and Franklin Township Police for all their assistance in the case.

$20.5 Million Settlement over Allegations Academy Bus Fraudulently Billed NJ Transit

Today’s Agreement Is the State’s Largest-Ever False Claims Act Settlement Outside the Healthcare Sector

February 11, 2022

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced today that Academy Bus, LLC (Academy) and several related entities and individuals will pay a total of $20.5 million to resolve the State’s lawsuit accusing the defendants of overcharging New Jersey Transit by underreporting missed bus trips and by over-billing for hours and miles driven. The agreement represents the State’s largest-ever False Claims Act settlement outside the healthcare sector.

In November 2020, the State intervened in a former Academy employee’s whistleblower lawsuit against the company, which advertises itself as the nation’s largest private transportation company. The State’s complaint alleged that Academy engaged in an “extensive multi-year, multi-million-dollar fraud” by failing to report tens of thousands of missed bus trips between April 2012 and December 2018.  The complaint further alleged that the missed bus trips caused the riding public along the affected bus lines to suffer. 

In addition to the monetary payment, Academy is required under today’s settlement to implement specific steps designed to strengthen its internal accountability from drivers to executives and to provide greater transparency in any contracts with NJ Transit.  Among other measures, Academy has agreed to retain an independent Integrity Oversight Monitor and create new policies, procedures and training efforts to ensure the accurate reporting of missed bus trips, hours logged and miles driven.

“This settlement sends a clear message: defrauding the state doesn’t pay,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “We are not only requiring the corporate defendants to pay more than the amount of their alleged fraud. We also are holding individual defendants financially responsible and requiring Academy Bus to adopt corrective measures designed to prevent similar misconduct in the future.”

During the period at issue in the State’s complaint, Academy operated seven NJ Transit bus routes in the Hudson and South Hudson service areas.  The seven NJ Transit routes Academy handled involved approximately 175,000 bus trips each year. Academy billed NJ Transit approximately $12 million annually for its services, while NJ Transit retained all bus fares that Academy collected along the routes.

Under its contract with NJ Transit, Academy was required to report the number of bus trips that were missed for each bus route on a monthly basis.  An individual “trip” is when a bus travels from one end-point of a route to the other end-point of a route. NJ Transit would then deduct an assessment for each missed trip.

Academy also charged NJ Transit contractually-agreed-upon fees for miles and hours driven along bus routes it handled for the agency.  Academy could not charge fees for hours and miles driven for buses that did not run.

The State’s complaint alleged that Academy overcharged NJ Transit in at least two ways. First, by underreporting to NJ Transit the number of bus trips it had missed for each month, Academy avoided millions of dollars of missed trip deductions from the monthly invoices.  Second, Academy billed NJ Transit for miles and hours driven for buses that had not actually run.

The complaint also alleged that Academy’s internal records tracked two sets of bus trip numbers – the “real” number of missed bus trips (which Academy labeled “RN”) and an adjusted set of numbers that was always significantly lower, and which Academy submitted to NJ Transit.  According to the allegations in the complaint, the gap between the “real number” of missed trips and the number actually submitted to NJ Transit shrunk during periods when Academy knew NJ Transit was actively monitoring Academy’s performance.

Under the settlement announced today, Academy must do the following with respect to any contract or agreement to operate NJ Transit bus lines:

  • Submit with each invoice to NJ Transit a personal certification from a Senior Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer or such person’s designee that attests to the accuracy of the submission, as well as to the accuracy of the supporting Daily and Monthly Reports of Operation.
  • Retain for a period of three years an independent Integrity Oversight Monitor — approved by NJ Transit and paid by Academy — to oversee the accuracy of its internal documentation of bus trip operations, as well as the accuracy of invoices and missed trip and miles and hours reporting.   
  • Implement new policies and procedures to ensure accurate reporting of missed trips and hours and miles driven. The new policies and procedures must include staff training on accurate reporting, the maintenance of adequate records and databases, and adequate document retention.
  • Create bus operator training policies that ensure the proper use of all provided equipment, including proper use of Clever Devices and other telematics, as well as the proper reporting of equipment malfunctions.
  • Create procedures that Academy road supervisors must employ to ensure conformity to contracted bus service regulations, as well as driver adherence to specific bus routes and accident reporting.

In addition to Hoboken-based Academy Bus, today’s settlement includes affiliated corporate defendants Academy Lines, LLC; Academy Express, LLC; and No. 22 Hillside, LLC, as well as  individual defendants Antonio Luna, formerly an assistant manager at No. 22 Hillside, LLC; Eddie Rosario, a general manager at No. 22 Hillside, LLC; Thomas Scullin, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for all of the corporate defendants and Frank DiPalma, the Controller of each of the corporate defendants.

The settlement includes payments of $150,000 from Scullin and $50,000 each from Rosario and Luna.

Pursuant to the False Claims Act, a portion of the monetary settlement will be paid to Hector Peralta, a former Academy employee who filed a whistleblower complaint against the company.

Under the settlement, Academy and the other corporate and individual defendants make no admission of wrongdoing or liability.

The State has been represented in this matter by Deputy Attorney General and Section Chief Lara Fogel, Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Section Chief Kenneth Levine, Deputy Attorneys General Eric Boden and Dana Vasers, and Attorney Jedediah Pencinger, all from the Government & Healthcare Fraud Section of the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, and Assistant Attorneys General Jeremy Hollander and Janine Matton of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group.

NJ Attorney General Finds Probable Cause Against Mansfield School District and Laurel Brook Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Disability-Discrimination Cases

February 11, 2022

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced today that the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has found probable cause against two employers in disability-discrimination cases. Both cases involve allegations that employers discriminated against employees on the basis of disability, as well as leave time taken in connection with their disabilities.

In one case, DCR found probable cause against the Mansfield Township School District in Burlington County for allegedly violating New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by denying a disability accommodation for a fifth-grade science teacher who had returned to work after taking leave to undergo cancer treatment. DCR did not find probable cause, however, regarding the 57-year-old teacher’s claim of discrimination on the basis of age.

In the other case, DCR found probable cause against Laurel Brook Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center, a subacute rehabilitative center and skilled nursing facility in Mount Laurel. Laurel Brook is accused of violating the LAD by firing one of its longtime cooks after she took extended leave — first to deal with depression, and subsequently to undergo lung surgery.

“We are committed to protecting the right of all New Jersey workers to an inclusive and discrimination-free workplace,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “Our Division on Civil Rights takes every discrimination complaint seriously, and will hold accountable employers who violate the law.”

“The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to employees with a disability,” said DCR Deputy Director Rosemary DiSavino. “These cases serve as a reminder both that leave may constitute a reasonable accommodation, even when an extension of leave is needed because of multiple disabilities, and that an employee with a disability may require a workplace accommodation once they return to work.”

A Finding of Probable Cause does not represent final adjudication of a case. Rather, it means DCR has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable suspicion the LAD has been violated.  

Mansfield School District

In this case, DCR found probable cause to support allegations by the complainant, a longtime elementary school science teacher, that the Mansfield School District denied her a reasonable accommodation for her disability and discriminated against her “based on disability and/or in retaliation for taking medical leave for her cancer treatment.”

In November 2019 the teacher, who had taught only science to fifth-grade students for most of the past decade, took a medical leave of absence to undergo treatment for Stage 3 ovarian cancer.

Upon her return to work in 2020, the teacher was informed she was being reassigned for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year to teach fourth-grade, where she would be required to teach four subjects (math, language arts, social studies and science) instead of one.

The Law Against Discrimination requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability, so long as doing so would not impose an undue burden on the employer’s operations. It also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for requesting or utilizing a reasonable accommodation, including a leave of absence.

Upon learning of her reassignment, the teacher asked to remain in her role as a fifth-grade science teacher, explaining that her reassignment would be incompatible with her disability, and potentially harmful to her recovery from cancer.

Specifically, the teacher cited the stress of learning to teach three new subjects at a new grade level, and noted that her new fourth-grade classroom assignment would place her farther away from a faculty restroom. She explained that the restroom access issue was of concern due to unresolved complications from her surgery.

To support her request, the teacher submitted notes from three different medical providers, including her oncologist’s office, family physician’s office and surgeon’s office. All three medical notes advised that the stress of her reassignment had the potential to impact her recovery from cancer. The surgeon’s office note also advised that her condition required “close proximity to a restroom.”

Despite the woman’s condition and supporting medical provider notes, Mansfield schools declined to reconsider the teacher’s reassignment for the 2020-21 school year. The teacher filed her complaint with DCR on October 6, 2020, alleging in part that Mansfield Schools removed her from her fifth-grade teaching position and reassigned her to the fourth grade because of her disability and/or because she was returning from using a medical leave, and put, a less-qualified teacher without a disability, in the fifth grade in her place.

During DCR’s investigation, Mansfield School District officials noted that they provided additional classroom support to the reassigned teacher in the form of mentors and co-teachers. They also denied that the teacher’s reassignment was an adverse employment action, calling it a lateral transfer that did not result in a material change to the complainant’s salary, benefits or status.

The school district also claimed that the complainant was best qualified to fill a fourth-grade teaching vacancy created by the move of another teacher to an administrative position.

Notwithstanding the school district’s claims, the Partial Finding of Probable Cause announced today found that administrators had multiple alternatives to reassigning the cancer-stricken teacher from her long-held fifth-grade science teaching spot to a new grade level.

The Partial Finding of Probable Cause also notes that transitioning to an unfamiliar assignment after having undergone surgery and months of chemotherapy for an advanced form of cancer had in fact caused the reassigned teacher “a great deal of stress and negatively impacted her health.”

In addition, the finding document observes that the complainant’s new classroom assignment “still required her to walk several hundred feet to the closest restroom – a significant distance for one with urinary issues or bladder weakness.”

Based on DCR’s preliminary investigation, the Partial Finding of Probable Cause states, it appears the Mansfield School District “failed to adequately accommodate Complainant’s medically-supported needs for a low-stress return to teaching due to the fragile state of her recovery, and for a classroom in close proximity to a restroom due to the after effects of her treatment.”

Laurel Brook

In this case DCR found probable cause to support the complainant’s allegations that Laurel Brook unlawfully fired a longtime employee after the worker took nearly six months off to deal first with depression and then with surgery to remove a growth from her lung.

In her DCR complaint, the worker alleged that her firing after nearly eight years as a cook at Laurel Brook amounted to refusal by the facility to provide a reasonable accommodation for her disabilities.

According to the complainant, Laurel Brook verbally approved her request to take medical leave for a period of months to address “major depression,” and subsequently approved an extension of her leave to accommodate having a hamartoma removed from her lung. (Laurel Brook denies ever having provided leave approval.)

Upon contacting Laurel Brook about returning to work months later, the worker told DCR, she was advised there was no longer a job for her because she had failed to submit the paperwork required to document her need for medical leave.

Specifically, the woman was told her leave had not been approved and that she was therefore considered “resigned” after declining to submit forms required under the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

In its investigation, DCR determined the fired worker did, in fact, fail to fill out FMLA paperwork. The apparent reason was that the woman was confused by having already filled out separate paperwork required to claim temporary state disability benefits through Standard Benefit Administrators – a private, contracted insurance carrier that processes disability claims for client companies.

In issuing a Finding of Probable Cause, however, DCR noted that the worker’s failure to recognize a distinction between the disability paperwork she’d already completed and her need to fill out separate FMLA paperwork was “ultimately immaterial” and did not relieve Laurel Brook of its obligations under the New Jersey LAD.

DCR’s investigation included a review of multiple documents – including reports written by mental health providers and letters written by the worker’s thoracic surgeon – that were either submitted to Laurel Brook, or sent to Standard Benefit Administrators and copied to Laurel Brook officials.

These documents provided Laurel Brook “a stream of information” about the woman’s disabilities that evidenced her medical need to take leave, the Finding of Probable Cause notes, and triggered Laurel Brook’s obligation under the LAD to “enter into an interactive process to determine whether and how the employee may be reasonably accommodated.”

To view a Fact Sheet on disability discrimination and the rights of people with disabilities in employment, housing, education, etc., under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination go to:

People with disabilities who believe their rights under the LAD have been violated can file a complaint with DCR by visiting or calling 1-833-NJDCR4U (833-653-2748).

TSA alarmed about frequency of guns carried to Philadelphia International Airport security checkpoints

TSA stresses the proper way to transport a firearm for a flight

February 11, 2022

HILADELPHIA –Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials are highly concerned about the frequency that they are seeing travelers carry their handguns to security checkpoints at Philadelphia International Airport. Most of those guns are found to be loaded.

“To me, this looks like a gun epidemic—one that is easily preventable,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Guns and security checkpoints don’t mix. Guns are never allowed to pass through a security checkpoint to be carried onto a flight. However, passengers can transport their guns for their trips if they pack them properly and declare them to the airline.”

The TSA team at Philadelphia International Airport detected a record 39 firearms at the security checkpoints in 2021. Philadelphia-based TSA officers caught five more guns just last month. 

When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Thus, guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.

“The most common excuses we hear from travelers is that ‘I didn’t know it was in my bag’ or ‘I forgot it was in there.’ But there is no excuse for trying to bring a handgun on a flight,” Spero said. “A responsible gun owner knows where their guns are at all times.”  

Guns caught at TSA security checkpoints at Philadelphia International Airport 

Year201720182019202020212022(As of 2/10/22)
Guns caught at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)35252026395

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Firearms must be unloaded, placed in a hard-sided locked case, and packed separately from ammunition. Then the locked case must be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who bring weapons with them to a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating or aggravating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Travelers are responsible for the contents of bags and TSA recommends that travelers go through their carry-on and checked bags before they head to the airport to ensure that they have no illegal or prohibited items inside. Carrying a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a stiff federal civil penalty that can run into the thousands of dollars. Even if someone has a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 guns at airport security checkpoints last year. Eighty-six percent of those guns were loaded.