Day: June 15, 2022

Department Of Justice Settles Lawsuit Against Jackson Township For Discriminatory Ordinances Targeting Orthodox Jewish Religious Schools

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–The Justice Department announced an agreement today with Jackson Township, New Jersey, and the Jackson Planning Board to settle allegations that they violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the Fair Housing Act (FHA) when they passed and applied a series of discriminatory zoning ordinances that intentionally targeted the Orthodox Jewish community by prohibiting religious schools and associated dormitories.

The proposed consent order, which was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey and must still be approved by the court, would resolve a lawsuit the United States filed in May 2020 alleging that the Jackson Township and the Jackson Planning Board passed zoning ordinances that broadly prohibited religious schools and banned schools with dormitories, both of which are important to providing religious education within the Orthodox Jewish community. The complaint alleged that the intent of the ordinances was to prevent Orthodox Jewish schools from opening in the township and thereby dissuade members of that community from living in or moving to Jackson.

“RLUIPA and the Fair Housing Act protect the rights of religious communities to worship and obtain housing in communities free from discrimination and unequal treatment,” Philip R. Sellinger, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, said. “This office remains steadfast in its commitment to enforce the nation’s civil rights laws, and as the proposed consent order demonstrates, we will continue to take steps to protect the civil rights of the Orthodox Jewish community and all communities throughout this district.”

“Zoning restrictions that intentionally target religious communities have no place in our society,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said. “Federal civil rights laws provide strong protections to ensure that religious communities are treated equally and not subjected to discrimination because of their beliefs. This resolution reaffirms that members of the Orthodox Jewish community — as with people of all faiths – are welcome in our communities and have the right to practice their religion free of discrimination.”

The complaint alleges that in 2017, Jackson Township enacted two ordinances that banned dormitories and severely restricted where religious schools could locate. These ordinances were enacted in response to the growth of the Orthodox Jewish community in Jackson and surrounding areas and amid public comments arguing that the ordinances should be enacted to prevent the Orthodox Jewish community from living in or moving to Jackson. Township councilmembers voted unanimously to enact the ordinances.

The consent order requires Jackson Township to repeal the remaining active discriminatory ordinance and replace it with an ordinance that will allow religious elementary and secondary schools, religious higher learning institutions, and religious residential schools. The consent order also requires that the new zoning ordinance treat religious schools equally with non-religious institutions that operate in the township. The consent order requires the township to train its officials and employees on the requirements of RLUIPA and the FHA, establish a procedure for receiving and resolving RLUIPA and FHA complaints, pay a civil penalty of $45,000, and pay $150,000 into a settlement fund from which aggrieved persons can seek payment.

Individuals who believe they have been subjected to discrimination in land use or zoning decisions, or discrimination in housing based on disability, race, color, religion, national origin, sex, and familial status, may contact the Civil Rights Division Housing and Civil Enforcement Section at 1-833-591-0291, or the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Hotline at (855) 281-3339 Individuals may also submit a complaint through the Civil Rights Division’s complaint portal or through the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Horan Florio, Senior Civil Rights Counsel in the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Civil Rights Division, and Trial Attorneys Ryan G. Lee and David K. Gardner, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.


Defense counsel:
Jackson Township: Greg McGuckin Esq., Lacey Township, New Jersey
Planning board: Sean Gertner Esq., Jackson Township

Trenton Council Forcing City Bars to ‘Go Dry’ by Fourth of July

Due to shutdown of clerk operations, City liquor licenses will expire

June 15, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora forewarned “dire consequences” for liquor establishments throughout the City due to City Council inaction regarding renewal of retail alcohol licenses, or ABC licenses, set to expire midnight June 30, 2022.

The mayor noted that once the state issues a “tax clearance” list to the City, the Clerk’s Office would send out applications in April for liquor establishments to renew their licenses.

“That never happened,” said Gusciora, “due to Council’s mismanagement of the Clerk’s Office and overburdening the Clerk’s part-time replacement.”

With the July 1 deadline for renewal fast approaching, Council has not taken up the lack of staffing nor the need to process over 100 ABC licenses throughout the City. Moreover, City Council must pass resolutions renewing each license in the city. There are currently no Council sessions scheduled before July 1, 2022.

“Council’s inaction is going to bring us back to the Prohibition era,” said Gusciora. “But the fact remains this hurts bar or restaurants and the business owner’s bottom line and is completely irresponsible. Many hospitality workers will suffer in uncertainties due to Council’s indifference to the economic vitality of the city.”

The Administration had to step in and take over business registrations for the City and process January renewals that were not done. Gusciora issued an executive order extending the business registration deadline for roughly 400 businesses registered in the city.

“To add insult to injury, if bar owners want to continue operating, they would have to apply to the state for an ‘ad interim’ license for a cost until Council gets their act together,” he added.

Some business owners were told by alcohol distributors that they could not make deliveries to unlicensed premises after July 1.

“It is also concerning because the problem cannot be solved by executive order, since alcohol licensure is done by State law,” said Gusciora. “We offered to step in and help process renewal applications, but we were rebuffed by the Council President. We have notified the State about the problem. This needs to be resolved, asap.”

U.S. Department Of Labor Cites Robbinsville, NJ, Frozen Food Manufacture After Investigation Into Fatal Fall From Scissor Lift

June 15, 2022

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–A U.S. Department of Labor investigation into the fatal fall of a contractor at a Robbinsville frozen food manufacturer identified a wide range of potentially fatal workplace hazards at CJ TMI Manufacturing America LLC, leading the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue the employer citations for 36 violations and propose $368,513 in penalties.

A contractor suffered fatal injuries in December 2021 when they fell 11 feet while using a scissor lift to replace a freezer drain. OSHA’s investigation found a damaged and inoperable snap hook on the lift’s safety chain and that the company did not inspect the lift before work began.

“CJ TMI Manufacturing America LLC could have prevented this tragedy had it followed proper safety precautions,” said OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey. “The company must address and correct a substantial number of hazardous conditions identified during our inspection so that nobody else has to risk their life.”

OSHA also found the company exposed workers to:

  • Amputations and lacerations from unguarded or inadequately guarded machinery.
  • Explosion hazards from accumulations of combustible flour dust on equipment, floors and surfaces throughout the plant.
  • Confined space hazards when entering a wastewater pit to service a water meter.
  • Hexavalent chromium hazards during welding operations.
  • Chemical burns from caustic chemicals due to inaccessible decontamination showers and eyewash stations.
  • Being struck by forklifts operated by untrained employees.
  • Numerous electric shock hazards.

View the citations. OSHA has placed the company in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

CJ TMI manufactures frozen dumpling, wontons and noodles for the Twin Marquis and Chef One brands.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review CommissionVisit OSHA’s website for information on developing a workplace safety and health program. Employers can also contact the agency for information about OSHA’s compliance assistance resources and for free help on complying with OSHA standards.

CJ TMI Manufacturing America LLC. Located at 2 Applegate Drive in Robbinsville, NJ — MidJersey.News file photos

Lakewood Man Charged With Narcotics Distibution, Weapons Offences And Aggravated Assault On A Law Enforcement Officer

June 15, 2022

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force collaborated with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas-Monmouth/Ocean Post of Duty (HIDTA/MOPOD) Group 5, Lakewood Township Police Department Street Crimes Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department Patrol Division, Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Unit, and Lakewood Township Police Department K-9 Unit, to conduct an investigation into the distribution of illegal narcotics in Ocean County.  This cooperative, multi-agency investigation identified a residence in Lakewood as being used by Shamar Kerr, 32, of Lakewood, to store and distribute heroin/fentanyl, and cocaine.

On June 8, 2022, Detectives from the aforementioned law enforcement agencies established surveillance on the subject residence as well as Kerr’s place of employment in Lakewood.  Kerr was observed by Detectives meeting with an individual later identified as Anthony Connors, 36, of South Toms River, outside of his place of employment; Kerr was then observed to be leaving his place of employment on foot.  Officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department approached Kerr to place him under arrest, at which time Kerr fled on foot.  Kerr was ultimately apprehended and placed under arrest.  Upon arrest, Kerr was found to be in possession of 900 wax folds of heroin/fentanyl.

Connors was detained and taken into custody.  He was charged with Possession of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1) and Wandering in a Public Place to Obtain or Distribute Controlled Dangerous Substances in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2.1b.  Connors was served with the charges via summons pending an upcoming first appearance in Ocean County Superior Court.

A court authorized search warrant was executed on Kerr’s Lakewood residence.  As a result, Detectives seized approximately 40 grams of crack cocaine, a loaded 40 caliber handgun, and approximately $44,300.00 in United States currency. 

Kerr was charged with Distribution of less than One-Half Ounce of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Possession of more than One-Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces of Heroin with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Possession of more than One-Half Ounce but less than Five Ounces of Crack Cocaine with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2);  Possession of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Crack Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2a; Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, specifically a handgun, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b(1); Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, specifically a knife, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d; Possession of a Weapon During a Controlled Dangerous Substance Offense in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1; Certain Person Not to Possess a Firearm in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b(1); Possession of a Prohibited Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3e; Aggravated Assault on a Law Enforcement Officer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(5)(b); Resisting Arrest in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2a(3)(a); and Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-25a.  Kerr is presently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit, United States Drug Enforcement Administration – HIDTA/MOPOD Group 5, Lakewood Township Police Department Street Crimes Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department Patrol Division, Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Unit, and Lakewood Township Police Department K-9 Unit, for their combined and collective efforts in connection with this investigation.

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.

R.P.C.  3.6(b)(6).

Guns and Cocaine Seized by the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force

June 15, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Prosecutors Office says, a month-long investigation into narcotics distribution in the Trenton area has culminated with two arrests and the seizure of $17,000 in cocaine, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

At approximately 7:15 p.m. on Monday, June 13, 2022, members of the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations and the Trenton Police Department executed search warrants at multiple locations in Trenton.  While at the apartment of Jose Borges-Navarro in the 600 block of West State Street, surveillance officers observed the suspect open a window on the eighth floor and throw two duffle bags out.  Detectives secured the area and retrieved a loaded Ruger .357 handgun and approximately 170 grams of cocaine strewn on the ground and on a parked vehicle.  Further search of the bags revealed a four-ton, heavy duty bottle jack and a large silver press that is commonly used to press powder cocaine into kilograms.  Detectives located Borges-Navarro in the living room and took him into custody without incident.  A search of the apartment revealed a small quantity of cocaine in the bathroom and on the window ledge.

During the execution of a search warrant in the 500 block of West State Street, members of the Mercer County Tactical Response Team secured Jose Azcona as he was exiting the front door.  Detectives retrieved a loaded black and tan “Ghost Gun” and a loaded black and silver revolver inside of the residence.     

Azcona, 24, and Borges-Navarro, 33, are each charged with numerous narcotic and weapons offenses.  The prosecutor’s office has filed motions to detain both men pending trial.  During processing, detectives discovered that Borges-Navarro was using an alias and that his real name is Juan Antonio Sanchez.  It was further learned that Sanchez was wanted for a 2019 shooting in Reading, Pennsylvania.

According to Prosecutor Onofri, the street value of the confiscated cocaine is approximately $17,000.

Despite having been charged, all persons are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.