Day: July 25, 2022

Tuckerton Man Sentenced To 5 Years In NJ State Prison For Aggravated Assault And Stalking

July 25, 2022

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on July 25, 2022, Donald Rutter, 53, of Tuckerton, was sentenced by the Honorable Wendel E. Daniels, J.S.C. (retired and temporarily assigned on recall), to five years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP), as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to Aggravated Assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1), in connection with an incident that occurred during the evening hours of January 5, 2021 in Little Egg Harbor Township. This sentence will be subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, meaning that Rutter will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility. Judge Daniels also sentenced Rutter to 18 months NJSP as a result of his guilty plea to Stalking in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10b, in connection with the same incident. The sentences will run concurrently. Additionally, Judge Daniels executed a Permanent Stalking Restraining Order barring Rutter from having any contact with the victim, Thomas Jarvis, 55, of Little Egg Harbor. Rutter pled guilty to both charges before Judge Daniels on June 13, 2022.

On January 5, 2021, at approximately 7:30 p.m., Little Egg Harbor Township Police were dispatched to Jarvis Marine on Radio Road in response to a 911 call which related that an individual had been shot. Responding Officers found Mr. Jarvis with an apparent gunshot wound to his midsection. Mr. Jarvis was transported to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center. He was treated for his injuries and eventually released from the hospital.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit revealed that Rutter was, in fact, the individual who shot Mr. Jarvis. An exhaustive search of the surrounding area by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Park Police, United States Marshals Service, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and Tuckerton Police Department, was unsuccessful in locating Rutter in the aftermath of the shooting. As such, a warrant was issued for Rutter’s arrest.

On January 28, 2021, Rutter was ultimately located in Atlantic City and taken into custody, without incident, by the United States Marshals Service. He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his apprehension.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill and Assistant Prosecutor Kaitlyn Burke 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, Little Egg Harbor Township Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team, New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Park Police, United States Marshals Service, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and Tuckerton Police Department, for their combined and collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation resulting in Rutter’s apprehension, guilty pleas, and now his state prison sentence.

Naturalized U.S. Citizen, Formerly Of Edison, NJ, Guilty Of International Parental Kidnapping

The international parental kidnapping offense of which Patel stands convicted carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

July 25, 2022

CAMDEN, N.J. – A naturalized U.S. citizen who had been living in India was convicted of obstructing the parental rights of his child’s mother by kidnapping the child and failing to return the child to the United States when ordered to do so, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Amitkumar Kanubhai Patel, 38, of Vadodara, India, formerly of Edison, New Jersey, was convicted on July 22, 2022, of one count of international parental kidnapping following a five-day trial before U.S. District Judge Renée Marie Bumb in Camden federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

The child’s mother and Patel were in a relationship and resided together in New Jersey from August 2015 through July 2017. The two never married. In November 2016, Patel and the child’s mother had a child, who was born in Edison Township.

According to the child’s mother, Patel wanted to take the child to India to introduce him to Patel’s parents and obtain DNA testing, which Patel claimed was necessary for the child to claim property that Patel’s family owned in India. Patel also told the child’s mother that in order to obtain an Indian visa for the child, he would need to secure sole custody, which required them to go to court. Patel instructed the mother to tell the court that they had a mutual understanding regarding the custody of their child. Patel instructed the mother to state that she did not have a work permit, and since she was unemployed, she could not care for her child.

On May 1, 2017, Patel took the child’s mother to New Jersey Superior Court, Chancery Division Family Court, in order to obtain sole custody of the child. According to the mother, the majority of the hearing was conducted in English with no translator. At the time of the hearing, the mother spoke limited English. The mother answered the court’s questions as she had been instructed by Patel. The mother was not represented by an attorney during the hearing.

On May 2, 2017, the New Jersey Superior Court granted Patel sole legal custody of the child premised on the consent of the child’s mother to the arrangement, but specifically reserved for the mother the ability to file for joint legal custody if she so chose in future. Upon receiving the court order, Patel obtained visas to India for himself and the child, and booked air travel, telling the child’s mother that they would only be gone for two weeks to a month. Patel then took the child to India and after several days in India, called the mother and said that he was never bringing the child back to the United States. The child’s mother obtained legal counsel and returned to the New Jersey Superior Court. On Oct. 16, 2018, the New Jersey Superior Court entered an order directing Patel to return the child to the United States immediately.

On Oct. 19, 2018, the mother’s counsel emailed the October 16, 2018, family court order to Patel, who did not return the child to the United States. On Oct. 2, 2020, Patel and the child flew from India to the United Kingdom. Upon arrival, Patel was arrested based on a provisional arrest request submitted by the United States. After a custody hearing in London pursuant to the Hague Convention, the London Court ordered it was in the best interest of the child that the child be returned to his paternal grandparents in India. Patel was subsequently extradited to the United States to stand trial.

The international parental kidnapping offense of which Patel stands convicted carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 22, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline McGuire in Philadelphia, with the investigation leading to the guilty verdict. U.S. Attorney Sellinger also thanked members of the Department’s Office of International Affairs, the U.K. Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police for their assistance in the extradition.

The government is represented by Deputy U.S. Attorney Andrew Carey and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason M. Richardson of the U.S. Attorney=s Office Criminal Division in Camden.


Defense counsel: Lori Koch Esq. and Christopher O’Malley Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defenders, Camden

Fatal Lakewood Crash Under Investigation

July 25, 2022

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on July 22, 2022, at approximately 8:20 p.m., the Lakewood Township Police Department responded to the area of South Lake Drive and East Lake Park Drive for a motor vehicle crash with serious injuries.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and Lakewood Township Police Department determined that a 2018 Chevrolet Impala operated by Mordechai Berkowitz, 20, of Lakewood, was headed eastbound on South Lake Drive when he crossed over the double yellow and collided head-on with a 2017 Toyota Rav4, operated by Maria Flores-Moreno, 35, of Jackson, and occupied by front-seat passenger, Juana Lopez-Hernandez, 44, a citizen of Mexico.

Mr. Berkowitz was transported to Jersey Shore University Hospital where he was treated for his injuries and released.  Ms. Flores-Moreno was transported to Jersey Shore University Hospital in Neptune and is presently listed in stable condition.  Ms. Lopez-Hernandez was transported to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood where she was pronounced deceased.

The crash remains under investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Lakewood Township Police Department, Brick Township Police Department Traffic Safety Unit, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit.

Early Morning Shooting Reported In Trenton

July 25, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Department Detective Lieutenant Bethesda Stokes reported that there was a shooting early this morning in the area of 1 Mechanics Avenue at 12:31 a.m. One person was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center by personal vehicle with a non-life-threating shot to the leg. Two vehicles were also struck by gunfire in the area. No further details are available at this time.

The shooting is being investigated by the Shooting Response Team.

File photo

Keyport Man Charged With Robbery And Aggravated Sexual Assault In Tinton Falls

July 25, 2022

FREEHOLD A Keyport man has been charged with robbery and aggravated sexual assault as a result of an assault and an attempted theft that took place Thursday in Tinton Falls, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Tuesday.

Kareem Lee, 31, was charged with first-degree Robbery, as well as first-degree Aggravated Sexual Assault with an Armed Weapon after threatening to rob the victim of money and sexually assaulting the victim, while armed with a deadly weapon.

At approximately 2:32 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, Tinton Falls Police Department officers were dispatched to a local motel for a report of a sexual assault. Upon arrival, the female victim told officers that she had been sexually assaulted at gunpoint by a man who had entered the room.

At that point, an investigation was launched with the Tinton Falls Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Bureau. During the course of the investigation, the suspect was identified as Lee.

The investigation remains active and ongoing at this time.

Lee is being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institute (MCCI) pending a detention hearing on July 27, 2022 before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon.  

Investigators are actively seeking additional information about the activities of the defendant, and a photo is being distributed along with this press release. Anyone with information regarding this case or the defendant is asked to please contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Dawn Correia at 800-533-7443 or Tinton Falls Police Department Officer Christopher Mills at 732-542-4422.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Zanzuccki.

Lee does not have representation listed at this time.  

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

Governor Murphy Launches Year Three of Charge Up New Jersey Electric Vehicle Incentive Program and Unveils New Residential EV Charger Program

Announces Second Round Grantees and Launches Application Window for Clean Fleet, EV Tourism, and Multi-Unit Dwelling Charger Programs

July 25, 2022

ASBURY PARK – Governor Phil Murphy today announced the launch of Year Three of the State’s popular Charge Up New Jersey electric vehicle (EV) incentive program and also unveiled the State’s new residential EV charger program. Both the Charge-Up New Jersey Program and the Residential Charger Program are key parts of the landmark electric vehicle legislation signed into law by the Governor two years ago. Further, the State released the names of the newest grantees and launched the next application window for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ (NJBPU) three other EV incentive programs.

Today’s announcement represents a major step forward in the growth of the State’s comprehensive and highly successful electric vehicle program. The Charge Up Program is currently the country’s largest cash-on-the-hood incentive program, with a maximum $4,000 incentive. Over the last two years of the program, over 13,000 EVs were purchased or leased with this incentive.

The electrification of the state’s transportation sector, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the State’s greenhouse gas emissions, is a key part of the Energy Master Plan, the State’s roadmap to reaching 100 percent clean energy by 2050. By working to reduce emissions from both light- and heavy-duty vehicles, New Jersey is striving to achieve its bold emissions reductions goals while advancing environmental justice across the state. The Murphy Administration’s efforts to increase access to its incentive program complements the State’s measures to safeguard overburdened communities from the disproportionate impacts of pollution and climate change. Through the New Jersey Zero-Emission Incentive Program (NJ ZIP) funded by Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds, the State is reducing harmful emissions, especially in communities disproportionately impacted by transportation emissions, and promoting economic opportunity.

“With so much at stake amid the mounting climate crisis, it is imperative that we all do our part not just as New Jerseyans, but as global citizens, to help mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said Governor Murphy. “That’s why I’m proud that my administration is doing everything in its power to make the transition to electric vehicles more financially feasible and practical for working families across the state. As we enter Year Three of the Charge Up New Jersey EV incentive program, we remain determined to meet our bold clean energy goals and are confident that thousands more New Jerseyans will take advantage of a program that will continue to bear considerable economic and environmental benefits.”

“I would like to thank Governor Murphy for his vision and leadership on electric vehicles. The Governor’s EV program has been a resounding success in helping us advance toward a clean energy future and today’s event is a great example of that,” said NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “Not only do we anticipate a highly successful third year of our Charge Up program but we are equally excited about launching the residential charger program and the next round of our other robust, EV programs. Our goal is not only to encourage New Jerseyans to drive electric, but to ensure they have enough locations all around the state to charge up, regardless of where they live, work or play.”

“New Jersey DEP has awarded nearly $10 million for 1,970 EV charging stations with 3,229 plugs on our corridors, and in our communities,” Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette said. “These charging stations will provide an extensive network of charging opportunities to support cars purchased under the Charge Up NJ program, further enhancing the Murphy Administration’s commitment to electrify our transportation sector, reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change, and put the state even closer to its 100 percent clean energy goals.”

In the first two years of the Charge Up Program the State provided incentives for more than 13,000 vehicles, with a greater concentration in Year Two of providing incentives for more affordable EVs. In Year Three the State will provide incentives of up to $4,000 for vehicles with MSRP’s under $45,000 and incentives of up to $2,000 for vehicles with an MSRP between $45,000 and $50,000.

As of this announcement, all sales and orders made as of 12:01 am on July 25, 2022 at eligible dealerships and showrooms of eligible EVs may apply at the point of sale for their incentive.

Today, the State is also launching the new Residential EV Charger Incentive Program, which offers a $250 rebate for a home charger. This program can be combined with the already existing utility programs, which may cover installation costs.

“Electric vehicles are essential in our transition to a clean economy, which will create local, good-paying jobs while simultaneously combating the growing climate crisis. Electric vehicles are the future, and investments in these vehicles and charging infrastructure will help ensure America leads that future now,” Congressman Frank Pallone said. “Electric vehicles also save Americans tremendous money and are rapidly growing in popularity – by investing in the necessary charging and manufacturing infrastructure, we are making sure that trend can continue and that consumers are able to reliably power their cars across New Jersey and the country. In Congress, I fought to ensure that New Jersey received funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law so we can accelerate our investment in a clean economy and work to reduce carbon pollution.” 

“We have set forth strong goals and incentives to increase the number of electric vehicles on our roads and to make progress toward more accessible charging stations for everyone,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. “With that comes the need to make it as seamless as possible for homeowners and renters to access charging wherever they live.  As we enter Year Three of the Charge Up New Jersey program, we hope to continue making advancements in accessibility for electric vehicles and charging stations to make the transition to electric cars smooth for the people in our State.”

“New Jersey must do everything possible to reduce and one day eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,” said Zoe Baldwin, New Jersey Director, Regional Plan Association. “In 2017, RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan called for scaling up incentives for electric vehicles and planning extensive, comprehensive charging networks. Five years later, New Jersey is well on its way toward those shared goals thanks to Governor Murphy’s unwavering commitment to decarbonizing the Garden State. Renewal of the Charge Up New Jersey program along with the suite of incentives for EV charging infrastructure doubles down on those efforts, making it even easier for drivers and businesses to do their part and help our state become cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable.”

The Murphy Administration’s commitment to jump-starting the transition to EVs goes well beyond the Charge Up Program. Over the last two years, NJBPU has approved EV Charging Incentive Programs for Jersey Central Power and Light, Public Service Electric and Gas, and Atlantic City Electric. Additionally, in Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) NJBPU launched three new programs, which collectively provided over $12 million in incentives for the purchase of more than 900 Level Two chargers and over 60 Fast Chargers across the state.

NJBPU released a list (link) of all FY22 EV grant recipients and will also be opening the FY23 applications for those programs—Clean Fleet, EV Tourism Charger and the Multi-Unit Dwelling (MUD) Charger Program.

The Clean Fleet program provides grants for government entities for the purchase of electric vehicles and chargers. The Program supports local and state governments as they transition their fleets to electric vehicles. Eligible entities include local schools, municipal commissions, state agencies or boards, state commissions, state universities, community colleges, county government, and county authorities.

The MUD EV Charger Incentive Program was designed to encourage owners and operators of multi-unit dwellings to provide EV chargers for residents and guests. Eligible multi-unit dwellings are apartments, condominiums, or mixed residential locations that feature a minimum of five units and have dedicated off-street parking. This program helps to encourage equitable access to the benefits of the EV transition.

The EV Tourism program provides funding for chargers at tourist locations across the state, encouraging residents and out-of-state travelers to choose NJ to charge up and unwind at one of our many destinations, whether a downtown, shore, or historic site.

Established in the EV Law, the State will provide at least $30 million in annual incentives for the Charge Up New Jersey program for a period of ten years. In FY23, the Board has budgeted $35 million for the Charge Up Program, $5.5 million for the residential charger program, $10 million for Clean Fleet, $4 million of which is dedicated to local government, $6 million for EV Tourism, and $4 million for MUD. The FY23 Appropriations Act includes additional funds for charging infrastructure and electric vehicles to meet the Electric Vehicle Act’s mandate of a 100 percent State fleet by 2035.  

Acting AG Platkin Launches New Office to Enforce New Jersey’s New Firearm Safety Legislation

July 25, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced the creation of a Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Office – a first-in-the-nation office with the specific mandate of bringing civil enforcement actions against firearm companies to hold them accountable for violations of the law that harm the health and safety of New Jersey residents.

An essential component of SAFE’s civil enforcement toolbox will be the recently enacted firearms public nuisance legislation (P.L.2022, c.56) signed by Governor Murphy on July 5, 2022, which authorizes the Attorney General to bring lawsuits against gun industry members that knowingly or recklessly contribute to a public nuisance in New Jersey through unlawful or unreasonable conduct, or that fail to maintain reasonable controls, relating to their sale, manufacturing, distribution, importing, or marketing of gun-related products.

 “Make no mistake – thanks to Governor Murphy and the Legislature, New Jersey is once again a national leader when it comes to combatting gun violence,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “At a time when the U.S. Supreme Court is undermining states’ efforts to protect their residents from the carnage of gun violence, New Jersey’s Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement Office will use the new public nuisance legislation to hold the gun industry accountable. With the establishment of this office we are sending a clear message to every participant in the firearms industry: if you violate our laws, you will pay.”

New Jersey’s commonsense firearm safety laws have helped the State maintain one of the lowest firearm mortality rates in the country. Nonetheless, New Jersey suffers hundreds of gun-related deaths each year and has not escaped the tragedy of mass shootings. In 2019, two shooters targeted a kosher market in Hudson County in an attack that claimed the lives of six people, including a Jersey City police officer. Last year, three people were killed and 11 others wounded when a shooter opened fire on a crowd gathered for a birthday party at a home in Fairfield Township. And earlier this month, nine people were injured when a gunman in a stolen vehicle opened fire on a street in Newark.

SAFE’s work will accord with the Department’s long history of working closely with law enforcement partners at all levels of government to keep our residents safe, including through smart and evidence-based police work that leads to the arrest and prosecution of individuals, gangs, and gun traffickers who violate New Jersey’s gun laws, and who bring danger and chaos to our communities. Under the leadership of Acting Attorney General Platkin, New Jersey has made it a top priority to apprehend anyone possessing and selling illegal “ghost guns,” which are firearms not imprinted with a serial number registered with a federally licensed manufacturer, and therefore extremely difficult for law enforcement to trace.

One of the tactics being used by Acting Attorney General Platkin to prevent ghost guns from appearing in New Jersey communities is through a strategic law enforcement partnership with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Acting Attorney General Platkin has directed the Division of Criminal Justice in collaboration with the New Jersey State Police, PA and federal authorities, to focus their collective resources on apprehending individuals illegally bringing ghost gun kits across state lines into New Jersey. These cooperative investigations have led to the arrest and prosecution of 19 individuals this year. As a result of these and other ongoing efforts to protect our residents from gun violence, New Jersey law enforcement agencies have criminally seized 2,398 firearms, including 170 illegal ghost guns, so far this year.

SAFE’s work will be distinct from but supplement the Department’s ongoing – and successful – efforts to use the ­state’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) to stop out-of-state gun dealers from selling illegal firearm products into New Jersey over the internet.  In March 2022, Acting Attorney General Platkin announced that the State had obtained a $175,000 judgment against Florida gun vendor 22Mods4All for violating the CFA by advertising and selling illegal large-capacity magazines (LCMs) to New Jersey consumers online. The judgment also permanently barred 22Mods4All from future online sales of LCMs here. A second gun vendor named in that suit – Florida-based Elite Aluminum – agreed to pay a $150,000 civil penalty and stop selling LCMs in New Jersey.

But the public nuisance lawsuits will provide even more robust enforcement tools, by allowing the Department to hold firearms manufacturers and retail dealers accountable for endangering the safety and health of New Jersey residents through the sale, manufacture, distribution, or marketing of lethal, but nonetheless legal, firearms. 

The creation of SAFE to enforce the new firearms public nuisance legislation advances the work Governor Murphy is doing to combat the epidemic of gun violence. Among other steps, New Jersey has established a “red flag” law for gun violence protective orders; criminalized firearms trafficking; strengthened background checks; reduced the maximum capacity of ammunition magazines; banned ghost guns; established the Rutgers Gun Violence Research Center to identify evidenced-based solutions to the gun violence crisis; and established a partnership with a coalition of states (New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut) to share crime gun data between law enforcement agencies.  

Early Morning 3-Alarm Fire Reported In Hopewell Township

July 25, 2022

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–It was reported that sometime around 3:13 a.m. a commercial automatic fire alarm was received for 130 Washington Crossing Pennington Road. Hopewell Police and Hopewell Firefighters arrived shortly and reported a well involved commercial building and called for 2-Alarm tankers. Firefighters placed a 2 1/2″ line in service and the bulk of the fire was reportedly knocked down at 3:37 a.m. The fire went to a 3-alarm equivalent for manpower and apparatus before being fully under control at 5:31 a.m. Many area fire departments responded to the scene from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hopewell Police Closed the roadway during the fire and the related investigation and the roadway was reopened at 8:00 a.m. This is still a developing story please check back for official information when it becomes available.

Fire Investigation Update:

8:00 AM: Washington Crossing Pennington Road is now open.

ROAD CLOSURE: Fire investigation

Washington Crossing Pennington Rd (County Route 546) between Scotch Rd. and Dublin Rd. Is closed for fire investigation.