TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – Trenton Water Works (TWW) Director Mark Lavenberg today responded to a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) letter and report this week discussing ongoing compliance obligations and TWW’s water quality improvements.
“First and foremost, Trenton Water Works has acted with full transparency in self-reporting ongoing assessments to NJDEP. Many details in the report come directly from our staff. We speak daily and meet weekly with NJDEP,” Director Lavenberg said. “Given that level of coordination, the letter and report issued this week unnecessarily seem like snapshots from the past. Many areas of concern in this report are currently being or have been addressed. Forward strides made by TWW are not reflected in the least in these documents.”
TWW’s ability to correct some of the deficiencies in the letter has been diminished by City Council decisions regarding dozens of major legislative approvals for project funding and awarding of bids. The NJDEP letter points out City Council’s rejection of a $15 million bond request as a destabilizing decision.
This decision adversely effected TWW operations and projects, but discussions with NJDEP regarding alternative options or revised timelines have been ongoing. Many of the items declined by Council this year can be presented to a newly-formed body in 2023.
“We are addressing specific requirements from NJDEP. We have been lead-compliant since 2019 and have made major upgrades, for instance the raw water intake which was a recommendation in the 1976 report quoted by NJDEP,” Lavenberg said. “We are being asked to correct nearly 50-year-old problems in four years, which included a global pandemic. Through all of that, we never once had an interruption in service.”
“We want to set the record straight: our drinking water is safe and, day by day, we are working to make it safer. The health of our customers and residents is our primary concern,” he said.
NEW EGYPT – PLUMSTED, NJ (OCEAN)- Assemblyman Alex Sauickie announced that his office will host a wall of remembrance for breast cancer survivors or loved ones passed away from the disease.
“October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month because it is important to raise awareness of the disease and to encourage early detection. The earlier the detection, the greater the chance of surviving,” said Sauickie (R-Ocean).
According to the American Cancer Society statistics center, New Jersey women are more likely to get breast cancer than any other form of the disease. Death from breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the state.
“I invite residents of the 12th Legislative office to come to my office, during the month of October, between 10:00 am and 2 pm, and place a pink ribbon on our wall to remember the heroic effort our loved ones went through in their fight against breast cancer,” Sauickie said. “My office will provide the ribbon and assist the public in their remembrance.”
The office is located at 405 Route 539 (Pinehurst Road) in New Egypt.
The 12th Legislative District is comprised of Allentown, Chesterfield, Englishtown, Jackson, Manalapan, Matawan, Millstone, New Hanover, North Hanover, Old Bridge, Plumsted, Roosevelt, Upper Freehold and Wrightstown.
The accident occurred at 7:50 a.m. about 100 yards south of the school, in which the 10-year-old student sustained a leg injury when his bicycle hit a passenger vehicle. The boy is now recovering.
In response, Robbinsville Police Chief Mike Polaski has been in discussions with school and municipal officials about ways in which the local streets could be safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. The police chief also spoke at the September 27 Board of Education meeting to address the community’s concerns.
“We understand that there is a perception from some in the community that we have a safety issue at that mid-block crosswalk,” Polaski said. “We are working with the school district and the township administration to increase safety near the Pond Road Middle School. We have already assigned a stronger police presence.”
In addition, the township has re-lined the crosswalk between Route 526 and Hutchinson Road where the incident occurred to make the markings more pronounced. There is also a traffic enforcement message board to remind drivers to slow down in a school area.
Police have also hired a crossing guard, with training expected in early October, for the location, located mid-block between two housing developments.
Schools Superintendent Brian J. Betze said student safety is always the top priority.
“We are thankful that our student involved in the accident is recovering well, but incidents like this always make us take pause and see if we can do better,” the superintendent said. “I am thankful for our partnership with the Robbinsville Police Department and Robbinsville Township, which have equally stepped up to ensure Pond Road is as safe as possible for our students as well as the overall community.”
EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER) – A multi-alarm inferno destroyed the gymnasium and damaged other parts of the Ewing Senior and Community Center early this morning (Friday, Sept. 30).
Ewing Township firefighters were first dispatched to the township facility at 999 Lower Ferry Road at 2:58 a.m. to check an activated fire alarm system. When firefighters arrived on scene a few minutes later, they found the gymnasium, located in the center of the recreational complex, fully-engulfed in flames. A second alarm, which called in mutual aid from neighboring communities, was immediately ordered. As flames shot from windows and burned through the roof and smoke billowed skyward even more help was called in on the third alarm.
Still more firefighters and apparatus were requested to the scene after that, including water tankers from Pennington, Hopewell and Washington Crossing, Pa., as a precaution in the event that enough water could not be obtained from nearby hydrants. As it was, multiple large diameter hose lines were laid along Lower Ferry Road and Parkway Road to supply water from several hydrants. Four aerial master streams were put in service to flow water on the fire from above, while several smaller hoselines were put to work on the ground. Following several partial collapses of walls and sections of the roof, what was left of the gymnasium roof fully collapsed around 5:30 a.m.
Firefighters worked to prevent the flames from extending into the other connected buildings that make up the facility. While there was some damage sustained, those other areas were saved. The blaze was officially declared under control at 7:13 a.m., however firefighters and investigators were expected to remain on the scene throughout the day.
Assisting Ewing Township firefighters on the scene were mutual aid units from Lawrence, Trenton, Hamilton, Pennington, Hopewell Borough, Hopewell Township, Princeton, and Falls, Pa. Other firefighters from Somerset County responded to stand by in Ewing’s firehouses. During that “cover” assignment, those Somerset County firefighters extinguished a dumpster fire on Whitehead Road Extension.
Ewing Police say, nobody lives at the center. Ewing Police were dispatched to a fire alarm at the Ewing senior and community center (999 Lower Ferry Road) at approximately 2:55 a.m. this morning. First responding officers observed an active fire in the gymnasium portion of the building. There was nobody present in the building at the time. The fire went to five alarms to assist with water supply and firefighting operations. As of this time no injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
There are road closures on Parkway Avenue from Scotch Road to Farrell Avenue and also lower Ferry Road From Langford Lane road Fireside Avenue.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Fire Department, Trenton Police, Trenton EMS and Captial Health Paramedics responded to the area of Greenwood and Chestnut Avenues yesterday afternoon for a serious crash with reported entrapment.
According to a family member there were several injuries in the crash including 32-year-old, 34-year-old and two 5-year-olds. All injured were transported to the Trauma Center at Captial Health Regional Medical Center.
The 32-year-old female was extricated from the vehicle be the Trenton Fire Department and suffered a broken hip, according to family members. The 34-year-old male suffered neck and back injuries and a laceration to his hand. The 15-year-old female suffered a concussion, and other trauma to the face. The 15-year-old boy had the most serious injuries and was flown from Captial Health Trauma Center to RWJ University Hospital, New Brunswick and suffered two fractures in his jaw a fractured skull and concussion he’s on a ventilator, according to family members. Family members ask to keep the 15-year-old boy in your thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.
Trenton Police Department is investigating the crash.
Information from Trenton representatives was not immediately available but will be added to the story once information becomes available.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 11:00 a.m. a SEPTA Train headed towards Philadelphia derailed at low speed at the Trenton Transit Center.
According to SEPTA spokesman John Golden, no one was injured and all the passengers were taken via shuttle bus to the next station. Golden stated that the second and third cars of the four-car train went off the tracks.
SEPTA service was suspended between Trenton and Philadelphia while the train was removed.
Golden stated that the cause of the derailment is under investigation.
Officials investigate a SEPTA train derailment at the Trenton Transit Center on Wednesday September 28, 2022. Photos by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News.
TRENON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police responded yesterday to a melee at the Ninth Grade Academy located at 500 Perry Street. Trenton Officials reported that three adults were arrested for the ninth-grade academy debacle. Two 15-year-old female juveniles were also taken into custody. Additional details were not available.
HAMILTON – TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Mayor Martin, State Senator Greenstein, Assemblymen DeAngelo, and Benson, Mercer County Executive Hughes, Mercer County Board of County Commissioners Chair Nina Melker, Ewing Mayor Steinmann, Hopewell Township Mayor Peters-Manning, and Lawrence Township Mayor John Ryan are joining together to call on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to take over direct supervision and operation of Trenton Water Works (TWW) after years of failure to comply with safe drinking water obligations.
TWW supplies approximately 29 million gallons of drinking water daily to more than 200,000 people, including residents of Trenton and four neighboring municipalities – Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell, and Lawrence Townships.
In 2020, the Attorney General and DEP filed a lawsuit against TWW, which the municipalities served by the water utility joined, seeking to compel the City of Trenton and the water utility to take the necessary actions after failing to comply with Administrative Consent Orders to provide safe drinking water. These failures include but are not limited to filling vacancies critical to running the treatment plant and the covering of the Pennington Reservoir, which funding for was denied by the Trenton City Council months after the lawsuit was filed. This week, the NJDEP sent the City and TWW a letter again citing failure to comply with these orders and stating that the DEP is “disturbed by the current City Council’s continuing failures or refusals to authorize resolutions necessary to advance critical capital improvements and ensure that ordinary maintenance and operational needs crucial to the protection of public health are met.”
“The residents of Hamilton have suffered far too long due to the failures of Trenton Water Works and left us with absolutely no confidence in their ability to operate the utility,” said Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin. “The Trenton City Council’s refusal to authorize public safety projects is putting people’s lives in danger and has prevented TWW’s ability to provide safe and clean drinking water. I call on the Governor and the State of New Jersey to immediately place TWW under direct state control to end the years of gross incompetence.”
“The most recent inspection report from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection validates the charge that, time and time again, the residents of this region have been failed by the Trenton City Council and Trenton Water Works,” said Senator Linda R. Greenstein. “Despite the actions of some to try and resolve these long-standing issues, it is readily apparent that a change in leadership is desperately needed. I call upon the State of New Jersey and NJDEP to immediately take all steps necessary to establish state control of Trenton Water Works, to ensure the health and safety of our residents remain top priority.”
“We shouldn’t wait for another disaster before taking action, the safety of our residents must come first,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. “The NJDEP letter shows that the current operation of Trenton Water Works is unacceptable, it’s time for action,” added Benson.
“Trenton City Council has showed us time and again that they are not interested in bringing Trenton Water Works up to the standards set up by the Department of Environmental Protection,” stated Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo. “At this point, the gross negligence that they have shown has led to an increased risk of waterborne pathogens that threaten the safety of not just Trenton but also the neighboring towns that it serves. I cannot, in good conscience, watch as this continues to escalate. That is why I believe that the control and maintenance of Trenton Water Works should be given to the State so that they can properly bring Trenton Water Works up to the standards of the New Jersey Safe Drinking Water Act.
“Access to safe drinking water and a well-functioning water system is not an unreasonable expectation by the Mercer County residents who have no alternative to the city-operated Trenton Water Works,” said Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes. “While I am encouraged by Mayor Reed Gusciora’s determination to address the ongoing compliance issues and substandard water quality noted by the NJDEP, I condemn the irresponsibility and recklessness of the City Council for its egregious neglect of the water system, its disregard for the directives set forth by the NJDEP and the injustices it has placed on communities of color and on all Trenton Water Works customers.”
“The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s latest Compliance Evaluation and Assistance Inspection dated September 27, 2022, of Trenton Water Works, is extremely disturbing and concerning,” stated Mercer County Board of County Commissioners Chair Nina Melker.” It is now evident that an intervention is needed at a state level to ensure that Trenton Water Works can fulfill their obligation to provide safe and clean drinking water to the residents throughout Mercer County in their service designation.”
“The findings in this report confirm why Ewing joined with its neighbors Lawrence and Hamilton to protect its citizens from this failing authority,” said Ewing Township Mayor Bert Steinmann. “ It is time for legislation that will provide a meaningful remedy to the suburban ratepayers being held hostage to the Trenton City Council’s intransigence. On behalf of the citizens of Ewing, we implore DEP to act immediately to compel TWW to correct these deficiencies and ensure the safety of the water provided by TWW to its more than 200,000 consumers.”
“Residents deserve safe drinking water. We are deeply disturbed by DEP’s findings regarding the lack of progress on long-term projects necessary to keep the residents of Hopewell Township and Mercer County safe,” said Hopewell Township Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning. “Hopewell Township has appreciated our working relationship with the professional staff at Trenton Water Works. However, change is necessary,” continued Peters-Manning.
“On behalf of the Trenton Water Works customers within Lawrence Township, it is time for the operations of the water utility to be taken from the City of Trenton,” stated Lawrence Township Mayor John Ryan. “For far too long, the customers of TWW have lived with the fear, and at times reality, that the water they drink and use daily is unsafe. The report from the NJDEP dated September 27, 2022, demonstrates that the City of Trenton cannot meet the needs of its water utility customers by producing clean and safe water. We stand with the other municipalities fighting for their residents’ health and safety. We must do better.”
Mayor Gusciora Responds to State and Local Concerns Regarding TWW
TRENTON, NJ – Mayor Reed Gusciora issued the following statement today regarding progress made at Trenton Water Works (TWW), compliance with State agreements, and attempts by state and local officials to enact a “major shakeup” at the City-owned utility.
“I share the concerns expressed by area officials that we want safe drinking water for our constituents. However, the comments made by those elected officials do not recognize the substantial progress made at Trenton Water Works over the last four years. I wholeheartedly agree that if the Trenton City Council had done their job, we would not find ourselves in this position. They voted down critical projects including decommissioning the reservoir, replacing water mains, lead remediation, heavy equipment, facility upgrades, chemical purchases, and debt service. Council leaders even engaged a court battle to stop executive action in support of various water quality improvements at TWW.
In addition, one of the main items I ran on was improving Trenton Water Works. In 2019, we developed a $405-million, six-year capital plan to undertake critical projects within its central pumping station, water-filtration plant, and distribution system. These projects are designed to maintain high water quality and make the 163-year-old public water system more resilient.
Despite the efforts of City Council to undermine TWW as a utility of the City of Trenton, I welcome working in tandem with the State DEP to resolve any outstanding issues and ensure safe drinking water for our consumers for years to come. In that vein, I will announce shortly our proposed plan to address the issues raised by the DEP and to give comfort to our ratepayers and residents by showing demonstrative improvements in our water delivery system.”
Purchased by the City of Trenton in 1859, Trenton Water Works is one of the oldest and largest publicly owned water systems in the United States. TWW supplies approximately 28 million gallons of water per day to a quarter-million consumers in a five-municipality service area comprised of Trenton, Ewing Township, parts of Hamilton Township, Lawrence Township, and Hopewell Township.
TWW operates a 60-million-gallon water-filtration plant and water-distribution system that consists of a 100-million-gallon reservoir, 683 miles of water mains, three pump stations, nearly 8,000 valves, 3,517 fire hydrants, and six interconnections between TWW and other water suppliers. TWW serves approximately 63,000 metered customers.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor Reed Gusciora joined New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Deputy Commissioner Joe Bertoni and the New Jersey 15th Legislative District representatives State Senator Shirley K. Turner, Assemblywoman Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, and Assemblyman Anthony S. Verelli yesterday to announce the start of a Pedestrian Safety Improvement project along the state-controlled Route 129 corridor.
The project includes both short-term improvements and long-term solutions to improve safety for both pedestrians and cyclists at three signalized intersections on Route 129, at Lalor Street, Cass Street, and Hamilton Avenue.
“These are first steps that should have been taken a long time ago,” Mayor Gusciora said. “We’ve been imploring the State to take measures on this major artery since my days in the legislature. We’re far from finished and will keep seeking solutions to increase safety at these intersections.”
Initial short-term improvements will include a first-in-the-nation Red Clearance Extension system. This smart, predictive technology detects the speed of a vehicle approaching an intersection and automatically adjusts traffic signal changes. Additional improvements include revising the traffic signal timing at each intersection to provide pedestrians more time to cross, adding signal backplates to increase visibility, and installing upgraded, advanced warning signs over the roadway to replace ground-mounted signs. A project to make more extensive safety enhancements to these intersections is currently in the early stages of design.
“I want to thank Senator Turner and the members of the Fighting 15th who have always been in support of upgrades,” said Mayor Gusciora. “We’re still calling on the State to do more, and I think these investments show their willingness to partner for the wellbeing of all Trentonians.”
A small sampling of the MidJersey.News and OnSceneNews coverage that has brought attention to the dangers of Route 129 and Lalor:
Winnifred Olosunde, 66, and Taiwo “Peter” Olosunde, 55, both of Ewing, NJ, were each chargedwith one count of third-degree insurance fraud, nine counts of third-degree failure to file personal and employer tax returns, and nine counts of third-degree failure to pay personal and employer taxes, in connection with their business Two Enterprise, Inc. (Two Enterprise),which was also named as a defendant.
September 27, 2022
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)– Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor (OIFP) announced that a Mercer County couple, and owners of a New Jersey non-emergency medical transportation company, have been charged with an alleged scheme to provide false payroll information in order to obtain lower premiums on workers’ compensation coverage.
Winnifred Olosunde, 66, and Taiwo “Peter” Olosunde, 55, both of Ewing, NJ, were each chargedwith one count of third-degree insurance fraud, nine counts of third-degree failure to file personal and employer tax returns, and nine counts of third-degree failure to pay personal and employer taxes, in connection with their business Two Enterprise, Inc. (Two Enterprise),which was also named as a defendant.The charges were contained in an indictment handed up by a state grand jury on September 16, 2022.
Winnifred Olosunde is charged with insurance fraud for allegedly knowingly providing false information in connection with applications to renew insurance policies with New Jersey Manufacturer’s Insurance Group (NJM) and Amguard Insurance Company between 2019 and 2021. The indictment alleges that the payroll documents submitted to the insurance providers contained material misrepresentations regarding the number of Two Enterprise medical transportation drivers, and the duties and payroll of several of the drivers. Taiwo Olosunde is charged with insurance fraud in connection with records that were submitted in 2019.
The couple is also charged with failing to file New Jersey personal income tax returns for the years 2016 through 2020 and failing to pay $27,597 in personal income taxes for those years. In addition, together with their company, the couple is also charged with failing to file New Jersey employer payroll tax returns for the years 2017 through 2020, and failing to remit $5,889 in employer payroll taxes to the New Jersey Division of Taxation for those years.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.00.
Deputy Attorney General Melvina D. Fennell presented the case to the State Grand Jury for the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor. Detective Brian Bunn coordinated the investigation with Investigator Anthony Mihalow.
Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Tracy M. Thompson thanked the Department of Treasury for its assistance with the investigation.
Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Thompson noted that some important cases have started with anonymous tips. People who are concerned about insurance cheating and have information about a fraud can report it anonymously by calling the toll-free hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD, or visiting the Web site at www.NJInsurancefraud.org. State regulations permit a reward to be paid to an eligible person who provides information that leads to an arrest, prosecution and conviction for insurance fraud.
To report suspected tax fraud, please call the NJ Treasury, Division of Taxation 24-Hour Recorded Tip Line at 609-322-6057.
Investigation by NJSP and ATF Led to Seizure of Five Handguns and an Assault Weapon
Barrett R. Griffin, III, 33, of North Brunswick, NJ, was sentenced to an aggregate term of 11 years in prison, including a period of 6.8 years of parole ineligibility
September 27, 2022
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)– Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that a Middlesex man was sentenced to 11 years in state prison for illegally transporting handguns into New Jersey for unlawful sale. The conviction stems from an investigation by the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that led to the seizure of five handguns and an assault rifle transported to New Jersey from Georgia.
Barrett R. Griffin, III, 33, of North Brunswick, NJ, was sentenced to an aggregate term of 11 years in prison, including a period of 6.8 years of parole ineligibility, in a hearing before Superior Court Judge Mark P. Tarantino in Burlington County on September 9, 2022. Griffin pleaded guilty on July 18, 2022 to second-degree transporting firearms into the state for unlawful sale or transfer and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.
“Keeping illegal weapons out of our state and off our streets is paramount to public safety,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “We are aggressively targeting those responsible for the proliferation of guns and gun violence in our communities, and that includes gun traffickers who illegally transport weapons into our state and put them in the hands of criminals.”
“The prison sentence handed down to this defendant sends a clear message that we have zero tolerance for gun trafficking in New Jersey,” said Director Pearl Minato, of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work with law enforcement partners throughout New Jersey and beyond to stop the illegal flow of firearms into our state and hold accountable all those who profit from it.”
Griffin was arrested earlier this year following an investigation by NJSP and the ATF. During the course of the investigation, a motor vehicle stop was made on the car Griffin was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike in Mount Laurel, NJ on February 7, 2022. Following a search of the vehicle, detectives seized five handguns, one assault rifle, and four large capacity ammunition magazines from the vehicle’s trunk.
Deputy Attorney General Karen M. Bornstein prosecuted the case for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto and Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis.
The investigation was conducted by the New Jersey State Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Fatima Agosto, Esq., Burlington County Public Defender’s Office.
EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)—Ewing Township Police reported that at 6:07 this morning that Police were detailed to the area or 432 Stokes Avenue for a report of a male struck by gunfire. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim suffered a single gunshot wound to his leg. Ewing EMS transported the victim to Capital Health Regional Medical Center for treatment. Police reported the man is reported to be in stable condition. Police say that there is no reason to believe that there is any active threat to the community.
The in incident is currently under investigation by Ewing Township Police Department Detective Justin Quinlan. If anyone has any information that may assist with the investigation, please contact Detective Quinlan at 609-882-1313 x7512 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone with information may also feel free to contact the Ewing Police Tipline at 609-882-7530 or by email at email@example.com The tipline should not be used to report crimes in progress or emergencies that require immediate response.
Omar Rivera-Rojas a.k.a. Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas, 32, of Lakewood, along with his nephew, Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, 20, also of Lakewood, both pled guilty to first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter charges.
September 26, 2022
FREEHOLD – Omar Rivera-Rojas (also known as Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas), and his nephew Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, pleaded guilty to first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter charges stemming from a 2019 slaying in Howell Township, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Sunday.
On Friday September 23, 2022, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. LeMieux, Omar Rivera-Rojas a.k.a. Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas, 32, of Lakewood, along with his nephew, Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, 20, also of Lakewood, both pled guilty to first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter charges. At the time of sentencing the State will recommend 22 years in a New Jersey State Prison for Rivera-Rojas. The sentence will be subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA) with an 85% period of parole ineligibility. At the time of sentencing for Rojas-Hernandez, the State will recommend 20 years in a New Jersey State Prison. The sentence will also be subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA) with 85% period of parole ineligibility.
The Howell Township Police Department responded to a 911 call at about 3:46 a.m. on October 18, 2019, reporting an unconscious male laying in Hurley Pond Road just east of Route 547. Upon arrival, a male was located lying face down in the roadway. The incident was initially investigated as a fatal hit and run motor vehicle incident. However, upon the arrival of SCART investigators it was quickly determined that his death was not the result of a hit and run event.
The man, identified as Domingo Merino-Rafael, 33, also of Lakewood, was unresponsive and obviously deceased. MONOC personnel responded and the victim was pronounced deceased at 4:12 a.m. by doctors at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. Rafael was taken to the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office where a post-mortem examination performed by Medical Examiner Allison Mautone, M.D. and the staff of the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was a Homicide.
A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Howell Township Police Department determined Rivera-Rojas, Rojas-Hernandez, and Merino-Rafael traveled from Lakewood to Middlesex County on the evening of October 17, 2019. The men were returning to Lakewood in the early morning hours of October 18, 2019, when the trio got into an argument that culminated with the uncle and nephew killing Merino-Rafael. During their factual basis both men admitted that they each struck the victim in the back of the head with a machete. The cause of death was multiple chop wounds to the head.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Howell Township Police Department also credited the Lakewood Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance during the investigation.
Sentencing for both Rivera-Rojas and Rojas-Hernandez is scheduled for March 3, 2023, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. LeMieux.
The case is being handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Stephanie Dugan and Tara Wilson.
Rojas-Hernandez is represented by Joseph Champagne, Esq. of Toms River, New Jersey.
Rivera-Rojas is represented by Carlos Diaz-Cobo, Esq. of New Brunswick, New Jersey.
ROBBINSVILLE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)—Robbinsville Township Police reported that on Friday September 23, 2022 Robbinsville Police, Robbinsville Fire, Robbinsville EMS were dispatched at 3:44 p.m. to the BAPS Temple at 100 North Main Street in the Windsor section of the Township for a construction accident. Upon arrival police officers were directed to the rear of the property where curbing was being installed. It was determined that a construction accident occurred resulting in a worker fatality. The victim a 57-year-old male from Hillside, NJ was located and pronounced dead at the scene. Police say that next of kin notifications are pending and the incident is being investigated by the Robbinsville Township Police Department.
A spokesperson for the Department of Labor told MidJersey.News that OSHA-Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating.
MidJersey.News File photos from May 11, 2021
Previous MidJersey.news stories about BAPS Mandir from May 2021 there have been no updates provided from authorities about the below stories from 2021.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 2:50 p.m. the Hamilton Township Police Department and Hamilton Township Fire Department was dispatched to the Hamilton Township Public Works Department at 240 Tampa Avenue for a “Hazardous Materials” incident but the worker reporting the hazmat would not say what it was. About 4 minutes later additional fire units were sent to the scene at Hamilton Public Works Garage for some kind of incident in the hazardous materials storage unit. A short time later a NJ State Police Bomb Unit and members of their Hazardous Materials Team arrived. Fire crews stretched a hose line for protection.
Around 4:27 p.m. a man in a full protective bomb suit emerged and carried something with wires away from the scene.
Around 5:20 p.m. the situation was under control and all fire units were returning to their stations.
It was unclear what exactly was found and what the bomb squad was doing there.
This is a breaking news report and when official information becomes available the story will be updated.
Above: A NJ State Trooper in a protective bomb suit carries out something that appears to have wires attached to it. Hamilton Township Fire Department is standing by for fire protection. Hamilton Police closed off Tampa Avene at South Olden Avenue to the entrance to Public Works. It is unclear exactly what the device or chemicals were. The situation was resolved around 5:00 p.m.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A couple of weeks ago, Trenton Cycling Revolution members & friends did a ride to honor and remember people who have been killed or seriously injured walking/biking in the City.
Along the ride, we put up a ghost bike in honor of Thaddeus Peterson, a U.S. Marine veteran and lifelong Trentonian, who was killed riding his bike on North Olden Avenue.
We then visited the most dangerous intersections in the country, Route 129 & Lalor Street. There we had a moment of silence and put up a memorial for the many people who have been killed on this state road including Imaya Moreland (age 3), Billy Roy Ouch (22), Antonio Wiley (56), Karen Beauchamps (50), Andrew Majofsky (36), Abraham Lopez (49), and Celso Rivera (35).
While the recent announcement about addressing the signal times was an encouraging one, it will do nothing without actual infrastructure change. We want to see an actual plan to change the design of this roadway without forcing people walking and biking to climb an overpass every time they want to visit a neighbor, access the light rail, or do their groceries. We want to see actual change that will slow the many vehicles and trucks coming into the City right off the interstate and put people’s lives and wellbeing as a priority rather than throughput and traffic.
We’re waiting to hear from NJDOT and our elected officials what the next steps are. Residents have been calling for changes to 129 since 1994. Enough is enough, a single death or serious injury is too many.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Lawrence Township Police reported that on Tuesday, September 20, 2022 at approximately 9:21 a.m., Lawrence Township Police Officers were dispatched to the Volvo dealership located on Brunswick Pike in Lawrence Township on a report of a Burglary that occurred in the early morning hours.
During the on-scene investigation, it was determined the suspect had entered the building at approximately 3:16 a.m. Once inside the building, the suspect proceeded to steal items from the service area and main office area. The suspect then exited the Volvo dealership with the stolen property. A short time later, the same suspect attempted to enter the Midas Muffler also located on Brunswick Pike in Lawrence Township.
On Thursday, September 22, 2022 at approximately 5:48 a.m., Officer Wells of the Lawrence Township Police Department was patrolling the Township and spotted a vehicle exiting a business that was closed on Brunswick Pike in Lawrence Township. Officer Wells conducted a motor vehicle stop and the operator, Jeremiah Kramer, 28 years old of Sycamore Court, Lawrenceville, NJ was subsequently taken into custody for outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Officer Steimle of the Lawrence Township Investigative Division completed an extensive follow up investigation and charged Jeremiah Kramer with Burglary, Theft and Criminal Attempt Burglary for the two separate incidents detailed above. Kramer was lodged at the Mercer County Correction Center pending a court appearance.
Anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Lawrence Township Police Department @ 609-896-1111.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department continue to investigate a suspicious death in the city, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.
On September 21, 2022, Trenton Communications received a call for a well-being check at a residence on Park Avenue. Responding officers forced entry and located the body of a deceased individual in the basement.
On September 22, an autopsy was conducted by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office. The victim has been identified as Corrine Daniels, 41, of Park Avenue in Trenton. The cause and manner of Ms. Daniels death are pending as the medical examiner’s office awaits the results of additional testing.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at (609) 989-6406. Information can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heroic actions by neighbors pulled man to safety from a Honda Pilot well involved in flames prior to emergency services saving the man from possible fatal injuries.
September 22, 2022
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Police say that on September 21, 2022 at 9:51 p.m. Yvenson Dossous 33-years-old of Hamilton, NJ, was operating his 2022 Honda Pilot north on Whitehorse Hamilton Square Road when he veered off the roadway and struck a tree on the northeast curb. After the collision with the tree, Mr. Dossous’s 2022 Honda pilot became engulfed in flames. Area residents who heard the crash responded and were able to pull Mr. Dossous from his burning vehicle. Medical personnel from Capital Health and Robert Wood Johnson at Hamilton rendered aide and transported Mr. Dossous to Capital Health at Fuld for injuries and burns from the crash. Hamilton Fire Division responded to the scene for the vehicle fire and remained on scene for assistance in the at scene investigation. The crash is being investigated by Officers B. Wood, P. Micharski, and B. Mandelko of the Hamilton Police Traffic Unit. Any witnesses are asked to contact the Hamilton Police Traffic Unit at (609)581-4000.
Last night a witness told Midjersey.News that neighbors felt the ground shake when the car hit the tree and residents ran out and pulled the man from the burning car prior to arrival of emergency responders. Another witness said that after pulling man to safety they patted out the flames of the man’s burning clothing and put him in the driveway and awaited first responders.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Township Police, Fire Department, RWJ EMS and Captial Health Paramedics responded to multiple serious crashes tonight in the Township.
The first crash was reported around 6:40 p.m. on Kuser Road between Perilli Drive and Estates Blvd.-Justice Samuel A Alito Jr Way when a vehicle took out several utility poles. The crash was initially reported as reported entrapment and fire. Upon arrival, police reported a person was out of the vehicle but wires and vehicle was on fire.
PSE&G was on scene to make repairs. Mercer County-Hamilton Fire Police and Hamilton Police had the roadway closed between Perilli Drive and Estates Blvd.-Justice Samuel A Alito Jr Way. The roadway was expected to closed for some time while repairs are made to utility poles.
Above photos from the Kuser Road Crash.
Another crash was reported around 9:53 p.m. in the 2,000 Block of Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road between Klockner and East Bow Road when a sport utility vehicle crashed into a tree and burst into flames. A witness reported that neighbors made a rescue pulling the person out of the vehicle. Hamilton Police, Fire Department, RWJ EMS and Captial Health Paramedics arrived on scene and treated the person for trauma and burns. The fire was extinguished and additional equipment and manpower was called to the scene. The person was transported to Captial Health Regional Medical Center with a “trauma alert” with burns. At the time of this report Hamilton Township Police was still on scene investigating the crash. Hamilton Township Fire Department was assisting with lighting and Public Works was called to help clean up. Further details to follow when they become available.
Photos above from the Whitehorse-Hamilton Square Road crash.
UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Monmouth County Park System “VIP-Volunteer In Parks” trail crew has been working repairing trails in Clayton Park over the past few months. This evening crews were spotted working on Bridges Trail.
According to the Monmouth County Park System website, Volunteers can be found in many different roles throughout the Park System. Every year, over one thousand individuals enrich the Monmouth County Park System through their dedication in the “Volunteers in Parks” program. The steadfast support of our volunteers contributes to the success of recreation programs, special events, and facilities.
If interested in sharing your time and talents and become a member of the Park System Volunteer team click here: Volunteers In Parks Program
Trail crew doing trail maintenance and trail construction tonight at Clayton Park in Upper Freehold Township. MidJersey.News photo
EAST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–East Windsor Township held a 9/11 ceremony including a wreath laying to remember the 21st Anniversary of 9/11 on Sunday, September 11 at the East Windsor Municipal Building grounds, at the 9/11 Memorial. East Windsor Township held and dedicated a 9/11 Memorial 30 days after the events of 9/11 and annually has honored and remembered this day. East Windsor annually remembers Township residents Colleen Barkow, Lorraine Bay, Debbie Bellows, Anil Bharvaney, Neil Lai, Ruth Lapin as well as Joseph Pycior, and All Other Lost September 11, 2001.
Participants in the ceremony included: East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 1; East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company No. 2; Volunteer Firefighter William Kerr; Boy Scout Troops 59, 6284 and 63; Cub Scout Pack 53; Apollo Lodge #41; Liliana Morina, East Windsor Regional School District, Hightstown High School; East Windsor Regional School District, Hightstown High School Small Ensemble; Rabbi Jay Kornsgold, Beth El Synagogue; Reverend Stephen E. Bryant, Sr., St. James AME Church; Reverend James R. Egan, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church; Police Chief James Geary and Police Department, and Mayor Janice S. Mironov and elected officials.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Violent Crimes Unit Detectives were providing extra attention in the area of Brunswick Avenue when they observed a bulge in Rashaon AWilliams waistband area and upon further investigation found him in possession of a handgun. He was subsequently placed under arrest. The handgun was found to have a high-capacity magazine loaded with hollow point ammunition. Search incidental to arrest found Williams to be in possession of a distributable amount of CDS Heroin and CDS Crack-Cocaine. A Criminal History check revealed Williams to be a Certain Person not to possess a Handgun/Ammunition and was found to have a prior NERA conviction. This incident occurred within 1000’ of a school.
EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Around 12:30 p.m. a vehicle lost control on St. James Place near North Main Street, hit a tree and overturned in the roadway and a person was reported trapped. East Windsor Police, Hightstown Fire Company, East Windsor Fire Company #2, Monroe Township Fire Department and Cranbury First Aid Squad were all dispatched to the scene. When EMS arrived, they reported entrapment and firefighters said they were going to perform a “door pop” to help get the person out of the vehicle. It was reported that there were no serious injuries, and no one was transported to the hospital. Cranbury Service Center up righted the vehicle and towed it away. East Windsor Police is investigating the crash. No additional details are available at this time.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department are investigating a suspicious death in the city, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.
On September 21, 2022, Trenton Communications received a call for a well-being check at a residence on Park Avenue. Responding officers forced entry and located the body of a deceased individual in the basement.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at (609) 989-6406. Information can also be emailed to email@example.com.
Trenton Public Information Officer, Timothy J. Carroll told MidJersey.news earlier that Trenton Police Communications Center received a call for a well-being check on a female that lives at 907 Park Avenue. When Police Officers arrived on scene and did not receive an answer at the door. The Trenton Fire Department was requested and forced entry was made. Police units searched the 1st and 2nd floors with no results. Units then checked the basement to find a body. The Mercer County Homicide task force was notified and investigating along with Trenton Police.
In an unconfirmed initial report that was told to MidJersey.news Trenton Police responded to a welfare check for relative of the person that lives at the Park Street Address. The relative stated a wallet was found in the car by the relative and bullet holes were found in the house on the initial call in the unconfirmed report. A short time later Trenton Police called the Trenton Fire Department to force the door to check on the person that lives at that address. It was unclear if any shell casings or bullet holes were found as that was said in the initial unconfirmed report.
As of last night, there have been fifteen reported homicides in the City of Trenton for 2022. If this suspicious death is ruled a homicide this will be Trenton’s 16 homicide of 2022. Check back for additional details as they become available.
Trenton Police and the Mercer County Homicide Task Force are investigating a homicide where a Hamilton man was killed last night.
Information about that homicide is here:
Photos of the scene this morning by: Brian McCarthy
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – Mayor W. Reed Gusciora ceremoniously cut the ribbon at the completed rehabilitation of Montgomery Street Plaza this week. Connecting historic city landmarks to the Mill Hill neighborhood, the plaza adds to the list of Trenton’s historic sites that have undergone recent restoration efforts.
The plaza is an important downtown site adjacent to the Mill Hill Playhouse, the Douglass House, and Mill Hill Park. The project restored roadway paving within the plaza with new Belgian block pavers, revised the paving pattern and material at the base of the George Washington statue with salvaged granite setts and restored the existing brick sidewalks around the plaza with the salvaged brick pavers from the base of the statue.
Mayor Gusciora was joined by North Ward Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, South Ward Councilman George Muschal, community members, and Director of Recreation, Natural Resources, and Culture Maria Richardson.
“It is a privilege to have as much lasting history in a City as we do here,” Mayor Gusciora said. “Through consistent restoration efforts, we will continue to preserve sites and structures like these for future generations of Trentonians to learn from.”
The completion of the Montgomery Street Plaza restoration follows the rehabilitation of the 1888 Pratt Truss bridge over the Assunpink Creek, the restored exterior lighting of the Mill Hill Playhouse and the installation of a new HVAC system for both the playhouse and Douglass House. The city is dedicated to continuing these projects including ongoing and/or proposed historic restorations at Battle Monument Park, the 1796 East Trenton Community Center/Library, Cadwalader Park, and more.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department are investigating a shooting homicide that occurred Tuesday evening in the city, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.
At approximately 7:50 p.m. on September 20, 2022, Trenton police responded to a Shot Spotter activation for multiple rounds in the area of Howard and Hancock streets. Upon arrival, officers located the victim unresponsive in the driver’s seat of a maroon Cadillac sedan suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. He was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a short time later. The victim has been identified as Keenan Anthony Trower, 31, of Hamilton.
No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at (609) 989-6406. Information can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Night’s MidJersey.News story here:
As of September 20, 2022 there have been 15 reported homicides in the City of Trenton for the year 2022.
Names of the 2022 homicide victims in the City of Trenton:
NEWARK, N.J. – An Illinois man was sentenced to 39 months in prison for using other individuals’ personal identification information to fraudulently obtain unemployment insurance benefits while he was incarcerated, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Devontae Stokes, 28, of Country Club Hills, Illinois, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo to an information charging him with conspiring to commit wire fraud. Judge Arleo imposed the sentence by videoconference on Sept. 19, 2022.
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law. The CARES Act created a new temporary federal unemployment insurance program called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provided unemployment insurance benefits for individuals who were not eligible for other types of unemployment (e.g., the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers). The CARES Act also created a new temporary federal program called Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (FPUC) that provided an additional weekly benefit to those eligible for PUA and regular unemployment insurance benefits.
Between August 2020 and November 2020, Stokes was incarcerated at FCI Fort Dix, a federal correctional institutional with an adjacent satellite camp located in Fort Dix, New Jersey. Stokes and his conspirators obtained personal identification information (PII), including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers belonging to other individuals without those individuals’ knowledge and consent. Stokes and his conspirators then used the PII to make fraudulent unemployment insurance benefits applications and obtained more than $140,000 in benefits.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Arleo sentenced Stokes to three years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of $143,290 and forfeiture in the amount of $143,290.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Mellone, in New York; special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; special agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Richard W. Reinhold in Newark; and special agents of the United States Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Dale Forrester, Cybercrime Investigations Division, with the investigation leading to the sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Kogan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Cybercrime Unit in Newark.
Defense counsel: K. Anthony Thomas Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark
TRENTON, N.J. – A Monmouth County, New Jersey, man who ran an illegal gambling business was sentenced to 18 months in prison for filing a false tax return, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.
Steven Bryce, 52, of Howell Township, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to Count Five of an indictment charging him with subscribing to a false tax return. U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi imposed the sentence on Sept. 20, 2022, in Trenton federal court.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In 2013, Bryce operated an illegal gambling business. On July 14, 2014, Bryce filed with the IRS U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Form 1040, for the calendar year 2013 on behalf of himself and his spouse, which falsely stated that they had total income of $112,899. The 2013 tax return was not true and correct: Bryce received significant income from his gambling business, and, as a result, had income substantially in excess of the amount he reported. As part of his plea agreement, Bryce agreed to pay full restitution of $338,885 to the IRS for tax losses resulting from false tax returns filed by Bryce for calendar years 2011 to 2016.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Quraishi sentenced Bryce to one year of supervised release, a $50,000 fine, and ordered to pay $338,885 in restitution.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the IRS-Criminal Investigations, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the sentencing.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara F. Merin and J Fortier Imbert of the Special Prosecutions Division in Newark.
Defense counsel: Edward C. Bertuccio Hamilton, New Jersey
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–South Brunswick Police continue to investigate the fatal Monday night crash that claimed the life of a 21-year-old Monroe woman. At 10:32 p.m., South Brunswick Police received multiple 911 calls of an overturned van on Route 130 near Deans Rhode Hall Road. Officers arrived and found a 2003 Ford Econoline van had been traveling Route 130 southbound being driven by Eli Szmer a 32-year-old male from Monroe. Mr. Szmer for unknown reasons lost control of his vehicle and crossed the grass divider, the northbound lanes of travel then struck the guardrail off the northbound shoulder of the highway. The force of the collision caused the van to flip over. A female front seat passenger, Cassidy Cutler aged 21 of Monroe was killed in the crash and pronounced at the scene. Szmer and Cutler were the only two occupants of the van. Szmer was uninjured in the crash.
In addition to the South Brunswick Police, the Monmouth Junction First Aid Squad, Monmouth Junction Fire Department, New Jersey State Department of Transportation and the Middlesex County Medical Examiner responded to the crash. Route 130 was closed in both directions for five hours.
The investigation is currently ongoing by the South Brunswick Police Traffic Safety Bureau. PFC Mike Leung is the lead investigator in the crash. Anyone with information should contact PFC Leung at (732) 329-4000 ext. 7472.