Day: October 24, 2022

Freehold, NJ Man One Of Three Convicted By Federal Jury On $1Million “Upfront-Fee” Scheme

October 24, 2022

NEWARK, N.J. – Two men from New Jersey and another from Nevada were convicted by a federal jury for their roles in defrauding multiple victims out of money through a $1 million “upfront-fee” scheme, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Following a five-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark federal court, Jerrid Douglas, 49, of Freehold, New Jersey, Harold Mignott, 60, of Voorhees, New Jersey, and Roy Johannes Gillar, 50, of Las Vegas, were each convicted on Oct. 21, 2022, of wire fraud conspiracy and four counts of wire fraud. Gillar and Douglas were also each convicted of one count of transacting in criminal proceeds.

According to documents in this case and evidence at trial:

From March 2016 through June 2016, Douglas, Gillar, and Mignott, along with a fourth conspirator, agreed to defraud the owners of the victim company of approximately $1 million. The defendants fraudulently induced the two victim company owners to enter a joint venture agreement with the defendants’ New Jersey-based shell company. The defendants falsely represented that their company could acquire and provide a “standby letter of credit” (SBLC) backed by either €1 billion in cash or highly lucrative Mexican gold bonds. An SBLC is a guarantee of payment issued by a bank on behalf of a client that is used should the client fail to fulfill a contractual commitment with a third party.

The victim company wanted access to the standby letter of credit so it could purchase raw gold overseas and sell it to gold refineries. As part of the joint venture agreement, the company agreed to pay the defendants $1 million for the bank fee associated with the standby letter of credit.

In order to cover up the scheme and convince the victims to approve the transfer of the funds, the defendants made numerous verbal and written misrepresentations, including providing the victims with a phony letter from a major international bank saying that it was ready, willing, and able to provide a €1 billion SBLC to the defendants’ shell company.

However, after the victim company owners transmitted $800,000 of the $1 million to the defendants, the defendants failed to provide an SBLC or anything of value. Instead, the defendants misappropriated the money for their personal use.

The wire fraud conspiracy charge and the wire fraud charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The transacting in criminal proceeds charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the conviction.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason S. Gould and Joshua L. Haber of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.


Defense counsel:

Douglas: Kristen Santillo Esq. and Fern Mechlowitz Esq., New York
Gillar: Thomas Ashley Esq., Newark, and Paul Wiegartner Esq., Saddle River, New Jersey
Mignott: Eric Breslin Esq., Newark, and Melissa Geller Esq., and Arletta Bussiere Esq., New York

Apartment Fire Reported In Toms River

October 24, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Toms River Police Department reports that on Sunday, October 23, 2022, at approximately 11:20 PM, multiple police and fire units were dispatched to Edgewood Drive for a reported apartment structure fire. Upon arrival, there were many residents already outside and knocking on doors to assist in evacuating the building. Officers were met by residents Jordan Finkle and Dominic Dowd, who advised that they just assisted in rescuing a woman from the burning apartment and, although they did not see or hear anyone else, the female told them there was another person inside. Officer Tyler Pinto climbed onto the balcony of the apartment if effort to locate the alleged entrapped individual but did not observe or hear anyone in the apartment. The apartment began billowing black smoke as Officer Pinto exited the balcony and the Toms River Fire Department arrived on scene to extinguish the blaze and secure the building.

The female victim was transported to Community Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation. Once the fire was extinguished, the apartment was again searched multiple times by fire fighters and first responders but there was no sign of anyone else inside. Multiple apartments were damaged and deemed uninhabitable as a result of the fire. The American Red Cross was contacted and responded to the scene to help aid the residents.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and remains under investigation by the Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention, the Toms River Police Detective Bureau, and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Also assisting on scene was the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department CIU, multiple fire companies, and CSO/EMTs.

We would like to acknowledge the quick-thinking and heroic actions of the residents who came together to ensure everyone was able to get out of the apartments safely! Also, to Samantha Batiato who, along with neighbors, rendered aid to the victim and monitored her condition while waiting for first responders to arrive.

Prosecutor’s Office Identifies Man Killed In Trenton Fire Sunday Morning

October 24, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department are investigating a fatal fire in the city, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

On Sunday, October 24, 2022, the Trenton Fire Department was dispatched to a residence in the first block of Summer Street after midnight.  They extinguished the fire and located the body of a deceased adult male on the first floor.  The Mercer County Homicide Task Force responded along with detectives from the MCPO and TPD.  The circumstances surrounding the fire and the death are under investigation.  The victim has been identified as Brian Wharton, 57, of Trenton.  He was staying at the residence where the fire occurred.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at (609) 989-6406. Tips can also be emailed to

Photos by: Brian McCarthy