March 6, 2023
BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer has announced the resolution of charges brought against two juveniles from Brick Township for the arson that occurred on the Garden State Parkway on January 19, 2022, which shut down the northbound and southbound lanes of traffic near milepost 91 in Brick Township for approximately 10 hours. Although the charges were resolved in late 2022, the State’s intention to identify the juveniles by name in a subsequent public disclosure was opposed by attorneys for the juveniles in motions pending before the court; those motions were only recently decided by the court in the juveniles’ favor in February 2023, when it was ordered that the juveniles could be identified solely by their initials.
On Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at approximately 5:00 p.m., New Jersey State Police responded to a report of a fire in the area of milepost 91 on the Garden State Parkway in Brick Township. During the investigation, State Police Detectives determined that the fire was started within a drainage culvert that runs underneath the Garden State Parkway – from the 91 north entrance ramp to the 91 south exit ramp. Further investigation revealed that two juveniles, I. J., 15, and A.R., 14, were responsible for the arson and various acts of delinquency related to that event.
Late last year, both juveniles pleaded guilty to Arson and Criminal Mischief, and admitted that a Christmas tree inside the drainage culvert was purposely lit on fire, resulting in the extensive damage to the area. Both I.J. and A.R. were sentenced to 60 days in the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center as a condition of three years juvenile probation. Additionally, the Court ordered $15,000 in restitution to be split evenly between the juveniles. Finally, both juveniles were ordered to complete 50 hours of community service and attend and complete a fire setter’s education program.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Iva Krasteva who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the New Jersey State Police, Brick Township Police Department, and New Jersey Department of Transportation, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.