Day: May 8, 2023

Asbury Park Man Sentenced To 17+ Years In Prison For Sex Crimes Against Two Juveniles

May 8, 2023

FREEHOLD – A local man who sexually abused two juvenile siblings over the course of several years and was convicted at trial last fall has been sentenced to 17 years and six months in prison for the crimes, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Monday.

Walter Orlando Perez-Ramos, 35, of Asbury Park will be required to serve at least 85 percent of the first 16 years of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole under the provisions of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA), in accordance with the terms set down during a Friday afternoon sentencing hearing before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Jill G. O’Malley.

On Monday, May 3, 2021, members of the Asbury Park Police Department first received information regarding the abuse of the two victims, then ages 16 and 17.

An investigation by members of the Asbury Park Police Department quickly determined that the abuse had involved dozens of incidents taking place on various dates from May 2015 through May 2020, each involving inappropriate touching. Perez-Ramos was arrested later in May 2021 and remained in custody at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI). MCPO Special Victims Bureau Director Danielle Zanzuccki handled the prosecution of the case, while Perez-Ramos was represented by George J. Mardinly, Esq.

Following the weeklong trial before Judge O’Malley that ended in November 2022, Perez-Ramos was convicted on two counts of second-degree Sexual Assault, two counts of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and a single count of fourth-degree Criminal Sexual Contact.

During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Judge O’Malley also ordered that Perez-Ramos register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and be subject to Parole Supervision for Life upon his release.

Governor Murphy Signs Bipartisan Legislation Criminalizing Sexual Extortion

Establishes Using Explicit Sexual Images to Extort Victims as a Third Degree Crime

May 8, 2023

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today signed bipartisan legislation (S653/A343) to crack down on acts of sexual extortion, which have been on the rise as the digital age creates new avenues for bad actors. Specifically, the new law criminalizes the act of coercing another person to engage in sexual contact or provide explicit images or videos under threat, either of disclosing an explicit sexual image or video of the victim or to the victim’s person, property, or reputation.

“In this digital age, the protections we have in place to safeguard our residents must expand to address threats that arise online,” said Governor Murphy. “As cases of sexual extortion rise across the country, we will work tirelessly to ensure that New Jersey’s residents are not exploited or victimized. This legislation will modernize our laws by bolstering protections for victims of sexual extortion and allowing for harsher penalties to hold perpetrators of these crimes accountable.”

“I thank Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature for taking steps to strengthen the tools we have to protect those most vulnerable to victimization – especially our children and developmentally disabled New Jerseyans. These groups and others are at risk of being blackmailed into engaging in sexual acts or exposing intimate images to predators, and this legislations allows law enforcement to hold the perpetrators criminally accountable,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “This bill serves as a strong warning to anyone who wants to exploit members of our community through this criminal conduct.”

“Disclose” is defined in the bill as to sell, manufacture, give, provide, lend, trade, mail, deliver, transfer, publish, distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, exhibit, advertise, offer, share, or make available via the Internet or by any other means, an explicit image or video of a victim.

Under this legislation, sexual extortion is a crime of the third degree. A third degree crime carries a penalty of three to five years imprisonment, up to a $15,000 fine, or both. Aggravated sexual extortion, under the bill, includes the act of sexual extortion on a child under 18 or an adult with a developmental disability. A crime of the second degree is generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years, a fine of up to $150,000, or both.

Primary sponsors of S653/A343 include Senators Steve Oroho and Fred H. Madden Jr., and Assemblymembers Aura Dunn, Angelica Jimenez, and Carol Murphy.

“I appreciate the governor signing this legislation that will protect victims of sexual extortion by holding the perpetrators of these horrendous acts accountable,” said Senator Oroho. “With the enactment of this law, we will now be able to identify, convict, and punish the criminals who engage in this despicable behavior. This law upholds our commitment as legislators to ensure that justice will be served for the victims of this heinous abuse.”

“Victims of sexual extortion deserve to know they are not alone and justice will be served in New Jersey,” said Assemblywoman Dunn. “This law recognizes that crimes have evolved in the digital age and gives prosecutors the necessary tools to punish predators who exploit, scam and shame our most vulnerable populations. Sexual extortion is a growing threat and addressing it legislatively is a promise to our communities that we as public servants are committed to stopping these horrible crimes.” 

“The crime of sexual extortion is cruel and inhumane. It is a grievous form of exploitation and harassment, especially with the prevalence of social media,” said Senator Madden. “This law is a vital step in addressing and combatting this growing epidemic. It provides law enforcement with the tools necessary to properly identify and prosecute this crime.”

“Sexual extortion, or sextortion, is a growing form of exploitation that targets our most vulnerable and can have a lasting negative impact on victims,” said Assemblywoman Jimenez. “We cannot allow these crimes to go under-punished. This law will ensure perpetrators of heinous sextortion crimes are punished appropriately for the negative physical, mental health, economic, and reputational consequences their actions have on their victims.”

“Sexual exploitation is a despicable crime. Unfortunately, the FBI notes that it is on the rise across the country. Here in New Jersey, we must take action to safeguard our residents by establishing harsh penalties to deter these crimes and bring perpetrators to justice,” said Assemblywoman Murphy. “No one deserves to be exploited and victimized in this manner. That is why I am proud to sponsor legislation to protect our communities. This new policy expands the scope of existing law and empowers prosecutors to hold the perpetrators of sextortion crimes accountable for their actions.”

Govenor’s Office File Photo

Firefighters Extinguish House Fire In West Windsor

May 8, 2023

WEST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–West Windsor Police Department reported at 1:50 p.m., today, the West Windsor Police Department Communications Center received a 9-1-1 call regarding a structure fire at a residence in Benford Estates.  The call originated from a landscaper who was to perform work across the street from the blaze.  Patrol Units were dispatched and arrived at the scene shortly thereafter and observed an active fire that had engulfed the kitchen area of the of the home.  West Windsor Division of Fire & Emergency Services, West Windsor Volunteer Fire Company, Princeton Junction Fire Company, Plainsboro Fire Department, Princeton Fire Department and Hamilton Fire Department arrived at the scene to battle the fire.  West Windsor Township Division of Fire & Emergency Services Chief Lynch deemed the fire as under control at 2:07 p.m.

                     The West Windsor Police Department Drone Unit responded to assist in locating any potential hot spots for the firefighters.  In addition, the West Windsor Police Department Detective Bureau and the West Windsor Fire Marshal responded to conduct a thorough investigation.  The initial investigation determined that the fire was accidental in nature.  The West Windsor Township Construction Office determined that the residence was uninhabitable as a result of the fire.  There were no injuries reported to any persons including all first responders during the incident.  The residents were making alternate arrangements for shelter at the time of this release.  

Photos above by: NJ Public Safety News Alerts

Meteorite Strikes House in Hopewell Township

May 8, 2023

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hopewell Township Police say that a metallic object believed to be a meteorite struck the roof a residence located on Old Washington Crossing-Pennington Road.  The ranch style home was occupied at the time but there were no injuries reported.  The object, which is described as approximately 4” x 6” is oblong in shape and appears metallic.  It penetrated the roof, the ceiling and then impacted the hardwood floor before coming to a rest. 

Hopewell Township Police Department has contacted several other agencies for assistance in positively identifying the object and safeguarding the residents and the object. 

This may be related to a current Meteor shower called the Eta Aquariids.  The investigation is on-going.

Hopewell Township Fire Department, EMS and Trenton Fire Department Hazardous Materials Team also responded to the scene.

Photos above by: NJ Public Safety News Alerts

Photos above provided by Hopewell Township Police Department

Rutgers Educators Unions Vote 93 Percent to Ratify New Contracts

“What We Achieved Is a Testament to All Our Efforts”

May 8, 2023

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Three unions representing 9,000 Rutgers University educators, researchers, clinicians, and librarians voted by overwhelming margins to ratify new contracts, nearly a month after a historic five-day strike in mid-April.

Some 93 percent of members of the three unions—Rutgers AAUP-AFT, which represents full-time faculty, graduate workers, postdoctoral associates, and counselors; the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, which represents adjunct faculty; and AAUP-BHSNJ, which represents health science faculty in Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences facilities—who cast ballots voted yes on ratifying a total of five Tentative Agreements with the university.

“This vote is the culmination of months of intense efforts by so many people who walked the picket lines and organized with their colleagues,” said Rebecca Givan, president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT. “Because of this commitment by our members, we made major gains in these contracts, especially for the most vulnerable and lowest-paid of the people we represent. We didn’t win everything we wanted. But what we did achieve is a testament to all of us, and we’re proud of it.

Howie Swerdloff, an executive board member of the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union, said, “This overwhelmingly positive vote across all job categories shows how unified we were and are, and how much everyone gained as a result. We bargained together, walked the picket line together, and won together.”

Members of the three unions also voted in favor of a proposal to ask those they represent for voluntary contributions to the Rutgers Beloved Community Fund. The fund—one of several social justice initiatives proposed by the unions to center and benefit Rutgers students and the communities surrounding the university’s campuses—won a commitment from Governor Phil Murphy for $600,000 in recurring annual funding.

But during subsequent negotiations, the university administration, led by President Jonathan Holloway, backed out of an earlier commitment to contribute to the Fund. The unions intend to follow through on their initiative with voluntary contributions to add to the state funds—which will be administered by a newly established 501(c)(3) organization—and to continue to pressure the Rutgers administration to match their commitment.

The educators unions are also vowing to support more than 6,000 workers in nine other unions representing staff at Rutgers who are still without contracts.

Christine O’Connell, president of the Union of Rutgers Administrators-AFT, which represents 2,500 administrative staff, said, “We are proud to stand with our AAUP colleagues as they settle a contract that provides real benefits for thousands of their members. URA-AFT continues to fight for a fair contract that provides raises with longevity pay that recognizes their contribution, recognition for our essential workers, job security and a path to career advancement, and a permanent policy for telework that is not at the whim of management.”

The three educators unions bargained together, but they negotiated five separate contracts. The final percentage of “yes” votes for the five agreements was:

  • 92 percent for the contract covering some 6,250 full-time faculty and graduate workers represented by Rutgers AAUP-AFT and AAUP-BHSNJ (this agreement includes faculty in AAUP-BHSNJ for the first time).
  • 97 percent for the contract covering some 2,800 adjunct faculty represented by the Rutgers Adjunct Faculty Union.
  • 95 percent for the contract covering some 750 postdoctoral associates and fellows represented by Rutgers AAUP-AFT.
  • 100 percent for the contract covering 22 Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Counselors represented by Rutgers AAUP-AFT.
  • 97 percent for a separate contract covering full-time faculty, adjunct faculty, graduate workers, and others who teach Winter and Summer session courses at Rutgers.

“This is a new moment for higher ed labor around the country,” said Todd Wolfson, general vice president of Rutgers AAUP-AFT. “Other unions representing graduate workers and faculty organized, struck, and won strong contracts, inspiring us to fight for more. And now we’ve contributed to the largest strike wave in the history of public higher education. We have a vision of a public university that works for our students, our communities, and everyone who works there—and we’ve taken important steps toward achieving it.”

New Jersey Man Busted In Maine With $24K Drugs, Fentanyl, Cocaine and $14K Cash

May 8, 2023

Sagadahoc County, ME — The Sagadahoc County Sherrif’s Office reported that on May 5, 2023, at approximately 1:15 a.m., Sagadahoc County Deputy Zach Kindelan conducted a traffic stop of a 2008 Hyundai Elantra for a traffic violation on Main Street in Richmond. During the traffic stop the deputy developed information that there may be drugs in the vehicle. A subsequent search of one of the passenger’s located drugs on his person.

As a result of that search, 92 grams of Fentanyl, 130 Grams of Cocaine and over $14,000 in cash were seized. Omaree D. Williams, age 22, of Ocean Park New Jersey, was arrested and charged with the following:

Unlawful Trafficking of scheduled drugs (suspected Fentanyl) Class A Felony

Unlawful Trafficking of scheduled drugs (suspected Cocaine) Class A felony

The estimated street value of the drugs seized was $24,000.

Mr. Williams was taken to Two Bridges Regional Jail, where he is being held on $10,000 bail. He has a court date of July 18, 2023 at the West Bath District Court.

There were two other people in the vehicle with Mr. Williams that were not charged with any crime. Also involved in the investigation were members of the Gardiner Police Department and the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency was notified, and the case is under continued investigation.

East Windsor Holds Kick-Off For 2023 Community Garden

May 8, 2023

EAST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP. NJ (MERCER)–  Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members Denise Daniels, Peter Yeager and John Zoller along with community garden participants celebrated the kick-off for the 2023 Community Garden, located in Disbrow Hill Park adjacent to the Disbrow Hill playing fields and across from Etra Lake Park.

Mayor Mironov stated,  “We are excited to launch a new year of our successful community garden, another initiative in our Township’s commitment to green sustainable efforts.  The popular community garden, which provides residents the opportunity to grow their own fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs, offers unique benefits and educational opportunities to residents to learn basic agricultural principals, have fun and connect with their neighbors.”

Launched in 2016, the community garden is comprised of twenty plots.  The garden provides an opportunity for residents to rent a plot of land to plant fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers of their choosing while also providing a positive outdoor activity for families, friends and individuals.  Community gardens give people an opportunity to learn and share knowledge on gardening, nature and cooking, and provide a strengthened sense of community and social opportunities where community members of varying backgrounds can come together.

The Community Garden represents another example of East Windsor’s pro-active sustainable initiatives.  The Township achieved Sustainable Jersey Silver Level Certification in 2015, 2018 and again in 2021 for a host of green initiatives including creation of a Green Team, community outreach programs, emergency communications planning, municipal on-site solar system, farmland preservation plans, sustainable land use pledge, business recognition programs, open space preservation, environmental assessment ordinance, green grounds and maintenance policy, pest management, community recycling/paper shredding events, backyard composting program, and “Cut it and Leave it” program.

Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members Denise Daniels, Peter Yeager and John Zoller join with gardeners to kick off the opening of the 2023 East Windsor Township Community Garden.

Montclair State University Student From Edgewater Park, NJ, Arrested for Allegedly Possessing and Creating Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Material Involving Children He Contacted on Social Media

May 8, 2023

TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced charges against a Montclair State University (MSU) student who was arrested at his residence on the school’s campus in Essex County, NJ, for allegedly possessing and creating Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Material (CSAEM) involving children he contacted online. The arrest is the result of an investigation led by the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Cybercrime Bureau/Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce.

Keyon Luff, 21, of Edgewater Park, NJ, is charged with first-degree endangering the welfare of a child for manufacturing CSAEM, second-degree sexual assault, third-degree endangering the welfare of a child for possession of CSAEM, and third-degree impersonation.

Luff, a junior at MSU, was taken into custody after detectives with the DCJ Cybercrime Bureau, assisted by the Montclair State University Police Department (MSUPD), executed a search warrant on Luff’s dorm room shortly before 7 a.m. on May 3, 2023. As a result of the search, detectives seized numerous digital devices from Luff’s room and determined that Luff was not only in possession of CSAEM, but also created fictitious social media accounts to contact underage children and engage in sexually explicit conversations. In some of those conversations, Luff directed children to perform sexual acts, record them, and send them to him via social media platforms. Luff was processed by MSUPD and transported to the Essex County Jail where he is being held pending a detention hearing.

“I commend the work of the dedicated men and women of the Division of Criminal Justice for their ongoing work on this case and the countless other cases against individuals who use the internet as a means to gain access into the lives of children,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Through our tireless efforts, we are working to identify and bring to justice those who seek to exploit the most vulnerable members of society – our children.”

The investigation that led to Luff’s arrest was initiated by the DCJ Cybercrime Bureau following a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC is a private, non-profit organization that assists with the location of missing children, reduction in child sexual exploitation, and prevention of child victimization. It also is an international clearing house that gathers information from law enforcement agencies and the public regarding issues of missing and exploited children. Cybertips are also reported to NCMEC when there is an allegation of a child being exploited over the Internet. NCMEC will then disseminate the information to the appropriate agencies for investigation.

Specifically, in this investigation, NCMEC reported that a cloud-based file hosting service reported that several files of suspected CSAEM were uploaded to its platform. Through investigative measures, investigators were able to determine that the Internet Protocol (IP) address used to upload the CSAEM files was associated with Montclair State University. Further investigation identified Luff as a suspect. 

Deputy Attorney General Robert Guarni is prosecuting the case for the DCJ Cybercrime Bureau, under the Supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Lisa Rastelli, Bureau Chief Jillian Carpenter, and Deputy Director Derek Nececkas. The investigation was led by the DCJ Cybercrime Bureau under the supervision of Lieutenant Richard DaSilva.

Attorney General Platkin thanked the Montclair State University Police Department and its Detective Bureau for their assistance. 

First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three of five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.