Day: May 16, 2023

East Windsor Township Residents Presented With Senior Citizen Award For Outstanding Service As A Volunteer

May 16, 2023

EAST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–  Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members presented to Sydelle Norris and to Marc Platizky the 2022/2023 “Sylvia Weiss Senior Citizen Award for Outstanding Service as a Volunteer,” at a ceremony at the East Windsor Township Senior Center.

Sydell Norris, a generous and kind individual and 56-year East Windsor resident, who has been volunteering for East Windsor Township for over 25 years, is a member and Chair for the past five years of the Township Commission on Aging.  The Commission on Aging advocates for older adults, provides recommendations to the Township Mayor and Council on matters involving senior citizens in the Township and provides support to the Senior Center.  For over five years, Sydelle has volunteered as a Medicare Counselor at the Township Senior Center and in the broader Mercer County area, providing one-on-one Medicare counseling to over 300 people as well as screening individuals’ eligibility for State programs to financially assist residents paying premiums, deductibles and copays.  Sydelle states she “is grateful for her volunteer work at the East Windsor Township Senior Center as through these efforts she has made friends, felt a sense of community and enjoys the gratification that comes from helping others.”

Marc Platizky, a dedicated and tireless volunteer, has served in a variety of ways including as a past President and currently Vice President of the Twin Rivers Trust Board of Directors, member of the East Windsor Municipal Utilities Authority, recently joined the Wheaton Pointe Board of Directors, and volunteers for the Joshua Harr Shane Foundation, a local charity offering assistance to the critically ill, to special needs individuals and to our miliary.  Marc also volunteers at the Senior Center, teaching computer literacy and smart phone use to seniors, and helps out anyone needing assistance.  Marc states he “is extremely happy to give back to the community as a sign of gratitude and appreciation to all who make East Windsor a wonderful place to live and raise their families and encourages all to volunteer, even a little of their time, to making East Windsor even better.”

Mayor Mironov praised the honorees, stating,  “Sydelle Norris is an incredibly dedicated and caring individual who devotes many hours and personal efforts to our senior community with her extensive knowledge and skills.  Sydelle, a generous and kind individual, always goes above and beyond in helping others.” 

She continued,  “Marc Platizky enthusiastically helps out in any way that is asked of him, sharing his time, skills and interests for the betterment of our community.  Marc’s great spirit and many contributions set a wonderful example for everyone to get involved in our community.  We are proud and very appreciative to present this award to Sydelle Norris and Marc Platizky for their tremendous volunteer service to East Windsor’s senior citizens and our community which truly exemplifies the spirit of volunteerism.”

The Sylvia Weiss Senior Citizen Award for Outstanding Service as a Volunteer, presented annually by East Windsor Township, recognizes a senior citizen who has exhibited outstanding service through volunteerism to the community by way of schools, religious institutions, service organizations or directly to the public.  Sylvia Weiss is a former East Windsor Township Council Member, past Council Senior citizen advisor and chairperson of the Commission on Aging and was instrumental in the original formation of the senior citizen program.

Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members Denise Daniels and John Zoller present the 2022/2023 “Sylvia Weiss Senior Citizen Award for Outstanding Service as a Volunteer” to honorees Sydelle Norris and Marc Platizky.  Pictured (from left to right) are:  Council Member John Zoller;  Marc Platizky;  Mayor Janice S. Mironov;  Sydelle Norris, and Council Member Denise Daniels.

Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members Denise Daniels and John Zoller present the 2022/2023 “Sylvia Weiss Senior Citizen Award for Outstanding Service as a Volunteer” to honoree Sydelle Norris.  Pictured (from left to right) are:  Council Member John Zoller;  Mayor Janice S. Mironov;  Sydelle Norris,  and Council Member Denise Daniels.

Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members Denise Daniels and John Zoller present the 2022/2023 “Sylvia Weiss Senior Citizen Award for Outstanding Service as a Volunteer” to honoree Marc Platizky.  Pictured (from left to right) are:  Council Member John Zoller;  Mayor Janice S. Mironov;  Marc Platizky,  and Council Member Denise Daniels.

Grand Jury Indicts Asbury Park Man Who Allegedly Had Sex, Tortured, And Killed Pet Cat

May 16, 2023

FREEHOLD – A Monmouth County Grand Jury has returned an indictment against the Asbury Park man charged with torturing and killing his pet cat earlier this year, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced yesterday.    

Bani J. Mezquititla, 18, is charged with Animal Cruelty by Tormenting, Torturing, or Unnecessarily or Cruelly Abusing a Living Animal, Resulting in its Death, and Animal Cruelty by Using or Causing or Procuring the Use of an Animal or Creature in Any Kind of Sexual Manner, both third-degree crimes.  

An investigation into Mezquititla’s activities was initiated on Thursday, March 2, when a concerned citizen brought the body of a dead cat to Asbury Park Police Department headquarters.

Members of that agency and the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Humane Law Enforcement Division determined that the cat had belonged to Mezquititla, who allegedly first performed sexual acts on the animal, seriously injuring it. He is also alleged to have later restrained and tortured the cat, resulting in its death.

Mezquititla was located and arrested later on the same day the investigation was initiated, then transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI). He remains incarcerated there as the case has progressed, as a motion by the State to keep him detained was granted.

Anyone with information about this matter is still urged to contact Asbury Park Police Detective Anthony Houlis at 732-502-4582, SPCA Chief of Humane Law Enforcement Michael Goldfarb at 732-542-0040, or SPCA Lt. Michael Magliozzo at 732-440-4538.

Convictions on criminal charges of this nature can be punishable by up to five years in state prison. This case has been assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Keri-Leigh Schaefer and Sevan Biramian.

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.  

Manchester Township Police Department Promotions

May 16, 2023

MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Chief Robert Dolan is proud to announce the promotion of three veteran Manchester Township Police Department officers to new leadership roles within the agency during a ceremony held on May 15, 2023: Lt. James Komsa to Captain, Dsg. David Fusaro to Lieutenant, and Det. Joseph Fastige to Sergeant. Mayor Robert Arace had the honor of administering the Oaths of Office in the presence of family, friends, police, and township personnel. Additionally, the lateral moves of Sgt. Christopher Cerullo to Detective Sergeant, and Ptl. Patrick Cervenak to Detective, were made.

“Only those individuals who are truly dedicated to excelling in the service of their community can successfully navigate the grueling promotional process, no matter the position,” said Chief Dolan. “Each officer puts tremendous effort into preparing for promotional testing, and our residents can rest assured knowing that a strong foundation of exemplary leadership is in place at the Manchester Township Police Department.”

Taking his oath first was Capt. Komsa, who began his police career in Seaside Heights in 1998 and joined the Manchester Township Police Department in 2000. Capt. Komsa earned the rank of Sergeant in 2011, and in 2014 was selected to supervise the newly formed Narcotics Enforcement Team. In 2016, Capt. Komsa was promoted to Lieutenant, where he supervised Patrol and most recently the Investigations Bureau and Narcotics Enforcement Team. Capt. Komsa holds a master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickenson University and has completed the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Command and Leadership Academy and the FBI LEEDA Leadership Trilogy training.

Next to take his oath was Lt. Fusaro, who began his law enforcement career in 2004 with the Seaside Heights Police Department and later was hired by Manchester Township Police in 2007. Lt. Fusaro joined the Investigations Bureau in 2015, where he served as a Detective for nearly four years. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2018 and reassigned to the Patrol Division. In 2020, he was selected to supervisor the Narcotics Enforcement Team and soon after Investigations Bureau as Detective Sergeant, serving in this position for more than three years. In 2020, Dsg. Fusaro earned his master’s degree from California Coast University and completed the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Command and Leadership Academy and FBI-LEEDA Executive Leadership Institute.

Next, Sgt. Fastige, who began his law enforcement career in 2008 with the Seaside Heights Police Department and was hired by Manchester Township Police Department in 2011, took his oath. He was assigned to the uniform patrol division until 2019 when he was then selected to become a member of the Investigations Bureau. In 2020, Sgt. Fastige earned his master’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University. As an active presence in the community, Sgt. Fastige is a #NotEvenOnce high school opiate awareness instructor and is assigned as the department’s Social Media Manager. He also assists in organizing community events such as Coffee with a Cop and National Night Out.

The ceremony also included the lateral move of Sgt. Cerullo to Detective Sergeant. A member of the Manchester Township Police Department since 2007, Dsg. Cerullo has actively worked with the School District, serving as the School Resource Officer for four years. Along with a select group of officers, Dsg. Cerullo, who holds a master’s degree from Seton Hall University, was instrumental in the development of the #NotEvenOnce high school opiate awareness program in 2016. He also created the curriculum for the Youth Police Academy, which a successful summer program launched in 2015 that strengthens the bond between our police department and the youth in our community

The final lateral move was Ptl. Cervenak to Detective. Det. Cervenak started his career in law enforcement in Manchester Township in 2007 and has served his entire career in the Patrol Division until his transition to Detective. Det. Cervenak holds a master’s degree from California Coast University, and has served as Field Training Officer, a member of the Ocean County Regional Swat Team, firearms instructor, and rifle instructor. Among his awards are Honorable Service in 2016 and the Chief’s Award in 2018.

“This proud day would not be possible without the continued support of Mayor Arace and the Township Council. We wish all promoted officers and those taking on new roles the best of luck as they begin the next chapters in their law enforcement careers here in Manchester Township,” said Chief Dolan.

2023 Rider University Grad Wins Brand-new Toyota In Contest

May 16, 2023

— On May 12, Nicole Chen, a Rider University Class of 2023 biology major from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, won a brand-new 2023 Toyota Corolla SE during the University’s annual Cruisin’ From Commencement contest.

“I am super honored and grateful,” says Chen, who entered the contest in the hopes of winning the car for her mom. “We currently share a car, which unfortunately forces her to stay home most of the day since I either have to go to work or class. Now I am able to give her a gift I could have never imagined was possible with my current financial status.”

Since 2016, the contest, organized by the University’s student-run radio station, 107.7 The Bronc WRRC-FM, has given students the opportunity to end their collegiate career with a new car. To enter, students must submit a video about their Rider experience.  

Chen drove away from her senior year with a two-year lease on a brand-new 2023 Toyota Corolla SE and ToyotaCare, a vehicle maintenance and roadside assistance plan, for two years courtesy of Team Toyota of Princeton.

In her winning video, Chen says “If I could sum up my entire experience at Rider in one word, it would be ‘kind.’ It was through my campus involvement that I was able to learn about how kindness can take various forms.”

A tour guide since her freshman year and an executive board member of the Asian American Student Association, she credits the Rider community with making her feel at home and deepening her appreciation of her cultural background. “I will continue to carry these lessons in my heart in the hopes of making those around me feel as loved as I was at Rider,” she concludes.

The winner was determined by an expert panel of judges who narrowed down the entries to 10 finalists. At the grand finale event, each of the finalists was given a key and an opportunity to start the car. Watchful silence turned into cheers as Chen’s key started the engine.

The Bronc WRRC-FM is the only college radio station in America to give away a car. This year had a record number of entries with 25 from graduating undergraduate and graduate students. All 10 finalists won a catered graduation party by Killarney’s Publick House in Hamilton, New Jersey.

“Cruisin’ From Commencement is a one-of-a-kind college radio promotion that provides our students with a unique, engaged learning experience,” says John Mozes, general manager of 107.7 The Bronc. 

Team Toyota of Princeton, who has sponsored the contest since its inception, is proud to continue its partnership and support Cruisin’ From Commencement with 107.7 The Bronc, says Doug Zenzel, director of marketing for Team Toyota of Princeton.

“Each year we continue to be amazed at the dedication, resiliency and determination of the students,” says Zenzel. “Their hard work is evident through the videos they submit, and we hope that by meeting their transportation needs directly after college, they can get a head start on achieving their dreams and continuing to pursue excellence.”

On May 12, Nicole Chen, a Rider University Class of 2023 biology major from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, won a brand-new 2023 Toyota Corolla SE during the University’s annual Cruisin’ From Commencement contest. Photos by Peter G. Borg/Rider University

Russian Charged In Ransomware Attacks Against Law Enforcement, Government Agencies, Hospitals, Schools and Others

Two U.S. Indictments Charge Defendant with Attacks Against Law Enforcement Agencies in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Other Victims Worldwide; U.S. State Department Offers $10 Million Reward.

The coconspirators allegedly also deployed Hive ransomware against a nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization headquartered in Mercer County, New Jersey.

Total ransom demands allegedly made by the members of these three global ransomware campaigns to their victims amount to as much as $400 million, while total victim ransom payments amount to as much as $200 million.

May 16, 2023

NEWARK, N.J. – The Justice Department today unsealed two indictments charging a Russian national and resident with using three different ransomware variants to attack numerous victims throughout the United States, including law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., as well as victims in healthcare and other sectors nationwide.

“From Russia and hiding behind multiple aliases, Matveev is alleged to have used these ransomware strains to encrypt and hold hostage for ransom the data of numerous victims, including hospitals, schools, nonprofits, and law enforcement agencies, like the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.,” Philip R. Sellinger, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, said. “Thanks to the extraordinary investigative work of prosecutors from my office and our FBI partners, Matveev no longer hides in the shadows ¬– we have publicly identified his criminal acts and charged him with multiple federal crimes. Let today’s charges be a reminder to cybercriminals everywhere ¬– my office is devoted to combatting cybercrime and will spare no resources in bringing to justice those who use ransomware attacks to target victims.”

“From his home base in Russia, Matveev allegedly used multiple ransomware variants to attack critical infrastructure around the world, including hospitals, government agencies, and victims in other sectors,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said. “These international crimes demand a coordinated response. We will not relent in imposing consequences on the most egregious actors in the cybercrime ecosystem.”

“We want the indictment, sanctions and reward for Mikhail Matveev to sound an alarm in the ranks of cyber criminals all over the world,” James E. Dennehy, FBI-Newark special agent in charge, said. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners, as well as our international partners, are coming after you. These malicious actors believe they can operate with impunity – and don’t fear getting caught because they sit in a country where they feel safe and protected. That may be the case now, but the safe harbor may not exist forever. When we have an opportunity, we will do everything in our power to bring Matveev and his ilk to justice.”

According to the indictment obtained in the District of New Jersey:

From at least 2020, Mikhail Pavlovich Matveev, aka Wazawaka, aka m1x, aka Boriselcin, aka Uhodiransomwar, allegedly participated in conspiracies to deploy three ransomware variants. These variants are known as LockBit, Babuk, and Hive, and Matveev transmitted ransom demands in connection with each. The perpetrators behind each of these variants, including Matveev, have allegedly used these types of ransomware to attack thousands of victims in the United States and around the world. These victims include law enforcement and other government agencies, hospitals, and schools. Total ransom demands allegedly made by the members of these three global ransomware campaigns to their victims amount to as much as $400 million, while total victim ransom payments amount to as much as $200 million.

On June 25, 2020, Matveev and his LockBit conspirators allegedly deployed LockBit ransomware against a law enforcement agency in Passaic County, New Jersey. On May 27, 2022, Matveev and his Hive coconspirators allegedly deployed Hive against a nonprofit behavioral healthcare organization headquartered in Mercer County, New Jersey. On April 26, 2021, Matveev and his Babuk conspirators allegedly deployed Babuk against the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.

“Data theft and extortion attempts by ransomware groups are corrosive, cynical attacks on key institutions and the good people behind them as they go about their business and serve the public,” U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Graves for the District of Columbia said. “Whether these criminals target law enforcement, other government agencies, or private companies like health care providers, we will use every tool at our disposal to prosecute and punish such offenses. Thanks to exceptional work by our partners here, we identified and charged this culprit.”

“The FBI is steadfast in our commitment to disrupting cybercriminals like Matveev,” Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran of the FBI’s Cyber Division said. “The FBI will continue to impose costs on cyber adversaries through our joint collaboration with our private sector and international partners, and we will not tolerate these criminal acts against American citizens.”

The LockBit ransomware variant first appeared around January 2020. LockBit actors have executed over 1,400 attacks against victims in the United States and around the world, issuing over $100 million in ransom demands and receiving over $75 million in ransom payments.

The Babuk ransomware variant first appeared around December 2020. Babuk actors executed over 65 attacks against victims in the United States and around the world, issuing over $49 million in ransom demands and receiving as much as $13 million in ransom payments.

Since June 2021, the Hive ransomware group has targeted more than 1,400 victims around the world and received as much as $120 million in ransom payments.

The LockBit, Babuk, and Hive ransomware variants operated in the same general manner: first, the ransomware actors would identify and unlawfully access vulnerable computer systems, sometimes through their own hacking, or by purchasing stolen access credentials from others. Second, the actors would deploy the ransomware variant within the victim computer system, allowing the actors to encrypt and steal data thereon. Next, the actors would send a ransom note to the victim demanding a payment in exchange for decrypting the victim’s data or refraining from sharing it publicly. Finally, the ransomware actors would negotiate a ransom amount with each victim willing to pay. If a victim did not pay, ransomware actors would often post that victim’s data on a public website, often called a data leak site.

Matveev is charged with conspiring to transmit ransom demands, conspiring to damage protected computers, and intentionally damaging protected computers. If convicted, he faces over 20 years in prison.

The FBI Newark Field Office’s Cyber Crimes Task Force is investigating the case with valuable assistance from the Jersey City Police Department, New Jersey State Police, Newark IRS Criminal Investigation, and international partners from European Cyber Crime Centre of Europol, National Police Agency of Japan, Gendarmerie Nationale Cyberspace Command of France, National Crime Agency and South West Regional Organized Crime Unit of the United Kingdom, Kantonspolizei Zürich of Switzerland, High-Tech Crime Unit of the Dutch Police Services Agency of the Netherlands, Bundeskriminalamt and Landeskriminalamt of Germany, Mossos d’Esquadra Police Department of Spain, Norwegian Police Service of Norway, and Swedish Police Authority of Sweden.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew M. Trombly and David E. Malagold for the District of New Jersey’s Cybercrime Unit in Newark; Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Aloi for the District of Columbia’s Fraud, Public Corruption, and Civil Rights Section; and Trial Attorneys Jessica C. Peck, Benjamin Proctor, and Jorge Gonzalez of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS).

The FBI Tampa Field Office and Orlando Resident Agency, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Chauncey Bratt for the Middle District of Florida and CCIPS Trial Attorneys Christen Gallagher and Alison Zitron, made critical contributions to the case. The FBI Washington Field Office and Metropolitan Police Department also provided valuable assistance.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs and National Security Division also provided significant assistance.

Victims of LockBit, Babuk, Conti, or Hive ransomware should contact their local FBI field office for further information. For additional information on ransomware, including the LockBit, Babuk, and Hive variants, please visit

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today announced that it is designating the defendant for his role in launching cyberattacks against U.S. law enforcement, businesses, and critical infrastructure.

The Department of State has also announced an award of up to $10 million for information that leads to the apprehension of this defendant. Information that may be eligible for this award can be submitted at or Congress established the Transnational Organized Crime Rewards Program in 2013 to support law enforcement efforts to dismantle transnational criminal organizations and bring their leaders and members to justice. The Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs manages the program in coordination with other U.S. federal agencies.

The charge and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.