Day: June 5, 2023

Bill Increasing Penalties For Attacking Law Enforcement Officers Clears Committee

June 5, 2023

TRENTON, N.J. – Assaults on New Jersey law enforcement officers have spiked in recent years. To deter would-be assailants, many of whom are already behind bars, Assemblyman Alex Sauickie says penalties must increase. On Monday, the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee cleared his bill (A4697) that would stiffen penalties for those assaults.
Under the proposed legislation, anyone accused of assaulting a law enforcement officer would be charged with a second-degree crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $150,000. The legislation bars pleas to lesser charges.
Currently, such assaults that result in bodily harm to officers are third-degree crimes that carry five-year maximum sentences and $15,000 fines. Assaults where no bodily harm results are fourth-degree crimes, with fines of $10,000 and 18-month prison sentences.
Additionally, the bill requires those using body fluids to attack officers must submit to communicable disease testing. Assault victims would have access to those results.
“Not only have attacks on law enforcement officers been increasing, attackers have been resorting to spitting, biting, and other depraved actions that put these men and women at risk for disease,” Sauickie (R-Ocean) said. “Would-be attackers need to know that such violence will not be tolerated.”
Officials from both the State Troopers Fraternal Association and New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association Local 105, which represent state troopers and corrections officers respectively, said assaults have increased exponentially over the last several years. The Department of Corrections reported in 2022 attacks on personnel jumped from 200 the previous year to 424. Nearly half of those involved body fluids. More than 10% of its 4,500-member workforce was out on leave due to assaults last year.
The bill covers attacks on Department of Corrections employees, county correctional police officers, juvenile correctional police officers, state juvenile facility employees, juvenile detention staff, probation officers, sheriffs, undersheriffs or sheriff’s officers, and any municipal, county, or state law enforcement officers.
“Law enforcement workers are exposed to dangers most of us can’t even imagine simply because of their line of work,” Sauickie said. “They are targets for vile attacks because of who they are and what they do. They need to know that justice will be sought if they are attacked on the job.”

Burlington Twp. Man Sentenced To 22-Years In State Prison For Starting Fatal Fire in Pemberton

June 5, 2023

Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw announced that a 23-year-old Burlington Township man was sentenced today to 22 years in state prison for starting a fire at a Pemberton Borough apartment complex last year that killed a man who lived there.

Newlin Evans IV, who pled guilty in January to Aggravated Manslaughter (First Degree), must serve 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole. The sentence was handed down in Superior Court in Mount Holly by the Hon. Terrence R. Cook, P.J.Cr., in accordance with a plea agreement between the defendant and the Prosecutor’s Office.

The investigation began after emergency officials were dispatched to a fire at the Tara Hall Apartment Complex in the first block of Egbert Street during the early morning hours of April 20, 2022.

The investigation revealed that Evans cut the screen of a ground floor apartment, broke the window and threw material soaked in gasoline that he had lit on fire into the unit. The blaze killed 22-year-old Camryn Powell.

Evans, who suffered burns, fled the scene and ultimately was transported to Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia for treatment. He was arrested upon being discharged in May 2022.

The investigation was conducted by the New Jersey State Police, with assistance from the Pemberton Borough Police Department, Mansfield Police Department, New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s Office, Burlington County Fire Marshal’s Office, Jefferson Hospital Campus Security Department and the Philadelphia Police Department.

Evans was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Andrew McDonnell, supervisor of the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit.

Former Gymnastics Coach Charged With Sexual Crimes Against Three Athletes

June 5, 2023

FREEHOLD – An Ocean County man who had worked as a youth gymnastics coach in several locations across Monmouth County for approximately 30 years has been arrested and criminally charged with committing sexual offenses against three of the athletes he coached while they were juveniles, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Monday.

Sasha C. Raught, 55, of Manchester Township is charged with first-degree Aggravated Sexual Assault and three counts of second-degree Sexual Assault.

An investigation by members of the MCPO Special Victims Bureau revealed that Raught entered into sexual relationships with three of his former athletes when they were each teenagers. The first two alleged instances took place when he was employed at Shrewsbury Gymnastics during the early to mid-1990s, while the third instance took place in 2008, while he was employed at Jonas Gymnastics Academy in Marlboro.

Raught was arrested at his home without incident late last month by members of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Manchester and Shrewsbury Police Departments, then lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) pending a detention hearing tentatively scheduled to take place on Wednesday, June 7 in Monmouth County Superior Court. The State has filed a motion to keep Raught detained as the criminal case against him proceeds.

Anyone with information about Raught’s activities is urged to contact MCPO Detective Joseph Pahopin toll-free at 1-800-533-7443. This case has been assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Keri-Leigh Schaefer.

Convictions on first-degree criminal charges can be punishable by terms of up to 20 years in state prison.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendants have all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

Asbury Park Man Charged With Luring And Kidnapping 11-Year-Old Girl

June 5, 2023

FREEHOLD – An Asbury Park man has been arrested and criminally charged with luring and kidnapping an 11-year-old girl off the street last week, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Monday.

Raquan M. Folk, 29, is charged with first-degree Kidnapping, second-degree Luring a Child, and third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child via Sexual Conduct.

At approximately 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 30, the victim was walking on Ridge Avenue in Asbury Park when a man later identified as Folk pulled up to her in a white Kia and convinced her to get inside, according to an investigation involving members of the MCPO Special Victims Bureau and the Asbury Park Police Department.

Folk then drove to neighboring Neptune Township, stopped the vehicle, and told the victim to disrobe, prompting her to ask to use a bathroom. When Folk then stopped at a vehicle service station, she ran, flagged down a passerby, and was taken to the Neptune Township Police Department.

Folk was taken into custody without incident on Thursday and transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) pending a detention hearing to take place in Monmouth County Superior Court. The State is filing a motion to keep him detained as the criminal case against him proceeds.

Anyone with information about this matter or Folk’s activities is urged to contact MCPO Detective Kayla Santiago at 800-533-7443. This case has been assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Keri-Leigh Schaefer.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendants have all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.  

Monmouth Crisis Intervention Named Program Of The Year At Statewide Conference

June 5, 2023

FREEHOLD – When the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO), in conjunction with its mental health partners, launched its inaugural round of Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Training in June 2021, it did so with the goal of turning it into a trusted blueprint for such programs statewide.

That ambition was officially realized late last month, when the Monmouth County CIT Training was named Program of the Year at the ninth annual New Jersey CIT Forum, held at the Middlesex County Fire Academy in Sayreville.

“This award represents validation of what those of us directly involved in CIT already know: this training is of vital importance, it works effectively, and its application literally saves lives,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago said. “As more officers are trained, we continue to hear touching and encouraging stories about how just one week of training allowed them to intervene at among the lowest points in a person’s life, helping steer individuals in crisis to recovery.”

“The Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners is proud to be supportive of the Prosecutor’s Office providing this incredible training,” said Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone. “We commend the Prosecutor’s Office, and their partners, for their well-deserved recognition and winning this prestigious award.”

CIT training provides those enrolled with an in-depth look at mental illness, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, and their implications for a law-enforcement response during a crisis, with a strong emphasis on de-escalation.

The training is based on an innovative international model, with community mental healthcare and advocacy partnerships. Instructors for MCPO’s CIT training include behavioral and mental health professionals from Monmouth Medical Center, the Monmouth County Mental Health Board, the Monmouth County Mental Health Association, and CPC Behavioral Healthcare, as well as crisis resolution experts.

Police officers learn to apply the strategies they learn in real-life situations in order to minimize the potential for injury or violence. Mental and behavioral health practitioners also sit in as students in the class in order to build relationships with the police officers, and to better understand the issues they face while often serving as the initial responders to such calls for service.

MCPO’s CIT training is unique in that it also features a specially tailored curriculum with innovative approaches to crisis management, including FBI Negotiation and Threat Simulator components, a presentation on Faith & Blue (a police-chaplaincy partnership program), and training on recognition of signs of dementia. The CIT Training Steering Committee includes members of the Prosecutor’s Office, the Monmouth County Mental Health Association, CPC Behavioral Healthcare, the Middletown Police Department, Preferred Behavioral Health, and RWJBarnabas Behavioral Health.

The recent CIT Forum didn’t mark the first time individuals directly involved in MCPO CIT training were so honored. At last year’s Forum, Long Branch Police Department Detective Sergio Chaparro and local Peer Recovery Specialist Nikki Tierney accepted the New Jersey CIT Law Enforcement Officer of the Year and Peer of the Year awards, respectively, given for their joint work in saving a life in crisis in July 2021.

During the limited amount of downtime he had during MCPO’s first CIT session, launched under the leadership of then-acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey, Chaparro, then a Patrolman, struck up a conversation with Tierney, a certified crisis counselor whose work helping individuals afflicted by substance abuse overcome their addiction often took her through Long Branch. At the end of the week, they exchanged contact information, but little did either of them realize that what they had just learned would have vital real-life applicability just days later.

First responders found then-58-year-old Tim Bowles on a public bench in Long Branch, dehydrated, homeless, and barely responsive one weekday afternoon, in the midst of a brutal heat wave. Chaparro recognized Bowles’s name instantly – he had previously responded to several calls for service involving him, including multiple previous overdoses. With that in mind, he reached out to Tierney through dispatch and asked that she come meet him.

After a brief period of hesitancy, in barely an hour’s time after their arrival, Bowles was linked to housing, mental health, and substance use disorder support; Tierney said she attributed his change of heart in great part due to Chaparro’s initial response.

Similar stories of officers who had undergone CIT training later encountering individuals in crisis and connecting them to resources have since arisen out of Asbury Park, Hazlet, Holmdel, Keyport, and Spring Lake Heights, among other towns; anecdotes outlining these encounters are regularly posted to MCPO’s social-media feeds.

More than half of the various law-enforcement agencies in Monmouth County have had at least one CIT training participant to date.  

“We hosted our fifth round of CIT training at our office in Freehold the week before last, and we plan to continue with two training sessions annually for the foreseeable future,” said MCPO Director of Investigations Hoda Soliman, who also coordinates the CIT training in Monmouth County. “It’s a rare win-win-win: our police officers benefit, our community partners benefit, and the people they protect and serve benefit.”

East Windsor Township Recognizes “National Gun Violence Awareness Day”

June 5, 2023

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor Janice S. Mironov, and Council Members Marc Lippman, Denise Daniels, Peter Yeager and John Zoller, joined by members of Mercer County Moms Demand Action, issued a Mayoral Proclamation recognizing June 2 as “National Gun Violence Awareness Day,” to raise awareness about the impacts of gun violence and to encourage responsible gun ownership and use.  Mercer County Moms Demand Action is a grassroots movement seeking to raise awareness about the impacts of gun violence and keeping families safe.

Mayor Mironov stated, “Gun violence is a tragic reality nationwide, with more than 110 Americans killed each day.  ‘National Gun Violence Awareness Day’, is an opportunity to focus together to honor and remember all victims and survivors of gun violence and to recommit ourselves to doing all that we can to reduce the impacts of senseless gun violence in our community and in our nation.”  Mayor Mironov added, “Irregardless of anyone’s views, there are many things we all can agree on and do, such as using gun locks when storing weapons.” 

The Mayoral Proclamation issued by Mayor Mironov states, “Americans are 26 times more likely to die by gun homicide than people in higher-income nations.  New Jersey has the 44th highest rate of gun deaths in the United States with 475 gun deaths every year and a rate of 5.2 deaths per 100,000 people.  We renew our commitment to reduce gun violence and encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep all of our citizens and children safer.”

Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members present Proclamation recognizing “National Gun Violence Awareness Day” to members of Mercer County Moms Demand Action.  Pictured (from left to right) are: Council Member John Zoller; Zoe McKeown;  Council Member Peter Yeager;  Graelynn McKeown;  Alan Dzubak;  Cheryl Dzubak;  Regina Quince;  Lamia Guarniere;  Mayor Janice Mironov;  Richard Bauman;  Judy Stober;  George Clark;  Pat Clerk;  Council Member Denise Daniels and Deputy Mayor Marc Lippman.

Department of Health & Local Organizations Join Together to Provide Homebound Services for Community Leader

June 5, 2023

NEPTUNE, NJ (MONMOUTH) When multiple sources refer to someone as a “pillar of the community,” you can safely assume that person is a beloved and trusted figure.

That’s Frances “Fran” Gray – a longtime Neptune resident and business owner. Fran is respected throughout the community – she organized scholarship programs and coat drives through her church, volunteered at the food pantry, and participated in the Neptune Lion’s Club. When prom season rolled around, Fran would always offer her hairstyling and makeup services for free to young women who couldn’t afford it. Perhaps most impressively, Fran had served as a foster mother to 34 children throughout the years, adopting six. Her adopted adult son Rashon has severe autism, and still lives with her.

So when Fran was diagnosed with cancer, it was a blow to her active, giving life, as well as the community that benefitted from it. She fought for decades to finally become cancer-free – only to learn that years of cancer treatments had destroyed her kidneys. Now, she endures hours of dialysis every week, and the woman who was so often out and about in the community she loved is often homebound.

“Dialysis totally keeps me from doing most things,” Fran says. “Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I get dialysis at a clinic. A nurse comes on those days as well to remove excess fluid from my lungs.”

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated Fran’s fears of going out when she felt up to it. “I was scared for both myself and Rashon,” she says. “I don’t know what I would have done if one of us had caught COVID; it would have been devastating. Everything can be life or death when you’re on dialysis.”

An Opportunity to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine Safely

Fortunately, just like the connections that Fran had made with her community, the Monmouth County Department of Health was forging connections with local organizations to conduct a grassroots effort to offer the COVID vaccine to Monmouth County’s homebound residents.

“Fran called me, and I could hear the worry in her voice,” says Denise Richardson, Chief Clerk of the Monmouth County Health Department – and a longtime friend of Fran’s. Denise connected Fran to the Department’s Homebound Program, and at a time when it was difficult to schedule COVID boosters, members of the Monmouth County Health Department Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a group of medical volunteers who help in times of surge capacities, were able to visit Fran at home to provide her with booster doses. They were even able to vaccinate Rashon as well.

“I’m so proud of the Department of Health,” Denise says. “My department was able to get this program started and took care of so many people – they have provided over 500 homebound vaccinations.”

It wouldn’t have been possible, says Christopher Merkel, M.P.H., Public Health Coordinator and Health Officer, without the assistance of multiple departments and community organizations working together.

“Everyone pitched in, including the Monmouth County Department of Human Services, Division of Social Services, Office on Aging and Veterans Affairs, and SCAT (Special Citizen Area Transportation), along with community pharmacies, the Vising Nurse Association, Parker Clinic and other organizations” Merkel says. “The homebound population and their caregivers were absolutely dependent upon these agencies to get the care and vaccines they needed during a very scary and uncertain time. To this day, we still get homebound requests for vaccinations from residents in Monmouth County.”

“The way that these community groups came together, led by the Monmouth County Department of Health, in order to facilitate the homebound vaccination program and serve some of our most vulnerable residents is exemplary,” says Commissioner Susan M. Kiley, liaison to the Departments of Health and Human Services of Monmouth County. “More and more, we see a spirit of cooperation like this throughout Monmouth County, and that’s because the Monmouth ACTS initiative has been promoting that seamless approach to services by joining strengths since 2018. We were fortunate here in Monmouth County to have that cooperation in place before the pandemic, so that we could best serve our residents throughout.”

Fran Helps Her Community Again – By Spreading the Word

Fran was so pleased with her quick and easy experience with the homebound program that she spread the word amongst her community – encouraging those who were hesitant to get vaccinated.

“I spread the word about the program to friends, family, organizations I worked with,” she says. “All of my children and foster children I’m still in contact with have had the vaccine – when mama speaks, they listen.”

“The experience of Fran Gray parallels exactly the sort of grassroots connections Monmouth ACTS is cultivating,” says Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone. “In addition to the initiative’s efforts to streamline services, we facilitate outreach and engagement through a network of organizations and local leaders. The fact that Fran benefitted from these services, and then kept spreading the word about them to people she influences, is exactly what we’re trying to do. Fran kept the message going.”

To learn more about Monmouth ACTS, visit

Fran Gray and her adopted son Rashon

About Monmouth ACTS

Monmouth ACTS (Assisting Community Through Services) was launched by the Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners in 2018 to carry out recommendations of a Human Services Needs Assessment. This innovative public-private partnership brings together County employees from the Department of Human Services and community partners on the Monmouth ACTS Advisory Council (MAAC) to enhance access to services for County residents. For more information, visit

Police Investigate Multiple Shooting In Hamilton Township

June 5, 2023

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Police say that on early Sunday morning June 4, 2023, at 1:17 a.m., officers were detailed to the area of Whitehead Rd. and 6th Ave for a report of three individuals who had been shot. Upon their arrival they were informed by other individuals that the three individuals who were shot were already taken to area hospitals for their wounds. Their wounds were found to be non-life threatening at this time.

The incident started at a private party that was hosted in the area.

The incident is currently under investigation by the Hamilton Township Police Division Major Crimes Bureau.

If you have any information, please contact Hamilton Police, Det. Brian Davis 609-581-5823