Day: June 14, 2023

Rise Named Champion in Action by Citizens for Youth Summer Workforce Programming

June 14, 2023

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Rise, a nonprofit organization that assists local families and individuals in recovering from setbacks and achieving their full potential, has been named a 2023 Champion in Action® by Citizens in the category of Youth Summer Workforce Programming. The award includes $35,000 in unrestricted funding as well as significant promotional and volunteer support in recognition of the organization’s critical work.

“Congratulations to Rise on being selected as Citizens’ inaugural Champion in Action in New Jersey. Your exceptional summer workforce program provides local youth with valuable training and the necessary skills to be successful business leaders. We are proud to support Rise and its dedication to developing the workforce of the future,” said Domenick Cama, President, New York and New Jersey Metro Region, Citizens.

By teaching young people how to approach challenges with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, entrepreneurship education at Rise helps them develop important life skills and increases their chances of success in whatever they choose to do. The Champions in Action funding will be used for summer youth entrepreneurship learning opportunities to help build business skills for local at-risk youth by providing salary for instructors and motivational speakers, trips to colleges and other special destinations, and supplies to keep the program running and activities interesting.

“We are incredibly grateful for Citizens generous contribution of $35,000 to support our Champions in Action project, focusing on youth entrepreneurship,” said Leslie Koppel, Executive Director of Rise. “I can’t wait to see this program’s positive impact on our students as they build confidence, develop their creativity, and learn essential business skills. Thank you for your support and helping us make a difference in our community by empowering and nurturing the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.”

Citizens created the Champions in Action program in 2002 to address the unique social challenges faced by communities it serves. The initiative rewards established nonprofit organizations, to help them reach the next level. Citizens has expanded its signature Champions in Action program to include the New Jersey market, with Rise being the inaugural Champion this year. Over more than 20 years, the program has awarded upwards of $10 million in contributions and promotional support to more than 370 nonprofits across the bank’s footprint.

For more information about the Champions in Action program, visit

Brick Township Special Class 1 Police Officer Charged With Possession Of Child Pornography

June 14, 2023

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 13, 2023, John Kisch, 57, of Brick Township, was charged with Possession of Child Pornography.

This investigation was the result of a referral from the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.  The ICAC Task Force received cyber-tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that an individual was uploading images of child pornography to the internet.  An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit identified an IP address associated with a Brick Township residence as the location where the individual was uploading the images of child pornography; that individual was ultimately identified as Kisch.  Kisch is employed as a part time Class I Special Police Officer in Brick Township.

On June 13, 2023, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations Newark, and New Jersey State Police ICAC Task Force, executed a court-authorized search warrant on Kisch’s residence in Brick Township.  As a result, Detectives seized a desktop computer.  A forensic examination of the computer by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit led to the discovery of more than 100 images of child pornography on the computer.  Kisch was taken into custody at the residence.  He was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he is lodged pending a detention hearing.

“Kisch is alleged to have possessed images of child pornography, every image is a risk to further victimize those being depicted,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Newark Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel.  “HSI special agents and our partners with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Jersey State Police will continue to bring to justice those that are engaged in any activity involving the exploitation of our innocent children.”

“We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect the most vulnerable among us.  Children are most deserving of our unwavering commitment to investigating and prosecuting these types of offenses,” said Prosecutor Billhimer.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, United States Department of Homeland Security Investigations Newark, New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Kisch’s arrest.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

R.P.C.  3.6(b)(6).

Man Charged In Connection With Fatal Crash In Highland Park

June 14, 2023

Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief of Police Richard Abrams of the Highland Park Police Department announced today that an Iselin man has been charged in connection with the fatal crash that occurred yesterday, June 13, 2023, on Route 27 in Highland Park.

On June 13, 2023, at approximately 5:32 P.M., authorities responded to the intersection of Route 27 and North 10th Street in Highland Park following the report of a three-car crash. Upon their arrival, officers located a Mercedes operated by Abeer Viriani, 34, of Iselin, that had struck a Subaru occupied by Peter Palmer, 75, of Easton, Maryland, and Carol Paul, 77, of Easton, Maryland. Both occupants of the Subaru were pronounced deceased at the scene. Viriani also struck a Hyundai Elantra, the driver of the Elantra sustained minor injuries. Viriani sustained serious injuries and was transported along with the driver of the Elantra to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital where they were treated for their injuries.

On June 13, 2023, Viriani was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter and two counts of second-degree Vehicular Homicide. Viriani is being held pending a pre-trial detention hearing in Superior Court.

Anyone with information or surveillance footage of the area is asked to call Officer Kevin Garrity of the Highland Park Police Department at 732- 572-3800 or Detective Matthew Colonna of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732)745-3354.

As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Viriani are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

East Windsor Mayor And Council Recognize Rise During “Community Action Month”

June 14, 2023

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members issued a Mayoral Proclamation recognizing May as “Community Action Month” to Rise, a Community Action Partnership, serving the East Windsor-Hightstown community.  Rise administers a variety of community programs and services providing social support and opportunities to individuals and families, including food distribution, thrift shop, workforce training and placement, health and wellness education, tutoring and summer enrichment programs. 

Mayor Mironov stated, “Community Action Month in May provides an opportunity to recognize and thank local organization Rise as a Community Action Service Center serving large numbers of individuals and families in our community.  Last year alone, Rise distributed over 173,500 bags of food and over 2,500 bags of personal care items at the Rise Pantry.  We appreciate the work of Rise and our community members who donated over 21,500 volunteer hours to Rise in 2022, giving back to help the impactful operations of Rise.”

Rise, a Community Action Partnership, is the largest social service agency and food pantry in Eastern Mercer County whose mission is to assist local families and individuals in recovering from setbacks and achieving their full potential, through partnerships and direct and emergency services.  In 2022, Rise was assisted by over 1,200 volunteers, helped over 2,900 families and assisted over 100 families with food stamp benefit applications. 

The Rise Food Pantry provides non-perishable groceries, fresh produce, personal products, baby items, household cleaning supplies, coats, children’s books and pet products.  Over 7,100 families have been served at Drive-Thru Food Distribution events, over 20,000 hot meals have been served through the partnership with the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen and in 2022 nearly 18,000 bags of baby supplies were distributed.

The Rise Thrift Store, which opened in 2006, is an outlet for donations and serves the local community while also helping fund the non-profits’ work.  Rise has helped local children by distributing over 1,400 pairs of pajamas and over 1,300 backpacks, in addition to offering youth and teen programming, including Summer Enrichment, a week-long overnight Summer Teen Leadership Conference; Rise to College Readiness, which provides support for students applying for college; Rise Youth Entrepreneurship, which creates opportunities for area youth to engage in entrepreneurial ventures; Year-Round STEAM Programming and the Rise Snack Shack, which provides youths and teens free snacks and is located within the Rise Thrift Store.

Rise also provides health and wellness services including the Medi-Cool program, which provides air conditioning units for low-income seniors and adults with disabilities, the Families Understanding Nutrition program, Domestic Violence Prevention, Onsite Counseling and health screenings.  Additionally, Rise offers the English Language Learner program, which is a needs-based program and helps parents read and write English with more confidence and ease.

The Mayoral Proclamation issued by Mayor Mironov states,  “Community Action Service Center d/b/a Rise extends a helping hand to local families and individuals who are struggling to meet day-to-day needs and promotes community-wide solutions to challenges throughout our cities, suburbs and rural areas through a host of social service programs.  Community Action is celebrating 59 years of innovation, impact, and providing proven results for Americans, including Rise’s work in Central New Jersey to support those in need.”

Mayor Janice S. Mironov and Council Members present Proclamation recognizing “Community Action Month” to Rise, a Community Service Partnership, which provides extensive social services and support to families and individuals in the East Windsor-Hightstown community.  Pictured (from left to right) are: Council Member Peter Yeager;  Council Member Denise Daniels;  Mayor Janice S. Mironov;  Leslie Koppel, Executive Director – Rise;  Nancy Walker Laudenberger, Board President – Rise;  Deputy Mayor Marc Lippman, and Council Member John Zoller.

Kaplan Companies Cuts the Ribbon on High-End Rental Community in Toms River

“Camelot at Toms River” Showing Enormous Demand

June 14, 2023

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Kaplan Companies officials joined local dignitaries on Tuesday, June 6 to mark the opening of the real estate developer’s  first luxury rental community in Ocean County.

Camelot at Toms River, at 100 Kaplan Court in the Seacourt Pavilion, features low-maintenance living with 128 luxury residences, a resort style pool with hydrotherapy, a doggie day spa, a tot lot, a bark park, electric charging stations, WiFi access in the clubhouse and a resident lounge, among its many amenities.

Jason Kaplan, president of Kaplan Companies, noted the family-run business has deep roots in Toms River; his father, Michael, graduated from Toms River High School in the 1950s. Among the family’s local real estate projects is the Seacourt Pavilion Shopping Center, built in the 1980s. Camelot at Toms River sits on land that was initially designed as “phase 2” of the mall.

“At one point, we envisioned this site would become a high-end convention center and a hotel, but the market demands changed,” Kaplan said. “But we loved the property and we knew it could be a real asset to the Toms River community, if we could just find the right use. Well, it may have taken 40 years or so, but we finally nailed it.”

Camelot at Toms River is ideal for young families who want to live in modern construction with many amenities while they save money to buy a house. The community is also a terrific alternative for older residents, attracted to maintainence-free living, who want to remain in Toms River, close to family and friends.

The development – near the Garden State Parkway and Routes 9 and 37, offers one- and two-bedroom apartments, featuring up to 1,540 square feet of living space, private garages and 24-hour maintainence among the many amenities.

“Camelot at Toms River encapsulates all of the most popular features of our other high-end communities across New Jersey and beyond,” Kaplan said. “We have taken the absolute best amenities, based on our residents’ feedback, and brought them all to Toms River.”

Marketing for Camelot of Toms River won “Community of the Year” from the Shore Builders Association of Central New Jersey, which took home a total of 12 awards at its 20th annual FAME awards recently.

Kaplan company officials and family joined with Toms River Mayor Maurice “Mo” B. Hill Jr. to cut the ceremonial ribbon.

“As an ongoing member of the Toms River community, my parents have always reminded me to find ways to be a good neighbor and give back,” Kaplan said, presenting a $1,000 donation to leaders of Hope Sheds Light, co-founder Arvo Prima and Anne Marie Baker.

Hope Sheds Light – based at the Presbyterian Church of Toms River – raises awareness about the impact of addiction, urging people to share personal experiences and offer strength, wisdom, hope and resources that lead to recovery.

Learn more about Camelot at Toms River by visiting

Jason Kaplan, president of Kaplan Companies, shakes hands with Toms River Mayor Maurice “Mo” B. Hill Jr. following the ribbon-cutting event.

The Kaplan team cuts the ceremonial ribbon with Toms River Mayor Maurice “Mo” B. Hill Jr.

Jason Kaplan, president of Kaplan Companies, provided a donation to Hope Sheds Light in Toms River.

ERO Newark arrests 9 noncitizens with criminal histories and immigration violations

June 14, 2023

NEWARK, N.J. — Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Newark arrested nine noncitizens with criminal records and ties to South American theft groups in New Jersey on June 8. ERO Newark arrested the following noncitizens:

  • A 38-year-old Colombian national who unlawfully entered the United States and was found with a fraudulent passport.
  • A 36-year-old Colombian national arrested for the crime of burglary, forced entry on a residence. His visa was revoked for failure to consent to a watchlist interview.
  • A 43-year-old Colombian national arrested for simple assault/theft endangering welfare of children. Subject was in the United States on a temporary visa and failed to depart by the designated date.
  • A 37-year-old Colombian national who failed to voluntarily depart the United States as ordered by an immigration judge.
  • A 34-year-old Colombian national who unlawfully entered the United States and currently has pending charges for criminal trespassing, theft by unlawful taking and disorderly conduct.
  • A 36-year-old Colombian national unlawfully present in the United States previously arrested for theft by unlawful taking.
  • A 47-year-old Peruvian national unlawfully present in the United States previously arrested for theft by deception and conspiracy.
  • A 54-year-old Peruvian national unlawfully present in the United States previously arrested for theft by deception and conspiracy.
  • A 29-year-old Peruvian national unlawfully present in the United States arrested previously for petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property, theft by deception and conspiracy theft by deception.

“The arrests of these individuals whose criminal conduct has impacted our communities were the result of diligent efforts and investigative work by ERO officers and our law enforcement partners,” said ERO Newark Field Office Director John Tsoukaris. “I would like to acknowledge our federal partners — mainly FBI Newark, ERO Philadelphia, U.S Customs and Border Protection Newark, ERO’s National Criminal Analysis and Targeting Center, and the Pacific Enforcement Response Center under the Targeting Operations Division.”

Noncitizens placed into removal proceedings receive their legal due process from federal immigration judges in the immigration courts, which are administered by the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). EOIR is an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice and is separate from the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. Immigration judges in these courts make decisions based on the merits of each individual case. ERO officers carry out the removal decisions made by the federal immigration judges.

ERO officers make enforcement decisions on a case-by-case basis in a professional and responsible manner, informed by their experience as law enforcement officials and in a way that best protects against the greatest threats to the homeland and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws.

As one of ICE’s three operational directorates, ERO is the principal federal law enforcement authority in charge of domestic immigration enforcement. ERO’s mission is to protect the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of U.S. communities and the integrity of U.S. immigration laws, and its primary areas of focus are interior enforcement operations, management of the agency’s detained and non-detained populations, and repatriation of noncitizens who have received final orders of removal. ERO’s workforce consists of more than 7,700 law enforcement and non-law enforcement support personnel across 25 domestic field offices and 208 locations nationwide, 30 overseas postings, and multiple temporary duty travel assignments along the border.

In fiscal year 2022, ERO arrested 46,396 noncitizens with criminal histories. This group had 198,498 associated charges and convictions, including 21,531 assault offenses; 8,164 sex and sexual assault offenses; 5,554 weapons offenses; 1,501 homicide-related offenses; and 1,114 kidnapping offenses. For more information on how ERO Newark carries out its immigration mission, follow us on Twitter @ERONewark.

Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Newark File Photo

Three-Year-Old Child Died By Self-Inflicted Gunshot In Trenton

June 14, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Assistant Prosecutor Mary Sparkman from the Mercer County Prosecutors Office told that today, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force responded to Princeton Avenue in the City of Trenton on a report of a three-year-old child suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The child has been pronounced deceased by Capital Health Hospital. The firearm was recovered and there is no threat to the public. The investigation is ongoing.

A crime scene was set up in the 1300 Block of Princeton Avenue near Heil Avenue. Detectives were actively investigating the scene.

“Today, Trenton suffered a young child’s death due to gunshot wounds in the home. The matter is currently under investigation. This horrific act calls to mind the senselessness of gun deaths and innocent children in harm’s way. The city grieves for the family’s loss, and we ask you to keep them in your prayers.” — City of Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora

Photos by: Brian McCarthy, OnScene News