Day: September 6, 2023

Missing Swimmer Recovered In Seaside Park This Morning Identified As Howell Township Man

September 6, 2023

SEASIDE PARK, NJ (OCEAN)–Seaside Park police have identified the body found this morning as Wilmer Gomez, 31, of Howell. He was the missing swimmer from Sunday.

Reports from Sunday from Seaside and Seaside Park, numerous rescues were made that day:

SEASIDE HEIGHTS— Several swimmers in distress rescued reports of 31-year-old male missing.

Calling for Aqua Eyes sonar for missing person search. Still missing as of 8:15 p.m.

Search called off for tonight will resume in morning.

9/4/2023 Update for Seaside from Seaside Park Fire Company:

Yesterday morning at 5:21 a.m. the Seaside Park Fire Department was dispatched with zone 1 for a forest fire assignment, 4531’s crew spent 12 hours on a structural protection assignment. While that assignment was being conducted other crews responded to multiple other emergencies in town and in the State Park. These emergencies included multiple water rescues. When the crew from the forest fire returned they assisted the other 2 crews for a total of 10 emergencies for the day. Unfortunately, the final call of the day was a tragic one and someone did not get to go home with their family. Crews were on the Stockton Ave beach until after 9:00 p.m. on a recovery mission. Some of our members left their homes and did not return for 17 hours yesterday. We cannot stress enough the importance of staying out of the ocean when the lifeguards are off duty, we remind the public that today is the last day of guarded beaches in Seaside Park!

Further stories from Sunday can be found at the link below:

New Jersey State Police as well at U.S. Coast Guard Helicopters were involved in several searches this past Sunday.

Man Shot on Hoffman Ave. in Critical but Stable Condition

September 6, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenon Police Detective Lieutenant Nathan Bolognini told that around 10:44 p.m. last night, September 5, 2023, police responded to Oakland and Hoffman for a shooting. Police found a male shot in the head and body and was transported by EMS to the Trauma Center at Capitol Health Regional Medical Center for treatment. The scene extends from the side of 513 Hoffman Avenue to the parking lot. The victim is in critical but stable condition at the hospital. There was no ShotSpotter activation and Ewing Police were called mutual aid as backup due to a large crowd after the shooting. The SRT Shooting Response Team is investigating.

Governor Murphy Nominates Justin Zimmerman as Commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance

September 6, 2023

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy today announced his nomination of Justin Zimmerman as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. As Commissioner, he will lead the department in regulating the banking, insurance, and real estate industries as well as operating Get Covered New Jersey – the State’s official health insurance marketplace. Zimmerman currently serves as Acting Commissioner of the department and will continue to serve in his current role pending his confirmation by the Senate.

“Justin Zimmerman has been an asset to the Department of Banking and Insurance since day one of my Administration, and I have no doubt he will continue to do an excellent job in his role as Commissioner,” said Governor Murphy. “In addition to the time he has already spent serving as Acting Commissioner, Justin’s prior experience as the department’s Chief of Staff makes him more than qualified for this position. His skilled leadership and thorough understanding of banking and insurance policy have helped countless residents throughout our state and will serve him well as he continues to lead this department.”

“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve as Commissioner in an Administration that is dedicated to improving the lives of New Jerseyans,” said Department of Banking and Insurance Acting Commissioner Zimmerman. “It is an honor to be nominated to lead the department’s committed public servants as we continue our efforts to protect residents, enable access to quality, affordable health insurance and ensure that the department’s regulated entities operate in accordance with the law. I thank the Governor for his confidence and for this opportunity, and I look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the Murphy Administration to create a stronger and fairer New Jersey.”

Zimmerman joined the Department in January 2018, serving as the department’s Chief of Staff, where he oversaw the executive management team and managed all aspects of the department’s policy implementation under the direction of former Commissioner Marlene Caride. Following Commissioner Caride’s recent departure to join the judiciary as a judge of the New Jersey Superior Court, Zimmerman took on the role of Acting Commissioner.

During his tenure as Chief of Staff, the department developed and implemented numerous consumer protections and programs impacting countless New Jerseyans, including New Jersey’s out of network law, student loan protections, mortgage servicers licensing, expanded reproductive health care access, and Get Covered New Jersey.

Prior to joining Governor Murphy’s Administration, Zimmerman served as Chief of Policy and Legislation to the New Jersey State Senate President Pro Tempore, where he focused on expanding access to quality affordable health care for New Jerseyans, and the expansion of voting rights and civil rights. He began his career as a public servant working as a Briefing Aide to Governor Jon Corzine and Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for the New Jersey Department of State.

Zimmerman was born and raised in New Jersey, growing up in Essex and Union Counties. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mary Washington. He lives in Verona with his wife, Laura, and their two children.

Former Sea Bright Police Officer Admits to Crimes Against Ex-Girlfriend

September 6, 2023

FREEHOLD – A former Sea Bright Police Officer has admitted to committing a series of crimes against an ex-girlfriend late last year into early this year, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Wednesday.

Appearing before Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley late last week, 47-year-old Erich A. Bennett pleaded guilty to third-degree Computer Theft, third-degree Criminal Mischief, fourth-degree Hindering Apprehension, and fourth-degree Stalking.

During his plea hearing, Bennett acknowledged that between October 2022 and January 2023, he engaged in a course of conduct that would put the victim in fear, to include at one point disabling security cameras on the exterior of her home and causing damage to her property by slashing her tires and keying her car. He further admitted to driving by her residence and threatening her with physical harm, both in person and via a fake social media account. Additionally, Bennett stated that while he was on duty with the Sea Bright Police Department, he conducted unauthorized lookups of the victim and four of her associates in law enforcement databases, absent any legitimate law enforcement purpose.

Bennett was arrested without incident in late January 2023. He currently remains incarcerated at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) pending future court proceedings. As a result of today’s plea, Bennett permanently forfeited the right to hold any public office in the State of New Jersey.

Sentencing in the case has been tentatively scheduled for Friday, November 3, at which time the State intends to recommend a sentence of five years in state prison. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Bennett would also have to submit to surrender of his privately owned firearms, a permanent restraining order barring him from contact with the victim, and restitution in the amount of nearly $4,800.

This case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the MCPO Professional Responsibility Unit. Bennett is being represented by Mitchell J. Ansell, Esq., with an office in Ocean Township.