Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Acting Chief of Police Griffin Banos of the Monroe Police Department announced today that a 15-year-old juvenile has been identified as the perpetrator of the act of vandalism on the Congregation Etz Chaim Jewish Center.
Today, November 17, 2023, Monroe Police Department concluded its investigation into the graffiti that was found on the Congregation Etz Chaim Jewish Center on November 09, 2023. With the assistance of local residents and businesses, Monroe township Detectives were able to successfully identify and interview a 15-year-old juvenile that was responsible for the act of vandalism. The actor was deemed not to be a threat to the Jewish Community or the community at large.
The investigation into this incident continues and charges are pending review by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Dale Degraw of the Monroe Police Department at 732-521-0222 ext. 163.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office reiterates its stance against hate in all forms. We will continue to investigate every reported bias incident in our community vigorously and will not hesitate to prosecute consistent with the law.
TRENTON, NJ The Trenton Board of Education received NJSBA Board Certification (BC), and each member was recognized as a Certified Board Member (CBM) at the Nov. 16 Mercer County SBA Meeting.
Through Board Certification, the NJSBA Board Member Academy recognizes mastery of the unique aspects of the group process. This certification recognizes the full board’s commitment to training and effective governance in areas such as group process, decision-making, planning, effective meetings and focus on student achievement. The Certified Board Member Award recognizes professional development in areas critical to effective school board governance. The Certified Board Member is the second NJSBA Board Member Academy certification program level.
The district congratulates BOE members Gene Bouie, Addie Daniels-Lane, Deniece Johnson, Jeannie Weakliem, Austin Edwards, Esq., Sasa Olessi Montaño, BOE Vice President Gerald Trueheart and BOE President Yolanda Marrero-Lopez on being a part of the certified board and receiving their board member certification.
Front row from left to right; Gerald Trueheart, Yolanda Marrero-Lopez, Addie Daniels-Lane, Gene Bouie. Back row from left to right; James Earle, Jeannie Weakliem, Sasa Olessi Montaño, Austin Edwards, Esq., Deniece Johnson
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH), an RWJBarnabas Health facility, Community Health Ambassador Irma Nolasco recently participated in the Johnson & Johnson Foundation-sponsored event, “Stories from the Heart of Health” held during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City last month.
The event provides an opportunity for front-line health workers to share their inspiring stories at the heart of health along with best practices that help health care providers better address challenges their local communities face today. Nolasco spoke about her outreach experiences working with RWJUH Team Salud. Team Salud is a group of bilingual volunteer community health workers that serve as a bridge between the healthcare system and the New Brunswick community.
A New Brunswick resident, Nolasco works with Team Salud’s Diabetes Spanish-language support group. She has also helped promote flu and COVID-19 vaccinations in the community, addressing barriers and questions community residents had about the vaccine.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw our community scared, uninformed and in high-risk situations. We started calling on our people to share truthful, direct information from medical sources,” Nolasco explained. “We took the information to Bodegas and local businesses. We shared information on social media in English and Spanish. We worked hard to get our community to trust the information, get tested, and help them sign up for COVID and flu vaccines”
Nolasco dreamed of being a teacher while growing up in Oaxaca, Mexico. She immigrated to the United States to join her husband and had to put her dream on hold, due to the cost of education and her unfamiliarity with the English language. Instead, she and her husband focused on earning enough to support their children and give them a path to a better life.
Despite these obstacles, Nolasco was determined to help others.
“My first job here was as a cleaner at a rehabilitation clinic,” Nolasco recalls. “With my little English, I listened to the patients and just by patting them or touching their hand, they felt better. Patients needed to talk to someone and feel the human warmth.”
Nolasco continued helping and serving others at her church.
“Years later, I joined a group in my parish called Women of Social Justice focused on developing our leadership, self-love, and mutual help. There I met many migrant women, like me, who had the same dreams and desires,” Nolasco said. “We formed bonds of friendship and learned about the many challenges our community is facing – such as domestic violence, obesity in our children, and the importance of Community Health Workers in the Latino community.”
Nolasco may have found her true calling when RWJUH Director of Community Health Promotions Mariam Merced and her staff formed Team Salud. They began recruiting local, Spanish-speaking residents to serve as Community Health Promoters, also known as “Promotoras.”
“One day I was invited to join Team Salud to work as a health promoter,” Nolasco explained. “Being invited was emotional for me and at the same time a challenge. I was excited to think that there was something good that I could give to people and that I could continue my dream of educating. As a health promoter, I bring information and I teach my community. I can advise and encourage them as a teacher does.”
In the Team Salud program, Community Health Promoters complete health workshops and specialized training on how to effectively conduct community health outreach – from where to place a flyer, how to approach people and how to share strategies that motivate individuals to take control of their health and that of their family.
“I have learned that our job as a Promotora is to connect our community to health services,” Nolasco noted. “This job is also like being a teacher. We are part of our communities and we know what challenges we face when seeking medical services – we don’t speak the language, we work long hours, we don’t know where to look for services, we don’t have anyone to take care of our children so we can go get tested, and we are afraid to participate because we are undocumented. We have managed to make people trust us. They know us. They see us actively carrying information and walking the streets.”
During her presentation at the Johnson & Johnson Foundation event, Nolasco spoke about challenges that the Latino community faces when accessing health care services and how RWJUH’s Community Health Ambassadors serve as a bridge to these services for many in the Latino Community.
Nolasco also stressed the importance of health insurance for all and how it would improve access to healthcare and health equity for vulnerable communities during the concluding panel discussion.
Although Nolasco did not become a teacher as she originally planned, she believes that she ultimately achieved her dream.
“I can say that being a promoter has become my life project and my dream. I’m happy to be able to help people in one way or another,” Nolasco said. “Every day, I help my community with the health information I receive. Not only that, I also use it to take care of my health and that of my family. We are one voice – creating a culture of taking care of our health.”
Shown from left to right following the Johnson & Johnson Foundation Stories from the Heart of Health event held during the United Nations General Assembly are: Mariam Merced, Director of Community Health Promotions at RWJUH; Irma Nolasco, Community Health Ambassador at RWJUH; and Silvia Cruz-Vargas, Senior Director of Global Community Impact for Johnson & Johnson.
CAMDEN, N.J. – A Burlington County, New Jersey, man admitted participating in schemes to negotiate fraudulent checks with forged signatures and to launder money from another fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
Eugene Koranteng, 30, of Medford, New Jersey, pleaded guilty on Nov. 16, 2023, before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden federal court to an information charging him with one count of bank fraud conspiracy and one count of money laundering conspiracy.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Koranteng conspired with Misty Sarfo-Adu, Emmanuel Yirenkyi, and others to commit bank fraud by obtaining blank checks containing the names and account information of unsuspecting customers of a credit card company. They made the checks payable to members of the conspiracy, forged the customers’ signatures on the checks, and negotiated the checks at financial institutions. Koranteng admitted that the bank fraud conspiracy caused an actual loss of at least $95,000.
Koranteng also conspired to launder the proceeds of a separate fraud scheme. Koranteng used his personal bank account to negotiate checks that constituted the proceeds of unlawful activity. Koranteng then converted the fraud proceeds to cash to conceal and disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, and control of the proceeds. Koranteng admitted that he laundered at least $47,000.
The count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. The count of conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Sentencing is scheduled for March 21, 2024.
Sarfo-Adu and Yirenkyi previously pleaded guilty before Judge Kugler to their participation in the same bank fraud conspiracy.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of Homeland Security Investigations Newark, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Alfonso, with the investigation leading to the guilty plea. U.S. Attorney Sellinger also thanked the Moorestown Police Department for its assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Bender of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.
Defense counsel: Koranteng: David Bahuriak Esq. Philadelphia Yirenkyi: Robert Wolf Esq. Haddon Township, New Jersey Sarfo-Adu: Paul Sarmousakis Esq., Avalon, New Jersey
MANCHESTER, NJ (OCEAN)–Police say that on Thursday, November 16, 2023, at approximately 6:00 p.m., officers from the Manchester Township Police Department responded to the area of 2011 Route 37 for the report of a car verse bicyclist. Upon arrival, officers observed a white 2021 Dodge Ram Cargo Van with damage to the front passenger side and extensive damage to the front windshield. Officer’s also observed a male lying on the grass area in front of the plaza and a black electric bike with extensive damage. The driver of the Dodge Ram Cargo Van was identified as, 34-year-old Jack Ravenna of Greenville, South Carolina. Mr. Ravenna did not sustain any injuries as a result of the crash. The rider of the electric bike was identified as, 46-year-old Raymond Santory of Manchester, NJ. Mr. Santory sustained trauma to his right leg and several lacerations to his head and face. Mr. Santory was flown via MEDAVAC, to Jersey Shore University Hospital Trauma Center, in Neptune, NJ to be further elevated for his injuries.
The crash investigation revealed that the Dodge Ram Cargo Van was traveling west on State Highway 37 in the right travel lane. The Dodge Ram Cargo Van traveling west on State Highway 37 was approaching the entrance to 2011 Route 37 and began to make a right turn into the entrance. Mr. Santory was traveling east in the westbound shoulder of State Highway 37 on his electric bike wearing dark clothing and no helmet. Mr. Santory impacted the Dodge Ram Cargo Van on the front passenger side of the vehicle. Mr. Santory was ejected from his bicycle and then impacted the windshield of the vehicle on the passenger side. After initial impact with the Dodge Ram Cargo Van, Mr. Santory and his electric bicycle continued to travel east approximately 10 feet before coming to final rest on the grass section of the plaza.
Assisting at the scene were EMT’s from the Manchester Township Division of Emergency Medical Services, and Paramedics from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. The investigation into the crash is still ongoing, but at this point, the failure to ride a bicycle with the flow of traffic and the use of dark clothing are the primary contributing factors in the crash. This crash is being investigated by Patrolman Conner Yatauro of the department’s Traffic Safety Unit.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced that a Trenton man was convicted by a jury this week for the July 14, 2021 murder of 53-year-old Pablo Herrera Chun.
On November 16, 2023, Blake Pittman, 32, was convicted on all counts of the indictment, including murder, possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a handgun and certain persons not to possess a weapon.
At approximately 8:39 p.m. on July 14, 2021, Trenton Police received a Shot Spotter activation in the area of 43 North Stockton Street. Responding officers located Herrera Chun suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later. Pittman was arrested two weeks later on July 28, 2021, in a Bensalem, PA hotel room by members of the U.S. Marshals NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Mercer County Assistant Prosecutors William P. Fisher and Scott Gershman represented the state during the four-week trial before Mercer County Superior Court Judge J. Adam Hughes. The evidence and testimony presented at trial showed that, on the evening of July 14, 2021, Pittman intended to shoot an individual driving north on North Stockton Street, but missed and instead hit Herrera Chun, who was walking on the sidewalk of North Stockton Street between Wood and Academy streets.
“The State commends the jury’s careful and meticulous review of the evidence in reaching its verdict,” Prosecutor Onofri said. “Pablo Herrera Chun was a family man who worked in this country to help support his family back home. While one cannot imagine the grief his family has suffered as result of this horrific act of the defendant, it is our hope that his family can take some solace from this just verdict.”
The investigation was led by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and Detective Karl Johnston of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office. The defendant was represented by James R. Murphy, Esq.
Pittman is scheduled to be sentenced on February 9, 2024. At the time of the murder, Pittman had only been released from prison for less than a year. Due to Pittman’s prior convictions for aggravated manslaughter and robbery, he will face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole, pursuant to New Jersey’s “Three Stikes Law,” N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.1.
Blake Pittman, 32, of Trenton, was convicted on all counts of the indictment, including murder, possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a handgun and certain persons not to possess a weapon.
Police recover $720,000 in cash, gold and silver at Freehold Township home of Club XXXV’s owners, while about 700 condoms and condom vending machine were found at the club
November 17, 2023
TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) today announced a state grand jury returned a 21-count superseding indictment against seven individuals and three corporate entities, following an investigation of, as alleged, a longstanding family-operated prostitution ring at Club XXXV in Sayreville, New Jersey.
The investigation into the strip club along Route 35 revealed that it doubled as a house of prostitution that generated millions of dollars in revenue for the defendants. The proceeds moved through numerous bank accounts controlled by the defendants, which were used to conceal the source of the funds.
“Our investigation determined that the operators of Club XXXV were using various illegal means to turn their club into a multimillion-dollar racket,” said Attorney General Platkin. “We allege that these defendants enriched themselves unlawfully, masked the illicit sources of their income, and generated a host of quality-of-life issues for the residents of their community.”
“Law enforcement will not look the other way when a business crosses one line after another, in pursuit of obscene and ill-gotten profits,” said Thomas Eicher, Executive Director of OPIA.
On November 13, 2023, the grand jury voted to file criminal charges against Anthony Acciardi Sr., Doreen Acciardi and Stephen Acciardi, all from Freehold Township, New Jersey, as well as Anthony Acciardi Jr., of Old Bridge, all of whom owned and/or managed Club XXXV.
Other alleged co-conspirators also charged in connection with the suspected criminal enterprise included club employee Jennifer Hecker, a dancer who allegedly solicited undercover detectives for commercial sex acts; Jeannine Nichols, a club manager who is the sister of Doreen Acciardi; and Jason Portes, Nichols’ husband, who was also a Club XXXV manager.
The three corporate entities charged are Acciboys, LLC, an entity owned by Anthony Acciardi Jr. and Stephen Acciardi that owned ATMs; 35 Club, LLC, d/b/a Club XXXV; and Alana, Inc.
The investigation showed certain defendants largely failed to report the proceeds of the unlawful prostitution operation as taxable income, and allegedly established corporate entities to camouflage the true sources of the money. The investigation also determined that the alleged co-conspirators took steps to make the funds appear as if they had been derived from lawful business dealings.
It is alleged the club also illegally sold alcohol on premises, despite state regulations prohibiting that practice. The business is BYOB, but allegedly sold various types of liquor that were hidden in a rear shed on the property.
Some of the defendants were arrested on May 12, 2021, when the Sayreville Police, along with the Middlesex County Guns, Gangs and Drugs Task Force, working with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, executed search warrants at Club XXXV following numerous complaints of prostitution occurring there between 2019 and 2021. The case was subsequently superseded by the OPIA Corruption Bureau. Evidence seized from the search of the club included hundreds of condoms, lubricant and sex toys.
Computer hard drives discovered inside the strip club were also seized and subsequently searched. They contained hundreds of hours of video surveillance footage from security cameras throughout the establishment, including footage from a camera in the VIP section of the club. That footage showed various dancers performing sexual acts on patrons in the VIP rooms.
The search of the club also turned up a large bag containing approximately 700 condoms. Condoms were also stocked in a vending machine in the club’s locker room for dancers to purchase. The investigation found that customers paid a fee to the business to enter the VIP area for private dances, then had the option of paying additional variable fees directly to dancers for sex during the time in the VIP rooms.
Bank records indicate that since 2015, the defendants maintained both personal and business accounts associated with their several businesses, including Club 35, LLC, and Acciboys, LLC. Since 2017, more than $10 million had been deposited and withdrawn from these accounts.
As alleged, certain defendants significantly under-reported their income on state tax returns in an effort to evade taxes and to hide the proceeds of their criminal activity. After executing judicially authorized search warrants, police recovered approximately $140,000 in cash, $283,000 in gold, and $297,000 in silver from the home of Doreen Acciardi and Anthony Acciardi Sr. There was also $117,000 in cash, $61,000 in silver, and $47,000 in gold found in the residence of Anthony Acciardi Jr.
The defendants are charged with the following offenses:
Anthony Acciardi Sr., 59, of Freehold Township
Racketeering – 1st Degree Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity – 1st Degree (3 counts) Promoting Organized Street Crime – 2nd Degree Promoting Prostitution – 3rd Degree Misconduct by a Corporate Official – 2nd Degree Filing Fraudulent Tax Return – 3rd Degree Failure to Pay Income Taxes – 3rd Degree Failure to File Tax Returns – 3rd Degree Maintaining a Nuisance – 4th Degree Maintaining a Sexually Oriented Business – 4th Degree Falsifying Records – 4th Degree
Doreen Livingston, aka Doreen Acciardi, 56, of Freehold Township
Racketeering – 1st Degree Conspiracy – 2nd Degree Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity – 1st Degree (3 counts) Promoting Organized Street Crime – 2nd Degree Promoting Prostitution – 3rd Degree Maintaining a Sexually Oriented Business – 4th Degree Misconduct by a Corporate Official – 2nd Degree Filing Fraudulent Tax Return – 3rd Degree Failure to Pay Income Taxes – 3rd Degree Failure to File Tax Returns – 3rd Degree Failure to Pay Business Income Taxes – 3rd Degree Maintaining a Nuisance – 4th Degree Falsifying Records – 4th Degree Filing Fraudulent Business Tax Return – 3rd Degree
Anthony Acciardi Jr., 30, of Old Bridge
Racketeering – 1st Degree Conspiracy – 2nd Degree Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity – 1st Degree (3 counts) Promoting Organized Street Crime – 2nd Degree Promoting Prostitution – 3rd Degree Maintaining a Nuisance – 4th Degree Maintaining a Sexually Oriented Business – 4th Degree Misconduct by a Corporate Official – 2nd Degree
Stephen Acciardi, 26, of Freehold
Racketeering – 1st Degree Conspiracy – 2nd Degree Maintaining a Sexually Oriented Business – 4th Degree Promoting Organized Street Crime – 2nd Degree Maintaining a Nuisance – 4th Degree Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity – 1st Degree (3 counts) Filing Fraudulent Tax Return – 3rd Degree Failure to Pay Income Taxes – 3rd Degree Failure to File Tax Returns – 3rd Degree Failure to Pay Business Income Taxes – 3rd Degree Promoting Prostitution – 3rd Degree Misconduct by a Corporate Official – 2nd Degree Misconduct by a Corporate Official – 2nd Degree Falsifying Records – 4th Degree Filing Fraudulent Business Tax Return – 3rd Degree
First-degree charges generally carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in New Jersey 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. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree offenses could lead to up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The case is being prosecuted by OPIA Deputy Attorneys General Heather Hausleben, Diana Bibb, Brian Kenney and Special Deputy Attorney General Jason Boudwin, an Assistant Prosecutor with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Special Deputy Attorney General Susan Carracino, an Assistant Prosecutor with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, is handling a collateral civil forfeiture matter related to assets seized in this case. The prosecution is being supervised by Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee, OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione and OPIA Director Eicher.
The investigation received critical assistance from the Sayreville Police Department, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Middlesex County Guns, Gangs and Drugs Task Force, and the New Jersey Treasury Department’s Criminal Investigations Office.
These charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.