Man had also been arrested 187 times and has 16 felony convictions.
February 10, 2022
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced that a 63-year-old man who was found guilty of causing the deaths of his elderly mother and her companion in a 2018 Browns Mills house fire was sentenced today to 11 years in New Jersey state prison.
The Hon. Christopher J. Garrenger, J.S.C., handed down the sentence against Kurt Smith in Superior Court in Mount Holly. Smith must serve 85 percent of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
Smith, who lived at the residence in the 500 block of Willow Boulevard, was convicted in October 2021 on two counts of Reckless Manslaughter (Second Degree). Judge Garrenger sentenced Smith to 11 years on each count, to run concurrently.
The verdict was returned following approximately 10 hours of deliberation over two days. The jury was unable to come to a verdict on an arson charge against Smith.
Smith is accused of igniting flammable material with a cigarette lighter in the garage of the residence on October 16, 2018, then unsuccessfully attempting to extinguish the blaze.
The fire killed his mother, Lore Smith, and her companion, George Pikunis, both 92.
Autopsies performed by Burlington County Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood concluded the cause of death in each instance was smoke and soot inhalation, along with thermal burns.
It was noted during today’s proceeding that Smith has been arrested 187 times and has 16 felony convictions.
Smith was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Remy, supervisor of the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit, and Assistant Prosecutor Bob Van Gilst, supervisor of the BCPO Major Crimes Unit. The investigation was conducted by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, the Pemberton Township Police Department, and the Burlington County Fire Marshal’s Office. The lead investigators were BCPO Detective Sergeant Erica Ridge and Pemberton Township Sergeant Tom Lucas.
PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP-BROWNS MILLS, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Yesterday on December 22, 2021 at approximately 9:10 p.m., the Pemberton Township Police Department was dispatched to a residence on Begonia Street in Browns Mills for a report of a shooting. Officers arriving at the scene found a 35-year-old male suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The victim was transported to Cooper Hospital for treatment. The investigation into the incident is on-going. At this time we do not believe that there is any danger to the general public. The Pemberton Township Police Department is conducting the investigation jointly with the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. Anyone with information about this incident or other crimes occurring in Pemberton Township is asked to contact the Pemberton Township Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 609-894-3310 or the Confidential Tip-Line at 609-894-3352
PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP, BROWNS MILLS, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced that a 62-year-old man was found guilty of causing the deaths of his elderly mother and her companion who perished in a house fire in October 2018 in the Browns Mills section of Pemberton Township.
Kurt Smith, who lived at the residence in the 500 block of Willow Boulevard, was convicted by a jury on two counts of Reckless Manslaughter (Second Degree). The verdict was returned October 26 following approximately 10 hours of deliberation over two days.
The Hon. Christopher J. Garrenger, J.S.C., scheduled sentencing for January 7. Smith has been lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly since his arrest a few days after the fire.
Smith was accused of igniting flammable material with a cigarette lighter in the garage of the residence, then unsuccessfully attempting to extinguish the blaze.
In addition to the homicides, Smith was charged with arson. The jury was unable to come to a verdict on the arson charge.
The fire killed his mother, Lore Smith, 92, who was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Her companion, George Pikunis, also 92, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Autopsies performed by Burlington County Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood concluded the cause of death in each instance was smoke and soot inhalation, along with thermal burns.
Smith was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Remy and Assistant Prosecutor Bob Van Gilst, supervisor of the BCPO Major Crimes Unit, Violent Crimes Section. The investigation was conducted by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, the Pemberton Township Police Department, and the Burlington County Fire Marshal’s Office. The lead investigators were BCPO Detective Erica Ridge and Pemberton Township Detective Tom Lucas.
PEMBERTON, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Pemberton Township Police Chief David King announced that an 18-year-old man has been charged with fatally shooting a 17-year-old male and wounding a 17-year-old female last week in the 100 block of Snow Avenue in Browns Mills.
Kai Johnson, of Kinsley Road in Pemberton, was charged with Murder (First Degree), Attempted Murder (First Degree), Aggravated Assault (First Degree), Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Second Degree), Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Second Degree), and Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Third Degree).
Johnson turned himself in at the Pemberton Township Police Department late Friday afternoon and is lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly. He had a first appearance Saturday afternoon in Superior Court, and is awaiting a hearing on the Prosecutor’s Office’s motion to detain him. The case will be presented to a grand jury for possible indictment.
The investigation began the night of October 18, after officers from the Pemberton Township Police Department responded to a report of a shooting at approximately 11:35 p.m.
Upon arrival, they discovered Malachi Treherne, 17, of Pemberton, lying in the doorway of the residence he was visiting on Snow Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police also located the 17-year-old female, who had been shot in the chest. She was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, and has since been released.
The investigation revealed that Johnson and the decedent were having an argument inside the house when Johnson pulled out a gun and shot both victims. An autopsy determined that Malachi Treherne died as a result of two gunshot wounds to his head.
Other people present in the home at the time of the shooting, including a two-year-old boy, were not injured in the incident.
The investigation is being conducted by detectives from the Pemberton Township Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Office. The lead investigators are Prosecutor’s Office Detective Erica Ridge and Pemberton Township Detective Anthony Luster.
All persons are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Philadelphia, PA. (July 26, 2021) – Dunkin’ and its greater Philadelphia-area franchisees, in partnership with Scholarship America, today announced the recipients of its twelfth annual Philadelphia Regional Scholarship Program. The program helps high school seniors and college students in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and Kent and New Castle counties in Delaware pursue a part-time or full-time undergraduate degree at the institution of their choice.
From over 900 applicants, Dunkin’ and Scholarship America selected 25 students to receive a $2,000 academic scholarship to an accredited two or four-year college, university, or vocational-technical school of their choice for fall 2021. Dunkin’s Philadelphia Regional Scholarship Program was open to current part-time and full-time undergraduate students and high school seniors. Dunkin’ awarded a total of $50,000 to the 25 recipients who were selected based on their academic records, demonstrated leadership skills, and overall commitment to their schools and local communities.
To date, the Dunkin’ Philadelphia Regional Scholarship Program has awarded $500,000 in scholarships to 300 outstanding high school seniors and college students. The program was founded in 2009 by Dunkin’s Philadelphia-area franchisees as a way to ease the financial burden of college for students throughout the region.
“On behalf of my fellow Philadelphia franchisees, we are honored to award these 25 exceptional students with the 2021 Dunkin’ Philadelphia Regional Scholarships,” said Perry Shah, local Dunkin’ franchisee and Philadelphia regional advertising committee chairman. “We are proud to continue the tradition to further students’ educational goals in our community as well as celebrate a major milestone this year: providing over half a million dollars to our local students since the program’s inception in 2009!”
The 2021 Dunkin’ Regional Scholarship recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, 2021, at Cherry Street Pier. More details on the awards ceremony to come in the following weeks.
The 2021 Dunkin’ Regional Scholarship recipients are as follows: (Six South Jersey below out of 25 total) Photos provided by: Dunkin Scholarship Program:
Recipient: Abigail Smith
Hometown: Hammonton, NJ
High School: Hammonton High School
University: Stockton University
Bio: Abigail Smith is a recent graduate from Hammonton High School, where she was the National Honor Society Vice President. In addition, Smith was a Team Captain for Field Hockey and Track & Field and earned nine Varsity Letters in three sports throughout high school. In her free time, Abigail enjoyed participating in a variety of service-oriented clubs. This fall, Abigail will attend Stockton University, where she plans to pursue a degree in Health Sciences.
Recipient: Amanda Neve
Hometown: Browns Mills, NJ
High School: Pemberton Township High School
University: University of Miami
Bio: Amanda Neve is a recent graduate from Pemberton Township High School and Rowan College at Burlington County, Class of 2021, where she received her Associate’s Degree in Biology. Neve graduated with high honors in high school and college and graduated top 10 in her class at Pemberton Township High School. This fall, Amanda will attend University of Miami, where she plans to pursue a degree in Biochemistry And Molecular Bio.
Recipient: Raphael Littwin
Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ
High School: Cherry Hill High School West
University: University of Pennsylvania
Bio: Raphael Littwin is a recent graduate from Cherry Hill High School West, where he was the Valedictorian of his graduating class. Littwin was involved in Student Government, Peer Leaders, National Honor Society, and a member of the Varsity Volleyball Team. Raphael also held leadership positions throughout high school, including DECA Chapter President, Principal’s Advisory Council Member, Spanish Honor Society President, and Jewish Student Union President. This fall, Raphael will attend the University of Pennsylvania.
Cape May County
Recipient: Julia Knopp
Hometown: Ocean View, NJ
High School: Ocean City High School
University: Northeastern University
Bio: Julia Knopp is a recent graduate from Ocean City High School where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Knopp was a member of the National Honor Society and a 4-Year Varsity Spring Track Athlete. In her free time during the summer, Julia worked at an ice cream shop.
Recipient: Kelly Wei
Hometown: Sewell, NJ
High School: Washington Township High School
University: Brown University
Bio: Kelly Wei is a recent graduate from Washington Township High School. She held leadership roles during high school, including Class Charge of Class Council Executive Board, Asian American Club President, Yearbook President, Co-President of Freshmen Transition, Secretary of Business Education Honor Society. Wei was also a member of the National English Honor Society. Kelly was awarded Senior Hall of Fame recipient. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and boba. This fall, Kelly will attend Brown University, where she plans to pursue a degree in Computer Science.
Recipient: Alyssa Deevey
Hometown: Robbinsville, NJ
High School: Robbinsville High School
University: Ramapo College of New Jersey
Bio: Alyssa Deevey is a recent graduate from Robbinsville High School, where she was a four-year Principal Honor Roll Student. Deevey participated in Field Hockey and Lacrosse. Alyssa enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, the beach, community service, and church in her free time. Alyssa is a current employee at Dunkin’.
This fall, Alyssa will attend Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she plans to pursue a degree in Nursing.
Note: All photos provided by Dunkin Scholarship program.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey State Police have arrested Lawrence Priester, 39, of Morrisville, PA, Deniece Reeves, 26, of Browns Mills, N.J., Rosa Lind, 36, and Tyran Kelsey, 35, both of Trenton, N.J., for drug offenses and money laundering during an investigation that led to the seizure of $150,000 worth of narcotics and stamps linked to two fatal and one non-fatal overdose.
During a four-month investigation, detectives with the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression Central Unit and the Opioid Enforcement Task Force (OETF) began investigating the distribution of narcotics in and around the City of Trenton. Through various investigative means, detectives determined that Priester was involved in narcotics trafficking in Pennsylvania and in the Trenton area of New Jersey. Additionally, detectives were able to identify narcotics mills located in Bucks County, PA and in Trenton, N.J. where Priester was allegedly packaging heroin and fentanyl for distribution.
On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, detectives with the Crime Suppression Central Unit, Opioid Enforcement Task Force, along with members of the Trenton Police Department SWAT, West Windsor Police Department, agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and detectives from the Bucks County Prosecutor’s Office executed search warrants in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Evidence seized as a result of the search warrants included approximately $150,000 worth of narcotics and more than $5,000 cash.
During execution of a search warrant in Trenton, detectives seized several different stamps used to brand packaged narcotics. Drug traffickers market their “brand” of drug by ink-stamping the outside of a wax fold with a unique image, word, or phrase such as “Facebook,” “187,” and “Completed” which are examples of stamps that were recovered. “Facebook” has been linked to two fatal overdoses in New Jersey and “187” has been linked to one non-fatal overdose in New Jersey.
Lawrence Priester was arrested on March 16, 2021 at a residence in Pennsylvania and charged with the following:
• Maintaining/ Operating a CDS production facility
• Possession of drug paraphernalia
• Possession of heroin and fentanyl with intent to distribute
Rosa Lind was arrested on March 16, 2021 at a residence in Trenton and charged with the following:
• Maintaining/ Operating a CDS production facility
• Possession of drug paraphernalia
• Possession of heroin and oxycodone with intent to distribute
Tyran Kelsey was arrested on March 16, 2021 after a motor vehicle stop in Trenton and charged with the following:
• Possession of heroin with intent to distribute
• Money laundering
Deniece Reeves was arrested on March 16, 2021 following a motor vehicle stop in Trenton and charged with the following:
• Possession of heroin with intent to distribute
• Money laundering
Kelsey and Reeves were lodged at the Mercer County Jail pending detention hearings. Lind was released pending a future court date. Priester was lodged at Bucks County Jail. The case is being prosecuted by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
“Through their innovative strategies, the State Police have dismantled over 40 opioid mills over the last two years and arrested nearly 370 suspects involved in criminal activity. In the process, they have seized over $12 million worth of dangerous opioids and more than $3 million in illegal drug proceeds, while recovering 165 firearms used in furtherance of drug activity,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “They have undoubtedly saved lives and improved communities, but the State Police’s enforcement efforts are only one part of our fight against the opioid epidemic, which also focuses on prevention and treatment strategies. I commend the State Police and all of the law enforcement partners that contributed to this operation.”
“Oftentimes massive, bulk seizures make the headlines, but the most vital component of a narcotics trafficking network is the processing mill. Through collaboration with our partners, we were able to identify and assist with shutting down a Pennsylvania mill producing brands of narcotics linked to fatal and non-fatal overdoses here in New Jersey,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The opioid epidemic recognizes no borders, jurisdictions, or state lines, which is why we will continue to work together with our partners across the river to shut down processing mills and bring those responsible to justice.”
“Drug dealers don’t stop at state borders, and neither do we, thanks to our highly effective law enforcement partnerships both inside and outside New Jersey,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend all of the agencies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that worked together to take down these alleged interstate drug traffickers.”
To date, the OETF has conducted 168 enforcement operations and seized more than 843,862 individual doses of packaged opioids valued at $4,219,310, more than 82 kilograms of raw heroin valued at $4,920,000, more than 30 kilograms of fentanyl valued at $1,500,000, more than 51,000 fentanyl-based pills valued at $510,000, more than 42 kilograms of cocaine valued at $1,512,000, more than $3,424,430 in U.S. currency, and 165 firearms. The OETF has also disrupted or dismantled 39 fully operational opioid packaging facilities, four fully operational fentanyl pill pressing operations, and arrested 370 suspects during this time.
Charges are mere accusations, and the accused are considered innocent until proven guilty.
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The South Brunswick Police Department identified the driver of Monday night’s fatal crash on Corn Road as Edward Snider age 62 of Browns Mills, NJ. The South Brunswick Police Department is still investigating the crash.
On Monday night at 9:17 pm the South Brunswick Police Department received a 911 call reporting the accident on Corn Road. When officers arrived on the lightly traveled industrial road they found a tractor trailer cab entangled with a flatbed tractor. The Monmouth Junction Fire Department responded and began extrication efforts. The truck driver was heavily entrapped and required extensive efforts. A dozen firefighters used cutting tools and other extrication equipment in efforts to free the driver.
Collaborative operation targeting offenders sexually exploiting children online was launched in response to spike in cyber threats to children during COVID 19 pandemic. Attorney General warns parents and offers tips to keep children safe as they return to virtual learning, with more screen time and, in many cases, no in-person teacher supervision
August 26, 2020
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced arrests of 21 individuals who are charged with sexually exploiting children online. The 19 men, one woman, and one juvenile male were arrested in “Operation Screen Capture,” a collaborative operation launched in response to a dramatic increase in reports of potential threats to children from online predators during the COVID pandemic.
Three defendants – two men and one woman – are charged with sexually assaulting or attempting to sexually assault children. Eighteen are charged with endangering the welfare of children for possession and/or distribution of child sexual abuse materials, including, in many cases, child rape videos.
Cyber tips to the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force about potential threats to children online – including tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) – have increased up to 50 percent in New Jersey since the COVID emergency began in March, compared to the same time frame last year. Many cases in this operation stemmed from cyber tips from NCMEC, but others involved undercover chat investigations where perpetrators were attempting to meet children or other individuals online in order to sexually assault children.
Operation Screen Capture was led by the Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey State Police, ICAC Task Force, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, and Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office.The New Jersey State Parole Board assisted with arrests and search warrants.
The arrests, made between March 18 and July 31, 2020 include the following cases:
Aaron Craiger. Craiger, 34, of Oklahoma, a registered sex offender, was arrested on March 18 at a motel in Atlantic City after he allegedly traveled from Oklahoma to meet two men who offered him access to underage girls for sex. In reality, the defendant had communicated with undercover investigators from the New Jersey State Police and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. One investigator pretended to offer his 12-year-old daughter for sex, and the other, his girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter.Craiger, who had condoms with him when arrested, also allegedly possessed and distributed child sexual abuse materials.
Jason Berry. Berry, 40, of Keansburg, N.J., allegedly sexually exploited a 14-year-old girl he met on social media, manipulating her into sending him naked pictures of herself engaging in sexual acts. He allegedly had the girl carve his initials into her legs. He then tricked the girl into revealing her mother’s phone number and sent those images to her mother.
Alize Tejada. Tejada, 21, of Newark, N.J., allegedly sexually assaulted a very young child.She allegedly videotaped herself performing a sexual act on the child and posted the video on social media.
“Reports to our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of potential predatory conduct against children are up as much as 50 percent during the COVID emergency as homebound children, starved for outside contact, spend more time on their devices, and opportunistic sexual predators target them online,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We urge parents to be vigilant about the online activities of their children and warn children that the strangers they meet on popular social media sites, apps and gaming platforms may be out to harm them. We will continue to work overtime to arrest child predators and those who participate in the cruel exploitation of children by sharing child sexual abuse materials.”
In past cases, the ICAC Task Force has arrested child predators who used the following chat apps: Kik, Skout, Grindr, Whisper, Omegle, Tinder, Chat Avenue, Chat Roulette, Wishbone, Live.ly, Musical.ly, Paltalk, Yubo, Hot or Not, Down, and Tumblr.Arrests also have been made involving the gaming apps Fortnite, Minecraft, and Discord.Attorney General Grewal urged parents to familiarize themselves with these and other apps and warn their children about sharing information with strangers.
“As children return to virtual learning this fall, they will be spending even more time online, in many cases without any in-person teacher supervision or peer contact,” Attorney General Grewal added. “This may make them even more vulnerable. We want parents to be aware of the dangers— and, as we highlighted in a recent virtual town hall with the State Police and Department of Children and Families, we want everyone to know that there are resources to help children who are struggling with social isolation or who may be victims of trauma or abuse.”
“Operation Screen Capture is a great example of how law enforcement in New Jersey works together seamlessly through the ICAC Task Force to confront the threat of online predators, raise awareness among parents, and protect our children,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Whether we are running down tips from NCMEC or conducting undercover chats, we use our cyber expertise each day to apprehend those who use the internet to harm, abuse, and exploit children.”
“Our children are at an increased risk to fall victim to opportunistic online predators during this pandemic, as students have no choice but to turn to their devices to connect with friends and family and in many cases to prepare for remote learning,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The State Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, and we will be unrelenting in our efforts to keep our children safe, but we cannot do it alone. We urge all parents and guardians to have conversations with your children about the dangers that exist on the internet and to closely monitor their online activity.”
“The internet has been instrumental in allowing our children to continue their educations remotely during this pandemic.However, it has also been used by the very worst among us to exploit them as well,” said Jason Molina, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, Newark. “These various cases, which involve both teenagers and very young children, show the level of depravity of these predators.Some pursue physical contact initiated via online introductions, in some cases even crossing state lines, while others exclusively pursue these innocents online. In either case, the psychological damage to children is long lasting.In the face of that, only a very united effort of local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, along with the hypervigilant efforts of parents to monitor their children’s online activity, can be effective to stop them and bring them to justice.”
Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said, “More and more, all of us look to the internet for remote connections because of work, school, or simply to surf the web, but this operation is a reminder that there are individuals who use the internet to traffic sexually explicit images and videos of children. We are proud to be part of this effort to identify, arrest, and aggressively prosecute those who are exploiting our children and our increased reliance on virtual connections by accessing and sharing illegal images and videos.”
“It cannot be emphasized strongly enough how important it is for parents to become educated about cyber threats, and take measures to protect their children from becoming victimized,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said. “Our way of life has been altered by this pandemic. It used to be that kids would play outside, and parents would check on them every so often to make sure they were safe. But the dangers they face have become much more direct now that they are spending a greater amount of time online than they ever have before. These threats are not readily visible, and effortlessly gain access to our homes, posing a very real risk to our children. We will continue to do everything legally allowable to find and punish those who are responsible.”
“It is a disturbing reality that predators are using the pandemic as an opportunity to target children as their online activity increases,” said Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill Mayer. “This operation, and the resulting arrests, show that law enforcement agencies in New Jersey and the ICAC Task Force are working diligently together to identify, catch, and arrest these individuals.My message to anyone out there who is using the internet to target children— we are watching and you will be caught. Parents need to be mindful that as we enter a school year with remote learning, there will be predators online looking for potential victims. We encourage all parents to take this time to talk to their children about internet safety, even if you’ve had this discussion before. Keeping our children safe is something that can never be discussed too much.”
“Crimes against children are among the most disturbing, yet often the toughest to prosecute,” said Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II. “This joint effort underscores the willingness of law enforcement at all levels to work together to protect our most vulnerable from those who would use the internet and other means to prey upon children. In this age, when so many children are relying on computers for their education, entertainment and social life, we are committed to make the internet community as safe as possible.”
“The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office eagerly participated in this joint law enforcement effort focusing on individuals who felt our attention to their bad acts targeting vulnerable children was diverted,” said Acting Gloucester County Prosecutor Christine Hoffman. “To the contrary, we remain committed and vigilant, and never allow geography or jurisdictional boundaries to slow our collective efforts. We’ll continue to use every investigative tool available to identify, apprehend and convict those who prey on our children.”
“The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office was proud to take part in Operation Screen Capture with our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force partners,” said Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri. “The success of the operation highlights how important it is that parents and guardians know that these online predators are out there, especially as remote learning begins again and children spend more and more time on their screens. And it’s just as important that anyone who would use the internet as a tool to harm our kids knows that my office will continue to use every resource at its disposal to identify, investigate, and arrest you before you have the chance to do it.”
“The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office welcomed the opportunity to participate in Operation Screen Capture as a member of the ICAC Task Force,” said Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone. “This statewide investigation illustrates the fine work and collaboration of many law enforcement agencies in New Jersey. These agencies are dedicated to protecting our communities, especially our children. We thank all of the participating agencies.”
“Our relationship with ICAC has proved to be vital in protecting and safeguarding children from sexual predators,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer. “We will continue to collaborate with all of our law enforcement partners to do everything we can to root out those individuals that prey on our children. To that end, it is imperative for all parents to keep an eye on the online activities of their children.”
“The Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office was a proud participant in Operation Screen Capture,” said Sussex County Prosecutor Francis A. Koch. “This statewide operation demonstrates the dedicated collaboration of all law enforcement agencies in New Jersey to proactively protect all children. As important as today’s announcement of the arrests of these defendants is, the message to parents and children to be even more vigilant and guarded while online is equally important. Today, children are required to have an increased online presence that subjects them to predators looking to take advantage of them. We therefore ask all parents and guardians to take an even greater role in their children’s online activities. We in law enforcement pledge to continue to commit ourselves to do all we can to help protect all children and to root out the despicable predators preying on them.”
Craiger, Berry, and Tejada are being prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice.They were ordered detained in jail pending trial.The Division of Criminal Justice is also prosecuting six defendants charged with possessing and/or distributing child sexual abuse materials.The 12 other defendants are being prosecuted by the nine county prosecutors’ offices.
The 21 defendants arrested in “Operation Screen Capture” were charged as follows:
1. Aaron Craiger, 34, of Oklahoma. Gas station attendant.Arrested March 18.Two Counts of Attempted Aggravated Sexual Assault (2nd degree), Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree), Two Counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (3rd degree), Two Counts of Attempted Distribution of Marijuana (4th degree), Possession of Marijuana (Disorderly Persons Offense).
2. Jason Berry, 40, of Keansburg, N.J. Unemployed.Arrested June 18.Manufacturing Child Pornography (1st degree), Sexual Assault (2nd degree), Child Abuse (2nd degree), Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Theft by Extortion (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
3. Alize Tejada, 21, of Newark, N.J. Babysitter.Arrested July 15.Aggravated Sexual Assault (1st degree), Manufacturing Child Pornography (1st degree).
4. Michael Gilpin, 42, of Union Beach, N.J. Pipe fitter.Arrested July 26.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
5. Raymond Radziewicz, 53, of Bloomfield, N.J. Former teaching assistant at child care center who was terminated as a result of this arrest.Arrested July 7.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
6. Brett Warfield, 21, of Carney’s Point, N.J. Private security guard.Arrested July 15.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
7. Loic Atse, 18, of Aberdeen, N.J. College student.Arrested July 23.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
8. Donovan Falconer, 25, of Plainsboro, N.J. Employee of marketing firm.Arrested June 25.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
9. Michael Ascough, 39, Pompton, N.J. Retail employee.Arrested July 5.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
10. Joseph Benestante, 65, of Bergenfield, N.J. Retired.Arrested July 21.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree).
11. Shawn Daily, 45, of Browns Mills, N.J. Laborer.Arrested June 12.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
12. Roy Dantz, 71, of Mount Laurel, N.J. Retired.Arrested June 18.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
13. Christopher Crispino, 45, of Bellmawr, N.J. Unemployed.Arrested July 31.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
14. Dwayne McCormick, 25, of Orange, N.J. Unemployed.Arrested July 8.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
15. Juvenile Male, 15, of Gloucester County, N.J. Unemployed.Arrested July 22.Distribution of Child Pornography (2nd degree), Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
16. Julian Ceballos, 31, of Hamilton (Mercer County), N.J. Restaurant worker.Arrested June 26.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
17. Timothy McMahon, 46, of Piscataway, N.J. Electrician.Arrested May 21.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
18. Edward Kross, 66, of Carteret, N.J. Part-time firefighting instructor.Arrested May 28.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
19. Henry Ziolkowski, 66, of Toms River, N.J. Surgery technician.Arrested July 10.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
20. Kevin Carrierri, 34, of Toms River, N.J. Chef.Arrested July 10.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
21. Matthew Marzullo, 20, of Hopatcong, N.J. Restaurant food server.Arrested July 1.Possession of Child Pornography (3rd degree).
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in 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, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three of five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. Fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Attorney General Grewal thanked the attorneys, detectives, and staff in the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau who worked on this operation under the supervision of Bureau Chief Jillian Carpenter, Deputy Bureau Chief Lilianne Daniel, and DCJ Deputy Director Robert Czepiel.
He thanked ICAC Task Force Commander Lt. John Pizzuro of the New Jersey State Police ICAC Unit and the detectives of the ICAC Unit, as well as the New Jersey State Police TEAMS and K-9 Units.
Attorney General Grewal thanked U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Newark and Cherry Hill, under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge Jason Molina and Assistant SAC Richard Reinhold.
He thanked the New Jersey State Parole Board, under the leadership of Chairman Samuel J. Plumeri Jr., for its valuable assistance with arrests and search warrants.
Finally, Attorney General Grewal thanked all of the prosecutors, detectives, investigators, and staff of the following county prosecutors’ offices, which participated as members of the ICAC Task Force:
BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ — The 514th Air Mobility Wing including a C-17 Globemaster III Aircraft and a KC-10 Extender Aircraft flew over the following hospitals in a salute to healthcare workers and first responders today:
BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ — The Air Force 514th Air Mobility Wing announced a flyover for tomorrow in Burlington and Camden Counties.
The Freedom Wing is flying high bringing our support through your towns!
Tomorrow between 1-1:20 P.M. keep your eyes to the sky as aircraft from the 514th Air Mobility Wing including a C-17 Globemaster III Aircraft and a KC-10 Extender Aircraft conduct operations in your backyard airspace!
TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced the following recent enforcement actions against violators of Governor Murphy’s Emergency Orders related to COVID-19:
Newark Enforcement. The Newark Police Department’s COVID-19 task force issued 86 summonses for violations of the emergency orders and ordered five non-essential businesses closed in enforcement actions yesterday, April 14.
Paterson Enforcement. The Paterson Police Department charged 36 people with municipal ordinance violations for violating the COVID-19 related orders in enforcement actions on Monday, April 13.
Seaside Heights Enforcement. The Seaside Heights Police Department issued seven summonses for violations of the emergency orders from April 12 through 14.
Darrell Rude, 33, of Blossvale, N.Y., was charged with robbery (2nd degree), burglary, (2nd degree), shoplifting (4th degree), criminal mischief (4th degree), throwing bodily fluids at an officer (4th degree), refusal to provide a biological sample (4th degree), refusal to be fingerprinted (disorderly persons offense), and violating the emergency orders. The Hoboken Police responded early this morning to a report of a burglary in progress at Daniel’s Liquor, where a man shattered a glass window to gain entry. Police located Rude nearby with liquor bottles and cigarette cartons sticking out of his backpack. While being processed, Rude allegedly purposely coughed at officers and said he had COVID-19. He allegedly was uncooperative and kept biting and ripping off face masks and spit shields placed on his face.
Christopher Ospina, 20, of Haledon, was charged yesterday, April 14, by the New Jersey State Police with eluding (2nd degree), obstruction (4th degree), disorderly conduct (creating a hazardous condition during a state of emergency) and violating the emergency orders. A state trooper in a marked car was traveling on I-80 West in the Lodi area when he observed a BMW with tinted windows traveling at speeds in excess of 130 mph. The BMW exited I-80, and Ospina was seen by troopers standing alongside his vehicle at a gas station in Lodi. Once Ospina saw the troopers, he jumped back in the BMW and recklessly drove back on I-80 until troopers lost sight of the vehicle. When Ospina turned himself in at Totowa State Police Station, he told troopers he possibly had COVID-19 symptoms before being taken to the Bergen County Jail.
Frank Castillo, 20, of Browns Mills, was charged on April 9 by the Pemberton Township Police with violating the emergency orders after he was stopped for a traffic violation. Police had stopped Castillo twice before and had issued warnings when they learned he was picking up various people in the Pemberton area and driving them around for non-essential trips.
Davide Camilo-Chiolo, 21, and Luis Diaz-Dejsus, 21, both of Perth Amboy, were charged yesterday, April 14, with violating the emergency orders for participating in a parade and vehicle caravan through the business district of Perth Amboy. The two defendants were in a group of pedestrians who were wearing masks, but who failed to maintain social distancing and who were obstructing traffic. The defendants were charged after they failed to heed warnings to disperse. There were 17 vehicles in the caravan, and the drivers were issued traffic tickets.
Eric Brown, 27, of Salem, was charged yesterday, April 14, by the New Jersey State Police with hindering apprehension or prosecution and violating the emergency orders, both disorderly persons offenses, after he was involved in a motor vehicle accident that led to a car fire. He allegedly called 911 and falsely claimed to be a witness, rather than the driver of the vehicle.
Ahmad R. Harrison, 19, of New Brunswick, was charged yesterday, April 14, by the New Brunswick Police Department with violating the emergency orders. The suspect had been given multiple warnings about being out in public without an essential purpose.
Patrick McFadden, 44, of Budd Lake, was charged yesterday, April 14, by the Mount Olive Police Department with violating a restraining order (4th degree), trespassing (4th degree), and violation of the emergency orders. Shortly after he was served with a restraining order and removed from the victim’s property, he took a car service back to the address and entered her home, in violation of the restraining order. He said he was there to retrieve belongings.
Guillermo Bonifacio, 18, Gabriel Lopez, 19, and Jovanny Santos, 19, all of Passaic, were charged with violating the emergency orders after the Passaic Police found them walking along Broadway shortly after 3 a.m. without a legitimate purpose.
Alshaquan Griffin, 23, Jose Haddock, 18, and a 17-year-old male, all of Elizabeth, were charged yesterday, April 14, with violating the emergency orders after the Elizabeth Police responded to a report of a disorderly group on Bond Street, and found the defendants together, failing to observe social distancing. The defendants had been warned before about their conduct.
Arnell Green, 19, of Newark, was charged early today by the Hillside Police with violating the emergency orders. Police responded at about 4 a.m. to a report of suspicious persons near Bloy and Leo streets. Three individuals ran away when police arrived. Green was found hiding in some bushes. He had been warned before about being out in violation of the emergency orders.
“Our police officers are working bravely and tirelessly every day to protect us during this health crisis. Regrettably, they are being called upon far too often to deal with people violating the emergency orders— or what is more egregious, people using the virus to spread fear or impede officers in their vital work,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Staying home and maintaining social distance isn’t just the best advice to stay healthy, it’s the law. Make no mistake, we will do everything in our power to keep our residents and officers safe, and that means we won’t hesitate to file charges against violators.” “Law enforcement and medical professionals are on the frontlines of this battle to protect the citizens of New Jersey from the COVID-19 virus, and we cannot stress enough how important it is that each person follow the guidelines set forth in the Executive Order,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Because lives are at stake, enforcement action will be taken without hesitation against those who are blatantly placing the lives of others at risk.” Violations of the emergency orders constitute a disorderly persons offense carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, violators can potentially face criminal charges including second, third, and fourth degree indictable offenses. Police have charged a number of persons with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency for claiming to have COVID-19 and threatening to infect law enforcement officers or others by coughing, spitting, or otherwise exposing them. That charge carries 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, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you are seeing a lack of compliance with the Governor’s emergency orders in your town, please contact your local police department or report here https://covid19.nj.gov/violation The Attorney General’s Office and New Jersey State Police will continue to work with law enforcement throughout New Jersey to deter non-complaint behavior. No one should take advantage of this pandemic to further their own biased agendas. COVID-19 is no excuse to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and or other biased stereotypes. Please report bias crimes at 1-800-277-BIAS.
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