Category: Burlington City

AG Grewal Announces Finding of Probable Cause in Pregnancy Discrimination Case Against National Retailer – America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Inc.

January 26, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced yesterday that the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has issued a Finding of Probable Cause against national retailer America’s Best Contacts & Eyeglasses, Inc. for allegedly subjecting a former employee to discrimination based on her pregnancy and for failing to provide her with a suitable place to express breast milk.

A Finding of Probable Cause means that DCR has concluded its preliminary investigation of a civil rights complaint and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a claim that a state anti-discrimination law has been violated.

America’s Best is a discount provider of eye examinations, eyeglasses and contact lenses with 700 stores nationally, including 15 branch locations in New Jersey.

Jalaia Hill, a former employee at an America’s Best store in Burlington, filed a complaint with DCR alleging unlawful pregnancy-based discrimination by the company after returning from maternity leave to learn her hours had been cut from full-time to part-time. The reduction to part-time status also eliminated her from eligibility for employer-provided healthcare coverage.

Hill also alleged that America’s Best failed to reasonably accommodate her request for a place to express breast milk. Specifically, Hill told DCR, she was forced to use an oft-accessed utility room that did not have a lock on the door and that was filled with boxes of supplies. She alleged that while expressing milk she was forced to lean up against the unlocked door in an attempt to ensure privacy, yet she would still be periodically interrupted by workers who walked in to obtain supplies. She also alleged that she was frequently ordered by her manager to “hurry up and finish” because there were customers waiting.

“New Jersey is committed to protecting the equal rights of pregnant employees and breastfeeding employees,” said Attorney General Grewal. “New Jersey law goes farther than federal law when it comes to protecting pregnant and breastfeeding employees and employers must ensure they know what state law, as opposed to federal law, requires.”

“Employers cannot punish employees for having children or taking parental leave, and being forced to express breastmilk in a room without a lock on the door, with colleagues walking in and out, while being reprimanded to ‘hurry up and finish,’ would be a clear violation of the LAD,” said DCR Director Rachel Wainer Apter.

Hill began her employment with America’s Best as a full-time sales associate in May 2018, earning an hourly wage plus sales commissions. Because she worked more than 30 hours per week she was considered full-time, and received healthcare benefits for herself and her children.

Hill took maternity leave beginning on November 19, 2018 and returned to work on March 4, 2019.

In her complaint, Hill alleged that in February 2019 – only days before she was scheduled to return to her full-time sales associate position – she had a telephone conversation with her manager in which he informed her that only part-time hours were available because another employee had taken over her hours while she was out on leave.

According to Hill, she was never restored to full-time hours, despite also informing the company’s district manager of her situation, and despite an alleged promise from that same district manager to arrange additional work hours for Hill at the Audubon store to qualify Hill as a full-time employee.

Three of Hill’s Burlington store co-workers corroborated Hill’s assertion that she was a full-time employee before she went on maternity leave, but that her hours were reduced upon her return. (Time sheets obtained by DCR showed that Hill worked an average of 34 hours per week prior to her maternity leave, but worked an average of only 28 hours a week after returning.)

As to the failure to provide her an adequate place to express breastmilk, DCR’s investigation showed that America’s Best eventually installed a lock on the utility room door where Hill was forced to express milk on May 29, 2019 – nearly three months after Hill’s return to work from pregnancy leave.

In its response to Hill’s complaint, America’s Best denied having discriminated against Hill.


https://www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases21/FPC Hill v. America’s Best FINAL SIGNED.pdf


The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights enforces the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and works to prevent, eliminate, and remedy discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation throughout New Jersey. To view a fact sheet on pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination, go to https://www.nj.gov/oag/dcr/downloads/fact_BRST.pdf. To find out more information, go to http://www.njcivilrights.gov.


Lakewood and Burlington Among List of COVID-19 Stay At Home Orders This Week

May 16, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)—Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, today announced enforcement actions from the past week, including coughing and spitting assaults and noteworthy violations of Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders.  The Attorney General also announced enforcement actions targeting price-gouging, consumer fraud violations, and alcoholic beverage control violations. “We’re cracking down on those who jeopardize public health and undermine public safety,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We have zero patience for those who spit on cops, gouge prices, or try to exploit this pandemic for their personal gain.” “Although law enforcement and medical professionals are on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, we are ultimately winning the war because of the extraordinary resolve and fortitude of New Jersey citizens who are doing their part day in and day out, abiding by the executive orders and sacrificing for the greater good,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “Those who choose to ignore the law and selfishly place others at risk will face swift law enforcement action.” 

Violations of Executive Orders, Including “Stay at Home” Order, and Ordinance:

  • Antwan Strickland, 20, of Roebling, Jemir Jones, 21, of Mount Laurel, and Rashaun Turner, 33, of Burlington Township were charged May 14 with violating the emergency orders after Burlington Police responded to a report of a dozen people gathered in the back yard of an abandoned home in Burlington city. Strickland, Jones and Turner were previously warned by police in connection with several similar incidents involving large gatherings. In addition, Strickland and Jones were among four people charged with violating the emergency orders and other disorderly persons offenses in Burlington city on May 10.
  • Chan Kwon, 49, of Perth Amboy, N.J., was charged on May 13 with violating the emergency orders by operating a non-essential business. Kwon owns a beauty supply store in Perth Amboy. The May 13 incident was the second time Kwon has been charged with violating the emergency orders. He received a summons on May 5 under similar circumstances.
  • Yisrael Knopfler, 44, of Lakewood, N.J. was charged with violating the emergency orders and other disorderly persons offenses on May 11 in connection with an incident that began when police found him hosting a gathering of more than 10 people in his back yard, where a tent was set up. Upon the officers’ arrival, a group of approximately 20 men approached and began yelling at them. Host Knopfler allegedly became verbally aggressive and uncooperative with the police and, at one point, made physical contact with an officer.
  • Chaim Oestreicher, 52 and Sarah Oestreicher, 49, of Lakewood, were cited on May 11 after police arrived at their home to find approximately 15-to-20 people gathered in the back yard next to an uncontained fire.
  • Chaim Gutman, 37, was cited on May 11 with violating the emergency orders after police responded to a report of loud music and found a band playing on the deck at his home before a crowd of between 50 and 100 people.
  • Miran Lee, 45, of Passaic, N.J., was charged on May 12 with violating the emergency orders and risking/causing widespread injury (4th degree) after police found her massage business – New Asian Massage – open and serving customers. On two prior occasions, Lee was issued summonses for violating the emergency orders by operating the same non-essential business and failing to practice social distancing. 
  • Mohammad Bahar, 42of Cliffside Park, N.J., was charged on May 12 with violating the emergency orders by operating a non-essential retail business — S&S Furniture Gallery in Irvington. Bahar, the store manager, was cited after police observed the store open and operating with customers inside.
  • Diana Ron, 38, of Union, N.J. and Dunia Mora, 59, of Irvington, N.J. were both cited for violating the orders on May 11. Ron owns Antojito’s Restaurant in Irvington, while Mora is the restaurant’s manager. Both received a summons after police observed that the bar/restaurant was open for business on May 11 and serving alcoholic drinks to customers inside the establishment.
  • James Robyn, 69, of Chester, N.J., was charged with violating the orders on May 11 after police found his retail pool and hot tub store open for business, with multiple customers shopping inside. Robyn was reportedly warned two weeks ago that the store could not be open. He was charged with violating the emergency orders by operating a non-essential business
  • Rami Jabara, 45, of Little Ferry,  N.J., was charged by the Paterson Police Department on May 10 with violating the emergency orders for opening the jewelry store he owns, Jerusalem Jewelry on Main Street.  Officers found the store open with customers inside shopping, despite the fact that Jabara was warned by police the day before for opening the non-essential business.
  • Sergio J. Moya Jr., 27, of Jersey City, was charged by the Port Authority Police Department on the night of May 8 with resisting arrest (disorderly persons offense), disorderly conduct (petty disorderly persons offense), and violating the emergency orders. Moya allegedly harassed ticket agents at Newark Airport and refused to leave. 

Area Drug Trafficking Organization Members Admit To Roles In Drug Conspiracy

May 15, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Three members of a Burlington County drug-trafficking organization have admitted their roles in a conspiracy to distribute a variety of illegal substances, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Jerrod Epps, 35, of Medford, New Jersey, pleaded guilty today before U.S. Senior District Judge Anne E. Thompson to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute crack cocaine. Teron Huggins, 42, of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, pleaded guilty on May 14, 2020, to an information charging him with two counts of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine. Talib Conway, 39, of Philadelphia, pleaded guilty on May 8, 2020, to an information charging him with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 28 grams of crack cocaine, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court:

Between July 2019 and September 2019, the defendants engaged in a narcotics conspiracy that operated primarily in municipalities throughout Burlington County – including Willingboro, Burlington City, Burlington Township, Bordentown Township, Edgewater Park, Pemberton and Mount Laurel – and which sought to profit from the distribution of cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin. Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that defendants obtained regular supplies of cocaine and other substances from conspirators in the Burlington County and Philadelphia areas and then redistributed cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin, to other conspirators, distributors, sub-dealers, and end users. Law enforcement officers intercepted numerous communications by and between the conspirators regarding such issues as cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin quality and availability, pricing, packaging, quantity, and customer satisfaction.

The counts of conspiracy to distribute at least 28 grams of crack cocaine and conspiracy to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin to which Conway pleaded guilty each carry a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $5 million. The count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine to which Conway pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. The counts of conspiracy to distribute cocaine to which Huggins pleaded guilty each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. The count of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine to which Epps pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $1 million. Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for Sept. 30, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Trenton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie; special agents of ATF Newark Field Division, Trenton Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson; detectives of the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Scott Coffina; officers of the Burlington Township Police Department, under the direction of Director of Public Safety Bruce Painter; officers of the Willingboro Police Department, under the direction of Director of Public Safety Kinamo Lomon; officers of the Burlington City Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police John Fine; officers of the Florence Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Brian Boldizar; officers of the Bordentown Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Brian Pesche; officers of the Edgewater Park Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Robert Hess; officers of the Mount Laurel Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Stephen Reidener; officers of the Ewing Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police John Stemler; officers of the Westampton Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Stephen Ent; and officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Director Sheilah Coley with the investigation leading to the guilty pleas.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha K. Nye of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew B. Johns of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.

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Defense counsel:
Conway: Teri Lodge Esq., Marlton, New Jersey
Huggins: David Oakley Esq., Princeton, New Jersey
Epps: Edward Borden Esq., Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Freedom Wing Flyover

May 13, 2020

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:

Virtua Willingboro Hospital
Virtua Memorial Hospital
Freedom Park, Medford, New Jersey
Virtua-Marlton
Virtua Vorhees Hospital
Deborah Heart and Lung Center

The 514th Air Mobility Wing salutes and thanks all healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential personnel serving on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

See other recent flyovers here:

NJ Salutes Fly Over on May 12, 2020

Operation America Strong April 28, 2020

Freedom Wing Flyover For Burlington County Wednesday May 13, 2020

UPDATE: PHOTOS AND STORY HERE FOR MAY 13, 2020 FLYOVER


May 12, 2020

See May 12, 2020 flyover photos here

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!

We will be flying over the following locations in this order:
Virtua Willingboro Hospital
Virtua Memorial Hospital
Freedom Park, Medford, New Jersey
Virtua-Marlton
Virtua Vorhees Hospital
Deborah Heart and Lung Center

The 514th Air Mobility Wing salutes and thanks all healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential personnel serving on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

Thunderbirds and Blue Angels Fly Over In “Operation America Strong”

April 28, 2020

TRENTON AND MERCER COUNTY, NJ–The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, and the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, honored frontline COVID-19 responders and essential workers with formation flights over New York City, Newark, Trenton and Philadelphia today.

Previous MidJersey.News story on the event

Photos of Operation America Strong from the Trenton Area today:

UPDATE: Wanted Man Captured After Another Police Chase In NY State

April 27, 2020

Previous MidJersey.News Story Here

Rye, NY – On April 24, 2020, at approximately 12:35 p.m., State Police stopped a vehicle on I-95 in the city of Rye for a vehicle and traffic violation.  Before Troopers could approach the vehicle, the operator sped off and a brief pursuit ensued, during which time it was determined that the 1996 Dodge Ram pick-up truck was stolen out of New Jersey.  The vehicle exited the Thruway and the pursuit ended when the driver struck an earth embankment in the area of Hillside Road and Ridge Street, in the city of Rye. 

The driver, Paul D. Grandmaison, 41, of Portland, ME, was determined to be intoxicated, had a suspended license, and was wanted out of the State of New Jersey for aggravated assault.  He was transported to White Plains Hospital by Port Chester EMS for minor injuries sustained in the crash, where he submitted to a blood test. 

Once treated and released, Grandmaison was transported to SP Tarrytown where he was processed as a Fugitive from Justice (out of State) and subsequently charged with Criminal Possession of Stolen Property 3rd degree; a Class D Felony, Unlawful Fleeing a Police Officer in a Motor Vehicle 3rd degree and Reckless Endangerment 2nd degree; both Class A Misdemeanors, and Driving While Intoxicated, Driving While Ability Impaired by Drugs, and Aggravated Unlicensed Operation 3rd degree; all Unclassified Misdemeanors.

Grandmaison was arraigned and remanded to Westchester County Jail.  He is due back in the City of Rye Court at a later date.

Flight Plan For Operation “America Strong” For April 28, 2020 Released

April 27, 2020

NAS PENSACOLA, Fla. – The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron, the Thunderbirds, and the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, will honor frontline COVID-19 responders and essential workers with formation flights over New York City, Newark, Trenton and Philadelphia April 28. The flight plans have been released to the public this morning and can be viewed below.

See previous Stories on the event here:

Thunderbirds, Blue Angels to Salute New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania COVID-19 Responders Tuesday April 28, 2020

President Donald J. Trump Announces “Operation America Strong” Thunderbirds and Blue Angels Fly Over Airshows Coming To A City Near You

Blue Angels and Thunderbird Combined Fly-By Event Is In “Planning Stage” – Will Not Be Today

WANTED-On The Run: Paul Grandmaison, 41 For Domestic Violence Aggravated Assault, Eluding And Receiving Stolen Property – More Charges Expected, Police Chase Ended In Trenton

UPDATE HERE: Captured In NY State After Another Chase

April 23, 2020

UPDATE FROM YESTERDAYS BIZARRE INCIDENT IN TRENTON YESTERDAY’S MIDJERSEY.NEWS STORY HERE

Yesterday’s Photos by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News

BURLINGTON CITY, BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON), TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–This incident originated on 4/22/2020 at approximately 4:28 pm in front of the Grab & Go Mart located at 420 Keim Blvd. in Burlington City. 

A witness contacted police and reported that a female located outside the store was being assaulted by a male by punching her and “head-butted” the victim. The victim had visible injuries and advised the witness that her male acquaintance had been “beating her all day”.  Burlington City officers responded and observed the couple enter a Burgundy Chevy Truck and attempted to effectuate a stop of the vehicle to investigate the domestic assault allegations.  The vehicle operator then fled from officers at a high rate of speed and Burlington City PD immediately issued an alert requesting assistance in locating the vehicle and occupants.

The vehicle was then observed by Bordentown Township Police at approximately 5:35 pm pulling into the Petro Truck Stop located at 402 Rising Sun Rd. in Bordentown Township.  A stop was attempted and the operator again fled at a high rate of speed which resulted in a police pursuit.  During this pursuit the operator of the Chevy Truck struck a gray Toyota Tacoma on Rt. 130 in the area of Ward Ave. and continued fleeing from police.  The operator of the Toyota was uninjured and Bordentown Township officers continued to pursue the vehicle as it entered Interstate 195 west and then continued into the City of Trenton.  The vehicle was then able to elude police and the pursuit was terminated.

As officers continued to search for the vehicle the Trenton Police Department received a call complaining that it was operating “aggressively” and subsequently located it disabled as a result of a collision in the area of Calhoun and West Hanover streets.  The female victim, 34 years old from Portland, ME was rescued by officers at this time and the male suspect fled on foot.  The vehicle was determined to have been stolen in Portland, ME and its license plate was also recently reported stolen in Philadelphia. 

An extensive search ensued for the suspect with assistance from the New Jersey State Police along with their aviation unit, Trenton Police Department, NJ Transit Police and Mercer County Sheriff’s Department K9 Unit.  Despite these efforts the suspect was unable to be located and is identified as Paul Grandmaison, age 41, of Portland, ME.  Burlington City PD has issued a warrant charging Grandmaison with domestic violence aggravated assault, eluding and receiving stolen property.  Bordentown Township Police will file similar eluding and receiving stolen property offenses.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Grandmaison should contact the Burlington City PD at 609-386-3300 or Bordentown Township PD at 609-298-4300.  All tips will remain confidential.

All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Paul Grandmaison, age 41, of Portland, ME. An extensive search ensued for the suspect with assistance from the New Jersey State Police along with their aviation unit, Trenton Police Department, NJ Transit Police and Mercer County Sheriff’s Department K9 Unit.  Despite these efforts the suspect was unable to be located and is identified as Paul Grandmaison, age 41, of Portland, ME.  Burlington City PD has issued a warrant charging Grandmaison with domestic violence aggravated assault, eluding and receiving stolen property.  Bordentown Township Police will file similar eluding and receiving stolen property offenses.