TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The lengthy process of restoring public utilities after a major storm has been an issue plaguing rural residents for quite some time. Assemblyman Ron Dancer wants to ensure rural areas are given the same level of priority as the rest of the state and has introduced two bills speed up restoration after thunderstorms, snowstorms, and other major events.
The first bill (A4761) would give public utilities and cable television companies the ability to use drones to survey damaged infrastructure.
“Drones are a powerful tool in assessing damage and assisting with repairs after a major storm,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “Other states have allowed utility companies to use drones with much success. We cannot afford to continue to have slow restoration times, so it makes sense to allow the utility companies to use drones to speed up the process.”
Dancer’s second bill (A4763) would require the Board of Public Utilities to create new regulations to require that electric companies prioritize communities where at least 40 percent of residents rely on private wells for drinking water and septic systems for sanitary disposal of waste. Additionally, watering stations would also be required.
“Many people do not realize when a home in a rural area loses power, they often lose access to drinking water, as well as, flushing and refilling toilets,” said Dancer. “A priority restoration plan must be put into place to avoid leaving rural areas without access to their basic life essential necessities. When people are without basic necessities for days, it could lead to major public health and safety issues.”
NJ Legislative District 12 covers: Allentown, Chesterfield, Englishtown, Jackson, Manalapan, Matawan, Millstone (Monmouth), New Hanover, North Hanover, Old Bridge, Plumsted, Roosevelt, Upper Freehold, Wrightstown
Detectives Seize Drugs, Firearms, High Capacity Magazines, and $313,000 Cash
September 29, 2020
EWING TOWNSHIP – TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey State Police have arrested six men and one woman for various drug and firearms offenses after a year-long cooperative investigation with the Trenton Police Department.
In September of 2019, the New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression Central Unit, Opioid Enforcement Task Force, and the Trenton Police Department began surveilling multiple individuals suspected of dealing narcotics in the Trenton and Ewing Township areas of Mercer County.
During the investigation, detectives arrested the suspects at various times and locations. Throughout the operation, the Ewing Township Police Department provided assistance on numerous occasions. Most notably, on Friday, July 10, 2020, a Ewing Township patrol officer who was assisting with the operation was dragged by Daniel Peyton when he fled in a Chevrolet Impala after being stopped by detectives on Stokes Avenue in Ewing Township. Peyton was later apprehended in the area of Shelton Avenue and Chelmsford Court.
As a result of the year-long operation, detectives seized more than 4 kilograms of cocaine, 1 bundle of heroin, 30 grams of marijuana, a 9mm handgun, a .40 caliber handgun, a 9 mm assault weapon, 2 high capacity magazines, hollow point ammunition, a 2016 Toyota Highlander, a 2010 BMW X5, and more than $313,000 cash.
“We will never cease in our collaborative efforts to stop the drug dealers who are fueling addiction and violence in Trenton,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “At the same time, we are committed to combating the corrosive influence of these criminals on a second front by working with the community to develop programs for the young people of Trenton that will help them choose a strong and healthy course in life.”
“This operation targeted individuals who were profiting off of addiction and violence and whose actions stood in stark contrast to the countless members of the community who work tirelessly every day to strengthen and build safer neighborhoods,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to aggressively target drug dealers and violent criminals, but we will also continue to work with our community partners to implement educational and outreach programs to stay connected to our youth who far too often fall victim to addiction and gun violence.”
“This case demonstrates what we can achieve when we bring the full weight of local and state law enforcement against individuals who target our communities with addiction and violence,” said Trenton Police Director Sheilah A. Coley. “Trenton residents deserve to feel safe in their own neighborhoods, and I commend the officers and detectives who worked tirelessly on their behalf by ridding our streets of multiple firearms and thousands of doses of dangerous narcotics.”
The following were charged:
David Craig, 32, Trenton, N.J.
eluding unlawful possession of a handgun certain persons not to possess a firearm possession of hollow point ammunition possession of cocaine possession with the intent to distribute cocaine possession of a firearm while committing a CDS offense possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a public park
Davon Craig, 27, Trenton, N.J.
unlawful possession of a handgun certain persons not to possess a firearm possession of hollow point ammunition possession of cocaine possession with the intent to distribute cocaine possession of a firearm while committing a CDS offense possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a public park money laundering
Davae Craig, 31, Trenton, N.J.
possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute possession of heroin possession of a high capacity magazine money laundering
Deesade Meyers, 27, Ewing N.J.
unlawful possession of an assault weapon unlawful possession of a high capacity magazine money laundering
Daniel Sabree, 46, Bristol, PA
with possession with the intent to distribute marijuana
Daniel Peyton, 55, Westampton, N.J.
possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute money laundering aggravated assault (charged by Ewing Township Police Department) eluding (charged by Ewing Township Police Department)
Wayne Bessant, 39, Trenton, N.J.
possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute money laundering The case is being prosecuted by the Division of Criminal Justice. Charges are mere accusations, and the accused are considered innocent until proven guilty.
Check back for more photos, still having photos sent into MidJersey.News and will be updated again tomorrow or later tonight.
STAFFORD TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–The Police Unity Tour held a one day bike ride today starting in Asbury Park and proceeding on shore routes towards Stafford Township ending at the Stafford Township Police Memorial.
This year’s spring four day ride that is usually held in May was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic that ends at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
This year’s ride was shortened to one day and two hundred sixty police officers participated from fourteen states including California and Missouri.
History of the Police Unity Tour:
In 1997, Florham Park (NJ) Police Officer Patrick Montuore had a simple idea: organize a four-day bicycle ride from New Jersey to Washington, DC to raise public awareness about law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty, and to ensure that their sacrifice is never forgotten. With that, the Police Unity Tour was formed.
What started with 18 riders on a four day fund-raising bicycle ride from Florham Park, NJ to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. has grown into 9 chapters consisting of nearly 2,600 members nationwide who make the trip annually. Participants include riders, motorcycles, and support personnel.
The journey is long and challending but for the Police Unity Tour participants it is what they prepare for throughout the year. Through fundraising and physical training, they know that their efforts raise awareness of the ultimate sacrifice made by so many law enforcement officers.
The last leg of the jouney ends at the Memorial, where the participants are greeted by friends, family, and survirors. Once there, many Police Unity Tour members present remembrance braclets worn on their wrists throughout the journey to the families of the fallen.
May 2020, the Police Unity Tour was proud to donate more than $2.0 million to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, bringing our total donations to more than $30 million since their inception.
The Police Unity Tour is the sponsor of the National Law Enforcement Museum’s Hall of Remembrance, the Memorial Fund’s Officer of the Month Award, and Recently Fallen Alert programs.
CHELTONHAM, PA–An Amber Alert was canceled this evening when the suspect was apprehended in NY City on the FDR Drive near 41st. The child was found safe and uninjured. The suspect is in custody and charges are pending according to Cheltonham Township Police.
Around 3:20 this afternoon the New Jersey State Police had a report of the suspect vehicles reported to be a black and a white Dodge Charger in the are of NJ Turnpike Exit 7 Bordentown. The suspected vehicles traveled through the area north bound on the NJ Turnpike.
According to NJ State Police spokesperson Sgt. Lawrence Peele, The New Jersey State Police was advised of an attempt to locate for a black Dodge Charger and a white Dodge Charger from Cheltonham, PA that were involved in a child abduction. The vehicles were reported being spotted traveling northbound on the New Jersey Turnpike. State Police patrols searched the area with negative results.
Sources told MidJersey.News that around 8:10 pm a mobilization was called in NYC and the child was reported safe by 8:50 and the suspect in custody.
CHELTONHAM, PA–Cheltenham Police are currently investigating a kidnapping. Earlier today 7-year old Gisselle Valentina TORRES was abducted from her home by her non-custodial biological father, Juan Pablo TORRES. Juan TORRES was accompanied by two unknown males who were armed at the time of the abduction. Anyone with information is encouraged to immediately call 9-1-1 or Cheltenham Township Police Detectives at 215-885-1600 ext 499. Juan TORRES should be considered armed and Dangerous
According to NJ State Police spokesperson Sgt. Lawrence Peele, The New Jersey State Police was advised of an attempt to locate for a black Dodge Charger and a white Dodge Charger from Cheltonham, PA that were involved in a child abduction. The vehicles were reported being spotted traveling northbound on the New Jersey Turnpike. State Police patrols searched the area with negative results.
Unofficial police sources tell MidJersey.news that around 3:20 pm a bulletin was issued for a black and a white Dodge Charger was last seen passing New Jersey Turnpike Exit 7 Bordentown, heading north in the outer lanes. The driver was reported to be wearing body armor. Port Authority Police had all exits covered and aviation units searched for the suspect vehicles by air.
NY State has also issued an Amber Alert for the kidnapped child.
From NY State Amber Alert:
Activation Date and Time: Friday, September 25, 2020 – 5:47 PM
The Cheltenham Township Police Department has activated the New York State AMBER Alert and is investigating a child abduction that occurred near Montgomery Ave., in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania at about 2:18 PM on 9/25/2020.
The CHILD, Giselle Torres is a Hispanicfemale, approximately 7 years old with brown hair and brown eyes. She is approximately 4 feet. Giselle was last seen wearing White Tank Top, and Purple Tights.
The SUSPECT, Juan Pablo Torres is a Hispanicmale, approximately 41 years old with brown hair and brown eyes. He is approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 160 pounds. The suspect was last seen wearing body armor, a facemask, and glasses.
The SUSPECT was last seen traveling on Mongomery Avenue possibly heading for New York City Area.
The child was taken under circumstances that lead police to believe that they are in imminent danger of serious harm and/or death.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A New York man was arrested today after travelling from New York to New Jersey to meet an individual, whom he believed was a 13-year old girl, for sex, U.S Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Eduardo Silva, 42, of Bronx, New York, is charged in a three-count complaint with enticing a minor to engage in sexual activity, travelling from New York to New Jersey for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct, and sending obscene materials over the Internet. He appeared today by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Zahid N. Quraishi and was detained.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Sept. 5, 2020, Silva, while using an online social media application, sent a message to an individual he believed was an underage girl, but who was actually an undercover federal agent. Silva asked whether the minor was “into older guys” and over the course of the next several days sent a series of online communications and text messages, discussing his intent to travel and engage in sexual activity. He also sent sexually explicit images of his genitals to the individual, whom he believed was a minor. On Sept. 23, 2020, Silva was arrested when he travelled to a motel in Bordentown, New Jersey, intending to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex.
The charge of using a facility of interstate commerce to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison; the charge of travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; and the charge of using the internet to transfer obscene matters to an individual who had not attained the age of 16 carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The charges also each carry a maximum fine of $250,000 per count.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, Cherry Hill, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason J. Molina in Newark, with the investigation that led to Silva’s arrest. U.S. Attorney Carpenito also thanked the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and the Bordentown Township Police Department for their assistance in the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Mateo of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.
If you have information regarding the pending prosecution, or you believe you or someone you know may have been victimized by the defendant, the Department of Homeland Security requests that you contact them at 1-866-347-2423. Identified victims may be eligible for certain services and rights under federal and state law.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Brian Reilly Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton
Features 50 Towns and Cities With Strong Economies, Job Growth and Booming Housing Markets Despite COVID-19 Disruptions
DORADO, Puerto Rico, Sept. 22, 2020 /PRNewswire/ –Following its inaugural list of the Best Mortgage Lenders of 2020,Money – the digital destination for personal finance and news – announces its annual ranking of the Best Places to Live featuring 50 towns and cities where the economy, job growth, and housing market remained strong despite COVID-19 disruptions. This year, Money looked at towns and cities with a population of at least 25,000 and ranked the Best Places to Live putting the greatest emphasis on economic factors, like employment opportunities, as well as supply and demand for homes, cost of living, quality of schools, racial and economic diversity, and health and safety.
Money’s No. 1 pick for Best Places to Live this year is Evans, Georgia, which is brimming with good-paying jobs thanks to its proximity to Augusta as well as affordable homes, top schools, access to arts and culture, and a diverse population, which some residents attribute to its military presence. In June, Evans residents saw a low unemployment rate of 5.2%, which was well below the 11.1% national average. Evans also had the lowest cost of living of any place with similarly high-income levels. Parker, Colorado and Meridian, Idaho landed in second and third place, respectively. Both cities topped the list because of access to high paying jobs in the booming tech sector, a healthy economy, and remarkable proximity to nature and outdoor activities.
“This year, given the general uncertainty around where and how we’ll live, our list looks a little different,” said Prachi Bhardwaj, lead reporter of Money’s Best Places to Live. “We shifted our priorities to pay more attention to cities that aren’t just doing well now, but that show great promise and stability for the next five to ten years. We also included suburban towns situated further away from major metros and have more industry diversity than you’ve seen from our list in years past.”
Money’s Top 20 Best Places to Live include:
Morrisville, North Carolina
South Windsor, Connecticut
St Peters, Missouri
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Mount Laurel, New Jersey
For Money’s complete list of the Best Places to Live,click here. To learn more on the methodology of the ranking, click here.
As part of the Best Places to Live feature, the Money team continues reporting on how the pandemic has prompted more people to make the change from city living to suburban dwelling. Whether it’s because of a need for more indoor or outdoor space or a desire to invest and build wealth, Money offers readers a guide on everything you need to know about moving to the suburbs, buying a starter home, and capitalizing on record low mortgage rates. Highlights include:
The Ultimate Guide to Leaving the City: Scores of urbanites are now leaving big cities for the suburbs. Be that as it may, the allure of a big home and a green lawn comes with extra homeowner responsibilities. What will home buyers need to know about property taxes, home maintenance, neighborhood association fees, and more?
The Hassle-Free Guide to Refinancing Your Mortgage: Mortgage rates keep falling. Freddie Mac’s widely quoted Primary Mortgage Market Survey put rates at 2.86%, the lowest rate since the company began tracking mortgage rates in 1971. Yet, some experts say refinancing right now doesn’t make sense for every homeowner. What are the questions every homeowner needs to ask to determine whether now is the right time to refinance?
“Thank a Police Officer Day” is a national observance honoring law enforcement on the third Saturday in September. If you happen to see a police officer in your travels today, thank them for their service.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that two men were sentenced to state prison today for attempting to lure underage girls they met on social media to meet for sexual encounters. The “girls” in reality were undercover detectives participating in “Operation Open House,” a multi-agency undercover operation in September 2018 led by the Attorney General’s Office that resulted in arrests of 24 men who allegedly were using social media to lure underage girls and boys for sexual activity.
William Singleton, 25, of Pemberton, N.J., and Charles Schlottfeld, 28, of Bayville, N.J., were each sentenced today to four years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Guy P. Ryan in Ocean County. Each man pleaded guilty to second-degree luring, Singleton on Feb. 3, 2020, and Schlottfeld, on July 22, 2020. Both men will be required to register as sex offenders under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life.
Deputy Attorney General Thomas Huynh prosecuted Singleton and Deputy Attorney General Rachael Weeks prosecuted Schlottfeld for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau.
Both men were arrested in September 2018 during Operation Open House. In each case, an undercover detective with the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force encountered the defendant on social media, and the defendant, believing the undercover detective was a 14-year-old girl, asked the “girl” to meet him for sexual activity. Both Singleton and Schlottfeld discussed in detail the sexual acts they would perform with the underage girl. Singleton was arrested on Sept. 7, 2018, and Schlottfeld was arrested on Sept. 9, 2018. They were arrested when they arrived at the undercover house in Toms River, where dozens of officers and agents participating in Operation Open House were prepared to arrest offenders and process any evidence seized.
“With these prison sentences, we are sending a strong message to predators who think they can freely hunt for vulnerable children online,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We will continue to identify and arrest these offenders because there is no higher priority for us than the safety of our children. But at a time when more young people are online as a result of the pandemic, we especially need parents and guardians to do their part by warning children that these dangerous predators use popular social media services, gaming platforms, and chat apps to target unsuspecting victims.”
“We will never cease in our efforts to arrest those who use the internet and social media to sexually exploit children, either by distributing child sexual abuse materials or by grooming children to sexually abuse or assault,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We want predators like Singleton and Schlottfeld to know the child they stalk online may turn out to be a law enforcement officer.”
In addition to investigating cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, members of the New Jersey State Police ICAC Unit, the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Cyber Crimes Bureau, and the New Jersey ICAC Task Force routinely conduct undercover chat investigations on social media platforms leading to arrests of hands-on offenders and defendants seeking to lure children. They also conduct proactive investigations to apprehend offenders by monitoring peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and identifying the IP addresses of individuals sharing child sexual abuse materials.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urge anyone with information about the distribution of child sexual abuse materials on the internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to please contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
For Singleton: Assistant Deputy Public Defender Marissa K. DeAnna, Ocean County
For Schlottfeld: Alexandra Nieves-Martinez , Esq., Berkeley Township, N.J.
NORTH HANOVER, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Around 5:15 pm a fire was reported at 242 Monmouth Road at Blacey’s U-Pick & Auto Parts. Upon arrival of fire personal a 2nd Alarm plus a tanker task force was called. Two more additional tanker task forces were called a short time later.
Several area fire companies were involved in fighting this fire.
On June 16, 2020, Jovanny Galindo, 32, of Neptune City, N.J, a Senior Correctional Police Officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility, allegedly confronted a seated inmate and sprayed OC spray into the face of the inmate without any apparent justification.
September 4, 2020
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that a criminal charge has been filed against a senior correctional police officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility who allegedly falsified two New Jersey Department of Corrections reports concerning his unauthorized use of oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray, commonly known as “pepper spray,” against an inmate.
Jovanny Galindo, 32, of Neptune City, N.J., was charged yesterday, Sept. 3, 2020, by complaint-summons with third-degree conspiracy to tamper with public records or information. The charge is the result of a joint investigation by the New Jersey Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division and the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA).
On June 16, 2020, Galindo, a Senior Correctional Police Officer at Mid-State Correctional Facility, allegedly confronted a seated inmate and sprayed OC spray into the face of the inmate without any apparent justification. In the “special custody report” and “use of force report” Galindo filed on the incident, he stated that the inmate ignored an order, became argumentative, and verbally threatened Galindo, which prompted him to use the spray. It is alleged that Galindo’s statements in the reports were false and his use of force against the inmate was not authorized under the Department of Corrections’ Use of Force Policy.
Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000. The charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The case is being prosecuted by the OPIA Corruption Bureau. Attorney General Grewal thanked the Department of Corrections Special Investigations Division for its work on the investigation.
Update: As of 2 pm Google Traffic is showing that traffic is returning to normal in the area and the roadway has been reopened.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)– According to New Jersey State Police a crash occurred this morning at 10:06 a.m. on Interstate 295 northbound in Hamilton Township, Mercer County.
Preliminary information indicates that in the area of milepost 58, a crash occurred involving a dump truck and a Dodge Ram pickup. As a result of the crash, the dump truck became engulfed in flames. The driver of the dump truck sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and the driver and passenger of the Dodge sustained serious injuries. All were transported to an area hospital. One lane of 295 northbound is open. Cause of the crash is under investigation.
Hamilton Township Fire Department, Bordentown Township Fire Department, Hamilton EMS-RWJ, and Capital Health paramedics all responded to the scene.
An unidentified witness told MidJersey.news at the Scenic Overlook parking lot that a box was in the roadway and the truck swerved to miss the box when the collision happened. Photos confirm that there were boxes in the roadway. Check back for further details when released from NJ State Police.
As of 12:45 pm 295 north bound prior to the Scenic Overlook is still closed for the NJ State Police accident investigation. There is a significant traffic delay in Bordentown on Route 130 for traffic taking a detour to Route 130 North Bound.
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.
BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON)–The New Jersey State Police have arrested Jason Reeves, 40, of Trenton, N.J. and seized $2000 worth heroin, fentanyl, and crack cocaine during a traffic stop in Bordentown Township, Burlington County.
On Monday, August 24, at 8:20 p.m., Trooper Francis Morris stopped Reeves for a traffic violation southbound on Interstate 295 at milepost 55.7 in Bordentown Township.
During the stop, Tpr. Morris discovered that Brown was in possession of 226 wax folds heroin, fentanyl and crack cocaine. The wax folds seized by troopers were marked with various different stamps. Drug traffickers market their “brand” of drug by ink-stamping the outside of a wax fold with a unique image or phrase such as “Road Runner” and Scorpion King ” which are examples recovered from the motor vehicle stop.
Jason Reeves was charged with possession of CDS, posession of CDS with intent to distribute and distribution of prescription legend drugs. He was released pending a future court date.
Charges are mere accusations, and the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Riverside Township Police Chief William T. Eliason announced that a New York developer who purchased a historic Riverside commercial building to create luxury apartments in the seven-story landmark has been charged with using the credentials of a potential subcontractor to fraudulently gain approval for electrical permits from the township construction office.
Raphael S. Weiss, 60, of East 18th Street in Brooklyn, was charged with Computer Criminal Activity (Second Degree), Impersonation (Second Degree), 36 counts of Forgery/Making (Third Degree), and 36 counts of Forgery/Uttering (Third Degree).
He was taken into custody this morning at the Riverside Township municipal building and lodged in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly pending a hearing in Superior Court. The case will now be prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment.
The investigation began after a contractor who was negotiating with Weiss to be the electrician of record on the Keystone Watch Case Co. redevelopment project noticed that electrical work had begun at the North Pavilion Avenue site, even though no formal agreement had been finalized and he had not applied for any permits.
After being denied access to the construction site by Weiss, the electrician went to the township construction office and was told that 36 permits had already been issued in his name and in the name of his business for work to be done at the property. Further examination revealed that the electrician’s signature had been forged on the permits, which were applied for by Weiss, and a counterfeit version of the contractor’s state-issued embossing seal had been used to make an imprint.
It is alleged that Weiss initiated the scheme as a way to reduce construction costs by fraudulently utilizing the credentials of the licensed electrician to obtain the necessary permits, then hiring unlicensed, unqualified laborers to complete the work at a much less expensive rate.
Not only was the action illegal, but it also jeopardized the safety of the project, as demonstrated by the fact that the electrical work completed after the fraudulent permits were obtained failed to pass inspection.
The Keystone Watch Case Co. building was constructed in 1908 and manufactured gold cases for watches. The company employed more than 1,000 employees in 1918, making it the largest watch case manufacturer in the world. The business was treasured as a strong engine in the local economy, with many employees living close enough to walk to work.
The company closed in 1956, and the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It was purchased in 2016 by Brooklyn-based SimShabs Capital Partners LTD, of which Weiss is owner and president.
The plans submitted by Weiss to Riverside Township indicated that the iconic landmark, which has a prominent, highly visible clock tower rising above the roofline, would be converted into 64 luxury apartments.
“This is a heartbreaking setback for Riverside officials who for years have been working to jumpstart a renaissance in their township, with this property as the centerpiece,” Prosecutor Coffina said. “This defendant has dimmed the hopes of an entire town by his selfish actions for illegal, personal financial gain, and he will face strong penalties as a result.”
Weiss will be prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Andrew McDonnell, supervisor of the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit.
The investigation, which remains active, is being conducted by detectives from the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit and the Riverside Township Police Department. The lead investigators are BCPO Detective Nicholas Schieber and Riverside Lt. Louis Fisher.
All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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:
BORDENTOWN, NJ (BURLINGTON)–The New Jersey State Police have arrested Nicholas Brown, 37, of Trenton, N.J. and seized $800 worth of ecstasy pills during a traffic stop in Bordentown Township, Burlington County.
On Tuesday, August 18, at 8:13 p.m., Trooper James Kane stopped Brown for a traffic violation on I-295 southbound at milepost 56.4 in Bordentown Township.
During the stop, Tpr. Kane determined that Brown was under the influence and arrested him for DWI. After further investigation, Tpr. Kane discovered that Brown was in possession of ecstacy pills and was a wanted person out of Pennsylvania for DWI.
Nicholas Brown was charged with DWI and possession of CDS. He was lodged in Mercer County Jail pending extradition to Pennsylvania.
Charges are mere accusations, and the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.
MIDDLETOWN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The National Weather Service Burlington-Mount Holly has confirmed an EF0 tornado that touched down yesterday in Middletown Township, Monmouth County in the Lincroft section of town. The tornado touched down at Brookdale Community College at the baseball field, a set of bleachers were tossed. The tornado then crossed Phalanx Road and into a residential area damaging trees that fell on homes and causing damage. See full NWS statement below:
PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MOUNT HOLLY NJ
1108 AM EDT THU AUG 20 2020
...NWS DAMAGE SURVEY FOR 08/19/20 TORNADO EVENT...
START LOCATION...LINCROFT IN MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP, MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ
END LOCATION...LINCROFT IN MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP, MONMOUTH COUNTY, NJ
DATE...AUGUST 19, 2020
ESTIMATED TIME...9:57 TO 9:59 AM EDT
MAXIMUM EF-SCALE RATING...EF0
ESTIMATED MAXIMUM WIND SPEED...80 MPH
MAXIMUM PATH WIDTH...70 YARDS
PATH LENGTH...1.21 MILES
A TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN ON A BASEBALL FIELD ON THE CAMPUS OF
BROOKDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN THE LINCROFT SECTION OF MIDDLETOWN
TOWNSHIP IN MONMOUTH COUNTY, NEW JERSEY. IT TOSSED A SET OF METAL
BLEACHERS ADJACENT TO THE FIELD, THEN CROSSED OVER PHALANX ROAD INTO
A RESIDENTIAL AREA, WITH NUMEROUS TREES SUSTAINING DAMAGE ON AND
AROUND HICKORY LANE. TREE DAMAGE MAINLY CONSISTED OF BROKEN LIMBS
AND THE SNAPPING OF SOME TREES NEAR THEIR TOPS. AT LEAST ONE TREE
WAS ALSO UPROOTED IN THIS AREA. THE TORNADO CONTINUED A LITTLE SOUTH
OF DUE EAST AND PASSED NEAR THE NORTHEAST CORNER OF THE SWIMMING
RIVER RESERVOIR, CAUSING ADDITIONAL TREE DAMAGE. THE TORNADO THEN
ENTERED ANOTHER RESIDENTIAL AREA NEAR SWIMMING RIVER ROAD AND
NORMANDY ROAD, PRODUCING A CONTINUED PATH OF DAMAGED TREES. THE
TORNADO LIFTED AS IT ENTERED THE RIVERDALE WEST PARK, WHERE TREE
DAMAGE WAS NO LONGER OBSERVED. THE TORNADO DID NOT APPEAR TO CAUSE
ANY DIRECT STRUCTURAL DAMAGE, THOUGH A COUPLE OF HOMES SUSTAINED
DAMAGE FROM FALLING TREE DEBRIS. THE DEGREE OF DAMAGE IS CONSISTENT
WITH AN EF0 TORNADO WITH ESTIMATED MAXIMUM WINDS OF 80 MPH AND A
CONTINUOUS, RELATIVELY NARROW PATH OF AROUND 70 YARDS IN WIDTH.
THANKFULLY, NO INJURIES OCCURRED AS A RESULT OF THIS TORNADO.
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE MONMOUTH COUNTY
OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, NEW JERSEY STATE POLICE, AND LOCAL
OFFICIALS WITH MIDDLETOWN TOWNSHIP FOR THEIR ASSISTANCE IN THIS
SURVEY. THESE CONCLUSIONS ARE PRELIMINARY AND ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE
SHOULD ADDITIONAL INFORMATION COME TO OUR ATTENTION.
EF SCALE: THE ENHANCED FUJITA SCALE CLASSIFIES TORNADOES INTO THE
EF0...WEAK......65 TO 85 MPH
EF1...WEAK......86 TO 110 MPH
EF2...STRONG....111 TO 135 MPH
EF3...STRONG....136 TO 165 MPH
EF4...VIOLENT...166 TO 200 MPH
* THE INFORMATION IN THIS STATEMENT IS PRELIMINARY AND SUBJECT TO
CHANGE PENDING FINAL REVIEW OF THE EVENT AND PUBLICATION IN NWS
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) tossed out the traditional first pitch at the Babe Ruth State Championship doubleheader featuring Hamilton/Northern Burlington squaring off against Atlantic Shore in the 2020 Southern NJ 15-year-old State Tournament Aug. 12.
“It was good to get on the field with the Hamilton/Northern Burlington team and toss that first pitch,” said Smith, who for a number of years played in the annual Congressional Baseball Game. “Last night’s game one was a come-from-behind thriller, but unfortunately we couldn’t take game two. Still, it was a great night of baseball and the kids should be proud.”
Smith took to the mound after the National Anthem as the 15-year-old all-stars from Atlantic Shore and Hamilton/N. Burlington watched his wind-up and delivery with interest. The congressman’s over-the-plate pitch was greeted by a round of applause. The WBCBSports.com announcer Keith Noonan, described the pitch as “Congressman Chris Smith came out and threw the first pitch and it was absolutely perfect. Right down the middle with some speed.” Co-announcer Joe O’Gorman said, “If you see a guy with a little grey hair take the mound for Hamilton-Northern Burlington, be a little suspicious today.”
Atlantic Shore, the all-stars from Atlantic County, won the State Championship with a 8-3 victory in game two of the double header. Hamilton/Northern Burlington forced the second game with a come-from-behind 7-6 win in the first game.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that the former operator of the Wrightstown Municipal Utilities Authority pleaded guilty today to a criminal charge for using the municipal authority to dispose of waste from his private septic disposal company without proper authorization and failing to report that waste disposal to the state as required.
Rodman Lucas, 62, of Pemberton Township, N.J., pleaded guilty today to an accusation charging him with third-degree conspiracy to tamper with public records before Superior Court Judge Terrence R. Cook in Burlington County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Lucas be sentenced to a term of probation, with a condition that he serve up to 364 days in the county jail. He will be permanently barred from public office and employment. Sentencing for Lucas is scheduled for Sept. 30, 2020.
Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis took the guilty plea for the Corruption Bureau within the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). The investigation began with a referral from the New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller, which initially investigated the matter.
“We formed OPIA to root out the type of misconduct and abuse of trust that undermines faith in government,” said Attorney General Grewal. “This case was referred to OPIA after an initial investigation by the Office of the State Comptroller, which began when local residents complained about what they saw happening at the Wrightstown Municipal Utilities Authority. We urge members of the public to contact our corruption tipline – 844-OPIA-TIPS – if they have reason to suspect that a public official is abusing his or her position and authority.”
Lucas was hired in October 2012 as the Wrightstown Municipal Utilities Authority’s (WMUA) plant operator/operations manager. Within a few months of taking the job, Lucas, who also owns a private septic waste disposal company called Aqua Clean Toilet Systems LLC, began dumping septic waste collected by his company’s trucks directly into a manhole at the WMUA without proper authorization. The WMUA at that time only processed incoming wastewater from the local sewage system, and it had not officially accepted septic waste privately collected from residential and commercial septic tanks for several years. When the WMUA previously accepted such waste, it was always tested and documented, and if deemed acceptable, it was received through a special filtration line or channel. Lucas continued regularly dumping his firm’s septic waste at the WMUA in this improper manner for about five years until complaints about the conduct were raised at a WMUA board meeting in September 2017.
Lucas ceased dumping at the WMUA a few months later, but the issue triggered an investigation by the Office of the State Comptroller. That investigation and the subsequent OPIA investigation determined that over a period of approximately five years from early 2013 through early 2018, Lucas disposed of more than 600,000 gallons of Aqua Clean’s septic waste at the WMUA.
Wastewater management facilities like the WMUA must regularly file various reports with the state Department of Environmental Protection, including monthly “residuals transfer reports” (RTR’s) showing the amounts of incoming and outgoing waste, including the total amount of any septic waste received. All of the RTR’s filed by the WMUA during Lucas’s tenure as plant operator, while he was dumping septic waste from Aqua Clean from 2013 through 2018, show only outgoing waste, but no incoming septic waste. That is the basis for the criminal charge to which Lucas pleaded guilty.
Attorney General Grewal created the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability in September 2018 to combat corruption and strengthen public confidence in government institutions. In December 2019, the Attorney General issued a directive codifying OPIA and making it a permanent part of the Attorney General’s Office. That directive established the OPIA Corruption Bureau as the lead office within the Department of Law & Public Safety for the investigation and prosecution of state criminal violations involving corruption and abuse of public trust.
OPIA has a toll-free Tipline 1-844-OPIA-TIPS for the public to report corruption. The AG’s Office has an Anti-Corruption Reward Program that offers a reward of up to $25,000 for tips leading to a conviction for a crime involving public corruption. Information is posted at: http://nj.gov/oag/corruption/reward.html.
Defense Attorney: Robert M. Perry, Esq., Rosenberg Perry & Associates, Mount Holly, N.J.
BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON)–The Bordentown Township Police Department announces that Jason Spencer, age – 34, of South Broad St. Trenton NJ was arrested for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer after striking a Township officer with his vehicle and fleeing the scene.
This incident originated on 8/10/20 at 5:15 pm after Ptl. Joshua Gardner of the BTPD effectuated a motor vehicle stop of a tractor-trailer on Rising Sun Rd. in the area of the Petro Truck Stop. Once Ptl. Gardner received the truck driver’s credentials he began walking back to his patrol vehicle which was parked behind the tractor-trailer with its emergency lights activated. At that point a 2020 Buick Regal operated by Jason Spencer drove by him at a high rate of speed and its passenger side mirror struck Ptl. Gardner’s right forearm. Spencer did not stop after striking the officer and fled the scene. Ptl. Gardner quickly ran back to his patrol vehicle after being struck, pursued the Buick and apprehended Spencer without incident behind a warehouse on Hedding Rd. Spencer was then charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer along with violations of the NJ move over law, reckless driving, careless driving, speeding, leaving the scene of a collision and failure to report a collision and was committed to the Burlington County Jail.
Ptl. Gardner sustained minor injuries as a result of this incident and was treated at RWJ University Hospital Hamilton and released.
Chief Pesce releases the following statement: “This incident underscores the inherent risk our officers face on a daily basis while performing their duties. Ptl. Gardner could have been seriously or critically injured and this is a sobering reminder that all drivers must SLOW DOWN and MOVE OVER when approaching an emergency vehicle.”
All subjects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Other MidJersey.News stories involving the Slow Down Move Over Law:
NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Kenneth P. McCormick of the North Brunswick Police Department announced today that a driver has been charged with causing a serious crash and injuring multiple people in the Township last night.
Christopher L. Mertens, 40, of the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick, was arrested and charged today with aggravated assault in the second degree, endangering the welfare of a child in the second degree, assault by auto in the third degree, endangering another person by knowingly engaging in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death in the third degree, three counts of assault by auto in the fourth degree, and obstruction of the administration of law in the fourth degree.
Patrolman Jason Zier of the North Brunswick Police Department and Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that on Saturday, August 8, 2020, at approximately 8:50 pm on Route 1 South just south of Route 130, Mertens was driving a 2018 Infiniti Coupe, accompanied by his two young children, traveling on Route 1 South at a high rate of speed while intoxicated. Mertens rear ended a 2003 Chevrolet Blazer causing it to roll over and catch on fire.
The driver of the Blazer, a 19-year old male from Chesterfield, New Jersey was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and then was transferred to St. Barnabas Hospital for the burns he sustained in the crash. His passenger, a 21-year-old woman from Suffern, New York was treated and released from Robert Wood Johnson. Mertens’ children were also taken to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital.
The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Patrolman Zier of the North Brunswick Police Department at (732) 247-0922 ext. 316, or Detective Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4328.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Mertens are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Two New Jersey men have been charged with attempting to set fire to a marked police vehicle following the May 2020 protests in Trenton, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Killian F. Melecio, 20, of Columbus, New Jersey, and Kadeem A. Dockery, 29, of Trenton, were arrested Aug. 5, 2020, by special agents of the FBI and charged by complaint with one count of attempting to damage or destroy by fire a vehicle owned or possessed by an institution receiving federal financial assistance, and one count of attempting to damage or destroy by fire a vehicle used in and affecting interstate commerce. Melecio and Dockery appeared by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni. Dockery was released; Melecio was detained pending a bail hearing.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On May 31, 2020, large-scale protests were held throughout the United States, including in Trenton, in response to the death of George Floyd, who died on May 25, 2020, while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. Although the protest in Trenton was peaceful earlier in the day, violence erupted later. A group of individuals proceeded down East State Street and began to smash store fronts, loot stores, and attack multiple marked Trenton Police Department vehicles.
A street camera and other video footage taken by an individual present recorded Dockery light an explosive device and throw it through the open front driver’s side window of a Trenton Police Department vehicle. Dockery then removed his shirt and handed it to Melecio, who attempted to stuff the shirt in the gas tank of the police vehicle and ignite it. Melecio was assisted by Justin D. Spry, who was charged in a criminal complaint on June 2, 2020, for his role in the riot. Law enforcement officers on scene observed Spry as he attempted to ignite the vehicle. Melecio fled, and Spry attempted to flee, but was arrested. During the course of Spry’s arrest, Dockery lit another explosive device and threw it over the Trenton Police vehicle at the arresting officers, where it exploded at their feet. Law enforcement identified Melecio and Dockery through their distinctive tattoos seen on the video footage.
Both counts carry a statutory mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI and task force officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Joe Denahan, with the investigation leading to the charges. He also thanked officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley; troopers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; and officers of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, under the direction of Commissioner Marcus O. Hicks, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander E. Ramey and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Melecio: Mark G. Davis Esq., Hamilton, New Jersey Dockery: Lawrence Welle Esq., Red Bank, New Jersey
JACKSON, NJ (OCEAN)–Governor Phil Murphy visited Jackson Township this morning to assess damage from Tropical Storm Isaias with Senator Sam Thompson, Ocean County Freeholder Director Joe Vicari, and Mayor Mike Reina. Government officials are continuing to work closely with the utilities to get the lights back on as quickly and safely as possible.
MidJersey.News has been monitoring fire department, police and EMS activity and fire departments from our area have been sent to several locations overnight and this morning for carbon monoxide issues dealing with generators too close to the house or running in a garage. Please use these appliances properly, keep them far away from the home, and also make sure you have batteries in your carbon monoxide detectors and verify they are working.
Upper Freehold and Allentown, Message from Hope Fire Company:
Good Morning. We realize that some will be without power for a few days. HFC will be opening it’s doors for anyone that is in need of charging devices from now until 4pm. We do have charging stations setup in our meeting room for your convenience. We ask that you please wear masks when coming into our facility and, to practice social distancing measures, we will be allowing up to 10 people in at a time. Also, we do have bagged ice that we can give you (2 bags per person) and should you need to use our showering facilities, that area is open as well. Non-potable water will be available so please, bring your buckets or containers. Again, masks are required and you must be symptom free to enter the building. Should you have any questions you can email me at email@example.com or reach out to me directly at 609-556-9764.
North Hanover, Jackobstown:
We have put the hose out for residents to get water if needed. While clean water direct from our well we don’t recommend it for drinking but if you need to flush a toilet it will work. Bring your own container. The station is closed to members only at this time, please do not enter the station for any reason. Thank you
There are still numerous roads closed, trees and wires down please avoid those areas and do not go around cones or barricades. Stay far away from any wires because you will not know if they are live or energized, leave that up to the professionals to determine.
Water and Ice available for JCP&L customers:
Water and Ice Locations
Water and Ice Available to JCP&L Customers
Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) is restoring service to customers who lost power due to Tropical Storm Isaias. JCP&L is offering free water and ice to customers remaining out of service. Customers can pick up water and ice at the following locations:
(Last updated 8/5/2020)
Acme Supermarkets, 18 Broadway Rd. Store 7908, Browns Mills
Shop Rite of Millburn, 220 Main Street, Millburn, Essex County
Kings, 778 Morris Tpke, Short Hills, Essex County
Shop Rite of Hunterdon, 50 Rte 513 BLDG D, Clinton, Hunterdon County
Shop Rite of Hunterdon272 Rt. 202 & Rt. 31, Flemington, Hunterdon County
Kings, 531 U.S. Hwy. 22 East, Whitehouse Station, Hunterdon County
The winds from Tropical Storm Isaias have created problems with trees and wires throughout every town in the area, do not travel unless necessary.
Roads closed, multiple Power outages, blown transformers, live wires burning, trees and debris in the roadway with multitude of other problems are some of the things first responders are dealing with at this hour.
Emergency Management and Police Departments remind that 9-1-1 is for emergency use only. Restrict travel due to many trees, wires and debris in roadways and do not cross barricades.
Millstone Township reports: All residents should shelter in place. Many trees down throughout the Township and many roads are closed. Windsor Road/Perrinville; Rochdale Ave ; Rising Sun Tavern ; Agress Road/Bittner Road; Bittner Road/Millstone Road; Backbone Hill Road/Schoolhouse to White Birch; Sweetmans Lane near Stillhouse Rd; Mercy Mount Rd; Bessie Court.
Governor Murphy and Colonel Callahan Advise New Jerseyans to Prepare for Hurricane Isaias
TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy and Colonel Patrick Callahan today advised New Jerseyans to prepare for the impact of Hurricane Isaias. Additionally, a tornado watch has been issued throughout the state. The Office of Emergency Management will continue to monitor the conditions of the hurricane and are working with counties to address any storm-related needs.“As Hurricane Isaias continues to move throughout our state, we encourage all residents to take necessary precautions to stay safe and secure,” said Governor Murphy. “Our main concern is public safety, and our emergency response team is prepared to help New Jerseyans with any needed assistance during this time.”New Jersey State Police Superintendent and State Director of Emergency Management Colonel Patrick Callahan stressed the importance of connecting the public with reliable information sources to further assist them in their individual preparedness plans.“Events such as Superstorm Sandy have taught us that awareness and preparedness saves lives. We encourage everyone to stay connected and be prepared,” said Colonel Callahan. “Make time with your family to build a kit, a go-bag, and create a communication plan. Tune in, log-on, opt-in, ‘like’ or ‘follow’ state, county, local and federal agencies for credible disaster-related information such as alerts and warnings; situational awareness updates; and where to find help. Personal connections matter, too. After you’ve completed your household preparedness activities, be a good neighbor and lend a hand to someone who may need assistance.”A list of New Jersey’s County Offices of Emergency Management, with social media and local alert system links, may be found on our newly redesigned New Jersey Office of Emergency Management Website: www.ready.nj.gov.NJOEM also recommends specific emergency preparedness actions:Make an emergency kit: Emergency kits will allow individuals and families to survive several days without access to food, water or electricity. Emergency kits should include at least a three to five day supply of non-perishable food and water, prescription medications for up to two weeks if available, baby supplies, pet supplies and any additional items for special medical needs such as an extra pair of eye glasses and batteries for hearing aids. Your kit should also include important phone numbers for doctors as well as car cell-phone chargers. While gathering your emergency kit, pack a go-bag for your family as well. Your family go-bag should be something such as a duffle bag or gym bag that is easily accessible so you can grab it and go in the event that a firefighter or police officer knocks on your door and tells you to evacuate immediately. These bags should include items such as prescription medication, food, water, extra clothing, and copies of important documents and phone numbers to get you through the first few critical days. For information on how to put a family emergency kit together, visit www.ready.nj.gov. Make an emergency plan. Make plans with family and friends in case you’re not together when any type of emergency – natural, technological or man-made – occurs. Discuss how you will contact each other, where you will meet and what you will do in different situations. Become familiar with your town’s evacuation routes. For information on how to put a family emergency plan together, visit www.ready.nj.gov. Pets are family too! Be sure to include them in your emergency plans by visiting www.animalemergency.nj.gov.
Stay informed: NJOEM recommends the following ways to stay informed about emergencies:
Online: Use credible websites to get information about natural hazards and emergency preparedness. NJOEM works closely with the National Weather Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding forecasts and other important disaster news.
National Weather Service NJ is covered by two different weather stations: Mount Holly, NJ for most of the State and Upton, NY for the NE part of the State. For Northeast NJ residents and commuters to/from New York City, please visit: www.weather.gov/okx/. For the rest of New Jersey please visit: www.weather.gov/phi/.
Register Ready: www.RegisterReady.nj.gov – New Jersey’s Special Needs Registry for Disasters allows NJ residents with disabilities or access and functional needs and their families, friends and associates an opportunity to provide information to emergency response agencies, so emergency responders can better plan to serve them in a disaster or other emergency. The information collected here is confidential and will not be available to the public. The information will be held securely and only used for emergency response and planning.
NIXLE – Subscribe to the NJ State Police (NJSP) on Nixle Connect at http://local.nixle.com/new-jersey-state-police/. New Jersey residents can register to receive messages by sending a text message with their zip code to 888777 (data rates may apply depending on your plan). Online registration is also available at www.nixle.com
CMAS – the Community Mobile Alert System – this nationwide system is now being used the National Weather Service to transmit urgent weather info to your cell phone. A warning means the hazard is imminent; a watch means conditions are favorable for the hazard to occur. Your cell phone must be WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) enabled to receive these messages.
NOAA Weather Radio: A nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from the nearest National Weather Service Office. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts official Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. NOAA Weather Radios are typically inexpensive, readily available in stores and can often be programmed for your specific area. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/
Firefighters from two states participated in a search of at least 11 miles of the Delaware River for a missing man. After searching it was unclear the whereabouts of the lost man.
August 2, 2020 (updated 8:30 am to take Burlington off list, assignment was recalled prior to them being dispatched)
Breaking News Report: From on scene reports, witnesses and radio reports. If official information is released the story will be updated and corrected.
EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Late yesterday evening (August 1, 2020) the Ewing Township Fire Department was dispatched to the Interstate 295 bridge over the Delaware River for a missing person in the river. The man was reported missing by his girlfriend around 10:15 pm. he is a white male, with red swim trunks with no shirt in a tube used to float on the water. There was also a delay of 9-1-1 calling for help so the man was lost at least a half hour before at approximately 9:45 pm.
Ewing Township Fire Department was dispatched and requested assistance from Trenton, Hamilton, Hopwell, Bucks County PA including departments from Yardley and Tullytown.
Trenton Fire Department searched in the area of the Route 1, Trenton Makes and Calhoun Street Bridges. The Hamilton Township Fire Department deployed at the Trenton Boat Ramp and searched that area to the Crosswicks Creek. A New Jersey State Police helicopter was requested for the search but was unknown if it was used.
Approximately 11 miles of river was searched from North of the 295 bridge to south of the Crosswicks Creek.
Around midnight the search was called off and all units returned to their stations. It was unclear if the man was found or there may have been further information that the man was seen walking back on one of the roadways next to the river. At the time of this report there were no official reports of the whereabouts of the missing man.
WESTAMPTON, NJ (BURLINGTON)–The New Jersey State Police have arrested Kevin Stover, 27, of Philadephia, PA and seized a handgun and various drugs and cash during a traffic stop.
On Tuesday, July 28, at 7:28 p.m., Trooper Daniel Deverin stopped Stover for a traffic violation on Interstate 295 southbound at milepost 45.4 in Westampton Township, Burlington County. During the stop, Tpr. Deverin determined that Stover was under the influence and arrested him for DWI. While conducting a search of the vehicle, troopers discovered a 9mm handgun, a high capacity magazine, $6,000 worth of marijuana, $2,400 worth of promethazine codeine, $2,000 worth of ecstacy, $825 worth of precription legend drugs, $350 worth of hashish, $60 worth of heroin, and $963 cash.
Kevin Stover was charged with unlawful possession of a handgun, certain persons not to have weapons, possession of prohibited weapons and devices, unlawful possesion of a weapon, possession of a weapon while committing a CDS offense, possession of heroin, possession of hashish, possession of ecstacy, possession of marijuana, three counts of possession of CDS with intent to distribute, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of hypodermic needles, criminal under the influence, and DWI.
Stover was lodged at the Burlington County Jail pending a detention hearing.
Charges are mere accusations and the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.
MOUNT LAUREL, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Mount Laurel Police Chief Stephen Riedener announced that a Burlington Township man has been charged with fatally shooting an employee and wounding a patient inside a township medical office this afternoon.
Bruce Gomola Jr., 51, of Kingsbridge Drive, was charged with Murder (First Degree), two counts of Aggravated Assault (Second Degree), and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Second Degree).
He will be scheduled for a first appearance in Superior Court, and the case will then be prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment. Gomola is employed as a corrections officer at the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly. He is being held in the Camden County Correctional Facility in Camden.
The incident occurred near the Mount Laurel Police Department, with officers responding to the Delaware Valley Urology office in the 15000 block of Midlantic Drive at 12:50 p.m. today after receiving reports of a shooting inside the building.
The investigation revealed that Gomola apparently became upset concerning an appointment for his father. When Patient Services Representative Stephanie Horton attempted to discuss the situation with Gomola, he pulled a .40 caliber handgun and fired one shot into her chest. The bullet exited through her back and struck a female patient in the knee.
Gomola then left the building and drove away, but soon returned to the scene and surrendered without incident to a Mount Laurel detective.
Horton, 44, of Willingboro, was pronounced dead at 4:18 p.m. at Cooper University Hospital in Camden. The other victim, a woman in her fifties, was treated at the same facility for non-life-threatening injuries.
The investigation is being conducted by the Mount Laurel Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Office.
All persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Around 11 am Robbinsville Township Fire Department and Bordentown Township Fire Department were dispatched to the NJ Turnpike at 56.1 north bound inner roadway for an accident with reported fire. Upon arrival Bordentown Township firefighters found a single car accident with one person needing transport. The Robbinsville Fire Department ambulance transported one person to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. No further information about the accident was available.
June 28, 2020 Updated June 29, 2020 at 10:30 am with full press release from Bordentown Township Police
Police are looking into initial reports from some of the motorcyclists stating a deer ran into the roadway, police are still investigating.
10:30 am press release, June 29, 2020:
BORDENTOWN TOWNSHIP, NJ (BURLINGTON)–The Bordentown Township Police Department is investigating a fatal motorcycle collision which occurred on June 28, 2020 that resulted in the death of a 45 year-old male from Forked River, NJ.
Preliminary investigation has determined that the victim, Alexander Halsey – age 45 of Buena Vista Rd. Forked River, NJ, was traveling northbound on Rt. 206 with a group of motorcyclists in the area of the Comfort Inn Hotel at approximately 12:24 pm when he lost control of his 2019 Harley Davidson motorcycle and crashed. Halsey sustained severe life threatening injuries as a result of the collision and was transported by ambulance to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital at Hamilton where he was pronounced deceased at 1:26 pm.
Two (2) other motorcyclists, Kenneth Barner, age – 56 of Almonesson Rd. Deptford NJ, and George Wargo 3rd, age – 58 of Voyager Rd. Manahawkin NJ, also crashed as a result of this incident and were injured. Barner was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center for treatment of a non-critical head laceration and Wargo was treated at the scene for an arm laceration.
Township Police continue to investigate the cause of this collision and anyone who witnessed or who has information regarding this incident is requested to contact Det. Anthony Nagle at 609-298-4300, ext. 2142.
June 28, 2020 Story:
BORDENTOWN, NJ (BURLINGTON)–Police said, officers responded around 12:24 pm in front of the Comfort Inn located at 1009 Rt. 206 for a motor vehicle collision involving a group of motorcycles that were traveling northbound on the highway when one was reportedly struck by a deer crossing the road.
The operator of the struck motorcycle, a 45 year-old male from Forked River, NJ, had critical injuries and officers performed CPR and administered an AED but he later died at the hospital. Two (2) other motorcyclists also suffered non-critical injuries. Officers remain at the scene investigating the collision and a formal press release will be issued later once all next of kin are notified. Police said.
Information contains preliminary report from Bordentown Township Police a full news release will be out later today
Photos have been altered to protect those involved: