Category: Hightstown

Hightstown Engine Company Dedicates Memorial For Fallen Firefighter

November 25, 2022

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Tonight, Hightstown Engine Company # 1 held a dedication for a memorial site in the front of the firehouse for Dave Lidke who passed away in the line of duty on December 23, 2013. The fire company color guard posted the colors, and the dedication was held at the site at 5:30 p.m. The memorial contains a bench, small patio positioned next to a small tree.

See post from Hightstown Engine Company # 1 below:


We’ve all experienced loss in different ways. As we continue to move forward we cannot forget the one’s we’ve loved and lost. This is the purpose of a memorial. It’s a subtle but constant reminder celebrating the heroic lives of ordinary people. When you sit and reflect on the bench that has been added to the front of the firehouse you are paying homage to those who have come before us and paved the way.

The bench and small patio are neatly positioned next to a beautiful small tree. This tree is a memorial to our dear friend Dave Lidke who sadly passed away in the line of duty on December 23rd, 2013. It too is a memorial, albeit a living one, meant to carry forward the spirit of a man for whom that tree represents.

The bench is made of stone, it’s a rock. That’s what the fire department has always been thanks to those who have come before us. The tree is full of life and growth that’s what we will continue to be within this community.

Here’s to what was and what will always be.

It would be a sincere and much appreciated gesture to have many of you with us today at 5:30pm when we dedicate this new memorial space. We want to be surrounded by the community we love to serve as we conduct this brief ceremony.





County Executive Hughes Calls For Answers, Changes In Wake Of Election Challenges; Robbinsville Mayor Dave Fried Provides Update

November 12, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–In the wake of numerous issues with voting and counting on Election Day, challenges that are still under investigation, Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes is calling for a thorough public review of what went wrong and a comprehensive overhaul of the elections process in Mercer County.

“After issues in the last two elections, I have come to the conclusion that we must fundamentally change the management of the election process in Mercer County because it is clearly not working,” the County Executive said. “There are legal limits to what I can do as County Executive but rest assured that I will do everything within my power to ensure the integrity of elections in Mercer County and will tolerate nothing less.”

In Mercer County, three separate entities, the Board of Elections, the Superintendent of Elections, and the Office of the County Clerk each plays a role in elections. Board of Elections commissioners are appointed by the respective County Chairs of the Republican and Democratic Parties, the Superintendent of Elections is an appointee of the Governor, and the County Clerk is an elected position.

“I am happy that Mercer County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello requested that the County Prosecutor look into the election. But we also need a more thorough and public review. We’ve got too many people in control and the quality of our elections has suffered as a result, undermining peoples’ faith in the democratic process,” Mr. Hughes said.

Moving forward, County Executive Hughes proposes the following:

  • Request a special meeting of the Commissioner Board to bring together the Clerk, Superintendent and Election Board Chair explain to the public what went wrong.
  • Reform and simplify our election process by merging and unifying the Office of the Superintendent and the Board into one, and having an experienced Executive Director oversee our elections.
  • Call on legislators to enact changes that will allow Mercer County to reform our system.
  • Pledge any county resources needed to ensure every vote is counted and help get to the bottom of what went wrong hasten and conclude investigation.

“I pledge to you that we will get to the bottom of this and that every vote will be counted,” Mr. Hughes said. “I have listened to the people of Mercer County and have spoken with election officials, and we are committed to finding out how we can improve the election process and to prevent future incidents as the one on Election Day.”

In Mercer County, the Office of the County Executive does not supervise the Board, their offices, nor does it have jurisdiction. The board is responsible for selecting polling places, training board workers, receiving and counting vote-by-mail ballots, and counting and certifying provisional ballots. The Superintendent of Elections handles voter registration, renews registration records, investigates provisional ballots, and is the custodian of voting machines. The County Clerk designs and prints all election ballots, processes vote by mail applications, and officially certifies the election results.

File photo: Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes


File photo: Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried

Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried said in a Facebook post:

“Regarding the events of Election Day, here is what we know so far.

Either the machine scanners did not work, or the ballots were printed incorrectly and the machines did their jobs and correctly spit them out as invalid. An investigation is reportedly under way, and Robbinsville will join other elected officials across Mercer County to see that the investigation is complete and transparent.

Let me be clear: I am not blaming anyone. Honestly, I do not know how this happened. Pointing fingers without all the facts is not productive. We do know that this is the second straight year the County process did not work as it should have, and I am not happy with much of what I saw.

One of the basic tenets of our democracy is the right to vote, and that every vote will be counted.

As of today, it appears our District 5 ballots (Library) have been found after having been misplaced. That information was given directly to our Municipal Clerk Michele Seigfried from the County.

Just a quick note about our clerk’s office. Michele and her team of Deputy Clerk Kaitlyn Macellaro and Sandy DeLorenzo performed exceptionally under extremely difficult conditions this past week. I cannot thank them enough for their service to our Township. The same goes for our Administration team, led by B.A. Joy Tozzi, each of whom worked all hours of the day and night in the chaotic aftermath of Election Day.

Over in Princeton, it seems they discovered ballots still in their machines. During in-person voting on Election Day, two slots for placing ballots were used. The first was the so-called emergency slot. This was used in the early part of the day because officials had hoped the scanner problems could be fixed before polls closed. As the day went on, that emergency bin became full and the scanners were removed so the main bin could be used. They discovered Princeton’s ballots were still in some of those containers since both sides were not emptied. It also appears that the documentation of the chain of custody regarding our ballots was quite poor, allowing the ballots to be apparently misplaced for a time.

The courts have ordered all the machines returned to the Mercer County Board of Elections for inspection to ensure there are no more ballots in those machines, including the ones deployed in Robbinsville.

I DO NOT believe there was any type of fraud, and I DO NOT believe there are any conspiracies at work here. I do believe mistakes were made at a time in our nation when it can ill-afford to stumble on Election Day.

We have spent millions of dollars on these machines and ballots, and they clearly did not work as advertised. It is time to reassess and come up with a better system. Those of you who voted early did not seem to have any issues. Perhaps we need to consider moving entirely in that direction. I will be attending all upcoming Mercer County Commissioner’s meetings until we have a real and fortified plan. Together, I am hopeful we will come up with a solution. Robbinsville has no intention of paying for this process unless real change is implemented.

I have no reason to believe, even with ballots that may or may not still be out there, that our local results will change.

Thus, I sincerely congratulate our three new Board of Education members – Jeffrey Pierro, Raghu Nandan and Peter Oehlberg. I wish each of you the best of luck, and I am sorry your first election was fraught with so much turmoil.

I have always said putting your name on a ballot is one of the most difficult – but potentially rewarding things – a person can do. Although no candidate should have to wait days for results in 2022, each of you earned your rightful place among your other BOE members.

While Ballot Question #1, which sought to combine our Planning and Zoning Boards into a consolidated Land Use Board, did pass, Ballot Question #2 regarding an increase in our Open Space tax to preserve more land and slow development did not. I know times are tough. That is why we put items such as these questions on the ballot. Sometimes we think we know what the residents want, but this process helps us know for certain.”





Law Enforcement Investigates Death Of 18-Year-Old

November 7, 2022

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–East Windsor Police report, on Monday November 7, 2022, at approximately 9:09 a.m., members of the East Windsor Police Department and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office responded to the Bear Brook, located off of Oak Creek Road, for a report of an unattended death. Investigators located the body of Julia McDaid, 18, of East Windsor. The East Windsor Police Department and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office are actively investigating the incident, however preliminary investigation indicates no signs of foul play.


Port Jefferson, NY, Woman Killed On NJ Turnpike As Wheel Crashes Though Windshield

November 7, 2022

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Sgt. Philip Curry of the New Jersey State Police Public Information Unit told MidJersey.news the crash occurred at 4:53 p.m. on the NJ Turnpike northbound on the inner roadway at MP 67.6 in East Windsor, Mercer County.  Preliminary investigation revealed that an Acura MDX was traveling south on the NJTPK on the inner roadway when the left front wheel became separated from the vehicle.  The wheel then traveled over the center divider and entered the northbound inner roadway.  The wheel then impacted the front windshield of a northbound traveling Acura RDX.  The impact caused fatal injuries to the front seat passenger of the RDX, Susan Dagrosa, 75, of Port Jefferson, NY.  The driver of the RDX was not injured. The crash remains under investigation.

Yesterday’s MidJersey.news story here:




Tire Crashes Though Windshield Reportedly Killing Woman On The New Jersey Turnpike Near Exit 8

November 6, 2022

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–At 5:06 p.m. Robbinsville EMS and Paramedics were dispatched to the New Jersey Turnpike north bound inner roadway at mile post 67.5 for a “pronouncement” Initial 9-1-1 radio reports indicated that mile post 67.6 a tire flew from the south bound side of traffic, into oncoming traffic then into the windshield of a north bound vehicle striking the occupant. Initial unconfirmed reports that a female occupant of the vehicle was deceased.

The left lane of the New Jersey Turnpike inner roadway was shut down for the crash investigation and Troopers were scene checking the roadway for evidence. New Jersey State Police are actively investigating the crash at the time of this report.

UPDATE HERE:




Above New Jersey State Police search for evidence along the New Jersey Turnpike in the area of Exit 8 in a fatal crash investigation.


Kreps School Parent Teachers Organization Establishes GoFundMe To Aid Family Who Lost Their Child In Friday’s Devastating Accident In Hightstown

September 12, 2022

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Kreps PTO is organizing a fundraiser for the family of Anthony (A.J.) Dewayne Collins who was lost in Friday’s devastating Accident in Hightstown, NJ.

The GoFundMe is at this link.


GoFundMe for Anthony (A.J.) Dewayne Collins:

On September 9, 2022, the East Windsor & Hightstown community suffered a devastating loss. Anthony (A.J.) Dewayne Collins Jr., born June 29, 2009, in New Brunswick, N.J., was called home this Friday, September 9, 2022. He grew up in New Brunswick and recently moved to Hightstown, where he attended Melvin H. Kreps Middle School.

His family will always love his bright smile, his love of reading, his fascination with Legos, and the way he took his job as a big brother and uncle seriously.

A.J will be deeply missed by his mother, Elba Quiñones, his father, Anthony Collins, his brothers Christofer and Isaiah, his little sister Analisse, his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and nieces, the staff and students at Gifted & Talented Academy (GTA) at Lincoln Annex, and the Kreps Middle School community. A.J. brought joy wherever he went.

Please consider donating to help the family with the funeral and related costs they will incur.

Please keep A.J.’s family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

This is the official fundraiser for Anthony (A.J.) Dewayne Collins and is being managed by the Kreps PTO.

If you have any questions, please contact the Kreps PTO via facebook messenger. Our email can also be found on facebook.


Anthony (A.J.) Dewayne Collins



13-Year-Old Hightstown Boy Dies After Being Struck By Car

September 10, 2022

Go Fund Me Here:

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Hightstown Police Department reported that on Friday, September 9, 2022, at approximately 9:00 p.m., officers from Hightstown Police Department were dispatched to the intersection of West Ward Street and Mercer Street for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle; updates from dispatch reported the subject unconscious but breathing. 

Sergeant Miller and Officer Moreno arrived on location to find a thirteen (13) year old male, resident of Hightstown Borough, and a student at Melvin H. Kreps Middle School, unconscious with severe trauma to the body and head.  While waiting for emergency medical services to arrive, the child slipped into cardiac arrest and officers began lifesaving measures, beginning CPR.  Hightstown EMS arrived on scene and continued with lifesaving measures, with police assisting.  Paramedics from Capital Health arrived on location and transported the victim, with Hightstown EMS, to Capital Health Trauma Center, Helene Fuld Campus, in Trenton, and continued the performance of lifesaving efforts.

At the hospital, despite valiant efforts by all involved, the victim succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased by hospital staff at 10:20 p.m. 

The accident was investigated by Hightstown Police Department and Mercer County Prosecutor’s Officer-Serious Collision Response Team.  Det. Mecca and Det. Vaccaro continued the investigation, which was determined to be accidental, with no criminality associated with the incident; the investigation revealed that the victim, a bicyclist, was struck while crossing the roadway as the driver, Ms. Kathryn Wagner, a resident of East Windsor, New Jersey, made a left turn from Mercer Street, onto West Ward Street.  Ms. Wagner remained on scene and was cooperative with the investigation.  Ms. Wagner was later issued a traffic summons for careless driving. 

School personnel were advised of the incident to prepare for any services that students may need as a result of this event.  Any witnesses to this incident, that may have information, are encouraged to contact Sgt. Miller or Det. Mecca at the Hightstown Police Department.  The Hightstown Police Department would like to thank all those that remained on scene, cooperated with the investigation, and assisted with this tragic event.



Earlier MidJersey.News story here:



Serious Crash Investigation In Hightstown, NJ


Updated September 10, 2022 story here:


Go Fund Me Here:

September 9, 2022

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Around 9:00 p.m. Hightstown Police, EMS and Captial Health Paramedics MSU were dispatched to the area in front of the Hightstown Diner at Mercer and West Ward Streets. Upon arrival it was reported that Police and EMS found a juvenile that was riding a bicycle that was struck by a car. The juvenile was transported to Captial Health Regional Medical Center, Trauma Center in Trenton, NJ for treatment. Hightstown and East Windsor Police were on scene conducting a serious traffic investigation and West Ward Street was closed.

Hightstown Fire Company was dispatched to the scene to assist police around 11:00 p.m.

No further details are available at this time. Further details will be posted as information becomes available. Police are still on scene conducting a serious traffic investigation.

UPDATE at this link:



Fully Involved Dump Truck Fire On New Jersey Turnpike In East Windsor, NJ

August 5, 2022

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–At 3:19 p.m. Hightstown and Robbinsville Fire Departments were dispatched to the New Jersey Turnpike at mile post 65 in the south bound outer lanes for a fully involved dump truck on fire. Firefighters from Hightstown and Robbinsville extinguished the fire and called a water tanker from Cranbury Fire Company to the scene. New Jersey State Police shut down a lane of travel during the firefight. No further details are available at this time.




One Reported Injury On New Jersey Turnpike Crash In East Windsor

August 5, 2022

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–At 7:16 a.m., Robbinsville and Hightstown Fire Departments were dispatched to mile post 65.3 south bound in the outer lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike for an overturned van with entrapment. RWJ EMS, Captial Health Paramedics and NJ State Police also responded to the scene. It was determined that several people riding in the van were able to get out on their own power and extrication was not needed. One person was transported with non-life-threatening injuries to a local hospital for treatment. New Jersey State Police is investigating the crash. No further details are available at this time.




Serious Head-On Crash In Hightstown Sends Two To Hospital

June 13, 2022

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Around 9:00 p.m. a serious head-on crash occurred in the 200 Block of Franklin Street near Cole Avenue, there were two reported injuries with one person trapped reported by Hightstown Police on scene. Hightown Fire Company, Cranbury Fire Company, Hightstown First Aid, Robbinsville EMS and Capital Health Paramedics were dispatched to the scene.

Firefighters and EMTs worked to quickly remove one of the occupants. Hightstown First Aid Squad and Captial Health Paramedics transported one person to the Trauma Center at Captial Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton and a “trauma alert” was called. The second ambulance from Robbinsville also transported one person to Captial Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton.

The accident is under investigation by the Hightstown Police Department. No further details are available at this time.



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Tri-County Cooperative Market

June 12, 2022

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ – Farmers are gearing up and improvements have been made at the historic Tri-County farmers’ cooperative and auction market on Route 33. First opened in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression, in recent years, the market has opened itself up to the public and a variety of restaurant and catering hall owners from around New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York.

Farmer George Asprocolas of Asprocolas Acres in Millstone is president of the vegetable and fruit growers’ cooperative. Each week, three days during the week, at the height of the season, farmers bring their extra produce to Tri-County’s loading docks and walk-in refrigerators, to sell at wholesale prices. The market is open Wednesdays in June, depending on the weather and availability of cool weather crops like asparagus, peas, strawberries and a variety of lettuces.

“We had some paving of our parking lots done last season, and we also put a new roof on our extra storage building,” Asprocolas said, “we have two contractors who will add garage doors to our open loading dock building. Much of the funding for the improvements at this historic marketplace came from grants from the United States Department of Agriculture [USDA.]

“Every year it varies a little bit, but we usually have between 45 and 60 participating farmers in the cooperative,” Asprocolas said, adding customers can check in with the cooperative’s website to see available produce.Tri-County’s loading docks also host farmers from as far away as Swedesboro and Vineland, Vernon in Sussex County and even a few Amish farmers from Lancaster, Pa. “We regularly get participating farmers from a wide range of areas,” he said.

While farmers who wholesale their excess produce at Tri-County all season long pay annual membership dues, what’s most remarkable about the operation are the low buyer’s fees. Customers such as churches or schools, can come in and buy in wholesale quantities for a $2 fee. Customers get to “know their farmer” and support local farms by purchasing Jersey Fresh products. For more information, updated produce lists and instructions on how to order online or via phone, refer to our website:

www.tricountycoop.net

Facebook: Tri-County Cooperative Auction Market

Hours of Operation

April – May: Wednesdays: 5:30PM – 9:00 PM

June – October” Mondays: 5:30PM – 9:00 PM Wednesdays: 5:30PM – 9:00 PM Fridays: 5:30PM – 9:00 PM

619 Route 33 West

Hightstown, NJ 08520




Just picked produce on the way to the market.


TRI-COUNTY COOPERATIVE MARKET HISTORY

* The non-profit, tax-exempt Section 521 Tri-County Cooperative Market was founded in 1933 by a group of farmers from Mercer, Monmouth and Middlesex counties at the height of the Great Depression.

*What began as a wholesale-only market has recently opened its doors and loading bays to restaurant owners, chefs, caterers and members of the general public who wish to take advantage of wholesale prices.

*Products from up to 50+ farmers – from all over the Garden State — are available during the growing season.

*The Tri-County Auction Market Association owns just under five acres of land off Route 33 in Hightstown. The land was purchased for $1 from farmers Bertha and James Taylor on Aug. 18, 1937.

*Veteran third and fourth generation farmers recall how farm trucks would be lined up all the way to Route 130 in the 1960’s and 70’s during operating hours at the market, before a lot of precious, fertile farmland in central New Jersey – some of the most fertile farmland in the United States — was sold off to developers for housing and office parks.

*Farmers pay a nominal fee at the start of each growing season to belong to Tri-County Farmers Cooperative Market, and Future Farmers of America, [FFA] members, benefit from free membership in this unique, tax-exempt, Section 521 farmer-owned facility.

*There are no membership fees for buyers. This means a family of five or several neighbors buying together can come in during market hours and order a bushel of corn

–about 64 ears — at $14 to $16.

*With a redesigned website, www.tricountycoop.net, transactions between buyers and sellers are conducted much more easily. Restaurant chefs and suppliers can place

orders via the website. Farmers who operate their own retail stands can order produce they don’t grow from other farmers.

*The Tri-County Market remains a farmer-run, farmer-owned tax-exempt cooperative with four officers: President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer, and five general members.

*Restaurant owners come from as far away as Connecticut to purchase “Jersey Fresh” produce at the market’s official seasonal hours from”5:30 until the last farmer leaves” on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. People from the restaurant industry can also pick up and order produce on Tuesdays and Thursdays by calling to make an appointment.

*With a large walk-in refrigeration area on site, patrons of the Tri-County Cooperative Market [who understand the seasonal nature of fruits and vegetables,] can order any of the following products at wholesale prices.


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Serious NJ Turnpike Crash At Exit 8 Backs Up Traffic Over 6 Miles All The Way To Exit 7A

May 29, 2022

Update: As of 5:15 p.m. traffic issues from this accident have resolved.

Update from NJ State Police: Trooper Brandi Slota from the New Jersey State Police, Public Information Unit told MidJersey.news that the crash occurred at 2:29 p.m. on the Turnpike inner lanes northbound at milepost 67.1.  Preliminary investigation reveals that a box truck was traveling on the outer lanes when it came through the guardrail and struck a Jeep, then subsequently struck a Honda.  There were two minor injuries.


EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–At 2:32 p.m. the Robbinsville Township Fire Department, Hightstown Fire Department, Robbinsville EMS, Hightstown First Aid and Captial Health Paramedics responded to the NJ Turnpike north bound near Exit 8. It appears that a box truck traveling north bound in the outer roadway broke though a guard rail into the inner roadway crossed over multiple lanes of traffic, and collided with two vehicles before coming to rest near the off ramp for the NJ Turnpike. There were reports of two people with non-life-threating injuries that were transported to local hospitals for treatment. Firefighters assisted the injured and applied oil absorbent from spilled fuel and oil from the vehicles. NJ State Police is investigating the crash.

At times traffic in the north bound direction was backed up six miles in the north bound direction all the way to Exit 7 A in Robbinsville.

At 4:35 p.m. Google Traffic reports a 4-mile delay prior to Exit 8 in the north bound direction prior to the crash.

See update from NJ State police above the origninal MidJersey.News story.











Firefighters Extinguish Construction Dumpster Next To House In East Windsor

May 21, 2022

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Around 1:34 p.m. East Windsor and Hightstown Fire Departments were dispatched to a dumpster fire in the first block of Compton Drive. First arriving firefighters found a well involved construction dumpster next to a house with exposure issues and called for a full first alarm sending additional apparatus from Robbinsville and other departments to the scene. Firefighters quickly knocked down the flames but remained on scene to overhaul the fire. East Windsor Police, East Windsor Rescue Squad as well as Fire Police were also on scene. No further details are available at this time.



Hightstown, NJ Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for 2018 Roadside Slaying of Freehold Woman

May 3, 2022

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH) – The Mercer County man who fatally shot a Freehold woman as she drove along on a state highway – a crime that took place four years ago today – has been sentenced to life in prison, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Tuesday.       

Kader Mustafa, 40, will not become eligible for parole before reaching the age of 104, under the provisions of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act and the terms set down Monday by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano, Jr.

Shortly before 11:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2018, members of the Freehold Township Police Department responded to a 911 call originating from a vehicle stopped along Route 33 West near the exit ramp for Halls Mill Road. At that location, officers found three occupants of the vehicle, a 1997 Mazda Protégé: 24-year-old Sciasia Calhoun, who had sustained a single gunshot wound to the head, and her boyfriend and 1-year-old daughter, both of whom were not physically harmed.  

Calhoun was rushed by Freehold First Aid, with the assistance of Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC), to nearby CentraState Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead approximately one hour later.

An intensive joint investigation by the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau and the Freehold Township Police Department, with significant assistance from the Manalapan Police Department, revealed that Mustafa was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Impala when he fired a single shot at Calhoun, after several minutes of following her vehicle, at one point even colliding with its rear bumper. Mustafa was apprehended at his cousin’s residence in Manalapan in the area of Oakland Mills Road at approximately 8:10 a.m. the morning after the shooting, when two handguns were recovered from the vehicle.

While recounting the facts of the case on Monday, Judge Falcetano noted that Sciasia and her loved ones were en route to Asbury Park on the night of the shooting when they suddenly realized that their vehicle’s headlights weren’t operational – only the high beams were working. They had already turned around and were heading back home when they encountered Mustafa. “Her last act,” Falcetano said, was to somehow safely pull over the vehicle to the side of the road, despite having been shot by a man he described as a “cauldron of rage” who was “marauding … aimlessly” that night, while armed. 

“This was completely random,” Falcetano said. “I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to describe it.”

Several members of Calhoun’s immediate family, spanning three generations, made remarks in court before Monday’s sentencing was rendered. They described a “diamond in the rough” with ample ambition and a fierce independent streak, who stubbornly refused to let anyone help her learn how to ride a bicycle as a young child – despite bumps, bruises, and scratches piling up – until she had perfected it on her own.

“The defendant chose to randomly fire a shot and randomly kill a 24-year-old who had done absolutely nothing to him,” said MCPO Director of Investigations Christopher Decker, who represented the State at sentencing. “There’s nothing more depraved or heinous.”

Monday’s sentencing followed a multi-week trial that concluded in October 2021, when the jury convicted Mustafa on all six charges against him: first-degree Murder, second-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, two counts of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and two counts of third-degree Endangering Another Person. MCPO Investigation Division Director and Assistant Prosecutor John Loughrey, who has since retired, handled the prosecution.  



Fatal Crash on NJ Turnpike in Robbinsville Involving a Tractor Trailer; Delays Up To 6 Miles

Update from NJ State Police:

Troopers responded to a motor vehicle crash at 3:43 a.m. on the New Jersey Turnpike north on the outer roadway, mile post 63.4, Robbinsville, Mercer County.

Based on a preliminary investigation, Franklin S. Parker, a 36 year-old male of Eden, MD, was operating a tractor trailer northbound on the New Jersey Turnpike in the area of mile post. 63.4, the tractor trailer entered the left shoulder and struck the left guardrail, overturned, and impacted a concrete bridge support. As a result of the crash Franklin S. Parker sustained fatal injuries. The crash remains under investigation and there is no additional information available at the moment.

April 21, 2022

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Around 3:47 a.m. multiple 9-1-1 calls were received reporting a serious crash involving a tractor trailer on the NJ Turnpike at mile post 63.5 north bound (North of Exit 7A — Between Exit 7A and Exit 8). Hightstown and Robbinsville Fire Departments were sent to the scene for an extrication. Robbinsville EMS, East Windsor EMS, and Captial Health Paramedics were also on scene. Medivac 2 from Hackensack University Medical Center flew to the scene and cleared at 5:28 a.m. A victim was pronounced at the scene about the same time. The NJ Turnpike was closed for the investigation and clean up but some lanes have since reopened.

This is a breaking news report from the scene and radio reports, once official information becomes available the story will be updated with information from NJSP.






Mercer County Proposed 2022 Budget Calls for Flat Tax Levy

February 22, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)– Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes has presented to the County Board of Commissioners his administration’s proposed 2022 budget, a $358 million spending plan that stays within the state-mandated 2-percent cap and would result in no increase to the tax levy.

Mr. Hughes on Feb. 22 presented an overview of his administration’s budget proposal to the commissioners, who will review the document over the coming weeks before voting on its adoption.

Of the total budget, $269 million would be collected through property taxes, the same levy as last year.

“This document represents our effort to provide the best possible government in the most cost-effective manner to the taxpayer,” Mr. Hughes said. “The ongoing pandemic has tested us as never before. While we may have changed the way we deliver some services, I am proud of the fact that we have continued to provide resources our residents expect, and I applaud the creativity of our county workforce, including this board, for their flexibility.”

A resident’s actual tax rate will rise or fall depending on his or her municipality once the county rate is equalized to reflect the difference between municipal property assessments and property market values.

The budget proposes that $6.5 million of the County’s surplus be used, leaving a $33 million balance, along with $22 million from the federal American Rescue Plan fund to “help offset the enormous expenditures incurred during the unprecedented pandemic response,” Mr. Hughes said. The spending plan “reflects our continued response to the challenges brought by the pandemic and the toll it has taken on the health of our residents, as well as our county finances, and as a result of our responsible planning, we can propose a budget that is considerate of our taxpayers and offers relief by holding the line,” Mr. Hughes added.


Mercer County Sites Offer Tax Help to Qualified Citizens

February 8, 2022

Free tax preparation assistance available in Mercer County

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)— Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes reminds residents that many sites throughout Mercer County offer free income tax preparation assistance to help them prepare and file their 2021 taxes. The deadline for filing 2021 tax returns for both state and federal taxes is April 18, 2022. Below is a list of sites where free income tax preparation assistance is being provided to qualified individuals. Call the site for required paperwork.

AARP Tax-Aide program sites in Mercer County

The AARP Foundation provides Tax-Aides to assist people with low to moderate incomes with 2018 tax preparation at Mercer County Connection, libraries and other sites. For more information, including a list of documents to bring to the Tax-Aide site, visit www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/.

Ewing Branch, Mercer County Library System, 61 Scotch Road, Ewing
Wednesdays, 1:30 to 5 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 882-3148.

Ewing Library Hollowbrook Branch, 320 Hollowbrook Drive, Ewing
Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon. Appointment necessary; call (609) 883-5914.

Hamilton Senior Center, 409 Cypress Lane, Hamilton
Thursdays, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 890-3686.

Hopewell Branch, Mercer County Library System, 245 Pennington Titusville Road, Pennington
Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 737-2610.

Lawrence Headquarters Branch, Mercer County Library System, 2751 Brunswick Ave., Lawrence
Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 882-9246.

Lawrence Senior Center, 30 East Darrah Lane, Lawrence
Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 844-7048. Seniors preferred.

Mercer County Connection, through United Way, 957 Route 33 (Acme shopping center), Hamilton
Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 890-9800. Mercer County residents only.

Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon St., Princeton
Mondays, 10:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 924-9529, ext.1220

Princeton Senior Resource Center, 45 Stockton St., Princeton
Fridays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Appointment necessary; call (609) 924-7108.

Robbinsville Branch, Mercer County Library System, 42 Robbinsville Allentown Road, Robbinsville
Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 259-2150.

RWJ Fitness and Wellness Center, 3100 Quakerbridge Road, Mercerville
Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 584-5900.

West Windsor Senior Center, 271 Clarksville Road, Princeton Junction
Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Appointment necessary; call (609) 799-9068.

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program sites in Mercer County

The VITA Program generally offers free tax help to people who make $54,000 or less, people with disabilities, and limited-English-speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals in local communities. For more information, visit www.irs.gov/Individuals/Free-Tax-Return-Preparation-for-You-by-Volunteers.

Boys & Girls Club of Trenton, 212 Centre St., Trenton
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, noon. to 3 p.m. Walk-ins welcome; call (609) 392-3191 for required paperwork.

Boys & Girls Club of Mercer County, 1040 Spruce St., Lawrence
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, noon. to 3 p.m. Walk-ins welcome; call (609) 392-3191 for required paperwork.

Catholic Charities of Trenton, 39 North Clinton Ave, Building 1, Side Door, Trenton
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, noon to 3 p.m. Walk-ins welcome; call (609) 394-5181 for required paperwork.

United Way of Greater Mercer County, 3150 Brunswick Pike, Crossroads Corporate Center, Suite 230, Lawrence
Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 5 to 8 p.m., Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon, and Saturdays, noon to 3 p.m. Appointment required; call (609) 896-1912, for required paperwork.


Update: 23-Year-Old from Iselin Seriously Injured in East Windsor, NJ Turnpike Crash

February 7, 2022

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–Trooper Brandi Slota from The New Jersey State Police, Public Information Unit told MidJersey.News that Troopers responded to a multi motor vehicle crash on the New Jersey Turnpike southbound outer lane at milepost 65.5 in East Windsor Twp at approximately 6:28 a.m. The preliminary investigation revealed that a Freightliner tractor semi-trailer was traveling south on the New Jersey Turnpike outer Roadway in East Windsor Township, Mercer County.  A Nissan Rogue was traveling south, directly behind the Freightliner. A second Freightliner tractor semi-trailer was disabled on the right shoulder of the roadway. In the area of milepost 65.5, the front of the Nissan collided with the rear of the first Freightliner traveling directly in front of it and subsequently the rear of the second Freightliner disabled on the right shoulder.  As a result, the driver of the Nissan, identified as Peter J. Pascalli Jr., 23, of Iselin sustained serious injuries and was transported to the hospital. 


This morning’s breaking news story here:

February 7, 2022

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–A serious crash occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike in the area of mile post 65.5 south bound outer lanes around 6:37 a.m. It appears that a car rear ended a tractor trailer, and one was entrapped in the wreckage. Firefighters from Robbinsville Township Fire Department and Hightstown Fire Company extricated the occupant of the vehicle in about 30 minutes. Tow truck operators from Treats Garage – Mackey’s Towing in the Windsor Section of Robbinsville helped use their truck to pull the car back enough to help in the extrication. Robbinsville EMS, Cranbury EMS and Hightstown EMS along with Captial Health Paramedics were also on scene. There were reports that NJSP escorted the ambulance to the Trauma Center at Captial Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. NJ State Police are investigating the crash. No further information is available at this time.



Serious Crash on NJ Turnpike in East Windsor


Update:


February 7, 2022

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–A serious crash occurred on the New Jersey Turnpike in the area of mile post 65.5 south bound outer lanes around 6:37 a.m. It appears that a car rear ended a tractor trailer, and one was entrapped in the wreckage. Firefighters from Robbinsville Township Fire Department and Hightstown Fire Company extricated the occupant of the vehicle in about 30 minutes. Tow truck operators from Treats Garage – Mackey’s Towing in the Windsor Section of Robbinsville helped use their truck to pull the car back enough to help in the extrication. Robbinsville EMS, Cranbury EMS and Hightstown EMS along with Captial Health Paramedics were also on scene. There were reports that NJSP escorted the ambulance to the Trauma Center at Captial Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. NJ State Police are investigating the crash. No further information is available at this time.


Snow Totals in New Jersey from Jan 28-29, 2022 Blizzard

January 30, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The National Westher Service confirmed Blizzard Conditions along the entire coastal strip of New Jersey from Cape May to Sandy Hook, NJ during the Nor’easter of January 28 and 29, 2022. A blizzard is defined as three or more hours of visibility reductions to one quarter mile or less due to falling or blowing snow, and sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 mph or greater. Shore areas received 11 to 21 inches of snow reported.

Moving further west inland towards Trenton areas of Western Monmouth, Western Ocean, and Western Burlington and Mercer County received around 9 to 10 inches of snow. Further north in the areas north of our reporting area such as Hunterdon, Warren, Morris, Passaic and Sussex Counties received 2.1 to 5.6 inches of snow.





Jersey Shore Fire Response Live Video from January 29, 2022









Firefighters Extinguish House Fire in Hightstown

January 16, 2022

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Just before 9:00 a.m. Hightstown Fire Company was dispatched to the 100 Block of Franklin Street for a house fire. Hightstown Police arrived and confirmed that there was a fire in the basement and extending to the second floor. Additional fire departments were dispatched including East Windsor 1 & 2, Monroe Township, Robbinsville, and Cranbury to the scene. There were reported frozen fire hydrants in the area and a tanker was called to the scene for additional water.

No additional information is available at this time.


Accident Reported on NJ Turnpike in Robbinsville

December 28, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Around 11:00 a.m. the Robbinsville Township Fire Department, Hightstown Fire Company, RWJ EMS and Robbinsville EMS were dispatched to mile post 64.4 south bound outer roadway for an accident with reported entrapment. RWJ EMS and Hightstown Fire Company Rescue 41 arrived and treated the occupants of the vehicle. It appeared that there were non-lifethreating injuries and it was unclear if anyone was transported from the scene to a local hospital. No further details are available at this time. NJ State Police was on scene investigating the accident. There were no traffic delays due to the crash.


Driver Injured When Car Hits Parked Car on Mercer Street in Hightstown

December 9, 2021

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Hightstown Police, Hightstown Fire Company, and Robbinsville EMS responded to Mercer Street between South Street and Academy Streets for a car that hit a parked car around 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, December 8. The driver of the vehicle was treated by EMS responders and transported by EMS to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. Hightstown Fire Company responded for reports of wires down but upon arrival it was phone and cable wires across the roadway. Hightstown Police are investigating the crash.

UPDATE: Police say that the subject was Adlai Barber, a 32-year-old male of Panama City, Florida; the subject was charged with DWI, Reckless Driving, and Failure to Maintain Lane.  Subject remained in the custody of the hospital pending court.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office ObservesDomestic Violence Awareness Month

October 28, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office would like to remind the community that we are here to help. Domestic violence transcends all boundaries: age, gender, race, ethnic, geographical, economic and sexual orientation. Applications for temporary restraining orders are available Monday through Friday during business hours at the Mercer County Civil Courthouse located at 175 South Broad Street in Trenton. After business hours and on weekends, TRO applications can be made at your local police department. Our Office of Victim Witness Advocacy is here to assist you at (609) 989-6428. If you are in imminent danger or an emergency situation, always call 9-1-1.

Robbinsville Township, Hightstown Borough Enter Into a Historic Shared Services Agreement to Build New Police & Court Building

October 14, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried and Hightstown Borough Mayor Lawrence D. Quattrone are proud to announce a historic shared services agreement to construct a new police station and court on the site of the current Robbinsville Township Municipal Complex at 1117 Route 130.

The new facility will house both the Robbinsville and Hightstown Police Department headquarters and each town’s municipal court. The existing and outdated Robbinsville/Hightstown Municipal Court trailer will be permanently closed and removed from the site.

“Making sure our respective police departments and shared municipal court have the best facilities and every tool possible to perform their duties to the best of their abilities is of paramount importance to both Mayor Quattrone and all of us here in Robbinsville,” Robbinsville Mayor and Director of Public Safety Dave Fried said. “This is a historic agreement between two neighbors which have the utmost respect for each other and their constituents.”

The shared services agreement is for an initial term of 50 years, with a mutual option to extend the agreement for an additional 50 years. Each municipality will pay its share of the costs to construct the facility (approximately $9.8 million) based upon each municipality’s proportional use of the facility’s square footage. The municipalities will share utility costs in the same proportion as the construction costs.

The Robbinsville and Hightstown Police Departments will each occupy their own dedicated space within the new facility and remain separate and distinct departments. Additionally, the Hightstown Police Department will operate a sub-station located in the new municipal complex building at 230 Mercer Street in Hightstown and will continue to maintain the same 24/7 police coverage within the Borough of Hightstown that it currently provides.

“We have shared our court and jail cells with Robbinsville for several years, so expanding the partnership further by sharing a police station is a natural fit,” Hightstown Mayor Quattrone said. “Not only do our hardworking police benefit from the new state-of-the-art facilities, but our residents will continue to receive the same response and dedicated service from the officers they respect and love.”

The Robbinsville and Hightstown Municipal Courts will continue to operate in the new facility under its existing agreement to share facilities, employees, equipment and supplies. This new shared services agreement will not change each municipality’s status as separate and distinct municipal courts.

Ground-breaking for the new police and court facility is scheduled for 2022 and construction is expected to take approximately 12 months.


Hightstown Man Convicted For 2018 Roadside Slaying Of Freehold Woman

October 12, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County jury has returned guilty verdicts on all charges against a Hightstown man who fatally shot a Freehold woman as she drove along on a state highway three years ago, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Tuesday.       

Kader Mustafa, 40, was convicted of first-degree Murder, second-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, two counts of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and two counts of third-degree Endangering Another Person in connection with the killing of 24-year-old Sciasia Calhoun.    

Shortly before 11:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2018, members of the Freehold Township Police Department responded to a 911 call originating from a vehicle stopped along Route 33 West near the exit ramp for Halls Mill Road. At that location, officers found three occupants of the vehicle, a 1997 Mazda Protégé: Calhoun, having sustained a single gunshot wound to the head, and her boyfriend and her 1-year-old daughter, both of whom were not physically harmed.  

Calhoun was rushed by Freehold First Aid, with the assistance of Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC), to nearby CentraState Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead approximately one hour later.

An intensive investigation by the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau, greatly assisted by the Freehold Township and Manalapan police departments, revealed that Mustafa was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Impala when he fired a single shot at Calhoun, after several minutes of following her vehicle and flashing his high beams. Mustafa was apprehended in Manalapan in the area of Oakland Mills Road at approximately 8:10 a.m. the morning after the shooting, when two handguns were recovered from the vehicle.

Tuesday’s verdict was delivered following a multi-week trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano Jr. Representing the State during the proceedings was Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Investigation Division Director and Assistant Prosecutor John Loughrey.

“This was a chilling, senseless crime, committed against a total stranger in the dead of night, in front of the victim’s horrified boyfriend and young child,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “We thank the jury for their service and are deeply gratified to know that while today’s verdict can’t bring Sciasia Calhoun back, this defendant will be kept off the streets and brought to justice for his actions.”  

Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Friday, January 7, 2022. Mustafa is facing a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of life in state prison, with a 30-year period of parole ineligibility.  


Trenton And Hightstown Men Among 11 Indicted In Investigation That Uncovered Alleged “Hit Squad” Of Inmates Who Assaulted Other Inmates

September 22, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of an alleged local leader of the Latin Kings street gang and 10 current and former inmates under his command who allegedly formed a “hit squad” within the prison system to commit assaults on behalf of the gang.

Frank Blake, aka “Lafay,” 33, of Hillside, N.J., an alleged leader of the Elizabeth, N.J., chapter of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation (ALKQN) street gang, was initially charged in April 2021 along with eight other alleged members of ALKQN who allegedly conspired to carry out assaults on behalf of the gang in the state prison system. They were charged at that time with a brutal attack on an inmate in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton and a planned assault on another inmate in Northern State Prison in Newark that was prevented by the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC).

The Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) obtained a state grand jury indictment on Tuesday, Sept. 14, charging defendants with four more vicious assaults in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. The indictment charges the nine original defendants plus two additional alleged ALKQN gang members. The indictment was sealed pending the arrest of defendant Maurice Diaz Young, 35, of Trenton, N.J., who was arrested today.

The indictment is the result of an investigation by members of the DOC Special Investigations Division (SID) and OPIA Corruption Central Squad. The investigation revealed that Blake and inmate Alexander Chludzinski, aka “D Noble,” 27, of Phillipsburg, N.J., allegedly discussed going to the homes of DOC-SID investigators leading this investigation to commit violence against them.

“We will not tolerate gang-related violence in our state prisons,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “This indictment reaffirms our commitment to ensuring the safety of both inmates and correctional officers behind the prison walls. I am especially grateful to our Office of Public Integrity & Accountability and DOC’s Special Investigations Division for their partnership on this investigation.”

“We will continue to work with the Department of Corrections to neutralize the dangerous and corrosive influence of gangs in our prisons and protect the people who are held in state custody,” said OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher. “We will not allow gang leaders to orchestrate violence between inmates and undermine the security of our prison system.”

“Central to our mission is a commitment to operate safe and humane facilities,” said New Jersey Department of Corrections Acting Commissioner Victoria Kuhn, Esq. “We have zero tolerance for those that compromise the integrity of our efforts and applaud the work of the NJDOC’s Special Investigations Division and the OPIA in bringing these individuals to justice.”

The indictment is posted online at: Blake et al Indictment

The following 11 men are charged with second-degree conspiracy, and nine of them—Blake, Diaz Young, Lago, Garcia, Chludzinski, Washington, Reyes, Zarate, and Cardona—are charged with first-degree gang criminality. Blake is also charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime.

  1. Frank Blake, aka “Lafay,” 33, of Hillside N.J.
  2. Eduardo Lago, aka “King Bay Bay,” 28, of Newark, N.J.
  3. Roberto Garcia, aka “Taz,” 25, of Carteret, N.J.
  4. William Figueroa, aka “King Stitch,” 27, of Hightstown, N.J.
  5. Alexander Chludzinski, aka “D Noble,” 27, of Phillipsburg, N.J.
  6. Kevin Washington, aka “King Jafi,” 32, of Atlantic City, N.J.
  7. Andy Reyes, aka “Chango,” 25, of Somerset, N.J.
  8. James Zarate, aka “King Samurai,” 33, of Randolph, N.J.
  9. Larry Cardona, aka “King Legend,” 28, of Elizabeth, N.J.
  10. Maurice Diaz Young, aka “King Onyx,” 35, of Trenton, N.J.
  11. Juan Colon, 53, of Trenton, N.J.

The indictment alleges the following acts of violence and attempted acts of violence against inmates in the state prison system:

  • It is alleged that at Blake’s direction—and with Figueroa, Reyes and Diaz Young participating in planning the assault—Garcia and Lago assaulted an inmate in the prison yard of New Jersey State Prison in Trenton on Sept. 28, 2020, punching and kicking him in the head, and causing him to suffer respiratory failure and a traumatic brain injury.
  • Between December 2020 and April 2021, Blake allegedly conspired with and directed Chludzinski, Reyes, Washington, Zarate, and Cardona in planning an assault on an inmate at Northern State Prison in Newark. DOC-SID investigators learned of the alleged plot and placed the targeted inmate in protective custody to prevent the attempted assault.
  • It is alleged that on Oct. 18, 2019, Chludzinski attacked an inmate with a makeshift weapon known as a “shank” in a shower facility in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, causing the victim to suffer multiple puncture wounds.
  • In April 2020, Reyes, Garcia, and a member of a different street gang identified in the indictment as “Individual #1” allegedly planned that Garcia would attack an inmate in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton on behalf of Individual #1, in exchange for which Individual #1 would attack an inmate who was targeted by Reyes and Garcia. On April 5, 2020, Individual #1 allegedly carried out his attack in the prison yard, repeatedly punching and kicking the victim in the head, causing him to be hospitalized with head trauma. The next day, April 6, 2020, Garcia allegedly attacked the second victim in the prison yard, punching and kicking him in the head and upper body, resulting in bodily injury.
  • It is alleged that Zarate and Cardona attacked an inmate on April 21, 2021 in the prison yard of New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, repeatedly punching and kicking the victim in the head and body, resulting in significant bodily injury.

The indictment charges Diaz Young and Colon with the second-degree crime of solicitation or recruitment to join a criminal street gang for allegedly soliciting an inmate to join ALKQN and participate in criminal conduct on behalf of the gang in November and December 2020.

Blake and Chludzinski are charged with second-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution, third-degree terroristic threats, and fourth-degree obstruction for the alleged threats of violence against DOC-SID members investigating this case. Cardona, Chludzinski, Reyes, and Zarate are charged with possessing shanks, and Cardona is charged with possessing a cell phone in prison.

When Blake was arrested on April 22, 2021, investigators executed a search warrant at his home, seizing a .45-caliber pistol, a .357-caliber revolver loaded with hollow-point bullets, a 9mm pistol, an illegal large-capacity magazine, additional bullets, over one-half pound of methamphetamine, and two digital scales. For those items, he is charged with second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, second-degree possession of a weapon during commission of a drug offense, first-degree possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, and other drug and weapons offenses.

Deputy Attorneys General Colin J. Keiffer and Travis Miscia are prosecuting the case and presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the OPIA Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of OPIA Corruption Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione. They were assisted by Deputy Attorney General Heather Hausleben and other members of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau.

Acting Attorney General Bruck thanked all of the investigators and detectives who conducted the investigation for the DOC Special Investigations Division and the OPIA Corruption Central Squad. For security reasons, they are not being named individually. He also thanked the New Jersey State Police TEAMS North Unit, Division of Criminal Justice Cyber Crimes Unit, Union County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Division, and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Intelligence Unit for their assistance in the investigation.

The first-degree charges of gang criminality carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison. The other first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000. The sentences for gang criminality and promoting organized street crime must be served consecutively to the sentence for any underlying offense. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of five years. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

Defense Attorneys

For Blake: Thomas R. Ashley, Esq., Newark, N.J.

For Garcia: Robin Kay Lord, Esq., Trenton, N.J.

For Figueroa: Assistant Deputy Public Defender Matthew Mordas, Mercer County.

For Chludzinski: Peter V. Abatemarco, Esq., Lambertville, N.J.

For Washington: Tina M. Frost, Esq., West Windsor, N.J.

For Cardona: Assistant Deputy Public Defender Olivia J. Moorhead, Mercer County.

For Other Defendants: Undetermined.


Hughes Announces Opening Of FEMA/Mercer Disaster Recovery Center

Weekdays 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; weekends 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at Hollowbrook Center

September 14, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–

TRENTON – Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Mercer County has opened a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) at Hollowbrook Community Center, 320 Hollowbrook Drive, Ewing Township, to assist any Mercer County residents or businesses whose property was damaged in the remnants of Hurricane Ida. The DRC is open starting today, Sept. 14 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sunday. Residents do not need to schedule an appointment to visit the center, nor must they be Mercer County residents.

The DRC will be staffed by FEMA representatives who can provide information on FEMA disaster aid and answer questions. Again, the DRC is open to residents and businesses from every municipality in Mercer County, and residents from any other county that received the FEMA “Disaster” declaration.

On Sept. 10, Mercer County residents were declared eligible to register for Individual Assistance with FEMA. Residents who previously registered for assistance via the Internet or by phone do not need to visit the DRC, but can ask questions or seek further information in person at the DRC. The eligibility for FEMA Individual Assistance means residents or business owners whose properties were directly damaged by the flooding or storm events on September 1-3 can apply to recoup their losses.

What is a Disaster Recovery Center?

A DRC is a readily accessible facility or mobile office where applicants may go for information about FEMA or other disaster assistance programs, or for questions related to a specific case.

Some of the services that a DRC may provide:

  • Guidance regarding disaster recovery
  • Clarification of any written correspondence received
  • Housing Assistance and Rental Resource information
  • Answers to questions, resolution to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
  • Status of applications being processed by FEMA.
  • SBA program information if there is a SBA Representative at the Disaster Recovery Center site.

Affected residents and business owners can begin the disaster application process by registering online at DisasterAssistance.gov or registering by phone at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.

The toll-free numbers are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time Monday through Sunday, and applicants registering for aid should be prepared to provide basic information such as their name, the name of the business, address, phone number, insurance coverage, and other information to help substantiate losses.

Individual Assistance, if awarded, can cover reimbursement for a variety of storm-related expenses.

These include, but are not limited to: rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are uninhabitable; grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance; low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance; loans for small businesses that suffered disaster-related cash flow problems; and loans for farmers and other agriculture operators to cover property loss.

Additionally, mall businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in Mercer County are eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the Small Business Administration. For more information, visit https://disasterloanassistance.sba.gov/ela/s/.

Residents in need of assistance with damage from Tropical Storm Ida may call a Home Cleanup Hotline at 844-965-1386 to be connected with volunteers from local relief organizations and community groups that may be able to assist with cutting fallen trees, removing drywall, flooring and appliances, tarping roofs and mitigating mold.

The hotline will remain open through Sept. 17


Hero Police Officers Locate And Rescue Man From Inferno In East Windsor

Witnesses could see smoke from 4 miles away

September 3, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel, Dennis Symons

EAST WINDSOR (MERCER)– On Friday, September 3, 2021 at approximately 2:50 p.m., patrol units responded to an abandoned building at 82 Hickory Corner Road Extension, between Route 130 and Mercer Street for a report of a structure fire. A passer by observed fire in the ceiling of the structure and called 911.  Upon the arrival of patrol officers shortly after, flames were observed from the exterior of the structure.  Patrol officers Robert Galvin and Michael Adelung quickly made entry and located a disoriented and injured individual.  The individual was immediately extracted from the building and assessed by emergency medical responders.  The individual was then transported by ambulance to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton for smoke inhalation and undetermined fire related injuries.  Fire personnel from East Windsor and several surrounding towns responded to extinguish the fire.  The structure sustained heavy fire and water damage.  The cause and source of the fire are currently unknown as the incident remains under investigation by the East Windsor Township Police Department. 

Responding Emergency Services

East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company #1, East Windsor Volunteer Fire Company #2, Hightstown Engine Company, Robbinsville Fire Department, West Windsor Fire Company, Plainsboro Fire Company, Millstone Fire Department, Cranbury Fire Company, Upper Freehold/Hope Fire Company (Allentown), Robert Wood Johnson EMS, Hightstown EMS, West Windsor EMS    


  East Windsor Police Officers who made the save: