Category: Mercer County

Fatal Shooting With Vehicle Crash Leaves 37 Year Old Man Dead, Woman Injured

May 15, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police responded to the area of 118 North Stockton Street for a report of shots fired just before 9:50 p.m. According to TPD Detective Sergeant Cynthia Hargis when police arrived they found a vehicle crashed with a 37 year old male shot and a female injured in the accident. The male was rushed to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center and was pronounced dead. The female was also at Capital Health Regional Medical Center for her injuries from the accident. The investigation is active at this time. No further information is available at this time.


Names of 2021* homicide victims:

  1. 2/18/2021 Jabree Saunders, 26, from shooting on May 14, 2018
  2. 2/22/2021 Khalil Gibbs, 25, of West Windsor, shooting
  3. 2/25/2021 Lovelle Laramore, 60, of Trenton shooting
  4. 4/15/2021 Kaheem Carter, 22, of Trenton, shooting
  5. 4/20/2021 Shaquan McNeil, 25, of Trenton, shooting
  6. 4/24/2021 Cheryl Jones, 65, of Trenton, shooting
  7. 4/29/2021 Ramire Harvey, 25, of Trenton, shooting
  8. 5/15/2021 Shooting

*Updated to reflect the person who died in 2021 from the May 14, 2018 shooting.


2 Armed Suspects In Custody After Foot Pursuit

May 15, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police this afternoon were chasing 2 armed suspects in a foot pursuit that went though several back yards in the area of Race Street between MLK Blvd. and Brunswick Ave. According to police, one officer was bitten two times by a pitbull and his weapon was discharged striking the animal. The two armed suspects were captured by Trenton Police and are in custody. No further information is available at this time.

Photos by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

TFD Extinguishes Fire In Abandoned Home

May 15, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton firefighters responded to a reported house fire on S. Overbrook Avenue around 3:30 p.m. Upon arrival firefighters found a fire in an abandoned home that was attached to an occupied structure. Firefighters advanced an 1 3/4″ handline up exterior stairs to gain access to the fire.

Photos by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

Trenton Firefighters Extinguish House Fire

May 15, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 11:15 a.m. the Trenton fire department responded to a house fire on the corner Genesee and Capner Streets. It was reported firefighters found fire on the 3rd floor of a multi family house. Firefighters quickly brought the fire under control. No further information is available.

Photos by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

Baseball: Notre Dame 3 At Steinert 9

May 15, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Steinert baseball at home this morning scored a 9-3 win over Notre Dame.

Photo gallery:


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City of Trenton Stops Sophisticated Vendor Phishing Scam in Its Tracks

Trenton to Launch Updated Cyber Security Training for Employees

May 14, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora announced today that the City of Trenton will launch updated cybersecurity employee training over the next few weeks after the City successfully stopped a sophisticated phishing scheme that used fake email addresses and URLs to closely mimic official city accounts.

“We’ve heard of an uptick in fraudulent calls and emails against our residents throughout the pandemic,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Looks like City Hall is also a target, and this is just one of several cyber-attacks we’ve had to fend off over the last year. As such, we’re launching updated training modules for City employees to ensure those attacks continue to be unsuccessful in the future.”

The scam, which started targeting Trenton’s Request for Quote (RFQ) process in February, was uncovered by the City’s IT Department, under the direction of CTO Joseph Rivera.

Cyber criminals posing as the City Business Administrator – complete with phony emails and phone numbers – sent fraudulent RFQs to vendors for potentially millions in stolen goods. The CTO was able to track down that a spoof Website was created called “tren0nNJ.org” with an email acruz@trent0nnj.org on NameCheap.com.

After notifying vendors of the situation, the City reached out to the U.S. Secret Service Trenton Office, which worked with the City of Trenton IT and Law departments to convince NameCheap.com that fraud had occurred. After a cease-and-desist letter was issued from the City, NameCheap took the appropriate steps to shut down the URL and all affiliated emails. To date, efforts to prevent damage from the scam have been successful, and no losses have been incurred by the City.

Following the scam, the City of Trenton updated its training protocols regarding cybersecurity and will launch an online training module for all employees in the coming weeks.

This event follows another attempted cyberattack in the Spring of 2020, in which a hacker diverted upwards of $982,000 in funds from the City of Trenton in relation to Brit Global Insurance Company. Trenton’s IT Department worked with the company as part of an extensive forensic audit that proved the City was not at fault for the breach. As a result, Brit Global Insurance refunded the stolen funds to the City.

“All it takes is one mistake for a cybercriminal to breach a network and potentially cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in phony costs,” said CTO Rivera. “That’s why we’re excited to finally roll out the same type of cybersecurity training that is now standard at both the local and state level so our employees don’t let their guard down in the future.”

Phishing attacks occur when scammers use email or text messages to trick unsuspecting individuals into giving them their personal information. They may try to steal their passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick someone into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may say they have noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts, claim there is a problem with an account or payment information, or even tell an individual they are eligible to register for a government refund.

Phishing attacks can be prevented by downloading the latest computer and mobile phone security software, using multi-factor authentication, and changing passwords every 60 days.

Trenton Man Indicted for Hoffman Avenue Homicide

May 14, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Mercer County grand jury returned a 10-count indictment last week charging a 40-year-old Trenton man in the April 2020 shooting death of Quamierah Massey, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

Quasim Hallett is charged with one count of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, three counts of second-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, two counts of third-degree terroristic threats, two counts of fourth-degree aggravated assault and one count of second-degree certain persons not to possess a firearm. 

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force.  On Sunday, April 5, 2020, at approximately 7:05 p.m., Trenton police responded to a call for shots fired in the 100 block of Hoffman Avenue.  Several calls came in reporting someone was shot in the head at this location and Shot Spotter reported one round fired in the area.  Officers arrived on scene and located the victim, identified as 24-year-old Quamierah Massey, suffering a gunshot wound to the head.   She was transported to the hospital where she was pronounced dead the next day.

Hallett was taken into custody in Delaware about a week after the murder by members of the U.S. Marshals Regional Fugitive Task Force.  In addition to the murder and weapons offenses, he was charged with aggravated assault and terroristic threats for pointing his handgun at two other females on Hoffman Avenue that day and threatening to kill them.  Hallett was extradited back to New Jersey and is currently detained in the Mercer County Correction Center.

Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Paravecchia presented the case to the grand jury.

Despite having been indicted, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Related MidJersey.news coverage:

Trenton Man Indicted for Hoffman Avenue Homicide

Trenton Man Arrested in Hoffman Avenue Homicide

BREAKING NEWS: Another Shooting In Trenton Tonight

Trenton Under Siege: 2 Dead And 5 Injured In Multiple Shootings Sunday





East Windsor Man Charged With Animal Cruelty Admitted Into PTI Program

The PTI program requires him to complete 40 hours of community service, pay fines and costs associated with the case, obtain/maintain employment, and report to a supervising probation officer as directed for a three-year period.  He is also forbidden from owning or possessing any animals during the term of PTI.

May 13, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A 36-year-old East Windsor man charged in February 2020 with animal cruelty was admitted into the pretrial intervention program (PTI) this week, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

On Thursday afternoon, May 13, 2021, Matthew Wydrinski entered a plea of not guilty to an accusation charging him with third-degree animal cruelty before Mercer County Superior Court Judge J. Adam Hughes.  Wydrinski’s participation in the PTI program requires him to complete 40 hours of community service, pay fines and costs associated with the case, obtain/maintain employment, and report to a supervising probation officer as directed for a three-year period.  He is also forbidden from owning or possessing any animals during the term of PTI.

This case relates to an incident that occurred in East Windsor Township in November 2019.  At that time, an internet post was created for the purpose of obtaining assistance for a sick dog.  Authorities learned that the dog referenced in the post – a seven-year-old pit bull – later died as the result of being severely undernourished.  On February 13, 2020, Wydrinski was charged with third-degree animal cruelty for failing to provide the animal with necessary care. 

According to the New Jersey Courts website, PTI provides defendants, generally first-time non-violent offenders, with opportunities for alternatives to the traditional criminal justice process of ordinary prosecution.  PTI seeks to render early rehabilitative services when such services can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior.

Pursuant to 2C:44-1(e), unless certain factors are present, there is a presumption of non-incarceration for convictions of third-degree crimes.  None of those factors were present in this case.  Additionally, Wydrinski is 36 years old with no criminal history of any kind.  PTI is specifically designed to allow defendants with no criminal record to avail themselves of supervisory treatment rather than incarceration in certain situations.  Lastly, none of the presumptive factors against admission into PTI set forth in 2C:43-12(b)(2) apply.

“Currently, the New Jersey Legislature does not classify animal cruelty crimes as crimes of violence.  I am aware that steps are being taken in the Legislature to change this classification and remove animal cruelty crimes from the purview of PTI,” Prosecutor Onofri said.  “Regardless of my personal views on animal cruelty laws, I am bound to enforce the law as it is written.  Until such time as animal cruelty laws are changed, PTI will remain an appropriate and common resolution to these types of crimes.”

National Police Week: 2021 Police Unity Tour Chapter 10

March 13, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

Riders of the 2021 Police Unity Tour Chapter 10 biked hundreds of miles over a period of three days, despite not being able to ride into Washington, DC.

Organized in May 1997, The primary purpose of the Police Unity Tour “We Ride For Those Who Died” is to raise awareness of Law Enforcement Officers who have died in the line of duty. They also raise funds for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, DC.

This years ride began on May 9. Bikers began their first day by riding from Eatontown, NJ to Atlantic City, NJ, totaling 97 miles. During this ride, they made stops at the Ocean County Police Academy for a memorial ceremony, and did a ride-by at the Trooper Castellano Memorial on Route 195 in Howell, before ending their first day in Atlantic City.

The next day, riders began in Atlantic City, and ended their day in Lewes, DE, including the ferry from Cape May, NJ to Lewes. On this day, bikers rode a total of 72 miles.

On day three, the last day of the tour, riders continued from Lewes, DE to Annapolis, MD, totaling 90 miles.

All together, bikers rode nearly 260 miles to honor law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

The Police Unity Tour usually consists of four days, however this year the fourth day was stolen from them by officials of Washington, DC. Unfortunately, officials would not grant the organization permits for the ride, nor ceremony at the memorial, claiming covid concerns and that it could “incite unrest.”

Despite politics stealing their ride through DC, riders did a great job this year to raise support for the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice when they left their families to protect ours.

Mercer County agencies that participated in the ride are Princeton Township Police, East Windsor Township Police, Robbinsville Township Police, Trenton Police, Ewing Township Police, and New Jersey State Police.





Hamilton Township, Hamilton Township School District & Olden Pharmacy Announce COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for Students Ages 12+

May 13, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– In a collaborative effort, Hamilton Township, the Hamilton Township School District (HTSD) and Olden Pharmacy will be hosting a COVID-19 vaccine clinic for students ages 12+ on Monday, May 17, 2021 at Crockett Middle School by appointment only.

It was announced this week that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer vaccine be made available to administer to children ages 12-15 years. Prior to this decision, the Pfizer vaccine was only approved for individuals age 16 and above.

In a formal statement, the CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said, “For vaccination to do its job, we must do our critical part. That means vaccinating as many people as possible who are eligible. This official CDC action opens vaccination to approximately 17 million adolescents in the United States and strengthens our nation’s efforts to protect even more people from the effects of COVID-19. Getting adolescents vaccinated means their faster return to social activities and can provide parents and caregivers peace of mind knowing their family is protected.”

Any parent or guardian seeking an appointment for their child at Monday’s clinic which will be held between the hours of 2 and 6 PM may register for an appointment with Olden Pharmacy directly via their website at www.oldenpharmacy.com/hamilton.

“We are excited to provide the COVID vaccine in one of our district schools to all of our students from the age of twelve years old and up,” stated HTSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Rocco. “This is the result of a tremendous amount of teamwork between the township, Olden Pharmacy, and our school district. In particular, I would like to thank Marta Audino, our Director of Student Services, who has spearheaded our COVID response this year, and Chris Hellwig of the Hamilton Township Health Department, who has worked closely with us throughout the pandemic. Providing vaccines to our students, now that the vast majority of our faculty and staff are vaccinated, provides another level of protection for our students, faculty, and staff.”

Hamilton Township Division of Health reminds residents that all three available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective and continues to encourage all individuals age 12 and older to get vaccinated. Those seeking vaccination may contact the Division of Health by telephone at (609) 890-3884 or (609) 890-3647 or email covidvaccine@hamiltonnj.com.

“I want to thank Olden Pharmacy and HTSD for their outstanding partnership in bringing vaccine to our area students”, said Mayor Martin. “The more people we can vaccinate, the safer it is for everyone. This is just one more step towards the normalcy we all crave.”

AG’s Office Releases Body-Worn Camera Footage Related to Death of Man Who Was Hospitalized After Police Encounter in Trenton Last Year

May 13, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

TRENTON (MERCER)– The Attorney General’s Office today released two 911 calls and video footage from nine police body-worn cameras related to the death of Joseph Ahr Sr., 64, of Trenton, N.J., who was hospitalized and later died after police used pepper spray during his arrest on July 6, 2020.

The fatal incident remains under investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA). The recordings are being released in response to a recent OPRA request and pursuant to policies established by the Attorney General in 2019 that are designed to promote the fair, impartial, and transparent investigation of fatal police encounters. Prior to today’s release, investigators discussed the matter with Mr. Ahr’s representative and relatives and provided copies of the recordings to them for their review.

Overview of Police Encounter Prior to Mr. Ahr’s Hospitalization and Death:

Officers of the Trenton Police Department responded to Mr. Ahr’s home in the 700 block of Monmouth Street at approximately 5:30 p.m. on July 6, 2020, after police received a phone call from Mr. Ahr’s son. Trenton officers arrived and initially spoke to the son, who answered the front door. Joseph Ahr Sr. then came to the door to speak to the officers. Both the son and Mr. Ahr got into verbal disputes with the officers. After the son went into the house, Mr. Ahr remained on the porch and continued to argue with the officers.

At a certain point, officers tried to detain Mr. Ahr and he pulled away from them. Officers then took Mr. Ahr to the ground, restrained him, and handcuffed him. During that encounter, one officer deployed pepper spray. While the officers were handcuffing Mr. Ahr, he stated several times that he could not breathe. After he was sitting up, Mr. Ahr complained about other medical issues, and officers summoned emergency medical personnel. Emergency medical personnel responded to the scene, examined Mr. Ahr, treated him with oxygen, and transported him to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. Mr. Ahr was admitted to the hospital, where he died 18 days later on July 24, 2020.

The recordings are posted here.

The Attorney General’s Office today released the identities of the Trenton police officers involved in the incident. They are Jeffrey Donaire, Kozell Hodges, Cornell Huff, Bryan Kirk, Angel Pena, Nicholas Piotrowski, Glendy Quijada, Yajaira Torres, and Acting Sgt. Rosemarie Addar. Officer Piotrowski is the officer who deployed pepper spray.

This investigation is being conducted pursuant to a state law enacted in January 2019 (P.L. 2019, c.1), which requires that the Attorney General’s Office conduct all investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. Separately, the Independent Prosecutor Directive, which was issued by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal in December 2019, outlines a 10-step process for conducting these investigations. The Directive establishes clear procedures governing such investigations to ensure that they are conducted in a full, impartial and transparent manner. Under both state law and the Directive, when the entire investigation is complete, the case will be presented to a grand jury, typically consisting of 16 to 23 citizens, to make the ultimate decision regarding whether criminal charges will be filed. At present due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regular grand juries are not sitting and hearing cases.

Update: Colonial Pipeline Back Online

May 13, 2021 –Updated again at 4:40 p.m.

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–As we reported Saturday on the Colonial Pipeline that runs though New Jersey and supplies gasoline, diesel fuel and aircraft fuel to the eastern part of the country has announced that the entire pipeline should be operational by noon today. There is no need to hoard gasoline or other fuel and disrupt the local supply chain as seen and reported in other parts of the country.

Locally the pipeline runs though Burlington, Mercer County, Middlesex County on its way to Linden, New Jersey and was shut down to a ransomware cyber attack.

System Restart and Operational Update #2
Update: Thursday, May 13, 4:40 p.m.

Colonial Pipeline has continued to make substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system. We can now report that we have restarted our entire pipeline system and that product delivery has commenced to all markets we serve.

Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during this start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.

This would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of the many Colonial team members across the pipeline who worked safely and tirelessly through the night to get our lines up and running. We are grateful for their dedicated service and professionalism during these extraordinary times.

See update below from the Colonial Pipeline:

Update: Thursday, May 13, 9 a.m.

Colonial Pipeline has made substantial progress in safely restarting our pipeline system and can report that product delivery has commenced in a majority of the markets we service. By mid-day today, we project that each market we service will be receiving product from our system. The green segments on this map are operational, meaning product delivery has commenced. Blue lines will be operational later today.

This would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of the many Colonial team members across the pipeline who worked safely and tirelessly safely through the night to get our lines up and running. We are grateful for their dedicated service and professionalism during these extraordinary times.


Colonial Pipeline Company, founded in 1962, connects refineries – primarily located in the Gulf Coast – with customers and markets throughout the Southern and Eastern United States through a pipeline system that spans more than 5,500 miles. The company delivers refined petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, home heating oil, and fuel for the U.S. Military. Colonial is committed to safety and environmental stewardship across its operations.

Colonial Pipeline is the largest refined products pipeline in the United States, transporting more than 100 million gallons or 2.5 million barrels per day. Colonial transports approximately 45 percent of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, providing refined products to more than 50 million Americans. 

Specifically, Colonial transports various grades of gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, jet fuel, and fuels for the U.S. military through a pipeline system. The system is connected refineries in the Gulf Coast and in the Northeast. The majority of the system is underground, with tankage and other facilities at key receipt, storage and delivery points.


Related MidJersey.news coverage on Colonial Pipeline incident here:

Colonial Pipeline initiated the restart of pipeline operations today; Several days to return to normal

Colonial Pipeline Works To Restore Service, US FMCSA Issues Emergency Declaration In 18 States To Control Shortages

Update: Colonial Pipeline System Disruption

Cyber Attack Shuts Down Colonial Pipeline



Colonial Pipeline initiated the restart of pipeline operations today; Several days to return to normal

May 12, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MECER)–As reports were coming in of gas stations running out of gas in the south east United States from the hoarding of gasoline and other fuel products the Colonial Pipeline announced the restart of of the pipeline after a ransomware cyber attack. The company states that it may take several days for the delivery supply chain to return to normal. See press releases from Colonial Pipeline below for the latest updates.

Wednesday, May 12, 5:10 p.m.

Colonial Pipeline initiated the restart of pipeline operations today at approximately 5 p.m. ET. 

Following this restart, it will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal. Some markets served by Colonial Pipeline may experience, or continue to experience, intermittent service interruptions during the start-up period. Colonial will move as much gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel as is safely possible and will continue to do so until markets return to normal.

As we initiate our return to service, our primary focus remains safety. As part of this startup process, Colonial will conduct a comprehensive series of pipeline safety assessments in compliance with all Federal pipeline safety requirements. 

This is the first step in the restart process and would not have been possible without the around-the-clock support of Colonial Pipeline’s dedicated employees who have worked tirelessly to help us achieve this milestone. We would also like to thank the White House for their leadership and collaboration, as well as the Department of Energy, Department of Transportation, FBI, PHMSA, FERC and other federal, state and local agencies for their ongoing support.

We will continue to provide updates as restart efforts progress.

###

Tuesday, May 11, 5:15 p.m.

Colonial Pipeline continues to make forward progress in our around-the-clock efforts to return our system to service, with additional laterals operating manually to deliver existing inventories to markets along the pipeline. Markets experiencing supply constraints and/​or not serviced by other fuel delivery systems are being prioritized. We are collaborating with the Department of Energy (DOE) to evaluate market conditions to support this prioritization. 

Since our pipeline system was taken offline, working with our shippers, Colonial has delivered approximately 967,000 barrels (~41 million gallons) to various delivery points along our system. This includes delivery into the following markets: Atlanta, Ga., Belton and Spartanburg, S.C., Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C., Baltimore, Md., and Woodbury and Linden N.J.

Additionally, in preparation for our system restart, we have taken delivery of an additional 2 million barrels (~84 million gallons) from refineries for deployment upon restart. 

Consistent with our safety policies and regulatory requirements, Colonial has increased aerial patrols of our pipeline right of way and deployed more than 50 personnel to walk and drive ~ 5,000 miles of pipeline each day. 

Actions taken by the Federal Government to issue a temporary hours of service exemption for motor carriers and drivers transporting refined products across Colonial’s footprint and actions taken by several Governors to lift weight restrictions on tanker trucks should help alleviate local supply disruptions. This is in addition to the Reid Vapor Pressure wavier issued today by the U.S. EPA that will also help alleviate supply constraints in several states serviced by our system. We would like to thank the White House for their leadership and collaboration in resolving this matter as well as the DOE, PHMSA, FERC and other federal agencies for their ongoing support. 

Our primary focus remains the safe and efficient restoration of service to our pipeline system, while minimizing disruption to our customers and all those who rely on Colonial Pipeline. We will continue to provide updates as restoration efforts progress.


Related MidJersey.news coverage on Colonial Pipeline incident here:

Colonial Pipeline Works To Restore Service, US FMCSA Issues Emergency Declaration In 18 States To Control Shortages

Update: Colonial Pipeline System Disruption

Cyber Attack Shuts Down Colonial Pipeline


3 More Shot In Trenton On Stuyvesant Ave

May 12, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Just after 2:00 p.m. shots rang out in the 800 Block of Stuyvesant Avenue with reports of multiple people shot. Trenton Police Department, Trenton EMS and Capital Health Paramedics responded to the scene. Upon the arrival of the Police Department it was found that three victims were transported by private vehicle to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center prior to the arrival of EMS.

The victims of the shooting arrived in a black vehicle and were rushed into the trauma center for treatment. Trenton Police had the area in front of the trauma center taped off for the investigation. Family members waited in the parking lot one of them holding a small child as they awaited to hear the status of their loved ones.

Trenton Police Department Detective Sergeant Cynthia Hargis confirmed that in the 800 block of Stuyvesant Avenue three male victims sustained gunshot wounds. The victims are being treated at a local hospital.  None of the injuries are fatal at this time. All the victims are in stable condition. The police department says investigation is active and further information may be available later.

Just a few days ago on Sunday May 9, 2021 multiple shootings riddled the city at least 2 people were shot on Spring Street including an Amazon driver. Currently residents say that their Amazon deliveries have been suspended in the area and their money has been refunded. No additional details have been made public in that shooting.

City Of Chaos Continues With Multiple Shootings; 2 Shot Including Amazon Delivery Driver



One Injury In NJ Turnpike Accident

May 12, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Fire Department and EMS, and Bordentown Township Firefighters responded to the NJ Turnpike north bound at mile marker 57.2 for a motor vehicle accident. NJ State Police were on scene requesting paramedics for advanced life support. Robbinsville Township EMS and Capital Health Paramedics transported the victim to the local hospital. No further information is available.

Trenton And Philly Men Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison For Drug Trafficking

May 12, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Two men have been sentenced to federal prison for their roles in a drug trafficking organization that sold illegal drugs in Mercer County, New Jersey, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced today.

Jawaan Foreman, 37, of Trenton, was sentenced today to five years in prison. Foreman previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to an information charging him with one count of possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine base.

Duane Paulino-Escalera, 28, of Philadelphia, was sentenced May 7, 2021, to five years in prison. Paulino-Escalera previously pleaded guilty before Judge Shipp to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin.
Paulino-Escalera and Foreman are the ninth and 10th defendants to be sentenced in conjunction with this investigation. Judge Shipp imposed both sentences in Trenton federal court.

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

From June 2018 through May 2019, the defendants and others engaged in a heroin trafficking conspiracy in the areas of Stuyvesant, Hoffman, and Highland avenues in Trenton, and around Barbary Road in Philadelphia.
Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, controlled purchases of heroin, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that Robert M. Gbanapolor obtained regular supplies of “bricks” of heroin (approximately 50 smaller, individually packaged glassine envelopes or baggies containing heroin) from Paulino-Escalera, whom Gbanapolor referred to as “Papi.”

Members of the conspiracy distributed the heroin supplied by Paulino-Escalera to other conspirators, distributors, sub-dealers, and end users in and around Trenton. Law enforcement officers intercepted numerous discussions among the conspirators regarding issues such as heroin quality and availability, branding, quantity, and customer satisfaction.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division, Camden Resident Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; and task force officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. She also thanked detectives and officers of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Christine Hoffman; detectives and officers of the Gloucester Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Harry Earle; members of the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; detectives and officers of the Bordentown Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Brian Pesce; and special agents of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Craig B. Kailimai.

These sentencings are part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the United States by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric A. Boden and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

Gbanapolor was charged Feb. 25, 2021, in a superseding indictment with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin, one count of distribution and possession with intent to distribute heroin, and one count of possession with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. That case remains pending. The charges and allegations against the him are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

21-210

Defense counsel:
Paulino-Escalera: Michael J. Diamondstein Esq., Philadelphia
Foreman: Jerome Ballarotto Esq., Hamilton, New Jersey


UPDATE: Firefighters extinguish house fire in Hamilton

May 12, 2021–Updated

The Hamilton Township Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating and told MidJersey.news that the cause of the fire is undetermined but did not appear to be suspicious in nature.

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Officials are investigating a fire that occurred at a duplex home in Hamilton early Wednesday afternoon.

The fire occurred around 1:30 pm. Hamilton firefighters responded to the area of East State Street and Park Lane on a reported house fire. The first alarm was called when units arrived on the scene with heavy smoke and heavy fire from the rear of 19 Park Lane. Multiple hose lines were stretched into operation to place the fire under control. The bulk of the fire was knocked down around 1:50 pm.

The Fire Marshal’s office reported one firefighter was checked out by EMS at the scene.

Bystanders state that the resident of the home said he was upstairs when he heard a pop and then smelled smoke. Bystanders also said that the resident made another phone call before calling 911.

The Hamilton Township Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating and told MidJersey.news that the cause of the fire is undetermined but did not appear to be suspicious in nature.



BAPS Mandir: Class Action Lawsuit Filed On Behalf Of Workers Lured From India Paid As Little As $1.20 hr., Stop Work Issued By NJDOL, As Federal FBI Probe Continues

May 11, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–This morning FBI Spokesperson Doreen A. Holder, told MidJersey.news in a statement: “The FBI is there on court authorized law enforcement activity.  No further comment.” when asked about the FBI and other law enforcement activity at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir located at 112 N Main St. in the township.

At the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir FBI agents in unmarked vehicles could be seen leaving and entering the compound. Four large tour busses with what appeared to be workers were leaving the Mandir along with an Monmouth County EMS Taskforce Bus. Up to five of ambulances were also seen at the gate according to witnesses.

Law enforcement sources would not say what they were looking for in the activities at the property.

About the same time as the law enforcement activity at BAPS a class action lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court District of New Jersey with several allegations against the the religious organization over labor practices.

According to the complaint, after being trafficked to the U.S. under false pretenses, the workers’ passports were confiscated, and they were forced to live and work in a fenced, guarded compound. They were not allowed to leave the grounds unaccompanied, and they were under constant monitoring, threats of being fined for infractions, and arrest.

Plaintiffs allege that the trafficked workers were forced to work 12-13 hours a day with only rare days off, performing arduous and sometimes dangerous work for approximately 31,000 – 35,000 rupees (approximately $425 – $450 USD) per month, or less than $1.20 per hour.

See full lawsuit below for details.

On April 30, 2021 New Jersey Department of Labor issued a Stop Work Order for Newark-based Cunha’s Construction Inc. was ordered to halt work at current and future projects for the duration of the order, which will remain in effect until the contractor complies with state wage and hour laws and all outstanding back wages and penalties have been paid.  

The NJDOL’s Division of Wage and Hour Compliance conducted site visits at two of the company’s current worksites, BAPS Temple in Robbinsville and BAPS Temple in Edison, after learning of the projects from workers. These inspections found the contractor was paying workers in cash off the books and did not have workers’ compensation insurance.  

Other violations involve the misclassification of construction workers by paying them in cash off the books, failure to pay overtime, failure to keep records, hindrance of the investigation, and unpaid or late paid wages.  See press release below for full details.

A BAPS representative Matthew Frankel of MDF Strategies told MidJersey.news “We were first made aware of the accusations early Tuesday morning, we are taking them very seriously and are thoroughly reviewing the issues raised.”

This is sill a developing story follow MidJersey.news for the latest.


A emailed statement John Nalbone from Robbinsville Township Office of Communications & Public Information said, “Based upon media reports, the Township was made aware of federal law enforcement activity this morning on the BAPS property located in Robbinsville.  The Township’s jurisdiction over the property is limited to land use and Uniform Construction Code (UCC) matters.  At no time in approving BAPS’s land use applications, or in conducting UCC inspections on the property, did Robbinsville Township officials witness, or become aware of any labor issues that may have been present.  The Township was aware of temporary housing on the site and conducted inspections of that housing in April and June of 2020, until in-person inspections were suspended due to COVID-19.  As to not interfere with this ongoing federal investigation, the Township will have no further comment.” 




Press release provided from the law firms of the class action lawsuit:

Class Action Lawsuit filed in NJ again Major Hindu Temple

Today, workers’ rights attorneys filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Indian workers who were trafficked and faced rampant wage theft and shocking abuses by Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Inc. (“BAPS”), reportedly the largest Hindu temple in the United States.    

In addition to the six named plaintiffs – Mukesh Kumar, Keshav Kumar, Devi Laal, Niranjan, Pappu, Brajendra – the case, Kumar v.  Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Inc., is brought on behalf of approximately 200 other Indian nationals who have worked at the temple. According to the complaint, after being trafficked to the U.S. under false pretenses, the workers’ passports were confiscated, and they were forced to live and work in a fenced, guarded compound. They were not allowed to leave the grounds unaccompanied, and they were under constant monitoring, threats of being fined for infractions, and arrest.

Plaintiffs allege that the trafficked workers were forced to work 12-13 hours a day with only rare days off, performing arduous and sometimes dangerous work for approximately 31,000 – 35,000 rupees (approximately $425 – $450 USD) per month, or less than $1.20 per hour.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by attorneys Patricia Kakalec of Kakalec Law PLLC, Daniel Werner of Radford & Keebaugh, LLC, and Andrew Glenn of Jaffe Glenn Law Group, P.A., outlines the defendants’ violations of federal and state laws including the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (“TVPA”), the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), and New Jersey wage and hour laws.  Besides BAPS, defendants in the case are BAPS Mercer LLC, BAPS Robbinsville LLC., BAPS Fellowship Services, Inc., Bharat Doe a/k/a Bharat Bhai, Pankaj Patel, Kanu Patel, and Swami Prasanand.  

“This is a horrific case of worker exploitation and it is even more disturbing that it has gone on for years in New Jersey behind the temple’s walls,” said Werner. “These workers were coerced through lies to come to the United States to work and then suffered tremendously – they were basically forced into servitude.” 

The plaintiffs were brought to the United States under R-1 or religious visas, which are available to those who minister or who work in a religious vocation or occupation, but the workers solely performed manual labor.

“These workers came to work in New Jersey to earn wages and help their families,” says Kakalec. “They were taken advantage of and cheated out of millions of dollars in wages. They deserve justice.”

Swati Sawant, an attorney for individuals who worked in the temple, says: “These individuals have suffered greatly – financially as a result of the wage theft, physically as a result of the grueling work they were forced to undertake, and mentally as a result of being forced for stay within the temple compound for months, and for many, years.  They are brave for standing up for their rights.”

The lawsuit seeks the workers’ unpaid wages, an award of money for other damages, and a court order preventing the defendants from continuing to violate the law.

A copy of the complaint can be viewed HERE.


Radford & Keebaugh, LLC. is a Georgia based law firm focused on civil rights and employment litigation specializing in areas such as employment discrimination, wage and hour violations, constitutional claims including false arrest and malicious prosecution, sexual harassment, Americans with Disabilities Act, and whistleblower retaliation. 
For more information, visit: 
https://decaturlegal.com.

Kakalec Law PLLC is a New York based law firm which represents employees in wage and hour, discrimination, and other employment matters, and also represents individuals with disabilities in civil rights and access matters. For more information, visit: https://kakaleclaw.com

Jaffe Glenn Law Group PA is a New Jersey and New York based law firm which represents employees specializing in overtime claims, minimum wage violation cases, as well as other employment related cases.   For more information visit https://jaffeglenn.com.


NJDOL Issues Stop-Work Order Against Construction Contractor, Halting All Current and Future Work

April 30, 2021

TRENTON – The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) has issued a company-wide stop-work order to Cunha’s Construction Inc. and owner Nuno Cunha based on repeated and ongoing violations of state wage and hour laws. This is the first time the NJDOL has used its authority to pause all work by a single entity rather than on a per project basis.   

Newark-based Cunha’s Construction Inc. was ordered to halt work at current and future projects for the duration of the order, which will remain in effect until the contractor complies with state wage and hour laws and all outstanding back wages and penalties have been paid.  

The NJDOL’s Division of Wage and Hour Compliance conducted site visits at two of the company’s current worksites, BAPS Temple in Robbinsville and BAPS Temple in Edison, after learning of the projects from workers. These inspections found the contractor was paying workers in cash off the books and did not have workers’ compensation insurance.  

Other violations involve the misclassification of construction workers by paying them in cash off the books, failure to pay overtime, failure to keep records, hindrance of the investigation, and unpaid or late paid wages.  

The company has eight unpaid judgments for back wages and penalties dating back to 2007 that have not been resolved by way of compliance or restitution to workers. In addition,  NJDOL concluded the company was not paying its workers on numerous job sites and was not maintaining proper payroll for any projects across the state. 

“With the authority to issue stop-work notices, we can better protect workers from bad actors who repeatedly skirt the law,” said Assistant Commissioner Joseph Petrecca of the Division of Wage and Hour Compliance. “Now more than ever, it is important to keep our workers safe, and ensure they are treated fairly.”   

The NJDOL first served the company-wide stop-work order to Cunha’s Construction Inc. on April 1, upon which owner Nuno Cunha appealed the decision to the director of NJDOL’s Division of Wage and Hour Compliance  through his attorney. The NJDOL was represented during the appeal process by Section Chief and Deputy Attorney General Peter A. Basso and Deputy Attorney General Micauri Vargas of the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General’s Division of Law, Affirmative Civil Rights & Labor Section. After the presentation of evidence and witness testimony, the appeal determination upheld the actions of the NJDOL.   

“This stop-work order from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development is the first of its kind under a law signed by Governor Murphy to strengthen our ability to enforce the state’s labor laws,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “The message to employers should be clear: We are committed to using all of the tools at our disposal to protect New Jersey’s workers.” 

As of July 2019, the NJDOL has the authority to require any employer to cease business operations when significant pay, benefits, or other workers’ rights violations are documented. As Cunha’s Construction Inc. is not a registered public works contractor, the department previously had few options to ensure compliance and payment of restitution.  

For more information on New Jersey’s wage and hour laws, please visit myworkrights.nj.gov


Photos by Brian McCarthy, OnScene News



It was reported that on August 17, 2017 a fatal accident occurred where a 15 year old “volunteer” at the temple was killed in a 45 foot fall. Rescue personnel from Robbinsville Township arrived and performed CPR on the 15 year old and was later pronounced dead at RWJ University Hospital in Hamilton. OSHA Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened and investigation and closed the investigation on August 23, 2017 with no notes listed available from the OSHA website. You can access that information at the link below:

https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.inspection_detail?id=1255956.015

Inspection: 1255956.015 – Baps Northeast Development, Inc
Inspection Information – Office: Marlton
Nr: 1255956.015Report ID: 0213900Open Date: 08/17/2017
Baps Northeast Development, Inc
112 N Main Street
Robbinsville, NJ 08691
Union Status: NonUnion
SIC:
NAICS: 236220/Commercial and Institutional Building Construction
Mailing: 112 N Main Street, Robbinsville, NJ 08691
Inspection Type:Referral
Scope:No Insp/OtherAdvanced Notice:N
Ownership:Private
Safety/Health:SafetyClose Conference:08/23/2017
Emphasis:L:FallClose Case:08/23/2017
Related Activity:TypeIDSafetyHealth
 Accident1254250  
 Referral1254231Yes 
Case Status: CLOSED


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Mayor Martin Proposes Municipal Budget with Flat Tax Rate

May 11, 2021

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–This evening, the Martin administration introduced the 2021 municipal budget to Township Council which features a flat tax rate. Mayor Jeff Martin’s budget address can be found below:

The last year has been extraordinarily difficult not only for Hamilton, but the World.  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous disruptions both individually and as a community.  However, with our vaccine rollout well underway, brighter days lay ahead.  Likewise, the 2021 budget projects brighter days ahead for Hamilton. 

First, let me begin by recognizing the extraordinary work of Hamilton’s municipal employees.  Throughout the pandemic, they have come to work each day in service to our Township.  Thanks to their dedication and hard work, our town successfully continued operations throughout the pandemic to provide so many essential services to our residents and businesses.  Our Water Pollution Control (Sewer), Police Division, and Health Department answered the call each and every day, unable to take a day off.  My appreciation goes out to their leaders – Carrie Feuer, Chief James Stevens, and Kathy Fitzgerald for steering their respective departments through difficult times. 

The 2021 budget I present to you recognizes the continued responsibilities we have in the face of COVID-19 while respecting the difficult financial hardship many of our residents and businesses continue to face.  In light of that recognition, this budget keeps taxes flat for 2021.  The 2020 municipal tax rate of .822 cents is added to the combined 2020 fire tax rate of .333 cents to create our new combined 2021 tax rate of 1.155.  Even while keeping taxes flat, we recognize the importance of investing in our Township to create a brighter future for Hamilton Township.  

For the first time, Hamilton has created an office of Vacant and Abandoned Properties (VAP).  Under the direction of Director Fred Dumont, our VAP office is charged with identifying abandoned properties and working on turning those properties around.  These properties are eyesores for neighbors – driving down property values; presenting challenges to our public safety professionals, both as fire hazards and use for illegal activities; and many become health hazards over time.  Fixing this problem is not a short term issue, especially as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Furthermore, as there is the potential for a housing crisis, getting ahead of the problem now will pay dividends well into the future.  I hope the importance of addressing this issue in Hamilton will receive commitment from you, our Council, in 2021 and well into the future.

This year is also the first time we present the Hamilton Township Fire Division.  This Administration has worked tirelessly with Chief Richard Kraemer in setting up the Fire Division for short and long-term success.  As the Fire Division operates together as a cohesive unit in 2021 and into the future, we are confident it will provide the continued services our residents have come to expect in a more efficient way.  I’m excited to see Chief Kraemer’s work as the first ever Hamilton Fire Chief. 

The Capital Budget reflects our commitment to investing in Hamilton’s future.  The last year has further proven the need for our municipal government to continue to invest in technology, both as the continued wave of the future, and as a way of providing a more efficient and customer friendly service.  The technology upgrades in this budget put our town on a path of maintaining and improving our technology.

As outdoor recreation demands continue to rise, Hamilton will continue our commitment to providing these services to our residents – both at Veteran’s Park and throughout Hamilton’s 60-plus other parks as well.  $500,000 is provided for upgrades to our tennis courts and thanks to Council, we also are applying for an additional $500,000 for the conversion of more tennis courts into pickleball courts.  Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and our goal for being a destination for pickleball players has resulted in Hamilton being chosen to host a USA Pickleball sanctioned tournament this August that will draw people from all over the region.  The investment we make today will be a boon for tourism for years to come.  Additionally, Hamilton will be receiving new playground equipment at Limewood Park, through a combined partnership of Joey’s Little Angels and Where Angels Play– a $100,000 value at no cost to our residents!

Hamilton will also prioritize the investment and management of our infrastructure.  Thanks to Public Works Director Chris Markley, Hamilton will now have employees dedicated to maintaining our stormwater infrastructure including cleaning out drains and maintaining basins ensuring less flooding concerns here in Hamilton.  Hamilton continues to address our responsibility in maintaining Hamilton’s roads with over $5 million in new road projects – much of it from State grant monies. 

Finally, while our intention was to wait to introduce our 2021 Budget inclusive of monies from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan (ARP), with the complex set of rules just released this week we did not want to delay budget introduction any further.  Hamilton’s estimated ARP grant is $17.1 million over two years, monies that will go to securing our finances and help us overcome many additional expenses to address the pandemic.  We will present our plan for the ARP monies to Council for your consideration in the weeks to come, but I think it an enormous achievement to present a flat budget without the benefit of the ARP monies. 

I thank the Council for the opportunity to present our 2021 budget and look forward to working with you in continuing to overcome all of the challenges presented to us over the last year.

DEVELOPING: Federal Probe At BAPS Robbinsville, FBI and Homeland Security On Scene

Update here: BAPS Mandir: Class Action Lawsuit Filed On Behalf Of Workers Lured From India Paid As Little As $1.20 hr., Stop Work Issued By NJDOL, As Federal FBI Probe Continues

May 11, 2021

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–This morning around 8:00 am it is reported that Homeland Security and the FBI were conducting law enforcement activity at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Robbinsville Hindu Temple.

FBI Spokesperson Doreen A. Holder, told MidJersey.news in a statement: “The FBI is there on court authorized law enforcement activity.  No further comment.”

There is no word why the FBI and Homeland Security is on scene. This is a developing story please check MidJersey.news for additional details as they are released.


Firefighters quickly put out church fire in Hamilton

May 10, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP (MERCER)– Hamilton Firefighters quickly extinguished a fire that broke out at a church in the 200 block of Main Street.

Firefighters responded to the New Horizon Baptist Church just before 6:30 pm for a fire alarm activation. While responding, the assignment was upgraded to a reported building fire.

Crews arrived on the scene and reported heavy fire, and the first alarm was called. Two hose lines were stretched into operation to quickly knock down the fire, keeping it isolated to one section of the building. It was placed under control at 6:45 pm.

It appears roof work was being done at the time of the fire, however it is unknown if the construction is related to the cause of the fire.

This building also happens to be the former Groveville District #9 Firehouse, before relocation to their new firehouse on Crosswicks Hamilton Square Road.

AG Grewal And NJ DEP File 9 New Environmental Enforcement Actions Across NJ, Including KAARS, Inc., In Trenton

Locally, the State’s lawsuit against Trenton auto recycling facility KAARS, Inc., and its owner Isam Abuhumoud alleges violations of the Water Pollution Control Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Spill Compensation and Control Act. 

May 10, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced today the filing of nine new environmental enforcement actions across the State, including seven to hold polluters accountable for contamination in environmentally overburdened communities.

The seven lawsuits focused on overburdened communities address pollution in Camden, Trenton, Kearny, Secaucus, Edison, Bridgeton and Egg Harbor City. The two additional cases are based in Butler and Vineland.

Collectively, the Complaints involve a broad range of alleged environmental abuses by the defendant property owners and other responsible parties, including:

  • Illegal dumping that allowed massive quantities of contaminated soil, construction and demolition debris — along with contaminated old tires and other refuse — to accumulate in near residences;
  • The release of gasoline and other toxic chemicals from underground storage tanks, contaminating soil and groundwater; and
  • Releases of chemical and food waste contaminants into stormwater drains and, ultimately, surface bodies of water.

These cases represent yet another component of the Murphy Administration’s comprehensive effort to address harms disproportionately affecting the health and well-being of the state’s most vulnerable populations.

Including the lawsuits announced today, Attorney General Grewal and the Department of Environmental Protection have filed 39 environmental justice cases since 2018. The lawsuits have yielded nearly $20 million in judgments.  More important, many of these cases also have resulted in court orders requiring responsible parties perform cleanup activities to protect human health and the environment. These orders also achieve cost savings to the taxpayers by holding polluters and other responsible parties financially accountable.

“From Day One of the Murphy Administration, we’ve been committed to ensuring that all New Jersey residents can enjoy clean air, clean drinking water and a safe environment,” said Attorney General Grewal.  “That’s environmental justice, and everyone deserves it.  The cases we’re announcing today are only the latest actions we’ve taken to deliver on our commitment to environmental justice, and the latest reminder to polluters that they will be held accountable – whether they’re illegally dumping waste in our cities or polluting our fields and rivers.”

“To further the promise of environmental justice, we must aggressively enforce our laws in communities disproportionately burdened by pollution,” said Acting DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette. “Enforcement actions like these embody our commitment to protecting vulnerable communities and make clear the consequences for creating or contributing to environmental injustice. My DEP colleagues and I are grateful to Attorney General Grewal and his team for their passion for equity and their partnership in action.”

The contaminants at issue in all of today’s lawsuits are linked to serious health problems including respiratory distress and certain lung illnesses, cancer, neurological disorders, kidney disease, liver disease and eye damage.

Today’s nine Complaints seek a variety of remedies, including clean-up of the contaminated properties, compliance with DEP Administrative Orders and other outstanding DEP requirements, payment of civil penalties, and reimbursement to the State for the cost of site investigation, remediation, monitoring and other related work.



Today’s lawsuits include seven cases located in environmental justice communities and two located outside environmental justice communities:

Yaffa & Sons Property, Camden (Environmental Justice)

The State’s Complaint alleges that S. Yaffa and Sons, Inc. and its owner, William Yocco, unlawfully imported and stockpiled solid waste — including contaminated soil, construction and demolition debris, and waste tires — at its property in the City of Camden for years before selling the site to Weyhill Realty Holdings in July 2019.  Weyhill Realty Holdings allegedly failed to remove the waste, and continued to allow illegal dumping on site, receiving more construction and demolition debris and comingling it with contaminated soil. In addition, the State’s Complaint alleges that a 500-gallon underground fuel storage tank potentially remains on the property, which, because of its potential to leak gasoline, would pose a danger.

The Complaint alleges violations of New Jersey’s Solid Waste Management Act and the Underground Storage of Hazardous Substances Act, and seeks to enforce a prior DEP order and collect penalties for non-compliance.


Delta Service Station, Edison (Environmental Justice)

The State’s Complaint stems from the operations of a former gas station at 1065 Amboy Avenue – and specifically from issues related to underground tanks used to store gasoline. On multiple occasions over the years, DEP has detected gasoline contamination on the property and confirmed the presence of such harmful chemicals as benzene, methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), and xylenes in soil and groundwater. The Complaint alleges violations of the Spill Act, the Water Pollution Control Act, and the Underground Storage of Hazardous Substances Act.

Named defendants in the suit include former property owner James Mezey; Cherokee Equities, LLC; 1065 Amboy Avenue, LLC; ERC7, LLC; 19 Petroleum Distributors, Inc.; G&V Fuel Corporation, Inc., and NJ Petroleum Distributors, Inc. The site currently operates as an auto repair garage and auto body shop, and those business are not defendants.


Thomas Dailey, 885 N. Pearl Street, Bridgeton (Environmental Justice)

The State’s Complaint alleges that defendant Thomas Dailey purchased the property at issue in 1992 and subsequently had two underground fuel storage tanks removed without a required tank decommissioning plan and site investigation. In 2015, DEP inspectors found a third underground fuel storage tank still on the property. The Complaint alleges violations of the Underground Storage of Hazardous Substances Act in connection with all three tanks by Dailey and/or 330 Angle Sea LLC, a company which Dailey owns and to which he sold the property in 2017. Among other things, the Complaint seeks to compel the removal of the remaining underground storage tank, the hiring of a Licensed Site Remediation Professional to investigate and remediate any hazardous discharges, payment of a civil penalty, and compensation to DEP for any costs it has or will incur in connection with the property.

Wilenta Feed, Inc., Secaucus (Environmental Justice) 

The State’s Complaint against defendant Wilenta Feed, Inc., alleges violation of the State’s Water Pollution Control Act. Wilenta operates a food waste recycling business at 46 Henry Street in Secaucus that involves converting food waste — largely bakery products — into animal feed or animal feed ingredients. According to the Complaint, Wilenta has been unlawfully storing its food waste in open-air piles, thereby exposing the waste to stormwater, which enters the sewer system and, ultimately, into such surface water bodies as Penhorn Creek, a tributary of the Hackensack River. In addition to seeking a court order directing Wilenta to halt its open-air storage of food waste, today’s lawsuit seeks civil penalties against Wilenta and reimbursement to the State for costs it has incurred, or will incur, to investigate, inspect and monitor the property.


KAARS, Inc., Trenton (Environmental Justice)

The State’s lawsuit against Trenton auto recycling facility KAARS, Inc., and its owner Isam Abuhumoud alleges violations of the Water Pollution Control Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Spill Compensation and Control Act. 

According to the Complaint, activity at KAARS involves dismantling cars and trucks to salvage certain parts for sale, which among other things yields solvents, greases and such fluids as brake fluid, anti-freeze and motor oil. Under DEP permitting requirements, KAARS must manage its stormwater run-off so that pollutants generated by its operations do not end up in the sewer system serving the property, which carries stormwater to Assunpink Creek and, eventually, to the Delaware River. The State’s lawsuit alleges that KAARS’ poor management of auto scrap, chemicals and other wastes has resulted in uncontrolled pollutant discharges that threaten water quality in the area, which includes a city park, residences, and an elementary school.


Arlington Diner, Kearny (Environmental Justice)

The State’s Complaint against Isaac Moradi centers on a former gas station at 941 Passaic Avenue in Kearny that backs up to an embankment of the Passaic River and that was contaminated with petroleum products including gasoline prior to Moradi’s acquisition of the property in 2016. According to the State’s Complaint, an investigation of the property in 2007 revealed significant contamination of groundwater and soil, much of it ultimately traced to an out of service, 12,000-gallon underground fuel storage tank. The State’s lawsuit alleges violation of the Spill Compensation and Control Act and the common law of public nuisance.

Gulf Gas Stop, Egg Harbor City (Environmental Justice)

The State’s Complaint centers on a “gas-and-go” service station property at 501 White Horse Pike in Egg Harbor City, and names property owner Arjun Goyal, of West Deptford, as the sole defendant. Five fuel storage tanks containing unleaded gasoline once existed on the property, and although they have been removed, DEP has found evidence that the tanks leaked into the soil. Groundwater sampling has detected excessive levels of such petroleum-related chemical toxins as benzene, ethyl benzene, xylenes, methyl tertiary butyl ether, tertiary-butyl alcohol, toluene and lead. The Complaint seeks enforcement of, and penalties for non-compliance with, a prior DEP order to remediate the site, among other relief.

Main Road Citgo, Vineland

The State’s Complaint against Avalon-based Sasdelli Oil Company, Inc.; its owner, Terry Sasdelli of Asheville, NC; and corporate entities Vineland 820 Main Road, LLC and Vineland Chestnut Avenue, LLC centers on a contaminated gas station property at 820 N. Main Road in Vineland. According to the Complaint, excessive levels of petroleum-product-related contaminants have been found in soil and groundwater on the property, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, lead, methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) and naphthalene.

The State’s Complaint alleges violations of the Spill Compensation and Control Act and Water Pollution Control Act, and also claims each defendant was unjustly enriched through their failure to perform or fund required remediation work on the property. The Complaint seeks a court order directing the defendants to remediate the property, pay civil penalties and reimburse DEP for related costs incurred by the State.

The Car House, Butler

The State’s Complaints alleges that The Car House, a Morris County used auto dealership, sold a Nissan 350-Z coup in August 2019 that had been tampered with through removal of the catalytic converters that were part of the vehicle’s original emissions control system. The purchaser only learned of the unlawful modification when the car failed an inspection, according to the Complaint.

New Jersey law prohibits the sale of a gasoline-fueled motor vehicle in which an emissions control device installed by the original vehicle manufacturer has been disconnected, detached, deactivated, or in any other way altered or modified from the original design. According to the State’s Complaint, tailpipe emissions from such vehicles cause increased levels of harmful pollutants like hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides (NOx), and carbon monoxide — pollutants known to trigger or aggravate human respiratory diseases.

Today’s lawsuit alleges that dealership violated New Jersey’s Air Pollution Control Act by selling an unlawfully tampered vehicle, and that it has failed to pay a civil penalty imposed two years ago. The suit seeks payment of that civil penalty, as well as restitution to the buyer of the tampered Nissan.

Today’s enforcement actions are being handled by the Environmental Enforcement and Environmental Justice (EEEJ) Section within the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, including Assistant Attorney General Aaron Kleinbaum, Section Chief Gary Wolf, Assistant Section Chief Paul Stofa, and Deputy Attorneys General Bethanne Prugh, Willis Doerr, Robert Kinney, Thomas Lihan, Daniel Resler, Matthew Novak, Andrew Verdone, Mark Fisher, Matthew Knoblauch and Pragya Singh.