LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 4:30 p.m. the Lawrence Township Fire Departments were dispatched to the 200 Block of Bakers Basin Road for a well involved van fire. Upon arrival firefighters reported finding an Amazon delivery van fully involved in a parking lot. Firefighters extinguished the fire.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced a wave of 35 indictments secured by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice in just over two months charging numerous defendants with illegal gun trafficking and/or possession of illicit weapons, including untraceable ghost guns, assault rifles, and outlawed large-capacity ammunition magazines. Ghost guns are not registered and do not have serial numbers, making them difficult to trace and making it harder for law enforcement to solve gun crimes.
The indictments charge a total of 81 defendants, a majority of whom face various weapons offenses in connection with the following illegal weapons seized in the investigations:
96 Illegal Guns, including
16 Assault Rifles and
1 Machine Gun;
53 Illegal Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazines.
The illegal guns include a total of 10 Ghost Guns that do not bear federally registered serial numbers. Most of the guns traced in these cases were purchased in various states other than New Jersey, including Pennsylvania, which was the source of at least 18 guns, and South Carolina, which was the source of at least 12 guns, as well as Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, among others.
Five of the indictments charge defendants with illegally trafficking guns. The others charge possession of illegal weapons by other alleged criminals, including individuals charged with using guns in violent crimes, alleged drug dealers, an alleged human trafficker, and a fugitive charged with credit card fraud. Thirty-four of the indictments stem from investigations conducted between January 2019 and February 2021, with most charging conduct in 2020 and 2021. One case dates to 2018.
Thirty-three indictments were secured by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Two indictments were secured by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau.
The Division of Criminal Justice and New Jersey State Police consistently join with other law enforcement partners to conduct strategic investigations focused on disrupting the supply-line of weapons trafficking into violent areas, arresting drug dealers and seizing existing weapons in those areas, and aggressively prosecuting all defendants who traffic, use, or possess guns in connection with criminal activity.
“We are aggressively targeting those responsible for the proliferation of guns and gun violence in our communities, including gun traffickers, drug dealers, and other criminals who arm themselves with illegal weapons,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Assault rifles have long been a weapon of choice for gangs and drug dealers, and more recently there has been an alarming increase in untraceable ghost guns, which often are seized by police after they have been used in a shooting. By focusing on illegal guns, working to shut down the iron pipeline of firearms from other states, and prosecuting offenders under New Jersey’s tough gun laws, we are taking guns and armed criminals off of the street—and undoubtedly saving lives.”
“These 35 indictments are the product of strong collaboration by the Division of Criminal Justice and law enforcement agencies at all levels, all across New Jersey and into states such as Pennsylvania and South Carolina, which were source states for guns allegedly sold by certain defendants,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By cracking down on gun traffickers, armed drug dealers, and others with illegal weapons, we are working to reduce the gun violence and drug dealing that are claiming far too many lives in New Jersey and are undermining the safety and security of our communities. I commend our Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau, Specialized Crimes Bureau, the New Jersey State Police, and all of our law enforcement partners for these outstanding results.”
“Illegal weapons trafficking has unfortunately evolved over time. The proliferation of ghost guns, which can be assembled from parts originating from across the country, has made it more difficult to solve violent crimes and disrupt trafficking networks, but fortunately law enforcement has evolved at a much faster rate by utilizing state-of-art investigative techniques and employing massive multi-jurisdictional collaborations, which are directly responsible for today’s indictments and the seizure of nearly 100 guns,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to work with our partners to combat not only the trafficking of illegal weapons, but to also disrupt the assembly and sale of ghost guns both in New Jersey and across the country.”
The 35 state grand jury indictments charge the defendants with offenses ranging from unlawful possession and disposition of handguns, assault weapons, and machine guns to leader of a firearms trafficking network, and also include charges of unlawful transportation of firearms into the state; charges related to the unlawful purchase, manufacture, transportation, and possession of ghost gun parts and ghost guns; unlawful possession of defaced weapons; unlawful possession of weapons during commission of narcotics offenses; unlawful possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines: unlawful possession of illegal hollow-point bullets; and unlawful possession of weapons by convicted felons. Many of the charges carry Graves Act penalties requiring mandatory periods of parole ineligibility of up to five years. As detailed below, two of the guns that were seized have been linked to shootings, including a homicide.
The following cases illustrate the range of the investigations:
Michael Maresca, et al.
Michael Maresca, 32, of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., allegedly trafficked ghost guns in the area of Paterson, N.J. He was indicted with two other men—Robert Moser, 49, of Depauw, Indiana, and Maken Cornell, 52, of Grove City, Ohio—for allegedly conspiring to purchase assault rifle kits, ghost gun parts, and outlawed large-capacity magazines and have them shipped to New Jersey, where Maresca allegedly assembled the illegal guns and sold them. During the investigation, in October and November 2020, five ghost guns and two assault rifles were seized. Maresca allegedly sold two ghost guns to an undercover officer, including one that was equipped with an illegal 15-round magazine loaded with prohibited hollow-point bullets.
Four defendants, including Robert Crosley III, 34, aka “Zombie,” and Matthew Zoba, 40, both of Philadelphia, were indicted on charges that they conspired to run a major Philadelphia-based gun trafficking ring that illegally trafficked guns and methamphetamine into Camden, N.J. They are charged in connection with 22 illegal firearms seized during the investigation—including four assault rifles—as well as seven illegal large-capacity magazines. Between March 2019 and January 2020, they allegedly sold 16 guns in the Camden area during the investigation, including a 9mm handgun linked to a shooting in Philadelphia in which no one was hit, as well as a semi-automatic rifle linked to the Oct. 20, 2019 murder of 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera, who was shot as her mother held her in her arms in their home in Philadelphia. Crosley and Zoba are both charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime.
Enrique “Neff” Alfonso
Enrique “Neff” Alfonso, 28, of Camden, N.J., allegedly used a popular social networking service to conduct illegal firearms sales in the Camden area. Between February and May 2020, he allegedly sold an assault rifle, five handguns, another rifle, and three illegal large-capacity magazines. He is charged in a 17-count indictment with numerous weapons offenses, including possession of a weapon as a convicted felon, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of five years without parole upon conviction.
Christopher J. Pespas
Christopher J. Pespas, 74, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., was indicted on charges that he was purchasing parts for “ghost gun” assault rifles on the internet, along with illegal large-capacity magazines. Investigators executed a search warrant at his residence in August 2019 and seized parts that could be assembled to make three assault rifles—all “ghost guns.”
Isiah Greene and Jamal Bethea
Isiah Greene, 29, and Jamal Bethea, 32, of Trenton, N.J.,alleged members of the Sanhican Drive Boys gang, allegedly engaged in a shootout on Feb. 12, 2020 with two members of the Get Money Boys gang, Shaiquan Hearns and Dion Battle. Greene allegedly fired from a vehicle driven by Bethea. No one on either side of the shootout was hit, but Bethea crashed the vehicle, and Bethea and Greene fled. Greene allegedly hid the gun in the backyard of a residence. Greene and Bethea were indicted on first-degree charges of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder, among other offenses. Hearns and Battle were previously charged by the Division of Criminal Justice with two counts of attempted murder—one count for firing at Greene and Bethea, and another for firing at a police officer who pursued their vehicle after the shootout.
Peter Santos and Joshua Perez
Peter A. Santos, 22, and Joshua M. Perez, 22, of Trenton, N.J., allegedly pistol-whipped a victim with a handgun and robbed him of his wallet in Trenton on Jan. 24, 2021. A subsequent search of a hotel room rented by Perez revealed a second handgun loaded with illegal hollow-point bullets. Both men were indicted on charges of first-degree robbery, as well as aggravated assault and weapons offenses.
The 33 indictments that were presented to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau were presented by the following Deputy Attorneys General (DAsG), under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto, Deputy Bureau Chief Cynthia Vazquez, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart: DAG Robert Anstatt, DAG Karen Braciszewski, DAG Brian Carney, DAG John Donovan, DAG Anna Gildea, DAG Heather Hausleben, DAG Angel Hector, DAG Amie Hyde, DAG Sean Lindenau, DAG Mohammad Mahmood, DAG Katherine Morris, DAG Jaclyn Poulton, and DAG Veronica Vizzard. The two indictments presented to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau were presented by DAG Evgeniya Sitnikova and DAG Kara Webster, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Valerie Butler, Bureau Chief Erik Daab, and DCJ Deputy Director Taggart.
First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000, while second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The sentence for promoting organized street crime must be served consecutively to the sentence for any underlying offense. The second-degree charge of transporting firearms into the state for illegal sale carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed. Possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of five years. The second-degree charge of unlawful possession of a handgun carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed or 3 ½ years, whichever is greater. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 ($35,000 for drug charges), while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Koi Allen, Tyrik Johnson, Hamilton Township, Mercer County, January 19, 2021, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Conspiracy – Second Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance Within 1,000 Feet of School Property – Third Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Possession of Hollow Nose Bullets – Fourth Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree (Johnson).
AAREN C. BAILEY, March 10, 2020, Hamilton Township, Mercer, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.
DAEVON BELL, December 27, 2019, Trenton, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled, Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Possession of Hollow Nose Bullets – Fourth Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity, Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Possession of a Defaced Firearm – Fourth Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.
ERIC CARR, September 21, 2020, Trenton, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance Within 1000 Feet of School Property – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance Within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property – Second Degree, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm without a Serial Number – Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.
JUSTICE CHAMBERS, LAWRENCE BRANTLEY AND VICTOR TORRES, September 20, 2020, Hamilton Township, Mercer, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm – Second Degree – VICTOR TORRES, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm – Second Degree – JUSTICE CHAMBERS and LAWRENCE BRANTLEY, Possession of a Defaced Firearm – Fourth Degree – JUSTICE CHAMBERS and LAWRENCE BRANTLEY, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons– Second Degree -LAWRENCE BRANTLEY.
FELICITA GEE, February 24, 2020, Ewing Township, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession With Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree.
RAJON GLOVER, February 1, 2019, Trenton, NJ, Conspiracy – Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Rifle – Third Degree, Manufacture, Transport, Disposition of a Rifle – Fourth Degree, Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition – Third Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.
RONALD HARRIS, Trenton, NJ July 20, 2020, and on or about July 21, 2020, Human Trafficking – First Degree, Facilitating Human Trafficking – Second Degree, Promoting Prostitution – First Degree, Eluding – Second Degree, Resisting Arrest By Flight – Fourth Degree, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance- Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of Large Capacity, Ammunition Magazines – Fourth Degree, Endangering Welfare of Children – Second Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree,
THURMAN JENNINGS, Hamilton Township, NJ, September 4, 2020, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Receiving Stolen Property– Third Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.
DASHAUN PETERSON and JUSTICE CHAMBERS, Trenton, NJ, September 5, 2020, and September 6, 2020, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled, Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession of with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance within 1,000 Feet of School Property – Third Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous, Substance within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property– Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of an Assault Firearm – Second Degree DASHAUN PETERSON and JUSTICE CHAMBERS, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity– Third Degree.
JOY SCOTT, Trenton, NJ, January 3, 2019, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Distribution of A Controlled Dangerous Substance Within 1000 Feet of School Property – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property – Second Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of an Assault Firearm – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Possession of Hollow Nose Bullets – Fourth Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Endangering Welfare of Children – Second Degree,
KHAZI SPADY and PHILLIP FOSTER, Lawrence Township, September 6, 2020, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree – KHAZI SPADY, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity, Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree – KHAZI SPADY, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree – Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree , Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree – PHILLIP FOSTER, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – First Degree – PHILLIP FOSTER.
HASSAN WILSON, VENESHA PINKNEY and DEWAYNE PINKNEY, Trenton, NJ, February 24, 2021, Unlawful Possession of an Assault Firearm – Second Degree, Possession of a Defaced Firearm – Fourth Degree – HASSAN WILSON, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – First Degree – DEWAYNE PINKNEY, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree – DEWAYNE PINKNEY.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 11:45 p.m. last night (May 29, 2021) a multiple vehicle crash occurred on Route 1 South Bound/Brunswick Pike in front of the Mercer Mall just south of Quaker Bridge Road. The Lawrence Township Police Department, Lawrence Township EMS, Capital Health Paramedics and Lawrence Township Fire Companies responded for reported people trapped in a vehicle.
Upon arrival of Lawrence Township Police and EMS there was no entrapment but they had up to seven injuries from three vehicles. Additional EMS units were called from West Windsor, Hamilton and Trenton to transport the patients.
Radio reports state that five people from the accident were transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton.
Lawrence Township Police are investigating the crash.
Route 1 South in front of Mercer Mall was closed for a short time while tow trucks removed vehicles from the roadway.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–A fundraiser event to benefit the Meredith Havens Fire Museum of Trenton was hosted on Saturday (May 22) by Captain Paul’s Firehouse Dogs, the popular emergency-serviced themed eatery on Princeton Pike in Lawrence Township.
From 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. retired Trenton Fire Chief Dennis Keenan and Michael Ratcliffe, a career firefighter with the Lawrence Township Fire Department, were on hand to sell and discuss their new book, Trenton Firefighting.
The book, released earlier this year by Arcadia Publishing as part of the company’s “Images of America” series, documents the history of firefighting in Trenton, from the formation of Trenton’s first volunteer fire company in 1747, through the city’s transformation to a career (paid) fire department in 1892, and up to the present modern department of the 21st Century. The book features nearly 200 rare photos from the fire museum’s collection and from the archive of the Trenton Free Public Library’s Trentoniania Local History Collection.
Keenan, who joined the Trenton Fire Department in 1962 and rose through the ranks to become chief of department in 1992, authored the foreword to the book. Ratcliffe, a former newspaper reporter who spent 20 years as a volunteer firefighter in Lawrence prior to being hired as a career firefighter in 2013, researched and wrote the book. The book is the culmination of two years’ work by the pair.
All proceeds from sales of the book directly benefit the Meredith Havens Fire Museum of Trenton, the mission of which is to preserve, celebrate, and promote the rich history of firefighting in New Jersey’s capital city and the surrounding Mercer County area.
Founded in 1959 and first opened to the public in 1961 as the Trenton Fire Museum, the museum was renamed in 1974 in honor of its co-founder and first curator, insurance salesman Meredith Havens. Today the museum is housed in Trenton’s historic 1927 Fire Headquarters building, located on Perry Street adjacent to the new Trenton Fire Headquarters that opened in 2000. The museum is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit and is run by a volunteer board of trustees. Keenan is president of that board and Ratcliffe a member.
While the museum itself is presently closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, copies of the book may be purchased for $20 from the Trenton Fire Department clerk’s office and the Trenton Firemen’s Federal Credit Union, both located at Trenton Fire Headquarters at 244 Perry Street. Copies of the book may also be purchased via mail by sending $20 payment to Meredith Havens Fire Museum, in care of Dennis Keenan, at 217 Kensington Avenue, Trenton, N.J. 08618. Please add $3.25 for packaging and postage, with checks made payable to the Meredith Havens Fire Museum.
Bystanders applaud rescue workers and 14-year-old boy gives thumbs up after being pulled from underneath a vehicle on top of him.
May 16, 2021
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 5:20 p.m. the Lawrence Township Police Department, Lawrence Township Fire Department, Lawrence Township EMS and Capital Health Paramedics were dispatched for a pedestrian accident with person pinned under vehicle, reported unconscious.
Lawrence Township Police were first to arrive and were able to communicate with a conscious 14-year-old child that was pinned under the vehicle after being struck on his BMX bike at Brunswick Pike-Business Route 1 and Putnam Avenue . Lawrence Township Police officers kept the child calm and provided aid as Lawrence Township EMS and paramedics arrived.
The Lawrence Township Fire Department responded with three rescue engines and other vehicles. The fire chief reported “All hands working” as they set up rescue tools and air bags to lift the vehicle off the child. Special rescue airbags were set up on cribbing under the vehicle and as the vehicle was raised using air pressure it was stabilized to prevent further injuries.
After being pinned about 26 minutes under the vehicle, the child was freed about 5:46 p.m. As the boy was freed the bystanders that gathered applauded the police, fire and EMS workers that freed the child and thank them for their service.
Luckily the boy appeared to only have minor injuries such as cuts and scrapes, and was transported by Lawrence Township EMS and paramedics to Capital Health Regional Medical Center for evaluation. The boy was seen giving a “thumbs” up in one of the photographs after being pulled from underneath the vehicle.
One witness told MidJersey.news that the boy was able to communicate with his parents via cell phone from under the vehicle just after the accident happened. Another witness told MidJersey.news that the driver wanted to back off the child but knowing that would cause further harm bystanders were able to stop the vehicle before that happened and waited for the police and rescue workers to arrive.
This type of accident usually results in very tragic injuries and one police officer was overheard saying “I’ve never been so glad to talk to a 14-year-old boy.”
Lawrence Township Police were investigating the accident and were seen holding the bike that was broken in two pieces from the impact as part of the investigation process. Any witnesses to the accident should contact Lawrence Township Police Department.
Information provided is from on scene reporting and radio traffic, if official information is received the story will be updated and any corrections made. Check back for updates.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Shortly after 7 a.m. today (May 9, 2021) the Lawrence Township Fire Department and the Lawrence Township Police Department were alerted to a possible vehicle fire on Freedom Boulevard in the Project Freedom development off Princeton Avenue. Police were the first to arrive and found the engine compartment of a parked Ford Fusion heavily involved in fire. The blaze was quickly knocked down and extinguished after firefighters arrived. There were no injuries reported. The cause of the fire was unknown.
Joey’s Little Angels is a non-profit organization organized in memory of 15-month-old Joey Angiolino. Joey was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Hurler’s Syndrome at just seven months old, and passed away in 2010. The organization was started by his parents, who are both teachers in Mercer County, to provide assistance to families who have children going through similar situations.
Joey’s Little Angels is currently working with Where Angels Play Foundation to build a playground at Limewood Park in the Golden Crest section of Hamilton Township, Mercer County. The playground will be called Joey’s Place. Joey’s Little Angels is raising money over the next year for the the playground to be built, and hope to have it up for kids to play in April of 2022.
The fundraiser was held at Captain Paul’s Firehouse Dogs from 11am to 5pm on Saturday, in efforts to help Joey’s Little Angels and Where Angels Play Foundation build the playground. When you visited Captain Paul’s and chowed down on their great food, a portion of the proceeds were donated towards the efforts to build Joey’s Place.
If you didn’t make it out to Captain Paul’s and wish to donate towards the build, you can donate here.
Background behind Where Angels Play Foundation and their playground builds:
Shortly after the Newtown, CT tragedy, the New Jersey State FMBA, like everywhere else, was already struggling to be productive and helpful to advocate for firefighters and their families, supporting countless communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The FMBA also struggled to find a way to appropriately honor these children and their families for the tragedy that they suffered. That’s when they came up with the idea to build twenty-six playgrounds in communities destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, each one honoring a teacher or student that was lost that day in Newtown, CT.
Twenty-six playgrounds have been constructed all along the coast of three states. They have been built by firefighters, police officers, teachers, support staff, and volunteers in an attempt to connect two tragedies that eerily share the same name in a way that people can never forget. Each playground reflects the personality of the teacher or child for whom it would be named. This project has the approval of all of the families of those lost in Connecticut. After The Sandy Ground Project was completed in just 18 months, the 26 families wanted to “pay it forward” and continue to build playgrounds to honor others in needy communities across the country as well as internationally. Thus, Where Angels Play Foundation was born.
Currently, Where Angels Play Foundation is working with Joey’s Little Angels to build a playground in memory of Joseph “Joey” Thomas Angiolino. In December of 2009, at 7 months of age, Joey was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease called Hurler’s Syndrome. At 15 months of age, after a tremendous battle, Joey became an angel. Joey’s Little Angels is founded by Joey’s family who are very active in their community to raise money for various children’s hospitals. In April of 2022, “Joey’s Place” will be built in Limewood Park to celebrate the life of Joey.
Captain Paul’s Firehouse dogs is located at 2230 Princeton Pike in Lawrence Township. According to their website, Captain Paul’s is a small family-owned and operated business in Mercer County. It was established in 2009 when the owner, Paul Tweedly, retired from the Trenton Fire Department as Captain after 26 years of service.
It is a business “Dedicated to the men and women associated with emergency services, the military and their families, and for all those who volunteer to help others.”
The variety of menu items can be viewed here. They offer takeout and outdoor dining, as indoor dining is limited.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Yesterday, Governor Phil Murphy announced his nomination of Colonel Dr. Lisa Hou as Adjutant General and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA). Colonel Hou, who has served in the position since October 2020 in an interim capacity, will be the first Asian American and first female Adjutant General in the state’s history.
“Colonel Hou took the reins of the New Jersey National Guard and the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs in the midst of this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “Since day one, she has demonstrated that she is the right person for the job, from overseeing the deployment of our National Guard to our vaccination sites, to taking immediate action to keep our veterans safe, to sending National Guard members to our nation’s capital to defend our democracy. I know that Colonel Hou will bring the same dedication to this job as she has exhibited throughout her entire career, including her tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“I am grateful to Governor Murphy for selecting me to head this department which has proven vital to the citizens of New Jersey during this pandemic,” said Acting Adjutant General and Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Colonel Dr. Lisa Hou. “With 25 plus years wearing an Army uniform and nearly the same amount of time as a doctor, it feels like I have been training for this job for decades. As a physician and veteran, I’m determined to make New Jersey a better place for veterans, servicemembers, and their families.”
Prior to her current role, Colonel Hou served as the Deputy Adjutant General and Assistant Commissioner for Operations at DMAVA. In that role, she was the principal advisor for military readiness, mobilizations, homeland security, defense support to civil authorities, human resources, logistics, training, and financial management to the Adjutant General. In the New Jersey National Guard, Colonel Hou served as the first Joint Surgeon, coordinating medical efforts with partner agencies during domestic operations, such as the pandemic.
Previously, Dr. Hou served in the dual roles of commander of the Medical Command and the State Surgeon. In those capacities, she was responsible for the medical and dental readiness of more than 6,000 soldiers. Since 2013, Dr. Hou has also served as the Region II representative for the National Guard Bureau (NGB) Medical Advisory Group and, from 2018 to 2020, she served as the Chair of the Army National Guard Credentials Certification and Privileging Preparation Board. In August 2020, she became the Chair of the Army National Guard Medical Advisory Group.
In 2011, Dr. Hou served in Afghanistan as the Field Surgeon for Charlie Company, 700th Brigade Support Battalion, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. She was the sole medical provider on an Afghanistan National Army base and was responsible for providing routine and advanced emergency medical care in the combat theater to more than 600 coalition soldiers, contractors, and foreign nationals.
From 2005 to 2006, she served in Iraq as the Senior Field Surgeon for Echo Company, 50th Main Support Battalion, 42nd Infantry Division, where she performed routine and advanced emergency medical care for coalition soldiers and Iraqi civilians and maintained medical readiness for mass casualty trauma.
Dr. Hou joined the New Jersey National Guard in 1994 while a medical student at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, NJ. She received her doctoral degree in Osteopathic Medicine in 1996.
She also earned a Masters in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College in 2019. She is currently enrolled in a Masters of Business Administration program at Rutgers School of Business – Camden.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–A vehicle traveling North on I-295 in Lawrence around the 67.3 mile marker and Exit 67A/B for Route 1 North bound appeared to rear end another vehicle causing multiple non-life threating injures. The accident happened around 4 pm sending Lawrence Police, NJ State Police, Lawrence EMS and two ambulances out of Hamilton to the scene. Traffic was backed up for close to two miles for Exit 67 A/B until the accident could be cleared up.
NEWARK, NJ (ESSEX)–Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephen, II., and Newark Public Safety Director Brian O’Hara announced today that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force, which includes detectives from the Newark Police Department, is investigating a fatal shooting.
On Monday, April 12 at approximately 4:23 pm Anthony M. McGriff, 34, of Lawrenceville was shot on the 100 Block of Prince Street in the City of Newark. He was transported to University Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 5:08 pm.
No arrests have been made at this time. The investigation is active and ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432. Calls will be kept confidential.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 12:53 pm. Lawrence Township Fire Companies, Lawrence Police and Lawrence EMS, were dispatched to Bakers Basin Road for a vehicle into a utility pole with entrapment. Upon arrival EMS and firefighters. it was found that a vehicle had cut a pole in half and live wires down. The person that was reported trapped was pulled from the vehicle. Lawrence Township Police has Bakers Basin Road closed at Basin & Lawrence Station Roads and near the Delaware – Raritan Canal. The person was taken to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center. PSE&G will be working on the repairs most of the day, Google Maps is reporting that repairs could take up to midnight.
No further information is available at this time. If information becomes available the story will be updated and corrections made.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Today the Mercer County Fire Service laid to rest John Loyal Newbon, Sr. who was beloved by many throughout the county. A large contingent with hundreds of firefighters and apparatus stretched for blocks as the motorcade made their way from Hamilton Township Station 18 (Colonial) past Hamilton Fire Station 14 (Hamilton) and to the final resting place at Greenwood Cemetery. A full firefighter’s ceremony included bag pipers and a “final call” from Mercer County Central/KSO-869 over the fire radio channels.
Our friend John will be greatly missed, he joined the fire service as a junior member of Hamilton Fire Company in 1977 at the age of 16 and continued to serve in various positions in the fire service in Mercer County for 43 years.
John L. Newbon, Sr.
April 24, 1961- March 20, 2021
John Loyal Newbon, Sr., 59, of Hamilton, passed away peacefully on Saturday,
March 20, 2021 at Beth Israel Hospital, Newark, NJ. Born in Trenton, NJ he was a lifelong Hamilton Twp. resident. The name Loyal meaning faithful and unswerving was a fitting name for John.
He started his career in Fire Service by joining the Hamilton Fire Company in 1977 at the age of 16 as a Junior Fireman. He did this for 2 years before moving up to a regular contributing member in 1979, as Operator 59, serving on many committees.
John moved to active status in 1980 and put in 7 years of over 60% of fire calls, he became exempt in the company and received his qualifying certificate for the state in 1991.
John served as Trustee 1980 – 1984, Vice president 1992, President 1993,
Chief Driver 1991 – 1994, 3rd Captain 1981 and 2004, 2Nd Captain 1982 – 1983, 1991 – 1992 -2005, Chief in 1989 and 1996 to present, and company secretary for many years.
He achieved his life status with state relief association and has served for many years as Vice president and president of the Hamilton Fireman’s Relief Association. John held every office in the Mercer County Fireman’s Association and has helped with many committees and the memorial service.
John was a life member and served on the credentials committee and audit committee for the State Exempts Association. He served as a Commissioner for Fire District 4 from 1993 – 2017 and 2019 – 2020 and was a member of the State Board of Commissioners.
He joined the Slackwood Fire Company to help the residents of Lawrence Township and moved up to Trustee and most recently Assistant Chief.
John was a Senior Supervisor for Mercer County Communication 911 Dispatch Center, Operator 105 , and was active with the County Fire Coordinator office.
In the little bit of spare time he had, you could find him at his camper in the Pleasant Valley campground. He loved hunting, catfishing and vacationing with his family.
Predeceased by his parents, Blanche and Albert Newbon and his sisters Patricia and Fern; he is survived by the love of his life , wife of 39 years Jacqueline “Jacki” (Salay); 3 children, son John Jr., daughters Jamie, and Jacquelyn and husband Anthony, his granddaughters whom he loved so much Alyssa, Cassidy, Lily, Aja; brothers Thomas and wife Virginia (Gini), brother Brian and wife Betty; step-mother-in-law, Sandi Brelsford; beloved canines Cleo and LuLu, along with many other family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues, who will miss him dearly .
Visitation for family and friends will be held on Friday March 26, 2021 from 3:00pm-9:00pm and again on Saturday, March 27, 2021 from 8:00am-10:00am at the Colonial Fire House, 801 Kuser Road, Hamilton NJ.
The funeral service will be held Saturday at 10:00am at the Colonial Fire House.
Burial will follow in Greenwood Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Saint Barnabas Burn Center, 95 Old Short Hills Road, West Orange, NJ 07052, in John’s name.
Arrangements are under the direction of Buklad-Merlino Memorial Homes, Hamilton.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Just after 9:00 am the Lawrence Township Police Department and Lawrence Township Fire Department responded to the intersection of Federal City Road and Lawrenceville-Pennington Road for a two vehicle accident with a person trapped in one of the vehicles that was overturned.
When the Lawrence Township Fire Department arrived on scene they confirmed a person trapped in the vehicle and reported “going to work” for the extrication, additional units were called to the scene. Within 10 minutes Lawrence Township firefighters extricated the person and turned them over to Lawrence Township EMS. A witness said that injuries appeared to be non-life-threating.
Responding were Lawrence Township Police Department, Lawrence Township Fire Department, Lawrence Township EMS, and Capital Health Paramedics.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP (MERCER)— Multiple fire companies responded to 2 Fairview Terrace just after 10:00 am for a reported fire in the laundry room. The first alarm was called when units arrived on scene with smoke showing.
The fire rapidly spread over the garage. Flames could be seen shooting from the windows of the rear and left side of the home. Two lines were stretched into operation to extinguish the fire.
The fire was placed under control just before 10:45 am.
Responding companies included all Lawrence Township Fire Companies, as well as mutual aid companies from Ewing and Princeton.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Lawrence Township Fire Departments Stations 23, 22 and Princeton Fire Department Station 60 were dispatched for a car fire at Princeton Pike near Meadow Road, Lawrence Township. The well involved car fire was reported at 9:45 am and was extinguished by Lawrence Township Station 23. There were no reported injures in the fire. Police closed Princeton Pike in both directions between Lewisville Road and Fackler Road during the fire. No further information was available.
This is still a developing story keep checking MidJersey.news for further updates:
February 17, 2021
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)– An email from Rider University to students, faculty and staff about the incident MidJersey.news brought to you earlier:
This afternoon we issued a stay in place order to students, faculty and staff after receiving a threat we deemed credible and dangerous to the campus community.
A former employee of a campus contractor called the University this afternoon and made a direct threat to harm former colleagues on campus. This was the same individual whom we contacted students, faculty and staff about yesterday, believing he potentially posed a risk to our community after he issued a related threat of violence on Feb. 16, one that was not specific to any individual.
After receiving this more direct threat today, Lawrence Township Police and Trenton Police, working with Public Safety, immediately responded and quickly placed the individual in custody at his place of residence. The swift action of law enforcement led to Rider lifting the stay in place order in less than an hour.
Rider has also issued a Persona Non Grata letter to this individual, which prohibits them from entering or being on University property. Public Safety will continue to have an increased presence on campus.
Rider’s top priority is to keep our campus community safe. The precautionary and protective measures taken over the past two days were meant to achieve that goal. We’re grateful for the work of law enforcement and Public Safety and the cooperation of our campus community during this incident.
Please know that if we conclude it is not safe to come to campus or to be moving about campus, we will communicate that to you. The first message we sent last night was based on less specific, but still concerning, information. Our assessment of that information led to our putting our community on notice of a person of concern. Today’s threat was much more directed and imminent, such that we issued a shelter in place order, directing everyone on campus to remain in place until further notice so as not to potentially be in harm’s way.
In an emergency situation, when information is often not available in abundance, we will always err on the side of caution and issue immediate directives via RiderAlert to students, faculty and staff to help ensure their safety. We will make our best assessment in that moment, focusing on immediate safety, and provide additional information as it becomes available.
Our main way to communicate urgent information during an emergency is through Rider Alert, our electronic notification system for students, faculty and staff. We will almost always utilize text messaging in an emergency, as it is the fastest and most efficient way to disseminate information. If you did not receive a Rider Alert message during this incident, please contact Debbie Stasolla at email@example.com.
Thank you again for your cooperation, patience and understanding. We will continue to share relevant new information as it becomes available.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–The Lawrence Township Police Department can confirm that there were shelter in place instructions given to the Rider University community by the school administration on 02 17 2021. The shelter in place order has since been lifted by the school administration and there is no longer any type of threat to the Rider University community. The Lawrence Township Police Department can confirm that both incidents are connected. The investigation is ongoing at this time and criminal charges are expected to be filed, Lawrence Township Police told a MidJersey.news reporter.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP (MERCER): On February 9th 2021, the Lawrence Police Department responded to the area of the CVS store located at 2971 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ on a report of a male acting erratically and harassing customers.
Responding Lawrence Police officers located the male, later identified as Byung Yu, a 50 year old male from Princeton, NJ operating a 2017 Honda Accord. Lawrence Police officers attempted to conduct a motor vehicle stop on the 2017 Honda Accord, however the operator, Yu failed to comply with officer’s commands and continued to elude officers in an unsafe manner on Brunswick Pike in Lawrenceville, NJ.
Yu was later apprehended by Lawrence Police officers a short distance away on a residential street. During the apprehension a Lawrence officer sustained an injury.
Yu was charged with Complaint Warrant 2021-0088-1107 with the below listed offenses:
1 count of Eluding: 2C:29-2B (2nd degree) 1 count of Aggravated Assault: 2C 12-b1 (3rd degree) 1 count of Resisting Arrest: 2C:29-2A(1) (4th degree) 1 count of Obstructing the Administration of Law: 2C:29-1 (Disorderly Person)
A subsequent investigation conducted by Lawrence Police identified Byung Yu as the suspect responsible for committing the offense of Criminal Mischief from an incident that occurred earlier in the day in the a 2600 block of Lawrence Rd, Lawrenceville, NJ.
In that incident, Yu was captured on surveillance video vandalizing a residents lawn sign. Yu was charged with 1 count of Criminal Mischief and issued Complaint Summons 2021-000089-1107.
Please contact LT Joseph Lech of the Lawrence Police Department if you have any additional questions. 609-844-7128 firstname.lastname@example.org
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Lawrence Road Fire Company Station 22 responded to a well involved car fire in front of 43 Greenfield Avenue this afternoon. Lawrence Township firefighters quickly extinguished the fire. No further information is available about the fire.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Just after 8:30 am employees reported an alarm sounding thought at the time to be a CO2 alarm (carbon dioxide) with two employees feeling ill and the store was evacuated. Lawrence Township Police, Lawrence Township EMS and firefighters from all three Lawrence Township fire companies responded to the scene. PSE&G arrived and tested the air using a multi gas meter and found 83 parts per million of CO (carbon monoxide) in an area of the building. Firefighters also arrived and found mostly negative readings until they were in an area of a stove. PSE&G and firefighters made the building save and the issue was resolved. The store was reopened and customers and employees returned to business as usual. The two employees that reported illness did not wish transport to the hospital. No further information was available.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Once again, Mercer County Sheriff Jack Kemler has issued a warning to area residents regarding telephone scammers posing as Mercer County Sheriff’s Officers. Over the past month, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office has received numerous complaints about suspected phone scams asking residents for personal bank account information or cash payments. Some calls have reached residents throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The scammers identify themselves as Mercer County Sheriff’s Officers along with fictitious badge numbers. The callers state they have an arrest warrant related to money laundering charges and need access to their bank accounts. The scammers also suggest meeting at a location and to bring cash for bail or fines. Otherwise, they will be taken into custody. “I can state with confidence the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office will never call anyone and ask for their bank account number or to meet in an odd location to pay bail or fines with cash,” said Sheriff Kemler.Unfortunately, it is difficult to crack down on telephone scammers because calls are often generated from phone banks located out of state. While the calls remain under investigation, the best advice is to exercise common sense. If a resident suspects a particular telephone call may be a scam, do not give out any personal information and simply hang up. Anyone who receives such a call and is uncertain of its validity should report the call to the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office at 609-989-6111.
LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–A serious crash involving a Nissan Murano and a pedestrian occurred at the intersection of Princeton Avenue and Spruce Street sometime before 8:30 am. Lawrence Township Police, Lawrence EMS and Capital Health Paramedics responded to the scene. The person was transported to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center. The Lawrence Township Fire Department responded to help clean up and wash down the accident scene.
Information contained in this story is breaking news and from on scene reporting, witnesses and radio traffic. An email was sent to Lawrence Township Police for official press information once received the story will be updated and any corrections and additions made.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County plans on opening an COVID-19 vaccination site at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton in partnership with Capital Health System. An additional vaccination site is planned at Mercer County Community College and will be managed by the County Health Officer’s Association. See full press rease below from Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes:
Dear Mercer County Community,
The State of New Jersey this week ramped up its COVID-19 vaccination efforts, and Mercer County is preparing to do the same. The County will open a vaccination site at CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton in partnership with Capital Health System, which will manage the site. The opening date is dependent on vaccine supply but a soft opening is planned next week.
We had a successful partnership with Capital Health during the COVID-19 testing program we established last spring, and I can’t think of a more fitting partner for this next phase of the pandemic response – the vaccination phase. Like other vaccination locations, this site will be for those eligible under the state’s phasing plan that is designed to ensure that those most at risk are prioritized.
Mercer County also is working on opening a vaccination site at Mercer County Community College that would be managed by the County Health Officers Association and utilize all of the resources and staffing available from the municipal and county health offices. The arena and MCCC vaccination locations will supplement, not replace, smaller sites including those currently being operated by municipal health departments and other health care facilities in Mercer County. If you have questions about the CURE Insurance Arena or MCCC vaccination sites, please email email@example.com.
As of this morning, at least 7,342 vaccine doses had been administered in Mercer County, according to the state Department of Health. While we all want to see that number grow exponentially, we are simply not getting enough vaccine from the federal government, and we are using every single dose we receive.
I ask that everyone be patient throughout what will be a months-long vaccination process and continue to take basic preventive measures to reduce the spread of the virus, which is still rampant in our community and seemingly everywhere else. Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth; keep a least 6 feet away from other people; practice good hand hygiene; avoid large gatherings; and stay home if you are sick.
Anyone can – and everyone should – pre-register to receive a vaccination by visiting the state’s online portal at https://covidvaccine.nj.gov. The state expects to have a consumer call center up and running soon to assist people without Internet access in scheduling appointments, and to help answer general inquiries and questions. Those who have pre-registered will be notified when they are eligible to make a vaccination appointment. The state is compiling a list of designated vaccination locations for eligible recipients. That list will continue to grow.
For more information on who is eligible, and how to get vaccinated if you are eligible, please visit the state’s COVID-19 Vaccine website.
In addition to vaccinations, Mercer County continues to respond to the pandemic through testing, contact tracing and support. The County, in partnership with Vault Health Services, is offering a free COVID-19 saliva test on the next two Tuesdays – Jan. 19 and 26 – at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton. For details, please visit the COVID-19 Testing page on the County website, where you’ll also find information on the County’s at-home testing program.
These are trying times but we will get through them. Let’s continue to support each other and keep each other safe. Let’s continue to work together.
Six-Month Investigation Yields 18 Arrests, Guns, $228,000 in Drugs
TRENTON (MERCER): Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri today announced that a six month, multi-jurisdictional investigation of narcotics distribution and violent crime in the Mercer County area has culminated with the arrest of 18 individuals and the seizure of approximately 1,000 grams of heroin, 1,000 grams of methamphetamine, 15 pounds of marijuana, 11 guns, six vehicles and more than $22,000 in cash.
“Operation Eight-Ball was an enormous investigative endeavor and as a result, many violent offenders have been taken off of the street,” said Prosecutor Onofri. “I cannot thank our many law enforcement partners enough for their dedication and assistance in providing safer neighborhoods for the residents of Trenton and Mercer County.”
“Our law enforcement challenges this year required a coordinated plan, and I’m thankful for the city, county, state, and federal officers who stepped up to make Trenton a safer place to live,” said Trenton Police Director Sheilah A. Coley. “In just this operation alone, their hard work yielded multiple firearms, high-capacity magazines, kilograms of narcotics, and more than 15 arrests, six of which are connected to several homicides. This multi-tiered response awaits any criminal group that seeks to plague our streets with drugs and violence.”
“This investigation makes clear the violence associated with drug trafficking,” said Susan A. Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division. “Those targeted in this investigation brought violence and misery to the residents of Mercer County. Their arrests have made the community safer, and DEA will continue to work with our partners to pursue those who violate the law.”
“In the spring of 2020, as the number of shootings and homicides in Trenton began increasing at an alarming rate, we set out to expose trends and connections that might be responsible for triggering the uptick in violence,” said Prosecutor Onofri.
The Mercer County Narcotics Task Force, the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Economic Crime Unit, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and many state, county and local police agencies, began their hard-hitting investigation a short time later and dubbed the job “Operation Eight-Ball,” representing the eight-ball logo used by Trenton’s H-Block, a violent criminal street gang responsible for numerous shootings and murders in the city. According to Prosecutor Onofri, the initial investigation focused on the alleged drug activities of H-Block, and through informant information, controlled buys, surveillances and intelligence, authorities were able to obtain and execute more than 40 warrants of individuals, vehicles and locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
On November 4, 2020, search warrants were executed and arrests were made as this investigation progressed. On this day, an undercover officer made arrangements to purchase a quantity of heroin from Joseph Kaite. After conducting the narcotics transaction with the undercover detective at a gas station on North Olden Avenue in Trenton, detectives attempted to arrest Kaite, however, he fled in his vehicle. When detectives attempted to stop Kaite, he collided with a police vehicle causing heavy damage to both vehicles. He then attempted to flee on foot but was apprehended after a brief struggle. Also arrested inside the vehicle were Vincent Bowman and Zaire Jones. Search warrants related to the investigation were subsequently executed and detectives located 30 bricks of heroin and a shotgun. At an apartment on Beakes Street in Trenton, detectives located evidence related to murder of Derek Colley that resulted in homicide charges being filed against Kaite and Tabika Hale.
The investigation continued into 2021 and last week, search warrants were executed at locations in Trenton and Ewing, New Jersey, and Bristol and Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Prior to the execution of these warrants, surveillance officers followed Deshawn Abner as he traveled by cab from Bond Street in Trenton to the Extended Stay Motel on Route 1 in West Windsor where Abner and a second individual, identified as Aziz Stroman, were
observed searching a wooded area around the hotel. After searching the area for about 30 minutes, Abner was seen retrieving a box containing 210 bricks of heroin from the bushes in the hotel parking lot. After retrieving the package, Abner entered the Mercedes Benz Stroman had arrived in, and the two men departed the area. Arrest teams converged on the area and both Abner and Stroman were eventually detained after attempting to flee. A search warrant for Stroman’s Mercedes Benz was obtained and detectives located 210 bricks of heroin on the front passenger floor. Both Abner and Stroman were charged with first-degree narcotic offenses.
After Abner and Stroman were taken into custody, detectives contacted officers in Pennsylvania who had an individual identified as Ricardo Moise under observation. Through the investigation, authorities had pinpointed Moise as the supplier of heroin to North Trenton. At that time, Moise was seen moving items out of his apartment on Beaver Street in Bristol Township, and detectives from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, with assistance from Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and the Bristol Borough Police Department, arrested him for outstanding warrants as a result of distributing 75 bricks of heroin to an undercover officer in the spring of 2020. Search warrants were subsequently executed at related locations.
According to Prosecutor Onofri, the total retail value of the confiscated drugs is $228,000. The heroin is valued at $60,000; the methamphetamine is valued at $100,000; and the marijuana at $68,000.
In addition to the narcotics, authorities also seized 11 guns, six vehicles and approximately $22,000 in cash. Approximately 24 bank accounts in connection to the investigation were frozen and continue to be investigated by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Economic Crime Unit.
As a result of this cooperative investigation, the following arrests were made with the listed charges:
Prince Attoh, 20, Trenton – Numerous narcotic-related offenses
Additionally, information obtained during Operation Eight-Ball directly linked Tyzir Hamilton, 19, Treizon Thompson, 20, and Darnell Davis, 19, to the murders of William Irizarry and Julius Vargas. Arrest warrants for the three defendants were obtained in October 2020 and search warrants were also executed at several locations, which led to the recovery of several weapons.
Operation Eight-Ball developed over six months of investigation. It initiated with the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force, the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Economic Crime Unit, and received support and resources from 16 additional agencies including:
Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Homeland Security Investigations
New Jersey State Police Crime Suppression Central
Mercer County Sheriff’s Office
Bucks County District Attorney’s Office (PA)
Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office
Ewing Police Department
Hamilton Police Department
Lawrence Police Department
Princeton Police Department
Robbinsville Police Department
Trenton Police Department
West Windsor Police Department
Bristol Borough Police Department (PA)
The College of New Jersey Police Department
In the interest of investigative security and pursuant to established court requirements, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office is limited in discussing specific details regarding the ongoing investigation and the alleged conspiracies. Despite having been charged, all persons are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The first Mercer County COVID-19 vaccine clinic was held in Hamilton today at Station 17
December 28, 2020
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Township in collaboration with the Mercer County Health Officer Association (MCHOA) held the first COVID-19 vaccine clinic earlier today to Phase 1A healthcare workers.
In order to maximize COVID vaccination efforts, the Mercer County Health Officers Association has joined together to serve all communities within Mercer County throughout the four phases of the COVID-19 vaccination distribution. Under CDC and State health guidelines, the Moderna doses will first be distributed to healthcare workers who qualify under Phase 1A and who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19 through their employer or the federal Pharmacy Partnership for Long Term Care (LTC) Program administered through CVS and Walgreens.
This MCHOA is currently planning a series of COVID-19 vaccination clinics to support ongoing efforts to vaccinate healthcare workers which include emergency medical services. The MCHOA will administer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations at clinics throughout Mercer County municipalities point of dispensing (POD) locations. The clinics will be held twice a week on a rotating schedule and have the capacity to handle 500 vaccines per week.. The COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be by appointment only and subject to the availability of vaccine doses on hand or accessible within the supply chain.
“Hamilton Township is proud to partner with the Mercer County Health Officer Association in order to ensure that those on the frontlines in our fight against this virus receive the vaccine as quickly as possible,” said Mayor Jeff Martin. “The arrival of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is a continued step forward to provide protection to more of our community’s critical healthcare workforce and eventually the general adult population.”
“Vaccination is a critical component to protecting our residents,” stated Hamilton Township Health Officer Christopher Hellwig. “Working together to safeguard the citizens of Mercer County is exactly what the founding members of the MCHOA had in mind when they formed in 1972. Our vaccination clinics will continue that ideal and work to protect the public’s health particularly those that have been most impacted by COVID-19, while giving us a clear end to this pandemic.”
Local Health Departments are one piece of the puzzle to vaccinate the State goal of 70% of the adult population in 6 months. This collective effort will ensure that our residents are provided with the opportunity to receive their vaccination in a timely manner and in a safe medical setting. COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be rolled out in phases determined by the State. The Mercer County Health Officers Association collaboration will continue to work closely with federal, state, and local partners.
Last night, Council President McBride, Councilwoman Vaughn, and Councilman Rodriguez blocked the efforts of Trenton Water Works (TWW) to replace lead service lines throughout our regional service area. TWW has made great strides in its initial phases of lead service line replacement and this $15 million bond ordinance was needed for the third phase scheduled to start later this year. In addition, the third phase would have triggered a program from the N.J. Infrastructure Bank that would have given 50 percent forgiveness on the bonds. The ordinance fell one vote shy of the five needed to pass, which will effectively freeze the service line program for the near future.
The council members who voted against the ordinance have effectively told their constituents as well as customers in other service municipalities that they do not care if lead is removed from their water. The fact remains, TWW is under a Consent Order with the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). Trenton faces a lawsuit by NJDEP as well as other service municipalities that TWW is not working fast enough to adhere to environmental standards as well as service line replacement. The three council members who voted against the ordinance have made that worse.
The lack of foresight is staggering. Council’s failure to approve this ordinance jeopardizes our plans to remove all lead services from the TWW system within the next six years. The well-established threat of lead in drinking water did not move the council members who voted against this proposal. Neither did the fact that half of $15 million proposal would have been forgiven under a state grant, which is a tremendous benefit for our city’s strained budget.
So long as homeowners have galvanized lead service lines running to their homes, they could be affected by lead-tainted water. It was time for City Council to take the appropriate action to protect its constituents and TWW service area consumers from these environmental hazards. Blocking this ordinance is nothing less than gross malfeasance.
Council members voting in the affirmative for the bonds were City Council Vice President Marge Caldwell-Wilson and Councilmen Jerell Blakely, Joe Harrison and George Muschal. –Statement from Trenton Mayor W. Reed Gusciora
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey Lottery headquarter building reopened Wednesday following a temporary shutdown due to a positive case of Covid-19. The building has been professionally deep cleaned and will remain closed to the public until Monday, December 28.
Wednesday’s mid-day drawings for Pick-3 and Pick-4 will be conducted today at 12:57 p.m. according to regular procedures. The mid-day drawings will be broadcast and livestreamed on the Lottery’s Facebook and Livestream pages. Wednesday’s evening drawings will also return to normal procedures.
An individual employed by a Lottery vendor tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday, December 22. The individual was last in the building on Thursday, December 17. As of today, no confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been reported by Lottery employees. All employees who had close contact with the individual have been notified and are taking appropriate action.
Operations, including Tuesday night’s drawings, were moved to the Lottery’s Business Continuity Site, which is designated as a back-up facility to ensure continuity of critical business functions in the event that Lottery Headquarters is ever closed or inaccessible for any reason.
The New Jersey Lottery has numerous protocols in place meant to protect workers and the public. The building is cleaned daily and employees follow state and CDC recommended safety measures, including wearing masks and socially distancing.
The New Jersey Lottery will reopen to the public by appointment only on Monday, December 28. Claimants should call the NJ Lottery at 1-800-222-0996 to schedule an appointment during normal business hours. Players without appointments will not be accepted at this time. Claimants are required to wear a mask or face covering when visiting the office.
In addition to mailing, players can also deliver claims to Lottery Headquarters using the new drop box located next to the lobby at our Headquarters in Lawrence. The drop box is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. No appointment is needed to access the drop box, and the drop box is monitored by Lottery Security Officers.
The media and public are being apprised of the reopening of the Lottery studios with this release and through our social media and other public-facing communication channels.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey Lottery headquarters building is temporarily closed effective immediately for cleaning due to a positive case of Covid-19. Operations will continue at the Lottery’s Business Continuity Site, which is designated as a back-up facility to ensure continuity of critical business functions in the event that Lottery Headquarters is ever closed or inaccessible for any reason.
Lottery staff will conduct tonight’s evening drawings at the Business Continuity Site, a secure environment. As always, the drawings will be monitored by an independent auditor. Tomorrow’s drawings may also be impacted.
The general public should be aware that:
The Lottery office will be closed to the public until at least Monday, December 28.
The office closure will also necessitate the cancellation of any winner claims appointments. Appointments will be rescheduled after the office reopens.
The drawings will be held at the Business Continuity Site.
The drawings will still be conducted using mechanical ball machines and in accordance with standard lottery procedures.
Drawings for games broadcast from the Business Continuity Site will not be broadcast or livestreamed. Those games include Pick-3, Pick-4, Jersey Cash 5, and CASH4LIFE.
The drawing results will be posted to the website, mobile app and emailed to the VIP Club members as per standard operating procedure.
The drawings will be videotaped for security purposes only.
The media and public are being apprised of the closure with this release and through our social media and other public-facing communication channels.
The Business Continuity Site is housed at a secure location away from Lottery Headquarters. A team of employees was designated as essential to operations and assigned functions at the Business Continuity Site. The Business Continuity Site facility houses key staff from all Lottery departments including the: Executive team, Administration and Compliance, Communications and Public Relations, Drawing, Finance, Operations, Security and Technology.