PRINCETON, NJ (MERCER)–On August 3, 2021, at 5:11 am, Princeton Theological Seminary Security contacted the Princeton Police Department to report a fire at the Lenox House, 31 Library Place.
Princeton Police Department dispatched the Princeton Fire Department and the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad. First arriving Princeton Fire Department units found fire through the roof and on the 3rd floor of the building.
Automatic mutual aid was received from Princeton Plasma Physics Lab Fire Department, Plainsboro Fire Department, Princeton Junction Fire Department, Rocky Hill Fire Department, Kingston Fire Department, Lawrenceville Fire Department, Hopewell Fire Department, Montgomery #1 & #2 Fire Companies and Monmouth Junction Fire Department. In addition to mutual aid a recall of the career staff was needed.
The fire reached 2 alarms before it was placed under control at 7:11 am.
There are no reported civilian or Fire Fighter injuries.
The fire suppression efforts were led by Fire Chief Thomas Johnson. The investigation is being led by Director of Emergency Services Michael Yeh, Fire Marshal Joseph Novak, Princeton Police Department Detective Sergeant Benjamin Gering and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
The fire remains under investigation currently.
Statement from the Princeton Theological Seminary:
A fire began early morning on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, at the Lenox House. The campus building is primarily used for faculty offices. The building was empty at the time of the fire, and no one was injured.
We thank the Princeton Police Department for its response, the Fire Department for containing and extinguishing the fire, as well as all other first responders who swiftly arrived to campus.
PRINCETON, NJ (MERCER)– Early this morning at 4:10 a.m., a resident on Armour Road called the Princeton Police Department dispatch center to report their garage was on fire. The Princeton Fire and Police Departments along with the Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad were dispatched to the address.
When Police arrived, they updated the Fire Department that the garage was fully involved in fire and the fire was spreading to the house. Princeton Fire Department Ladder 60 requested the full First Alarm Assignment. Princeton Ladder 60 arrived at 4:18 a.m.
Fire suppression efforts were led by Princeton Assistant Chief Dan Tomalin. Mutual Aid was received from Plainsboro Fire and EMS, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab, Lawrenceville, Princeton Junction, Montgomery #2, Rocky Hill, East Windsor #1 and West Windsor Emergency Services. Montgomery #1 and Pennington covered the Princeton Fire Department. The fire reached 2 alarms before being brought under control.
The investigation, led by Princeton Fire Marshal Joseph Novak revealed the resident woke up and saw fire in their garage area. They contacted Princeton Police Department dispatch center. The origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation at this time. There were no injuries reported. The house is uninhabitable at this time. The residents are staying with friends.
Alleged Leader Charles M. Willis and Others Charged in 2019 Murder and 2020 Shooting That Left 12-Year-Old Girl in Critical Condition
July 29, 2021
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced the indictment of 20 alleged members and associates of the “Get Money Boys” or “GMB,” a violent gang allegedly linked to multiple shootings in Trenton, including a December 2019 murder of a 32-year-old man, the attempted murder of a police officer in February 2020, and a June 2020 shooting that wounded several bystanders on Wood Street, including a 12-year-old girl who was critically injured.
Acting on intelligence from the Trenton Police Department about alleged gun violence by GMB members, the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau began investigating the gang and its alleged leader, Charles M. Willis, aka “Charly Wingate” or “Gate,” in late 2019. They collaborated with the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police, Trenton Police Department, West Windsor Police Department, Hamilton Police Department, Ewing Police Department, Mercer County Shooting Response Team, and Mercer County Corrections.
The investigation led to numerous arrests last summer as violence linked to GMB escalated during the COVID pandemic, culminating in the June 3, 2020 shooting on Wood Street. Alleged GMB member Davion Fenderson allegedly attempted to murder a man, firing from a car at a crowded porch. The targeted man was only grazed, but gunfire struck three other victims, critically injuring two—a man who was shot in the chest, and the 12-year-old girl, who was shot in the abdomen.
Investigators—who had already arrested Willis and five associates in connection with the December 2019 murder, the attempted murder of the police officer, and another prior shooting—arrested 10 more alleged GMB members beginning two days after the Wood Street shooting.
The July 23, 2021 indictment charges all 20 defendants with first-degree racketeering. Fenderson was directly indicted for attempted murder and aggravated assault in the Wood Street shooting, and the indictment also charges Willis with those offenses for allegedly ordering the shooting. In addition, On February 12, 2020, GMB members allegedly shot at two men, causing them to crash their car, and when a police officer pursued the GMB members, they allegedly fired at him. The officer was not hit. Those men and Willis are charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault in the shooting involving the two civilians.
“We can and must end gun violence in New Jersey, and this latest indictment reflects our commitment to doing so,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “We are using every tool and resource at our disposal to keep the residents of New Jersey safe.”
“The Division of Criminal Justice and its partners acted with a sense of urgency when they arrested members of this gang last summer as violence escalated,” said Director Lyndsay V. Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Because of the intelligence-driven investigation we had conducted, we were prepared to act swiftly to protect Trenton residents. This indictment is an important next step in our efforts to keep the community safe by keeping these alleged gang members behind bars.”
“The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office is extremely proud of major collaborative investigations such as the one that led to these indictments,” said Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri. “When we all partner together to stop the criminal activities that threaten the safety of our citizens, we send a message to these violent gang members that their destruction won’t be tolerated in our communities.”
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to our law enforcement partners and the residents of Trenton to continue to aggressively pursue violent criminals and criminal organizations whose actions far too often have tragic and unintended consequences—like the shooting of an innocent 12-year-old child,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Today’s indictments are the first step to ensuring that those responsible are held accountable.”
It is alleged that the Get Money Boys, under the leadership of Willis, controlled heroin and cocaine distribution in the area around the Oakland Street Apartments in Trenton. Willis allegedly gave orders to lower ranking GMB members to carry out acts of violence against rivals on behalf of the gang. In addition to being charged with other defendants in first-degree counts of murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder, Willis is charged with first-degree leader of a narcotics trafficking network and first-degree promoting organized street crime.
Many of the defendants face narcotics and/or weapons offenses. In addition, the 61-count indictment charges defendants in connection with the following shootings:
Sept. 17, 2019 Shooting. Shaiquan Hearns is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons offenses for allegedly shooting a man in the leg in the early morning hours of Sept. 17, 2019 on Lamberton Street in Trenton.
Dec. 27, 2019 Murder of Michael Barnes. Michael Barnes, 32, was shot in the face on Commonwealth Avenue in Trenton on the night of Dec. 27. Davion Fenderson, Willis, Hearns, and Richard Fenderson are charged with murder.
Feb. 12, 2020 Shooting of Civilians and Attempted Murder of Police Officer. On Feb. 12, GMB members allegedly shot at two men, causing them to crash their car. When a police officer pursued the GMB members, they allegedly fired at him. He was not hit. Hearns, Dion Battle, and Yahonatan Salter are charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault in the shooting involving the officer. Those men and Willis are charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault in the shooting involving the two civilians.
May 1, 2020 Shooting. On the night of May 1, 2020, five GMB members allegedly opened fire on a group of individuals on Sanhican Drive in Trenton, wounding two men. Willis, Shawn Anderson, Bobby Hood, Zaire Jackson, and David Williams are charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons offenses in that shooting.
The state grand jury indictment is posted online at
The indictment charges the following defendants with first-degree racketeering and other offenses:
Charles M. Willis, 28, of Willingboro, N.J.
Shaiquan Hearns, 22, of Trenton, N.J.
Davion Fenderson, 27, of Trenton, N.J.
Richard Fenderson, 33, of Trenton, N.J.
Bobby Hood, 29, of Trenton, N.J.
Dion Battle, 29, of Trenton, N.J.
Yahonatan Salter, 29, of Trenton, N.J.
Shawn Anderson, 23, of Trenton, N.J.
Zaire Jackson, 26, of Trenton, N.J.
David Williams, 29, of Camden, N.J.
Dahquay Poole, 18, of Trenton, N.J.
Tre Whetstone, 27, of Trenton, N.J.
Charles J. Willis (Willis’ father), 50, of Lawrenceville, N.J.
Fredrick Eutsey, 46, of Ewing, N.J.
John M. Colvin Jr., 24, of Trenton, N.J.
Laurence Green, 45, of Trenton, N.J.
Briana Blue, 24, of Princeton, N.J.
Tameka Flemming, 31, of Trenton, N.J.
Ashley Jones, 31, of Trenton, N.J.
Brittani Mims, 32, of Trenton, N.J.
Acting Attorney General Bruck commended all of the prosecutors, detectives, investigators and officers who participated in the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, New Jersey State Police, Trenton Police Department, Trenton Shooting Response Team, and New Jersey Department of Corrections.
Deputy Attorneys General Cassandra Montalto and Jaclyn Poulton presented the indictment to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart.
The detectives who conducted the investigation for the Division of Criminal Justice are Lt. Brian Woolston, Sgt. Kevin Gannon, Detective Scott Caponi, former Detective Zachary Grey, and other members of the Gangs & Organized Crime Central Squad, under the supervision of former Lt. Brian Bruton, Deputy Chief of Detectives Frederic Moore, and Chief of Detectives Weldon Powell.
First-degree murder carries a sentence of life in state prison, including 30 years of parole ineligibility, while the first-degree charges of attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder carry a sentence of 10 to 30 years in state prison. The other first-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in prison and fine of up to $200,000. The racketeering charge carries a period of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed.
Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of five years, and unlawful possession of a weapon carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed or three years, whichever is greater. Third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Around 12:40 p.m. South Brunswick Police and EMS responded to US Route 1 near Ridge Road for a pedestrian struck. The victim, a woman in her 30’s reportedly from Princeton was rushed to the Trauma Center at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. She succumbed to her injuries at the hospital a short time later.
The South Brunswick Police Department issued a traffic alert for a partial road closure due to the accident investigation.
The investigation is still active and if anyone has any information they area asked to call South Brunswick Police at (732) 329-4646
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Tradition is that every summer after the Stanley Cup Finals the winning team gets the cup for a tour for around 100 days a year in the off season. Robbinsville’s Ross Colton was the first team member of the Tampa Bay Lightning to tour with the cup for the day. Ross spend the morning in Hamilton at Ice-Land Skating Center and then Robbinsville Township in the afternoon.
Ross Colton grew up in Robbinsville and played hockey locally for Mercer Chiefs at Ice-Land and Princeton Day School before being drafted into the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning and was in his rookie year when he scored the only goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals clinching the cup for Tampa Bay.
Photos from today’s events:
Ross Colton with Robbinsville Township firefighters in front of Squad 40.
(Ed Note: Some Robbinsville firefighters share a ticket plan for the NJ Devils a number of years ago and when I could not make a Devils/Rangers game for work or another reason, I gave the tickets to a friend of Ross (a NJ Devils fan back then) and went with Richie S. that was a Ranger fan and was prior to him going to PDS since I remember asking him if he was playing for Robbinsville at that point and said PDS– prior to MidJersey.news I used to take a lot of hockey photos for local papers and that’s how it worked out. Section 1 Row 19 Seats 1 & 2 on 3-19-13) So 8 years later here he is in front of our Squad
WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The NJ Urban Search And Rescue Task Force One has deployed to Surfside, Miami, Florida for a building collapse. The team left this morning around 6:45 a.m. and was spotted in Robbinsville, NJ at New Jersey Turnpike Exit 7A with a police escort en route to Florida.
Known locals responding and/or on the team are: Brad Ladislaw, Jay Ryan, Joe Flynn, Jeff Barlow from Hamilton Township Fire Department. Lt. Michael McMahon, Planning Team Manager, from West Windsor Police Department. Scott Cook, Rescue Specialist from West Windsor Fire & Emergency Services. Mike Yeh, Task Force Leader, Princeton Emergency & Safety Services-Princeton Junction Fire Company. Trenton Fire Department Battalion Chief Dave Smolka, Technical Search, Deputy Chief Anthony Moran, Safety, and Joe Szabo, Rescue Specialist. (list updated as we get it)
New Jersey Task Force 1 (NJ-TF1) has been activated as 1 of the 28 teams of the National Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) Response System and will be deploying tomorrow morning to assist with the rescue and recovery efforts resulting from the Champlain Tower Collapse.
NJ-TF1 is deploying as a Type 1 US&R Team consisting of 70 team members, in 21 technically skilled positions, and 10 ground support personnel. The team will be responding via; two crew carriers, three tractor-trailers, two box trucks, five F-450 crew trucks, two passenger vans, two K-9 units, two utility terrain vehicles, and a fleet service truck. A water rescue component of six boats with trailers and a water support trailer are also being deployed.
NJ-TF1 is deploying to a staging area in Miami, Florida. This will be the team’s eighth deployment as a FEMA US&R Team since 2016. The team has past experience in structural collapse from 9/11, Tropicana Hotel Parking Garage Collapse and the Hackensack Parking Garage Collapse among others.
NJOEM & NJ-TF1 continue to send our thoughts and prayers to everyone impacted by this deadly tragedy.
Our hearts go out to the brave first responders who are working around the clock in search of survivors. We’ll see you soon.
PRINCETON – WEST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–It has been a little over two weeks since the last Brood X cicada update. At West Windsor in the area of Van Nest Park in the Grover’s Mill section cicadas could be heard at the park and around the memorial to the War of the Worlds.
Driving from the park to Princeton on Washington Road cicadas could be heard very loudly. Near the Carnegie Lake Rowing Association parking lot and and along the lake cicadas were so loud they were reaching 91decibles at times.
91decibles is very loud and louder than a smoke alarm. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) regulates fire codes and mandates that a smoke alarm emit a sound that is a minimum of 75 decibels. The average smoke alarm in North America exceeds that by emitting an 85-decibel alarm. The cicadas were 6 decibels louder than the average smoke alarm.
If you have not seen or heard cicadas now is the time since they will only be around for a couple more weeks.
TRENTON-PRINCETON, NJ (MERCER)–A Canadian teen who called in a bomb threat to Princeton University in September 2020 recently pleaded guilty in Mercer County Family Court, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.
The 16-year-old male, whose name is being withheld because he is a juvenile, entered a guilty plea to one count of third-degree false public alarm on May 28, 2021. He was sentenced to a probationary term of two years along with conditions that he perform 30 hours of community service, pay a $2,000 fine, surrender his driver’s license for six months, and undergo a psychological evaluation and follow any recommendations that result.
On Sept. 19, 2020, the Princeton University Department of Public Safety (DPS) received a phone call from an individual reporting that he had placed improvised explosive devices in several locations on campus, including the Art Museum, Firestone Library, Nassau Hall and the Chapel. The buildings were evacuated and searched to ensure the safety of all members of the community. No explosive devices were found.
Multiple law enforcement agencies across the United States and Canada participated in the extensive investigation of this incident. At DPS, the investigation was led by Detective Martin Krzywicki. The investigation resulted in the identification of the suspect and issuance of a warrant for his arrest.
The suspect was taken into custody in Louisiana on March 24, 2021, by the local sheriff’s department to face charges signed by DPS detectives.
The teen will now be extradited to Connecticut to face similar charges in that jurisdiction.
PRINCETON, NJ (MERCER)–After spending the last 17 years underground millions of Brood X (10) periodical cicadas have emerged. The insects make their way to the surface usually after a good rain and soil temperatures about 8″ under the surface hit 64F.
When cicadas come out of the ground they are called a nymph, and they try and find a tree to shed their nymph skins. Once the old skin is shed they spread their wings and change color as an adult cicada. Soon after the cicadas make a loud noise to attract a mate. Females will then lay eggs on a tree then after the eggs hatch the small cicadas drink tree sap and make their way back down the tree and start their life for another 17 years below the surface.
Brood X will emerge in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC.
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.
PRINCETON, NJ (MERCER)–If you’re a Central Jersey local, the ionic colonnade at Princeton Battlefield State Park is a monument you’ve likely visited or driven past on numerous occasions—but what is it, really?
Choreographer, filmmaker, and Lawrenceville NJ resident Merli V. Guerra presents a groundbreaking new production that answers this question through a creative blending of history, dance, and technology. Now open to the public, “The Time Traveler’s Lens” is an extended reality (XR) immersive performance illuminating the history of this mysterious local landmark.
“As an artist and history-lover, I am constantly finding myself tapping into the hidden layers of a space’s identity, past and present,” says Guerra. “When visiting ruins, I have an urge to physically touch the remnants of stone walls and pillars that hold memories of times past.”
Guerra is a professional dancer and award-winning interdisciplinary artist with a background in ballet, modern, and classical Odissi Indian dance. She is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Luminarium Dance Company—an award-winning contemporary company in Boston, MA—and has performed lead roles with acclaimed companies on tours to India (2007, 2012) and Japan (2009). Guerra is a freelance choreographer, filmmaker, writer, and designer whose works have been presented by 80+ events across the U.S., as well as Argentina, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. She is currently a Part-Time Lecturer and MFA in Dance candidate at Rutgers University, set to graduate this May.
In March of last year, Guerra began working on her thesis, choosing to highlight the history of the colonnade: “When I began researching the layers of history associated with the colonnade, I questioned how its marble columns might play back these experiential recordings; how the experiences of these stones might translate into human behavior; and how choreographic and virtual tools might be used to immerse viewers in each layer of this site’s identity.”
The culminating production, presented with support from both Rutgers University and Luminarium, publicly launched on Monday and provides viewers with an exciting interactive experience both on and off the park grounds. This site-specific performance features five 360-degree dance films that are viewable as augmented reality (AR) across the battlefield grounds on visitors’ personal mobile devices or as a virtual reality (VR) experience when viewed remotely elsewhere. This immersive, yet Covid-safe, performance invites visitors to become active participants in the colonnade’s history. Shot in 360, no two viewings of this work will ever be alike.
“My mother’s property is within walking distance from the monument. I remember many visits there when I was a child,” says Wendy Lawson, who viewed the work remotely from Massachusetts. “Merli’s work has brought this monument alive again! What fascinating research she uncovered. I got lost in time while watching all the videos!”
“The Time Traveler’s Lens” is accessible via a website (http://luminariumdance.org/time) that can be unlocked for free using passwords found at the Princeton Battlefield State Park or by paying a one-time ticket purchase for infinite remote access. Visitors are encouraged to view these XR films using the free YouTube app on their mobile devices for an immersive 360-degree experience. Visit http://luminariumdance.org/time to learn more.
Legislation is Part of a $100 Million Relief Package for New Jersey Small Businesses
April 12, 2021
PRINCETON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed into law A-A5446, which provides $15 million in federal COVID-19 relief aid for small businesses throughout New Jersey. The bill – sponsored by Senators Linda Greenstein and Joseph Lagana and Assembly Members Joann Downey, Andrew Zwicker, and Sterley Stanley – provides aid in the form of grants to small businesses and non-profits in need. The bill is part of a five-bill, $100 million relief effort aimed at helping New Jersey’s small businesses recover from the year-long pandemic.
“New Jersey’s small businesses were particularly hard hit by the ravages of COVID-19, ” said Governor Murphy. “This legislation, along with three additional bills I signed last week and one I will sign in the near future, will go a long way toward helping hundreds of state businesses keep their doors open as we recover from this year-long ordeal.”
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, supporting small businesses has been central to Governor Murphy’s response. These businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, and ensuring they not only recover but come back stronger and better prepared for future challenges is critical to achieving a sustainable, equitable recovery,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The funding announced today, in addition to the other funds for specific industries announced over the past week, will provide much-needed support for businesses as they overcome the remaining pandemic-related challenges and set the stage for a stronger, fairer recovery.”
“Providing our support during this difficult time will not only allow these organizations to remain in operation, but will help preserve and create jobs while spurring the economic recovery we aim to achieve,” said Assembly Members Downey, Zwicker and Stanley. “Investing in our businesses and non-profits will have a direct, beneficial impact on families throughout our state for years to come.”
“Throughout the last year, COVID-19 has placed a serious strain on many of our local businesses and nonprofit organizations. Unfortunately, a number of beloved businesses in our communities were unable to weather this storm and sadly closed their doors for good,” said Senator Greenstein. “This $15 million in federal funding will provide a big sigh of relief to so many business owners and nonprofits throughout our state, as well as their employees and individuals that rely on their services.”
“Providing financial support to businesses and nonprofits is fundamental to their survival during the pandemic,” said Senator Lagana. “Local businesses create vibrant downtowns and communities, while nonprofits can efficiently and effectively provide services for people in need. Together, they will play a central role in New Jersey’s economic recovery and the quality of life for our residents.”
The relief aid will be administered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, which will announce when the application for the aid is open. To date, the NJEDA has distributed more than $250 million in aid to some 55,000 businesses across the state.
The signing was held at Jammin’ Crepes, a business that began its journey at a farmers market in the local train station parking lot and in 2014 opened its first brick and mortar location in downtown Princeton.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A former Princeton resident was arrested today and charged with engaging in multiple fraudulent schemes intended to steal millions of dollars from individual and institutional victims, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Ford Graham, 57, formerly of Princeton, New Jersey, was arrested today in Nellysford, Virginia, and charged by criminal complaint with two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, and one count of engaging in unlawful money transactions. Graham made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Hoppe in Harrisonburg, Virginia, federal court. Graham will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on a date to be determined.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
From December 2012 to September 2013, Graham represented himself as the owner, chief executive, chairman, manager, and principal member of dozens of corporate entities purporting to do business under an umbrella organization, Vulcan Capital Corp. (Vulcan). Graham held himself out as a highly successful financier who had vast experience sponsoring complex energy and natural resource projects and other investment deals. In connection with one such investment that Graham and a Vulcan entity sponsored, one victim (Victim-1) invested more than $2 million with Graham, relying on Graham’s misrepresentations and omissions regarding the investment. The investigation revealed that Graham misappropriated substantial amounts of Victim-1’s investment money and used it for his own personal benefit and enrichment – including international vacations, private school tuition for his children, and other personal amenities – instead of the investment purpose that Graham had marketed. Graham caused multiple victims to lose more than $2.6 million.
Graham also participated in a scheme to defraud merchant processing institutions through fraudulent credit card transactions. From December 2017 to February 2018, Graham used at least one payment processing platform to process fraudulent charges on stolen credit card numbers that he obtained. After the payment processing platform credited Graham’s account with the payments requested, Graham quickly transferred or caused to be transferred the fraudulently obtained money to other accounts before the victim institutions could act. When requested by the victim payment processing company to provide supporting documentation, Graham submitted false documentation, including fabricated invoices and credit card authorization forms, fabricated e-mails, forged signatures, altered bank statements, and other false and fraudulent information. This scheme resulted in tens of thousands of dollars of losses and the misappropriation of multiple victims’ personal identification information.
From February 2017 to June 2018, Graham conspired with others to defraud victim institutions and individuals of millions of dollars through a business email compromise scheme. Members of the conspiracy sent fraudulent e-mail communications to victims who were scheduled to make substantial outgoing wire transfers to third parties. These fraudulent e-mails created the appearance that they had been sent by the intended third-party recipients of the scheduled payments when, in fact, they were sent by members of the conspiracy. The fraudulent emails requested the victims to reroute the scheduled payments to different bank accounts, which Graham and his conspirators controlled. In one instance, a fraudulent email successfully induced one victim unknowingly to reroute a payment of more than $650,000 to a bank account that Graham controlled. Upon receiving the funds, Graham transferred or caused to be transferred substantial portions of those funds to other accounts that he controlled, and which he used and intended to use for his own personal benefit. Graham and his conspirators attempted to defraud multiple victims of at least $6 million.
The wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross amount of gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater. The securities fraud count is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. Each count of aggravated identity theft is punishable by a statutory mandatory consecutive sentence of two years, which must run consecutive to any other sentence. The charge of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense or not more than twice the amount of the criminally derived property involved in the transactions.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr.; special agents of IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez; and inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Rodney M. Hopkins, with the investigation leading to today’s charges. Acting U.S. Attorney Honig also thanked investigators with the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, under the direction of Chief Christopher W. Gerold, for their assistance in connection with the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Brendan Day, Attorney-in-Charge of the Trenton Branch Office, and Martha K. Nye, of the Criminal Division in Trenton.
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 email@example.com
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
WEST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–On Saturday January 2, 2021 at 9:07 am, Patrol & Traffic Units and the WW Division of Fire & Emergency Services were detailed to U.S. Route 1 North at Harrison Street for a Serious Motor Vehicle Collision. Upon the arrival of responding Units, the individual inside of Vehicle #1, a 2017 Toyota Corolla, was found entrapped in the wreckage and exhibiting no signs of life. U.S. Route 1 in both South and North directions needed to be fully closed.
The initial investigation revealed the following: Vehicle #1, a 2017 Toyota Corolla was traveling Northbound on U.S. Route 1 North. Vehicle #2, a 2005 International Dump Truck, was traveling Westbound at the Harrison Street Jug handle and was attempting to continue straight on Harrison Street. The Toyota Corolla was traveling Northbound on U.S. Route 1 North and was approaching the Harrison Street intersection. The intersection is governed by a traffic signal. The traffic signal had been red for U.S. Route 1 traffic and green for the Harrison Street Jug handle traffic. The Toyota struck the International Dump Truck in the U.S. Route 1 Northbound lanes. The collision caused dump truck to overturn. Both Vehicles came to their final resting places in the intersection with dump truck remaining on its passenger’s side.
The 21 year old driver of the Toyota from Kendall Park, NJ was pronounced deceased at the scene. The Driver dump truck a 22 year old resident of Princeton was uninjured from the collision. There were no additional persons in either vehicle. U.S. Route 1 was closed in both directions for approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes. The WWPD Traffic Bureau & Detective Bureau in conjunction with the SCRT are continuing the investigation. If you have any pertinent information, please contact Traffic Officer McQuade at McQuade@westwindsorpolice.com or Traffic Sgt. Bal at Bal@westwindsorpolice.com or at (609) 799-1222.
**Identities withheld at this time**
Kendall Park, NJ is a section of South Brunswick Township, Middlesex County, NJ
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.
Team coverage by: Dennis Symons, Tyler Eckel, and Brian McCarthy
PLAINSBORO, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Firefighters, EMS, and police with over 50 pieces of apparatus took part in a hospital worker appreciation event tonight at UPenn Princeton Medical Center. Hosted by Plainsboro Fire Department and Police, many agencies came through to show their support for hospital workers.
Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and even the Grinch showed up to show their support riding in the fire department’s ladder towers and were able to see hospital employees though the windows of the hospital.
This is a partial list of those participated:
Plainsboro Fire, Plainsboro EMS, Plainsboro Police Department, West Windsor Police Department, Princeton University Pubic Safety, Kingston Fire Company, Monmouth Junction Fire Comapny, Kendal Park Fire Comapny, Hightstown Fire Department, Little Rocky Hill Fire Company, Griggstown Fire Company, Middlesex County Hazmat, Princeton Plasma Physics Lab Fire Department, South River Fire Department, Monroe Fire Company – 51, Lawrenceville Fire Company -23, North Brunswick Fire Company #1, North Brunswick Fire Comnpany #2, North Brunswick Fire Company #3, New Jersey State Forest Fire Service, NJSP Aviation Unit, East Windsor Rescue Squad, Princeton Rescue Squad, Mercer County Fire Coordinator, Hopewell Fire Department – 52
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Willing Workers of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church and members of Mercer County’s PBAs (Police Benevolent Associations) distributed frozen turkeys and food baskets late this afternoon at the church on North Clinton Avenue.
There were at least thirty boxes of frozen turkeys distributed with an average weight of around 55 pounds per box for a total of about 1,600 pounds. There were numerous baskets of food and turkey baking supplies provided to go along with the frozen birds.