Category: Trenton

Mayor W. Reed Gusciora Congratulates Trenton City Council’s Historic Win

January 25, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Mayor Reed Gusciora congratulated Jasi Edwards, Crystal Feliciano, and Yazminelly Gonzalez on winning the three At-large seats on the Trenton City Council in a decisive victory; the New Jersey Globe and the Trentonian have called the Trenton Council At-Large Run-Off Election in favor of these three councilmembers-elect. In a historic first, women will hold six out of seven elected positions on the Trenton City Council.

With all election districts reporting, Edwards received 1,966 votes, Feliciano received 1,939 votes, and Gonzalez received 1,823 votes. Finishing behind the three winners were Taiwanda Terry-Wilson (996 votes) Alexander Bethea (879 votes), and Kadja Manuel (764 votes). These numbers may change slightly after the remaining mail and provisional ballots are counted.

Mayor W. Reed Gusciora stated, “Over the last four years, political gridlock turned into deadlock. Our administration has always sought compromise and collaboration as we work to revitalize our city’s economy, improve the quality of drinking water, and keep our streets safe. Yaz, Crystal, and Jasi will be incredible advocates for Trentonians, and they’ll join our four city councilmembers as critical partners.”

While it is unclear when the official results of the election will be announced by the Mercer County Clerk and certified by the Trenton City Clerk, it is expected that the winners of the Trenton Council At-Large Run-Off Election will soon thereafter be sworn in. While Mayor Reed Gusciora and four ward representatives currently serving on the Trenton City Council had been sworn in on January 1, 2023, they agreed to delay their inauguration until the entire legislative body had been elected.

As a result, a public inauguration will be held for Mayor Reed Gusciora and the soon-to-be seven member Trenton City Council at the War Memorial Building on February 10, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. Additional information will be made available to the public when the results of the Trenton Council At-Large Run-Off Election have been certified.

Mayor W. Reed Gusciora affirmed, “This recent news is welcomed, but we can only celebrate victory after our shared goals have been achieved. We’re very glad, however, that all elected city councilmembers are committed to producing a renaissance in the Capital City. We’re ready and prepared to move this city forward.”


Mercer County Paid Nearly $4.5 Million in Fines and Interest for Delinquent Taxes, Investigation Finds

An Office of the State Comptroller investigation reveals Mercer County regularly failed to make timely and sufficient payroll tax payments.

January 25, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) released a report today revealing that Mercer County paid nearly $4.5 million in penalties and interest for delinquent tax filings and payments between 2018 and 2021. During this period, the Mercer County Finance Department regularly failed to make adequate and timely payroll tax payments to both the Internal Revenue Service and the New Jersey Division of Taxation.

Employers are required to file quarterly payroll taxes to both state and federal tax agencies. For each delinquent filing, Mercer County was assessed penalties and interest charges. In total, the County incurred $5.5 million in penalties and interest for delinquent taxes. But with abatements of penalties from the Internal Revenue Service, the amount owed and paid was reduced to $4.48 million.

 “Mercer County inexplicably wasted millions of dollars by failing to pay its state and federal taxes on time,” said Kevin Walsh, Acting State Comptroller. “When the government doesn’t pay the bills, the taxpayers pay the penalties.”

OSC’s investigation found that the county finance department, led by Mercer County’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO), lacked basic internal financial controls; it did not have an organizational chart, written policies, or a system of checks and balances to ensure that its financial system was properly managed.

During the investigation, OSC also discovered that the CFO did not have nor did he seek to obtain the statutorily required credentials to hold the position of CFO—for the entire time he was employed by the County. By law, the CFO is required to hold a county finance officer certificate, which involves training courses, prior experience as a finance officer, and certain higher education requirements.  In August 2022, Mercer County informed OSC that the CFO was placed on administrative leave without pay for his failure to secure the credentials.

Appointed by the County Executive, the CFO operated independently, with minimal oversight by his supervisor, OSC found. The County Administrator, who manages day-to-day affairs for county government, told OSC that she gave the CFO substantial discretion in handling departmental operations.  In the absence of effective internal controls monitored by executive level employees, the deference provided to the CFO allowed the waste to go undetected for years. 

Mercer County failed to make timely tax payments for 13 consecutive quarters from July 2018 through September 2021.  During that time, there was only one quarter in which the County was not charged interest due to late payments; during that quarter, the County had instead overpaid by more than $3 million. The IRS automatically applied part of that overpayment to the County’s prior delinquent taxes and returned the remainder.

“The County didn’t take basic steps to prevent these wasteful payments and didn’t catch that its unlicensed CFO wasn’t paying the County’s bills on time,” said Walsh.  “This wasn’t a one-time mistake.  It was a pattern that went on for years.”  

Although OSC made several requests, the County did not provide a complete list of all of its bank accounts, the names of the individuals who had access to accounts, or any documentation establishing how penalties and interest were paid.  

OSC recommended changes to increase financial oversight and prevent future waste.  The County has agreed to implement OSC’s recommendations and has formed a Finance Committee to oversee the operations of MCFD.



Investigation of Waste at Mercer County Finance Department

Introduction

An Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) investigation has found that Mercer County incurred and paid nearly $4.5 million in penalties and interest for delinquent tax filings and payments between 2018 and 2021, resulting in waste that was paid by Mercer County taxpayers. During that time period, the Mercer County Finance Department (MCFD) consistently made insufficient and untimely payroll tax payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the New Jersey Division of Taxation (Division of Taxation). For each delinquent filing, Mercer County was assessed penalties and interest that could have been avoided.

In the course of the investigation, OSC also discovered that the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for the County lacked the statutorily required certificate to serve as CFO. OSC also found that MCFD’s operations contravene best practices for the management and operation of a public entity’s finance department, creating additional risk for fraud, waste, and abuse.

In order to avoid penalties and interest and to ensure that taxpayer funds are protected, OSC makes six recommendations to Mercer County at the conclusion of this report.

Background

A. Mercer County Government

Mercer County operates under a county executive form of government with a Board of Commissioners serving as the County’s legislative body and a County Executive administering county operations.1 The Board consists of seven members elected to three-year staggered terms.2 The Board is responsible for (1) adopting the County’s Administrative Code; (2) passing ordinances and resolutions; (3) reviewing, modifying, and adopting all operating and capital budgets; (4) evaluating and studying the County’s annual budget before final approval; and (5) entering into contracts with municipalities in the county.3

The County Executive is elected to a four-year term of office.4 The Office of the County Executive is responsible for oversight of the County’s various departments. Department heads are appointed by the County Executive, with advice and consent from the Board.5 Within the Office of the County Executive, the County Administrator manages the day-to-day operations of the County.

B. County Chief Financial Officer

New Jersey law requires every county to appoint a CFO who is responsible for the proper financial administration of the county.6 The CFO’s statutory duties include, among other things, (1) acting as custodian of all public funds; (2) developing a system of internal controls to protect assets and ensure proper accounting compliance; and (3) complying with IRS regulations regarding employee payroll and vendor payments.7 County CFOs are appointed for three-year terms and must hold a county finance officer certificate issued by the Division of Local Government Services (LGS), a division within the state Department of Community Affairs.8 Requirements to obtain a certificate include certain higher education requirements, experience as a county finance officer, and satisfactory completion of various training courses.9

The Mercer County CFO is appointed by the County Executive and serves as Treasurer and Director of the Finance Department. In addition to the CFO’s statutory duties, the Mercer County CFO is responsible for providing accounting records and preparing the county’s annual financial statements, preparing the annual budget, and providing for long-term capital financing for county entities. 10

C. Federal and State Payroll Taxes

Employers, including governmental entities, must pay federal and state payroll taxes based on a percentage of an employee’s compensation. The employer is responsible for withholding the correct amount of payroll taxes from each employee’s paycheck and remitting the funds to federal and state taxing authorities, along with the employer’s share of the payroll taxes.11 These federal and state tax deposits must be remitted to the taxing authorities in a timely manner after each payroll cycle.  The due date for the payroll tax deposits is based on the employer’s size and the frequency of payroll cycles.12 Employers are required to prepare and file quarterly payroll tax returns with the federal and state taxing authorities. The returns are due on the last day of the month following the end of the quarter. The return calculates quarterly payroll taxes, reconciles payroll taxes due to amounts previously paid, and identifies additional taxes that must be paid and refunds owed to employers.13

D. Payroll Tax Penalties

Employers that do not timely file payroll tax returns are subject to a penalty.14 For federal payroll taxes, the penalty is set at five percent of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late, and is capped at 25 percent of the employer’s unpaid taxes. If the employer’s return is more than 60 days late, the minimum failure to file penalty is $435 or 100 percent of the tax required to be shown on the return, whichever is less. A failure to file penalty is capped after five months. 

Employers that do not pay the tax reported on their return by the due date are subject to a separate penalty, known as a “Failure to Pay Penalty.”15 This penalty continues until the delinquent tax is paid, up to a maximum of 25 percent of the unpaid tax. In addition to the failure to pay penalty, the IRS also charges interest on any unpaid payroll tax until the balance is paid in full.16

The Division of Taxation also charges penalties and interest for the late filing and payment of state payroll tax returns. Like the IRS, the Division of Taxation imposes a late filing penalty of five percent of the unpaid tax for each month or part of a month a payroll tax return is late, capped at 25 percent of the total unpaid tax.17 The Division of Taxation also charges a five percent late payment penalty for the underpayment of taxes in addition to interest on the unpaid balance due.18

Methodology

OSC’s investigation was initiated upon receipt of a confidential complaint in 2021. OSC is authorized to conduct investigations concerning alleged fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement of State funds, designed to provide increased accountability, integrity, and oversight of county and municipal governments. To conduct its investigation, OSC obtained and examined numerous documents, including IRS account transcripts for quarterly payroll tax returns for the period of 2018 to 2021.

OSC conducted interviews with multiple current and former employees of MCFD, as well as the Mercer County Administrator. OSC attempted to interview David Miller, the Mercer County CFO during the period under review, about the operations of MCFD and the issues identified in this report. Mr. Miller through his attorney represented to OSC that if interviewed he intended to exercise his right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

OSC sent discussion drafts of this Report to Mercer County and Mr. Miller to provide them with an opportunity to comment on the facts and issues identified during this review. In preparing this Report, OSC considered the responses received and incorporated them where appropriate.

Findings

A. From  2018 to 2021, Mercer County Incurred Nearly $4.5 Million in Penalties and Interest for Late Payroll Tax Filings and Payments.

1. Penalties and Fees Related to Federal Taxes

From October 2018 through the end of 2020, the County incurred over $900,000 in penalties due to its failure to file timely federal payroll tax returns, ultimately paying nearly $830,000 after an IRS abatement of $73,000.19 In 2018, the County filed its fourth quarter payroll tax return nine months late.  The County failed to file even one timely payroll tax return for 2020. On average, the 2020 quarterly returns were filed five months late, with the third quarter return filed over seven months late and the fourth quarter return filed almost nine months late.  This resulted in the IRS assessing late filing penalties of almost $700,000, with the County paying $600,000 after receiving an IRS abatement.  IRS Account Transcripts dated May 18, 2022 indicated that the County as of that date had not filed the 2021 fourth quarter payroll tax return and, as a result, may be subject to additional penalties and interest. 

Mercer County also incurred “Failure to Pay” penalties for 13 consecutive quarters from July 2018 through September 2021. This resulted in Mercer County paying over $2.7 million in penalties after the IRS abated almost $1 million in penalties for late payments for the same period.

From July 2018 through March 2021, the County also incurred over $363,000 in interest charges and paid over $334,000 after an IRS abatement.  During that time, there was only one quarter in which the County was not charged interest due to late payments.  For that one quarter (the third quarter of 2019), the County overpaid its tax liability by more than $3 million. The IRS automatically applied part of that overpayment to the County’s prior delinquent taxes as far back as 2015 and refunded the remaining amount.

2. Penalties and Fees Related to New Jersey State Taxes

During the course of this investigation, OSC requested information about penalties and interest Mercer County paid to the Division of Taxation in excess of its payroll tax liabilities, but the County did not provide any responsive records.  As a result, OSC obtained from the Division of Taxation directly a summary of penalties and interest incurred and paid by the County since 2009.  OSC found that between 2018 and 2021, the County paid $599,889 in penalties and interest.

3. MCFD Did Not Maintain Any Written Policies and Procedures Governing the Filing and Payment of Payroll Taxes

OSC requested MCFD’s written policies and procedures governing the filing and payment of payroll taxes and was informed that MCFD did not maintain any. As a result, OSC obtained information about MCFD’s payroll tax processes through interviews with MCFD employees.

As part of the payroll process, MCFD’s accounting software generates paper checks for MCFD to pay its payroll taxes.  However, according to MCFD employees, Mr. Miller regularly instructed the payroll clerk to void these checks and, instead, submit the federal tax deposit through the IRS’s automated phone system. MCFD employees also reported that Mr. Miller would take the voided state payroll tax checks and wire the payments to the taxing authority himself.

MCFD employees could not identify a reason why the payroll tax deposits and returns were not timely filed. Rather, one witness reported that Mr. Miller described the penalties and interest as simply “the cost of doing business.” Further, despite several requests, the County did not provide a complete list of all its bank accounts, the names of the individuals who had access to the accounts, or documentation of how the penalties and interest were paid.  

B. The County CFO Did Not Possess the Certificate Necessary to Serve in That Role.

By statute, an individual must hold a county finance officer certificate issued by LGS to serve as a County CFO.20 OSC’s investigation revealed that Mr. Miller did not hold, or even apply for, a county finance officer certificate during his entire tenure as Mercer County CFO.21 As a result, Mercer County was without a properly credentialed CFO for over a decade.

C. MCFD Failed to Follow Best Practices in the Operation of the Department and Was Inadequately Staffed.

Best practices for the management and operation of a public entity’s finance department include, among other things, reliance on a formal organizational chart; the use of written policies and procedures for each task performed by the department (e.g., the filing and payment of payroll taxes); the segregation of department duties; and thorough documentation of the responsibilities of each position within the department.22 Executive level employees should actively oversee the implementation of internal controls developed to ensure integrity in the management of public funds, monitor the performance of those controls, and work with a committee to oversee the department’s operations.23

OSC’s investigation found that the County and MCFD failed to follow these best practices, creating a risk for fraud, waste, and abuse. MCFD does not have an organizational chart clearly defining the department’s reporting structure, identifying the positions available within the department, and listing the current staff members. MCFD also does not have written policies and procedures establishing internal controls and the segregation of duties that provide checks and balances on employees involved in approving expenditures of public funds. 

The County Administrator — the Mercer County representative responsible for overseeing MCFD — told OSC that she was unaware of any written policies or procedures guiding the operation of MCFD.  When asked specifically about policies governing the segregation of department duties, the County Administrator stated that an employee’s formal job title and the duties assigned to that title ensure department duties are effectively segregated.  When questioned further, however, she acknowledged that the formal job titles and duties do not necessarily correspond to the work MCFD employees perform or ensure the segregation of duties. Further, although the County Administrator stated that she held monthly meetings with all department heads, she provided Mr. Miller with substantial discretion with regard to his administration and operation of MCFD with no direct oversight of the department’s day-to-day operations.

In its response to a draft of this report, the County asserted that Mr. Miller was responsible for the daily operations of the Finance Department and was expected to bring issues of concern to the attention of the County Administrator.  Any discretion provided to department leaders over the daily operations of their respective departments, however, does not relieve county management of the duty to proactively ensure that county departments are operating efficiently, preventing waste, and adhering to best practices.

Additionally, annual independent audits of the County repeatedly noted issues regarding a lack of adequate staffing within MCFD. The auditor noted that inadequate staffing levels resulted in untimely reconciliations and untimely compliance with audit requirements. At least twice, the external auditor discussed with the current and former County Administrators a need for additional staff in the finance department to ensure the County remained current with its audit requirements. The auditor stated that the annual audits were consistently delayed because the County did not provide the necessary documentation in a timely manner. In 2019, the external auditor recommended that the County hire a Deputy CFO.

In its response, the County stated the County Administrator was made aware in 2019 that the independent auditor recommended that MCFD hire additional staff.  The County also claimed that it took steps to hire one additional staff member, a Deputy CFO, at that time. The County, however, did not actually hire a Deputy CFO until May 2022, almost three years after receiving the recommendation from the independent auditor.  The County reported that the delay in hiring a Deputy CFO from 2019 to 2022 was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommendations

Based upon the facts uncovered in its investigation, OSC makes the following six recommendations intended to promote more efficient government. In its response to OSC’s draft report, the County agreed to implement OSC’s recommendations, and indicated the County has already formed a Finance Committee to oversee the operations of MCFD.

  1. Filing and Payment of Federal and State Taxes. The County should ensure that it files all taxes, including payroll taxes, in a timely manner and pays the amounts due within the timeframe required by taxing authorities.   The County should also identify all outstanding tax penalties and, when applicable, promptly request abatements for those penalties. 
  2. County Employee Credentials and Licenses. The County should ensure that all employees who require a license, certificate, or other form of credential to perform their job duties possess those credentials and maintain them in good standing. The County should also adopt written policies and procedures directing the County Office of Personnel to annually verify that employees possess and maintain in good standing the credentials necessary to perform their job duties. 
  3. Development of an Organizational Chart for the Finance Department. The County should adopt an organizational chart that clearly establishes the department’s reporting structure and includes a current list of positions, employees, and supervisors.
  4. Development of an Accounting Procedures Manual. The County should develop an accounting procedures manual. The manual should establish a clear segregation of duties and a system of checks and balances to ensure financial systems are properly managed and that issues identified in this report, such as the untimely filing of tax returns and paying payroll taxes, are avoided. A comprehensive accounting manual will also aid in the training of new employees.
  5. Establish a Committee to Oversee MCFD Operations. The County should establish a committee to oversee MCFD, including its financial reporting practices, internal department controls, and compliance with laws and regulations affecting the department.
  6. Increased Oversight of the CFO. Prudent financial management requires periodic review of the Mercer County Finance Department by an individual outside of MCFD and within the Office of the County Executive and the Board of Commissioners. The County CFO should be required to submit operational reports on a monthly basis that include expenditures and revenues. The monthly report should include a list of all tax liabilities and payments for that month and disclose penalties and interest.

Mack Brothers From Hamilton And Trenton, Charged With Murder, Burglary And Multiple Weapons Offenses

January 23, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced today that an investigation conducted by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department has resulted in charges being filed against two brothers in connection to last week’s shooting homicide of Donnell Williams.

Leon Mack, 31, of Hamilton, is charged with murder, burglary, and multiple weapons offenses.   His brother, Prince Mack, 29, of Trenton, faces the same charges as an accomplice for transporting his brother to Williams’ residence.  Both men were taken into custody on Friday at Leon Mack’s Hamilton residence by members of the Mercer County Tactical Response Team, HTF and the Trenton Police.  The prosecutor’s office has filed motions to detain both defendants pending trial.

At approximately 4:07 p.m. on Monday, January 16, 2023, Trenton police responded to an apartment in the 100 block of South Overbrook Avenue on a report of an unresponsive male.  Upon arrival, officers located the apartment’s resident on the living room floor with an apparent gunshot wound. The victim, identified as Donnell Williams, 29, was pronounced dead at the scene.

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


Leon Mack, 31, of Hamilton, is charged with murder, burglary, and multiple weapons offenses.   His brother, Prince Mack, 29, of Trenton, faces the same charges as an accomplice for transporting his brother to Williams’ residence.  Both men were taken into custody on Friday at Leon Mack’s Hamilton residence by members of the Mercer County Tactical Response Team, HTF and the Trenton Police.  The prosecutor’s office has filed motions to detain both defendants pending trial.


Prince Mack, 29, of Trenton


Leon Mack, 31, of Hamilton


Trenton Man Charged In Connection To Body Found In Trash Bag

January 18, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced today that an investigation conducted by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department has resulted in charges being filed against a Trenton man in connection to last month’s discovery of a decomposed body in a garbage bag.

David Gibson, 44, of Trenton, is charged with disturbing or desecrating human remains, tampering with evidence, and hindering.  The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Gibson pending trial.  Gibson is the tenant of 615 Beatty Street who was evicted in November.  He is accused of placing the victim in the garbage bag after the victim was deceased, moving the trash bag to a different area, concealing the victim’s remains, and not contacting authorities. 

On December 23, 2022, a decomposed body in a garbage bag was located at a property in the 600 block of Beatty Street in Trenton by the landlord.  An autopsy was performed by the Middlesex Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, and the cause and manner of the victim’s death are pending further testing.  A tentative identification of the victim has been made, however that identification is pending DNA confirmation.

The investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at (609) 989-6406.  Information can also be emailed to mchtftips@mercercounty.org.

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




Shooting Homicide in Trenton Under Investigation

January 18, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department are investigating a shooting homicide in the city, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

At approximately 4:07 p.m. on Monday, January 16, 2023, Trenton police responded to an apartment in the 100 block of South Overbrook Avenue on a report of an unresponsive male.  Upon arrival, officers located the apartment’s resident on the living room floor with an apparent gunshot wound. The victim, identified as Donnell Williams, 29, was pronounced dead at the scene.

No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at (609) 989-6406.  Information can also be emailed to mchtftips@mercercounty.org.


Names of the 2023 Homicide Victims

  1. 1/16/2023 Donnell Williams, 29, Trenton, Shooting.


Leader Of Trenton Drug Trafficking Conspiracy Gets 19 Years In Prison

January 18, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – A Trenton man was sentenced yesterday to 228 months in prison for his role as the leader of a significant drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed more than one kilogram of heroin in Trenton and the surrounding area, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Jakir Taylor, aka “Jak,” 32, previously pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to Counts One and Seven of the first superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Chief Judge Wolfson imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

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

From October 2017 to October 2018, Taylor and others engaged in a large narcotics conspiracy that operated in the areas of Martin Luther King Boulevard, Sanford Street, Middle Rose Street, Southard Street, Hoffman Avenue, and Coolidge Avenue in Trenton, and which sought to profit from the distribution of heroin and numerous other controlled substances. Taylor and conspirator Jerome Roberts obtained regular supplies of hundreds of “bricks” of heroin from conspirator David Antonio, whom they referred to as “Papi.” Taylor and Roberts agreed to obtain from Antonio a “motherlode” supply of as many as 1,500 bricks – approximately 1.5 kilograms of heroin – in a single delivery. Taylor said that he intended to “flood the streets” of Trenton with this large supply. Taylor also admitted that he and his conspirators possessed at least one firearm to assist his drug trafficking operations, and on multiple occasions during the conspiracy Taylor actively sought to obtain additional firearms from other sources. During coordinated arrests on Oct. 25, 2018, law enforcement arrested Taylor, Roberts, Antonio, and other defendants, and recovered more than 1.4 kilograms of heroin from Antonio’s residence.

In addition to the prison term, Chief Judge Wolfson sentenced Taylor to five years of supervised release.

In October 2018, Taylor, and 25 other individuals were charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute heroin. On Apr. 11, 2019, a grand jury returned a nine-count superseding indictment charging Taylor and eight other defendants with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and various other drug and firearm offenses. Twenty-three of the 26 defendants charged in the complaint have pleaded guilty. The remaining three were convicted after trial in October 2021.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Trenton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Newark Division, Trenton Satellite Office, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bryan Miller; officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Acting Police Director Steve Wilson; officers of the Princeton Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Nicholas Sutter; officers of the Ewing Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police John P. Stemler III; officers of the Burlington Township Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Bruce Painter; and detectives of the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

He also thanked officers of the N.J. State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan; detectives of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Angelo Onofri; officers of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff John A. Kemler; and members of the N.J. State Board of Parole for their assistance in the case.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys J. Brendan Day and Alexander Ramey of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

This case is part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) operation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level criminal organizations that threaten the United States using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/ocdetf.

The charges and allegations against the remaining defendants are merely accusations and those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

23-018

Defense counsel: Jerome A. Ballarotto Esq., Trenton


Trenton Firefighters Extinguish Sixth “Working Fire” Since Sunday Afternoon

January 11, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Members of the Trenton Fire Department once again demonstrated their skill and efficiency by quickly extinguishing a blaze in the rectory of St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church this morning (Wednesday, Jan. 11). 

It was the sixth working fire in the city since Sunday afternoon (Jan. 8).

This morning’s blaze in the 400 block of Adeline Street was reported just after 10:30 a.m.Dispatched on the initial assignment were Engines 3, 7 and 10, Ladder 2, Rescue 1 and Battalion Chief Dave Smolka.

A column of smoke was visible in the air as firefighters responded in and Engine 3 arrived to find flames showing from a third-floor window. The “All Hands” signal for a working fire was transmitted and additional firefighting units, including Engine 1 and Ladder 4, were dispatched.

Firefighters placed two hoselines in service and succeeded in quickly knocking down the bulk of the fire and limiting the damage to a small area of the building. The blaze was officially declared under control at 10:55 a.m.

It was the sixth working fire since Sunday. 

Sunday’s “workers” involved the rear of the old Mercer Medical Center complex off Rutherford Avenue about 2 p.m., a home in the 1200 of South Broad Street about 2:30 p.m., and another home in the 500 block of Emory Avenue. Later on Sunday, about 11:40 p.m., the fourth fire of the day was reported in an abandoned house in the 100 block of Cleveland Avenue.

And early yesterday morning, just after 4:30 a.m., Trenton firefighters battled yet another working fire in a home on Landing Street. 


Video by: Brian McCarthy


Photos by: Dave Rogers


Photos by: Brian McCarthy:


Trenton, NJ Man Sentenced To 27-Months In Prison For Events During Civil Disorder On May 31, 2020

January 10, 2023

NEWARK, N.J. – A Mercer County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 27 months in prison for attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder when he attempted to set fire to a police vehicle during a riot in Trenton, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Kadeem A. Dockery, 31, of Trenton, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to an information charging him with one count of attempting to obstruct, impede, or interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder affecting commerce. Judge Martinotti imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

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

On May 31, 2020, large-scale protests were held throughout the United States, including in Trenton, in response to the death of George Floyd. Although the May 31st protest in Trenton was peaceful earlier in the day, violence erupted later. A group of individuals proceeded down East State Street in downtown Trenton and began to riot, smashing store fronts, looting stores, and attacking multiple marked Trenton Police Department vehicles parked on the 100 Block of East State Street.

A city of Trenton street camera and other video footage taken by an individual present on the street recorded Dockery lighting an explosive device and throwing it through the open front driver’s side window of a Trenton Police Department vehicle, attempting to set the police vehicle on fire. The footage captured the sound of an explosion, and smoke emanating from the police vehicle. Law enforcement later identified Dockery through analysis of street camera and other video footage. Dockery was arrested on Aug. 5, 2020.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Martinotti sentenced Dockery to three years of supervised release.

Dockery is the last of four individuals sentenced in connection with the protest in Trenton. Earlja J. Dudley was sentenced in March of 2022 to 30 months in prison; Killian F Melecio was sentenced in June of 2021 to 28 months in prison; and Justin D. Spry was sentenced in September 2021 to 24 months in prison.

U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI and task force officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy, with the investigation leading to the sentence. He also thanked officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Steve E. Wilson; troopers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; and officers of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, under the direction of Commissioner Victoria L. Kuhn, for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexander E. Ramey and Michelle S. Gasparian of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division.

23-008 

Defense counsel: Lawrence George Welle Esq., Wall, New Jersey


File photos and video by: Brian McCarthy









Trenton Claims 45% Reduction In Homicides For 2022

January 9, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–According to the City of Trenton and Trenton Police Department (TPD) preliminary statistics, the City of Trenton achieved a 45% reduction in the number of homicides during the 2022 calendar year.

While major cities in the United States experienced a 5.0% decrease in homicides, these cities also saw a 20% increase in thefts and robberies. Consistent with national trends, the City of Trenton experienced a 20% increase in robberies during 2022. However, the Capital City achieved a 27% reduction in burglaries in the same year; the growing prevalence of video doorbells have aided local law enforcement, including TPD, in improving their burglary clearance rates.

The City of Trenton recovered 354 firearms in 2022, which marks a 9% increase compared with 2021. Additionally, while aggravated assaults increased by 7% last year, there was a 23% decrease in the sexual assault rate.

In Mayor W. Reed Gusciora’s first term, he opened the Trenton Real-Time Crime Center with the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) to prevent violent crime, launched the Trenton Community Street Teams where civilian leaders mediate neighborhood conflicts before they become violent, hired more than 200 city youth during summers to provide alternatives to employment in the shadow economy, funded the city’s Summer Youth Camp to support the positive development of city children, and hired mental health counselors and dozens of new police officers.

Trenton Police Department Director Steve Wilson affirmed, “Over the past year, we have prioritized investing in programs and initiatives that can make our streets safer. We are grateful to our local county, state, and federal partners for their support and collaboration. Real progress on reducing crime is being made in the Capital City and I look forward to working with our new Trenton City Council to make even greater progress.”

This past year, the City of Trenton opened Trenton RISE, a community-based youth center, to provide at-risk youth a safe space to study and play before or after school. Additionally, the Mayor’s Office facilitated the hiring of dozens of formerly incarcerated city residents through its Office on Returning Citizens, ended the seven-year ban on hiring formerly incarcerated residents, and created the largest civilian public safety panel in the State: the 11-member CHANGE Committee.

Mayor Gusciora remarked, “In 2022, we worked hard to achieve urban violent crime reduction. We are innovating to establish a new public safety standard and partnering with state and area wide stakeholders for the sake of our citizens. In this, we’re doing it together.”



** In the year 2020 the homicide count was recently changed from 40 to 41 due to the announcement of the Grand Jury findings and the medical examiner’s report indicating a “homicide” of Joseph Ahr Sr., 64, of Trenton after being pepper sprayed by a Trenton Police Officer you can read about that case here.

Names of the 2022 homicide victims in the City of Trenton:

  1. 2/15/2022 Antwone Barnes, 37, of Trenton, Stabbing
  2. 2/23/2022 Leonardo Fernandez, 32, of Trenton, Stabbing
  3. 3/01/2022 Shimon Nesmith Jr., 19, of Trenton, Shooting
  4. 3/03/2022 Helen Nelson, 73, of Trenton, Physical Assault
  5. 3/15/2022 Albert L. Barnes, 46, of Trenton, Shooting
  6. 3/25/2022 Sequoya Bacon-Jones, 9, of Trenton, Shooting
  7. 3/31/2022 Tahaad Goss, 16, of Trenton, Shooting
  8. 4/07/2022 Jaquir Queen, 26, of Willingboro, Shooting
  9. 4/09/2022 Leroy Davis, 31, of Trenton, Shooting
  10. 5/01/2022 Jamir McNeil, 25 of Trenton, Shooting
  11. 5/22/2022 Ali Abdullah, 25, of Trenton, Shooting
  12. 6/01/2022 Dreiby Osorio, 16, of Trenton, Stabbing
  13. 9/02/2022 Rasheed Barlow, 35, of Trenton, Shooting
  14. 9/11/2022 Chron Jenks, 34, of Ewing, Shooting
  15. 9/20/2022 Keenan Anthony Trower, 31, of Hamilton Shooting
  16. 10/09/2022 Daquan Brown, 33, of Trenton, Shooting
  17. 10/10/2022 Daveigh Brooks, 25, of Ewing
  18. 10/26/2022 Rayshawn Baines, 41, of Trenton
  19. 11/10/2022 from 9/21/2022 Corrine Daniels, 41, of Park Avenue multiple blunt force injuries
  20. 11/16/2022 Jomar Rodriguez, 29, of Trenton, Shooting
  21. 11/17/2022 Nay’sean Byrd, 19, of Trenton
  22. 12/24/2022 Junior Rodriguez, 40, Trenton, Shooting

** Under Investigation Pending determination:

23. ** 10/24/2022 Cause of fire under investigation by Mercer County Prosecutors Office Brian Wharton, 57, of Trenton

24. ** 12/23/2022 Cause of death to be determined by Medical Examiner’s Office


Trenton Murders Per Year Since 1989

NJ State Police Uniform Crime Report available here: https://www.njsp.org/ucr/uniform-crime-reports.shtml

1989 = 22

1990 = 21

1991 = 7

1992 = 16

1993 = 11

1994 = 9

1995 = 16

1996 = 14

1997 = 12

1998 = 15

1999 = 8

2000 = 14

2001 = 13

2002 = 19

2003 = 13

2004 = 18

2005 = 31

2006 = 18

2007 = 25

2008 = 19

2009 = 18

2010 = 15

2011 = 23

2012 = 24

2013 = 37

2014 = 32

2015 = 17

2016 = 21

2017 = 23

2018 = 16

2019 = 15

2020 = 41* Adjusted in 2023 after release of medical examiner’s report.

2021 = 40

2022 = currently 22 with two still be under investigation by the medical examiner’s office.

  • Prior to 1989 the known highest murder number in Trenton, NJ was 1970 with 27

Firefighters Respond To Multiple Fires In Trenton, NJ, Including Old Mercer Medical Center

January 8, 2022

Updated

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Four working structure fires, including one involving part of the abandoned Mercer Medical Center, kept members of the Trenton Fire Department busy this afternoon (Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023).

It was about 2 p.m. when the first of multiple 911 calls was received by the city’s communications center reporting smoke coming from the old Mercer Medical Center property. The hospital, the front of which has the street address of 446 Bellevue Avenue, closed its doors in December 2013.

Firefighters from Engines 1, 10, and 3, Ladder 4, and Rescue 1 were dispatched following the first 911 call. Other fire companies that would normally have been closer, including Engine 8, Engine 9, and Ladder 1, were unavailable as they were already committed to other assignments.

Heavy smoke was showing from part of the fenced-in complex when Engine 1 arrived. After forcing entry, firefighters realized the fire was better accessed from the rear of the old hospital off Rutherford Avenue.

Initially it was believed that the fire was only burning on the exterior of the structure but then it was determined there was heavy fire in a section of the basement.

Firefighters battled the blaze using multiple hoselines and the aerial master stream from Ladder 4’s bucket. Engine 8, having cleared up from an earlier medical assignment, responded to Rutherford Avenue and was assigned rapid intervention team duties.

At 2:30 p.m., as the blaze at the derelict hospital was still being fought, other 911 calls started coming in reporting another structure fire on the opposite end of the city at 1221 South Broad Street. With Engine 9 and Ladder 1 still busy on other assignments, the only available on-duty city companies – Engines 6 and 7 and Ladder 2 – were dispatched.

Engine 7 arrived and reported heavy smoke showing from the top floor of a three-story home. As Engine 7 stretched a hoseline to attack the fire and Engine 6 laid a large diameter supply line to a nearby hydrant, Engines 3 and Rescue 1 were released from the hospital fire and Engine 9 and Ladder 1 cleared up from their earlier assignments and all responded to the South Broad Street fire.

An engine company and truck company from Hamilton Township also responded to the South Broad Street fire and stood by at the scene in case needed.

The blaze at 1221 South Broad Street was declared under control at 2:55 p.m.. Red Cross was requested to the scene to assist displaced residents.

As soon as individual companies cleared up from the South Broad Street fire, they either returned to the scene of the hospital fire to help with overhaul or they were dispatched to other emergency assignments, including a reported natural gas odor on Bellevue Avenue and a carbon monoxide incident on Edgewood Avenue. The fire at the old hospital was declared under control at 3:10 p.m.

Then, about 4:30 p.m., another structure fire was reported at 521 Emory Avenue. Responding to that job were numerous units including Engines 7, 6, 3 and 10, Ladder 2 and Rescue 1, as well as a ladder truck from Yardley, PA. and engine from Bordentown City that had relocated to Trenton Fire Headquarters to help cover the city while Trenton firefighters were busy handling the earlier fires and other assignments.

Firefighters arrived to find a working kitchen fire. That blaze was quickly knocked down and declared under control at 4:48 p.m.

The same shift of firefighters fought yet another blaze on Sunday. About 11:45 p.m., the fourth working fire of the day was reported in the 100 block of Cleveland Avenue.

The fire was in 110 Cleveland Avenue and was vacant, boarded up structure. Heavy smoke on arrival and firefighters had to force entry to extinguish the fire. Fire was on first floor, and extended to second floor, interior stairs compromised
Arson investigators called to the scene and fire was placed under control 12:37 a.m.


Fire above at old Mercer Medical Center Bellevue Avenue


Above photos from Emory Avenue fire.


Above photos from South Broad Street fire.


Above photos from 110 Cleveland fire.


Additional photos above from today’s fires by Brian McCarthy


Trenton Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for 2019 Willingboro Murder

January 6, 2023

Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw announced that a Trenton man was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole for fatally shooting a 26-year-old woman three years ago inside a parked car on Baldwin Lane in the Buckingham Park section of Willingboro Township.

The sentence was handed down in Superior Court in Mount Holly by the Hon. Christopher J. Garrenger, J.S.C., to Devon Woods, 28, who was convicted in October of Felony Murder (First Degree) Murder (First Degree), Robbery (First Degree), Conspiracy to Commit Robbery (Second Degree), Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Second Degree), Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Second Degree) and Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons (Second Degree).

Woods was arrested along with Sam Gore of Willingboro and charged with killing Deasia Ayres of Willingboro in the early morning hours of September 18, 2019. The investigation revealed that Woods fired a handgun into her neck and head as she sat in her Dodge Durango. The motive was robbery.

“I commend everyone who was involved in the investigation and prosecution of this defendant,” Prosecutor Bradshaw said. “This case strongly demonstrates our determination to work closely with our law enforcement partners to combat gun violence and maintain safe neighborhoods for Burlington County residents.”

Gore, 28, faces similar charges to those lodged against Woods. They have been held in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly since being arrested a week after the shooting.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Bob Van Gilst, supervisor of the BCPO Major Crimes Unit, and Assistant Prosecutor Rachel Conte.

The investigation was conducted by detectives from the Prosecutor’s Office and the Willingboro Township Police Department, with assistance from the Burlington County Sheriff’s Office, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and the Trenton Police Department. The lead investigators were BCPO Detective Sgt. Tony Luyber and WTPD Detective Sgt. Jason Galiazzi.


Devon Woods, 28, who was convicted in October of Felony Murder (First Degree) Murder (First Degree), Robbery (First Degree), Conspiracy to Commit Robbery (Second Degree), Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Second Degree), Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Second Degree) and Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons (Second Degree) was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole for fatally shooting a 26-year-old woman three years ago inside a parked car on Baldwin Lane in the Buckingham Park section of Willingboro Township.


Trenton, NJ Man Allegedly Performed Inappropriate Sexual Acts With 12-Year-Old Hamilton Girl Arrested By U.S. Marshalls

January 6, 2023

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Police say that a joint criminal investigation was conducted by Detective Kevin Krall of the Hamilton Police Division’s Criminal Investigations Section and Detective Natalie Martinez of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office on December 27, 2022. This resulted in the issuance of criminal sexual assault complaints against Diante Turner, 19 years old of Trenton NJ. Turner was located and arrested by the U.S. Marshalls in the City of Trenton on January 5, 2023.

The investigation was initiated when a 12-year-old female victim reported that after a social media exchange, Turner came to her residence where inappropriate sexual acts took place. The investigation led to the development of probable cause to issue the criminal complaints against Turner.

Anyone with additional information regarding this investigation or similar incidents involving the above party is asked to contact Detective Kevin Krall of the Hamilton Police Division’s Criminal Investigation Section at (609) 689-5826 or the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at (609) 581-4008. Every defendant is innocent until being found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Diante Turner, 19 years old of Trenton NJ


Grand Jury Indicts Trenton Police Officer for Official Misconduct in Connection with Arrest of Trenton Man Who Later Died After Being Pepper Sprayed

Trenton Homicides in 2020 now 41 since medical examiner ruled death a homicide

January 4, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A state grand jury has voted to file a criminal charge against a Trenton police officer in connection with the officer’s use of pepper spray during an encounter with Joseph Ahr Sr., who died weeks after being pepper sprayed during his arrest in 2020.

The Office of the Attorney General today announced Officer Nicholas Piotrowski was indicted on one count of official misconduct.

New Jersey residents called to serve on the grand jury decided that the charge should be filed relating to the force that Officer Piotrowski used during the arrest of Joseph Ahr Sr., 64, of Trenton. The grand jury did not return charges directly related to the death of Mr. Ahr, who was hospitalized and later died following that arrest on July 6, 2020.

“Police officers are required to be measured in their use of force in every encounter, even under challenging conditions,” said Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin. “In New Jersey, we take this obligation seriously and my office thoroughly and independently investigates and presents to a grand jury every death that occurs during an encounter with law enforcement. This officer resorted to using pepper spray during a confrontation with a civilian in a manner that was unnecessary and contrary to his training, mishandling a situation that could have concluded so much differently.”

“Under the law and the Attorney General’s Use of Force Policy, officers are permitted to use only force which is reasonable and necessary,” said Thomas J. Eicher, Executive Director of OPIA. “The grand jury found that Officer Piotrowski should be indicted for official misconduct because his force did not meet that basic standard.”

The fatal police encounter was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to the grand jury in accordance with Directive 2019-4, the “Independent Prosecutor Directive,” issued in 2019. In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (“SOPs”) to ensure these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner, and with appropriate transparency regarding the process, consistent with the Independent Prosecutor Directive.

The investigation of this officer-involved fatality included interviews of witnesses, collection of forensic evidence, review of video footage, and autopsy results from the medical examiner. After hearing testimony and evidence from the investigation, the grand jury concluded its deliberations on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, and voted “true bill,” meaning the grand jury determined this criminal charge against the officer was warranted.

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

Officers tried to detain Mr. Ahr and he pulled away. Officers then took Mr. Ahr to the ground, restrained him, and handcuffed him. During the encounter, Officer Piotrowski struck Mr. Ahr, Sr. and deployed pepper spray at close range directly in his face on multiple occasions. While the officers were handcuffing Mr. Ahr, he stated several times that he could not breathe. After he was sitting up, Mr. Ahr complained about other medical issues, and officers summoned emergency medical personnel. EMS personnel responded to the scene, examined Mr. Ahr, treated him with oxygen, and transported him to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. Mr. Ahr was admitted to the hospital, where he died 18 days later on July 24, 2020.

The medical examiner concluded that the manner of death was homicide, with the cause of death listed as “acute respiratory failure following the use of pepper spray during arrest of an individual with chronic pulmonary disease and COVID-19.” A finding of “homicide” by the medical examiner indicates that another person or persons contributed to the death. It does not establish criminal liability or determine whether the actions of the other persons were legally justified.

If convicted, Officer Piotrowski could face up to 10 years in prison.

A 2019 law, P.L. 2019, c. 1, requires the Attorney General’s Office to conduct investigations of a person’s death during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. It requires that all such investigations be presented to a grand jury to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the officer or officers involved.

A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation. Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.

Joseph Ahr Sr., 64, of Trenton says “I can’t breathe” during his arrest after being pepper sprayed.


Screen captures from body cameras provided by NJ Attorney General’s Office



Obituary here:

https://www.tributearchive.com/obituaries/17778727/Joseph-Ahr



Trenton Homicides in 2020 now 41 since medical examiner ruled death a homicide

The medical examiner concluded that the manner of death was homicide, with the cause of death listed as “acute respiratory failure following the use of pepper spray during arrest of an individual with chronic pulmonary disease and COVID-19.”

With numbers adjusted since medical examiner ruled a homicide 2020 was the Trenton’s worse year on record now with 41

In 2022 there were 22 homicides with 2 still under investigation to determine the cause.

The names of the Trenton homicides of 2020:

  1. January 30, 2020, Starquasia Harris, 24, shooting
  2. February 16, 2020, Maurice London, 39, shooting
  3. March 23, 2020, Danavan Phillips, 37, shooting
  4. March 25, 2020, Yuell Moore, 29, shooting
  5. April 5, 2020 Quamiera Massey, 24, shooting
  6. April 5, 2020 Dabree Brannon, 30, shooting
  7. April 5, 2020 Frederick Mason, 20, shooting
  8. May 14, 2020, pronounced dead May 21, 2020 Terrence Horton, 53, shooting
  9. May 17, 2020, Robert Smith, 38, shooting
  10. May 18, 2020 Antwuan Bowens, 44, shooting
  11. May 18, 2020 Tayvion Jones, 18, shooting
  12. May 21, 2020 Raheen McKinnon 19, shooting
  13. May 23, 2020, Watson Cogdell, 58, shooting
  14.  May 30, 2020 Tyrone Campbell, 45, shooting
  15. June 2, 2020 Dontae Barnes, shooting
  16. June 21, 2020, Robert Neal, 34, stabbing
  17. July 1, 2020, Covvie Scott, 24, shooting
  18. July 6, 2020, Joseph Ahr Sr., Pepper Spray acute respiratory failure
  19. July 8, 2020, Richard Guarderas, 18, shooting
  20. July 8, 2020, Malcom L. Bowser, 19, shooting 
  21. July 15, 2020, Jason Phillips, 23, shooting
  22. July 17, 2020, Luis Gonzalez, 37, shooting
  23. August 2, 2020 died August 5, 2020, Jolisa Marshall, 28, shooting (of Hamilton)
  24. August 9, 2020, William Irrizarry, 18, shooting
  25. August 9, 2020, Julius Vargas, 18, shooting
  26. August 17, 2020, Rahkeem Ortiz, 29, shooting
  27. August 21, 2020, pronounced dead August 22, Vernetta McCray, 39, drive by shooting
  28. August 25, 2020, Shamira Williams, 32, stabbing
  29. August 29, 2020, Tybree Washington, 24, shooting
  30. October 2, 2020, Hussain Abdullah, 35, shooting
  31. October 5, 2020, Derek Colley, 26, Shooting
  32. October 10, 2020, Ola Williams, 61, Shooting
  33. October 10, 2020, Jaquise Melvin, 26, Shooting
  34. October 16, 2020 from shooting on October 9, Rudy Alvira Jr.
  35. October 20, 2020, Johnny Perez, 8, Shooting
  36. October 20, 2020, Gustavo Perez, 16
  37. November 13, 2020, Sam Livingston III, age 41, stabbing
  38. November 17, 2020, Jeremy McTamney, 26, Shooting, Ties Trenton’s record of homicides in 2013.
  39. November 28, 2020, Daniel Alvaranga, 33, Stabbing
  40. November 29, 2020, Omar Billups, 37, Shooting
  41. December 8, 2020, Joel Alexander, 49, Shooting

Not in NJ but across the river in Falls Township, Pennsylvania May 24, 2020 Davon Frink, 25, shooting at a Holiday Inn Express at a Trenton party held there.

Jennifer Williams Makes History as Trenton’s First LGBTQ+ City Council Member

Three Garden State Equality Action Fund endorsed candidates were officially sworn in at the ceremony

January 2, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Garden State Equality said in a press release that, yesterday, Jennifer Williams was sworn in to Trenton’s City Council, making her the first LGBTQ+ city council member in Trenton and the first transgender person to be elected to a municipal office in New Jersey.

“Jennifer is a lifelong Trentonian and has served Trenton’s community in a number of capacities over the years,” said Jeannine Frisby LaRue, Board Chair of the Garden State Equality Action Fund, which endorsed Williams. “In addition to this historic victory, three of our endorsed candidates were officially sworn at the Capital City’s ceremony. Mayor Reed Gusciora, an out gay and West Ward Councilwoman Teska Frisby, a strong ally joined Williams in our trifecta of endorsed candidates. We applaud them all.”

“We were proud to endorse Jennifer in this year’s election,” said Garden State Equality Action Fund Executive Director Christian Fuscarino. “Her groundbreaking victory means that we are one step closer to making sure that municipal elected officials truly reflect the communities they serve.”

“I am very proud and honored to have been elected as Trenton’s North Ward City Councilperson,” said Williams. “As a lifelong Trentonian and an openly LGBTQ New Jerseyan, I will never forget the importance and historic nature of this day. Being the first transgender New Jerseyan to be elected to a City Council in New Jersey and the first openly LGBTQ person to serve on Trenton City Council are breakthroughs for our community. I am thankful to Garden State Equality for endorsing me and for helping to make this moment happen. Hopefully, many other LGBTQ people around New Jersey will be inspired by our success in Trenton to run for office where they live and to help their own communities.”


Photo provided by: Garden State Equality


More from yesterday here:


Mayor Reed Gusciora and Four Trenton Councilmembers Are Sworn In

Municipal Government Reaches Quorum Needed to Conduct City Business

January 1, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Mayor W. Reed Gusciora was sworn in for his second term as Mayor of Trenton. Additionally, four Trenton City Councilmembers, Jennifer Williams (North Ward), Teska Frisby (West Ward), Joe Harrison (East Ward), and Jenna Figueroa Kettenberg (South Ward) were sworn in at the Trenton City Hall.

The City of Trenton will hold an inauguration for newly elected city officials once the Mercer County Clerk certifies the results of the January 24th Trenton City Council runoff (for at-large city councilmembers).

Importantly, the Trenton City Council will be able to achieve a quorum, which enables the council to hold meetings where they can approve resolutions and ordinances and conduct other official city business. 

Mayor Reed Gusciora said, “We are united by our belief that Trenton’s brightest days are ahead. We all believe that the only way to move forward is together. We all know that change, revitalization, and new beginnings are coming to the Capital City. I look forward to working with the newly elected Trenton City Council.


The Trenton City Council will be meeting on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, at 5:30 p.m. This meeting will be an organizational meeting; at the meeting, a temporary presiding officer of the Trenton City Council will be selected. Additionally, Trenton City Councilmembers will ask the administration questions about city business on the docket.The Trenton City Council will also be meeting on Thursday, January 5, 2023, at 5:30 p.m.; this meeting will principally be a voting session.Both the January 3rd and January 5th Trenton City Council meetings will be held in-person at Trenton City Hall (319 E. State St.) in the City Council Chambers (second floor of Trenton City Hall) with no live feed.


Trenton, NJ, Man Dies In South Brunswick Crash

January 1, 2023

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MERCER)–South Brunswick Police reported that Malachi Marseille, 23-years-old of Trenton has died in a crash. The crash happened on December 31, 2022, at 12:21 a.m. on Route 1 at Greenview Ave involving three vehicles. Marseille was driving Toyota Camry south on Route 1 and lost control, hit two vehicles and utility pole. No additional details are available at this time.


Trenton Police Department Increases Enforcement Efforts on New Year’s Eve

December 30, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–On New Year’s Eve, the Trenton Police Department (TPD) will operate several roving DUI patrols concentrating in and around the liquor establishments and heavily traveled roadways. The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) will be conducting their own DUI patrols within the Capital City.

According to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, alcohol-related DUIs for drivers’ whose Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.10% or greater can result in the loss of a driver’s license for up to 1 year, over $4,000 in fines, and a 30-day prison sentence.

Trenton Police Department Director Steve Wilson stated, “If you plan to drink alcohol on New Year’s Eve, you should not be driving. Even if you don’t plan on drinking tomorrow, please help keep your family and friends safe on New Year’s Eve.”

Tomorrow, TPD will also be strategically deploying officers to patrol high-crime areas in the City of Trenton. The Street Crimes Unit will also be augmenting these crime prevention efforts to keep residents safe.

Mayor W. Reed Gusciora stated, “We are all wishing for a happy and healthy new year this year and TPD is working around the clock to do their part to make this a reality. Now, let’s do our part.”


Trenton City Clerk Certifies the Results of the December 13, 2022 Municipal Election

December 30, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, the Trenton City Clerk, Brandon Garcia, certified the results of the December 13, 2022, election, which resulted in the election of two new Trenton City Councilmembers: Jennifer Williams (North Ward) and Jenna Figueroa Kettenberg (South Ward).

As a result, the December 13th election results have now been certified by the Mercer County Clerk and the Trenton City Clerk. The Office of Mercer County Clerk, Paula Sollami Covello, provided certificates of election to Garcia along with the official vote count.

On January 1, 2023, four Trenton City Councilmembers, Jennifer Williams (North Ward), Teska Frisby (West Ward), Joe Harrison (East Ward), and Jenna Figueroa Kettenberg (South Ward), will be sworn in as representatives of their respective wards. Since a majority of the Trenton City Council has been elected, which means that gubernatorial appointments to the remaining seats will not occur.

The remaining three Trenton City Council seats will be filled after the upcoming January 24th municipal election has been certified.


City Hall file photo by: Brian McCarthy

City of Trenton Responds to Water Pipe Leaks and Main Breaks During Holidays

Cold Temperatures Make Water Pipe Leaks and Main Breaks More Likely

December 27, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Over the holiday weekend, the City of Trenton received 26 calls related to frozen pipes, 13 related to leaks, and 5 in reference to main brakes; city staff responded accordingly and remediated each situation for those affected to ensure that families could safely enjoy the holidays.

The recent decrease in temperature causes the contraction of pipe material, which can in turn lead to water main breaks. If you need assistance related to water pipe leaks or main breaks, please contact Trenton Water Works at 609-989-3222.

During the winter season, the City of Trenton would like to remind you to stay away from frozen bodies of water (i.e. lakes, rivers, etc.). If you see someone on ice, please contact the Trenton Police Department at 609-989-4000.

Cold temperatures and icy conditions may be a continuing problem throughout this winter, so please exercise caution when traveling throughout the Capital City.


Decomposed Body Found In Garbage Bag In Trenton

December 27, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office told MidJersey.News that a decomposed body in a garbage bag was located at a property in the 600 block of Beatty Street in Trenton by the landlord on Friday afternoon, December 23, 2022. An autopsy will be performed by the Middlesex Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. The Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department are investigating.


So far there have been 22 homicides in the City of Trenton for 2022 with 2 deaths still under investigation by the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Names of the 2022 homicide victims in the City of Trenton:

  1. 2/15/2022 Antwone Barnes, 37, of Trenton, Stabbing
  2. 2/23/2022 Leonardo Fernandez, 32, of Trenton, Stabbing
  3. 3/01/2022 Shimon Nesmith Jr., 19, of Trenton, Shooting
  4. 3/03/2022 Helen Nelson, 73, of Trenton, Physical Assault
  5. 3/15/2022 Albert L. Barnes, 46, of Trenton, Shooting
  6. 3/25/2022 Sequoya Bacon-Jones, 9, of Trenton, Shooting
  7. 3/31/2022 Tahaad Goss, 16, of Trenton, Shooting
  8. 4/07/2022 Jaquir Queen, 26, of Willingboro, Shooting
  9. 4/09/2022 Leroy Davis, 31, of Trenton, Shooting
  10. 5/01/2022 Jamir McNeil, 25 of Trenton, Shooting
  11. 5/22/2022 Ali Abdullah, 25, of Trenton, Shooting
  12. 6/01/2022 Dreiby Osorio, 16, of Trenton, Stabbing
  13. 9/02/2022 Rasheed Barlow, 35, of Trenton, Shooting
  14. 9/11/2022 Chron Jenks, 34, of Ewing, Shooting
  15. 9/20/2022 Keenan Anthony Trower, 31, of Hamilton Shooting
  16. 10/09/2022 Daquan Brown, 33, of Trenton, Shooting
  17. 10/10/2022 Daveigh Brooks, 25, of Ewing
  18. 10/26/2022 Rayshawn Baines, 41, of Trenton
  19. 11/10/2022 from 9/21/2022 Corrine Daniels, 41, of Park Avenue multiple blunt force injuries
  20. 11/16/2022 Jomar Rodriguez, 29, of Trenton, Shooting
  21. 11/17/2022 Nay’sean Byrd, 19, of Trenton
  22. 12/24/2022 Junior Rodriguez, 40, Trenton, Shooting

** Under Investigation Pending determination:

23. ** 10/24/2022 Cause of fire under investigation by Mercer County Prosecutors Office Brian Wharton, 57, of Trenton

24. ** 12/23/2022 Cause of death to be determined by Medical Examiner’s Office



Philadelphia Man Arrested for Christmas Eve Homicide in Trenton

December 25, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Philadelphia man was arrested on Christmas Eve for fatally shooting a man in Trenton, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

Fausto Adalberto-Rodriguez, 45, is charged with murder, aggravated assault and weapons offenses. He was taken into custody shortly after the shooting in Trenton.  The prosecutor’s office will file a motion to detain Adalberto-Rodriguez trial.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department.  At approximately 7:20 p.m. on Saturday, December 24, 2022, Trenton police responded to an apartment in the 200 block of Walnut Avenue on a report of a man shot.  Responding officers arrived on scene to discover the victim inside the second-floor apartment suffering a gunshot wound to the head.  The victim, identified as Junior Rodriguez, 40, was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead a short time later.

The investigation revealed Adalberto-Rodriguez showed up at the apartment on Walnut Avenue around 7 p.m. looking to speak to his ex-girlfriend.  He located her and the victim in the apartment and an altercation ensued.  Adalberto-Rodriguez hit the woman in the head with a handgun, then shot Rodriguez and fled the scene in his vehicle.  

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


Fausto Adalberto-Rodriguez, 45, is charged with murder, aggravated assault and weapons offenses. He was taken into custody shortly after the shooting in Trenton.  The prosecutor’s office will file a motion to detain Adalberto-Rodriguez trial.



Names of the 2022 homicide victims in the City of Trenton:

  1. 2/15/2022 Antwone Barnes, 37, of Trenton, Stabbing
  2. 2/23/2022 Leonardo Fernandez, 32, of Trenton, Stabbing
  3. 3/01/2022 Shimon Nesmith Jr., 19, of Trenton, Shooting
  4. 3/03/2022 Helen Nelson, 73, of Trenton, Physical Assault
  5. 3/15/2022 Albert L. Barnes, 46, of Trenton, Shooting
  6. 3/25/2022 Sequoya Bacon-Jones, 9, of Trenton, Shooting
  7. 3/31/2022 Tahaad Goss, 16, of Trenton, Shooting
  8. 4/07/2022 Jaquir Queen, 26, of Willingboro, Shooting
  9. 4/09/2022 Leroy Davis, 31, of Trenton, Shooting
  10. 5/01/2022 Jamir McNeil, 25 of Trenton, Shooting
  11. 5/22/2022 Ali Abdullah, 25, of Trenton, Shooting
  12. 6/01/2022 Dreiby Osorio, 16, of Trenton, Stabbing
  13. 9/02/2022 Rasheed Barlow, 35, of Trenton, Shooting
  14. 9/11/2022 Chron Jenks, 34, of Ewing, Shooting
  15. 9/20/2022 Keenan Anthony Trower, 31, of Hamilton Shooting
  16. 10/09/2022 Daquan Brown, 33, of Trenton, Shooting
  17. 10/10/2022 Daveigh Brooks, 25, of Ewing
  18. 10/26/2022 Rayshawn Baines, 41, of Trenton
  19. 11/10/2022 from 9/21/2022 Corrine Daniels, 41, of Park Avenue multiple blunt force injuries
  20. 11/16/2022 Jomar Rodriguez, 29, of Trenton, Shooting
  21. 11/17/2022 Nay’sean Byrd, 19, of Trenton
  22. 12/24/2022 Junior Rodriguez, 40, Trenton, Shooting

** Under Investigation Pending determination:

23. ** Cause of fire under investigation by Mercer County Prosecutors Office Brian Wharton, 57, of Trenton


File photo by: Brian McCarthy


Woman Looking To Hire Hitman To Kill Ex-Husband’s New Wife And 13-Year-Old Daughter Charged With First-Degree Attempted Murder And Money Laundering

December 23, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A recent investigation by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Special Investigations Unit culminated this week with the arrest of a Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania woman for attempting to hire an undercover officer to murder her ex-husband’s current wife, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

Marilyn Zhou, 56, is charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder and one count of third-degree money laundering.  The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain her pending trial.

Earlier this month, the SIU received information that Zhou was looking for assistance with a murder for hire.  On Sunday morning, December 18, 2022, Zhou met with an undercover officer in Trenton, New Jersey, where she advised the officer she wanted them to murder her ex-husband’s new wife.  Zhou provided the officer with two color photographs of the victim, $21,000 in cash, rubber nitrile gloves and a towel to carry out the murder.  She also told the undercover officer that if the victim’s 13-year-old daughter was present at the time of the murder, she should also be murdered.  Zhou stated she would pay the undercover officer an additional $20,000 once the murder was complete.

Moments after the meeting, Zhou was taken into custody by the SIU.  Later that evening, members of the SIU assisted the Pennsylvania State Police in executing a search warrant at Zhou’s residence in Chadds Ford.  Detectives seized $18,000 and also located items she advised the undercover officer to use during the murder.

Despite having been charged, all persons are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Marilyn Zhou, 56, is charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder and one count of third-degree money laundering.  The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain her pending trial.


Mercer County Prosecutor Warns Of Phone Scam

December 21, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported today this his Cyber Crimes Unit is investigating recent telephone scams where callers spoof the non-emergency telephone numbers for various police departments within Mercer County in an attempt to scam residents.  The scammers falsely claim the resident has a warrant for their arrest.  As a reminder, law enforcement will never ask for payment of any type over the phone nor will they ask for personal identifying information that could be used for fraudulent purposes. Law enforcement and government agencies will also never ask you to pay by unusual methods, such as gift cards, wire transfers or cryptocurrency.

Scammers research potential victims on the internet and social media. Then they call and deceive their victims into thinking the callers are law enforcement officers, prosecutors or police employees.  Scammers may spoof a law enforcement telephone number, falsely showing on the victim’s caller ID.  They threaten victims with arrest for outstanding warrants or other legal issues.

Should you receive a call from a police department within Mercer County or the Prosecutor’s Office, please confirm who you are speaking with. If you believe you received a scam telephone call, hang up and call the number back.  If the call is legitimate, you’ll be connected with a police dispatcher or receptionist who can verify the caller’s identity.  Report any scam calls to your local law enforcement agency.  Please share this message with your family and friends, especially the elderly, to help prevent phone scams.

Trenton Men Arrested And Charged With Robbery, Assault And Theft At Lawrence Township QuickChek

December 20, 2022

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Lawrence Township Police report that pn November 9, 2022 at approximately 9:56 p.m., Lawrence Police Officers responded to a fight in progress inside the QuickChek located at 303 Brunswick Circle Extension, Lawrenceville, NJ.

On scene investigation revealed a 25-year-old victim was assaulted inside the store and his cell phone and cash were stolen during the altercation. After the robbery, the suspects exited the store and fled the area with the stolen property. The victim suffered serious bodily injury during the physical altercation.

Through the investigation led by Lawrence Township Police Detective Sean Kerins, the suspects were identified as Breon Phelps, 23-years-old of Trenton, NJ and Anthony Bethea, 21-years-old of Trenton NJ. The incident stemmed from a verbal argument between the victim and suspects days prior in Trenton, NJ.

On December 8, 2022, Anthony Bethea was taken into custody and charged with Robbery (second degree), Aggravated Assault (second degree) and Theft (third degree). On December 19, 2022, Breon Phelps was taken into custody and charged with Robbery (second degree), Aggravated Assault (second degree) and Theft (third degree). Phelps and Bethea have been transported to the Mercer County Correctional Center awaiting a Detention Hearing.

The Lawrence Township Police Department was assisted by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the Trenton Police Department.

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



$6 Million to New Jersey in ‘Internet for All’ Planning Grants 

December 20, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that New Jersey received its first “Internet for All” grants for deploying high-speed Internet networks and developing digital skills training programs under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. New Jersey is receiving $6,098,830.90 in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden, to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable high-speed Internet service throughout the state.  

NTIA Director of Public Engagement Mark Colon announced the grants alongside officials from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and Mayor Reed Gusciora at the Trenton Public Library in Trenton, N.J.  

“We are certain our students, our businesses, and our residents will reap the benefits from this unprecedented program,” Mayor Reed Gusciora said. “Trenton is excited for this opportunity and we look forward to building these bridges to span the digital divide.” — City of Trenton Mayor Gusciora 

“The Internet is an essential service that gives access to healthcare, education, and employment that everyone in the Garden State should have,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo.  “I commend Governor Murphy for his support of the Internet for All initiative.” 

“High-speed broadband is essential for work, school, and staying connected to family and friends,” said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. “Expanding broadband access helps level the technology playing field and grows our nation’s economic competitiveness. I was proud to vote for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and I’m grateful for the partnership with federal, state, and local officials to increase digital equity and access to high-speed internet in every community.” 

“New Jersey thanks the Biden Administration and our congressional delegation for securing crucial funding that will dramatically expand access to affordable high-speed internet in our state,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. “Since the outset of my Administration, I have been determined to restore and revamp our infrastructure, which includes not just roads and bridges, but the broadband that connects our residents to opportunity and each other. It’s comprehensive federal investments like these that will continue to make our state fairer and our communities more equitable for generations to come.” 

“These days, high-speed internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06)Chairman of the House Committee on Energy & Commerce. “Americans depend on internet access to do their jobs, run their small businesses, study for school, meet with their doctor for a telehealth visit, and connect with family and friends. The COVID-19 pandemic made it all too clear that we must do more to bridge the digital divide and ensure every household has access to the internet. That’s exactly why I fought to include the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program and the Digital Equity Program in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This first round of funding will help New Jersey make sure residents are included in our effort to deploy broadband access equitably. I’m looking forward to working with the National Telecommunications Information Administration so that every New Jerseyan has broadband access.”  

“Reliable internet access is critical for our education systems, health care, small businesses, and job creation,” said Rep. Donald Norcross (NJ-01). “Investing in broadband infrastructure will bring economic opportunity to New Jersey and closing the digital divide by ensuring internet access is equitable will increase the quality of life for hardworking families. I’m proud to have voted for this funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and look forward to improving internet access for all New Jersey families.” 

“I would like to thank the Biden-Harris Administration for prioritizing Broadband. These two critical grants will help us to expand high-speed Internet access to thousands more New Jerseyans while ensuring digital equity,” said Joseph L. Fiordaliso, President, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. “In this day and age everyone should have high speed Internet through which they can access remote education opportunities for themselves and their children, take advantage of telehealth or work from home.  There are still far too many New Jersey residents and businesses who don’t have access to high speed Internet and it is the Murphy Administration’s goal to make sure that they do as quickly as possible.” 

All 50 U.S. states and six territories applied for planning grant funding for the Internet for All initiative’s Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity Act program. Grant awards for all 56 eligible entities will be announced on a rolling basis.   

About New Jersey’s Planning Grants 

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program 

The BEAD Program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed Internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs. 

New Jersey will receive $4,922,089.90 to fund various activities including:  

  • Research and data collection, including initial identification of unserved locations and underserved locations; 
  • Publications, outreach, and communications support; 
  • Technical assistance to potential subgrantees, including through workshops and events; 
  • Surveys of unserved, underserved, and underrepresented communities to better understand barriers to adoption. 

Digital Equity 

The Digital Equity Act provides $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs to ensure that all people and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. The first part of NTIA’s execution of the Digital Equity Act is to fund digital equity planning efforts. 

New Jersey will receive $1,176,741.00 to fund various activities including:  

  • Closing the digital equity gap and the development of a Statewide Digital Equity Plan; 
  • Staff recruitment and development;  
  • Community and stakeholder engagement. 

Internet for All 

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access in communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed Internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed Internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost high-speed Internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities. 

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward Internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Visit AffordableConnectivity.gov to learn more. 

For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-speed Internet service programs, please visit InternetforAll.gov


Photos by: Brian McCarthy


Trenton Police Charge Suspect With 3 Counts Armed Robbery And Weapons Offenses

December 19, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Department reports that on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at approximately 9:26 p.m., Trenton Police responded to 912 Brunswick Avenue (Mundy’s Liquor), on a commercial armed robbery call. Upon initial investigation, Police learned the suspect just robbed the store at gunpoint, relieving the establishment of over $2700.00 in U.S. currency before exiting the store. The suspect then entered 918 Brunswick Avenue (Spojnik), held the business at gunpoint before fleeing across the street. The suspect then pointed the firearm and attempted to rob a 3rd victim near the intersection of Brunswick Avenue and Wineberg Place, before fleeing the scene out of sight.

Under the direct supervision of Major Crimes Robbery Unit Supervisor Detective Sergeant L. Nazario, Detective V. Gribbin was assigned the case and took charge of the investigation. Detective Gribbin, with the assistance from Detective S. Gonzalez, Det. G. Woods from the Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) and the Lawrenceville Police Department, the suspect was later identified as Malik J. White. White was subsequently charged with 3 counts of Armed Robbery and weapons offenses.

**Charges are mere accusations, and the accused are considered innocent until proven guilty**



Trenton Man Guilty In August 2020 Double Homicide; Faces Life Imprisonment

December 16, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced that a Trenton man was convicted by a jury this week for the August 9, 2020 double homicide on Centre Street in Trenton.

On December 15, 2022, Trezion Thompson, 22, was convicted on all counts of the indictment, including two counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a handgun.

On August 9, 2020, at approximately 7:30 a.m., patrol officers with the Trenton Police Department responded to the area of 300 Centre Street for a shooting in progress.  Upon arrival, officers located the first victim, William Irizarry, 18, lying on the street in the area of 339 Centre Street.  He had sustained multiple gunshot wounds throughout his body and was pronounced dead at the scene.  The second victim, Julius Vargas, 18, was located inside a corner market with a gunshot wound.  Vargas was transported to the hospital for treatment, however, succumbed to his injuries a short time later.

HTF detectives were able to locate a witness and numerous cameras in the area of the shooting.  A suspect vehicle was identified as a black Chrysler 300 with PA plates, along with two shooters, described as two black males wearing all black clothing and black ski masks.  The black Chrysler 300 was seen circling the area before the shooting, then parking and watching the victims for several minutes as they stood on the corner with others.  When the suspect vehicle drove up to the corner and stopped, two shooters, later identified as Thompson and Tyzir Hamilton, exited.  Both ran toward the victims, firing multiple gunshots.  The driver, later identified as Darnell Davis, remained in the car.  Hamilton and Thompson then chased after Irizarry as he ran into the street, continuing to shoot at him.  When Irizarry fell to the ground after suffering a gunshot wound, they both continued to shoot at him as he lay on the ground.  Afterward, Hamilton and Thompson returned to the suspect vehicle, which fled.

Further investigation revealed that a black Chrysler 300 was stolen out of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, on August 3, 2020, and seen on an automated license plate reader camera in the area of Pennington Avenue and Reservoir Street in Trenton on August 4.  Detectives were able to partially match the license plate of the suspect vehicle to that of the stolen vehicle out of Bensalem.           

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit conducted a physical search and forensic examination of Irizarry’s cell phone, pursuant to a search warrant, and a photo was found that Irizarry posted on his Facebook page disrespecting the H-Block gang.  Detectives continued to monitor multiple public social media posts throughout the month of August of numerous H-Block gang members talking about the murders of Irizarry and Vargas, taunting and threatening friends and family of the victims.  They also referenced Irizarry disrespecting the H-Block gang prior to being murdered.

On September 1, 2020, while on surveillance during another investigation, HTF detectives observed the black Chrysler 300 with Pennsylvania plates driving in the area of Perry and Southard streets in Trenton.  While detectives were attempting to identify the occupants, the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed and a pursuit ensued.  The pursuit came to an end on Reservoir Street near Frazier Street, where the vehicle crashed into a telephone pole and the occupants subsequently escaped on foot.  Area surveillance footage shows the vehicle crash into the pole.  Two black males exited the vehicle through the front passenger door, both wearing all black with their hoods up. The black males fled on Reservoir Street toward Frazier Street and subsequently made a right onto Frazier Street toward Pennington Avenue, then out of sight.

A search warrant was obtained for the vehicle and detectives located a fully-loaded, 9mm Taurus handgun under the driver’s seat.  The handgun was submitted to the New Jersey State Police Laboratory and identified as one of the guns used in the murders of Irizarry and Vargas.  Further investigation revealed another witness who was able to identify Davis, Hamilton and Thompson as being responsible for the deaths of Irizarry and Vargas.

At the time of the arrest of all three suspects in October 2020, Prosecutor Onofri praised the investigative work of the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and thanked the public for the assistance provided during the investigation.  “For weeks, detectives have methodically pieced the puzzle together, identifying the vehicle and all three suspects.  But the help of the public in solving this double homicide was instrumental,” he stated.  “It allowed us to follow leads from the very beginning, helping to point investigators in the right direction and allowing them to connect the dots.”

Mercer County Administrative Assistant Prosecutor Kathleen M. Petrucci and Executive Assistant Prosecutor Michael C. Borgos represented the state during the three-week trial before Mercer County Superior Court Judge Peter E. Warshaw.

The investigation was led by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and Sgt. Richard Sheppard of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.  The defendant was represented by John McMahon, Esq. and Matthew Mordas, Esq.

Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2023. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Hamilton, 21, is scheduled for trial in January 2023.  Davis, 21, previously pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and is pending sentencing. 


On December 15, 2022, Trezion Thompson, 22, was convicted on all counts of the indictment, including two counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a handgun.

Thompson is scheduled to be sentenced on March 2, 2023. He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.







File photos by: Brian McCarthy


State Grand Jury Declines To Criminally Charge Officers Involved In Death In Custody In Trenton, NJ April 3, 2020

December 15, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) — A state grand jury has voted not to file any criminal charges at the conclusion of its deliberations regarding the death of Stephen Dolceamore, 29, of Springfield, P.A., who died in the custody of the Trenton Police Department on April 3, 2020.

The death in custody was investigated by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) and presented to New Jersey residents serving on the grand jury in accordance with the Independent Prosecutor Directive issued in 2019. In July 2021, OPIA issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) to ensure these grand jury presentations are conducted in a neutral, objective manner, with appropriate transparency regarding the process, consistent with the Independent Prosecutor Directive.

The investigation of this death in custody included interviews of witnesses, review of video and autopsy results from the medical examiner. After hearing testimony and evidence from the investigation, the grand jury concluded its deliberations on December 5, 2022, and voted “no bill,” meaning the grand jury concluded no criminal charges should be filed against the officers involved in this death in custody.

According to the investigation, on April 3, 2020, at approximately 11:45 a.m., Trenton police officers responded to a report of a man behaving erratically and walking into traffic near St. Francis Medical Center. Officers located the subject, later identified as Mr. Dolceamore, who tried to run. Officers pursued Dolceamore on foot, who kept running from the officers inside the parking lot yelling, “help,” and claiming that people were after him. Officers deployed OC spray with no effect. Dolceamore continued to run and fell to the ground. As Dolceamore was on hands and knees and, prior to being restrained by officers, he continued to yell, “Help” and “I can’t breathe.”

Officers pursued Mr. Dolceamore and brought him to the ground. Four officers restrained and handcuffed him. Video recordings from the body-worn cameras captured this encounter. During the encounter, Mr. Dolceamore became unresponsive. Police officers and emergency medical personnel attempted to provide medical assistance to Mr. Dolceamore, and he was transported to St. Francis Medical Center, where he was pronounced deceased at 12:40 p.m.

An autopsy was performed and the medical examiner concluded the manner of death was homicide and the cause of death was “methamphetamine intoxication with physical restraint and chest-wall restriction.” The toxicology results showed toxic to lethal ranges of methamphetamine and Buprenorphine, a synthetic opioid, in his system at the time of death. A finding of “homicide” by the medical examiner indicates that another person or persons contributed to the death. It does not establish criminal liability or determine whether the actions of the other persons were legally justified.

A 2019 law, P.L. 2019, c. 1, requires the Attorney General’s Office to conduct investigations of a person’s death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody. It requires that all such investigations be presented to a grand jury to determine if the evidence supports the return of an indictment against the officer or officers involved.

A conflicts check was conducted pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and no actual or potential conflict of interest was found involving any individual assigned to the investigation. Prior to presentation to the grand jury, the investigation was reviewed by OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher in accordance with the policies and procedures established for these presentations in the SOPs.

At the conclusion of these investigations, pursuant to the Independent Prosecutor Directive and SOPs, OPIA determines whether any principal should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for administrative review in accordance with the AG’s Internal Affairs Policy & Procedures. OPIA monitors any resulting review and takes such actions as are necessary to ensure that the review is completed in a timely fashion, and that appropriate actions are taken based on the results of the review.

The Independent Prosecutor Directive is posted on the Attorney General’s website at this link:

Further information about how fatal police encounters are investigated in New Jersey under the directive is found at this link: https://www.njoag.gov/independent-prosecutor/






File Photos by: Brian McCarthy



$30K Cocaine And Handgun With Hollow-Point Ammo Seized By Mercer County Narcotics Task Force In Trenton

December 15, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A three-month investigation into narcotics distribution in the Trenton area has culminated with three arrests and the seizure of $30,000 in cocaine, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

At approximately 5 p.m. on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, members of the Mercer County Narcotics Task Force, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, and the Hamilton Police Division executed search warrants at multiple locations in Trenton.  Jason Wilkins, 51, was detained in the kitchen of 90 Bellevue Avenue.  A search of the residence revealed 300 grams of powder cocaine and a scale.  During a search warrant execution at 739 Roebling Avenue, detectives located a Smith & Wesson Model MP .40 caliber handgun with seven rounds of hollow-point ammunition.  Jason’s brother, Roland Wilkins, 52, and Mary Bailey, 71, were detained at the residence.

Jason Wilkins was charged with first-degree narcotics and weapons offenses and transported to the Mercer County Correction Center pending a detention hearing.  Roland Wilkins was charged with weapons offenses and transported to the Mercer County Corrections Center.  Bailey was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and released pending future court proceedings.

According to Prosecutor Onofri, the street value of the confiscated cocaine is approximately $30,200.

Despite having been charged, all persons are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Trenton, NJ Man Arrested Involved In Atlantic City Shooting

December 11, 2022

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — Atlantic City Police Department reports, that on December 6, 2022, a shooting investigation led to the quick arrest of a Trenton, NJ man and the recovery of a handgun.

At 7:06 p.m., patrol officers were dispatched to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, City Division, in reference to a male that walked into the emergency room seeking treatment for a gunshot wound. The victim, 50, of Atlantic City, suffered a non-life-threatening injury as a result of being shot.

Responding patrol officers were able to determine the altercation originated at a residence in the 1600 block of Adriatic Avenue with the shooting occurring outside of the residence. Upon responding to the residence, Officers Jesse Oliver-Logan and Anthony Nastasi, witnessed a male on the front stoop of the home. The male, Anthony Matthews, observed the officers and immediately retreated back into the residence. A perimeter was quickly set up around the residence and a crisis negotiator was summoned to the scene.

Officer Franco Sydnor, a crisis negotiator, made contact with Matthews and soon learned that four young juveniles were also inside the residence with Matthews. Officer Sydnor persuaded Matthews to release the children to the safety of Officer Sydnor and additional officers that were stationed outside of the residence. Matthews was ultimately taken into custody by officers without incident.

The ensuing investigation led to a search of the residence where officers recovered a Ruger handgun believed to have been used in the shooting. Officers also located evidence of gunfire in the 300 block of North Kentucky Avenue.

ARRESTED: Anthony Matthews, 31, of Trenton, NJ.

CHARGES: Aggravated assault (two counts), unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and certain persons not to possess weapons.

Matthews was remanded to the Atlantic County Justice Facility. The public is reminded that charges are mere allegations, and the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.

Anyone with information about this shooting incident is urged to contact the Atlantic City Police Department Violent Crimes Unit at 609-347-5766 or text anonymously to tip411 (847411). Begin the text with ACPD.