CRANBURY, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Michael J. Owens of the Cranbury Police Department announced today that a fatal collision near the intersection of Route 130 North and South River Road is under investigation.
The initial investigation conducted by Sergeant Douglas Mayer of the Cranbury Police Department and Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined the collision occurred this morning at approximately 5:48 A.M. The collision involved three vehicles and resulted in the deaths of two people whose identities are being withheld pending notification to the next of kin. Four other individuals were transported from the scene to two nearby hospitals for medical attention.
The investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Sergeant Mayer of the Cranbury Police Department at (609) 395-0031 ext. 7726 or Detective Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4328.
Cranbury Police and numerous emergency personnel are on scene of a serious motor vehicle crash with injuries on US 130 Northbound and Southbound between Half Acre Road and Dey Road. In addition, the South River Road Jug Handle is closed and access is denied south bound on South River Road approaching the area.
Rush hour traffic will be affected, as heavy delays are expected as the investigation continues. Plan alternate routes of travel.
CRANBURY TOWNSHIP, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Around 6:00 am a serious accident occurred in the 2600 Block of Route 130 near South River Road (CR535) involving what appeared to be 3 vehicles. Cranbury Township Police, Cranbury Fire Department, Cranbury First Aid Squad were sent to the scene for serious injures and reported entrapment. Mutual aid from several surround towns were called to the scene for assistance. Initial reports were that several have sustained life threatening and serious injures. There is no word on current condition of those involved but a press release is expected later today.
The Cranbury Police Department and NJ DOT has the roadway closed North Bound at South River Road and is detoured in the area. The South Brunswick Police Department, NJ State Police and Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office is assisting in the crash investigation and the roadway is expected to be closed at least another few hours. There may be a temporary closure of the south bound lanes once measurements are needed so avoid the area if possible.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office has responded to assist the Cranbury PD with the investigation and confirms that a press release will be issued sometime today.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that two professional boards have revoked the licenses of a former executive of the Birdsall Services Group (“Birdsall”) engineering firm after he was convicted for his role in a criminal scheme to funnel more than $1 million in corporate political contributions through the company’s employees in an effort to evade New Jersey’s campaign finance laws.
James Johnston, 58, of New Brunswick violated multiple rules and regulations governing both the practice of professional engineers and professional planners, when he made illegal corporate political contributions that were reimbursed by the company through disguised bonus payments.
After a hearing of testimony and evidence, the New Jersey State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors, and the New Jersey State Board of Professional Planners (the “Boards”), independently found that Johnston’s criminal conviction relates adversely to the practice of professional engineering and planning.
In final orders filed today, both Boards separately revoked Johnston’s licenses to practice as a professional engineer and a professional planner in New Jersey, and barred him from applying for any professional license in the State for a minimum period of five years. Additionally, Johnston was ordered to pay attorneys’ fees and investigation costs in the amount of $2,820.09 by each professional board, totaling the full cost assessment of $5,640.18.
Johnston previously was sentenced in June 2017 to 270 days in the county jail as a condition of a term of two years of probation.
“Individuals who abuse their professional credentials and the public trust in order to violate our campaign finance laws should be prepared to face severe consequences,” said Attorney General Grewal. ”Professional licensees involved in schemes to avoid our pay-to-play laws face not only jail time and monetary penalties, but also loss of the licenses they rely on to earn their livelihood.”
“Johnston’s conduct and subsequent criminal conviction signal a blatant disregard for the rules promulgated by the professional boards, and raise serious concerns about his professional judgment and fitness to practice,” said Acting Director Paul R. Rodríguez. “The resolution of this case should send a clear message to all licensed professionals who may be tempted to violate the public trust and confidence.”
Under the scheme, instead of Birdsall making corporate political contributions to campaigns and political organizations that would disqualify it from public contracts awarded by certain government agencies, shareholders and employees of the firm made personal political contributions of $300 or less, which are deemed unreportable. Multiple personal checks were bundled together at Birdsall and sent to the appropriate campaign or political organization. The shareholders and employees were then illegally reimbursed by Birdsall, directly or indirectly, through added bonus payments, and the firm falsely omitted the illegally reimbursed contributions in documents filed with the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) and with government agencies that awarded the firm engineering services contracts. The scheme continued for more than six years and involved more than $1 million in contributions.
Eight Birdsall executives and employees pleaded guilty to criminal charges, as did the company itself.
The revocations of Johnston’s licenses are effective November 16, 2020. Before then, Johnston must complete any projects on which he is working, or make arrangements for them to be completed by another professional engineer or professional planner. Johnston shall not take on any new clients or projects, and if there are any companies that rely upon his ability to practice, he must immediately provide them with the Board’s decision to revoke his licenses to practice as a professional engineering and a professional planner.
Under his criminal guilty plea, Johnston is debarred for 10 years from personally bidding on public contracts in New Jersey or holding an interest of 5 percent or more in any company that bids for such contracts.
Deputy Attorney General Daniel Evan Leef Hewitt of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section in the Division of Law represented the State in this matter.
The matter was investigated by the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs.
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The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–A South Brunswick family is in need of funds and prayers for their father who was injured in a Robbinsville crash yesterday. Their father on his way home from work in his contractor style box truck was hit head on by a tractor trailer that crossed the median strip on Route 130. The vehicle caught fire during the crash and a valiant rescue effort from civilians, police and firefighters ensued, by using portable fire extinguishers until fire apparatus could arrive and fully extinguish the fire. Even after the fire was extinguished the man had to be extricated from the wreckage. Robbinsville Fire Department EMS and paramedics rushed the man to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. The man was transferred and flown to the burn unit at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia where the family has reported on their fog fund me page that he is critical condition.
The family is seeking prayers and help from anyone can help with the Go FundMe see link below:
Hi everyone, my name is Fabiana Russo. I am a senior in highschool, some of you may know my father the contractor Francesco Russo. I am raising money for him and his truck that burned down into flames with him inside, on October 29th due to a head on three vehicle collision. My dad was in his truck on his way back home after finishing a job, and head on got hit by a trailer tractor. This occurred in Robbinsville on route130, his box truck went in flames and unfortunately so did my father. He is in critical condition and I don’t know how he is going to make it out. I’m praying and I’m asking for all of you who see this your prayers as well. This money will go towards any of the surgeries if not covered as well as his truck that he has nothing left of. Me and my family would be beyond grateful for your contributes and thank you for listening. If you cannot contribute, I would just ask you to pray for my strong Dad. Thank you all! If you’d like to know further details here you go.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced his nomination of Dr. Brian Bridges as the next Secretary of Higher Education.
“Making college more affordable and accessible has been a hallmark of our mission to build a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all,” said Governor Murphy. “After conducting a nationwide search for a new Secretary of Higher Education, we’ve found just the right leader to build upon our progress. Dr. Brian Bridges has the vision and experience needed to put a college education within reach for more students, including continuing our highly successful Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG) program. I know he’ll be a fierce advocate for our students and will work closely with both public and private college and university leaders to expand opportunity while promoting equity and access for all.”
“I would also like to thank Interim Secretary of Higher Education Diana Gonzalez for her capable leadership of the Office over the past few months,” continued Governor Murphy. “Diana has coordinated closely with our colleges and universities to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and will continue to serve the Administration as a critical member of our team.”
“I am humbled but invigorated by the confidence of Governor Murphy to serve as the next Secretary of Higher Education for the great state of New Jersey,” said incoming Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Brian Bridges. “I have a deep and abiding faith in the power of colleges and universities to not only provide life-changing educational experiences, but to also serve as economic engines and hubs of innovation and intellectual discovery. I look forward to working with leaders across the Garden State to develop and refine policies and practices that further improve student success, create efficiencies of scale, and strengthen the higher education enterprise.”
“Brian Bridges is a great choice to be New Jersey’s new Secretary of Education,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the United Negro College Fund. “Brian has led our research and institutional transformation work at UNCF, driving our strategy to ensure that our Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) produce ever stronger results for the students they serve. Brian is a passionate, committed, and relentless advocate for justice, equality, and equity in the academy. All of us at UNCF will miss Brian, but we know that he will continue to champion the urgent cause of higher education access and affordability, and he will lead a new era of innovation and transformation for all of New Jersey’s colleges and universities and their students.”
“The challenges that confront higher education today are daunting, but the opportunities are unlimited. I am excited by the nomination of Dr. Bridges, and look forward to a partnership with him that will seize on theopportunities before us and how, together, we can leverage New Jersey’s higher education resources to help make New Jersey fairer and stronger for everyone,” said Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway.
“Brian is just the leader we need at this time. He is dedicated to advancing equity in education and I’m excited that he’s decided to join our team and continue the work we began on behalf of students across New Jersey,” said former New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Dr. Zakiya Smith-Ellis. “I am looking forward to working with him and am confident that he has the skills necessary to assume the mantle of setting statewide higher education policy.”
“It has been an honor serving New Jersey’s higher education community as Interim Secretary at a time when institutions, students and families face unprecedented challenges during this ever-evolving public health emergency,” said Interim Secretary Diana Gonzalez. “I look forward to working closely with Dr. Bridges to continue making progress on our State Plan for Higher Education goals, including addressing college affordability and access through the Community College Opportunity Grant, to ensure we take an equitable approach to emerging from this crisis stronger than ever.”
Brian Bridges, Ph.D., currently serves as Vice President of Research and Member Engagement at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) in Washington, DC, where he leads UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI) and the Institute for Capacity Building (ICB). He serves as the organization’s chief research officer, principal editor and contributor for FDPRI’s publications, as well as the manager of internal and external projects involving capacity building, evaluation and assessment. Dr. Bridges also leads the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative, a project funded by the Lilly Endowment, to improve job placement outcomes at HBCUs and PBIs.
Prior to joining UNCF, Dr. Bridges was Vice Provost for Diversity, Access, and Equity at Ohio University. Previously, he was Associate Director of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education and has held various other roles, including Associate Director at the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). While at NSEE, he managed a million-dollar subcontract for the Building Engagement and Attainment of Minority Students project, a national initiative funded by Lumina Foundation to assist minority-serving institutions in their use of NSSE results for institutional improvement. He is a former Adjunct Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration at George Washington University. Throughout his career, Dr. Bridges has served on numerous panels and advisory committees on issues related to student engagement, HBCUs, learning environments at minority-serving institutions, and success factors for African American college students at predominantly white institutions.
Dr. Bridges earned his Doctorate (Ph.D.) in Higher Education Administration from Indiana University–Bloomington, a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Carolina–Charlotte, and a Bachelor’s of Arts in English Language and Literature from Francis Marion University.
Dr. Bridges was born in Brooklyn, NY and reared in Beaufort, SC. He will begin his new role on November 16, 2020.
Brian Bridges, Ph.D., is UNCF’s vice president of research and member engagement and leads UNCF’s Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI) and the Institute for Capacity Building (ICB). He serves as UNCF’s chief research officer, principal editor and contributor for FDPRI’s publications and the manager of internal and external projects involving capacity building, evaluation and assessment. Bridges also leads the UNCF Career Pathways Initiative, a project funded by the Lilly Endowment, to improve job placement outcomes at HBCUs and PBIs.
Prior to joining UNCF, Bridges was vice provost for diversity, access and equity at Ohio University. He was associate director of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education and held various roles, including associate director, at the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). While at NSEE, he managed a million-dollar subcontract for the Building Engagement and Attainment of Minority Students project, a national initiative funded by Lumina Foundation to assist minority-serving institutions use of NSSE results for institutional improvement. In addition, he has served on numerous panels and advisory committees on issues related to HBCUs, learning environments at minority-serving institutions and success factors for African American college students at predominantly white institutions.
Bridges earned his doctorate in higher education administration from Indiana University-Bloomington, a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and a bachelor’s degree from Francis Marion University.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Anthony A. Caputo of the New Brunswick Police Department announced today that a pedestrian was killed the evening of October 28 after being struck by a vehicle.
The initial investigation conducted by Officer Peter Maroon of the New Brunswick Police Department and Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined a man, who is yet to be identified, was fatally struck on Livingston Avenue in the vicinity of Welton Street. The male was pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
The motorist remained on scene to cooperate with law enforcement. The investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Maroon of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5005 or Detective Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4328.
Kyale Simonson, 32, of East Windsor was charged with two counts of first-degree Attempted Murder, one count of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and one count of second-degree Possession of a Handgun without a Permit.
October 26, 2020
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Anthony A. Caputo of the New Brunswick Police Department announced today that an East Windsor man was arrested and charged in connection with a shooting that occurred on September 2, 2020.
Kyale Simonson, 32, of East Windsor was charged with two counts of first-degree Attempted Murder, one count of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and one count of second-degree Possession of a Handgun without a Permit.
Simonson was charged following an investigation by Detective Brandt Gregus of the New Brunswick Police Department and Detective Sean Sullivan of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, which identified Simonson as the gunman in a non-fatal shooting of two men near the intersection of Lee Avenue and Seaman Street.
Simonson is being held at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center pending a Detention Hearing in Superior Court.
The investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Gregus of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5200, or Detective Sullivan of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4060.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Simonson are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Assemblyman Ron Dancer’s bill to allow housing for employees at facilities that board horses passed the Assembly Agriculture Committee Thursday.
The bill (A2768) would amend the Right to Farm Act to allow housing for equine-related farm employees as long as the newly constructed housing is in a separate area or level from the horses and meets all Uniform Construction Code standards, including fire ratings.
The bill also makes providing this housing an act that falls under Right to Farm protections.
“Farm employees often need more access to the horses they care for,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “They will be able to take better care of these animals if they can live on the same farm.”
Dancer’s bill will require the state agriculture development committee to adopt rules and regulations to implement the bill. The committee would adopt an agricultural management practice that permits the housing of equine-related farm employees in the same building where the horses are boarded either in a separate area or level from the horses.
“Taking care of a horse is one of the most demanding and worthwhile jobs one could do,” said Dancer. “The horse industry is important to New Jersey’s economy, and we must keep this industry thriving.”
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Chief Raymond J. Hayducka of the South Brunswick Police Department announced today that three men have been charged in connection to the stabbing and attempted murder of two people. The case began when police received a 911 call at 7:35 pm on October 4th of two people stabbed in a motor vehicle at the corner of White Oak Court and Bard Drive North. Arriving officers discovered a grey Audi with heavy front end damage and two males age 18 and 20 outside of it suffering stab wounds to the chest and arms. Officers immediately began medical treatment. Both victims were taken by South Brunswick EMS and Monmouth Junction First Aid Squad to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. One victim suffered a collapsed lung.
An investigation by Detective Rick Delucia determined that the two victims and the three suspects had a dispute originating in East Brunswick in mid-September. On October 4th the men met up in the Southridge Woods Apartment Complex in South Brunswick. The dispute escalated and the victims fled in their car. The victims became lost on Bard Drive as they fled trying to get back to East Brunswick. Moments later the suspects, in a black Acura, caught up to the victims, and the two vehicles collided. The suspects exited their vehicle, smashed the window on the Acura, and began to assault the victims. After assaulting the victim, the suspect fled the scene.
Detectives and crime scene technicians combed over the scene to piece together the incident. Police recovered latent prints, physical evidence, and a nearby Ring doorbell video that captured the assault. Several hours later Officer Andre Civil located the suspect’s Acura parked unoccupied approximately a half mile away. Detectives conducted several interviews which combined with the physical evidence led to the charges.
Charged in the case –
Anthony Blakey age 21 of Dayton. He is alleged to have stabbed the victims. He is facing charges of attempted murder, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and aggravated assault.
Ishmael Arrington age 19 of Monmouth Junction. He is alleged to have smashed the window and assaulted the victims. He is charged with aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault.
Jaylon Drake age 19 of Dayton. He is alleged to have driven the suspect vehicle and assaulted the victims. He is charged with assault and luring.
Chief Hayducka said, “Violent crime is uncommon in our community, but when it occurs we will use all the resources to track down those responsible.” He thanked the Middlesex County Prosecutors Office and New Jersey State Police for their assistance on the case. He also recognized the outstanding teamwork of Detective Rick Delucia, Sergeant Mike Pellino, Officer Brian Luck, Officer Andre Civil, and Officer Gagan Chopra for solving the case.
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The South Brunswick Police Department announced the successful resolution to a gunman at an area hotel on Friday. Chief Raymond Hayducka said, “So often you only hear of these cases when officers are forced into a deadly situation. Here officers were confronted by a gunman who threatened to harm others and was acting out. Officers used de-escalation techniques and time to safely take him into custody. This is a credit to the officers and their training.”
The incident unfolded just after 2 pm at the Hotel Vicenza at 3793 Route 1. Officers arrived and learned that Louis Smith age 46, a guest at the hotel, had an argument with a staff member, and pulled out a handgun. Police set up a perimeter and attempted to make contact and de-escalate the situation. As police attempted to speak with Smith, he repeatedly paced back and forth between the front breezeway and rear balcony of his second-floor room. Smith kept yelling profanities at unoccupied cars in the parking lot. At one point, Smith began using his cellphone to videotape officers while blowing kisses. A team of officers, Sergeant Anthony Pisano, Detective Rick Delucia, PFC Mike Leung, Officer Ryan Bartunek, Officer Kent English, and Officer Jason Stonkus approached Smith on the second floor. Smith retreated and ran back into his room, locking the door. Officers negotiated for thirty minutes trying to get Smith to speak with them. Smith’s erratic behavior continued with him yelling about diabetes and who he was going to vote for. Officers then made attempts to contact family members and were able to speak to a sister. At 4:45 pm Smith who was profusely sweating opened the door briefly and Detective Delucia and Officer English grabbed him from the room and pulled him into the breezeway. Smith was placed under arrest and transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick for evaluation.
Detectives obtained a telephonic search warrant to search the room. A search of the room located a Taurus 9MM handgun, 2 fully loaded magazines, 27 ounces of marijuana, a pair of black gloves, a black ski mask, ziplock bags, and a scale. Smith has been charged with aggravated assault with a firearm, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, terroristic threats, and distribution of CDS.
On Friday, while Smith was awaiting evaluation in the emergency room of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, two South Brunswick officers were guarding him. Smith began to act up, even while cuffed to his hospital bed. At one point, he threw urine at the hospital staff. The officers moved in and Smith spit in their faces. Smith has been charged with two additional counts of aggravated assault for spitting on the officers. Both officers required medical treatment. As of Monday afternoon, Smith remains in the emergency room at the hospital with two South Brunswick officers guarding him until he can be moved to a secure facility.
Chief Hayducka added, “Too many people don’t realize the risks and dangers officers are willing to take to keep their communities safe. This group of officers showed the best of who we are.”
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Saturday October 17, 2020 is National Move Over Day.
Under New Jersey’s “Move Over” law, drivers are required to reduce their speed and change lanes when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle, tow truck or highway maintenance, emergency service or sanitation vehicle that is displaying flashing, blinking or alternating emergency lights.
Unfortunately, law enforcement, emergency workers and tow truck operators continue to be struck and injured or killed while aiding others on the side of the road because a passing vehicle did not sufficiently slow down and move over.
When you see flashing lights on the side of the road, slow down, and if it’s safe, MOVE OVER. If you make the move, others will follow.
Marc K. Castellano was born on July 15, 1980 in Lakewood, New Jersey and lived in Jackson until he moved to Howell, New Jersey in 2004. He was a graduate of Jackson Memorial High School in 1998 and received a Jackson PBA scholarship that year. He received his associate’s degree from Ocean County College in 2000, a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers University in 2003 and a Master’s degree at Farleigh Dickinson University in 2010. Marc was a two-year starter at middle linebacker from 1996-1997 and a team captain during his senior year for the Jackson Memorial High School football team.
Trooper Castellano enlisted in the New Jersey State Police on September 24, 2004, as a member of the 136th Class and was assigned to the Troop “C” Tactical Patrol Unit #1 at the time of his death. His service with the New Jersey State Police was characterized by loyalty, fearless performance of his duty and faithful and honorable devotion to the principles of the New Jersey State Police.
Trooper Castellano died as a result of injuries received while in the performance of duty.
At approximately 10:00 am on Sunday, June 6, 2010, Trooper Castellano was walking along the shoulder of Interstate 195 West near the Exit 31 ramp in Howell Township. He was searching for an alleged armed occupant of an abandoned vehicle that was connected to an ongoing investigation when he was struck by a passing motorist. He was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, New Jersey, where he died several hours later from his injuries.
Trooper Castallano served 5 years and 8 months with the New Jersey State Police.
He is survived by his parents, a brother, his wife and two children. Trooper Castellano was 29 years old.
New Jersey Statute 39:4-92.2
Procedure for motorist approaching certain stationary vehicle.
1. a. The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary authorized emergency vehicle as defined in R.S.39:1-1 that is displaying a flashing, blinking or alternating red or blue light or, any configuration of lights containing one of these colors, shall approach the authorized emergency vehicle with due caution and shall, absent any other direction by a law enforcement officer, proceed as follows:
(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the authorized emergency vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or
(2) If a lane change pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection a. of this section would be impossible, prohibited by law or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.
b. The operator of a motor vehicle approaching a stationary tow truck as defined in section 1 of P.L.1999, c.396 (C.39:3-84.6) that is displaying a flashing amber light, a stationary highway maintenance or emergency service vehicle that is operated by the State, an authority or a county or municipality and displaying flashing yellow, amber, or red lights, or a stationary sanitation vehicle displaying a flashing amber warning light pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2011, c.3 (C.39:3-54.27) shall approach the vehicle with due caution and shall, absent any other direction by a law enforcement officer, proceed as follows:
(1) Make a lane change into a lane not adjacent to the tow truck, highway maintenance or emergency service vehicle, or sanitation vehicle if possible in the existing safety and traffic conditions; or
(2) If a lane change under paragraph (1) of subsection b. of this section would be impossible, prohibited by law or unsafe, reduce the speed of the motor vehicle to a reasonable and proper speed for the existing road and traffic conditions, which speed shall be less than the posted speed limit, and be prepared to stop.
c. A violation of this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500.
NEWARK, NJ –Two alleged ranking members off the Bloods street gang have been charged with conspiring to distribute fentanyl and heroin in Newark, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Leonard Wade, a/k/a “Clap,” 49, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Ezra A. Strong, a/k/a “Doonka,” 30, of Brick, New Jersey, are charged in separate complaints with conspiracy to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl and more than 100 grams of heroin. Wade is also charged with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.
Wade appeared for an initial appearance by videoconference today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer. Strong appeared for an initial appearance by videoconference on Oct. 14, 2020, before Judge Hammer. Both men are currently detained.
According documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Law enforcement officials have seized 831 grams of suspected fentanyl and 612 grams of suspected heroin, as part of an investigation into a drug trafficking organization (DTO) operating in Monmouth and Middlesex counties, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.
The investigation has revealed that Wade, allegedly a ranking member of the Sex Money Murder (SMM) subset of the Bloods street gang, is a leader of the DTO. Strong, allegedly a ranking member of the Fruit Town Brims, also a subset of the Bloods street gang, distributes fentanyl and heroin on behalf of the DTO.
On Oct. 1, 2020, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant of Wade’s residence and recovered a 9mm caliber semi-automatic polymer “privately made” handgun, along with 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition and five rounds of .45 caliber ammunition.
The count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute over 400 grams of fentanyl carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine. The ammunition offense carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Monmouth/Ocean HIDTA Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson, with the assistance of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Gang and Criminal Enterprise Unit, with the investigation leading to the arrests.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren E. Repole of the U.S. Attorney’s Office 4OCDETF/Narcotics Unit.
The charges and allegations in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Wade: Rahul Sharma Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark Strong: Thomas Dunn Esq., Montvale, New Jersey
Many law enforcement agencies across the state participated in the 2020 NJ Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics this morning.
On Friday, October 9th, more than 3,000 officers will take to the streets of their local communities on one of 26 separate routes to help carry the “Flame of Hope” a distance of nearly 750 miles throughout the Garden state to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics New Jersey.
In 1982, the late Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Officer Steven Vitale was asked to take photos at a local Special Olympics competition in New Jersey. He was so moved by the determination exhibited by the athletes that he asked other police officers to volunteer at the Summer Games. In 1984, the first New Jersey Torch Run was conceived to raise funds and public awareness for the Special Olympics New Jersey program. The course ran from Liberty State Park in Jersey City to Rutgers Stadium in New Brunswick, through eight towns, covering 43 miles and raising $7,000. In each succeeding year, the dollar amount became greater and the number of volunteers increased substantially.
Driven by the willingness of the New Jersey Law Enforcement officers to do more, the Law Enforcement Torch Run began to expand over the years. New fundraising events and initiatives were created and held throughout the Garden State to promote the Special Olympics movement. With over $4 million raised annually by more than 3,000 officers through local and statewide events, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics New Jersey has been recognized in the world for many years as one of the top grassroots fundraising organizations for Special Olympics. Fundraising events that are conducted year-round in New Jersey include an Adopt-a-Cop campaign for the annual Torch Run, three Polar Bear Plunges, the Lincoln Tunnel Challenge 5K, the United Airlines Plane Pull and golf outings to name a few. In addition to fundraising, Law Enforcement officers volunteer at athlete competitions and events year-round, while serving as ambassadors in local communities.
Below are photos from Bordentown Township, (Burlington) and South Brunswick, (Middlesex)
MidJersey.News will post more as they are sent in:
Troopers Seize Guns, Drugs, Fraudulent Credit Cards, and Cash
October 8, 2020
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The New Jersey State Police have arrested Rikelvin Rodriguez-Reyes, 19, of New Brunswick N.J., for allegedly operating a narcotics processing mill out of a residence in New Brunswick that was allegedly producing heroin and cocaine.
During a two-month cooperative investigation with the New Brunswick Police Department, State Police detectives with the Gangs and Organized Crime Central Unit were able to determine that Rodriguez-Reyes was distributing drugs from a Sanford Street residence. On Monday, October 5, troopers from the State Police Gangs and Organized Crime Unit, T.E.A.M.S. Unit, K-9 Unit, and members of the New Brunswick Police Department executed search warrants at the Sanford Street residence and a residence in North Brunswick.
As a result of the searches, detectives seized a .380 caliber handgun, a .22 caliber handgun, hollow point ammunition, 60 grams of cocaine, 100 individual doses of heroin, 1 ounce of marijuana, 18 prescription legend drugs, 20 fraudulent credit cards with a reader/writer device, $3,821 cash, various distribution and packaging accessories, and tools consistent with a drug production facility. Rodriguez-Reyes was arrested at the North Brunswick residence without incident.
Rikelvin Rodriguez-Reyes was charged with maintaining and operating a CDS facility, possession and distribution of cocaine, possession and distribution of heroin, possession of marijuana, unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a weapon during commission of a CDS offense, identity theft, possession and distribution of paraphernalia, and money laundering. He was lodged at the Middlesex County Jail pending a bail detention hearing.
This case is being prosecuted by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.
Charges are mere accusations, and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Middlesex County man with an Englishtown-based accounting firm is charged with stealing about $385,000 in tax payments from a wholesale distributor now based in South Carolina, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
William A. Berry, of South Plainfield, was arrested and charged Tuesday with second degree Theft by Failure to Make Required Disposition. Berry was arrested with assistance from the Englishtown Police Department following a 10-month investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
If convicted, Berry faces up to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison.
Berry, who will be 49 years old next week, is the owner of William Berry & Associates, an accounting and tax preparation business in Englishtown. The investigation found Berry stole funds in the aggregate amount of $385,000 for his personal use from the victims between March 2017 and July 2019. The investigation revealed Berry received funds from the victims’ personal and business banking accounts for the purposes of remitting federal and state quarterly taxes on behalf of the victims. In turn, Berry failed to remit tax payments to the proper tax collecting authorities.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office was contacted in December 2019 by a civil attorney for victims, the owners of a multi-million-dollar wholesaler distribution company that specializes in holiday décor currently based in Charleston, South Carolina.
The victims, former New Jersey residents, were subsequently contacted by law enforcement and reported hiring Berry to file and remit corporate taxes for their business after their former accountant retired. The victims reported having previous business dealings with Berry at his Englishtown-based practice. The investigation revealed Berry corresponded with the victims to advise them of the amounts to be remitted to the federal and state tax collection authorities on a quarterly basis. The victims sent funds between March 2017 through July 2019 at the direction of Berry, from their Bank of America accounts to a Wells Fargo bank account held in the name of William Berry and Associates. The victims received subsequent notifications from the State of South Carolina and the Internal Revenue Service for failure to file and remit taxes for the years 2017 and 2018.
The case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Anastos.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–In an update to a story MidJersey.News posted yesterday, Cineworld the parent company of Regal Cinemas had confirmed at 7:00 this morning that there will be temporary closing of 536 Regal Cinemas in the U.S. due to COVID-19. This will include several theaters in New Jersey.
The company said in a press release:
In response to an increasingly challenging theatrical landscape and sustained key market closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cineworld confirms that it will be temporarily suspending operations at all of its 536 Regal theatres in the US and its 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK from Thursday, 8 October 2020.
As major US. markets, mainly New York, remained closed and without guidance on reopening timing, studios have been reluctant to release their pipeline of new films. In turn, without these new releases, Cineworld cannot provide customers in both the US and the UK – the company’s primary markets – with the breadth of strong commercial films necessary for them to consider coming back to theatres against the backdrop of COVID-19. These closures will impact approximately 45,000 employees. Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.
Cineworld’s main priorities remain the safety of customers and employees, cash preservation and cost reduction. As noted in its Interim Results announced on 24 September 2020, Cineworld is assessing several sources of additional liquidity and all liquidity raising options are being considered.
Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, commented: “This is not a decision we made lightly, and we did everything in our power to support safe and sustainable reopenings in all of our markets – including meeting, and often exceeding, local health and safety guidelines in our theatres and working constructively with regulators and industry bodies to restore public confidence in our industry. We are especially grateful for and proud of the hard work our employees put in to adapt our theatres to the new protocols and cannot underscore enough how difficult this decision was, Cineworld will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate any future plans to resume operations in these markets at the appropriate time, when key markets have more concrete guidance on their reopening status and, in turn, studios are able to bring their pipeline of major releases back to the big screen.”
Regal Cinemas in MidJersey.News coverage area are:
Regal Commerce Center & RPX 2399 US-1, North Brunswick Township, NJ 08902
Regal Independence Plaza & RPX 2465 S Broad St, Hamilton Township, NJ 08610
Regal Burlington 250 Bromley Blvd, Burlington Township, NJ 08016
October 4, 2020 Updated on October 5th with South Brunswick Police information.
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Sources told MidJersey.News that there was a double stabbing in the area of Arbor Court this evening around 7:45 pm. This is a developing story and will be updated when official information becomes available.
South Brunswick Police have reported that they are investigating a dispute that left 2 people injured. There is no danger to the community. Further updates will be released Monday.
October 5, 2020 South Brunswick Police Update Here:
At 7:41 pm Sunday night South Brunswick Police responded to the corner of Bard Drive and White Oak Court for a reported person stabbed. When officers arrived they found two people in a vehicle in the intersection who had been stabbed. Both were transported to an area hospital and are in stable condition. The stabbing occurred after some type of dispute. The investigation is ongoing. Police believe there to be no threat to the general public. Anyone with information about the incident should contact Sergeant Mike Pellino or Detective Rick DeLucia at (732) 329-4646.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–It appeared to be “business as usual” this afternoon and tonight at Regal Cinemas 12 & RPX in the Independence Plaza on S. Broad Street.
Last night Variety Magazine published and article stating that Cineworld, Regal Cinemas parent company would shuttering all venues in the U.S. and U.K. The shuttering would happen since the James Bond film “No Time to Die” release date was pushed back to April 2021.
Since that time Cineworld has responded via Twitter “We can confirm we are considering the temporary closure of our U.K. and US cinemas, but a final decision has not yet been reached. Once a decision has been made we will update all staff and customers as soon as we can.”
It appears that the even if they do close their doors Cineworld’s Tweet points out that it would be “temporary” and (hopefully) not permanent. The entertainment industry is already struggling due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the delay of a major new release will be another blow to the movie industry.
Regal Cinemas in MidJersey.News coverage area are:
Regal Commerce Center & RPX 2399 US-1, North Brunswick Township, NJ 08902
Regal Independence Plaza & RPX 2465 S Broad St, Hamilton Township, NJ 08610
Regal Burlington 250 Bromley Blvd, Burlington Township, NJ 08016
We shared this tweet on MidJersey.News Twitter Account from the editor of Varity Magazine early this morning and Cineworld Cinemas (owner of Regal Cinemas) responded to the press in a following Tweet on their account. The Tweets are below:
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Anthony A. Caputoof the New Brunswick Police Department announced today that an individual has been arrested and charged with causing the death of another person in a crash that occurred on Route 1 South in New Brunswick on the night of October 1, 2020.
Arsalan Gul, 21, of Edison, was charged with one count of second-degree Vehicular Homicide, one count of third-degree Hindering Apprehension, and one count of Driving While Intoxicated.
On October 1, 2020 at approximately 11:30 P.M., New Brunswick Police officers responded to a motor vehicle crash involving three vehicles. An investigation by Officer Peter Maroon of the New Brunswick Police Department and Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that Gul, who was driving an Infiniti sedan, crashed into a Honda Civic causing it to strike a Lexus SUV in the adjacent lane. The driver of the Civic, Brian O’Donnell, 32, of Robbinsville, was pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Subsequently, it was determined Gul was operating his vehicle under the influence of alcohol and a controlled dangerous substance.
Gul is currently being held at the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center pending a Detention Hearing.
The investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Maroon at (732) 745-5005, or Detective Berman at (732) 745-4328.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Gul are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
WOODBRIDGE, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Robert Hubner of the Woodbridge Police Department announced today that authorities are investigating a shooting which took place earlier today in the Avenel section of Woodbridge.
At approximately 1:17 p.m., Woodbridge Police officers responded to the vicinity of Forest View Drive, located at the Forest View Apartments in response to shots fired. Following the arrival of the authorities, a victim was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Santiago Tapia of the Woodbridge Police Department at (732) 602-7394, or Detective Paul Kelley of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745- 3330.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Anthony A. Caputoof the New Brunswick Police Department announced today that the police are investigating a fatal hit and run, which took place during the evening hours of September 30, 2020 in the area of Somerset Street and Millstone Road.
The victim, who was pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital last evening, has been identified as David Wojcik, 55, of Warren Township.
Officer Peter Maroon of the New Brunswick Police Department and Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that at approximately 8:39 p.m., the victim was struck in the area of Somerset Street and Millstone Road by a sedan, which sustained front-end damage. Following the collision, the vehicle fled the scene.
The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Peter Maroon of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5005, or Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745- 4328.
WASHINGTON, DC — Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) statement during debate in the House of Representatives on the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act
Margaret Hahn—my mother-in-law—passed away on Friday and a Mass of Christian burial will be held today at St. Mary Church in South Amboy, New Jersey. She was 96 and was deeply loved and will be deeply missed.
Margaret—Peg—was a great woman—wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She selflessly devoted her life to public service including her amazing work as Sayreville Borough Clerk for twenty years. She had an incredible reputation for getting things done for the people. No matter who served as mayor or on Council, everyone knew she was the power.
Beginning in 2001, Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, who is President of the Cord Blood Association, helped draft my original law. Dr. Kurtzberg has said, “Cord blood transplantation is now an established field with enormous potential. In the future, it may emerge as a source of cells for cellular therapies focused on tissue repair and regeneration.”
The new law created a nationwide umbilical cord blood stem cell program, designed to collect, derive, type, and freeze cord blood units for transplantation into patients to mitigate and to even cure serious disease. Pursuant to the law, it also provided stem cells for research. The new cord blood program was combined in our 2005 law with an expanded bone marrow initiative, which was crafted over several years by our distinguished colleague, Congressman Bill Young.
Umbilical cord blood stem cells, obtained after the birth of a child, have proved highly efficacious in treating 70 diseases, including sickle-cell disease, lymphoma, and leukemia. And scientists are continuing to study and better understand the regenerative effects of cord blood cell therapies for other diseases and conditions. Bone marrow donations provide lifesaving transplants to treat diseases like blood cancer, sickle cell anemia, or inherited metabolic or immune system disorders.
The National Cord Blood Inventory (NCBI) provides funding to public cord blood banks participating in the program to allow them to expand the national inventory of cord blood units available for transplant. These units are then listed on the registry by the “Be the Match” Program. The funds appropriated thus far have led to an important increase in the overall number of high-quality cord blood units available through the national registry, including 150,000 NCBI units. Within the Be the Match registry, there are more than 783,000 NCBI units worldwide.
The Program registry allows patients and physicians to locate matching cord blood units, as well as adult donors for marrow and peripheral blood stem cells, when a family donor is not available. The Program is the world’s largest, most diverse donor registry, with more than 22 million volunteers and more than 300,000 public cord blood units. To date, the National Marrow Donor Program/Be The Match (NMDP), through its operation of the Program, has facilitated more than 100,000 transplants. More than 45,000 patients have received cord blood transplants, according Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg.
The reauthorization before us authorizes $23 million to be appropriated for fiscal year 2021 through fiscal year 2025. It also authorizes $30 million to be appropriated for fiscal years 2021 through 2025 for the bone marrow transplant program. This continues funding at the same levels authorized in the 2015 authorization bill.
Madam Speaker, each year nearly 4 million babies are born in America. In the past, virtually every placenta and umbilical cord was tossed as medical waste. Today, doctors have turned this medical waste into medical miracles.
Not only has God in His wisdom and goodness created a placenta and umbilical cord to nurture and protect the precious life of an unborn child, but now we know that another gift awaits us immediately after birth. Something very special is left behind–cord blood that is teeming with lifesaving stem cells. Indeed, it remains one of the best kept secrets in America that umbilical cord blood stem cells and adult stem cells in general are curing people of a myriad of terrible conditions and diseases–over 70 diseases in adults as well as in children.
The legislation that is before us will enable even more patients to receive the treatments that they so desperately need.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The lengthy process of restoring public utilities after a major storm has been an issue plaguing rural residents for quite some time. Assemblyman Ron Dancer wants to ensure rural areas are given the same level of priority as the rest of the state and has introduced two bills speed up restoration after thunderstorms, snowstorms, and other major events.
The first bill (A4761) would give public utilities and cable television companies the ability to use drones to survey damaged infrastructure.
“Drones are a powerful tool in assessing damage and assisting with repairs after a major storm,” said Dancer (R-Ocean). “Other states have allowed utility companies to use drones with much success. We cannot afford to continue to have slow restoration times, so it makes sense to allow the utility companies to use drones to speed up the process.”
Dancer’s second bill (A4763) would require the Board of Public Utilities to create new regulations to require that electric companies prioritize communities where at least 40 percent of residents rely on private wells for drinking water and septic systems for sanitary disposal of waste. Additionally, watering stations would also be required.
“Many people do not realize when a home in a rural area loses power, they often lose access to drinking water, as well as, flushing and refilling toilets,” said Dancer. “A priority restoration plan must be put into place to avoid leaving rural areas without access to their basic life essential necessities. When people are without basic necessities for days, it could lead to major public health and safety issues.”
NJ Legislative District 12 covers: Allentown, Chesterfield, Englishtown, Jackson, Manalapan, Matawan, Millstone (Monmouth), New Hanover, North Hanover, Old Bridge, Plumsted, Roosevelt, Upper Freehold, Wrightstown
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Raymond J. Hayducka of the South Brunswick Police Department said today that a fourteen-year old juvenile pedestrian was killed last night, September 30, 2020 after being struck by a vehicle.
The initial investigation conducted by Traffic Safety Officer William Beard of the South Brunswick Police Department and Detective Mark Morris of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined the collision occurred at approximately 9:25 p.m. as the juvenile was crossing Route 1 after having climbed over the center divider. At the time of the collision, the vehicle – a Land Rover – was traveling northbound on Route 1 in the area of New Street. The juvenile was pronounced dead at the scene.
The motorist stopped, rendered aid to the juvenile, and remained on scene to cooperate with law enforcement. The investigation is active and continuing.
Anyone with information is asked to call Traffic Safety Officer William Beard of the South Brunswick Police Department at (732)745-4000 ext. 7432 or Detective Mark Morris of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3927.
NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–On September 16th 2020, it was discovered that damage had been done to the Police Officers Memorial Monument that sits just North Brunswick Police Headquarters. It was apparent that the damage was purposeful, as all electrical lighting for the Memorial had been stomped and damaged. The damage is believed to be a few thousand dollars. The subsequent investigation led to the arrest of Edwin Marroquin, 21, of New Brunswick. He was charged with several charges and is awaiting Court proceedings. The damage will be repaired by North Brunswick PBA Local 160 the caretakers of the Memorial. *All arrestees are to be considered innocent until proven guilty in Court.
Six Charged in New Jersey in $100 Million Telemedicine Scheme; Three Men Admit Guilt in Unrelated Frauds
September 30, 2020
NEWARK, NJ — Six individuals have been charged in New Jersey for their roles in a massive nationwide prescription medication and durable medical equipment telemedicine scheme, and three others admitted their roles in three other health care fraud cases. The announcements are part of a federal law enforcement effort to crack down on health care fraud nationwide.
U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito, District of New Jersey, announced charges against six people: Mark Belter, 46, of North Ridgeville, Ohio; David C. Laughlin, Jr., 46, of Buckeye, Arizona; Stephen Luke, 52, of Phoenix, Arizona, were charged by complaint with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute. In a separate complaint, Ethan Welwart, 32, of North Brunswick, New Jersey; William “Ben” Welwart, 66, of Staten Island, New York; and Elan Yaish, 51, of Tel Aviv, Israel, also were charged with conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute for their roles in the same scheme. Ethan Welwart, William Welwart, and Yaish had their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III on Sept. 3, 2020, and Belter, Laughlin, and Luke had their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Leda Dunn Wettre on Sept. 10, 2020.
Attorney for the United States Rachael A. Honig, District of New Jersey, announced guilty pleas from three defendants in three cases:
Andrew McCubbins, 39, of Draper, Utah, the owner of a telemedicine company, pleaded guilty by videoconference on Sept. 24, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count each of conspiring to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit health care fraud, and conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.
Christian Mohases, 38, of Santa Ana, California, pleaded guilty by videoconference on Sept. 24, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.
Luis Roa, 51, of Santiago, Chile, pleaded guilty by videoconference on Sept. 24, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty to an information charging him with one count of conspiring to commit health care fraud and one count of conspiring to defraud the United States in connection with a scheme to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute.
The announcements are part of a nationwide federal law enforcement effort to combat telemedicine fraud, prescription fraud and durable medical equipment fraud. As part of this effort, the Department of Justice is announcing today the largest amount of alleged fraud loss ever charged – $4.5 billion in allegedly false and fraudulent claims submitted by more than 86 criminal defendants in 19 judicial districts around the country – related to nationwide schemes involving telemedicine: the use of telecommunications technology to provide health care services remotely.
Belter et al.
Beginning in January 2016 and continuing for more than three years, the six defendants exchanged kickbacks and bribes with each other and others. Belter, who owned and operated a marketing company in Ohio called Health Pain Solutions, identified Medicare beneficiaries and targeted them for specific prescription medications or durable medical equipment (DME) like braces. He then sent the beneficiaries’ information to Laughlin and Luke, who owned RediDoc. Belter paid Laughlin and Luke kickbacks for each signed prescription and doctor’s order for those beneficiaries that Laughlin and Luke collected from doctors under contract with RediDoc. Laughlin and Luke in turn paid those doctors kickbacks for each prescription and doctor’s order they signed. Laughlin and Luke transmitted the prescriptions to Apogee, a pharmacy owned and run by Ethan Welwart, William Welwart, and Yaish, and doctor’s orders to DME providers, who submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicare and other insurers. Ethan Welwart, William Welwart, and Yaish at Apogee subsequently paid Belter kickbacks from the reimbursements they received, in exchange for Belter’s actions in originating the beneficiaries’ claims.
After identifying target beneficiaries, Belter or his employees telephoned them, purportedly to obtain their medical history and consent to receive medications or DME. The purpose of these calls was so that Belter could record the conversations with the beneficiaries and convince them to try certain medications or DME. Belter had no medical licenses or training.
Belter purposely did not tell the beneficiaries what doctor would prescribe the medication or DME. The conspirators believed that the beneficiaries may not consent to receive medication or DME from an unknown doctor. In an email to William Welwart and another Apogee employee on Jan. 15, 2018, Belter wrote that, when he called beneficiaries, he did not provide specifics: “I think you might lose some people [beneficiaries] when you mention a Doctor name they have never heard of.”
After obtaining the beneficiary’s medical history and purported consent, Belter transmitted a beneficiary intake form, the recorded call, and a pre-filled prescription for medication or DME order to Laughlin and Luke at RediDoc. Under a contract, Belter paid Laughlin and Luke a fee of approximately $95 for each prescription that RediDoc obtained from one of its contracted doctors; $100 for each DME order; and $115 for a prescription and a DME order.
RediDoc recruited and contracted with doctors around the country to sign prescriptions and DME orders. RediDoc paid its contracted doctors anywhere from $7 to $30 per “consultation,” depending on whether they prescribed medication, DME, or both. For example, according to one RediDoc contract, RediDoc agreed to pay a doctor $15 per “consultation” by telephone with no prescription; $20 per “consultation” resulting in a medication prescription or DME order; and $30 per “consultation” resulting in a medication prescription and DME order. RediDoc had similar contracts with doctors across the country and paid them over $5.5 million during the scheme.
The defendants and other conspirators caused the submission of false and fraudulent claims to health care benefit programs, including Medicare, in excess of $100 million for prescription medication and DME.
The charge of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Kickback Statute is punishable by a potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greater.
The government is represented in this case by Senior Trial Counsel Jason S. Gould and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Mastropieri and Hayden Brockett of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark, as well as Senior Trial Counsel Barbara Ward of the Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Unit in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
McCubbins owned and operated a telemedicine company based in Utah that purported to provide health care services through health care professionals to Medicare beneficiaries. McCubbins and others paid kickbacks and bribes to various parties in exchange for referrals and orders for medically unnecessary genetic cancer screening tests (CGX Tests) for Medicare beneficiaries, ultimately leading to approximately $89 million in Medicare payments.
In order to generate referrals of Medicare beneficiaries to the telemedicine company, McCubbins and others paid kickbacks and bribes to individuals operating call centers targeting Medicare beneficiaries for CGX Tests. Once the telemedicine company received the referrals, health care professionals acting on its behalf wrote medically unnecessary orders for CGX Tests for the Medicare beneficiaries. McCubbins bribed medical doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants to prescribe the CGX Tests for Medicare beneficiaries. These health care professionals wrote medically unnecessary orders for CGX Tests without performing legitimate medical consultations and after only cursory telephonic interactions with the Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, the Telemedicine Company also bribed doctors to purportedly “supervise” nurses and other health care professionals in order to legitimize the their prescriptions for CGX Tests. In reality, however, the supervising physicians had no legitimate clinical or collaborative relationship with the health care professionals they claimed to supervise.
Mohases and his conspirators owned and operated multiple call centers through which they obtained doctors’ orders for DME, namely orthotic braces, and patient referrals for genetic CGX tests for Medicare beneficiaries. Mohases and his conspirators provided these orders and referrals in exchange for bribes from certain companies that provided the braces and performed the CGX Tests, ultimately leading to approximately $8.5 million in Medicare payments for medically unnecessary DME and CGX Tests.
Mohases and his conspirators obtained the DME orders and CGX Test referrals through the use of marketing call centers and telemedicine companies. Mohases used telemedicine companies to generate DME orders that were medically unnecessary because they were generated without any legitimate physician-patient relationship and without complying Medicare’s telemedicine requirements. In order to conceal the kickback arrangements, Mohases and his conspirators entered into sham contracts that made it appear that they were providing legitimate services. Mohases generated false invoices to match the sham contracts and to conceal the kickback scheme.
Roa and his conspirators owned and operated multiple call centers through which they obtained doctors’ orders for DME, namely braces, and patient referrals for CGX tests for Medicare beneficiaries. Roa and his conspirators provided these orders and referrals in exchange for bribes from certain companies that provided the braces and performed the CGX tests, ultimately leading to approximately $6.9 million in Medicare payments for medically unnecessary DME and CGX tests.
Roa and his conspirators obtained the DME orders and CGX test referrals through the use of marketing call centers and telemedicine companies. Roa used telemedicine companies to generate DME orders that were medically unnecessary because they were generated without any legitimate physician-patient relationship and without complying with Medicare’s telemedicine requirements. In order to conceal the kickback arrangements, Roa and his conspirators entered into sham contracts that made it appear that they were providing legitimate services. Roa generated false invoices to match the sham contracts and to conceal the kickback scheme.
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to violate the federal Anti-Kickback Statute is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross profit or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater.
The government in the cases against McCubbins, Mohases and Roa is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean M. Sherman, J. Stephen Ferketic, and Ryan O’Neill of the Opioid Abuse Prevention & Enforcement Unit, and Senior Trial Counsel Ward.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito and Attorney for the United States Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch. Jr. in Newark; the Department of Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Scott J. Lampert; the U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Leigh-Alistair Barzey; and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christopher F. Algieri with the ongoing investigations.
NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–On Saturday, September 26th, at approximately 10:03 pm, a 9-1-1 call was received from a caller that located an injured unresponsive male on Corporate Road. Units arrived moments later and discovered that severely injured male in the roadway. Despite all efforts, the male was later pronounced dead at the scene from those injuries. The man’s four wheeler/ATV was located in brush a short distance away by Officers. The incident is under investigation by our Department’s Traffic Safety Bureau, and appears at this time to be a tragic single vehicle (ATV) event leading to the drivers death. The victim has been identified as Charlie Madera, 31, of North Brunswick. Anyone with any information is asked to contact Traffic Officer Jason Vallese at 732-247-0922 x318
Excellent crime scene processing and modern-day forensics helped solve this case that led to the arrest
September 28, 2020
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond J. Hayducka announced the arrest of Jeuri Vargas, 23 year-old male of New Brunswick, from an occupied burglary investigation that occurred in 2015.
On December 5, 2015 at 9:05pm, Officers responded to a residence on Joann Court in Monmouth Junction for a reported occupied burglary. The residents advised Officers at scene that they were upstairs in their bedrooms when they heard noises coming from outside of their rooms. One of the residents walked out of their bedroom and observed two males standing on their upstairs landing. The two male suspects immediately fled down the stairs and exited the residence through a rear sliding door. An inventory of the home was conducted and it was discovered that a X Box game console, laptop computer and two bottles of wine were stolen from the residence.
Officer Sean Roberts, a Department Evidence Technician, processed the scene and was able to recover evidence including latent fingerprints from the rear sliding door and an I Pod case. The latent fingerprints were submitted off to the New Jersey State Police Lab for further examination.
In December of 2019 a fingerprint from this investigation was matched to Jeuri Vargas. The burglary case was then re-opened by Detective Bryan Sites. Detective Sites continued the investigation and conducting additional interviews. On September 23, 2020 Detective Sites located Vargas near his residence in New Brunswick and he was arrested in connection to this investigation.
Detective Sites charged Vargas with burglary, theft of movable property, and conspiracy to commit burglary. Vargas was lodged at the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center pending his first court appearance
Chief Raymond Hayducka said, “The excellent crime scene processing of Officer Roberts and continued efforts by Detective Sites played a crucial part in this investigation. Good modern-day forensics helped solve this case and led to the arrest of Vargas.”
KENDALL PARK – SOUTH BRUNWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Daniel Mark Anderl had just celebrated his 20th birthday.
A lifelong Catholic and the only child of U.S. District Judge Esther Salas and defense attorney Mark Anderl, Daniel Anderl gave his life to protect his mother and father, taking the shooter’s first bullet directly to the chest, when a man holding a package on their front door step opened fire into the family’s home on July 19.
“All of us here remember when we heard of the horrific news of Danny’s death and how he died,” said Father Robert G. Lynam, pastor of St. Augustine of Canterbury Parish, Kendall Park, where the family are parishioners. “Jesus said ‘there is no greater love, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ (Jn. 15:13) – Danny did that. There is no question in my mind, from Mark’s testimony to me, that Daniel offered his life for his father and his mother.”
Speaking during his homily to those gathered in the church and those watching the private livestream of the Sept. 26 funeral Mass from a nearby tent, set up in order to respect social distancing measures and situated just steps away from the parochial Catholic school where Daniel Anderl spent eight years of his childhood, the pastor said that “faith is a gift.”
Since the day of their son’s death, “it has been the gift of faith that has sustained Esther and Mark. It has been the shining example of Daniel’s faith and selfless love that has sustained all of us,” he said.
As he arrived at the hospital that day, as Mark was in the operating room, the pastor said that he saw Daniel’s mother become “Mary at the foot of the cross.”
“In the blessing of Daniel’s body that night, in that room, it was Jesus being taken down from the cross,” he said. “On that night, I shared with Esther, ‘there is a woman here with us. Her name is Mary, the mother of Jesus. She knows your pain. She knows your sorrow,’” he said.
Reassuring the mourners present, Father Lynam said, “Mary is here with us. She knows faith; she knows sorrow; she knows pain, but she always knows Easter joy. Allow Mary to embrace you, as a mother, with a gift of love and the gift of her faith.”
The day after his death, Daniel Anderl’s school friends, together with Father Lynam, gathered to pray in the church, in the place where he was baptized into the Catholic faith as an infant and would later go on to celebrate his other sacraments.
Together, they shared stories about the life and friendships they had with Daniel Anderl and lit a candle in his memory, which burned on the altar for weeks until a funeral Mass could take place.
Looking toward the back of the church and then glancing again at the candle, Father Lynam said he would often see the candle’s reflection in the glass at the back of the church as he celebrated Mass and remember, “that is the light of Danny that is burning brightly now in heaven – there’s no question about that.”
As Daniel Anderl’s friends were praying in the church that day, the day after his death, his parents were in the hospital and “Esther received communion along with her family who were in her room,” said Father Lynam.
“Mark, who was in intensive care, was able to receive a small piece of the host and then he shared those powerful words to me: ‘I have forgiven the shooter,’” he said, echoing the wounded father’s words to those present.
In the past weeks, St. Peter was in the Gospels. The pastor shared how Jesus asked Peter the same question three times: do you love me? The question came as a gift of absolution for Peter, after he had already denied Jesus three times.
“Esther shared, when we had a moment at one of the Masses to quietly, privately bring an intention for the Mass, that as Jesus forgave Peter three times, she said to me, ‘I have forgiven the shooter three times and many more times since then,” he said. “Mark and Esther, there by the grace of God, you were and are able to say those powerful words.”
With a distant gaze of past reflection, Father Lynam fondly remembered his interactions with the family at parish Masses.
“Esther is a great listener when I preach. She is there with me, as is Mark, and Daniel would be walking around doing ushering and greeting people. Constantly walking, walking, walking,” he said, gesturing around the church and drawing laughter from the mourners.
The weekly Masses since with his family and friends “have truly been the Road to Emmaus,” he said, referencing the passage in the Gospel of Luke in which Jesus walks with two disciples, mourning the loss of Jesus, as they journey down the road to Emmaus.
“They were filled with sorrow, doubt, and questions. They were depressed. Has that not been our experience over the past weeks and even now as we gather today in prayer?” said Father Lynam. “He comes to them in their time of need. He comes to us now in our time of need.”
The funeral Mass for Daniel Anderl came just days after the New Jersey State Assembly unanimously passed A.B. 1649 on Thursday, legislation known as “Daniel’s Law,” that would bar the online posting of judges’ and prosecutors’ home addresses or phone numbers.
The church and outdoor tent were filled with family and friends, dignitaries and Church leaders, among them Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York; Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, who celebrated the Mass; New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez; New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal; and President John Garvey of Catholic University of America, along with countless others.
Addressing Daniel Anderl’s parents, Cardinal Dolan said, “how often have we heard you say, since that Good Friday through which you traveled, that ‘we couldn’t have done it without our faith. Our faith is what has seen us through.’”
“We know one of the essentials of that faith is that God brings good out of evil and this is an unmitigated evil, but the Lord can bring good from evil,” said Cardinal Dolan. “Esther and Mark, the whole world bowed its head in prayer when they heard the sad news about Danny and the whole country has been inspired by his selfless act of sacrifice as he reminded them of Jesus on the cross. So, you see, God has already brought some good out of this.”
Daniel Anderl was remembered for having “lived his Catholic faith,” his life a witness of selfless love and steadfast faith. He was known to spend time in prayer in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, receive the gift of God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and attend daily Mass at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he would have been a junior this year.
It is his “great gift of faith” that leaves his loved ones behind both heartbroken and inspired, said Bishop Checchio.
“Esther and Mark, you raised such a lovely young man and the whole world can see what was in his heart by his actions,” said the bishop of the Diocese of Metuchen. “We’re so indebted to you and the good work you did, the love you brought him up with in your home, and the good work and cooperation of this parish, St. Augustine of Canterbury School, Saint Joseph High School and Catholic University of America.”
After sharing his own words of sorrow, Bishop Checchio read a letter sent to him by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio, or liaison between the Holy Father and the United States, on behalf of Pope Francis.
In the letter, Archbishop Pierre said he wished to express the spiritual closeness and paternal affection of the Holy Father and “convey his profound solidarity and assurances of prayer to Daniel’s parents and all those affected by this tragedy.”
“Conscious of the wound inflicted on your entire community, His Holiness also prays that all will be affirmed in their resolve to bring an end to senseless violence and to work for justice, healing and peace,” the letter read. “Upon Daniel’s family, his friends and all who mourn him, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Risen Lord.”
Also adding his own sentiments in the letter, Archbishop Pierre said he joined those in mourning “in giving thanks to Almighty God for young Daniel’s outstanding witness of faith and exemplary Christian life. Commending his soul to the infinite mercy of God, I also renew my fervent prayer that the faithful may be confirmed in charity, consoling one another with the hope in the Lord’s promise of the Resurrection.”
Once finished reading the letter, Bishop Checchio addressed those present, often seen comforting one another and wiping away their tears, one last time by saying, “Indeed, Esther, Mark and dear friends, it is only being gathered here around the altar of the Lord, being near the Lord and near our Mother, who experienced such violence in their own lives too, that we can work for that same healing, peace and justice of which the Holy Father wrote.”
HELMETTA, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–A vehicle fire with explosion was reported just after 3:00 am this morning in the first block of High Street. Helmetta Fire Department responded and brought the blaze quickly under control within 15 minutes of dispatch. The explosion was from propane tanks that were on a trailer. See additional details from Helmetta OEM below:
From Helmetta Office Of Emergency Management:
At 3:02 this morning the Helmetta Volunteer Fire Dept. was dispatched to a report of an explosion on High Street. The explosion and related fire were quickly brought under control by the responding fire fighters. Thank you to Helmetta Vol Fire Dept., Helmetta’s Fire Marshal’s Office, Helmetta DPW, Spotswood PD, Spotswood EMS, Spotswood OEM, Middlesex County Hazmat, and Sayreville Building dept. for all the help. There were no injuries reported to any responders or residents, however a few homes sustained damage from the explosion.