Category: Freehold

Long Branch Woman Sentenced To 35 Years In Prison For Sexual Assault Of A Toddler

October 18, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Long Branch woman has been sentenced to 35 years in state prison for planning and carrying out the sexual assault of a toddler with an accomplice a little more than four years ago, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Monday.

Olga Diaz, 35, must serve 33½ years of the sentence before becoming eligible for parole, in accordance with New Jersey’s Jessica Lunsford Act and No Early Release Act, under the terms set down Friday by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge David F. Bauman.

The sentencing marked the culmination of a case developed via joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Long Branch Police Department, beginning on Friday, June 16, 2017 – when a man walked into city police headquarters to report that he had just witnessed two individuals committing sexual acts upon a child, spotted through a window of a Seaview Avenue apartment unit.

Diaz was arrested later that same day, while pulling out of her driveway. Diaz’s co-defendant, 37-year-old Mauricio Leon of Bloomfield, was located a week later with the assistance of members of the U.S. Marshals Service and arrested in Fort Lee.

During her plea allocution, Diaz admitted that she and Leon planned the sexual attack via text message, further admitting that she took nude photographs of the child the day before the sexual assault and took a separate video of herself sexually assaulting the child hours before the pair sexually assaulted her together – sending both the images and video to Leon using her cell phone.

The text messages, images, and video were recovered by police. The victim, who was under the age of 5 at the time, was known to Diaz.

“The depths of depravity necessary for two people to plan and commit a crime of this nature together against a helpless child are both beyond the capacity of the English language to suitably articulate and beyond the capacity of human comprehension to adequately understand,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “There is no place in any civilized society for anyone capable of such acts.”  

Diaz ultimately admitted to two counts of Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child and one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, pleading guilty in April 2021. As a result of Friday’s sentencing – 25 years for the sexual assaults, 10 years for the endangering, to be served consecutively – Diaz will be 64 before becoming eligible for parole. Upon release, she will be required to register under Megan’s Law and placed on Parole Supervision for Life.

In August 2019, Judge Bauman sentenced Leon to 25 years in state prison on charges of first-degree Aggravated Sexual Assault and third-degree Possession of Child Pornography.

The case was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Tara Wilson and Julia Alonso.

Diaz was represented by Al Kapin, Esq., of West Orange.

Leon was represented by Michael Kuhns, Esq., of Lawrenceville.

Hightstown Man Convicted For 2018 Roadside Slaying Of Freehold Woman

October 12, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County jury has returned guilty verdicts on all charges against a Hightstown man who fatally shot a Freehold woman as she drove along on a state highway three years ago, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Tuesday.       

Kader Mustafa, 40, was convicted of first-degree Murder, second-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, two counts of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and two counts of third-degree Endangering Another Person in connection with the killing of 24-year-old Sciasia Calhoun.    

Shortly before 11:45 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, 2018, members of the Freehold Township Police Department responded to a 911 call originating from a vehicle stopped along Route 33 West near the exit ramp for Halls Mill Road. At that location, officers found three occupants of the vehicle, a 1997 Mazda Protégé: Calhoun, having sustained a single gunshot wound to the head, and her boyfriend and her 1-year-old daughter, both of whom were not physically harmed.  

Calhoun was rushed by Freehold First Aid, with the assistance of Monmouth-Ocean Hospital Service Corporation (MONOC), to nearby CentraState Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead approximately one hour later.

An intensive investigation by the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau, greatly assisted by the Freehold Township and Manalapan police departments, revealed that Mustafa was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Impala when he fired a single shot at Calhoun, after several minutes of following her vehicle and flashing his high beams. Mustafa was apprehended in Manalapan in the area of Oakland Mills Road at approximately 8:10 a.m. the morning after the shooting, when two handguns were recovered from the vehicle.

Tuesday’s verdict was delivered following a multi-week trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano Jr. Representing the State during the proceedings was Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Investigation Division Director and Assistant Prosecutor John Loughrey.

“This was a chilling, senseless crime, committed against a total stranger in the dead of night, in front of the victim’s horrified boyfriend and young child,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “We thank the jury for their service and are deeply gratified to know that while today’s verdict can’t bring Sciasia Calhoun back, this defendant will be kept off the streets and brought to justice for his actions.”  

Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Friday, January 7, 2022. Mustafa is facing a minimum of 30 years and a maximum of life in state prison, with a 30-year period of parole ineligibility.  


Trip For Eight Never Materialized To 2019 Masters Tournament; Two Indicted For Six-Figure Theft

October 7, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH) – Two men have been charged via direct indictment for a six-figure theft connected to a contracted trip for eight people to attend the 2019 Masters Tournament that never materialized, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Thursday.

John Donadio, 56, of Belmar and Michael Moyer, 56, of New Orleans, Louisiana, is each charged with second-degree Theft.

An investigation by the Belmar Police Department that grew to also involve investigators with the Prosecutor’s Office determined that the primary victim in the case had entered into a contract with Eclipse Global Events, a Belmar-based company controlled by the defendants, for the trip to the annual golf tournament held in Augusta, Georgia. The contracted charge for the trip was more than $126,000, to include lodging, tickets (both practice rounds and tournament rounds), hospitality events, and local transportation for all eight travelers.

Yet shortly after the contracted amount was paid in full and immediately prior to the event, the victim was advised that their payment was “late,” and that he would not be receiving the trip – nor a refund.

The victims missed a good one – Tiger Woods won his first major tournament title in more than a decade at the 2019 Masters, coming from behind in the final round in one of the most significant moments in the recent history of the sport.

A Monmouth County Grand Jury returned the indictment late last month, and Donadio turned himself in on Friday, October 1. Moyer did the same five days later.

The case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Anastos. Donadio is being represented by Thomas Huth, Esq., with an office in Red Bank, while attorney information for Moyer was not immediately available.

Anyone with additional information about the activities of defendants Donadio or Moyer is being asked to contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Michael Acquaviva at 1-800-533-7443.

Convictions on these charges are commonly punishable by 5 to 10 years in state prison.

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.  


Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Launches LGBTQ+ Law Enforcement Liaison And Safe Place Programs

October 7, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–It’s a simple notion that speaks directly to the twin tenets of equality and justice that no one, anywhere, should ever have to fear being exactly who they are.

It’s also the driving force behind Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey yesterday announcing the launch of the MCPO LGBTQ+ Law Enforcement Liaison Program and the SAFE PLACE Program, two new initiatives intended to foster improved relations between the LGBTQ+ community and law enforcement in Monmouth County, as well as provide individuals belonging to federally protected classes safe places from which to report bias incidents and/or hate crimes.

“Like New Jersey at large, Monmouth County is a vibrant, diverse place where individuals hailing from countless different backgrounds come to live, work, and visit,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “Every single one of them deserves to feel safe and welcomed here, and we plan to do everything in our power to ensure that they always do.” 

Gathering for yesterday’s announcement were local elected officials and police chiefs, numerous LGBTQ+ Law Enforcement Liaisons from across the state, as well as members of MCPO executive leadership and Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew Bruck – the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to serve as the Garden State’s chief law enforcement officer.

“Initiatives like these empower members of the LGBTQ+ community by letting them know they have allies everywhere,” Bruck said. “I applaud Acting Prosecutor Linskey for her leadership in bringing these meaningful programs to Monmouth County.” Through the MCPO LGBTQ+ Law Enforcement Liaison Program, the Prosecutor’s Office is hopeful that many of the more than 50 law-enforcement agencies across the county will designate a department Liaison; the designee may be any sworn or civilian employee who identifies as LGBTQ+ (or as an ally) and wishes to serve as a connection point between law enforcement and the local LGBTQ+ community. The Liaisons will then collaborate with those communities to address issues of concern, and to support MCPO’s service to the public.

A Liaison’s responsibilities will also include, among other things:

  • With supervisory approval, attend events in the LGBTQ+ community as a representative of the MCPO;
  • Meet with and provide a forum for business owners, community groups, schools, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, and present information on relevant law enforcement/community issues;
  • Become fully familiar with the Attorney General’s Bias Incident Investigation Standards and the definitions of bias incidents and related criminal violations pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1(a)(1) or (2);
  • Assist, advise, and consult with MCPO Assistant Prosecutors and Detectives on cases involving the LGBTQ+ community or LGBTQ+ issues;
  • Provide support, upon request, to LGBTQ+ staff members;
  • Provide diversity trainings, with supervisory approval, at the Monmouth County Police Academy or in other forums, upon request; and
  • Provide an annual report to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office on activities of the Liaison position and public safety trends related to the LGBTQ+ community.

The Liaisons will also participate in the local implementation of MCPO SAFE PLACE, a public-private partnership centered on the reporting of bias incidents and hate crimes targeting any protected class of individuals – whether motivated by race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or ethnicity.Through the Program, local participating businesses, social organizations, and schools will be given brightly colored decals for posting prominently in an entrance area, allowing anyone who spots them to know that the location will provide a safe environment for someone to call 911 for assistance if they believe they have been the target of a bias incident or hate crime.

New Jersey’s Bias Intimidation statute is applied whenever an underlying crime is determined to have been committed with a “purpose to intimidate an individual or group of individuals” because one or more of them are members of any of the aforementioned protected classes. The degree of the Bias Intimidation charge is one degree higher than the degree of the most serious underlying charge.

Every local business, social organization, or school in Monmouth County is eligible to participate in the Program free of charge. The only requirement is twofold: if a victim of any crime (especially a hate crime) enters the premises, call 911 immediately; and allow the victim to remain on the premises until police arrive.

The SAFE PLACE program was first introduced by the Seattle Police Department in 2015, with more than 7,000 locations across the city participating by 2019. Today they sanction police departments nationwide in replicating the program in their jurisdictions; MCPO is the 293rd such agency in the U.S., Canada, or Europe to launch its own version.

“Too often, initiatives of this nature involve a wealth of talk and a dearth of action – that’s why we’re so enthusiastic about the fact that this announcement was just the first step toward something much bigger,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “Through these two programs, members of our Office and local police departments will be reaching out and making connections in their local communities. They’ll be listening to their constituents, having meaningful conversations, and effecting actual positive change. Making things like this possible is precisely why I took this job.” 

The SAFE PLACE program will be piloted with the cooperation of the municipal leadership and police departments of Asbury Park, Long Branch, and Red Bank, yet participation ultimately will be open to all locations countywide.

Most of the Prosecutor’s Office eight inaugural volunteer Law Enforcement Liaisons – a group that includes investigators and assistant prosecutors alike – attended Wednesday’s event, which included the raising of a Pride flag at the Office’s main entrance. It will remain in place through Monday, October 11 – National Coming Out Day 2021. 

If your business, social organization, or school is interested in participating in MCPO SAFE PLACE, contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at SafePlace@mcponj.org or your local police department.


Former Middlesex County Sheriff’s Officer Indicted For Videotaped Sexual Assaults Of Unconscious Women

September 27, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County grand jury has returned a 20-count indictment against a former Middlesex County Sheriff’s Officer charged with videotaping violent sexual assaults of multiple unconscious women over the span of three years, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Monday.

Joshua Padilla, 36, was indicted Friday and is now charged with eight counts of first-degree Aggravated Sexual Assault, seven counts of third-degree Invasion of Privacy, four counts of third-degree Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact, and one count of second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

In February 2019, members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Bureau arrested Padilla, a resident of Berkeley Place in Eatontown, in relation to an investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. 

As a result of the investigation, Padilla was found to be in possession of numerous videos of himself performing sexual acts upon women who were clearly unconscious and unresponsive. Additionally, the defendant was found to be in possession of child sexual abuse materials. Many of these crimes took place at the defendant’s home in Eatontown, with others occurring in Middlesex County.

The sexual assault charges outlined today relate to three different adult victims and crimes taking place from 2016 into 2018, but investigators continue to seek additional information about Padilla’s activities. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Brian Hammarstrom of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-431-7160, Ext. 6413. “These were truly unspeakable crimes against utterly helpless victims,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “We are encouraged by the progress made so far in shepherding this case through the criminal justice system, but troubled by the prospects

of other victims being out there who have yet to come forward – and who may not even have known they were victimized. We urge anyone with any information about the activities of this defendant to step forward and tell us what they know.”

Anyone who wishes to make an anonymous report about this case can call the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers’ confidential tip line at 1-800-671-4400. Tipsters can also text “MONMOUTH” and their tip to 274637, or they can email a tip via the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com.

The investigation into Padilla has thus far resulted in criminal charges in three different jurisdictions; in July 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced that it was indicting him for producing, distributing, and being in possession of child sexual abuse materials after he allegedly recorded himself engaging in unlawful sexual contact with a 17-year-old girl in Pennsylvania and later uploaded the video online. In March 2021, Padilla pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual contact with a minor in relation to the aforementioned investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, admitting to attempting to meet with an undercover agent posing as a 14-year-old girl and digitally sharing with her sexually graphic images of himself.

If convicted on the charges filed in Monmouth County Superior Court, Padilla would face up to 20 years in state prison on each count of Aggravated Sexual Assault, up to five years on each count of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact, up to five years for each count of Invasion of Privacy, and up to 10 years for Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Additionally, he would be subject to Parole Supervision for Life and would be required to register under Megan’s Law.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendants have all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

The defendant remains incarcerated in federal prison in Pennsylvania, and is no longer employed by the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office.

This case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Zanzuccki.



Two Charged With Supplying Drugs That Killed Howell Woman

September 23, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Two men have been arrested and charged with supplying a Howell woman with the drugs that killed her, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Thursday.

Terrance R. Rose, 38, of Freehold Borough and Reginald A. Simeus, 42, of Howell are both charged with first-degree Strict Liability for a Drug-Induced Death.

On Tuesday, November 17, 2020, members of the Howell Township Police Department responded to a residence on a report of a possible drug overdose. Upon arrival, they found 35-year-old Katherine Hughes, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

A joint investigation by members of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Howell Township Police Department ensued, through which Rose and Simeus were discovered to have been communicating with Hughes during the period leading up to her death. The investigation further determined that Simeus had obtained the drugs from Rose before passing them along to Hughes prior to her death.    

In the early stages of the investigation, Rose and Simeus were charged with multiple drug-related charges out of South Amboy (Middlesex County) and Howell, respectively; those charges remain pending. The Strict Liability charge was filed last week, with Simeus being arrested without incident at his home on Friday, September 17 and Rose turning himself in to members of the Howell Township Police Department on Monday, September 20.

Simeus was later released on his own recognizance, while Rose was transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold, where he awaits a detention hearing before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon, scheduled for tomorrow, Friday, September 24.

Acting Prosecutor Linskey praised the proactive, dedicated efforts of the Howell Township Police Department, members of whom worked in conjunction with detectives from the Prosecutor’s Office’s Narcotics and Criminal Enterprises Unit and Major Crimes Bureau. 

“During recent years, there has been a sea change in how law enforcement has approached substance abuse, shifting from a strategy built more on enforcement to one built more on compassion. But that compassion is reserved only for those fighting to turn their lives around – not for those who would literally trade those individuals’ lives for a modest financial gain,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “We hope the charges being announced today send a clear message to that latter group, putting them on notice that such conduct will be met with the sharpest prosecutorial rebuke permissible under the law.” 

This case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Christopher J. Decker, Director of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Major Crimes Bureau.

Rose is being represented by Michael J. Pappa, Esq., of Hazlet, while no attorney is known to have yet entered an appearance on Simeus’s behalf.

Convictions on first-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by terms of up to 20 years in state prison.

Despite the aforementioned pending 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.


Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force have resulted in the arrests of 14 individuals

September 23, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A series of investigations led by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and the Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force have resulted in the arrests of 14 individuals since late April, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Thursday.   

The following individuals have been charged with second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child via Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material:

  • Connor Bauba, 32, of Union Beach, arrested on August 30 following an investigation that revealed he was utilizing a social media platform to distribute child sexual abuse material.

  • Benjamin Luna-Valdetano, 34, of Red Bank, arrested on August 19 following an investigation that revealed he was utilizing a social media platform to distribute child sexual abuse material. Luna-Valdetano, who is being represented by Josue Vazquez, Esq., of Newark, was additionally charged with one count of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child for the Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material.

  • Joseph Latorre, 45, of Howell, arrested on July 28 following an investigation that revealed he was utilizing a social media platform to distribute child sexual abuse material. Latorre is being represented by Thomas Huth, Esq., of Red Bank.

An additional defendant, 20-year-old Leonardo Andrade of Freehold, was arrested on August 6 and charged with second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child via Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material, following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of over 1,000 items depicting child sexual abuse. Andrade is being represented by Anthony Aldorasi, Esq., of Freehold.

The following individuals have been charged with third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child via Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material:

  • Adam Vasquez, 18, of Colts Neck, arrested on May 12 following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of numerous items depicting child sexual abuse. Vasquez is being represented by Mitchell Ansell, Esq., of Ocean Township.

  • Jonathan Hall, 20, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, arrested on May 3 following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of videos depicting child sexual abuse. Hall is being represented by Steven Nelson, Esq., of Neptune.

  • Miguel Jacinto-Rivera, 20, of Red Bank, arrested on August 19 following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of child sexual abuse material. Jacinto-Rivera is being represented by Thomas Blauvelt, Esq., of East Brunswick.

  • Jose E. Rivera, 21, of Long Branch, arrested on April 29 following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of and viewed child sexual abuse material by utilizing a social media messaging platform. Rivera is represented by Robert Witek, Esq., of Long Branch.

  • Christopher Lauria, 22, of Ocean Township, arrested on July 16 following an investigation revealing that he was in possession of images of child sexual abuse material. Lauria is being represented by Charles Uliano, Esq., of West Long Branch.

  • Brandon Nelson, 28, of Hazlet, arrested on July 14 following an investigation that revealed that he was in possession of images of child sexual abuse material. Nelson is being represented by Kevin Clark, Esq., of Ocean Township.

  • Ricky Martinez, 29, of, Keansburg, arrested on June 8 following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of numerous images of child sexual abuse. Martinez is being represented by Keith Oliver, Esq., of Middletown.

Michael K. Russo, 51, of West Long Branch, arrested on September 3 following an investigation that revealed that he possessed child sexual abuse material. Russo is being represented by Joanna Boretti, Esq., of Freehold. 

Scott Conklin, 55, of Highlands, arrested on May 21 following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of child sexual abuse material. Conklin is being represented by Jason Volet, Esq., of Freehold.

William Ford, 76, of Farmingdale, arrested on September 2 following an investigation that revealed he possessed child sexual abuse material. Ford is being represented by Jason Volet, Esq., of Freehold.

Assisting in these investigations were members of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU), the New Jersey State Police ICAC Task Force, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New Jersey Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory, and the Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office.

The Monmouth County ICAC Task Force includes members of the following police departments: Bradley Beach, Eatontown, Howell, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlboro, Neptune Township, Spring Lake, Tinton Falls, Keyport, Keansburg, Belmar, Holmdel, and Red Bank; the Task Force also receives investigative support from the police departments in Long Branch, Colts Neck, Highlands, Hazlet, Howell, Union Beach, Keansburg, Red Bank, West Long Branch, Ocean Township, Freehold Township, and Freehold Borough, as well as the New Jersey State Police (Hamilton Barracks).

Convictions on second-degree charges of this nature are punishable by up to 10 years in state prison; convictions on third-degree charges of this nature are punishable by up to five years. Either would also result in defendants being registered under Megan’s Law and assigned parole supervision for life.

Andrade’s case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Anastos; Bauba’s case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Anthony Puglisi; William Ford’s case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Amanda Dalton Clark; and the remaining cases are assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan.


Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office “Surf” The Facility Dog Is On The Job

September 15, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The newest member of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office brings years of rigorous training, a relentlessly affable attitude, and an unwavering commitment to service to his role; today is his first day on the job, having been assigned to the Monmouth County Child Advocacy Center.

He’s also 4 years old, and covered in fur.

“Surf” the facility dog, a yellow Labrador retriever, will meet with young victims of abuse from across the county at the Child Advocacy Center two days per week, as the centerpiece of a newly implemented therapy initiative shown to lessen victim anxiety and improve outcomes of investigations into such crimes.

“Our Child Advocacy Center is meant by design to offer a warm, welcoming environment for our very most vulnerable crime victims as they recuperate, and Surf’s arrival here brings that to another level entirely,” Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have him join us.”

Surf’s arrival was more than two years in the making, made possible in great part by someone who has been working at the Child Advocacy Center long before that. Melissa Boege, Program Director of the Family Growth Program of Monmouth & Ocean Counties for Catholic Charities, has provided therapy to children, teens, and adults there since 2014 – and in 2019, the California-based nonprofit group Canine Companions placed Surf with her permanently.

“The children I work with have expressed ongoing enthusiasm about working with a facility dog, and have talked extensively about how the dog will help them feel better, talk about difficult things, and feel comfortable in therapy,” Boege said. “It’s incredible to witness – children who were previously shy,  anxious, disengaged, and defiant become interested, engaged, enthusiastic, open, and connected.”

Surf and Boege started working together with clients at the Family Growth Program’s Red Bank location just a matter of months after his arrival in New Jersey, and that same autumn they started visiting public and private schools across Monmouth County to present “Safety Steps,” a series of abuse-prevention workshops.

So his newest assignment won’t be his first rodeo.  

“Surf has the ideal temperament to perform this unique brand of work – he’s naturally calm, nurturing, and reassuring, while also responding enthusiastically to children and adults who prompt him to show a more playful side,” Child Advocacy Center Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) Coordinator Debbie Riveros said. “He fits in perfectly with our Team.”

Facility dogs fall under a definition that sets them apart from service dogs or therapy dogs, according to Canine Companions – to be designated as such, the dogs are expertly trained from birth, trustworthy in professional environments, and able to perform more than 40 commands. To be designated as a “facilitator,” as Boege is, one must be solely responsible for handling and caring for a facility dog, and also committed to long-term employment at a specific location for a minimum of 20 hours per week.

There are a limited number of facility dogs already serving at some of the more than 900 child advocacy centers nationwide, which serve more than 338,000 children annually, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Children’s Alliance, the primary professional organization dedicated to supporting the model. But that number is growing, with studies showing that use of facility dogs during therapy sessions drastically reduces anxiety among child abuse victims, drastically increasing the likelihood of disclosure.

Surf’s first day of work may be today, but truthfully, he’s already a bit of a celebrity – the Child Advocacy Center has calendars, pamphlets, and even stress balls all made in his likeness. To follow his work and what he’s up to, connect with him on Facebook at Facility Dog Surf, or on Instagram at @facilitydog_surf.




Shrewsbury Man Charged With Embezzling $750K From His Former Employer, D’Angelico Guitars of America

September 8, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Shrewsbury man has been criminally charged with embezzling more than $750,000 from the Colts Neck-based company he once worked for as an accountant, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Wednesday.

Mark S. Bloom, 45, is charged with second-degree theft by unlawful taking.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Colts Neck Police Department led to a financial analysis of D’Angelico Guitars of America, a musical instrument manufacturer headquartered on Route 537.

The analysis revealed that sometime in early 2020, Bloom had created a new personal PayPal account and began surreptitiously transferring funds into it from the company’s American Express business account and its PayPal business account. Using the personal PayPal account, Bloom then spent much of the more than $750,000 he embezzled on online gambling.

Bloom was charged via summons on Tuesday pending the scheduling of a hearing to take place in Monmouth County Superior Court. He is being represented by Randolph H. Wolf, Esq., with an office in Red Bank. 

The case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Kristen Anastos of the Prosecutor’s Office’s Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit. 

Despite the aforementioned pending 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.


Manalapan Man Charged In Fatal Shooting In Freehold Borough

August 25, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Manalapan man has been charged in Monday night’s fatal shooting in Freehold Borough that took the life of an 18-year old man. Lamin Conteh, 23, has been taken into custody on charges of first degree Murder, first degree Attempted Murder, second degree Possession of a Firearm for an Unlawful Purpose and second degree Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey. 

 On August 23, 2021 at approximately 5:00 pm, the Freehold Borough Police Department received a 911 call of a reported shooting outside a Lloyd Avenue residence. Responding officers located Reashaun Billingsley, 18, as well as a second male victim inside the home. Billingsley was unconscious and had suffered multiple gunshot wounds.  He received emergency medical treatment and was transferred to Centra State Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased at 6:04 pm. The second male victim suffered a small graze wound to his leg.

An investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Freehold Borough Police Department revealed that Billingsley and the second  male victim had been sitting on the front porch outside the Lloyd Avenue home when a sedan approached them. At that time, the rear seat passenger, later identified as the defendant, started shooting at the two men, causing them to flee into the home after inflicting the fatal wounds to the victim.

Conteh was apprehended at approximately 2:10 pm this afternoon in Manalapan, and remains incarcerated pending a detention hearing to be scheduled in Superior Court. He faces a life sentence on these charges.

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.


Manalapan Man Indicted For Father’s Murder

Pradeep Reddy, 39, of Manalapan, was indicted on one count of first degree Murder, in connection with the April 12th, 2021 death of his father, Radhakrishna Reddy.

August 7, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–On Friday August 6, a Monmouth County Grand Jury has returned an indictment against a Manalapan man in connection with the death of his father, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

Pradeep Reddy, 39, of Manalapan, was indicted on August 6, 2021, on one count of first degree Murder, in connection with the April 12th, 2021 death of his father, Radhakrishna Reddy.

At approximately 4:40 pm on Monday April 12th, the Manalapan Township Police Department responded to 721 Summer Drive and discovered Radhakrishna Reddy, 78, unconscious and critically injured. The victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment, where despite significant medical intervention, the victim succumbed to these injuries on April 14.

A joint investigation by the Manalapan Police Department and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office subsequently revealed Pradeep Reddy was responsible for assaulting his father, ultimately leading to his death.  He was taken into custody and transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution where he has remained since his arrest.

If convicted of murder, Reddy faces up to 30 years in a New Jersey state prison. He would also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Luciano.

Reddy is represented by Joshua Hood, Esq., of Freehold.

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.


Monmouth County Corrections Officer Pleads Guilty To Shoplifting

22 Year Law Enforcement Veteran To Forfeit Public Employment

July 26, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County Corrections officer has pled guilty after shoplifting in Ocean Township and West Long Branch, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

Suzanne Simone, 53, of Ocean Township, a 22-year-veteran of the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, pled guilty today before Judge Ellen Torregossa-O’Connor to fourth degree Shoplifting in connection with multiple instances where she failed to pay for items at local Target and Home Depot stores. Simone’s plea calls for her to pay restitution to both stores in a total amount of $1,320.90. Simone has also forfeited public office in New Jersey.  She will receive non-custodial probation and is not allowed to return to either store.

This follows an investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office which revealed that on multiple occasions, Simone “skip scanned” items, essentially scanning multiple smaller items, and not scanning larger items or pretending to scan them and leaving the store without paying for them. In multiple instances, Simone was wearing her uniform while committing the theft. Some of the stolen goods were later recovered from her residence.

Simone is currently suspended from her position at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution. She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 24, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crime Unit.

Simone is represented by Robert Holden Esq., of Shrewsbury.

Citizens may report concerns via the following: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Corruption Tip Line – 855-7-UNJUST (855 786-5878); or E-mail at: corruption@mcponj.org write “Corruption/Misconduct Tip” in the subject line.


Off-Duty State Trooper Subdues Knife-Wielding Man

June 5, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–An off-duty New Jersey State Trooper subdued a man who brandished a knife during an altercation in the parking lot of a Dunkin Donuts in Freehold Township, N.J.

On Friday, May 28, Detective Sergent Michael Nelson, of the Troop “D” Criminal Investigation Office, overheard two men arguing behind his car in the parking lot of the Dunkin Donuts. During the altercation, DSG Nelson observed one of the men brandish a large knife and threaten the other man. DSG Nelson immediately exited his vehicle, approached the suspect, and identified himself as a New Jersey State Trooper.

DSG Nelson ordered the suspect to drop the knife, but the man retreated to his vehicle. Without concern for his own safety, DSG Nelson continued toward the suspect, pulled him from his vehicle, and successfully disarmed and subdued the man. A short time later, members of the Freehold Township Police Department arrived on scene and took custody of the suspect.

As a result of his quick and decisive actions, DSG Nelson deescalated a potentially deadly situation. His actions are in the finest traditions of the New Jersey State Police, Honor, Duty, and Fidelity.

35 Indictments Charging Gun Traffickers and Others Who Allegedly Sold or Possessed 96 Illegal Guns Including Ghost Guns, Assault Rifles

June 3, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced a wave of 35 indictments secured by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice in just over two months charging numerous defendants with illegal gun trafficking and/or possession of illicit weapons, including untraceable ghost guns, assault rifles, and outlawed large-capacity ammunition magazines. Ghost guns are not registered and do not have serial numbers, making them difficult to trace and making it harder for law enforcement to solve gun crimes.

The indictments charge a total of 81 defendants, a majority of whom face various weapons offenses in connection with the following illegal weapons seized in the investigations:

  • 96 Illegal Guns, including
  • 16 Assault Rifles and
  • 1 Machine Gun;
  • 53 Illegal Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazines.

The illegal guns include a total of 10 Ghost Guns that do not bear federally registered serial numbers. Most of the guns traced in these cases were purchased in various states other than New Jersey, including Pennsylvania, which was the source of at least 18 guns, and South Carolina, which was the source of at least 12 guns, as well as Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, among others.

Five of the indictments charge defendants with illegally trafficking guns. The others charge possession of illegal weapons by other alleged criminals, including individuals charged with using guns in violent crimes, alleged drug dealers, an alleged human trafficker, and a fugitive charged with credit card fraud. Thirty-four of the indictments stem from investigations conducted between January 2019 and February 2021, with most charging conduct in 2020 and 2021. One case dates to 2018.

Thirty-three indictments were secured by the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Two indictments were secured by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau.

The Division of Criminal Justice and New Jersey State Police consistently join with other law enforcement partners to conduct strategic investigations focused on disrupting the supply-line of weapons trafficking into violent areas, arresting drug dealers and seizing existing weapons in those areas, and aggressively prosecuting all defendants who traffic, use, or possess guns in connection with criminal activity.

“We are aggressively targeting those responsible for the proliferation of guns and gun violence in our communities, including gun traffickers, drug dealers, and other criminals who arm themselves with illegal weapons,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Assault rifles have long been a weapon of choice for gangs and drug dealers, and more recently there has been an alarming increase in untraceable ghost guns, which often are seized by police after they have been used in a shooting. By focusing on illegal guns, working to shut down the iron pipeline of firearms from other states, and prosecuting offenders under New Jersey’s tough gun laws, we are taking guns and armed criminals off of the street—and undoubtedly saving lives.”

“These 35 indictments are the product of strong collaboration by the Division of Criminal Justice and law enforcement agencies at all levels, all across New Jersey and into states such as Pennsylvania and South Carolina, which were source states for guns allegedly sold by certain defendants,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “By cracking down on gun traffickers, armed drug dealers, and others with illegal weapons, we are working to reduce the gun violence and drug dealing that are claiming far too many lives in New Jersey and are undermining the safety and security of our communities. I commend our Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau, Specialized Crimes Bureau, the New Jersey State Police, and all of our law enforcement partners for these outstanding results.”

“Illegal weapons trafficking has unfortunately evolved over time. The proliferation of ghost guns, which can be assembled from parts originating from across the country, has made it more difficult to solve violent crimes and disrupt trafficking networks, but fortunately law enforcement has evolved at a much faster rate by utilizing state-of-art investigative techniques and employing massive multi-jurisdictional collaborations, which are directly responsible for today’s indictments and the seizure of nearly 100 guns,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We will continue to work with our partners to combat not only the trafficking of illegal weapons, but to also disrupt the assembly and sale of ghost guns both in New Jersey and across the country.”

The 35 state grand jury indictments charge the defendants with offenses ranging from unlawful possession and disposition of handguns, assault weapons, and machine guns to leader of a firearms trafficking network, and also include charges of unlawful transportation of firearms into the state; charges related to the unlawful purchase, manufacture, transportation, and possession of ghost gun parts and ghost guns; unlawful possession of defaced weapons; unlawful possession of weapons during commission of narcotics offenses; unlawful possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines: unlawful possession of illegal hollow-point bullets; and unlawful possession of weapons by convicted felons. Many of the charges carry Graves Act penalties requiring mandatory periods of parole ineligibility of up to five years. As detailed below, two of the guns that were seized have been linked to shootings, including a homicide.

The following cases illustrate the range of the investigations:

Michael Maresca, et al.

Michael Maresca, 32, of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., allegedly trafficked ghost guns in the area of Paterson, N.J. He was indicted with two other men—Robert Moser, 49, of Depauw, Indiana, and Maken Cornell, 52, of Grove City, Ohio—for allegedly conspiring to purchase assault rifle kits, ghost gun parts, and outlawed large-capacity magazines and have them shipped to New Jersey, where Maresca allegedly assembled the illegal guns and sold them. During the investigation, in October and November 2020, five ghost guns and two assault rifles were seized. Maresca allegedly sold two ghost guns to an undercover officer, including one that was equipped with an illegal 15-round magazine loaded with prohibited hollow-point bullets.

Henry Kidd Jr., Javar Kidd, and Terrance Alford

Two Trenton men, Javar Kidd, 32, and Terrance Alford, 46, were indicted along with Kidd’s uncle Henry Kidd Jr., 51, of Hayneville Alabama, on charges that they conspired to transport weapons into New Jersey from South Carolina for illegal sale or transfer to criminals in and around Trenton. Nine handguns and four illegal large-capacity magazines were seized during the investigation in October 2020. Henry Kidd Jr. is charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime.

Operation Zombie

Four defendants, including Robert Crosley III, 34, aka “Zombie,” and Matthew Zoba, 40, both of Philadelphia, were indicted on charges that they conspired to run a major Philadelphia-based gun trafficking ring that illegally trafficked guns and methamphetamine into Camden, N.J. They are charged in connection with 22 illegal firearms seized during the investigation—including four assault rifles—as well as seven illegal large-capacity magazines. Between March 2019 and January 2020, they allegedly sold 16 guns in the Camden area during the investigation, including a 9mm handgun linked to a shooting in Philadelphia in which no one was hit, as well as a semi-automatic rifle linked to the Oct. 20, 2019 murder of 2-year-old Nikolette Rivera, who was shot as her mother held her in her arms in their home in Philadelphia. Crosley and Zoba are both charged with first-degree promoting organized street crime.

Enrique “Neff” Alfonso

Enrique “Neff” Alfonso, 28, of Camden, N.J., allegedly used a popular social networking service to conduct illegal firearms sales in the Camden area. Between February and May 2020, he allegedly sold an assault rifle, five handguns, another rifle, and three illegal large-capacity magazines. He is charged in a 17-count indictment with numerous weapons offenses, including possession of a weapon as a convicted felon, which carries a mandatory minimum prison term of five years without parole upon conviction.

Christopher J. Pespas

Christopher J. Pespas, 74, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., was indicted on charges that he was purchasing parts for “ghost gun” assault rifles on the internet, along with illegal large-capacity magazines. Investigators executed a search warrant at his residence in August 2019 and seized parts that could be assembled to make three assault rifles—all “ghost guns.”

Isiah Greene and Jamal Bethea

Isiah Greene, 29, and Jamal Bethea, 32, of Trenton, N.J., alleged members of the Sanhican Drive Boys gang, allegedly engaged in a shootout on Feb. 12, 2020 with two members of the Get Money Boys gang, Shaiquan Hearns and Dion Battle. Greene allegedly fired from a vehicle driven by Bethea. No one on either side of the shootout was hit, but Bethea crashed the vehicle, and Bethea and Greene fled. Greene allegedly hid the gun in the backyard of a residence. Greene and Bethea were indicted on first-degree charges of conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder, among other offenses. Hearns and Battle were previously charged by the Division of Criminal Justice with two counts of attempted murder—one count for firing at Greene and Bethea, and another for firing at a police officer who pursued their vehicle after the shootout.

Peter Santos and Joshua Perez

Peter A. Santos, 22, and Joshua M. Perez, 22, of Trenton, N.J., allegedly pistol-whipped a victim with a handgun and robbed him of his wallet in Trenton on Jan. 24, 2021. A subsequent search of a hotel room rented by Perez revealed a second handgun loaded with illegal hollow-point bullets. Both men were indicted on charges of first-degree robbery, as well as aggravated assault and weapons offenses.

The 35 state grand jury indictments are posted at View Indictments.

The 33 indictments that were presented to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau were presented by the following Deputy Attorneys General (DAsG), under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Cassandra Montalto, Deputy Bureau Chief Cynthia Vazquez, Bureau Chief Lauren Scarpa Yfantis, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart: DAG Robert Anstatt, DAG Karen Braciszewski, DAG Brian Carney, DAG John Donovan, DAG Anna Gildea, DAG Heather Hausleben, DAG Angel Hector, DAG Amie Hyde, DAG Sean Lindenau, DAG Mohammad Mahmood, DAG Katherine Morris, DAG Jaclyn Poulton, and DAG Veronica Vizzard. The two indictments presented to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau were presented by DAG Evgeniya Sitnikova and DAG Kara Webster, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Valerie Butler, Bureau Chief Erik Daab, and DCJ Deputy Director Taggart.

First-degree charges carry a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $200,000, while second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The sentence for promoting organized street crime must be served consecutively to the sentence for any underlying offense. The second-degree charge of transporting firearms into the state for illegal sale carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed. Possession of a weapon as a convicted felon carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of five years. The second-degree charge of unlawful possession of a handgun carries a mandatory period of parole ineligibility equal to one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed or 3 ½ years, whichever is greater. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 ($35,000 for drug charges), while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.



Koi Allen, Tyrik Johnson, Hamilton Township, Mercer County, January 19, 2021, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Conspiracy – Second Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance Within 1,000 Feet of School Property – Third Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Possession of Hollow Nose Bullets – Fourth Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree (Johnson).

AAREN C. BAILEY, March 10, 2020, Hamilton Township, Mercer, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.

DAEVON BELL, December 27, 2019, Trenton, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled, Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Possession of Hollow Nose Bullets – Fourth Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity, Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Possession of a Defaced Firearm – Fourth Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.

ERIC CARR, September 21, 2020, Trenton, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance Within
1000 Feet of School Property – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance Within
500 Feet of Certain Public Property – Second Degree, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm without a Serial Number – Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity
Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.

JUSTICE CHAMBERS, LAWRENCE BRANTLEY AND VICTOR TORRES, September 20, 2020, Hamilton Township, Mercer, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm – Second Degree – VICTOR TORRES, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm – Second Degree – JUSTICE CHAMBERS and LAWRENCE BRANTLEY, Possession of a Defaced Firearm – Fourth Degree – JUSTICE CHAMBERS and LAWRENCE BRANTLEY, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons– Second Degree -LAWRENCE BRANTLEY.

FELICITA GEE, February 24, 2020, Ewing Township, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession With Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree.

RAJON GLOVER, February 1, 2019, Trenton, NJ, Conspiracy – Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Rifle – Third Degree, Manufacture, Transport, Disposition of a Rifle – Fourth Degree, Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition – Third Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.

ROBERTO L. DIAZ-BOURET, CARL S. MALDONADO, DIANNE T. STROHMENGER, Freehold, Freehold Township, Brick Township, Wall Township, January 17, 2019, and on or about April 9, 2019,


RONALD HARRIS, Trenton, NJ July 20, 2020, and on or about July 21, 2020, Human Trafficking – First Degree, Facilitating Human Trafficking – Second Degree, Promoting Prostitution – First Degree, Eluding – Second Degree, Resisting Arrest By Flight – Fourth Degree, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance- Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of Large Capacity, Ammunition Magazines – Fourth Degree, Endangering Welfare of Children – Second Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree,

THURMAN JENNINGS, Hamilton Township, NJ, September 4, 2020, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Receiving Stolen Property– Third Degree, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree.

DASHAUN PETERSON and JUSTICE CHAMBERS, Trenton, NJ, September 5, 2020, and September 6, 2020, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled, Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Possession of with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance within 1,000 Feet of School Property – Third Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous, Substance within 500 Feet of Certain Public Property– Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of an Assault Firearm – Second Degree DASHAUN PETERSON and JUSTICE CHAMBERS, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of Certain Crimes – Second Degree, Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity– Third Degree.

JOY SCOTT, Trenton, NJ, January 3, 2019, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Second Degree, Distribution of A Controlled Dangerous Substance Within 1000 Feet of School Property – Third Degree, Distribution of a Controlled Dangerous Substance within 500 Feet
of Certain Public Property – Second Degree, Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree, Unlawful Possession of an Assault Firearm – Second Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree, Possession of Hollow Nose Bullets – Fourth Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Endangering Welfare of Children – Second Degree,

KHAZI SPADY and PHILLIP FOSTER, Lawrence Township, September 6, 2020, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree – KHAZI SPADY, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity, Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree – KHAZI SPADY, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – Third Degree – Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree , Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – Second Degree – PHILLIP FOSTER, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – First Degree – PHILLIP FOSTER.

HASSAN WILSON, VENESHA PINKNEY and DEWAYNE PINKNEY, Trenton, NJ, February 24, 2021, Unlawful Possession of an Assault Firearm – Second Degree, Possession of a Defaced Firearm – Fourth Degree – HASSAN WILSON, Unlawful Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine – Fourth Degree, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon – First Degree – DEWAYNE PINKNEY, Certain Persons Not to Have Weapons – Second Degree – DEWAYNE PINKNEY.

WILLIAM WOOLLEY, ANDRE SULIMENKO and NICHOLAS GOOSKOS, Jackson, NJ, November 1, 2020



Enrique Alfonso

Allen & Johnson
Aaren Bailey
Bailey et. al.
Daevon Bell
Willis & Daysha Brown
Brown & St. Louis
Bush et. al.
Eric Carr
Castellar et. al.
Chambers et. al.
Crosley et. al.
Diaz-Bouret et. al.
Isiah Fields
Felicita Gee
Rajon Glover
Greene & Bethea
Guest et. al.

Ronald Harris
Thurman Jennings
Kidd et. al.
Maresca et. al.
Michael Maresca
Davon McClendon
Christopher Pespas
Dashaun Peterson
Roberts et. al.
Santos & Perez
Joy Scott
Spady & Foster
Sullivan & Cumba
Naquan Wilson
Wilson et. al.
Woolley et. al.
Laqua Young


The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Attorney General Grewal thanked the following law enforcement agencies that investigated the cases in collaboration with the Division of Criminal Justice:

  • New Jersey State Police
  • Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office
  • Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Philadelphia Gun Violence Task Force
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force 
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives
  • U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
  • U.S. Homeland Security Investigations
  • U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force
  • U.S. Postal Inspection Service
  • U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General
  • Atlantic City Police Department
  • Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Atlantic City Task Force
  • Barnegat Township Police Department
  • Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Bensalem Township (Pa.) Police Department
  • Camden County Police Department
  • Camden County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Camden County Sheriff’s Office
  • Cliffside Park Police Department
  • Egg Harbor Township Police Department
  • Ewing Police Department
  • Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Gloucester Township Police Department
  • Hamilton Township (Mercer County) Police Division
  • Harrison Police Department
  • Hasbrouck Heights Police Department
  • Howell Township Police Department
  • Hudson County Sheriff’s Office
  • Irvington Police Department
  • Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Middletown Township Police Department
  • Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Moorestown Police Department
  • Morris County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Morris County Sheriff’s Office
  • Morris Plains Police Department
  • Nassau County (N.Y.) District Attorney’s Office
  • Neptune City Police Department
  • Neptune Township Police Department
  • Newark Police Department
  • Nutley Police Department
  • Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Ocean County Sheriff’s Department
  • Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Passaic County Sheriff’s Office
  • Paterson Police Department
  • Philadelphia Police Department
  • Ramsey Police Department
  • South Toms River Police Department
  • Toms River Police Department
  • Trenton Police Department
  • Voorhees Township Police Department
  • Wall Township Police Department
  • Winslow Township Police Department

Lakewood Men Indicted For Murder In Howell Township Slaying

June 1, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Omar Rivera-Rojas (also known as Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas), 31, and his nephew Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, 19, both of Lakewood, were indicted by a Monmouth County Grand Jury today for Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Murder, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon and Tampering with Evidence, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

The Howell Township Police Department responded to a 911 call at about 3:46 a.m. on October 18, 2019, reporting an unconscious male lying in Hurley Pond Road just east of Route 547. Upon arrival, a male was located lying face down in the roadway. The incident was initially investigated as a fatal hit-and-run motor vehicle incident. However, upon the arrival of SCART investigators it was quickly determined that his death was not the result of a hit and run event.

The man, identified as Domingo Merino-Rafael, 33, also of Lakewood, was unresponsive and obviously deceased. MONOC personnel responded and the victim was pronounced deceased at 4:12 a.m. by doctors at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. Rafael was taken to the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office where a post-mortem examination performed by Medical Examiner Allison Mautone, M.D., and the staff of the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was a Homicide.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Howell Township Police Department determined Rivera-Rojas, Rojas-Hernandez, and Merino-Rafael traveled from Lakewood to Middlesex County on the evening of October 17, 2019. The men were returning to Lakewood in the early morning hours of October 18, 2019, when the trio got into an argument that culminated with the uncle and nephew pair killing Merino-Rafael.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Howell Township Police Department also credited the Lakewood Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance during the investigation.

Rojas-Hernandez, of Joe Parker Avenue in Lakewood is being held in the Youth Detention Center in North Brunswick where he has been in custody since his arrest in October 2019. Rojas-Hernandez who was just 7 months shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the murder was previously waived to adult court to face the charges alongside his uncle and co-conspirator. Rivera-Rojas has also been detained since his arrest.

If convicted of Murder, Rivera-Rojas and Rojas-Hernandez each face a minimum sentence of 30 years in a New Jersey State Prison without parole and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring them to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan and Assistant Prosecutor Tara Wilson.

Rojas-Hernandez is represented by Carlos Diaz-Cobo, Esq. of New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Rivera-Rojas is represented by Joseph Champagne, Esq. of Toms River, New Jersey.

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.

Freehold Man Pleads Guilty To Sexual Assault Of Pre-Teen, Faces 15 Years Behind Bars

May 27, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Freehold Borough man pleaded guilty Thursday to the 2020 sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Elias Juarez Hernandez, 45, of Freehold Borough, pleaded guilty to one count of first degree aggravated sexual assault before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. LeMieux.

During the plea, Juarez-Hernandez admitted to having sexual intercourse at his home in Freehold Borough with the child on Aug. 10, 2020. A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Freehold Borough Police Department revealed Juarez-Hernandez approached the 12-year-old girl, who had run away from her residence in Marlboro, outside the 7-Eleven store in Freehold Borough in the early morning hours of August 10 and offered her a ride. Juarez-Hernandez told the girl his vehicle was at his residence within Freehold Borough so they walked back there.

When they arrived at the defendant’s home, Juarez-Hernandez pushed the juvenile into the basement and sexually assaulted her multiple times throughout the night.

Juarez-Hernandez is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 20, 2021. Under the terms of a plea agreement reached after consultation with the victim’s family, Juarez-Hernandez faces up to 15 years in a New Jersey state prison without the possibility of parole, pursuant to the Jessica Lunsford Act.

Additionally, Juarez-Hernandez will be subject to the requirements of Megan’s Law registration and Parole Supervision for Life upon release from prison.

The case was prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Zanzuccki. Juarez-Hernandez is represented by Steven Nelson, Esq., of Neptune.


COURT NAMECHARGECHARGE DESCRIPTIONCOURTCLASS
Freehold Boro2C:14-2A1Aggr Sex Assault Under Age 131315
Freehold Boro2C:24-4A(1)ENDANGERING-SEXUAL CONDUCT WITH CHILD BY CARETAKER1315
Freehold Boro2C:13-1B1Hold To Facilitate Crime/Escape1315

Monmouth County Memorial Honors Our Fallen Law Enforcement Officers, New Law Enforcement Memorial Installed

May 19, 2021

FREEHOLD – The names of 22 law enforcement officers, who lost their lives in the line of duty in Monmouth County, are now enshrined in a newly installed memorial outside the headquarters of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The Law Enforcement Memorial is a lasting reminder of the sacrifices made for public safety, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

“We gather here today to honor the memory and mourn the terrible loss of 22 brave Americans who put on a uniform and answered the call, giving their lives in the performance of their sworn duties. Each died under different circumstances, but all had one common thread — the call to duty.

Each understood the risks of heeding that call, but never shied away, even as their loved ones worried at home,” said Prosecutor Gramiccioni.

Prosecutor Gramiccioni was joined at the dedication by surviving family members of the men and women whose names are etched on the memorial. Additionally, First Lady of the State of New Jersey Tammy Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, and Monmouth County Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone, each offered solemn remarks at the dedication. Monmouth County legislative representatives, county commissioners, local police chiefs, and a long list of other local, county, and state officials attended the ceremony.

The line of duty deaths of the officers honored on the memorial spans more than 122 years, beginning in 1899. Each officer’s name, agency, and date of their death, referred to as their “End of Watch (EOW)” are etched into the black granite stone. The memorial is made of two tiers of black granite and includes a fountain of water that creates a soothing waterfall. The top face of the memorial is surrounded by an etching of the shoulder patch for every law enforcement agency in Monmouth County. On the north side of the memorial, along its base, are the 22 names of the individual officers who died in the line of duty. The memorial will serve as a peaceful place for the family members of those who died and for their fellow officers to reflect upon and honor their sacrifices:

  • Constable James Walsh, Red Bank Police Department, was attempting an arrest when he was shot by a suspect. EOW: November 13, 1899.
  • Patrolman Charles Franklin Lippincott, Asbury Park Police Department, and another officer were directed to handle a report of a husband threatening to kill his wife. Upon arrival, Officer Lippincott ordered him to halt. The accused appeared willing to surrender. When Officer Lippincott placed his hand on the suspect’s shoulder, the suspect pulled a concealed weapon and fatally shot the officer in the chest. EOW: December 10, 1911.
  • Patrolman Herman Kohler Emmons, Long Branch Police Department, was shot and killed by a suspect while attempting to place the suspect under arrest. EOW: December 17, 1921.
  • Trooper William H. Marshall, New Jersey State Police, was killed in a motorcycle accident while on patrol. He had been with the agency for just over two years. EOW: December 12, 1923.
  • Trooper Herman Gloor, Jr., New Jersey State Police, was killed in a motorcycle accident while on patrol. He had been with the agency for just over two years. EOW: May 9, 1926.
  • Patrolman Robert Leroy Applegate, Neptune Township Police Department, was killed when his police motorcycle was struck by a drunk driver. He was responding to another accident when the incident occurred. EOW: September 6, 1931.
  • Police Officer William H. Letts, of the Union Beach Police Department, was shot in the head, while off duty and in his home, by the man he was investigating as the prime suspect in an armed robbery. EOW: September 24, 1946.
  • Trooper John Anderson, New Jersey State Police, was shot and killed while investigating a stolen car on the Garden State Parkway. EOW: November 1, 1955.
  • Trooper Finley C. Fuchs, New Jersey State Police, was killed in an automobile accident while in route to a court appointment. EOW: December 19, 1957.
  • Trooper Raymond P. Fiola, New Jersey State Police, was killed in an automobile accident while he was on patrol. The collision occurred on Route 526 in Monmouth County. EOW: February 19, 1962.
  • Sergeant Charles M. Cozzens, Bradley Beach Police Department, was killed in an automobile accident when his patrol car struck a utility pole on Main Street. EOW: August 8, 1964.
  • Patrolman William A. Richards, Long Branch Police Department, suffered a fatal heart attack while attempting to subdue a suspect who had escaped from other officers earlier in the day. EOW: October 23, 1967.
  • Sergeant Joseph M. Monteparo, Asbury Park Police Department, was stabbed to death while attempting to talk a man into dropping a knife. Sergeant Monteparo was familiar with the suspect and had dealt with him on several occasions. EOW: April 24, 1971.
  • David John Lake, Chief of Police, Ocean Grove Police Department, had a heart attack while pursuing and grappling with a larceny suspect. He later died from the physical stress. EOW: August 23, 1971.
  • Sergeant Frank Peters, Keansburg Police Department, was killed as the result of an accidental gunshot wound while on duty. EOW: February 11, 1972.
  • Patrolman Jack A. Wright, Bradley Beach Police Department, was shot and killed as he attempted to stop a hold-up and robbery. EOW: May 31, 1976.
  • Special Officer Ronald P. Kleber, Middletown Police Department, was struck and killed by a drunk driver while directing traffic. EOW: October 23, 1982.
  • Trooper II Frances J. Bellaran, New Jersey State Police died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident on May 20, 1996. He was attempting to stop a speeding motorcycle when he crashed and sustained fatal injuries. EOW: May 23, 1996.
  • Detective Sgt. Patrick A. King, Long Branch Police Department, was on duty, in uniform when a man shot him in the back of the head while standing at a counter ordering his meal. The suspect then stole Sergeant King’s car and led police on 60-mile chase before crashing the police vehicle and being killed in a shootout. EOW: November 20, 1997.
  • Trooper Marc Kenneth Castellano, New Jersey State Police, was struck by an out-of- control car as he was standing on the shoulder of the road near his patrol vehicle. Trooper Castellano was transported to the hospital where he died. EOW: June 6, 2010.
  • Trooper Anthony A. Raspa, New Jersey State Police, was killed in a vehicle crash on I- 195 in Monmouth County. EOW: May 30, 2015.
  • Detective April Bird, Asbury Park Police Department, was on duty when she suffered a heart attack during a shooting investigation. She died three days later. EOW: August 2, 2019.

“These 22 officers who died never asked for, or wanted to be heroes, but sometimes as fate has it, it just turns out that way. The men and women in blue know this possibility, but they follow the calling in the name of community service. These 22 fallen officers had wives and husbands, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and children young and old,” said Prosecutor Gramiccioni. “They shared a commitment to something larger than themselves – a call to serve the greater good. None sought glory, riches, or their names on billboards or in lights. Their reward came from their pride in service.”


Monmouth Correction Officer Facing Criminal Charges

April 30, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County Corrections officer is facing criminal charges after shoplifting in West Long Branch, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Suzanne Simone, 53, of Ocean Township, a 22-year-veteran of the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, is charged with third degree shoplifting in connection with multiple instances where she failed to pay for items at a local home improvement store. This follows an investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office which revealed that on multiple occasions, Simone “skip scanned” items, essentially scanning multiple smaller items, and not scanning larger items or pretending to scan them and leaving the store without paying for them. In one instance, Simone was wearing her uniform while committing the theft. Of the stolen goods, the estimated value is $661. Some of the stolen goods were later recovered from her residence.

Simone is currently suspended from her position at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution.

“No one is above the law,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.  “It is essential to our criminal justice system that officers maintain the public’s trust.  This officer broke the law that she was sworn to uphold, all over a measly $600. This conduct will not be tolerated and is a stain on the men and women in law enforcement who work tirelessly to serve their communities with honor.”

“Any member of law enforcement who violates their oath does a disservice to the public and their fellow officers, and will be held fully accountable,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden.

If anyone has any additional information, please contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Greg Hilton at 1-800-533-7443.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous, but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android – https://www.p3tips.com/1182), by calling 800-671-4400 or by going to the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crime Unit.

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.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the leadership of Prosecutor Gramiccioni, instituted a Corruption Tip Line designed to solicit the public’s assistance in identifying and targeting corruption, fraud and misconduct occurring in local governmental agencies.

Citizens may report concerns via the following: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Corruption Tip Line – 855-7-UNJUST (855 786-5878); or E-mail at: corruption@mcponj.org write “Corruption/Misconduct Tip” in the subject line.


VidJuce UniTube banner
shop.advanceautoparts.com
Mother day

Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office First NJ State Agency To Make Cryptocurrency Seizures

April 26, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office became the first New Jersey state agency to make cryptocurrency seizures in two separate cases originating in 2017 and 2018. Now, in 2021, our Office is the first state agency to complete the forfeiture and liquidation of cryptocurrency assets from the 2018 case, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

“The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office leads from the front on innovative law enforcement strategies and practices necessary in the emerging new crypto world. No office is better suited to break that ground than our team of talented investigators,” Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.

The 2018 forfeiture is tied to an investigation by detectives from the Office’s Gang and Criminal Enterprise Unit; the Narcotics Strike Force; and the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit. In 2018, investigators executed search warrants at two locations in Long Branch utilized by Giddel Gonzalez-Estrada, 39, of Broadway in Long Branch. Seized at the two locations were three vehicles, about $32,000 in cash, approximately 500 grams of cocaine with a street value of about $50,000, a small amount of marijuana, a .22 cal. handgun, and large amounts of packaging, weighing materials and various paraphernalia used for the sale and distribution of illegal narcotics.

During the execution of the search warrants, financial documents were discovered. Upon further investigation, it was determined Gonzalez-Estrada maintained cryptocurrency in a United States-based exchange. The cryptocurrency was consequently frozen and subsequently seized after it was determined to be the proceeds of narcotics distribution activity stored as cryptocurrency assets. The cryptocurrency value at the time of seizure was approximately $57k. Our team successfully completed the process of asset liquidation for cryptocurrency seized and forfeited with $198,237.31 in net proceeds is being sent from Coinbase to the Monmouth County forfeiture account.

Gonzalez-Estrada pleaded guilty in 2019 to various drug charges and was sentenced to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison. A forfeiture complaint was filed, and a judgment was entered on August 5, 2019, by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Lourdes Lucas forfeiting the assets seized in the investigation to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

“I am proud of the work our investigators did uncovering these modern methods used to conceal assets derived from criminal activity in the cyberworld. This will serve as an effective template for the state law enforcement agencies in the cryptocurrency market – a place where we can expect proceeds from crimes to continue to be concealed,” Prosecutor Gramiccioni said.

The first crypto seizure for this office and for a New Jersey state agency occurred after the arrest of Terry Kou, 28, of Colts Neck, in late 2017, when this Office seized cryptocurrency assets valued at more than $200k. The value of that cryptocurrency is now estimated to be more than $1.25 million. Kou was later charged in 2019 with additional offenses last year following a two-year operation focusing on eradicating fraud and identity theft. The investigation dubbed “Operation Plastic Army” resulted in the arrests of 16 individuals, including Kou, who were involved in defrauding more than a dozen financial institutions. Kou’s case is still pending.

The Gonzalez-Estrada criminal prosecution was assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Merlin K. Thomas. The forfeiture portion of the case was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Costanzo, Director of the Forfeiture Section of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.


Ocean County man facing child pornography charges

February 5, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

FREEHOLD (MONMOUTH)– An Ocean Township man is facing charges for the possession and distribution  of child pornography following a tip he uploaded the materials to his social media account, announced  Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni. 

Alexander Mejia, 35, of the 3100 block of Willow Drive in Ocean Township, is charged with  second degree distribution of child pornography and third degree possession of child pornography.  Mejia was taken into custody on Feb. 4, 2021, and transported to the Monmouth County Correctional  Institution in Freehold Township pending a detention hearing. 

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit/Internet Crimes Against  Children Task Force received a referral from the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children (NJ ICAC) Task Force in June 2020. The referral came after a complaint was filed by the social media  platform Instagram reporting a user utilized the platform to upload child pornography. Further  investigation traced the account to Mejia at his Willow Drive address.  

A search warrant was executed on Jan. 22, 2021, at his Ocean Township address where  evidence was recovered, including eight (8) electronic devices. 

If convicted of distribution of child pornography, Mejia faces a sentence of five to ten years in  a New Jersey state prison. If convicted of possession of child pornography, he faces a sentence of  three to five years in prison.  

The case is assigned to 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. 



NJ Sharing Network Foundation Announces New Board Officers to Advance Life-Saving Mission

January 14, 2021

The NJ Sharing Network Foundation  Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the election of its 2021-2022 Board Officers to lead its strategic efforts to increase the number of lives saved through innovative research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Effective January 1, 2021, the new officers include:


Chair – Christopher J. Bautista of Spring Lake Heights, NJ

Christopher J. Bautista first became involved with NJ Sharing Network in 2016, shortly after his son Luke passed away at age 15 and donated his heart, both kidneys, liver and pancreas to save the lives of five people. This past year, Bautista served as Chair of NJ Sharing Network’s 5K Celebration of Lifein Long Branch. He used his advanced web development and event management skills to spearhead an online program that inspired thousands of viewers from 18 different countries, 38 states, and all across New Jersey, making it one of our state’s largest online community events during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bautista and his family also created Team Luke, a 5K team that has raised nearly $300,000 since 2016 to support the NJ Sharing Network Foundation.

Bautista is the Director of Digital Services at altered image in Matawan, NJ. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY, where he was the first basketball manager/player in NCAA Division 1 history.


Vice Chair – Jane A. Buckiewicz of Point Pleasant, NJ

Jane A. Buckiewicz has served as a member of the NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board since 2018 and currently serves as Chair of the Annual Golf Classic & Tennis Tournament to honor the memory of her son Dan, who passed away in 2009 and saved the lives of three people through organ donation and enhanced the lives of 70 more through tissue donation. Thanks to Buckiewicz’s leadership, this year’s event raised more than $150,000. Buckiewicz and her family also honor Dan with a team at the 5K Celebration of Life. Team Buck has participated every year since the inception of the event in 2011, raising more than $115,000.

Buckiewicz is retired after serving as Vice President of Finance and Human Resources at Blue Buffalo Co., Ltd. in Wilton, CT. She earned an MBA from Pace University and a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University.


Vice Chair – Ron Oswick of Freehold

Ron Oswick recently commemorated the 25th anniversary of his wife Tanya’s life-saving heart transplant by speaking at the 22nd Annual Golf Classic & Tennis Tournament. Oswick has been a member of the NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board since 2018. The Oswick’s also celebrate Tanya’s gift of life with a team at the 5K Celebration of Life. Their team, Second Chance, has participated since the inception of the event in 2011, and they have raised more than $65,000.

Oswick is a Senior Operations Analyst at Seix Investment Advisors in Park Ridge, NJ. He earned his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Management at Loyola College in Maryland.


Treasurer – Bhavna Tailor of Clifton, NJ,

Bhavna Tailor has served on the NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board since 2015 and is a tireless advocate for organ and tissue donation. With 25 years of experience in education, Tailor is Vice President of Operations at Eastwick College & HoHoKus Schools directly assisting the president, overseeing marketing and technology, and managing the day-to-day operations to ensure the campus runs smoothly. Tailor plays a key role in leading Eastwick College’s student and community education programs that work throughout the year to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation.

Tailor serves on the Board of Trustees for Eastwick College and the Essex and Newark Workforce Investment Board. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Career Education Colleges and Universities (CECU). She began her career in Nutley at the HoHoKus School of Rets Institute as a Financial Aid Officer, serving as Career Services Advisor, Corporate Director of IT and School Director.


Secretary – Elizabeth Stamler of Scotch Plains, NJ

Elizabeth Stamler is a lifelong resident of Scotch Plains, NJ, where she serves as an elected member of the Township Council and as Deputy Mayor for 2021. Stamler has been touched by organ and tissue donation in more ways than one. Her brother, aunt and father, the late Union County Prosecutor John H. Stamler, each received a life-saving heart transplant. Her other brother later passed away and gave the gift of life as a tissue donor, enhancing the lives of over 30 people. Stamler is a longtime volunteer at NJ Sharing Network and has served on the NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board of Trustees for four years.

Stamler is employed as a Procurement Specialist with Union County Emergency Services. She holds a master’s degree in Accounting from New Jersey City University and a certificate in Public Administration from Kean University. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminology from The College of New Jersey.

The NJ Sharing Network Foundation Board of Trustees is comprised of a diverse group of individuals from both public and private sectors, many of whom have been touched by donation, including donor families and transplant recipients.

“Chris, Jane, Ron, Bhavna and Elizabeth are all dedicated volunteers and advocates who hold a true passion for organ and tissue donation,” said Elisse E. Glennon, Executive Director, NJ Sharing Network Foundation. “They are respected leaders who bring a wealth of diverse experience, talent and expertise in their fields to further our mission to save and enhance lives.”

About the NJ Sharing Network Foundation

The NJ Sharing Network Foundation is committed to help increase the number of lives saved through innovative research, family support, public awareness and education about the life-saving benefits of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

About NJ Sharing Network

NJ Sharing Network is the federally designated non-profit organization responsible for recovering organs and tissue for the nearly 4,000 New Jersey residents currently waiting for a life-saving transplant. With headquarters in New Providence, NJ, the organization is part of the national recovery system, serving the 110,000 people on the national waiting list. NJ Sharing Network was selected by NJBiz as one of the state’s “Best Places to Work” for the third consecutive year. To learn more, get involved and register as an organ and tissue donor, visit www.NJSharingNetwork.org


Brooklyn Man Charged With Luring And Sexual Assaulting A 13 Year Old

January 8, 2021

WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Brooklyn man accused of luring and sexually assaulting a 13-year-old child in a Wall Township motel back in November is being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Facility following his arrest in Rockland County, New York last month, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Michael Torenheim, 33, of Brooklyn, New York was arrested in Spring Valley, New York, by members of the U.S. Marshals Service, New Jersey State Police and Wall Township Police Department. Torenheim now faces charges of second degree sexual assault, second degree luring and third degree endangering the welfare of a child. The charges were the result of a joint investigation of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Wall Township Police Department.

The investigation began after the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Bureau received a report that Torenheim sexually assaulted a 13-year-old child in a motel in Wall Township. The investigation determined Torenheim met the child in Lakewood and drove him to Wall Township where the offense was committed. Wall Township Police were notified and joined the investigation.

Investigators are seeking additional information about Torenheim’s activities and are concerned about the potential for additional victims. Anyone with additional information is urged to call 1-800-533-7443 to speak with MCPO Detective Joshua Rios.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers confidential telephone tip-line by calling 1-800-671-4400; or, they can post their tip at https://www.p3tips.com/1182 Monmouth County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of criminals and fugitives.

If convicted of the second degree charges, Torenheim faces a sentence of five to ten years in a New Jersey state prison. If convicted of third degree chare, he faces up to 5 years in state prison.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fichter.

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.


New Chief Announced For Monmouth County SPCA

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A former Eatontown police chief has been named as the new Chief of the Monmouth County SPCA, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Michael D. Goldfarb has been named the Monmouth County SPCA’s new Chief of Law Enforcement, responsible for overseeing the enforcement of animal cruelty cases in the county.

Goldfarb, replaces Ross Licitra, who has been Chief since May of 2015. Licitra is stepping down from this position after winning the open Freeholder seat in November’s election.

“We want to congratulate Chief Michael Goldfarb on the new role. Michael’s enthusiasm for animal welfare, coupled with his extensive law enforcement background and deep roots in Monmouth County, makes him an excellent fit and creates a smooth transition to the role of Chief of the SPCA. We would like to thank Ross Licitra for his unwavering dedication to the position for the past five plus years,” Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni stated.

“Working side by side with Michael, protecting and advocating for the humane treatment of all animals in Monmouth County has been an honor. As I continue in my role as the Executive Director of the Monmouth County SPCA, Michael and I will continue this mission always remembering the importance of animal welfare” Monmouth County SPCA Executive Director Ross Licitra stated.

Goldfarb’s law enforcement career began in 1992 as a Patrolman for Eatontown. He later moved up through the ranks and eventually was promoted to Chief of Police in 2007. Goldfarb remained as Chief for ten years, until retiring in 2018, after twenty-five years of service to the community. In August 2018, Michael joined the Monmouth County SPCA Prosecutor’s Office Law Enforcement Division as a Humane Law Enforcement Officer. In March of 2019, Goldfarb was promoted to Lieutenant of Human Law Enforcement.

A lifelong resident of Middletown, Goldfarb still resides there with his wife and family.

Also promoted today was Michael Magliozzo, a 25-year law enforcement veteran who retired from this Office earlier this year as a Detective Sergeant. Magliozzo was promoted to lieutenant work alongside Chief Goldfarb.

Murphy USA To Acquire QuickChek Corporation for $645 Million

December 14, 2020

EL DORADO, Ark. and WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Dec. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Murphy USA announced an agreement to acquire QuickChek Corporation (“QuickChek”) in an all-cash transaction for $645 million. The purchase price includes expected tax benefits valued at $20 million for a net after-tax purchase price of $625 million. The transaction will be financed with a combination of cash on hand, existing credit facilities and new debt, and Murphy USA has obtained committed financing from the Royal Bank of Canada.

QuickChek represents a truly distinctive business in a class shared by only a few comparable industry peers. Founded in 1967 as an extension of Durling Farms, a door-to-door milk and fresh dairy products delivery service that originally opened in 1888, it is a family-owned chain of 157 stores located in central and northern New Jersey and the New York metro area. It operates a best-in-class food and beverage (“F&B”) model with a strong regional brand and engaged customer following, offering quick-serve restaurant style food alongside convenience items; a high-volume fuel offer is included at 89 of its newest stores. Its industry leading economics are evidenced by robust per-store per-year merchandise sales of $3.5 million, combined merchandise margins of 38% with F&B representing over 50% of the mix, and per-store per-year fuel gallons of 3.8 million. Additionally, QuickChek has a proven history of same-store-sales growth and a rich real estate pipeline to sustain unit growth within its existing footprint.

The acquisition is consistent with Murphy USA’s updated capital allocation strategy as announced in October. It represents a continued commitment to deliver exceptional and sustained value to long-term shareholders and will complement other ongoing value creation mechanisms, including ongoing productivity improvement initiatives, organic growth, share repurchase and a dividend.

“In October we outlined an updated capital allocation strategy and committed to improving our food and beverage offer at existing and future sites,” said Murphy USA President and CEO Andrew Clyde. “This transaction greatly accelerates those efforts and benefits, and is expected to provide reverse synergies across our network, while enhancing future returns on new stores. The transaction is also expected to create direct synergies that leverage our enterprise scale and our distinctive capabilities in fuel, tobacco and loyalty. We are excited to join forces with an exceptional and highly engaged team at QuickChek who share Murphy USA’s passion for delivering excellence every day to all our stakeholders.”

“QuickChek and Murphy USA both reflect a family heritage and a strong people culture,” said QuickChek CEO and Chairman Dean Durling. “I am thrilled by Murphy USA’s commitment to honor our legacy and preserve our brand while learning from our business model. I am proud of what we have accomplished in making QuickChek what it is today and I am excited about the opportunities for continued growth and success in the next chapter in QuickChek’s journey. I know QuickChek’s dedicated employees and valued customers remain in good hands.”

The above considerations result in highly attractive deal economics. The net investment of $625 million represents a multiple of 13.2 times QuickChek’s estimated LTM October 2020 Adjusted EBITDA of $47 million. Annual run rate synergies of $28 million are expected to be achieved by the third year. When taking into account expected run-rate synergies and tax benefits, the acquisition reflects a multiple of 8.3 times estimated LTM Adjusted EBITDA. The acquisition is projected to be accretive to earnings in 2022, the first full year of combined operations.

The transaction is expected to close during the first quarter of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approval. RBC Capital Markets, LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP acted as legal advisor to Murphy USA. BofA Securities, Inc. acted as exclusive financial advisor and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP acted as legal advisor to QuickChek.

Webcast Information
Murphy USA will host a conference call to discuss the transaction at 8:00 a.m. CT on Monday, December 14, 2020. Interested parties may participate by dialing 1-833-968-2218 and referencing conference ID number 8192285. The call can also be accessed via webcast through the Investor Relations section of Murphy USA’s website at http://ir.corporate.murphyusa.com. The webcast will be available for replay one hour after the conference concludes and a transcript will be made available shortly thereafter.

About Murphy USA
Murphy USA (NYSE:MUSA) is a leading retailer of gasoline and convenience merchandise with nearly 1,500 sites located primarily in the Southwest, Southeast and Midwest United States. The company and its team of nearly 10,000 employees serve an estimated 1.7 million customers each day through its network of retail gasoline stations in 25 states. The majority of Murphy USA’s sites are located in close proximity to Walmart stores. The company also markets gasoline and other products at standalone stores under the Murphy Express brand. Murphy USA ranks 262 among Fortune 500 companies.

About QuickChek
Continuing to redefine “fresh convenience,” QuickChek is a market leader in food service providing local one-stop shopping where consumers can enjoy delicious made-to-order subs and sandwiches, guaranteed fresh brewed coffee, healthy snacks and salads, hot breakfast and more. Looking to make a difference in people’s everyday lives, QuickChek enables consumers to choose their convenience: you can place a mobile order through the QuickChek Rewards app where you’ll earn rewards for future savings; have your order ready through Curbside Pickup; utilize in-store self-checkout counters to get you on your way safe and fast; or have your order delivered through DoorDash and Grub Hub. Based in Whitehouse Station, NJ, the family-owned company operates 157 fresh convenience market stores including 89 locations with fuel throughout New Jersey, New York’s Hudson Valley and Long Island.

Certain statements in this news release contain or may suggest “forward-looking” information (as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995) that involve risk and uncertainties, including, but not limited to anticipated store openings, fuel margins, merchandise margins, sales of RINs and trends in our operations. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of the company’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual future results may differ materially from historical results or current expectations depending upon factors including, but not limited to: our ability to consummate our acquisition of QuickChek on the stated terms or at all; our ability to realize projected synergies from the acquisition of QuickChek and successfully expand our food and beverage offerings; our ability to finance the acquisition of QuickChek on acceptable terms; our ability to continue to maintain a good business relationship with Walmart; successful execution of our growth strategy, including our ability to realize the anticipated benefits from such growth initiatives, and the timely completion of construction associated with our newly planned stores which may be impacted by the financial health of third parties; our ability to effectively manage our inventory, disruptions in our supply chain and our ability to control costs; the impact of severe weather events, such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes; the impact of a global health pandemic, such as COVID-19 including the impact on our fuel volumes if the gradual recoveries experienced in Q2 2020 stall or reverse as a result of any resurgence in COVID-19 infection rates and government reaction in response thereof; the impact of any systems failures, cybersecurity and/or security breaches, including any security breach that results in theft, transfer or unauthorized disclosure of customer, employee or company information or our compliance with information security and privacy laws and regulations in the event of such an incident; successful execution of our information technology strategy; future tobacco or e-cigarette legislation and any other efforts that make purchasing tobacco products more costly or difficult could hurt our revenues and impact gross margins; changes to the company’s capital allocation, including the timing, declaration, amount and payment of any future dividends or levels of the company’s share repurchases, or management of operating cash; the market price of the Company’s stock prevailing from time to time, the nature of other investment opportunities presented to the Company from time to time, the Company’s cash flows from operations, and general economic conditions; compliance with debt covenants; availability and cost of credit; and changes in interest rates. Our SEC reports, including our most recent annual Report on Form 10-K and quarterly report on Form 10-Q, contain other information on these and other factors that could affect our financial results and cause actual results to differ materially from any forward-looking information we may provide. The company undertakes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events, new information or future circumstances.

Supplemental Disclosure Regarding Non-GAAP Financial Information

The reconciliation of estimated LTM October 2020 Adjusted EBITDA to estimated GAAP net income for QuickChek is as follows:

(Millions of dollars)LTM Oct 2020
Estimated net income$8
  
Income tax expense$3
Interest expense$5
Depreciation and amortization$29
Other$2
  
Estimated Adjusted EBITDA$47

Consistent with Murphy USA’s historical presentation of non-GAAP metrics, Adjusted EBITDA for QuickChek is provided as it is a key metric used in the Company’s operational and financial decision-making. The Company believes that some investors may find it a useful indicator of ongoing operating performance and ability to generate cash flows from operations. Non-GAAP measures are not a substitute for GAAP disclosures and Adjusted EBITDA may be prepared differently by us than by other companies using similarly titled non-GAAP metrics. The above amounts are estimated based on preliminary data for QuickChek’s fiscal year ended October 30, 2020 and are subject to change based on the finalization of the financial statements for such fiscal year.


Freehold Man Arrested In Shooting And Stabbing Of Holmdel Man

December 4, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Freehold man is facing charges related to the shooting and stabbing of a 28-year-old Holmdel man occurring this past Monday, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Julian Lee, 25, of Freehold, is charged with first degree Attempted Murder, first degree Armed Robbery, second degree Possession of a Firearm for an Unlawful Purpose, second degree Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, third degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and fourth degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon.  Lee is being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution pending a future court date.

On Monday, November 30, 2020, Holmdel Township Police were dispatched to the area of Holmdel Road at approximately 10:40 p.m. in response to multiple 911 calls for a report of an injured male, whom a Good Samaritan transported to an area hospital. Upon his arrival at the hospital, the 28-year-old victim was treated for serious injuries resulting from apparent gunshot and stab wounds. After a swift, yet thorough investigation, Lee was identified as the assailant.  On Thursday December 3, 2020, detectives located Lee in Atlantic City, where he was taken into police custody.

Prosecutor Gramiccioni and Holmdel Township Police Department Chief John Mioduszewski wish to assure local residents that this incident was quickly determined to be an isolated incident and there was never a direct threat to the community while the investigation was taking place.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Holmdel Township Police Department were aided in this investigation by the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, the Hazlet Township Police Department, the Howell Township Police Department, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, and the New Jersey State Police Gaming Commission.

Anyone with any information about this incident is urged to call Detective Christopher Guy of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at  800-533-7443 or Detective Eric Hernando of the Holmdel Township Police Department at 732-946-4400.

If convicted of Attempted Murder or Armed Robbery, Lee faces a minimum sentence of 20 years in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. He would also be under parole supervision for five years following release from state prison.

If convicted of the second degree firearm offenses, Lee faces a sentence of five to ten years in prison.  Each of these crimes is subject to the Graves Act, which requires a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of one half of the custodial sentence imposed, or 42 months, whichever is greater.  If convicted of the third degree weapons offense, Lee faces a sentence of three to five years in prison. If convicted of the fourth degree weapons offense, Lee faces a sentence of up to 18 months in prison.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Caitlin Sidley, of the Major Crimes Bureau.

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.

Former Pharmaceutical And Marketing Company Sales Representative Today Admitted His Role In A Conspiracy To Defraud Health Benefits

Joshua Darstek, 38, of Freehold, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez to a superseding information charging him with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

November 18, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A former pharmaceutical and marketing company sales representative today admitted his role in a conspiracy to defraud a New Jersey state health benefits program, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Joshua Darstek, 38, of Freehold, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez to a superseding information charging him with conspiracy to commit health care fraud.

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

Compounding is a practice in which a pharmacist or physician combines, mixes, or alters ingredients of a drug to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual patient. The Food and Drug Administration does not approve compounded drugs and thus does not verify the safety, potency, effectiveness, or manufacturing quality of compounded drugs. Generally, a physician may prescribe compounded drugs when an FDA-approved drug does not meet the health needs of a particular patient.

Between May 2014 and January 2016, Darstek worked as a sales representative on behalf of two compounding pharmacies and a marketing company – referred to in the superseding information as the “Compounding Companies.” He marketed and sold compounded drugs to physicians, including pain, scar, and wound creams and certain supplements and vitamins. The Compounding Companies paid Darstek based on a percentage of the reimbursement payments they received from health care benefit programs for each prescription that he referred to the compounding pharmacies. Darstek participated in a conspiracy that recruited patients, many of whom had prescription drug coverage under the New Jersey School Employee’s Health Benefits Program, to submit medically unnecessary prescriptions for compounded drugs to the pharmacies. Darstek caused physicians to write prescriptions for individuals with whom they did not have any interaction for purposes of determining that a prescription for a compounded drug was medically necessary.

The conspiracy to commit health care fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gain or loss from the offense. As part of his plea agreement, Darstek must forfeit $148,500 in criminal proceeds and pay restitution of at least $594,639. Sentencing is scheduled for March 23, 2021.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, and 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, with the investigation leading to today’s plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernard J. Cooney, Acting Chief of the Opioid Abuse Prevention & Enforcement Unit.

20-427

Defense counsel: Marco Laracca Esq., Orange, New Jersey

Four High End Car Thieves Nabbed By Marlboro and Freehold Police

“Car thieves have been feasting on a smorgasbord of high-end vehicles in Monmouth County’s affluent neighborhoods, but they are about to find out the buffet is closed. –Prosecutor Gramiccioni

November 12, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The collaborative efforts of two local police departments led to the arrest Sunday morning of four car thieves from Essex County.  The arrests are yet another example of the concerted efforts by local police to combat the onslaught of Monmouth County high end car thefts, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

“Car thieves have been feasting on a smorgasbord of high-end vehicles in Monmouth County’s affluent neighborhoods, but they are about to find out the buffet is closed. State, county and local law enforcement officers are working diligently and are focused on ending the feeding frenzy,” Prosecutor Gramiccioni said.

Marlboro Police were alerted early Sunday morning to a suspicious motor vehicle located within the Morganville section of town about 12:45 a.m.  Upon response, police determined the suspected thieves entered a motor vehicle parked in a resident’s driveway and attempted to enter another vehicle parked outside of the same resident’s home.  Despite the swift response, police were unable to locate the suspicious vehicle but notified surrounding towns about the incident.

Several hours later, the same vehicle was reportedly traveling around the area attempting to enter and steal vehicles.  As a result of information obtained, Marlboro Police notified police in Freehold Township the dark Maserati occupied by multiple males may have been entering their jurisdiction and it was suspected they were attempting to steal motor vehicles.  Shortly after this notification, a Freehold Township police officer observed a vehicle fitting the description on Rustic Way heading towards him, causing him to have to make evasive maneuvers to escape being struck.  The officer turned around and activated his emergency lights in an attempt to conduct a motor vehicle stop.  The vehicle, however, failed to stop and fled at a high rate of speed and in an extremely reckless manner as it travelled north on Route 79.  Shortly thereafter, the officer, from a distance, observed the vehicle crash and roll several times.

As the officer approached the vehicle, he saw three males fleeing the scene of the crash.  After a foot chase, the officer was able to arrest the three males.  As this was ongoing, other officers arrived on scene to assist.  One of the other officers gave chase to two additional vehicle occupants. The officer apprehended one of the two.  After apprehending 4 of the 5 males, police determined that the crashed vehicle, a 2016 maroon Maserati Ghibli, was stolen the prior day in Irvington.

As police continued to investigate this incident, Marlboro Police were contacted by homeowners on a street in town, indicating a group of individuals attempted to steal their vehicles.  Upon arrival, police spoke with the homeowners and were able to view several surveillance cameras to corroborate the actors were the same as those in the Maserati that crashed moments after fleeing this street and encountering the Freehold police vehicle.

As a result of the combined efforts of Freehold Township and Marlboro police, four individuals from Newark were charged with various crimes in both towns. Police charged 19-year-old Sharrod Rodgers and 18-year-old Isaiah Davis, both of Newark, with third degree burglary, two counts of third degree attempted burglary, second degree receiving stolen property and fourth degree resisting arrest.  Aziz McCloud, 18, of Newark, was similarly charged; however, after police determined he was the driver of the stolen vehicle, he was additionally charged with second degree eluding, third degree aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and third degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance (cocaine).  The fourth vehicle occupant was charged on a Juvenile Delinquency complaint.  He was later released to a guardian.

Prosecutor Gramiccioni commended the Freehold Township and Marlboro police officers involved in this investigation and pointed out that officers across the County have been extremely vigilant in attempting to catch these high-end car thieves.  While this is a prime example of a successful joint effort, there have been others.

Recently, Deal Police Department has been inundated with high end vehicle thefts and officers made several arrests after a multi-day investigation. On October 12, 2020, around 10:18 a.m., Deal Police responded to Parker Avenue for a report of a motor vehicle theft.  While on scene, police were alerted to an additional motor vehicle theft on the same street.  Based on surveillance video, it was determined the two vehicles, a BMW and a Mercedes, were stolen in the early morning hours.  Utilizing Mercedes Benz tracking software, officers learned the stolen Mercedes Benz was driven north and ended up at a motel in Linden.  Upon responding to the motel, the two stolen vehicles were located and secured.  The suspects were identified, as was the vehicle they used to travel to and from Deal.

Additionally, in the early morning hours of October 15, 2020, another Deal police officer conducted a motor vehicle stop on a vehicle speeding out of Asbury Park.  Ultimately, it was determined they were operating the vehicle which had been used to steal the Mercedes and BMW three days earlier.  Deal police, with the assistance of police in Brielle, were able to link the occupants to a motor vehicle burglary in Brielle earlier that morning.  Three men, 18-year-old Jeron Pitt of Somerset, 18-year-old Ishmil Fate of Newark and 19-year-old Christopher Rodriguez, also of Newark, were all charged with second degree theft, two counts of third degree theft and two counts of third degree attempted theft, as well as third degree Burglary in Brielle.

“While not all of these motor vehicle thefts are committed on unlocked cars, it appears these thieves continue to target high-end motor vehicles, whose owners continue to leave their cars unlocked with their key fob inside.  Locking your doors and securing your keys will go a long way towards reducing these crimes.  While police officers across Monmouth County have relentlessly investigated these high-end thefts, the community needs to be aware that a reduction in car thefts is unlikely until careless owners begin to lock their vehicles, said Prosecutor Gramiccioni.

If convicted of a second degree crime, each defendant faces a sentence of five to ten years in a New Jersey state prison for each count.  If convicted of a third degree crime, each defendant faces a sentence of three to five years in prison for each count.  If convicted of a fourth degree crime, each defendant faces up to an additional 18 months in state prison.

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.

Man Admits Animal Cruelty In Death Of 4 Puppies

November 5, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A man pleaded guilty today to charges of animal cruelty admitting his neglect caused the deaths of four German Shepard puppies in his care, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Daniel McDonald, 26, of Freehold, pleaded guilty to four counts of third degree Animal Cruelty before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano, Jr. The charges are related to the deaths of four German Shepherd puppies found deceased on a property in Howell where he was temporarily residing.

McDonald also pleaded guilty to third degree Receiving Stolen Property after admitting he was in possession of a John Deere front end loader reported stolen out of Monroe.  

McDonald is scheduled to return for sentencing on January 8, 2021.  Per the plea agreement, the sentencing recommendation is five years in a New Jersey state prison to run concurrent to McDonald’s pending charges in Middlesex and Bergen counties.  As part of the plea, McDonald will be required to perform community service, and agreed to an order to never to own or reside with animals. 

The remains of two deceased German Shepherd puppies were found in a fire pit on a property in Howell where McDonald was temporarily residing on Monday, May 18, 2020.  The Howell Township Police Department and Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Law Enforcement Division, conducted an investigation leading to the discovery of the remains of two more deceased puppies which had been buried on the property.    

The joint investigation ultimately revealed that the puppies were stolen from a farm in Somerset County on or about May 12, when the puppies were only three weeks old.  Investigators learned McDonald was staying at the Somerset County farm prior to the time the puppies went missing. Investigators also learned the puppies were ill, in distress, and were struggling to breathe prior to their deaths.  A necropsy performed on the two buried puppies revealed the puppies suffered from parasites and also were severely emaciated and malnourished with “no indications of recent nutritional ingestion.”  During his plea, McDonald took full responsibility for not getting the puppies the proper care resulting in their deaths.

This case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crimes Unit, and liaison to the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Law Enforcement Division. 

McDonald is represented by Paul Zager, Esq. of Red Bank.

29 People Facing Charges For Racketeering And Various Criminal Gang Activities

October 30, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–An 8-month investigation into ongoing acts of gang criminality and organized street crime has led to charges against 29 people from Monmouth and Ocean counties for Racketeering, Conspiracy, Attempted Murder, drug and gun trafficking and Dogfighting, announced Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.  The probe revealed a power grab by a Bloods gang leader to consolidate his command of the gang’s criminal activities through violence, intimidation, illegal drug and gun sales, and the operation of a dogfighting ring. 

During the investigation titled “Operation Golden State,” law enforcement officers recovered numerous firearms, a vehicle used in criminal activity, various quantities of cocaine and marijuana, 12 canines used in the dogfighting operation, and other evidence related to the dogfighting operation.  The dogs are safe and currently being sheltered in an Ocean County animal facility.  Of the 29 people charged as part of this investigation, nine are facing charges of racketeering, five are facing charges of conspiracy to commit murder, two are facing charges as a leader of a dogfighting network, and four are facing dogfighting charges.

The joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, in cooperation with federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies, concluded that Xavier Reed, 30, of Hyson Road in Jackson Township, controlled a vast criminal enterprise operating in Asbury Park, Neptune Township, Freehold and Lakewood.  Reed, a/k/a “HS”, assembled a gang alliance consisting of G-Shine Bloods, 47 Neighborhood Crips and the Grape Street Crips that worked towards the unitary control of most illegal activity in Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  Reed is currently incarcerated in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark on unlawful gun possession charges.   

As a G-Shine Bloods leader, Reed was responsible for administering punishment, controlling the channels for generating revenue from various quantities of drug sales (heroin, cocaine, prescription pills and marijuana) and the administration of the dogfighting ring, where thousands of dollars were typically earned during a single dogfight.  These activities served as a means of funding the violent crime carried out by the group, and to further advance Reed’s power. 

Reed intensified his energies to maintain control over criminal activity in Monmouth County by intimidating individuals who were disloyal to him or the organization, and engaged in efforts to violently retaliate against former members of his organization and rivals.  Reed’s intimidation tactics included a conspiracy with others charged to murder a pair of Reed’s rivals and a member of a Lakewood-based G-Shine set, who resisted Reed’s efforts to consolidate that set into his organization. 

Reed was cognizant of the ongoing wars between rival criminal street gangs, namely the G-Shine Bloods and Grape Street Crips, and boasted about his assembly of members from different gangs that worked towards a common criminal goal, which he and others referred to the group as “Golden State” and would retaliate against anyone who disrespected them.

The criminal enterprise also possessed, transferred and sold weapons within their organized crime alliance, and were responsible for more than a dozen shooting incidents that have recently plagued Asbury Park, Long Branch, Tinton Falls, Keansburg and Neptune Township. 

The investigation further revealed Reed and his affiliates in other criminal street gangs, including Daishon Smith a/k/a “Beefy” of Asbury Park, were responsible for violent criminal activity throughout Asbury Park, Freehold Borough, and Neptune Township.

The dogfighting part of the enterprise worked in cooperation with out-of-state breeding facilities that focused on training dogs to kill and engaged in interstate dogfighting events.  In one instance, Reed lost $5,000 on one of his own dogs in a dogfight held in Philadelphia.  In another instance, Reed bragged about maintaining his fighting dogs by feeding them chickens and rabbits, remarking how much the dogs loved killing the animals.

The Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals seized eight Pit Bull-type dogs in Monmouth and Ocean counties in February 2020. All the dogs are believed to be owned by Reed.  The dogs were left outside in sub-freezing temperatures and all had bite marks on their limbs, necks and ears indicative of dogfighting. 



Reed is charged with first degree Racketeering Conspiracy, first degree Gang Criminality, first degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, first degree Promotion of Organized Street Crime, Second Degree Aggravated Assault, Second Degree Solicitation to Join a Criminal Street Gang, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Leader of a Dog Fighting Network, Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Dog Fighting, Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering, Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Marijuana), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Reed was aided in his efforts by a network of people who are charged with various crimes:

Rashad Anderson a/k/a “C-Devine”, 39, is charged with second degree Leader of a Dog Fighting Network and third degree Conspiracy to Commit Dog Fighting.

Kaniesha Bacon, 30, of Hyson Road in Jackson, is charged first degree Racketeering Conspiracy, third degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering, third degree Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) [Marijuana].

Itayasia Berry a/k/a “TayTay”, 21, of Corlies Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with second degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), second degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), second degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), third degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine), and third degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Prescription Pills).

Jawaun Boggs a/k/a “Jig”, 24, of Atlantic Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession

of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Unlawful Use), Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Prescription Pills), Third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Prescription Pills), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

King Brent a/k/a “Pay”, 25, of Atlantic Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Prescription Pills).

Alahji Conteh a/k/a “Stash”, 25, of Atlantic Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm).

Thomas Cutillo, Jr., 25, of Garfield Avenue in Avon-By-the-Sea, is charged with third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Prescription Pills) and Third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Cocaine and/or Heroin).

Sammy Davis, 55, of Monroe Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Cocaine).

Nakee Davis-Ruffin a/k/a “Squad”, 21, of Third Avenue in Asbury Park is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.

Jahquan Fenn a/k/a “Capo” and “Trey”, 30, of Center Street in Freehold Boro, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Dale Ghee a/k/a “Budda”, 23, of Sewall Avenue in Asbury Park is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Marijuana).

Marciyah Gill, 25, of Bond Street in Freehold Boro, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine).

Richard Ivery, 35, of State Route 33 in Wall Township, is charged with Third Degree Possession of CDS (Marijuana) with Intent to Distribute and Fourth Degree Possession of Over 50 Grams of Marijuana.

Jy’Zaire Jones a/k/a “Ceemo”, 25, of Allen Avenue in Ocean Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (community firearm), Second Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine), and Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering.

A juvenile male from Asbury Park is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.

Tyree Kirkpatrick a/k/a “Ree”, 32, of Third Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), First Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Zion Langhorne a/k/a “Too Brazy”, 19, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, First Degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, and Second Degree Solicitation to Join a Criminal Street Gang.

Marcella Mallory, 57, of East Sunset Avenue in Red Bank, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine) and Third Degree Conspiracy to Possess CDS (Cocaine).

Mark McMillian a/k/a “Noodle”, 43, of Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Dog Fighting.

Julissa Miles, 32, of Third Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm).

Jose Mosely a/k/a “Brazy”, 33, of State Route 70 in Manchester Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), First Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Jamar Ousley, 37, of Colts Neck Road in Freehold Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy and Fourth Degree Solicitation to Join a Criminal Street Gang.

Daishon Smith a/k/a “Beefy” or “Atkins Ave.”, 29, of Atlantic Avenue in Asbury Park, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine), Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Prescription Pills), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Rufus Squarewell a/k/a “Ru”, 38, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Dog Fighting.

Jimmy Tran, 29, of Broadway in Freehold Township, is charged with Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Marijuana).

Melanie Tucker, 36, of Monroe Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with Second Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine).

Marcus Washington a/k/a “Mo Shine”, 25, of Brockton Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Shakon Winslow a/k/a “Stick-up” or “Wise”, 26, of Bangs Avenue in Neptune Township, is charged with First Degree Racketeering Conspiracy, First Degree Gang Criminality, First Degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, Second degree Aggravated Assault, Second Degree Conspiracy to Commit Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Second Degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose (Community Firearm), Second Degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Second Degree Conspiracy to Possess a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Third Degree Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering, Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS (Cocaine), Third Degree Conspiracy to Distribute CDS, Fourth Degree Solicitation to Join a Criminal Street Gang, and Second Degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

Prosecutor Gramiccioni would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance in conducting the investigation: New York/New Jersey Regional Task Force and Capitol Area Regional Task Force of the United States Marshal’s Office; the Red Bank field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) HIDTA, the New Jersey State Police; the New Jersey State Parole Board; the Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office; the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office; the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; and police departments in Union Beach, Keansburg, Highlands, Neptune Township, Neptune City, Tinton Falls, Eatontown, Long Branch, Howell, Spring Lake, Asbury Park, Freehold Township, Freehold Borough, Red Bank, Middletown, Jackson, Lakewood, Keyport and Oceanport.

If convicted of Attempted Murder, each defendant faces a minimum sentence of 30 years in a New Jersey state prison without parole and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. Each defendant would also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison.

The Racketeering charges allege that the defendants engaged in a continuous pattern of interrelated criminal conduct, namely drug trafficking, gun trafficking and dogfighting, among other crimes.  If convicted of first degree Racketeering, each defendant faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, and a period of parole ineligibility equal to 85% of the sentence imposed.  Additionally, the Racketeering counts will not merge with other charged counts. 

If convicted of Promoting Organized Street Crime, each defendant faces 15 to 30 years’ imprisonment and a fine up to $200,000.  If convicted of any other first degree crime, each defendant faces a sentence of up to 20 years in state prison.  If convicted of any of the second degree crimes, each defendant faces a sentence of five to ten years in state prison.  If convicted of any third degree crime, defendants face three to five years in state prison. 

The cases are assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Matthew Bogner and Joshua Carmel.

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.

15 Arrested In Monmouth And Mercer County For Possessing and/or Trafficking Child Sexual Abuse Materials

October 19, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Separate investigations have netted fifteen Monmouth County individuals for possessing and or trafficking child sexual abuse materials, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Between July 21, 2020 and October 15, 2020, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force arrested individuals. Assisting in this Operation were members of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU), the New Jersey ICAC Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office, The Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which includes members from the following police departments: Eatontown, Howell Township, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlboro, Neptune Twp., Spring Lake, Tinton Falls, and Holmdel; and support from the following Monmouth County Police Departments: Asbury Park, Aberdeen, Middletown, Highlands, Freehold Township and Freehold Borough.

            These arrests were designed to reduce online threats to Monmouth County to decrease the market for child sexual exploitation by focusing on those individuals seeking out and trafficking in child pornographic-materials.

The following individuals were arrested:

Antonio Mejia, 38, of 806 5th Avenue, Asbury Park. Mejia was arrested on July 21, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he transmitted numerous images of child sexual abuse materials and engaged in sexual conversations with 3 males under the age of 16. Mejia was charged with one count second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual abuse materials, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(i), one count of Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Manufacturing an Image of Child Exploitation Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3), one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to 2C:24-4b(5)(b)iii, three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, N.J.S.A 2C:24-4a(1) and three counts of Attempted Obscenity to Minors, 2C:34-3. On July 30, 2020, defendant appeared for a detention hearing before the Honorable Paul X. Escandon, J.S.C. was released on the condition that he have no contact with the victims, no access to social media and no contact with anyone under 18. Mejia is represented by Joy Anderson, Esq. of Eatontown.

Brody Sullivan, 20, of 2 Ithaca Court, Aberdeen was arrested on July 22, 2020 following an investigation that revealed that he was in possession of child sexual abuse materials. Sullivan was charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexaul Abuse Material), contrary to 2C:24-4b(5)(b)ii and released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and no internet access. Sullivan is represented by Anthony Palumbo, Esq. of Cranford.

Anthony Lichtenau, 36, of 72 Brentwood Road, Eatontown was arrested on July 24, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of child sexual abuse materials. Lichtenau was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii) and released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and no internet access. Lichtenau is represented by Mitchell Ansell, Esq. of Ocean Township.

Matthew Fahmie, 33, of 30 Northover Place, Middletown, was arrested on September 10, 2020 following an investigation which revealed that he possessed over 1,000 images of child sexual exploitation material. Fahmie was charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(ii) and was released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and restricted internet access. Fahmie is represented by Richard Incremona, Esq. of Freehold Township.

Valentin Valdetano, 20, of 359 North Bath Avenue, Long Branch, was arrested on July 31, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed and traded images of child sexual abuse materials using a chat platform. Valdetano was charged with second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(i) and third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Valdetano was released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and that he not use the internet. Valdetano is represented by Charles Moriarty, Esq. of Long Branch.

Zachary Barnett, 24, 984 Twilight Way, Aberdeen, was arrested on August 7, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. Barnett was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Barnett was released on a summons. Barnett is represented by Allison Friedman, Esq. of Freehold.

Brian Wioncek, 62 of 317 Shore Drive, Apartment C, Highlands, was arrested on September 9, 2020 following an investigation that he possessed child sexual abuse materials. Wioncek was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Wioncek was released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and that his internet usage is restricted.

John Hynes, 21, of 90 Bannard Street, Freehold, was arrested on August 21, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. Hynes was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii) and one count of disorderly persons possession of a controlled dangerous substance contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4). Hynes was released on a summons. Hynes is represented by Charles Clark, Esq. of Freehold.

Michael Townend, 19, 203 Colts Neck Road, Howell, was arrested on August 25, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. Townend was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Townend was released on a summons. Townend is represented by Steven Nelson, Esq. of Neptune.

Robert Sherman, 62, of 112 Route 36, Highlands, was arrested on September 1, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. Sherman was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4B(5)(b(iii). Sherman was released on a summons. Sherman is represented by Michael Polloway, Esq. of Red Bank.

Michael Pipitone, 38, of 157 Rutledge Drive, Middletown, was arrested on September 2, 2020 following a proactive investigation which revealed he shared over 1,000 images and/or videos of child sexual abuse material. Pipitone was charged with one count of first degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(iii) and second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(ii). Pipitone was released on the condition of home detention, no internet usage and no contact with anyone under 18. Pipitone is represented by John Hogan, Esq. of Woodbridge.

George Ichkitidze, 39, of 27-08 Whistler Drive, Freehold Township, was arrested on September 25, 2020 following a proactive investigation which revealed he shared over 1,000 images and/or videos of child sexual abuse material. Ichkitidze was charged with one count of first degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(iii) and second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(ii). Ichkitidze was released on the condition of home detention, no internet usage and no contact with anyone under 18. Pipitone is represented by Kevin Clark, Esq. of Ocean Township.

Juvenile, of Freehold Borough, was arrested on September 11, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. The juvenile was charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(ii).

Thomas Vilanova, 49, of 133 Newbury Road, Howell, was charged on October 13, 2020 following an investigation that revealed that he possessed images of child sexual abuse material. Vilanova was charged with one Count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Vilanova is currently on probation for a 2017 conviction for third Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Vilanova is scheduled to appear in court before the Honorable Paul X. Escandon, J.S.C. for a detention hearing on October 22, 2020. Vilanova is represented by Michael Wenning, Esq. of Bradley Beach.

Jamie Khan, 43 of 19 Oxford Drive, East Windsor, was charged on October 15, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he was viewing and sending child sexual abuse material while working for his employer in Freehold Township. The investigation further revealed that he was also in possession of child sexual abuse material at his home in East Windsor. Khan was charged with one Count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of  Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii) and one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(i). Khan was released on the condition of no internet usage and no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.

If convicted of the first degree Endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in New Jersey State Prison, Megan’s Law, and Parole Supervision for Life. If convicted of the second degree Endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of ten years in New Jersey State Prison Megan’s Law and Parole Supervision for Life. If convicted of the third degree Endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of five years in New Jersey State Prison and Parole Supervision for Life. A conviction for disorderly persons Possession of Less than 50 Grams of Marijuana exposes a defendant to a maximum sentence of six months incarceration.

Ichkitidze’s case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Diane Aifer, Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit; the remaining cases are assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan, Computer Crimes Unit.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android – https://www.p3tips.com/1182), by calling 800-671-4400 or by going to the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com

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.