Category: Freehold

Monmouth County Correctional Institution Officer Pleads Guilty In Connection With Distribution Of Narcotics

November 23, 2022

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County Correctional Institution Officer has pled guilty in connection with the distribution of narcotics to inmates within the jail, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago stated on Wednesday.

Bryant Mack, 54, of Shamong, New Jersey, pled guilty on Friday November 18, 2022, in front of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Jill G. O’Malley, to second-degree Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS).  At the time of his plea, Judge O’Malley entered an order forfeiting Mack’s job at MCCI and prohibiting him from holding public office again in the State of New Jersey.

A cooperative investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Professional Responsibility and Bias Crime Bureau and the MCCI Special Investigations Divisionrevealed that Mack, who had been a corrections officer for 18 years, would smuggle CDS and other contraband into the facility hidden in potato chip bags.  He would provide the items to an inmate, who would then facilitate the distribution of the items throughout the jail.  Mack’s criminal activity came to light on September 4, 2021, when officers caught two inmates with CDS and other contraband in their cells, and traced the items back to Mack. During his plea, Mack admitted that heentered into an agreement with an inmate to bring CDS and other contraband into the jail, in exchange for payment and that he brought a schedule 1 CDS into the facility on September 4, 2021.

“Mr. Mack violated his sworn duty to protect and serve when he brought contraband into the jail for his own personal gain.  By doing so, he placed his fellow officers and other inmates at the jail in danger and justice requires that he take responsibility for his actions. I commend my staff and our law enforcement partners for their tireless work on this complicated investigation. Mr. Mack’s conduct is not indicative of the honest, hard-working, law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily to protect and serve our county,” Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago stated. 

“All members of the law enforcement profession have a duty to exhibit at all times the highest level of professionalism with honor and integrity. Any conduct that does not meet that expectation will not be tolerated” said Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden. “I’m proud of the correctional police officers who tirelessly serve this agency. An officer who violates his or her oath of office does a grave disservice to their co-workers, as well as the entire law enforcement profession, and will be held fully accountable with proper disciplinary action taken.”

Mack faces up to 5 years in prison when he issentenced before Judge O’Malley on April 21, 2023.

The case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crime Bureau and Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Gilhooly.

Mack is represented by Frank Cioffi, Esq., of Clifton.


Sayreville Man Found Guilty Of Hate Crime Killing EMT And News Reporter/Photographer Jerry Wolkowitz In Freehold, NJ

November 18, 2022

FREEHOLD – A Monmouth County Jury has returned guilty verdicts on the most serious charges against the man who attacked and killed a stranger in Freehold Township four and a half years ago, solely because of the victim’s race, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Friday.  

Following an approximately seven-week trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Lourdes Lucas, 30-year-old Jamil Hubbard of Sayreville was convicted of first-degree Murder, first-degree Bias Intimidation, second-degree Eluding, third-degree Theft from the Person, third-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and third-degree Motor Vehicle Theft, all in connection with the death of 56-year-old Jerry Wolkowitz.

At approximately 7:15 a.m. on the morning of Tuesday, May 1, 2018, members of the Freehold Township Police Department and other first responders rushed to the Chesterfield Apartments on Harding Road on a report of a physical altercation involving a person struck by a vehicle. At that location they found Wolkowitz in the apartment complex’s parking lot, having sustained severe injuries to his head, abdomen, and back. Wolkowitz was subsequently rushed to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for emergency treatment.

Missing from the parking lot was Wolkowitz’s vehicle, a Kia Forte, which Hubbard was later found to have stolen. Hubbard then led police on a pursuit, refusing to obey commands to pull over, until it was terminated due to high speeds and out of concern for public safety. Minutes later, the Kia was found abandoned on Bordentown Avenue in Sayreville, and Hubbard was arrested by members of the Sayreville Police Department without incident at his home in the nearby Winding Wood Apartments.

An investigation involving numerous members of the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau, Freehold Township Police Department, and Sayreville Police Department later revealed that Hubbard was in the area that morning because he had slept in his vehicle overnight, having engaged in an argument with his ex-girlfriend, a resident of the apartment complex, the night before. When he woke up, he told investigators, he spotted Wolkowitz walking nearby and decided to try to kill him because he was white, initially attacking him from behind with punches and kicks before stealing his wallet and car keys. He also told investigators he dragged the victim into the parking lot and ran him over.

Wolkowitz, a longtime member of the Freehold First Aid and Emergency Squad and a freelance photographer, remained hospitalized in a coma until he died due to his injuries on Thursday, October 18, 2018. A Monmouth County Grand Jury returned a seven-count indictment against Hubbard in March 2019.

Hubbard’s prosecution was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Hoda Soliman and Keri Schaefer, who presented evidence at trial refuting an attempted insanity defense, showing that Hubbard’s conduct was intentional, knowing, and deliberate.

“This was the textbook definition of a senseless crime, and as our prosecuting team astutely noted in their closing argument, ‘senseless’ does not mean ‘insane,’” Acting Prosecutor Santiago said. “Mr. Wolkowitz was an innocent victim, minding his own business and on his way home from work, when his life was snuffed out over something as trivial as the color of his skin. Such a monstrous act necessitates that justice be served, and we sincerely thank the jury in this case for carefully weighing the evidence and reaching the appropriate conclusion.”

Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for March 31, 2023, at which time Hubbard will face a term of up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Hubbard was represented at trial by Allison Friedman, Esq. and Katherine M. Caola, Esq.


Jamil Hubbard of Sayreville (Left) was convicted of first-degree Murder, first-degree Bias Intimidation, second-degree Eluding, third-degree Theft from the Person, third-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and third-degree Motor Vehicle Theft, all in connection with the death of 56-year-old Jerry Wolkowitz (Right).



Retired Robbinsville fire captain Dennis Symons said he first met Wolkowitz sometime in the 1990s when he was working as a freelance photographer for the Allentown Messenger.

“A lot of stories or sports we were covering at the time overlapped so I would be shooting side by side at games and events. Jerry was a really nice guy and we were always talking about the latest equipment or assignments we were covering.”

Read More: NJ journalist dies 6 months after brutal ‘hate crime’ attack |

https://www.ems1.com/fatal-incidents/articles/nj-emt-dies-months-after-brutal-beating-vDzb1Y0X5BFGqIkD/

Obituary of Jerry A. Wolkowitz

Jerry A. Wolkowitz, 56, of Freehold Township died on Thursday, October 18, 2018 at AcuteCare Specialty Hospital at Kimball, Lakewood. He was born in Neptune Township and had resided in Manalapan Township and Freehold for most of his life. Jerry was a member of the Freehold First Aid and Emergency Squad for over 25 years and a member of the New Jersey Press Photographers Association. He was a well-known news photographer for local papers for over 30 years. Jerry is survived by his mother, Martha Wolkowitz, his sisters, Judy Marcus and husband Steven Fried, Goldie Markowitz and husband Frank, a brother, Perry Wolkowitz and wife Cindy; six nieces and nephews, Missy (Doug), Dorie (Saras), David (Tina), Rachel, Steven, and Alyssa; and six great nieces and nephews, Adam, Jordan, Kesley, Dylan, Maya, and Ezra; and his fiancé Peggie Zorovich. Funeral services will be held at the Perrineville Jewish Chapel, 755 Perrineville Road, Millstone Township on Friday, October 19, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. followed by interment at the Perrineville Jewish Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Humane Society or the Freehold First Aid and Emergency Squad, 18 Spring Street, Freehold, NJ 07728 would be appreciated. Higgins Memorial Home, Freehold is in charge of arrangements.


https://nj1015.com/freehold-hate-crime-case-accused-said-he-wanted-to-kill-old-white-man/

Asbury Park Man Convicted Of Sex Crimes Against Two Juveniles

November 7, 2022

FREEHOLD – A Monmouth County Jury has returned guilty verdicts against an Asbury Park man who sexually abused two juvenile siblings on multiple occasions over the course of several years, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Monday.

Following a weeklong trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Jill G. O’Malley, 35-year-old Walter Orlando Perez-Ramos was convicted Friday on two counts of second-degree Sexual Assault, two counts of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and a single count of fourth-degree Criminal Sexual Contact.

On Monday, May 3, 2021, members of the Asbury Park Police Department first received information regarding the abuse of the two victims, then ages 16 and 17.

An investigation by members of the MCPO Special Victims Bureau and the Asbury Park Police Department quickly determined that the abuse had involved dozens of incidents taking place on various dates from May 2015 through May 2020, each involving inappropriate touching. Perez-Ramos was arrested later in May 2021 and remained in custody at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) until the trial, at which both victims testified. MCPO Special Victims Bureau Director and Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Zanzuccki handled the prosecution, while Perez-Ramos was represented by George J. Mardinly, Esq.

“This family repeatedly welcomed the defendant into their home as a trusted friend, and he repaid that trust with betrayal – by robbing the two victims of what should have been a normal, happy, fruitful adolescence,” Acting Prosecutor Santiago said. “They can never get those years back, but thanks to this verdict, we can at least ensure that justice is served and their healing process can begin.”  

Sentencing has been scheduled for Friday, March 31, 2023, at which time Perez-Ramos will face a term of up to 21 years and six months in state prison, along with registration as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and Parole Supervision for Life.


Ocean Township Man Convicted At Trial For First-Degree Murder, Arson, Robbery, Weapons Offenses, Desecration Of Human Remains And Other Charges

October 26, 2022

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County Jury has returned guilty verdicts on nearly all charges against the local man who murdered a longtime family friend a little more than three years ago and set her home on fire in an attempt to cover his tracks, Acting Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael J. Wojciechowski announced Wednesday.  

Following a month-long trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley, 52-year-old Ronald J. Teschner was convicted of first-degree Murder, first-degree Felony Murder, first-degree Robbery, three first-degree weapons offenses, second-degree Aggravated Arson, second-degree Desecration of Human Remains, third-degree Aggravated Assault, third-degree Burglary, third-degree Robbery, three counts of third-degree Theft, a third-degree drug offense, and fourth-degree Resisting Arrest, all in connection with the death of 65-year-old Jacqueline C. Terrulli.

Shortly after 7:30 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, September 12, 2019, firefighters and other first responders rushed to a home on Wickapecko Drive in Ocean Township that was fully engulfed in flames. Once the fire was put out, a joint investigation by members of the Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Bureau, the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Ocean Township Police Department determined that two residents of the home were unaccounted for: Teschner and Terrulli, the homeowner. Terrulli’s vehicle, a white Jeep Cherokee, was also missing from the property.

The next morning, on Friday, September 13, 2019, members of the Ocean Township Police Department located the Cherokee parked on a residential street in Paterson, a little more than an hour’s drive north. Teschner was located in the driver’s seat, and recovered from the vehicle were two shotguns, a quantity of fentanyl, and jewelry and other items belonging to Terrulli.

Teschner remained lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) following his arrest, and Murder charges were filed against him in December 2019. A Monmouth County Grand Jury then returned a 16-count indictment in the case in February 2020.

Later that year, on Thursday, June 18, 2020, as demolition and site remediation work was being performed on the Wickapecko Drive property, human remains that would later be identified as belonging to Terrulli were found wrapped in plastic and buried several feet underground. As a result of the fire, charred rubble had collapsed upon and covered the remains, initially concealing them from detection.

Teschner’s prosecution was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Joseph Cummings and Katherine Butler, who presented evidence at trial including witness testimony, cell-phone records, and physical evidence showing that the murder took place while Terrulli’s mother and two siblings were away in Atlantic City.

“This was a genuinely monstrous crime, hallmarked by callous brutality – Jacqueline Terrulli welcomed the defendant into her home to live, and as a result of that charity, lost her life,” Wojciechowski said. “While this verdict can’t bring her back, we hope it offers some sense of solace to her family and friends, knowing that justice has been served.”

Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 7, 2023, at which time Teschner will face a term of up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Prosecutor’s Office would again like to sincerely thank the numerous agencies that participated in this investigation and/or the extensive search for Terrulli’s remains, including the Ocean Township Police Department, Paterson Police Department, Wayne Police Department, Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office, Monmouth County Public Works, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office K9 Bomb Squad, Bloodhound, Regional Dive and Search Team, and Drone; Bergen County Sheriff’s Office K9, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, a New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Division of Criminal Justice Recruit Class, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s Office and K9 Accelerant Dog, New Jersey State Police K9 Cadaver Dog, Missing Persons Unit, Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC), and Police Laboratory; New Jersey Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, New Jersey Transit Police Dive Team and Police Boats, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Quantico Laboratory and Cellular Analysis Survey Team (CAST), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) K9 accelerant Dog, Critical Research Group, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and the University of North Texas.

Teschner was represented at trial by Anthony Aldorasi, Esq. and Lisa Maglone, Esq.


Ronald J. Teschner was convicted of first-degree Murder, first-degree Felony Murder, first-degree Robbery, three first-degree weapons offenses, second-degree Aggravated Arson, second-degree Desecration of Human Remains, third-degree Aggravated Assault, third-degree Burglary, third-degree Robbery, three counts of third-degree Theft, a third-degree drug offense, and fourth-degree Resisting Arrest, all in connection with the death of 65-year-old Jacqueline C. Terrulli.


Jacqueline C. Terrulli


Freehold, NJ Man One Of Three Convicted By Federal Jury On $1Million “Upfront-Fee” Scheme

October 24, 2022

NEWARK, N.J. – Two men from New Jersey and another from Nevada were convicted by a federal jury for their roles in defrauding multiple victims out of money through a $1 million “upfront-fee” scheme, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Following a five-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez in Newark federal court, Jerrid Douglas, 49, of Freehold, New Jersey, Harold Mignott, 60, of Voorhees, New Jersey, and Roy Johannes Gillar, 50, of Las Vegas, were each convicted on Oct. 21, 2022, of wire fraud conspiracy and four counts of wire fraud. Gillar and Douglas were also each convicted of one count of transacting in criminal proceeds.

According to documents in this case and evidence at trial:

From March 2016 through June 2016, Douglas, Gillar, and Mignott, along with a fourth conspirator, agreed to defraud the owners of the victim company of approximately $1 million. The defendants fraudulently induced the two victim company owners to enter a joint venture agreement with the defendants’ New Jersey-based shell company. The defendants falsely represented that their company could acquire and provide a “standby letter of credit” (SBLC) backed by either €1 billion in cash or highly lucrative Mexican gold bonds. An SBLC is a guarantee of payment issued by a bank on behalf of a client that is used should the client fail to fulfill a contractual commitment with a third party.

The victim company wanted access to the standby letter of credit so it could purchase raw gold overseas and sell it to gold refineries. As part of the joint venture agreement, the company agreed to pay the defendants $1 million for the bank fee associated with the standby letter of credit.

In order to cover up the scheme and convince the victims to approve the transfer of the funds, the defendants made numerous verbal and written misrepresentations, including providing the victims with a phony letter from a major international bank saying that it was ready, willing, and able to provide a €1 billion SBLC to the defendants’ shell company.

However, after the victim company owners transmitted $800,000 of the $1 million to the defendants, the defendants failed to provide an SBLC or anything of value. Instead, the defendants misappropriated the money for their personal use.

The wire fraud conspiracy charge and the wire fraud charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The transacting in criminal proceeds charges each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to the conviction.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason S. Gould and Joshua L. Haber of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

22-395

Defense counsel:

Douglas: Kristen Santillo Esq. and Fern Mechlowitz Esq., New York
Gillar: Thomas Ashley Esq., Newark, and Paul Wiegartner Esq., Saddle River, New Jersey
Mignott: Eric Breslin Esq., Newark, and Melissa Geller Esq., and Arletta Bussiere Esq., New York


Police Respond To Schools Around The State On Multiple Swatting Incidents This Morning

October 14, 2022

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Township Police quickly responded to Hamilton High School West this morning on an apparent “swatting” incident. The school was quickly placed on lockdown as police checked the school to make sure everyone was safe.


New Jersey State Police reported, “The New Jersey State Police has been made aware of numerous active shooter threats targeting various school districts throughout the state.

Several schools have been placed on lockdown and after thorough investigations by local, state, and county authorities, the threats have proven to be unfounded.

The Regional Operations Intelligence Center is currently monitoring the situation and has not deemed any of the threats as credible.

The State Police and our law enforcement partners take all threats seriously and will utilize every asset at our disposal to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, administrators, and the public.

We urge everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency.”


Hamilton Police say that on October 14 2022 at 10:02 a.m. Hamilton Police Dispatch received a telephone call from a person with a thick Middle Eastern or Indian accent stating “there are people trying to get into the door of Hamilton West”.  The School Resource Officer along with several responding police units searched Hamilton High School West after initiating a “Lock Down” of Hamilton High School West.  After the incident was deemed safe, the “Lockdown” was lifted.

Hamilton Police gained information that other municipalities were affected by the same type of call with a party having a similar accent.  Hamilton Police along with the Hamilton Twp. Board of Education determined the phone calls were hoax calls.

No injuries were reported during the incident, no suspicious parties were located in or around Hamilton High School West.  Police Units remained on scene until the situation was calm.


Swatting is defined as: “The action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.”


In a letter to parents from Hamilton Township Schools Superintendent Scott R. Rocco, Ed.D. stated:

Today, there were two calls made to 911 that indicated an incident was happening at Hamilton High School West. This resulted in a large police presence inside and outside of the school. It also resulted in the school being put into a shelter in place for one of the calls and a lock down for the other call. 

Neither of these calls were real. They have been deemed a hoax. Neither of these calls were generated inside of our school. At no time were any of our students or staff in any danger. Although that is a relief, it does not lessen the fear or scared feelings of our students and staff.

I have been informed that this same situation has happened to other schools in New Jersey today. 

I would like to thank the faculty and staff of Hamilton High School West for their efforts in ensuring our students’ safety and I would like to thank our Hamilton Township Police Department for their quick response and constant presence.  

We take school safety very seriously in our district. We have safety plans and we practice those plans. Our police department also works collaboratively with us in our planning, drills, and situations that arise in our district. That being said, our best safety measures are when our students, staff, and community say something if they see, hear or know of a problem. Please continue to do so.


Toms River Police said in a Facebook Post, “A short time ago Toms River Police dispatch received a phone call regarding a potential shooting at High School North. Officers responded and the school was locked down as a precaution. The call was deemed unfounded and is being investigated as a swatting incident. We are requesting no one respond to the school as there is no active threat.”


Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office reported, ** POLICE ACTIVITY ** Freehold Twp- Biotechnology High School & Monmouth County Career Center – Kozloski Road Freehold Twp – there is no threat or danger to students.


Jackson Township Police reported, “About an hour ago Jackson Police dispatch received a phone call regarding a potential shooting at Jackson Liberty High School. We had already received information via the FBI that a handful of schools within New Jersey were experiencing the same calls from the same suspect prior to this phone call.

Regardless school security and our School Resource Officer sought out the location given by the caller, and it was deemed not to be a threat as the location given by the caller was inaccurate. Due to the totality of the circumstances, the decision was made not to put the school in lockdown. The call was deemed unfounded and is being investigated as a swatting incident. We are requesting no one respond to the school as there is no active threat.”


Barnegat Police Department made several reports on Facebook, “We received an unfounded report of a “shooter” in the Barnegat High School. Officers were quickly on scene and in the building and have found no indications or reports of anything occurring. Bengal Blvd will be closed as we continue to ensure the security of the building. All other district schools were placed in shelter in place status as a precautionary measure. Parents who are responding to the area are asked to go to the Collins school where we will provide any additional information. It appears that at least one other district in the county has received a similar “report”. Again, we have significant resources on scene to ensure the safety of the kids and staff at BHS and there are no indications that anything has occurred. Updates to follow. –Chief”

The students from BHS are being evacuated and will be bussed to the Collins school for reunification with parents. While we believe this was a swatting incident, officers continue to follow-up with secondary searches of the building. Again, the students and staff are safe and we have significant resources on scene to ensure it stays that way. –Chief

BHS evacuation is complete. Officers have completed the secondary search of the first floor and are wrapping up the second floor. Once that’s done, we’ll open up Bengal Blvd. The school district will then bus any driving-age BHS kids from the Collins school reunification point back to get their cars if needed. Very much appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation.– Chief


Freehold Township Police Reported, “At 10:13am, the Freehold Township Police Department responded to the Biotech High School for a possible report of shots fired. This incident was deemed to be a hoax and is currently under investigation. As part of the response both the Biotech High School and neighboring Career Center were locked down and both buildings were cleared by officers from Freehold Township, Freehold Borough, and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office. All students and staff are safe. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective George J. Baumann at 732-252-1950.”


Message from East Brunswick Schools Superintendent Dr. Valeski:

October 14, 2022

Good Morning East Brunswick Community,

This is Victor Valeski, Superintendent of Schools, with a very important message regarding an incident at our high school this morning…and I want to assure everyone that every student and every staff member is safe.

Our 911 police dispatch operator received a phone call reporting an incident occurring at our high school that required immediate police assistance.  This warranted a large police response to the high school and the building was immediately placed in a “Shelter in Place” status.  Central Elementary School also exercised a “Shelter in Place” because of it’s close proximity to the high school. 

Members of our district Central Office leadership responded to the building to support the HS administration.

Ultimately, the call was determined to be a hoax, also known as SWATTING, but the continuous training with our students, staff, administrators, security team and EBPD was evident today.


Lower Township Police in Cape May County reported, “Lower Cape May Regional High School is in a shelter in place for what we believe is a HOAX. Law Enforcement is conducting a search of the school to confirm.”


Other towns with swatting incidents this morning were Newark at Weequhaic High School and another Paterson.


The scene this morning at Hamilton High School West in Mercer County, NJ


Freehold Township Police Lieutenant With 27-Years On The Job Admits To Illegal Database Access

September 16, 2022

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A 27-year veteran of the Freehold Township Police Department has admitted to illegally accessing information from a law-enforcement computer database for personal use, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Friday.  

Lt. John Todd, 58, pleaded guilty to a count of third-degree Computer Theft during a Friday morning hearing before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Jill Grace O’Malley.   

An investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crime Unit revealed that on February 23, 2022, for personal reasons, Todd contacted a police radio dispatcher asking for personal information about an individual from the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), a database that exists strictly for law-enforcement purposes. Todd then passed that information along to a third party, who was not a member of law enforcement.

Under the terms of Todd’s plea, he will permanently forfeit public employment in New Jersey, receive a term of probation, and pay nearly $1,000 in fines. Todd will also apply to enroll in New Jersey’s Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI), which provides first-time offenders with opportunities for alternatives to traditional prosecution. Had he proceeded to indictment and trial, Todd could have faced up to five years in prison and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

The case was assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crimes Unit.

“Regardless of rank, there is no place within law enforcement for conduct such as this,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “The vast majority of officers countywide routinely serve the public with integrity and honor, risking their own lives on the job every single day. Actions such as those of Lt. Todd unfortunately make the work they do all the more challenging, particularly when it comes to gaining and maintaining the trust and respect of the citizens who depend on them.”

“The Freehold Township Police Department is committed to our residents and the integrity of all interactions between my officers and the public we serve. We fully support the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and their efforts adjudicating a difficult situation in which one of my officers violated the law,” Freehold Township Police Chief George K. Baumann added. “This breach of trust is an isolated incident, and does not define us or distract us from our primary goal of serving the residents and visitors of our community.”

Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Friday, November 18.



Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Marks Overdose Awareness Day with Remembrance Display

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A sea of small purple flags will adorn the grass along the front entrance to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office for the rest of the month, leading up to International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, with each flag representing an individual lost due to a drug overdose in the county this year.  

“As overdose deaths rise to previously unthinkable levels, both here in Monmouth County and nationwide, it’s so vitally important to resist discouragement and continue to do absolutely everything in our power to mitigate the human toll of this epidemic,” Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey said. “A big part of that is promoting remembrance: reminding our community that each person lost is not some nameless, faceless statistic, but a dynamic individual who leaves behind hopes, dreams, and friends and family members who remain devastated by their absence.”

Acting Prosecutor Linskey was joined earlier this week by Acting First Assistant Prosecutor Michael J. Wojciechowski, Acting Chief of Detectives John G. McCabe, Jr., additional colleagues, and community partners with the Prevention Coalition of Monmouth County for a remembrance ceremony, during which the flags were put into place. As of this week, thanks to the efforts of the Coalition, similar public displays will be in place in 43 of Monmouth County’s 53 municipalities.

A total of 79 people died due to a drug overdose in Monmouth County during the first half of 2022, according to statistics compiled by the New Jersey Coordinator for Addiction Responses and Enforcement Strategies (NJ CARES). An estimated 1,500 lives were lost in such fashion countywide from 2012 through 2021, with annual tolls rising from a low of 85 in 2013 to a high of 215 in 2018.

Those figures mirror statewide and national trends – New Jersey recorded a 10-year low of 1,223 overdose deaths in 2012, but that figure has since soared to over 3,000 in three of the last four full calendar years. Driving the trends has been the proliferation of increasingly deadly quantities of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be made quickly and cheaply, which often is found mixed with other narcotics that can exacerbate its dangerousness. Two milligrams of fentanyl, about the size and appearance of a few grains of salt, can be a fatal dose.

The Prosecutor’s Office has played a lead role in attacking the local opioid epidemic on multiple fronts; in 2014, Monmouth became just the second county in New Jersey to train all of its police officers on the use of naloxone, a nasally administered drug that works to quickly and safely reverse the effects of an overdose. Police officers in Monmouth County administered naloxone on more than 2,600 occasions from 2017 through the first quarter of 2022, with the overwhelming majority of deployments resulting in recipients going on to survive.

In 2020, with funds provided by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General NJ CARES Operation Helping Hand grant, MCPO announced the establishment of a 24/7 opioid dependency helpline, 833-OHH-CARE, which to this day remains staffed by recovery coaches from Recovery Advocates for the Shore (RAFTS) who link callers to treatment through CPC Behavioral Healthcare (CPC).

And earlier this year, MCPO hosted the first graduation ceremony for its newly established Recovery Diversion Program, an initiative that substitutes peer recovery and treatment services for nonviolent municipal court offenders, rather than traditional prosecution. Municipal defendants who successfully complete substance use treatment, maintain contact with their peer recovery coaches, and remain arrest-free are eligible to have their charges dismissed and expunged.

Monmouth County also remains an active participant in Project Medicine Drop, a New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs initiative through which citizens are invited to dispose of unwanted or expired prescription medication in safe, simple, anonymous fashion. There are currently about 30 drop boxes located countywide; for a full list of participating police departments that administer the initiative, go to https://mcponj.org/project-medicine-drop-off-locations-monmouth-county/.

“This epidemic didn’t develop from just one cause, and fixing it won’t be the result of just one solution,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “We remain deeply committed to leveraging innovation toward addressing it from every conceivable angle.”



Ocean State Job Lot Donates $200 to Plainfield Area Humane Society Through “Close to Our Heart” Non-Profit Program

August 5, 2022

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Ocean State Job Lot (OSJL), the region’s premier discount retail chain with 148 stores across the Northeast, is pleased to announce that its store located at 600 Trotters Way, Freehold, New Jersey has donated $200 to the Plainfield Area Humane Society as part of its “Close to Our Heart” program. 

Since the program’s inception in 2020, Close to Our Heart has empowered each OSJL store to choose  organizations to support each year that are meaningful to its associates and the local community. The Plainfield Area Humane Society provides veterinary care and shelter, and works to find the right home for all the animals in their care, including those with special needs or circumstances. 

“Ocean State Job Lot takes pride in our philanthropic work,” said David Sarlitto, Executive Director, Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation. “Through the ‘Close to Our Heart’ program, we make a donation to a local area non-profit that is ‘close to the heart’ of that community. We are grateful to have the opportunity to support those most in need in our local communities and bring awareness to organizations that are doing the hard work every day.”

The Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation has consistently and actively invested in providing relief to the communities in which it operates. In March 2022, OSJL’s “Relief for Ukraine” program donated health and hygiene products, food, warm clothes and medical supplies for Ukrainian refugee efforts due to the ongoing war. OSJL’s “To The Rescue” program, which concluded this week, benefits animal welfare organizations, wildlife centers, rehabilitation farms and non-profit rescue organizations throughout the Northeast. Currently, OSJL’s “Building Brighter Futures” fundraising campaign is happening in-store and online to directly support organizations that assist children in need. 


Representatives from Plainfield Area Humane Society accept the organization’s “Close to Our Heart” donation.


74-Year-Old Freehold Township Man Found Guilty Of Possession And Distribution Of Child Sexual Abuse Materials

July 21, 2022

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH) – A Freehold Township man was found guilty by a Monmouth County Jury in connection with the 2017 possession and distribution of child sexual abuse materials, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Thursday.

James Simmons, 74, of Freehold Township, was convicted on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material and third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material.

A July 2017 investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, along with NJ ICAC Task Force and the Freehold Township Police Department revealed that Simmons was found to be in a possession of a USB thumb drive with over 100 videos depicting the sexual abuse of a child, along with peer-to-peer file sharing programs from electronic devices located at his residence on Harding Road in Freehold Township. The New Jersey Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory assisted in the analysis of the electronic devices recovered from the defendant’s residence.

“I am grateful for the collaborative investigative efforts of my office’s detectives, Assistant Prosecutor Dugan, the NJ ICAC Task Force, and the Freehold Township Police Department for their work on this case.  It is imperative that we continue to do all that we can to protect our most vulnerable citizens, our children, from being victimized in this way,” said Acting Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

During the trial, Simmons testified that the materials and files found belonged to his son, who had died prior to Simmons’ arrest.

Simmons faces more than 10 years in a New Jersey State Prison. Simmons must also register for Megan’s Law, he will be under Parole Supervision for Life and will have Internet Restrictions when he is sentenced by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Jill O’Malley on January 13, 2023.

This case is being handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Simmons is being represented by George B. Somers Jr., Esq., of Princeton.



Two Fatalities And Multiple People Injured In Route 9 Multi-Car Crash

July 4, 2022

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office reports that a multi-car crash has claimed the lives of two passengers and left two drivers severely injured in Freehold Township Sunday afternoon, according to Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

On Sunday July 3, 2022, at approximately 1:28 p.m., the Freehold Township Police Department responded to a report of a multi-vehicle crash near the intersection of Route 9 South southbound and Route 33 westbound. The subsequent investigation revealed that a 2019 Lexus NX, driven by a 74-year-old female from Manalapan, was travelling southbound on Route 9, when the vehicle side-swiped a 2015 black Lexus RX350, and then side-swiped a white 2019 Subaru Crosstrek, before rear-ending a 2017 black Honda CR-V. The black Honda CR-V then rear-ended a 2009 purple Scion TC.

As a result of the crash, one of the passengers in the Honda CR-V, a 52-year-old female from Marlboro, was pronounced deceased at the scene. A second passenger in the Honda CR-V, a 61-year-old male, also of Marlboro, succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital. The driver of the Honda CR-V, a 21-year-old male of Marlboro, was also taken to a local hospital and is in critical condition. The driver of the Lexus was taken to a local hospital with serious injuries. Other drivers and passengers sought medical attention for minor injuries.

The crash remains under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County SCART and the Freehold Township Police Department.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information to assist the investigative team is urged to contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Nicolas Logothetis at 800-533-7443, or Freehold Township Police Department Patrolman Justin Nunno at 732-462-7908.



Hightstown, NJ Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for 2018 Roadside Slaying of Freehold Woman

May 3, 2022

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH) – The Mercer County man who fatally shot a Freehold woman as she drove along on a state highway – a crime that took place four years ago today – has been sentenced to life in prison, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Tuesday.       

Kader Mustafa, 40, will not become eligible for parole before reaching the age of 104, under the provisions of New Jersey’s No Early Release Act and the terms set down Monday by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Vincent N. Falcetano, Jr.

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: 24-year-old Sciasia Calhoun, who had sustained a single gunshot wound to the head, and her boyfriend and 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 joint investigation by the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau and the Freehold Township Police Department, with significant assistance from the Manalapan Police Department, revealed that Mustafa was driving a 2005 Chevrolet Impala when he fired a single shot at Calhoun, after several minutes of following her vehicle, at one point even colliding with its rear bumper. Mustafa was apprehended at his cousin’s residence 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.

While recounting the facts of the case on Monday, Judge Falcetano noted that Sciasia and her loved ones were en route to Asbury Park on the night of the shooting when they suddenly realized that their vehicle’s headlights weren’t operational – only the high beams were working. They had already turned around and were heading back home when they encountered Mustafa. “Her last act,” Falcetano said, was to somehow safely pull over the vehicle to the side of the road, despite having been shot by a man he described as a “cauldron of rage” who was “marauding … aimlessly” that night, while armed. 

“This was completely random,” Falcetano said. “I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to describe it.”

Several members of Calhoun’s immediate family, spanning three generations, made remarks in court before Monday’s sentencing was rendered. They described a “diamond in the rough” with ample ambition and a fierce independent streak, who stubbornly refused to let anyone help her learn how to ride a bicycle as a young child – despite bumps, bruises, and scratches piling up – until she had perfected it on her own.

“The defendant chose to randomly fire a shot and randomly kill a 24-year-old who had done absolutely nothing to him,” said MCPO Director of Investigations Christopher Decker, who represented the State at sentencing. “There’s nothing more depraved or heinous.”

Monday’s sentencing followed a multi-week trial that concluded in October 2021, when the jury convicted Mustafa on all six charges against him: 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. MCPO Investigation Division Director and Assistant Prosecutor John Loughrey, who has since retired, handled the prosecution.  



Million Dollar Replay Grand Prize Winner from Lawrenceville, NJ, Hamilton Man Wins 100K

$1,000,000  Ronald Demura Lawrenceville 

$100,000 Christopher Croux Hamilton 

April 29, 2022

New Jersey Lottery’s Million Dollar Replay Grand Prize Drawing was held today at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino, where more than $1,500,000 in prizes were awarded to our lucky players. Today’s top prize winner was Ronald Demura of Lawrenceville in Mercer County. The winner stood up in shock as his name was called out as New Jersey Lottery’s newest millionaire. Fourteen other Lottery players also received prizes ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 as part of the Grand Prize Drawing.

Throughout 2021, New Jersey Lottery players from all over the state submitted their non-winning instant tickets online for a second chance to win big prizes. Each quarter, 100 names were selected and awarded a $250 prize, as well as entry into today’s Grand Prize Drawing. An additional 19 raffle prizes were awarded to Million Dollar Replay finalists in attendance at the event today: seven $1,000 drawings, seven $300 Scratch-Offs drawings, and five gift basket drawings (containing $200 in Scratch-Offs plus Lottery swag). In addition to these drawings, there were 16 prizes drawn for the livestream sweepstakes open to the public, including one gift basket and 15 $200 Scratch-Off prizes. Guests also enjoyed the photo booth and prize wheels that provided many other opportunities to win.

New Jersey Lottery Executive Director James Carey, who assisted in the drawing, said, “I am thrilled to hold our 11th annual Million Dollar Replay.  After last year’s event was virtual due to the pandemic, we are excited to be back in-person.  Being able to add the excitement of minting a new millionaire makes it even better.”

Master of Ceremonies Steve Trevelise of NJ101.5 entertained the audience with jokes and witty banter throughout the event by interacting with the guests and prizewinners. Host Lauren Berman, conducted the drawing for the semi-finalists with the help of Lottery staff. The entire drawing process was completed under the observation of Mercadien, P.C. Certified Public Accountants.

The excitement of winning was already in the air when after Host Lauren Berman directed attention to the Big Spin wheel located next to the stage. The Big Spin game is New Jersey Lottery’s revolutionary new Scratch-Off that  allows  players  the  opportunity  to  extend  their  play  beyond  the  paper  ticket  to online for a chance to spin a large mechanical wheel to win up to $300,000. Two players won an opportunity to spin the wheel. Both contestants won $50,000 each. For information on The Big Spin Scratch-Off ticket and jackpot, visit our website at: https://www.njlottery.com/en-us/scratch-offs/01728.html

Grand Prize Winner Story:

Ronald Demura is a regular Lottery player, who plays consistently at the same two retailers near his home. He came to the Million Dollar Replay hoping to win something and was in shock when his name was called to win the million dollar prize. His wife and the rest of the room cheered as he began walking toward the winners’ table. Saying that he was ecstatic is an understatement. Ronald has been retired for a few years, enjoying life with his family. Now he will get to pay off his house and, hopefully, his wife can join him in retirement.


PrizeNameCity/State
$1,000,000 Ronald DemuraLawrenceville 
$100,000 Christopher CrouxHamilton 
$100,000 Thach HieuCamden 
$50,000 Rick Bunnell Rockaway
$50,000 Kevin LindholmWoodbridge 
$50,000 Richard San AndresFreehold 
$25,000 Daniel DesantoIselin 
$25,000 Mike SeminaraLedgewood 
$25,000 Patrick SweeneyRahway 
$25,000 James WelshmanBayville 
$10,000Andrea Giedosh Pitman 
$10,000 Dwayne AngleroCream Ridge 
$10,000 Kenneth OliverRoselle 
$10,000 Michelle SperberBeachwood 
$10,000Linda Handel Clifton 


Two Teens Killed and 3 Other Teens Injured in Tragic Route 9 Crash

A 15-year-old from Allentown High School and a 17-year-old from Freehold Regional High School District were pronounced deceased.

April 20, 2022

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A single-car crash has claimed the life of two passengers in Freehold Township Tuesday evening, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.

On Tuesday April 19, 2022, at approximately 10:38 p.m., the Freehold Township Police Department responded to a report of an overturned vehicle. The subsequent investigation revealed that a 2004 Chevrolet Malibu, driven by a 17-year-old male from Howell, was travelling southbound on Route 9, in the vicinity of 3468 Rt. 9, when the vehicle changed lanes and the driver lost control of the vehicle, causing the vehicle to spin out. The vehicle ran off the road to the right side, striking a curb and several concrete bollards. The vehicle then rolled over and came to a final stop in front of 3468 Rt. 9.

As a result of the crash, two of the vehicle’s passengers, a 15-year-old male from Allentown, and a 17-year-old male from Manalapan, were pronounced deceased. The driver and two remaining passengers were taken to a local hospital. The driver and one passenger, a 15-year-old Manalapan girl, were treated for minor injuries and subsequently released; one other passenger, a 17-year-old Allentown male, remains held pending medical observation.

The crash remains under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County SCART and Freehold Township Police Department.

Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information to assist the investigative team is urged to contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Brian Boryszewski at 800-533-7443, or Freehold Township Police Department Officer Alexander Fay at 732-462-7908.


Dear UFRSD Community,

This morning, we received news of a tragic accident. Last night, one of our Allentown High School students was killed in a car accident. We also know that another student from an area high school was also killed. There were three survivors of the accident, one of which was from AHS.

News like this is the worst type of news for anyone to hear. Today, we are thinking of the parents, siblings and family of all families involved. Any support we can offer our families, we will.

In the meantime, we know that this can be an enormous challenge for students to process and understand; at times, it’s even hard for adults to comprehend a tragedy like this. Therefore, today and tomorrow, we are offering counseling services to students and staff. Today, we will have counselors available from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. and tomorrow (Thursday) from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. at Allentown High School (go to the main entrance).

If anyone needs any special help and support, please reach out directly to Mrs. Embley at embleyc@ufrsd.net.

The UFRSD will do whatever we can to support our students, staff and the families involved in this accident. We will keep everyone updated as information becomes available.

My best,

Mark Guterl

Superintendent of Schools


Bradley Beach Man Charged in Death of Fellow Inmate from Ocean Grove

April 17, 2022

FREEHOLDA 29-year-old male inmate of the Monmouth County Correctional Institution has been charged in the death of a fellow inmate, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Sunday.

Evan Raczkiewicz, of Bradley Beach, is charged with first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter in the death of Daniel Ferrara.  An investigation began after Ferrara, 49 of Ocean Grove, was found unresponsive in the kitchen area of jail at around 5:20 a.m. Medical staff began life-saving efforts; however, Ferrara succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased at 6:03 a.m.

A joint investigation was immediately launched by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and investigators from the Monmouth County Correctional Institution.  As a result of the investigation, it was determined that Raczkiewicz had struck Ferrara multiple times prior to his death.

The incident remains under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. Anyone who has information to assist the investigative team is urged to contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Jason Gold at 732-431-7160 x4025.

If convicted, the defendant faces up to 30 years imprisonment subject to the No Early Release Act. 

The case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Caitlin Sidley and Joseph Cummings.

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.


Freehold Teacher Wins $25,000 Milken Award, Honored as One of America’s Top Teachers

Taylor Matyas, a former Freehold Township School District student, returns to teach in her community

April 1, 2022

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–In a surprise assembly earlier today, Taylor Matyas, an instructional coach at Laura Donovan Elementary School, received a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for her excellence as a student-and-teacher mentor who models collaboration, data-driven teaching, and creatively using technology to make education more engaging for her students.

Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and New Jersey Acting Commissioner of Education Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan surprised Matyas with the honor before cheering students, colleagues, state and local officials, and the media. Matyas is the first-ever recipient in Freehold and among more than 60 educators nationwide to receive the recognition during the 2021-2022 school year. She is one of only two recipients in New Jersey this year.

Hailed as the “Oscars of Teaching,” the Milken Educator Awards celebrate, elevate and activate the American teaching profession and inspire young, capable people to join it.

“Each year, the Milken Educator Awards team searches the country for think-outside-the-box educators like Taylor,” said Dr. Foley, who herself is a 1994 Milken Educator from Indiana. “Her creativity in the classroom, collaboration with students and parents, and dedication to using data to bring best practices to life for her students are what make her our latest Milken Educator Award recipient. We are proud to celebrate her today!”

The Milken Educator Award is not a lifetime achievement honor. Recipients are heralded while early to mid-career for what they have achieved — and for the promise of what they will accomplish given the resources and opportunities inherent in the Award.

“We commend Mrs. Matyas on this well-deserved recognition,” said Dr. Allen-McMillan, New Jersey Acting Commissioner of Education. “She immerses herself into the curricula, then identifies numerous access points for students to make meaning of the content prior to personalizing their learning so they have the confidence to succeed. Ms. Matyas is representative of all engaging and passionate educators who strive daily to improve student outcomes.”

Oprah, a longtime education advocate, shared her congratulations to this year’s winners in a video message shared earlier this year thanking “the most incredible educators around the country” and acknowledging her deep appreciation for the “tireless work” they do.

More about Taylor Matyas:

Models Mentoring: Matyas prioritizes connection and relationship-building in Freehold Township School District, with both the fourth graders she taught until this year and the teachers she now works with. Matyas mentors and supports Donovan’s teachers through modeling, coaching and professional development. Focused on improving and accelerating student achievement through quality curriculum and instruction, she observes in classrooms, collaborates with staff on collecting and analyzing data, researches best practices and contributes to curriculum.

Prioritizes Professional Development: A former student in the Freehold Township School district herself, Matyas hosted pre-certification teachers in her class and opened her doors to staff from Freehold Township and other districts. On the district curriculum team, Matyas has designed integrated ELA units and project-based learning cross-curricular units that push students to think critically, collect and analyze information, ask questions, and tackle real-world issues. When she taught at nearby Joseph J. Catena School, she served on the STEAM committee, planning design challenges and demonstrating robots, 3D printers and green screen technology. Matyas also serves on the district data team and technology vetting committee. As the district transitioned to standards-based reporting, Matyas designed standards-tracking protocols and parent communication tools, which are now used across Freehold Township. At district EdCamp days, Matyas facilitated professional development on blended learning, Freckle Math, personalized learning plans and student learning portfolios. In cooperation with High Point University, she delivered a webinar to North Carolina teachers on blended learning, using print and video examples from her classroom practices.

Uses Technology to Enhance Education: At Catena, remote learning during the pandemic brought challenges, but Matyas used technology to make both academic and social-emotional learning seamless and fun. She arranged virtual lunch tables, reading circles and writing discussion groups using Zoom breakout rooms. Family members, pets and beloved stuffed animals joined the class’s online morning meetings and weekly dance parties. Students “visited” a turtle hospital while studying animals and biomes during one of Matyas’ virtual field trips. Every Friday, Matyas asked students to submit Flipgrid videos reflecting on successes for the past week and setting goals for the days ahead. Matyas’ students trusted her and were eager to be their best selves in her class; it’s no surprise that they demonstrated consistent growth and top district and state assessment results in ELA and math.

Encourages Student-Led Learning: Matyas blends whole-group, small-group and individualized instruction across each day. In her classroom at Catena, students led their own learning using data from lessons and formative assessments, as well as digital content providers like Freckle, Achieve3000 and NoRedInk. Effective best practices, including mini-lessons, direct instruction, reading and writing workshops, guide reading and math, and cooperative groups helped ensure engagement. Matyas used various modes of instruction and learning experiences to meet students’ needs through targeted intervention and enrichment, including digital content providers, adaptive learning programs and project-based learning. During “Genius Hour,” students researched and pursued subjects that resonated and inspired them: ship design, fashion, video production, history. Pupils used this time to create prosthetic limbs, teach themselves to play musical instruments, and design skateboards.

Commitment Extends Beyond School: At Catena, Matyas led extracurricular programs before and after school, including study skills, Lego and computer clubs, and the school news broadcast, helping students plan scripts, take photos, and record and edit weekly programs. In her popular Elementary Entrepreneurs program, third, fourth and fifth graders designed products to sell at a holiday event, raising more than $2,300 for a local pediatric cancer organization, in memory of a Catena student who had passed away a few months earlier.

Education: Matyas earned a bachelor’s in elementary and special education in 2013 from the University of Delaware.

More information about Matyas, plus links to photos and video from today’s assembly, can be found on the Milken Educator Awards website at: https://www.milkeneducatorawards.org/educators/view/taylor-matyas

More about the Milken Educator Awards: “The future belongs to the educated.”

Along with the financial prize, Milken Educator Award recipients join the national Milken Educator Network, a group of more than 2,800 top teachers, principals and specialists. The network serves as a rich resource for fellow educators, legislators, school boards and others dedicated to excellence in education.

·       The honorees will also attend an all-expenses-paid Milken Educator Awards Forum, where they will network with their new colleagues as well as veteran Milken Educators and other education leaders about how to increase their impact on K-12 education. In addition, they will learn about how to become involved in the Milken Friends Forever (MFFs) mentoring program, in which freshman Milken Educators receive personalized coaching and support from a Milken Educator veteran on ways to elevate their instructional practice and take an active role in educational leadership, policy and practice.

·       Over the years, more than $140 million in funding, including $70 million for the individual cash awards, has been devoted to the overall Milken Awards initiative, which includes powerful professional development opportunities throughout recipients’ careers. 

·       Veteran Milken Educators frequently go on to serve in leadership roles at state, national and international levels. 

·       “We find you. You don’t find us!” Unlike most teacher recognition programs, the Milken Educator Awards initiative has no formal nomination or application process. Candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state. The most exceptional candidates are recommended for the award, with final selection made by the Milken Family Foundation. 

·       The $25,000 cash award is unrestricted. Recipients have used the money in diverse ways. For instance, some have spent the funds on their children’s or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children. 

To get regular updates on the surprise Milken Educator Award events or to watch the award events unfold, follow and use the #MilkenAward hashtag on Facebook (@MilkenEducatorAwards), Twitter (@Milken), YouTube (/MilkenAward), Instagram (MilkenFamilyFdn), and TikTok (@MilkenAward).

For more information, visit MilkenEducatorAwards.org




Florida Man Admits to Posing as a Modeling Agent to Manipulate Minor Living in Brielle to Send Him Sexually Explicit Images

February 23, 2022

FREEHOLD – A Florida man has admitted to falsely portraying himself as a modeling agent in order to manipulate a minor into sending him sexually explicit images and videos of herself, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Wednesday.

Joseph Germain, 31, of Casselberry, Florida (Seminole County), late last week pleaded guilty to first-degree Manufacturing Child Sexual Abuse Materials and second-degree Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials. Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Friday, May 13, at which time Germain will face a term of eight years in state prison, subject to New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA), meaning a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence must be served before the possibility of parole. He will also be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and remain subject to Parole Supervision for Life.

The investigation into Germain’s activities was initiated by the Brielle Police Department, which determined that several years ago, the defendant created a false online persona, claiming to be “Alex” from a company called “Elite Model Management,” using the email address alexxcaveelite@gmail.com.

In 2017, the investigation determined, Germain contacted a juvenile living in Brielle, claiming he wanted to help her create a modeling portfolio and promising a $50,000 contract. After the victim agreed, Germain convinced her to electronically send him numerous photos and videos of herself in sexually explicit poses.

During the course of their interactions, the victim openly indicated to Germain that she did not feel comfortable sending the photos and videos due to her age, but he persisted in demanding additional files. At times, Germain sent her fake screenshots from an employee purportedly named “Cassandra,” promising to release the money once the victim’s “portfolio” was complete. 

The victim never received any payments – but did ultimately begin receiving text messages from multiple phone numbers claiming to be employees of “Elite Model Management,” threatening to post her photos and videos to the Internet unless she sent additional explicit material. Eventually, some of the videos did make their way online.

The investigation determined that Germain was responsible for the various threatening texts – and for posting the videos online. Germain was arrested in Florida in 2019 and extradited back to New Jersey for prosecution.

“This investigation left us strongly convinced of the very real possibility that there may be additional victims who have yet to come forward,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “To any remaining victims who may be out there, I would just say this: what was done to you wasn’t just wrong, deceitful, and cruel – it was criminal. We urge you to come forward and speak with us, and offer the assurance that you will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. We need your assistance to ensure that justice is served.” 

If anyone feels that they or someone they know was a victim of a similar or identical scam, they are urged to contact Detective Ryan Maxsiell of the Brielle Police Department at 848-232-5016, or the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Bureau at 732-431-7160, Ext. 7731.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tipline 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 Joseph Cummings of the MCPO Special Victims Bureau.

Germain is represented by Tara Breslow-Testa, Esq., with offices in Freehold and Red Bank.  



Colts Neck Man Arrested in Connection with Series of Bank Robberies

December 20, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Colts Neck man has been arrested and charged with committing a series of three bank robberies in various local municipalities over the course of a little more than a month, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Monday.

Conor Kavanagh, 29, is charged with three counts of first-degree Armed Robbery.

An investigation was initiated immediately after the first bank robbery, which took place shortly after 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, November 13 at the PNC Bank inside the Stop & Shop supermarket on Route 36 in Keyport. At that time, a man later identified as Kavanagh approached a teller window, passed over a note indicating he was in possession of a weapon, and made off with a quantity of cash, leaving the scene in a green Toyota pickup truck.

At approximately 4 p.m. on Tuesday, December 14, a bank robbery occurred at the Wells Fargo branch on Newman Springs Road in the Lincroft section of Middletown. The bank robbery was committed in identical fashion to the earlier one in Keyport, with the suspect wearing similar clothing, and he left the scene in a green Toyota pickup truck.

Three days later, on Friday, December 17, the Wells Fargo branch on Route 36 in Eatontown was robbed. Again, a suspect passed a note demanding money, indicating that he was in possession of a weapon.

Following the bank robbery in Middletown, Detectives from the Middletown Police Department developed information that led to Kavanagh to being identified as a potential suspect. After the bank robbery in Eatontown, Middletown Detectives and assisting members of the FBI observed Kavanagh driving a green pickup truck that matched the description of the vehicle used in the earlier bank robberies, and placed him under arrest for unrelated charges.

Detectives searched the pickup truck and located proceeds from the Eatontown bank robbery and the clothing the suspect was seen wearing on surveillance footage. They also located information pertaining to a storage unit in Shrewsbury, and a search of that location revealed proceeds from the Keyport and Middletown bank robberies.

Additionally, a search of the cell phone Kavanagh was using contained evidence of online searches for local bank branches.

Kavanagh was lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) pending a first appearance and detention hearing, to take place in Monmouth County Superior Court.

The Prosecutor’s Office would like to thank its partners with the Eatontown, Keyport, and Middletown police departments, as well as members of the FBI’s Newark office, for their invaluable assistance in this investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Information regarding Kavanagh’s legal representation was not immediately available.

Convictions on first-degree criminal charges are commonly punishable by terms of 10 to 20 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. 


Tinton Falls Man Found Guilty for 2017 Endangering Welfare of a Child, Invasion of Privacy

December 16, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH) – A Tinton Falls man was found guilty by a Monmouth County Jury in connection with the 2017 possession and distribution of child sexual abuse materials and invasion of privacy, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Friday.

Robert Mack, 35, of Tinton Falls was convicted of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material, third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material and third degree Invasion of Privacy.

A 2017 investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, along with NJ ICAC Task Force and the Tinton Falls Police Department revealed that Mack was downloading and sharing child sexual abuse materials from a computer located at his residence in Tinton Falls. Mack was also in possession of hard drives containing child sexual abuse materials. Further investigation concluded that Mack also had videos of an adult female with her intimate parts exposed without her permission.

Mack was indicted in October 2018.

Mack faces more than 10 years in a New Jersey State Prison. Mack must also register for Megan’s Law, he will be under Parole Supervision for Life and will have Internet Restrictions when he is sentenced by Monmouth County Superior Court by Judge Lourdes Lucas on February 14, 2022. This case is being handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Mack is being represented by Michael Chazen, Esq., of Freehold.



Improving the Patient Transport Experience: Sweet New Rides for Unterberg Children’s Hospital Patients

December 14, 2021

LONG BRANCH, NJ (MONMOUTH)–The Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center (MMC) has a fun new way to transport their young patients to procedures in luxury style.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Freehold Township High School Football and Cheer Program, a fleet of luxury mini cars that includes a Mercedes, Bentley and Lamborghini will allow children to “drive” from their hospital beds to a treatment room or from a preoperative bed to the operating room, undoubtedly making the journey less stressful for pediatric patients.

“This is a fun distraction that we believe will certainly help reduce some stress for our young patients, and we are so thankful to the Freehold Township Football and Cheer Program for this generous and thoughtful donation,” said Jonathan Teitelbaum, M.D., Interim Chair of Pediatrics and Section Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology. Dr. Teitelbaum notes that the children will feel like they are driving the cars, which are actually controlled by a staff member via remote control.

Freehold Township High School Football and Cheer Program coordinator Audra Whisten, who traveled to MMC on December 9 with her son, Nick, a sophomore and member of the football team, said that the team raised money to purchase the electric cars, and received a $1,000 donation toward their fund-raising from the Ryan O’Donoghue Memorial Foundation. The Foundation was started in memory of Freehold Township High School graduate Ryan Fintan O’Donoghue, who died April 13, 2020 at the age of 19.

Audra had previously traveled with members of the Football and Cheer Program on November 21 to join the annual toy run to benefit The Unterberg Children’s Hospital coordinated by the Blue Knights NJ XV and Jersey Shore HOGs motorcycle groups. Additionally, they contributed to the cash donation made by each rider that benefits The Comprehensive Cystic Fibrosis Center at The Unterberg Children’s Hospital. The Cystic Fibrosis Center — which includes both pediatric and adult programs — is accredited by the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and is designated by the State of New Jersey as a referral center for Cystic Fibrosis Newborn Screening and has been designated as a Therapeutic Development Center by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Therapeutic Development Network.



Freehold, NJ Man Admits Role in Distribution of Cocaine and Firearms Trafficking Conspiracy

December 3, 2021

TRENTON, N.J. – A Monmouth County, New Jersey, man today admitted distributing cocaine in Monmouth County and conspiring to illegally sell firearms, including multiple handguns and a semi-automatic rifle, in and around Monmouth and Ocean counties, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Enrique Quijada, 24, aka “El Enano 13,” aka “Kike,” of Freehold, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiracy to engage in firearms trafficking, one count of possession of a firearm by an alien unlawfully present in the United States, and one count of distribution of cocaine.

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

From May 2020 through September 2020, Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, Enrique Quijada, Javier Rodriguez-Valpais, and Jacquelyn DeJesus were members of a gun trafficking conspiracy that spanned from Florida to New Jersey. DeJesus allegedly assisted Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria – the alleged leader of the conspiracy – by acting as a “straw purchaser” of firearms in Florida. Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria and DeJesus then transported the firearms from Florida to Monmouth County, where members of the conspiracy, including Quijada, sold the firearms to individuals working at the direction and supervision of the FBI. Rodriguez-Valpais sold a .223 caliber semi-automatic rifle to Quijada, who in turn sold the rifle to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI. In addition to gun trafficking, Quijada admitted selling cocaine to an individual working at the direction and supervision of the FBI.

Three other members of the gun trafficking conspiracy – Javier Rodriguez-Valpais, Waldin Espinosa-Ozoria, and Jacquelyn DeJesus – previously have pleaded guilty in connection with this case. The charges against Manuel Espinosa-Ozoria remain pending.

The count of conspiracy to engage in firearms trafficking carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The count of possession of a firearm by an alien unlawfully present in the United States carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The court of distribution of cocaine carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $1 million fine. Quijada’s sentencing is scheduled for April 5, 2022.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked the FBI Tampa Division, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark and Tampa Field Divisions, and the Freehold Borough, New Jersey, police department for their assistance in the investigation.

In July 2021 the U.S. Department of Justice launched five cross-jurisdictional strike forces to help reduce gun violence by disrupting illegal firearms trafficking in key regions across the country. Leveraging existing resources, the regional strike forces will better ensure sustained and focused coordination across jurisdictions and help stem the supply of illegally trafficked firearms from source cities, through other communities, and into five key market regions: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area/Sacramento Region and Washington, D.C. According to gun trace data, a significant number of firearms recovered in the New York/northern New Jersey area originate from outside the area. The new strike force will help ensure sustained and focused coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors in the New York/northern New Jersey area with their counterparts in those other locations.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ian D. Brater of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

For the defendant whose charges remain pending, the charges and allegations are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Defense counsel: S. Emile Lisboa IV Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey


Asbury Park Man Indicted for Two Home Invasions, Sexual Assault and Possession of Weapons for Unlawful Purpose

December 2, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)A Monmouth County Grand Jury has returned a 13-count indictment against an Asbury Park man for 2 home invasions which occurred in the same town, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced.

On November 30, 2021, a Monmouth County Grand Jury indicted Shawn Connolly, 34, in relation to two home invasions in the City of Asbury Park, where the defendant also resides.  Connolly was indicted for 2 counts of first degree Armed Robbery, 2 count of first degree Aggravated Sexual Assault, 2 counts of second degree Burglary, 2 counts of third degree Terroristic Threats, 3 counts of third degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, and 2 counts of fourth degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon.

On September 14, 2021, at approximately 5:27 am, members of the Asbury Park Police Department responded to a residence in the city in response to an open 911 line. Upon arrival, Asbury Park police learned that the victims suddenly awoke to Connolly in their home with a knife in his hand threatening to harm them.   During the course of the robbery, one of the victims was sexually assaulted by Connolly. The Asbury Park Police Department found Connolly still at the scene when they arrived and he was placed under arrest.

While this investigation was still underway, the Asbury Park Police Department received another report from an additional victim that her home had been broken into earlier that same morning at approximately 2:30 a.m.  This victim reported that she awoke to a man threatening her with a knife. Connolly was identified as the suspect in this home invasion as well.

If convicted, the defendant is facing up to 20 years in state prison on each count of Armed Robbery as well as the Aggravated Sexual Assault, up to 10 years state prison on each count of Burglary, up to 5 years state prison for each count of Terroristic Threats and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and up to 18 months state prison for each count of Unlawful Possession of a Weapon.  Additionally, he would be subject to Parole Supervision for Life and would be required to register under Megan’s Law.

The defendant remains incarcerated.

Defendant is currently represented by John M. Murphy, III, Esq., of Staten Island, New York.  The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Danielle Zanzuccki.

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.



Nearly 600 Firearms Collected as Result of Twin Gun Buybacks

November 23, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A combined total of nearly 600 firearms have been collected for destruction as the result of a pair of gun buybacks hosted by the Prosecutor’s Office and partner agencies over the last month, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Tuesday.

Monmouth County was one of nine counties statewide to host separate gun buybacks across the state on Saturday, October 23; as a result, a total of 360 firearms were collected at the Second Baptist Church of Asbury Park, including 159 handguns, 133 rifles and shotguns, and three assault weapons.

Prompted by the healthy demand, a second event was held this past Saturday at the Bethel AME Church in Freehold; as a result, a total of 234 more firearms, including 144 handguns, 67 rifles and shotguns, and two assault weapons were collected.

Between the two events, more than $66,000 was paid out to participating citizens turning in 594 unwanted weapons.

“It’s abundantly clear that these gun buyback events are both popular and effective, and we plan to continue hosting them in the years to come,” Acting Prosecutor Linskey said. “Every last firearm turned in is a firearm that will never be used to harm someone.”

Saturday’s event was co-sponsored by the Prosecutor’s Office, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, under the leadership of Sheriff Shaun Golden; the Freehold Borough Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Craig W. Dispenza; the Freehold Township Police Department, under the leadership of Chief George K. Baumann; and the Bethel AME Church, under the leadership of the Rev. Ronald L. Sparks.

The Asbury Park event was co-sponsored by MCPO, the Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, the Monmouth County Police Chiefs Association, and the Asbury Park Police Department.

The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General coordinated the Oct. 23 gun buybacks, which made history – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced several days later that nearly 3,000 firearms were turned at sites across the state that day, making it the most successful single-day event of its kind in state history. Thousands more firearms were turned in during gun buybacks held across the state in previous years.

The gun buybacks in Asbury Park and Freehold marked Monmouth County’s first such events since 2017.


18-County Indictment Against Man Charged With Soliciting Illicit Photos And Videos Of Teenage Girl, Then Distributing To Family Members In Retaliation

October 22, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County Grand Jury has returned an 18-count indictment against a man charged with soliciting illicit photos and videos from a teenage girl, then distributing them to members of her family in retaliation for her threatening to break off contact with him, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Friday.

David Lopez, 38, of Jersey City is charged with first-degree Manufacturing Child Sexual Abuse Materials, five counts of second-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child via Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials, three counts of third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, single counts of third-degree Making Terroristic Threats, third-degree Criminal Coercion, and third-degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child via Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials; and six counts of fourth-degree Cyber Harassment.

An investigation by the Keansburg Police Department that grew to also involve members of the Prosecutor’s Office revealed that Lopez had made contact with the victim via social media sometime prior to August 2020, and thereafter asked her to send him sexually explicit photos and videos.

After several such exchanges, the investigation revealed, the victim indicated that she preferred to cease communications with Lopez – who responded by sending some of the photos and videos to no fewer than half a dozen of her family members, including children as young as 11. In addition, Lopez allegedly threatened to harm the victim’s family, threatened to have other individuals harm them, threatened to burn down their house, and told her he could make her life “a living hell.”

Lopez was arrested at his home on August 25, 2020, after which he was released on home detention and ordered to have no contact with the victim and no Internet access while the criminal case against him remained pending.

Anyone with additional information about Lopez’s activities is being asked to contact Keansburg Police Department Detective Lt. Bryan King at 732-787-0600.

Convictions on first-degree criminal charges can result in terms of 10 to 20 years in state prison, while second-degree crimes can yield penalties of 5 to 10 years.

This case is being handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Lavender. Lopez is being represented by Joshua Hood, Esq., with an office in 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.  


Ocean State Job Lot Opens New Store in Freehold, NJ

Discount Retailer Opens 6th New Jersey Store in Former Toys”R”Us Location

October 19, 2021

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Ocean State Job Lot (OSJL), the region’s premier discount retail chain with store locations across the Northeast, is pleased to announce the opening today of its 147th store, its sixth in New Jersey, at 600 Trotters Way, Freehold. The store is across from the Freehold Raceway Mall and is the 11th Toys“R”Us OSJL has purchased and opened since 2017.

This 44,784 sq. ft. location restores vibrancy to the formerly vacant retail space. Nearly 50 full- and part-time associates have been hired for the store, which will offer customers a big, bright shopping space. “We’re looking forward to sharing Ocean State Job Lot’s unique shopping experience with our new neighbors in Freehold,” said Jeff Greene, Store Team Leader, Ocean State Job Lot. “From seasonal items and home essentials, including fall lawn clean-up supplies, to pantry staples, paper goods, holiday wrapping, and a wide array of cleaning products, Ocean State Job Lot offers unbeatable prices and selection.”

As part of its Three Square Meals program, the Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation (OSJLCF) will make a donation of non-perishable food items to Fulfill, the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. In addition, a pallet of food will be donated to Freehold Open Door Food Pantry as part of the OSJLCF’s Pallets to Pantries program. Lastly, a $500 OSJL gift card will be provided to Freehold’s All Fur Love Animal Rescue, a donation made possible through the OSJLCF’s To The Rescue initiative to aid animal welfare organizations.

Shoppers throughout New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania know Ocean State Job Lot for its Crazy Deals, Insider Club, fantastic prices, friendly customer service, and wide range of merchandise.

Ocean State Job Lot has made its mark in the discount-retail segment through opportunistic buying, which allows it to offer a wide selection of first-quality name brands and closeout merchandise at unbelievable prices. Shoppers find an ever-changing array of household goods, apparel, pet supplies, seasonal products (such as holiday, lawn and garden supplies, heating and cooling), kitchen pantry staples and a broad offering of gourmet and international specialty foods.

Store hours are currently 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day.


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.