Category: Howell

Teen Charged With Murder Waived To Adult Court

September 16, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A judge ruled last week a Lakewood teenager charged in the October 2019 death of a man whose body was found lying in the roadway in Howell will now face those charges in adult court, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Richard W. English waived Alberto Rojas Hernandez, now 18, from family court up to adult court to face charges of first degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, first degree Murder, third degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and fourth degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon.

Rojas Hernandez, of Joe Parker Avenue in Lakewood, is being held in the Middlesex County Youth Detention Center in North Brunswick, pending a First Appearance and Detention Hearing scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.  Rojas Hernandez has been held in the Youth Detention Center since his arrest in October. 

Rojas Hernandez’s uncle, Juan Carlos Rivera Rojas (also known as Omar Rivera Rojas), 29 of Linden Avenue, in Lakewood was previously charged in the killing with first degree Murder.  Rivera Rojas was ordered detained pending trial on Nov. 12, 2019 by the Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon.

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

The man, identified as Domingo Merino Rafael, 33, of Lakewood, was unresponsive and obviously deceased. MONOC personnel responded and the victim was pronounced deceased at the scene. Rafael was taken to the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office where an autopsy determined the cause of death was a Homicide.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Howell Township Police Department determined Rojas Hernandez, Rivera Rojas and Merino Rafael traveled from Lakewood to Middlesex County on the evening of Oct. 17, 2019.  The men were returning to Lakewood in the early morning hours of Oct. 18, 2019, when the trio got into an argument that culminated with the murder of Merino Rafael.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Howell Township Police Department also credited the Lakewood Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance during the investigation.

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

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

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

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

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.

Howell Police Break Up “Pop-Up” Party With 300 People

August 9, 2020

HOWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Howell Police has requested mutual aid from Wall, Brick, Jackson, Freehold, Monmouth and Ocean County Sheriffs and State Police in response to the dispersal of approximately 300 people in attendance at a “pop-up” party.
Most of the attendees are compliant. Others are hesitant and are directing their anger towards the host who charged admission.

Roadways leading to Wilson Drive are blocked by police to prevent the steady flow of vehicles attempting to attend. Only residents will be allowed.

Further updates will be provided

Howell Happenings NJ Howell Patch Howell NJ Community News 12 New Jersey @what’s happening howell Jersey Shore Hurricane News Mayor Theresa Berger, M.D. Councilman Thomas Russo John Bonevich, Howell NJ Councilman

UPDATE: 8 pm update:
Most of the mutual aid departments have been released. Attendees left without incident. Host was arrested. Further investigation will continue.
Several patrol units will remain in the area to prevent others from arriving and/or returning and to monitor surrounding streets as there’s been reports of stragglers urinating on people’s property and vehicles.
A majority of those who attended are not local.

We thank all for their assistance and patience.

NJ State Police Arrest Man In Connection Of Upper Freehold Burglaries

July 10, 2020

UPPER FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Troopers Arrest Man for Commercial Burglary and Theft of Services

The New Jersey State Police have arrested Christopher Woods, 56, of Howell, N.J., for allegedly committing several burglaries at storage facility in Upper Freehold Township, Monmouth County.

On Friday, July 3, troopers from Hamilton Station began investigating multiple burglaries at the Store and Lock Self Storage facility in Cream Ridge, Monmouth County. As a result of the investigation, troopers identified Woods as the suspect of three burglaries at the facility during the month of May.

Troopers determined on three seperate occasions Woods used bolt cutters and stole approximately $ 5,000 worth of personal property. Troopers also discovered he failed to reimburse the facility for contracted services on numerous occasions totaling $1500.

Troopers located Woods later that day at a residence in Howell and arrested him without incident.

Christopher Woods was charged with burglary of a commercial structure and theft of services. He was released pending a court date.

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

Howell Twp. Couple Charged With Animal Cruelty In Deaths Of 4 Stolen German Shepherd Puppies, Remains Found Burned and Buried

The investigation further revealed McDonald was in possession of a generator reported stolen out of South Brunswick, and a John Deere front end loader reported stolen out of Monroe.  

June 17, 2020

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A couple is facing charges of animal cruelty after four German Shepard puppies in their care died due to neglect, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Daniel McDonald, 25, and Tricia Jaccoma, 24, are charged with four counts of third degree animal cruelty with respect to the deaths of four German Shepherd puppies found deceased on a property in Howell where they were temporarily residing.

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

The joint investigation revealed the puppies were stolen from a farm in Somerset County on or about May 12, when the puppies were only approximately three weeks old.  Investigators learned McDonald and Jaccoma were staying at the Somerset County farm prior to the time the puppies went missing and were in possession of the puppies while residing in a camper on the property in Howell.  Investigators also learned the puppies were ill, in distress, and were struggling to breathe prior to their deaths, and that the pair did not get the puppies medical attention because of the costs associated with the care. The investigation further revealed McDonald disposed of the bodies of the deceased puppies by burying two of them and tossing the other two into the fire pit on or about May 16.  A necropsy performed on the two buried puppies revealed the puppies suffered from parasites and also were severely emaciated and malnourished with “no indications of recent nutritional ingestion.” 

In addition to the animal cruelty charges for failing to provide the puppies with the necessary care, both McDonald and Jaccoma were additionally charged with multiple counts of third degree Receiving Stolen Property, for being in possession of the stolen puppies in Monmouth County.  McDonald was further charged with four counts of Hindering Apprehension of oneself, disorderly persons offenses, for disposing of the deceased puppies bodies.

The investigation further revealed McDonald was in possession of a generator reported stolen out of South Brunswick, and a John Deere front end loader reported stolen out of Monroe.   McDonald was charged with additional counts of third degree and second degree Receiving Stolen Property, respectively, for being in possession of these stolen items.  

McDonald was ordered detained at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon on June 10, 2020. 

Jaccoma is currently a fugitive.  If you have any information about her whereabouts, please contact Humane Law Enforcement Officer Michael Magliozzo of the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 732 995-0329, or Patrolwoman Heather Scherbinski of the Howell Township Police Department at 732-938-4111.

If convicted of the second-degree charge, McDonald faces a sentence of five to ten years in a New Jersey state prison.

If convicted of any of the third degree charges, they each face a sentence of three to five years in in a New Jersey state prison on each count. 

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

McDonald is represented by Paul Zager, Esq. of Red Bank. McDonald is scheduled for a Pre-Indictment Conference on July 6, 2020.

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.

NJSP Troop “C” Hamilton, 10th Anniversary Of When Trooper Was Struck By Passing Motorist On I-195

June 6, 2020

HOWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Earlier today, troopers from Troop “C” Hamilton Station along with members of the Howell Township Police Department visited Trooper Marc Castellano’s memorial site on I-195 in Howell Township to pay their respects.

On June 6, 2010, Trooper Castellano was struck by a passing motorist while walking along the shoulder of I-195 while searching for a reported armed occupant of an abandoned vehicle.

In 2018, Governor Phil Murphy renamed a portion of I-195 as “Marc K. Castellano Memorial Highway” to honor Trooper Castellano’s memory.

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of his tragic death. We will never forget his sacrifice.

Rep. Chris Smith’s Annual High School Art Competition Opens ‘Virtually’

April 24, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER) – For the first time ever, the annual Congressional Art Competition held by Rep. Chris Smith as part of a national competition for his district’s high school students, will be a “virtual” online show to ensure the safety of students, parents, teachers and the interested public.

    In response to the coronavirus national emergency, the artwork, which is normally displayed for a month at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton’s Lakefront Gallery, will be posted on Smith’s congressional website ensuring that the students who have worked for many months can still take part in the national competition.

    “For these young student artists whose school year has been turned upside down by coronavirus, I am happy we found a way forward and I am grateful to the parents, judges and teachers for making needed adjustments,” Smith said.

    “We received strong support for a virtual art competition rather than cancel the show outright due to COVID-19 restrictions,” Smith said. “Safety is paramount, and a virtual gallery enables us to proceed safely not only for the students and parents, but for the patients and workers at RWJ-Hamilton, which has in the past, graciously hosted the show,” he said.

“I am delighted that this year’s show wasn’t canceled, but continued as an online competition,” said Wall High School art teacher, Jill Alexander, who has been preparing her students to enter the show every year for the past six years. “Students in the 4th district are thankful for the great show that Congressman Chris Smith puts on each year, but especially this year because of the challenges everyone is facing.”

“We love going to Robert Wood Johnson’s impressive gallery, and unfortunately that just wasn’t possible this year. My students start working in September preparing their best artwork to submit, and this show is the highlight of the year for us. 

“High school students across the country will miss the opportunity to participate in many events this year, including proms, sporting events and even graduation,” Alexander said. “We are really pleased the art competition survives.” 

             The 2020 show will be exhibited in a virtual art gallery, will use online judging, with winners to be announced in May. Smith’s three-member team of professional judges, whose works are also normally displayed at the show, will also have artwork posted in an online gallery.

     This year, students who place in the competition—as best-of-show, and first, second and third runners-up and honorable mentions—will receive ribbons and all participants will be mailed Congressional Certificates, instead of being presented them in person.

   The best-in-show winner will be displayed in the Capitol Building in Washington along the busy public corridor/tunnel between the Cannon House Office Building and the Capitol Building for one year with other winners from across the nation. All the artwork entered into Smith’s competition this year will be displayed in his online gallery for one year.

   Every year the Congressional Institute sponsors this national high school art competition to recognize and foster artistic talent in each congressional district. Since the competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated. Participation in the contest is at the discretion of each Member office. Currently, the Institute plans to accept the top winning artwork from every congressional show in America by June 18 and hold a reception in Washington on July 22.

     For information about the 2020 NJ-04 show or to view the 2019 and prior year winners visit Congressman Smith’s Congressional Art Competition web page.

Smith: College Students, Schools in NJ04 get $24M in CARES Act Emergency Funds

Mercer County Community College – $3,851,115, West Windsor, Mercer County

Ocean County College – $4,265,169, Toms River, NJ

Brookdale Community College – $ 6,334,411, Lincroft, Monmouth County

April 13, 2020

More than $24 million has been approved for institutions of higher learning and career institutes in the Monmouth, Ocean and Mercer areas of Rep. Chris Smith’s Fourth Congressional District to help these schools and their students overcome the costs and the impact of the coronavirus, said Smith today.

   The $24 million on its way to educational facilities in or bordering Smith’s district is part of a broader $238 million award to colleges across the state which was announced today by the U.S. Department of Education—following a bipartisan letter by the New Jersey congressional delegation which Rep. Smith cosigned with his NJ colleagues in the House and which was led by NJ’s two senators.

   Smith said the funding—$24,147,003 which will help pay for the impact of COVID-19 of the higher education system—comes from the comprehensive, bipartisan $2 trillion stimulus bill to help communities devastated by the coronavirus pandemic which Smith supported and was signed into law by President Trump March 27.

   “Our students and colleges have seen immense financial challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak across America,” said Smith (NJ-04), who spoke on the floor in support of quick passage of the CARES Act. “This funding will help stabilize the higher education system which has been turned upside down in this health crisisIt’s good news from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for our higher learning educational system in New Jersey.”

   Among the recipients are Brookdale County College which will receive $6.3 million, Ocean County College $4.2 million, Mercer County College $3.8 million, Beth Medrash Govoha of America $5.8 million and Georgian Court nearly $1.7 million.

   Numerous learning institutions in the Fourth District area Rep. Smith serves are receiving funds, including:

  • Advantage Career Institute – $41,609, Eatontown, Monmouth County
  • Bais Medrash Mayan Hatorah – $46,377, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Bais Medrash Toras Chesed – $68,038, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Beth Medrash Govoha of America – $5,899,593, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Beth Medrash of Asbury Park – $109,145, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Brookdale Community College – $ 6,334,411, Lincroft, Monmouth County
  • Georgian Court University – $1,690,335, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Medical Career Institute – $332,030 Ocean Twp., Monmouth County
  • Mercer County Community College – $3,851,115, West Windsor, Mercer County
  • Ocean County College – $4,265,169, Toms River, NJ
  • Saint Francis Medical Center – $23,963, Trenton, Mercer County
  • Seminary Bnos Chaim – $255,559, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Talmudical Academy – $122,458, Adelphia, Monmouth County
  • Yeshiva Bais Aharon – $64,039, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Yeshiva Chemdas Hatorah – $112,892, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Yeshiva Gedola Tiferes Yerachmiel – $179,422, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Yeshiva Gedolah Keren Hatorah – $229,239, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Yeshiva Gedolah Shaarei Shmuel – $85,372, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Yeshiva Toras Chaim – $347,751, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Yeshiva Yesodei Hatorah   $73,641, Lakewood, Ocean County
  • Yeshivas Emek Hatorah     $56,454, Howell, Monmouth County

    The CARES Act is the third and the largest phase of the federal response enacted into law. Smith supported Phase I, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020—which provided $8.3 billion for treatment and prevention measures in NJ. Phase II, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—provided paid sick leave, family medical leave, free testing, and expanded unemployment benefits among other provisions to help working Americans.

     The CARES Act is also providing direct financial assistance of $1,200 for individuals making under $75,000 per year, $100 billion in grants to hospitals to address coronavirus-related financial damage, $150 billion to assist state and local governments, $600 extra per week to unemployment benefits for four months, and $16 billion to assist in the procurement of medical supplies for the Strategic National Stockpile.

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