September 12, 2021 — Updated with official Coast Guard information.
LONG BRANCH, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Coast Guard members rescued three people after their vessel began taking on water three miles east of Long Branch, Sunday.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay received the initial notification from the Monmouth County 911 dispatcher at 9:14 A.M. that three people aboard a sinking vessel were in need of assistance.
A 47-foot Motor Lifeboat from Coast Guard Station Manasquan Inlet was dispatched to the scene along with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, which was diverted from training.
A rescue swimmer was lowered from the helicopter and helped all three people climb aboard the Motor Lifeboat. They were transported to Shark River Marina.
No injuries or medical concerns were reported. All persons rescued were wearing lifejackets.
Event Will Address Mental Health Issues, New Feelings of Anxiety and Fear Due to COVID, and Share Community Resources
September 9, 2021
LONG BRANCH, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Monmouth Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, will host a free virtual expert panel event titled “Managing Your Mental Health” on Friday, September 10th at 11 a.m., coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day. The event will provide support and behavioral health resources to members of the community who are coping with existing mental health issues or who may be facing new feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the physical toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on New Jersey residents and individuals across the country, the pandemic has also had a substantial impact on mental health. According to survey data from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 30% of adults aged 18 and over reported symptoms of anxiety or depression between late July and early August 2021, an increase of nearly 20% from the same period in 2019.
Monmouth Medical Center has the largest and most comprehensive behavioral health program in Monmouth County, with treatment provided to adults, children and adolescents and adults diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. The panel will feature Monmouth Medical Center mental health experts Stan Evanowski, LCSW, LCADC, Administrative Director of Behavioral Health; Stephanie Petrucha, LCSW, Director of Outpatient Behavioral Health; Donna Martini, LCSW, Program Director, Early Intervention Support Services Program; Tia A. Susak, BSN, RN, Children’s Crisis Intervention Services Unit; and Johnna Malter, MA, Child and Family Crisis Clinician, Psychiatric Emergency Screening Services.
Moderated by Emmy-nominated journalist and former NY1 News political reporter Molly Kroon, the free community panel event will explore the effect COVID-19 has had on mental wellness. During the event, panelists will answer frequently asked questions around coping with mental health issues, the additional mental health challenges brought on by the pandemic, and how to manage your mental health. Experts will also share information on the variety of mental health resources and support available to the community.
“Our goal as a hospital and as a system is to deliver quality, patient-centered care, which means that in addition to prioritizing our patients’ physical health and safety amid the pandemic, it is equally important to identify and address the toll it has taken on our community’s mental well-being,” said Eric Carney, President and CEO of Monmouth Medical Center and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus. “By hosting this expert panel, we’re continuing to raise awareness around the heightened mental health challenges our community is currently facing as well as serve as an educational resource for people who are struggling by letting them know there is help available and how they can access it.”
LONG BRANCH, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth Medical Center medical-surgical nurse who is praised as a natural leader has been honored with the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses®. In nominating Yve Massre, BSN, RN-BC a bedside nurse on Monmouth’s Greenwall 5 inpatient unit, the hospital’s first COVID-19-designated unit, her colleagues praised her as “a bright light amidst the darkness of the pandemic.”
“During the pandemic, Yve acknowledged the basic human connection rooted in sight and how the pandemic’s necessary PPE robbed patients of that experience,” her colleagues shared. “To circumvent this issue and provide that mind and body connection, she brought in a photo of herself, so that her patients could see her face. It was a humanizing action—something that seemed so simple, but provided the patients comfort, amidst a sea of faceless faces under masks.”
For her nomination, Yve was additionally recognized for the following:
Yve consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty, making everyone around her feel special and safe, through her genuine and caring nature. This attribute was highlighted during the first wave of COVID-19 in March 2020. At the crest of the first wave, despite the enormity and uncertainty of what they were facing, Yve was the anchor of Greenwall 5—the solid ground where the team found sturdy footing. The positivity and confidence that she bestowed upon each staff member was striking—a bright light amid the darkness of the pandemic. In addition to offering a kind word and refuge to the team, Yve would also ease the stress on the unit by gracing the team with cheerfully decorated baked goods that she would make herself, even after a long and stressful workday. She is always thinking of others’ happiness above her own.
This past year had been so challenging for everyone, especially during the holidays. In true form, however, Yve brought in a handmade, personalized gift for each member of the Greenwall 5 team. This gesture was in addition to the personalized “COVID-19” badges that she bought all the staff members to signify the end of the first wave and their official transition from team to family—a mark of solidarity, survival, and strength to wear proudly next to their hearts.
Yve shows the same care and compassion to all her patients, as she does to the Greenwall 5 staff. She brought in games and cards for the unit’s very lonely and scared COVID-19 patients. She also brought in presents for her patients when she voluntary worked on Christmas, as well as a meal and dessert for her co-workers who were also working on the holiday. She went as far as to ask a family member what a particular patient’s favorite meal might be, and on her day off, she brought in a steak dinner for that very patient whom she recognized was struggling.
Yve is very astute in recognizing the needs of others. Her patients have expressed true gratitude for her excellent and exemplary nursing care. She has excellent clinical skills and achievement. Staff looks to her when she is in a leadership role, as she leads by example and is always available to offer assistance and education when needed. She is always taking on the role of a nurse champion by constantly implementing new initiatives and projects, educating staff on the processes, and following through with operationalization. As a true role model, she champions safe practices through Monmouth Medical Center’s High Reliability Organization (HRO) culture and encourages others with her positive standards.
“Yve always makes others feel exceptional,” said Regional Chief Nursing Officer Diann Johnston, MSN, RN, NEA-BC. “A DAISY Nurse is a very special nurse —it is about more than just being recognized for a good deed, or for being nice. A DAISY Nurse operates on a different level, day in and day out, and Yve exemplifies this level of nursing; she is undeniably a nurse of true character and kindness.”
DAISY is an acronym for Diseases Attacking the Immune System. The DAISY Foundation was formed by the family of Patrick Barnes who died at age 33 of complications of Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), an auto-immune disease. His widow, Tena, (a DAISY Co-founder) created the acronym, and the Foundation and established the DAISY Recognition Program to honor the super-human work nurses do every day at the bedside.
22 Year Law Enforcement Veteran To Forfeit Public Employment
July 26, 2021
FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Monmouth County Corrections officer has pled guilty after shoplifting in Ocean Township and West Long Branch, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey.
Suzanne Simone, 53, of Ocean Township, a 22-year-veteran of the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, pled guilty today before Judge Ellen Torregossa-O’Connor to fourth degree Shoplifting in connection with multiple instances where she failed to pay for items at local Target and Home Depot stores. Simone’s plea calls for her to pay restitution to both stores in a total amount of $1,320.90. Simone has also forfeited public office in New Jersey. She will receive non-custodial probation and is not allowed to return to either store.
This follows an investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office which revealed that on multiple occasions, Simone “skip scanned” items, essentially scanning multiple smaller items, and not scanning larger items or pretending to scan them and leaving the store without paying for them. In multiple instances, Simone was wearing her uniform while committing the theft. Some of the stolen goods were later recovered from her residence.
Simone is currently suspended from her position at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution. She is scheduled to be sentenced on September 24, 2021 at 9:00 a.m.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crime Unit.
Simone is represented by Robert Holden Esq., of Shrewsbury.
Citizens may report concerns via the following: Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Corruption Tip Line – 855-7-UNJUST (855 786-5878); or E-mail at: email@example.com write “Corruption/Misconduct Tip” in the subject line.
FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A 19-year veteran police officer of the Long Branch Police Department has been suspended without pay after he was arrested and charged today with various offenses related to manufacturing and maintaining a methamphetamine laboratory at his home, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Christopher Walls, 50, of West End Avenue in the city, is charged with first degree maintaining or operating a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) production facility, second degree possession of a firearm during the course of a CDS offense, second degree risking widespread injury, second degree endangering the welfare of a child, third degree manufacturing CDS (methamphetamine), and third degree possession of CDS (methamphetamine).
“Thanks to the swift action of our office, the Long Branch Police Department, and the New Jersey State Police, a very serious risk to public safety has been averted. The collaborative efforts of our agencies dismantled a very dangerous situation. It is particularly distressing that this hazard was caused by a sworn law enforcement officer.” Gramiccioni said.
After learning of the details involving Walls, Acting Long Branch Police Chief Frank Rizzuto immediately suspended him without pay.
“The officers in our agency risk their lives daily to protect and serve our residents. It is disappointing beyond measure that one of our officers could have risked the safety of his family and neighbors by engaging in such dangerous conduct. This officer’s actions do not reflect the moral compass of our officers or this agency,” Acting Chief Rizzuto said.
Long Branch police were called to Walls’ home on the 300 block of West End Avenue at about 10:36 p.m. last night for a domestic disturbance. While officers were on scene, another resident in the home alleged Walls was involved in suspicious narcotics activity. The New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Hazmat Unit responded to the scene and located materials, chemicals and instruments consistent with a methamphetamine laboratory in both the basement of the residence and in a shed on the property. The NJSP Hazmat Unit confirmed that Walls was in possession of all ingredients necessary to manufacture methamphetamine and found methamphetamine residue in chemistry-related glassware on site. A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office’s Professional Responsibility and Narcotics
Units and the Long Branch Police Department revealed that Walls had been in possession of books related to making methamphetamine, explosives, and poison.
Additionally, a large open and unsecured gun safe was in the home which was accessible to a child living in the residence. Inside the gun safe were two long guns, four handguns, eight high- capacity magazines, and a large quantity of ammunition.
If convicted of Maintaining or Operating a CDS Production Facility, Walls faces a sentence of up to 20 years in a New Jersey state prison.
If convicted of any of the second degree charges, Walls faces up to 10 years in state prison.
The third degree offenses carry a potential sentence of three to five years in state prison.
Walls was lodged at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution and is pending a detention hearing. He has been suspended from his position as a Long Branch Police Officer.
Anyone with additional information about this case is asked to contact Detective Brian Hammarstrom of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-431-7160, extension 6413.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibilities and Bias Crime Unit.
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A 65-year-old science teacher at Long Branch Middle School was arrested this morning and charged with one count of third-degree attempted endangering the welfare of a child, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.
Jesse Rosenbaum was taken into custody during a motor vehicle stop near his home in Manalapan by detectives with the prosecutor’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit and Special Victims Unit (SVU). He is being held in the Mercer County Correction Center pending a detention hearing.
Rosenbaum was the subject of a recent ICAC investigation into the sexual exploitation of children online. The investigation revealed he was soliciting underage males online to participate in sexual acts and also sexual conversation. The complaint alleges Rosenbaum engaged in sexually explicit emails, text messages and phone conversations with an individual he believed to be a 14-year-old male.
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on this investigation should contact Sgt. Joe Paglione of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit at (609) 273-0065.
CAMDEN, NJ –A New Jersey doctor was charged in connection with his role in a longstanding billing fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Morris Antebi, 68, of Long Branch, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with three counts of health care fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud for his role in the scheme. Antebi is scheduled to appear today by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel Schneider.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Antebi, a physician specializing in pain management and anesthesia, owned and operated a pain management clinic chain with locations throughout South Jersey. Antebi was a participating provider in Medicare, Medicaid, and several private insurance plans. Between approximately 2014 through 2020, Antebi billed over $24.6 million for services he purportedly provided, including billing more than $15.3 million to Medicaid and more than $8 million to Medicare.
The investigation showed that Antebi engaged in various forms of billing fraud. For example, Antebi frequently billed Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies on dates when travel records show he was overseas, including on trips to China, Israel, Turkey, the Dominican Republic, and across Europe, or when he was otherwise outside the State of New Jersey. Antebi billed approximately $230,700 to Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance plans between November 2015 and January 2020 for services he purportedly rendered while he was traveling and not in the office.
The investigation also showed that Antebi billed for excessive billings for one-day periods of time. For example, Antebi billed insurance plans for more than 24 hours’ worth of services in a one-day period of time on more than 900 occasions between 2014 and 2020. Antebi also billed insurance companies for between 12 and 23.99 hours of purported services in a one-day period of time on more than 300 occasions. On certain occasions, law enforcement surveilled Antebi on days when he left the clinics early, but nevertheless billed as though he saw many patients on those days.
Despite these high billings, individuals interviewed during the investigation stated that Antebi commonly saw them for only very brief periods of time, and he often did not perform any medical exams or evaluations during their visits. Individuals also indicated that that there sometimes was no medical equipment or examination tables in the rooms at the clinics in which patients met with providers, and that patients sometimes met with providers on folding chairs in the hallway of the clinics.
The health care fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense. The wire fraud and mail fraud counts each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited agents of the FBI’s Atlantic City Resident Agency Health Care Fraud Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Scott J. Lampert, the U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Inspector General, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael C. Mikulka, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark, and IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez in Newark with the investigation leading to the criminal complaint and officers of the Northfield Police Department. U.S. Attorney Carpenito also credited agents of FBI’s Headquarters Health Care Fraud Unit Data Analysis Response Team under the direction of Special Agent Greg Heeb in Washington, D.C.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christina O. Hud and Daniel A. Friedman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Monmouth County, New Jersey, man today admitted to being a felon in possession of a firearm, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Rashon Alexander, 42, of Long Branch, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp to an indictment charging him with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On Jan. 13, 2020, officers from the Eatontown Police Department received information that a man fitting Alexander’s description was staying in a local hotel and was in possession of a firearm. The officers observed Alexander – a convicted felon prohibited from possessing a firearm – and another man approaching the hotel. Officers approached Alexander, who admitted to being in possession of marijuana. Officers searched Alexander and found a quantity of marijuana in his sweatshirt pocket. Officers placed Alexander under arrest and searched him, recovering an RG Industries .22 caliber revolver from his pants pocket.
The felon in possession of a firearm charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for February 22, 2021.
This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. For more information about Project Guardian, please see https://www.justice.gov/projectguardian.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson, Newark Field Division, Trenton Field Office, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni, the Eatontown Police Department, under the direction of Chief William P. Lucia, III, and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan for their assistance.
The government is represented by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Matthews of the Criminal Division in Trenton.
Defense counsel: Andrea D. Bergman Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton
FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Separate investigations have netted fifteen Monmouth County individuals for possessing and or trafficking child sexual abuse materials, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Between July 21, 2020 and October 15, 2020, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Computer Crimes Unit and Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force arrested individuals. Assisting in this Operation were members of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU), the New Jersey ICAC Task Force, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office, The Monmouth County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which includes members from the following police departments: Eatontown, Howell Township, Long Branch, Manalapan, Marlboro, Neptune Twp., Spring Lake, Tinton Falls, and Holmdel; and support from the following Monmouth County Police Departments: Asbury Park, Aberdeen, Middletown, Highlands, Freehold Township and Freehold Borough.
These arrests were designed to reduce online threats to Monmouth County to decrease the market for child sexual exploitation by focusing on those individuals seeking out and trafficking in child pornographic-materials.
The following individuals were arrested:
Antonio Mejia, 38, of 806 5th Avenue, Asbury Park. Mejia was arrested on July 21, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he transmitted numerous images of child sexual abuse materials and engaged in sexual conversations with 3 males under the age of 16. Mejia was charged with one count second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual abuse materials, contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(i), one count of Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Manufacturing an Image of Child Exploitation Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(3), one count of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to 2C:24-4b(5)(b)iii, three counts of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, N.J.S.A 2C:24-4a(1) and three counts of Attempted Obscenity to Minors, 2C:34-3. On July 30, 2020, defendant appeared for a detention hearing before the Honorable Paul X. Escandon, J.S.C. was released on the condition that he have no contact with the victims, no access to social media and no contact with anyone under 18. Mejia is represented by Joy Anderson, Esq. of Eatontown.
Brody Sullivan, 20, of 2 Ithaca Court, Aberdeen was arrested on July 22, 2020 following an investigation that revealed that he was in possession of child sexual abuse materials. Sullivan was charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexaul Abuse Material), contrary to 2C:24-4b(5)(b)ii and released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and no internet access. Sullivan is represented by Anthony Palumbo, Esq. of Cranford.
Anthony Lichtenau, 36, of 72 Brentwood Road, Eatontown was arrested on July 24, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he was in possession of child sexual abuse materials. Lichtenau was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii) and released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and no internet access. Lichtenau is represented by Mitchell Ansell, Esq. of Ocean Township.
Matthew Fahmie, 33, of 30 Northover Place, Middletown, was arrested on September 10, 2020 following an investigation which revealed that he possessed over 1,000 images of child sexual exploitation material. Fahmie was charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(ii) and was released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and restricted internet access. Fahmie is represented by Richard Incremona, Esq. of Freehold Township.
Valentin Valdetano, 20, of 359 North Bath Avenue, Long Branch, was arrested on July 31, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed and traded images of child sexual abuse materials using a chat platform. Valdetano was charged with second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(i) and third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Valdetano was released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and that he not use the internet. Valdetano is represented by Charles Moriarty, Esq. of Long Branch.
Zachary Barnett, 24, 984 Twilight Way, Aberdeen, was arrested on August 7, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. Barnett was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Barnett was released on a summons. Barnett is represented by Allison Friedman, Esq. of Freehold.
Brian Wioncek, 62 of 317 Shore Drive, Apartment C, Highlands, was arrested on September 9, 2020 following an investigation that he possessed child sexual abuse materials. Wioncek was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Wioncek was released on the condition that he have no contact with anyone under 18 and that his internet usage is restricted.
John Hynes, 21, of 90 Bannard Street, Freehold, was arrested on August 21, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. Hynes was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii) and one count of disorderly persons possession of a controlled dangerous substance contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(4). Hynes was released on a summons. Hynes is represented by Charles Clark, Esq. of Freehold.
Michael Townend, 19, 203 Colts Neck Road, Howell, was arrested on August 25, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. Townend was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Townend was released on a summons. Townend is represented by Steven Nelson, Esq. of Neptune.
Robert Sherman, 62, of 112 Route 36, Highlands, was arrested on September 1, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. Sherman was charged with one count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4B(5)(b(iii). Sherman was released on a summons. Sherman is represented by Michael Polloway, Esq. of Red Bank.
Michael Pipitone, 38, of 157 Rutledge Drive, Middletown, was arrested on September 2, 2020 following a proactive investigation which revealed he shared over 1,000 images and/or videos of child sexual abuse material. Pipitone was charged with one count of first degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(iii) and second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(ii). Pipitone was released on the condition of home detention, no internet usage and no contact with anyone under 18. Pipitone is represented by John Hogan, Esq. of Woodbridge.
George Ichkitidze, 39, of 27-08 Whistler Drive, Freehold Township, was arrested on September 25, 2020 following a proactive investigation which revealed he shared over 1,000 images and/or videos of child sexual abuse material. Ichkitidze was charged with one count of first degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(iii) and second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(ii). Ichkitidze was released on the condition of home detention, no internet usage and no contact with anyone under 18. Pipitone is represented by Kevin Clark, Esq. of Ocean Township.
Juvenile, of Freehold Borough, was arrested on September 11, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he possessed images of child sexual abuse materials. The juvenile was charged with one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(ii).
Thomas Vilanova, 49, of 133 Newbury Road, Howell, was charged on October 13, 2020 following an investigation that revealed that he possessed images of child sexual abuse material. Vilanova was charged with one Count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Vilanova is currently on probation for a 2017 conviction for third Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii). Vilanova is scheduled to appear in court before the Honorable Paul X. Escandon, J.S.C. for a detention hearing on October 22, 2020. Vilanova is represented by Michael Wenning, Esq. of Bradley Beach.
Jamie Khan, 43 of 19 Oxford Drive, East Windsor, was charged on October 15, 2020 following an investigation that revealed he was viewing and sending child sexual abuse material while working for his employer in Freehold Township. The investigation further revealed that he was also in possession of child sexual abuse material at his home in East Windsor. Khan was charged with one Count of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)(iii) and one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material), contrary to N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(i). Khan was released on the condition of no internet usage and no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.
If convicted of the first degree Endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of 20 years in New Jersey State Prison, Megan’s Law, and Parole Supervision for Life. If convicted of the second degree Endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of ten years in New Jersey State Prison Megan’s Law and Parole Supervision for Life. If convicted of the third degree Endangering charge, a defendant will face a maximum sentence of five years in New Jersey State Prison and Parole Supervision for Life. A conviction for disorderly persons Possession of Less than 50 Grams of Marijuana exposes a defendant to a maximum sentence of six months incarceration.
Ichkitidze’s case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Diane Aifer, Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit; the remaining cases are assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan, Computer Crimes Unit.
Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android – https://www.p3tips.com/1182), by calling 800-671-4400 or by going to the website at www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.
FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Long Branch man was sentenced to 40 years in prison for murder and attempted murder, stemming from a 2018 shooting inside a Long Branch restaurant, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
On October 16, 2020, Miguel Camara, 42, of Long Branch, was sentenced by the Honorable Vincent Falcetano, J.S.C., to 40 years in New Jersey State Prison with 38 ½ years of parole ineligibility. Camara previously pled guilty to first degree Murder, first degree Attempted Murder, and third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, in connection with the killing of Marco Moreira, attempting to kill Fernanda Silva, and endangering the welfare of Silva’s 5-year-old child.
Camara had previously entered his guilty plea on July 15, 2020, before Judge Falcetano.
On August 21, 2018 at approximately 3:15 p.m., Long Branch Police Officer George Samol was flagged down by a motorist on Broadway who reported a fight inside the Bom DMais restaurant and a shot fired through the front window. Officer Samol responded to the restaurant and observed two males and one female wrestling with Camara who was holding a gun. Officer Samol unholstered his duty weapon and ordered Camara to drop the weapon. As the 18-year-old son of Fernanda Silva was able to gain control over Camara’s gun, Camara immediately turned to Officer Samol and grabbed ahold of his duty weapon, trying to take possession of it. Officer Samol was able to wrestle the gun from Camara as additional officers arrived on scene. After Camara was placed under arrest, officers observed the victim, Marco Moreira lying deceased on the floor of the business. He was pronounced dead at 3:38 p.m.
A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Long Branch Police Department determined Camara entered the Bom DMais restaurant and approached the table where his ex-girlfriend Fernanda Silva, her two children ages 18 and 5, and Marco Moreira were seated. Camara threw a Final Restraining Order obtained by Silva less than a month earlier on the table, pulled out a handgun and pointed it at Marco Moreira’s head several times before shooting him. A struggle then ensued between Silva, her 18-year-old son and Camara for the gun. During the struggle Camara repeatedly pointed the gun at Silva, firing it twice but missing her. Silva’s five-year-old daughter was a few feet away during the struggle.
The sentence requires that defendant will serve 30 years New Jersey State Prison sentence with a 30 year period of parole ineligibility on the murder, a 10 year New Jersey State Prison sentence on the Attempted Murder charge, subject to the provisions of the No Early Release Act, which requires that the defendant serve 85 percent of the sentence before he is eligible for parole and 5 years New Jersey State Prison for the Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The Attempted Murder sentence will run consecutively to the Murder sentence, and the Endangering sentence will run concurrently, for an aggregate 40 years in New Jersey State Prison with 38 ½ years of parole ineligibility. Camara will also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison and will face deportation back to his home country of Portugal.
The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Hoda Soliman and Emily Cartmell.
Miguel Camara is represented by J. Michael Wicke, Esq., of Freehold
EWING TOWNSHIP-WEST TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)– The New Jersey State Police have arrested Mario Mondragon, 21, of Long Branch, N.J., and Genaro Guzman, 21, of Shrewsbury Township, N.J., for committing 2 armed robberies and approximately 100 vehicle burglaries spanning 5 Monmouth County municipalities between April and June.
During a five-month investigation, State Police detectives with the Troop “C” Criminal Investigation Office (CIO) along with members of the Eatontown Borough Police Department, Tinton Falls Police Department, Ocean Township Police Department, and Long Branch Police Department, identified Mondragon and Guzman as the suspects in armed robberies in Shrewsbury Township and Eatontown Borough.
On Saturday, May 16, Mondragon and Guzman were burglarizing a vehicle at a Shrewsbury Township residence when they were confronted by the homeowners. During the confrontation, the suspects allegedly brandished a handgun and taser before fleeing. On Saturday, June 6, in Eatontown Borough, the duo sprayed a deliveryman with oleoresin capsicum (pepper) spray and physically assaulted him during a robbery.
Through various investigative means and by using evidence recovered by the Troop “C” CIO and State Police Crime Scene Unit, investigators were able to link Mondragon and Guzman to an additional 100 vehicle burglaries in Monmouth County. On Thursday, October 8, detectives from the Troop “C” CIO, State Police Fugitive Unit, K9 Unit, along with members of the U.S. Marshals Service NY/NJ Task Force located and arrested Mondragon in Long Branch, N.J., and Guzman in Shrewsbury Township, N.J.
Mondragon and Guzman were charged with armed robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon – handgun without permit, unlawful possession of a weapon – other weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose – firearm, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose – other weapon, aggravated assault by pointing a firearm, burglary, and theft. They were lodged at the Monmouth County Correctional Institute pending a bail detention hearing.
Mondragon and Guzman were charged separately by our partnering agencies.
This case is being prosecuted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
Charges are mere accusations, and the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–As you may be aware, this year’s November General Election in New Jersey is being conducted primarily by mail-in ballots, per State mandate. On November 3, 2020, Election Day, limited polling locations will be open for voting on paper provisional ballots only, except for disabled voters.
Voters across Monmouth County are receiving their mail-in ballots this week and are encouraged to contact the County Clerk’s Election Office at 732-431-7790, Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with any questions about the delivery of their ballots.
Due to this unprecedented change in our election process, Monmouth County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon has provided a comprehensive webpage on MonmouthCountyVotes.com, explaining this year’s election process.
In addition, our office has provided video tutorials, including an animated step-by-step video informing Monmouth County voters of how to properly complete and return their mail-in ballots. The tutorial also explains how the paper ballots are reviewed and verified by the Monmouth County Board of Elections.
The video can be viewed on our Facebook and YouTube pages. We encourage you to share this important information with your friends and neighbors.
Election Hotline Established to Secure Election Integrity
To help ensure free and fair elections in Monmouth County, the County Election Offices and Prosecutor’s Office have established an election hotline. To report any issues of voter fraud or misconduct in Monmouth County, residents can call the County Prosecutor’s Office hotline at 855-786-5878.
“Our democratic system of government depends on free and fair elections and, as such, election integrity and security is important to all of us,” said County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni and County Clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon. “For these reasons, our offices are working together to further safeguard the electoral process.”
Upcoming Dates and Voter Deadlines
Monday, October 12th: All County Offices closed in observance of Columbus Day
Tuesday, November 3rd at 8 p.m.: Close of the polls; Deadline to deliver mail-in ballot by U.S. Postal Service mail, Drop Box, or in-person to the County Board of Elections at 300 Halls Mill Road in Freehold or at assigned Polling Place.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone announced today that a former Long Branch police officer was sentenced today to county jail as part of his sentence for striking and killing a pedestrian on September 22, 2017.
Jake Pascucci, 31, of Long Branch was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Michael A. Toto to 8 months in the county jail.
Pascucci was originally sentenced on June 28, 2018 to serve 364 days in the county jail as a condition of 5-years of probation to be served upon his release. He was also sentenced to 30 days for driving while intoxicated which was to run concurrent to the county jail time. He forfeited his public employment with the Long Branch Police Department and lost his driving privilege for three months.
That sentence was imposed after Pascucci pleaded guilty on April 3, 2018 in accordance with an agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Keith Abrams, to strict liability vehicular homicide in the third degree and driving while intoxicated in the death of Karen Borkowski, 66 of Stanhope.
The June 28, 2018 sentence was appealed, and the Judge stayed the custodial portion of the sentencing pending that appeal. The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court remanded the case back to Superior Court for resentencing.
Jake Pascucci is due to surrender to the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department on Friday, September 25, 2020.
Pascucci was charged after an investigation by Detective Donald Heck of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office which determined that on September 22, 2017, the pedestrian was struck and killed by a car driven by the off-duty police officer as she attempted to cross Ocean Boulevard. Karen Borkowski was pronounced dead at the scene following the crash.
ALLENTOWN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–An Allentown resident told MidJersey.News that around 11 pm last night a delivery crew installed a Vote-By-Mail Drop Box in front of Allentown at Borough Hall on Main Street. There are currently 17 Vote-By-Mail Drop Box locations for Monmouth County, this is the furthest west serving Western Monmouth County.
Pursuant to State law, the November 3, 2020 General Election will be conducted primarily by Mail-In Ballot in New Jersey.
If you wish to place your Mail-In Ballot in a secure drop box, below are the locations throughout the County which will be available starting the week of September 15. Addresses in the list below are clickable and will bring up Google Maps.
Voters can drop their voted Mail-In Ballot into these Board of Elections Drop Boxes anywhere in the County up until 8 p.m. on November 3, 2020. You do not have to be a resident of the town where the drop box is located. Be advised that these drop boxes are under video surveillance and are monitored by the Monmouth County Board of Elections, which can be reached at 732-431-7802.
For more information about the General Election process, click here.
Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control Imposes Record-High $4 Million Penalties on Wholesalers Allied Beverage Group & Fedway Associates Following Two-Year Investigation into Their Misuse of Rebate Programs.
September 1, 2020
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (“ABC”) today announced that New Jersey’s two largest wine and spirits wholesalers will pay $4 million each to resolve findings that they engaged in discriminatory trade practices that unfairly favored their largest retail customers. In addition, twenty retailers statewide will pay a total of $2.3 million for their part in the unlawful scheme.
In separate Consent Orders with ABC, wholesalers Allied Beverage Group and Fedway Associates agreed to pay record-high monetary penalties and change their business practices to resolve trade violations uncovered during a sweeping two-year investigation by ABC’s Enforcement and Investigations Bureaus.
The investigation found that the wholesalers – which together account for approximately 70% of all wine and 80% of all spirits sold at wholesale in the State – unfairly favored 20 of the State’s largest wine and spirits retailers and put smaller retailers at a competitive disadvantage by manipulating the retailer incentive program (RIP), granting credit extensions and interest-free loans, and engaging in other discriminatory practices.
“Simply put, Allied Beverage Group and Fedway Associates rigged the market in favor of a handpicked group of powerful retailers, leaving smaller businesses struggling to compete. The unprecedented monetary penalties imposed reflect the egregiousness of this conduct and the widespread negative impact it had on New Jersey consumers and retailers,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “This settlement sends a clear message that we will not tolerate this manipulative and anticompetitive behavior.”
The RIPs provide cash rebates payed to retailers by wholesalers for purchasing certain quantities of alcoholic beverages. ABC regulations control the program by making RIPs available to all retailers on a non-discriminatory basis, by keeping the RIP payments to retailers relatively small, and by not allowing wholesalers to substitute RIPs for interest-free loans.
The investigation found that Allied Beverage Group and Fedway Associates were giving chosen retailers a financial advantage by issuing rebates more often and in greater amounts than allowed. They also failed to wait the required 30 days before issuing rebates, thus allowing those retailers to use that money to pay for the orders for which the rebates were issued, which is against ABC regulations. Retailers who do not pay for orders within 30 days are put on an industry-wide cash-only delivery status, so the early rebates ensured that the larger retailers would have a ready cash flow to pay for their orders on time, giving them an unfair edge over smaller retailers who had to use their own money to pay for their wine and spirits orders within the required 30-day window. The investigation also found that Allied Beverage Group and Fedway Associates falsified records related to RIPs and/or used undocumented gift cards to make cash payments to chosen retailers that were not accounted for.
“Retail incentives are a legitimate marketing tool as long they are above board and available equally to all retailers. Discriminatory practices like these foster instability in the market by harming smaller retailers,” said James Graziano, Acting Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. “If left unchecked, the ability of small retailers to remain in business may have been jeopardized and consumers would have less access to retail stores and the specialized product selections that they offer. We will continue to monitor industry practices to ensure an equal playing field in New Jersey’s alcoholic beverage retail industry and hold violators accountable for noncompliance.”
The monetary payments from Allied and Fedway are the largest in ABC’s history, and in addition, both entities each agreed to adopt a corrective action plan; employ a compliance monitor for two years; make upgrades to their computer systems; and facilitate the retirement, resignation and/or termination of certain employees.
The following retailers were charged with ABC violations that included accepting the delivery of alcoholic beverages from Allied and/or Fenway upon terms that violated ABC regulations; accepting a loan from a wholesaler to pay a wholesaler and/or avoid being placed on cash-on-delivery status; receiving a RIP before paying the invoice, receiving a RIP in excess of allowed maximum on a product. Each retailer entered a Consent Order with ABC to resolve the charges, with the following settlement terms:
$6 Million in CARES Act Funding to be Allocated to NJRA Small Business Lease – Emergency Assistance Grant Program
July 23, 2020
LONG BRANCH, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Governor Phil Murphy today announced a new relief program for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Small Business Lease – Emergency Assistance Grant Program (SBL-EAGP) will allow businesses in 64 eligible municipalities to apply for grants of up to $10,000 for lease costs. The program will assist small business owners impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also assists landlords, many of whom are also small businesses.
“We are committed to helping small businesses across our state survive this unprecedented crisis,” said Governor Murphy. “A stronger and fairer New Jersey starts from the bottom up. The Small Business Lease – Emergency Assistance Grant Program will infuse much needed funding into local economies by assisting both small businesses and the landlords that they rent from.”
“The Small Business Lease Emergency Grant Assistance Program is directly geared toward keeping the mom-and-pop shops on main streets and business centers afloat in this time of need, specifically in our most vulnerable communities in New Jersey,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs and Board Chair of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority. “Governor Murphy and I remain as committed as ever to supporting New Jersey’s small businesses and this new lease program will work hand-in-hand with other state assistance programs to help them emerge from this crisis stronger.”
“I am enormously proud to stand with Governor Murphy today to announce the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority Small Business Lease Emergency Assistance Grant Program. At NJRA, impact is and has always been our primary objective. And our number one priority is our state’s most vulnerable communities and neighborhoods. Not only do we invest in the communities that need it the most, but we’re there first in the areas that are often overlooked by traditional lenders. Right now New Jersey’s small and micro businesses, particularly those in economically challenged communities, are bearing the brunt of our nation’s health and economic crisis. These businesses deliver value and stability to our state, and yet, struggle to access capital. Today, we’re proud to be there with the Governor to offer these businesses both rental relief grants and support accessing them,” explained Leslie Anderson, President and CEO of the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority.
The SBL-EAGP, managed by the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority (NJRA), is the first component of a broader Main Street Commercial Corridors Relief Package to be paid for with federal CARES Act funding. Through the SBL-EAGP, small businesses located in NJRA’s 64 eligible municipalities that have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 will be able to apply for up to $10,000 to assist with lease payments. It will provide grants to:
Tenants leasing commercial space in mixed-use buildings
Tenants leasing space in commercial buildings
Tenants leasing space to operate a storefront business
The program will be targeted to businesses with 5,000 square feet of leased space or less, and is requiring standard debarment and legal qualifications from applying businesses. Applications will open August 10, 2020, online, and funds will be distributed on a first come first served basis. $6 million in federal CARES Act funding will be allocated for this program.
“Small business owners have been struggling to make ends meet throughout this pandemic—especially when it comes to fixed costs like rent and utilities,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “Without additional aid, thousands of these businesses will go under permanently. These commercial rental assistance grants will go a long way toward helping small businesses and Mom-and-Pop stores survive.”
“I’m grateful to the Governor for working to make these federal CARES Act funds available to our hard-working and struggling small businesses,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey. “We can’t afford to let any of these businesses—which together support hundreds of thousands of jobs and families across our state—be forgotten and left behind.”
“We need to make sure that our economic recovery focuses first on Main Street—on the small businesses that form the backbone of our economy,” said Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. “Many small stores, especially throughout the Jersey Shore, have desperately needed help in keeping the lights on. Now, with these commercial rental grants, many more will have the means to stay afloat.”
“We are very happy Governor Murphy chose Long Branch as the location to announce this new initiative,” said Long Branch Mayor John Pallone. “This is going to be a real boost for businesses here in Long Branch and through out the state.”
The NJRA Main Street Commercial Corridors Relief program is an excellent example of how the state and federal funding partnership is working together to help small businesses throughout NJ lead towards resilience,” said Jackeline Mejias-Fuertes, Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center at Brookdale CommunityCollege. “In addition, to giving small businesses a desperately needed “lifeline” that will not only keep businesses afloat but keep them alive.”
“COVID-19 has created multiple, compounding challenges for small business owners. Ensuring they are able to survive the current crisis and rebuild their businesses requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the many difficulties they are facing,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “We are proud to support the NJRA and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver’s insightful approach to helping business owners to stabilize their operations and navigate a path toward recovery. The SBL-EAGP program will relieve a major pain point for commercial tenants and landlords in impacted cities across the state.”