Category: Ocean County

2nd Alarm Fire Chadwick Beach Section Of Toms River

May 6, 2021

By: Ryan Mack, MidJersey.news Jersey Shore Bureau – Jersey Shore Fire Response

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Toms River Police Department stated that On Thursday, May 6, 2021 at approximately 9:25 AM, multiple police and fire units were dispatched to Tamiami Drive in Chadwick Beach for a house fire.  The homeowners were able to get out of the house safely, and there is nothing suspicious at this time.  The incident remains under investigation and a full release will be available upon completion.


Around 9:27 AM Ocean County toned out Stations 27,44,45,69 & 26 for RIT with the OC Fire Coordinators to a working structure fire on the East side of Toms River (Chadwick Beach). Station 44 (seaside heights) was first due they quickly upgraded the working fire assignment to a 2nd alarm. Upon arrival they made a recuse for one resident that was still inside the home along with Toms River Police Department. They quickly stretched a line from the ladder truck and got to work while they figured out a water supply. The second truck in was TRFD East Dover and crews got to work fast as the fire started to pick back up. After hooking the hydrant they started to knock the fire that was now well involved in the 2nd and 3rd floor. TRFD Stations 25,26,28 & 29 were also on scene to provide RIT and more manpower. After the bulk of the fire was knocked they ran the master streams for a bit. After 15 mins the fire was completely knocked and overhaul started. The fire is under investigation at this time by the Toms River Fire Bureau.



Photos and video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response follow their Youtube channel

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Lakewood Man Sentenced To 8 Years For Robbery

May 5, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on May 5, 2021, Elioenai Aguinaga, 32, of Lakewood, was sentenced by the Honorable Rochelle Gizinski, J.S.C., to eight years New Jersey State Prison as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Robbery in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(2). This sentence is subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, meaning that Aguinaga will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility. Aguinaga pled guilty to the charge before Judge Gizinski on January 27, 2021.

On March 26, 2020, Officers of the Lakewood Township Police Department were summoned to Taylor’s Pharmacy on Madison Avenue for a report of a robbery. Responding Officers learned that a male suspect had entered the pharmacy, brandished a semi-automatic handgun at the store clerk, and demanded money from the cash register. The suspect took approximately $130 and fled the pharmacy.

A subsequent investigation by the Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau ultimately determined that Aguinaga was, in fact, the individual who committed the robbery at Taylor’s Pharmacy on March 26th. On April 25, 2020, Aguinaga was arrested by Officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department. He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since the date of his apprehension.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Kaitlyn Burke who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the diligence and resolve exhibited by Officers of the Lakewood Township Police Department and Detective Bureau in their investigation of this matter which resulted in Aguinaga’s guilty plea, and ultimately the lengthy state prison sentence imposed today.


Toms River Couple Charged With Promoting Prostitution And Money Laundering

May 5, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on April 28, 2021, and April 29, 2021, Wayne Lefkowitz, 56, of Toms River, and Guihua Cui, 51, also of Toms River, were each charged with Promoting Prostitution in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1b(2), as well as and two counts of Money Laundering in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:21-25. Lefkowitz and Cui are a married couple.

A year-long investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit revealed that a business known as Spa 1800, located on Lakewood Road in Toms River, was owned and operated by Lefkowitz and Cui. Although the spa appeared to be operating as a legitimate business, individuals patronizing the spa were offered sexual favors in exchange for money. Additionally, the investigation revealed that Lefkowitz and Cui would deposit monetary proceeds from the spa into several different bank accounts in an attempt to avoid transaction reporting requirements under New Jersey state law.

On April 28, 2021, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Internal Affairs Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Squad, Toms River Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Toms River Township Police Department Patrol Division, and New Jersey State Police, executed court-authorized search warrants on Spa 1800 and Lefkowitz’s and Cui’s residence on McCormick Drive in Toms River. Detectives also executed court-authorized seizure orders on bank accounts held by Lefkowitz and Cui. Lefkowitz and Cui were each charged on summonses pending a future court date.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Internal Affairs Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Homeland Security/Intelligence Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Toms River Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Toms River Police Department Patrol Division, and New Jersey State Police, for their cooperative assistance in connection with this investigation.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Brick Township Man Sentenced To 2 Years Probation And 10 Days Community Service For Animal Cruelty

May 5, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on May 5, 2021, Quintin Alec-Manning, 22, of Brick Township, was sentenced by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., to a two-year term of probation as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Animal Cruelty in violation of N.J.S.A. 4:22-17c(1). Alec-Manning was also sentenced to perform ten days of community service, and is prohibited from owning or working with animals during the term of his probation. The State argued for Alec-Manning to serve 90 days in the Ocean County Jail as a condition of probation. Alec-Manning pled guilty to the charge before Judge Ryan on March 15, 2021.

On May 29, 2019, Officers from the Toms River Township Police Department were notified that a motor vehicle struck five geese in the parking lot of the Indian Head Plaza in Toms River, causing their death. A subsequent investigation by the Toms River Police Department identified Alec-Manning as the individual who purposely hit the geese with his motor vehicle. On May 30, 2019, Alec-Manning was arrested, charged, and released on a summons pending future court appearances.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Veni who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Toms River Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife, for their combined assistance in connection with this investigation, ultimately resulting in Alec-Manning’s guilty plea and today’s sentence.


Toms River Man Charged With Terroristic Threats

May 4, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on May 3, 2021, David Giordano, 36, of Toms River, was charged with Terroristic Threats in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3a, and False Public Alarm in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-3c. These charges are typically crimes of the third degree, but have been elevated to crimes of the second degree because they were committed during a declared State of Emergency.

“On April 12, 2021, three videos were uploaded to a public YouTube Channel entitled ‘Toms River Police are the Best.’ These videos included images of Giordano, news coverage Giordano’s previous arrest in connection with painting a blue line on Hooper Avenue, images of the Ocean County Justice Complex as well as Toms River Township Town Hall – followed by a video of a homemade bulldozer destroying public buildings in Granby, Colorado in 2004. The videos also included graphics stating the person posting the video would turn Toms River Township Town Hall and the Ocean County Justice Complex “upside down.” An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit determined that Giordano produced and posted the videos to the YouTube Channel,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

On May 3, 2021, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Berkeley Township Police Department executed court-authorized search warrants on two residences – one in Toms River and the other in Berkeley Township – where Giordano is known to reside. As a result, Detectives recovered and seized several items containing digital evidence. A motor vehicle stop was subsequently performed by Toms River Township Police Officers on a vehicle operated by Giordano. Giordano was arrested and taken into custody without incident. Giordano was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he is currently lodged pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Berkeley Township Police Department, for their cooperative efforts in connection with this investigation and subsequent arrest of Giordano.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Seaside Heights Man Charged With Murder

May 4, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on May 1, 2021, Gerardo Ruiz, 50, of Seaside Heights, was charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), relative to the death of Alecia Perreault, age 29, of Seaside Heights, that occurred in the early morning hours of May 1, 2021, in Seaside Heights.

On May 1, 2021, at approximately 7:30 a.m., Seaside Heights Police received a telephone call from an individual claiming to have knowledge that Ruiz killed a female at the Offshore Motel in Seaside Heights. The caller further advised that Ruiz was staying at the Surfside Motel in Seaside Heights. Officers responded to a room at the Offshore Motel, where they located the body of Ms. Perreault with apparent wounds to her neck; Ms. Perreault was pronounced deceased at the scene. Officers subsequently responded to Ruiz’s room at the Surfside Motel, and discovered that he had experienced an apparent drug overdose. Ruiz is currently in the protective custody of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office at a medical facility. Ruiz is currently listed in serious but stable condition.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office and Seaside Heights Police Department Detective Bureau determined that Ruiz is the individual responsible for Ms. Perreault’s death. “The Ocean County Medical Examiner has preliminarily determined this to be a homicide but the cause and manner are currently pending further testing,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vitim Witness Advocacy Unit, Seaside Heights Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their cooperative assistance in connection with this investigation.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Defendant Charged With 2 Counts of Attempted Murder On Lakewood Police Officers To Remain Detained Pending Trial

April 30, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on April 30, 2021, the Honorable Wendel E. Daniels, P.J.Cr.P., ordered that Stanley Williams, 25, of Lakewood, shall remain detained in the Ocean County Jail pending trial on two counts of Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), relative to an incident that occurred in Lakewood Township during the evening hours of April 17, 2021, into the early morning hours of April 18, 2021. Williams has also been charged with Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(5)(a); Possession of a Weapon, specifically a knife, for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and Possession of a Weapon, specifically a BB gun, for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1).

On April 17, 2021, at approximately 7:00 p.m., Lakewood Township Police Officers responded to a residence on Lisa Robyn Circle relative to an alleged disturbance. As responding Officers were attempting to make contact with Williams at the residence, he allegedly attacked the Officers with a knife, wounding both Officers about the head and face. Williams then allegedly barricaded himself in the residence. After all efforts to effectuate Williams’ peaceful surrender were exhausted, the Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team – with assistance from the Ocean County Regional SWAT team – made a tactical entry into the residence at approximately 2:30 a.m. on April 18, 2021. As Officers made entry into the residence, Williams allegedly discharged a BB gun in the Officers’ direction, striking one of the Officers. The Officers in question were treated for their injuries, which were determined to be non-life-threatening.

Williams was ultimately taken into custody, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his arrest on April 18, 2021. The detention hearing was handled by Assistant Prosecutor Victoria Esler.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team, and the Ocean County Regional SWAT Team, for the outstanding professionalism and restraint they collectively exhibited in conducting this investigation and taking Williams into custody.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


Related MidJersey.news coverage here:

Lakewood Barricaded Man That Reportedly Attacked And Injured 2 Police Officers In Custody

UPDATE: Barricaded Man Charged With Attempted Murder On 2 Police Officers And Other Offences In 8 Hour Lakewood Standoff Last Night


Photos and video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response



Lakewood Overturned With Entrapment Sends 2 To Hospital

April 30, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–A two vehicle accident around 2:22 pm at the intersection of Oak Street and New Hampshire Avenue left a vehicle overturned and a patient who needed to be extricated. Lakewood First Aid Squad, Hatzolah, and Lakewood Fire Department all responded to the scene. Lakewood FD set up fire suppression while the first aid squad did the extrication. Hatzolah and Lakewood First Aid transported the two patients to Ocean Medical Center in Brick.


Photo credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop

Lacey Twp. Man Charged With Strict Liability Death After Selling Victim Heroin And Cocaine

April 30, 2021

LACEY TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Toms River Township Police Chief Mitchell Little announced that on April 29, 2021, Jehmar Barrett, 34, of Lacey Township, was charged with Strict Liability Drug Induced Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9a, relative to the death of a 35-year-old female in Toms River on November 24, 2020.

On November 24, 2020, Toms River Police Officers responded to a residence on Alabama Avenue for a report of an unresponsive female. Upon arrival, Officers discovered the body of the victim, who was already deceased from an apparent drug overdose.

A subsequent investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and Toms River Police Department Detective Bureau determined that Barrett allegedly sold the victim Heroin and Cocaine on November 23, 2020. Barrett was initially charged on November 24, 2020 with Distribution of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Distribution of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Conspiracy to Distribute Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Possession of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); and Eluding in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2b.

Further investigation and toxicology analysis recently received by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed the presence of Fentanyl in the victim’s system. It was determined through laboratory analysis that the controlled dangerous substance allegedly sold to the victim by Barrett – initially believed to be Heroin – was, in fact, Fentanyl, matching the Fentanyl found in the victim’s system. Based upon the toxicology analysis, the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office opined that the Fentanyl found in the victim’s system was the cause of her death. As a consequence, Barrett was charged with Strict Liability Induced Death on April 29, 2021. This morning, Barrett surrendered himself to the Toms River Police Department. He was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he remains lodged pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Little commend the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Toms River Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Toms River Township Police Department Patrol Division, Berkeley Township Police Department, Lacey Township Police Department, Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Lakewood, NJ Man Found Dead After Pursuit In Saratoga County, NY

April 29, 2021

SARATOGA, NY — On April 28, 2021 the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office became aware of a suspicious vehicle complaint being handled by the U.S. Park Rangers at the Saratoga Battlefield in the Town of Stillwater. The vehicle reportedly struck barriers at the park entrance and subsequently fled from the Rangers. The vehicle continued north on NY State Route 32 after which the Rangers lost sight of it.

While checking the area for the vehicle, the Stillwater Police Department located it traveling southbound on NY State Route 4. The vehicle continued to flee from police and proceeded south though the Village of Stillwater before reaching the City of Mechanicville where it passed though and continued westbound on NY State Route 67.

The vehicle ultimately reached U.S. Route 9 where it turned south and struck signs in the roundabout at Routes 9 and 67. It proceeded south on Route 9 when it crossed over to the northbound lane and struck a guardrail on the east side of the roadway near Goldfoot Road in the Town of Malta and came to a stop. The operator was found deceased inside the vehicle.

The operator of the vehicle that fled from police was identified as Robert A. Sanders (age 48) of Lakewood, NJ Mr. Sanders was operating a silver 2008 Toyota Tundra with NJ registration H50JUZ. The vehicle had a large brown tool box in the bed.

The Sherriff’s Office is requesting anyone who might have encountered Mr. Sanders recently to contact the Sherriff’s Office at (518) 885-6761

Other police agencies involve were: U.S. Park Rangers, NY State Police, Mechanicville Police Department, Stillwater Police Department, and the New York Attorney General’s Office. The NY State DOT, Saratoga County OES, Round Lake Fire and Malta EMS also responded to the scene.



AG Grewal Announces 14 Grants Totaling $233,000 to Expand Summer Programs for At-Risk Youth


Those in the MidJersey.news coverage area to receive grants:

  • Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth, Monmouth County ($19,650) will expand an eight-week summer program that provides activities and services, including mentoring, sports and recreation programs; access to computer knowledge; service and leadership clubs to an additional 25 students in Asbury Park, Neptune, and Long Branch.
  • Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) of Mercer County ($8,588) will expand its program to serve an additional 150 participants and provide additional recreational and educational summer camp experiences to young people. Collaborating with La’Keisha Sutton & Her Fan Favorite, LLC, the program will provide a six-week basketball clinic including skills, drills, and games, as well as discussions on healthy nutrition, education, faith, character, decision making, and leadership.
  • Community Action Services (Rise), Mercer County ($20,000) will develop a five-day Teen Youth Conference to take place at a university or virtually, as required by CDC guidelines. Rise will serve an additional 12 young people in a variety of workshops to facilitate positive behavior, to deliver information on post high school options and alternatives, and to provide information on peer voluntarism.
  • Jackson Township School District, Ocean County ($18,204) will expand its summer learning to approximately 50 additional students for 15 half-days to recover core math and literacy skills through a STEM initiative that integrates social-emotional wellness activities. The expansion funds will also be used to purchase additional LEGO Mindstorms robots needed to successfully implement the program.
  • Prevention Education, Inc. (PEI), Mercer County ($19,993) will increase the number of participants served through its Summer Initiative/Juvenile Intense Supervision (JIS) programming for first-time youthful offenders, young people on probation, and at-risk youth in Mercer County. An additional 19 new young people will participate in the summer program which will include a new program module, “Connecting with Community,” that focuses on promoting understanding and building community.
  • Trenton Circus Squad, Mercer County ($20,000) will expand its summer traveling residences to provide additional services to Trenton youth including overnight accommodations at a university, as allowed under COVID-19 guidelines, college/career exploration, and access to a life/career coach.
  • Trenton Music Makers, Mercer County ($19,907) will expand its program by engaging an additional 50 students. In addition, working with the Capital Area YMCA, Trenton Music Makers will use the grant funding to add an outdoor tented area where students can engage in their music study, and to add a hip-hop production and a choir to augment the existing conducting and percussion classes.\
  • Trenton Police Department (TPD), Mercer County ($7,446) will expand its current Summer Camp Program to an additional 15 participants and integrate a police exploration, communication, and relations component. In addition, TPD will expand its programming into schools and enhance partnerships with parent/teacher programs.


April 29, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced that the Juvenile Justice Commission (“JJC”), in conjunction with the Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (“JJDP”) Committee, has awarded 14 grants totaling $233,000 to police departments, schools, and non-profit organizations across the State to expand summer programs for at-risk youth.

The grants provide organizations already running successful summer programs for at-risk youth with up to $20,000 in additional funding each to enhance their programs and/or increase the number of young people they serve. An additional 600 at-risk youth throughout New Jersey will be able to participate in an array of recreational, educational, and character-building activities being offered in their communities this summer as a result of these grants.

“New Jersey is committed to making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth and preventing their involvement in the youth justice system,” said Attorney General Grewal. “The JJC and JJDP Committee have worked together to expand access to programs in communities to provide youth with activities and learning experiences that foster important life skills, and help them retain vital educational progress and connections to services while school is not in session.”

Funding for the grants comes from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention’s Formula Grants Program, which supports state and local delinquency prevention and intervention efforts and juvenile justice system improvements. The funds can be used to provide job training, mental health and substance abuse treatment, community-based programs and services, reentry/aftercare services, and school programs to prevent truancy.

“At the foundation of New Jersey’s youth justice reform efforts is the understanding that youth can succeed in their communities with appropriate resources. Through these grants, the Juvenile Justice Commission, in partnership with the JJDP Committee, is enhancing a system that provides the tools and skills necessary for young people to navigate challenges, recognize their potential, and successfully prevent their involvement in the juvenile justice system,” said Jennifer LeBaron, Ph.D, Acting Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission. “Our partners in the community are delivering thoughtful, exciting, and valuable summer experiences for youth that not only provide benefits during the summer months, but will provide young people with skills and experiences that will have lifelong significance.”

Based on the philosophy that communities have a unique understanding of their local youth populations, the JJC administers millions of dollars in state and federal grants that encourage the development and enhancement of a continuum of community-based services for at-risk, court-involved, and delinquent youth. The JJDP Committee is responsible for setting funding priorities for the federal funds awarded through the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency prevention that support state- and local-level initiatives, community-based programs, and system reform efforts.

“The JJDP Committee is proud to provide resources to help existing successful programs expand their reach, both in terms of the number of youth who can participate, and the services and opportunities available to them,” said the Honorable F. Lee Forrester, Chairman of the JJDP Committee and a retired New Jersey Superior Court judge. “These efforts support community-based programs and system reforms that prevent or reduce delinquency and improve the lives of youth and families in New Jersey.”

In addition to meeting other requirements for funding, grant recipients have demonstrated the capacity to host summer programs virtually, if necessary, or to provide programming to account for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
 

The following programs will receive funding:

  • Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth, Monmouth County ($19,650) will expand an eight-week summer program that provides activities and services, including mentoring, sports and recreation programs; access to computer knowledge; service and leadership clubs to an additional 25 students in Asbury Park, Neptune, and Long Branch.
  • The Camp Horizon Summer Learning Program, Gloucester County ($20,000) will allow 25 additional school-aged children to participate in a summer-long program that provides enrichment and physical activities. The program, in partnership with the Bullock Garden Project, will include an outdoor education and walking classroom to deliver a curriculum focusing on gardening, birding, botany, and climate.
  • Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) of Mercer County ($8,588) will expand its program to serve an additional 150 participants and provide additional recreational and educational summer camp experiences to young people. Collaborating with La’Keisha Sutton & Her Fan Favorite, LLC, the program will provide a six-week basketball clinic including skills, drills, and games, as well as discussions on healthy nutrition, education, faith, character, decision making, and leadership.
  • The Center for Prevention & Education, Sussex County ($20,000) will increase the total number of 7th graders participating in its summer program from 40 to 50 participants. The program will also be enhanced by creating a Youth Task Force that will design, create, and deliver a local leadership conference.
  • Community Action Services (Rise), Mercer County ($20,000) will develop a five-day Teen Youth Conference to take place at a university or virtually, as required by CDC guidelines. Rise will serve an additional 12 young people in a variety of workshops to facilitate positive behavior, to deliver information on post high school options and alternatives, and to provide information on peer voluntarism.
  • The Hackensack Police Department, Bergen County ($19,501) will expand its annual Police Youth Academy (PYA) to include 35 additional participants. The program fosters a positive relationship between local youth and police. Instructors include local police officers, firefighters, and volunteers from Hackensack and the surrounding towns.
  • Jackson Township School District, Ocean County ($18,204) will expand its summer learning to approximately 50 additional students for 15 half-days to recover core math and literacy skills through a STEM initiative that integrates social-emotional wellness activities. The expansion funds will also be used to purchase additional LEGO Mindstorms robots needed to successfully implement the program.
  • The Joseph Firth Youth Center, Warren County ($7,483) will serve an additional 40 participants, with a focus on middle school youth (grades 6th-8th), and include four additional programming hours per week during the 10-week summer program. The Center collaborates with youth sports organizations to deliver the SPORT-Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) curriculum, combining physical activity and sports with healthy-living components, including diet, sleep, and stress control. It also incorporates content on the negative impacts of alcohol and drugs.
  • New Community Corporation, Essex County ($20,000) will expand its summer program that delivers hands-on STEM experiments, photography, music appreciation, Zumba, and art and crafts to allow 25 additional young people to participate. The length of the program will also be increased from six weeks to eight weeks, and three new components will be offered including digital music recording, robotics with emphasis on computer coding, and drama.
  • Prevention Education, Inc. (PEI), Mercer County ($19,993) will increase the number of participants served through its Summer Initiative/Juvenile Intense Supervision (JIS) programming for first-time youthful offenders, young people on probation, and at-risk youth in Mercer County. An additional 19 new young people will participate in the summer program which will include a new program module, “Connecting with Community,” that focuses on promoting understanding and building community.
  • Roselle Board of Education, Union County ($12,815) will use the funds to add two guidance counselors to its summer program staff, enabling the program to serve an additional 150 participants, bringing the total served to 500. The counselors will work with students through a combination of classroom, small groups, and one-on-one activities.
  • Trenton Circus Squad, Mercer County ($20,000) will expand its summer traveling residences to provide additional services to Trenton youth including overnight accommodations at a university, as allowed under COVID-19 guidelines, college/career exploration, and access to a life/career coach.
  • Trenton Music Makers, Mercer County ($19,907) will expand its program by engaging an additional 50 students. In addition, working with the Capital Area YMCA, Trenton Music Makers will use the grant funding to add an outdoor tented area where students can engage in their music study, and to add a hip-hop production and a choir to augment the existing conducting and percussion classes.\
  • Trenton Police Department (TPD), Mercer County ($7,446) will expand its current Summer Camp Program to an additional 15 participants and integrate a police exploration, communication, and relations component. In addition, TPD will expand its programming into schools and enhance partnerships with parent/teacher programs.

***

The JJC was established in 1995 to serve as the single agency of the State government with centralized authority for planning, policy development, and provision of services in the juvenile justice system. The JJC is committed to implementing and promoting policies and practices that improve outcomes for young people involved with the juvenile justice system, their families, and their communities.

The JJC’s three primary responsibilities are providing care, custody, and rehabilitative services to youth committed to the agency by the courts, supervising and coordinating services for youth released from custody on parole, and supporting local efforts to provide prevention and early intervention services to at-risk and court-involved youth.


Seaside Park Man Charged With Failure To Register As A Sex Offender

April 28, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on April 27, 2021, Thomas Lockhart, 61, of Seaside Park, was arrested and charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:7-2d(1), also known as Megan’s Law.

An investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Megan’s Law Unit and Seaside Park Police Department revealed that Lockhart – a previously convicted sex offender – had been living at the Desert Palm Motel in Seaside Park, and then allegedly moved without registering or notifying the appropriate local law enforcement agencies. On April 19, 2021, a warrant was issued for Lockhart’s arrest. As a result, on April 27, 2021, Officers of the Manchester Township Police Department performed a motor vehicle stop on a vehicle being operated by Lockhart. Lockhart was taken into custody without incident, and transported to the Ocean County Jail where he remains lodged pending a detention hearing.

“Since 1994, Megan’s Law requires certain sex offenders to register with their local police departments whenever they move and/or change their residential address. Failure to comply with this obligation is a third degree crime,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, working in conjunction with our local police departments, will be vigilant in making sure that individuals required to register under Megan’s Law are in compliance with their obligations,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Anyone in possession of information concerning this case, or others allegedly violating Megan’s Law requirements, are encouraged to contact Sergeant John Argento of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 929 2027, extension 2903. The information may be provided anonymously. For further information, please visit the State Police Sex Offender Internet Registry at http://www.njsp.org/sex-offender-registry/index.shtml.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Megan’s Law Unit, Seaside Park Police Department, and Manchester Township Police Department, for their cooperative assistance in connection with this investigation.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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AG Grewal Announces Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Jackson Township for Using Zoning Powers to Exclude and Discriminate Against Orthodox Jews

April 27, 2021

JACKSON, NJ (OCEAN)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today that the State has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Jackson Township alleging that Township authorities violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination by using their zoning powers to make it harder for Orthodox Jews to practice their religion and to deter them from moving there.

The State’s complaint alleges the Jackson’s adoption of discriminatory zoning ordinances and enforcement practices was motivated in part by officials’ desire to appease Township residents who reacted to the Township’s growing Orthodox Jewish population by expressing hate and fear on social media, in complaints to Township officials, and in public meetings.

“We’ve filed this lawsuit because bias and hate have no home in New Jersey, and we will not allow some vocal residents’ intolerance to drive local government decisions,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Like all public servants, municipal officials have a duty to uphold the law, not weaponize it against specific groups because of what they believe or how they worship. Today’s lawsuit should send that message to anyone in New Jersey who needs to hear it.”   

Filed on behalf of Attorney General Grewal and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) in state Superior Court in Ocean County, the four-count complaint names as defendants Jackson Township, the Jackson Township Council, the Jackson Township Zoning Board of Adjustment, the Jackson Township Planning Board, and Mayor Michael Reina in his official capacity.

Jackson Township borders Lakewood, a municipality that has more than 50,000 Orthodox Jewish residents and that is home to the second largest yeshiva—a type of Orthodox Jewish religious school—in the world. 

According to the State’s complaint, starting around 2015, a vocal group of Jackson residents began complaining to local officials about an influx of Orthodox Jews into Jackson Township. Some residents have amplified their views in hateful social media posts, which have included statements like “we need to get rid of them like Hitler did” and “filthy f’ing cockroaches.”

The complaint alleges that some Jackson officials sympathized with residents’ anger and fear that Jackson was “becoming a subdivision of Lakewood.”

In response, officials devised plans to create and enforce rules that would stymie the religious observances of Orthodox Jews in Jackson and, as one former Zoning Board member said in a Facebook post, quell “the tsunami of orthodoxy that is mounting at the border.”

Through ordinances and enforcement actions, the complaint alleges, Jackson Township exploited its power to regulate land use and housing to disrupt vital aspects of Orthodox Jewish life in Jackson and to interfere with the ability of observant Orthodox Jews to live there.

“This lawsuit shows that the Attorney General and the Division on Civil Rights stand ready to address discrimination in all its forms, whenever and wherever it occurs throughout the state,” said Aaron Scherzer, Chief of Strategic Initiatives and Enforcement at the Division on Civil Rights. “We will not allow municipalities to discriminate against residents because of their religious beliefs or to take actions based on residents’ intolerance. Instead, as we confront a rising tide of bias across the state and around the country, we need our local leaders to set an example for how to address intolerance and persistent othering.”

The State’s complaint highlights four strategies deployed by Jackson Township to target aspects of Orthodox Jewish religious practice.

First, Township officials allegedly engaged in targeted and discriminatory surveillance of the homes of Orthodox Jews suspected of hosting communal prayer gatherings. Jackson’s zoning code requires permits for places of worship, but there are constitutional limits on municipalities’ ability to use their zoning authority to restrict the free exercise of religion, and government officials cannot discriminate on the basis of religion.

The State’s complaint alleges that Jackson Township dedicated significant resources to monitoring the homes of Orthodox Jews, at the direction of Mayor Reina and others, even after officials warned that taxpayer funds and government resources were being wasted and that officials were not finding significant code violations. Mayor Reina allegedly has stated that, if these were churches instead of Orthodox Jewish places of worship, he would “absolutely not” be fighting them in the same manner.

Second, the complaint alleges that Jackson Township officials engaged in discriminatory application of land use laws to inhibit the erection of sukkahs by the Township’s Jewish residents, particularly in their front yards. Sukkahs are temporary open-air structures constructed to mark Sukkot, a weeklong Jewish holiday celebrating the fall harvest.

According to the complaint, after residents began to question and complain about the appearance of sukkahs, Jackson Township officials modified their interpretation of a local ordinance to effectively prohibit sukkahs in front yards. The complaint alleges that the Township’s new enforcement policy discriminated against Jewish residents.

Third, Jackson officials allegedly discriminated against Orthodox Jews by enacting zoning ordinances in 2017 that essentially banned the establishment of yeshivas and dormitories, where yeshiva students typically reside so as to avoid the distractions of secular life. According to the complaint, as Jackson officials were considering whether to effectively prohibit religious schools, a former member of the Zoning Board warned Mayor Reina that “Jackson will be sued and it will cost the taxpayers dearly to defend the ordinance, potentially millions.”

Fourth, the complaint alleges that Jackson discriminated against Orthodox Jews by enacting a 2017 zoning ordinance that targeted and effectively banned the creation of eruvim – symbolic, boundary-defined areas in which observant Orthodox Jews are permitted to engage in certain activities otherwise prohibited on the Sabbath (Friday evening to Saturday evening) and during the holiday of Yom Kippur. The boundaries of an eruv are often marked by affixing plastic strips known as “lechis” to utility poles.

The State’s complaint alleges that each of these policies and enforcement actions reflects Jackson Township officials’ acquiescence to – and often solidarity with – anti-Orthodox-Jewish bias voiced by certain residents about Orthodox Jews including that they “refuse to assimilate” and that they will “destroy our neighborhoods.”

Among the places where residents have voiced such animus is the Facebook page for a group called Rise Up Ocean County. DCR called on Facebook to monitor the page in April 2019 after receiving reports of its antisemitic content. Facebook eventually removed the page from its platform in early 2020 for violating the company’s community standards for hate speech.

One of the State’s four claims—involving the allegedly discriminatory enactment of ordinances barring yeshivas and their dormitories—overlaps with allegations in a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against Jackson Township in May 2020. The federal lawsuit alleges that the Township passed the ordinances, and the planning board has applied those ordinances, in a manner that discriminated against the Orthodox Jewish community, in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 and the Fair Housing Act.

The State’s complaint asks the court to find that each of the challenged zoning practices violates the Law Against Discrimination, to issue an order prohibiting Jackson Township’s discrimination against the Orthodox Jewish community, and to impose civil penalties, among other relief.

The Jackson Township lawsuit is the second lawsuit filed against a New Jersey municipality by the State in recent years to stop discriminatory zoning practices targeting Orthodox Jews. In 2017, the State sued Mahwah Township after it adopted two allegedly discriminatory ordinances  one banning non-residents from using Mahwah’s public parks, the other banning the posting of “lechis” on utility poles located within the municipality. The Mahwah lawsuit was resolved through a settlement agreement in 2018.

Assistant Attorney General Mayur P. Saxena, and Deputy Attorneys General Renee Greenberg, Joanna R. Loomis, Micauri Vargas, and Eve Weissman, of the Affirmative Civil Rights & Labor Enforcement Section of the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, are handling the Jackson Township lawsuit on behalf of the State.

To file a discrimination complaint with DCR visit https://bias.njcivilrights.gov/ or call 1-833-NJDCR4U (833-653-2748).

Click to access Jackson-Complaint-Final-4.27.21.pdf


Hundreds Welcome Home Firefighter Who Was Hospitalized From Intentionally Set Fire In Lakewood On March 14, 2021

April 23, 2021

BRICK – LAKEWOOD – TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Brian Sauers who is a State of NJ Forrest Fire Service fire fighter, a volunteer member of East Dover Fire Company and municipal engineer for Lakewood was released from the hospital today. He was injured on March 14, 2021 at a fire that was determined to be intentionally set. Sauers was working the fire in back of the Lowe’s store on the Brick/Lakewood border when he had a medical emergency and has been hospitalized since.

Hundreds lined the sidewalk as he left the hospital and was escorted to a NJ Forrest Fire Service vehicle for a ride home. A motorcade of fire and other vehicles proceeded from the hospital to his home.


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


See more at the Lakewood Scoop

Video credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop


Video credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop

Related MidJersey.news story: BREAKING: Investigation reveals Lakewood wildfire was intentionally set, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office says


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


Ground Breaking on Final Phase of Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project

April 23, 2021

SHIP BOTTOM, NJ (OCEAN)–Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Ship Bottom Mayor William Huelsenbeck, and Stafford Township Mayor Gregory Myhre today marked the beginning of the final phase of the award-winning Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project.

“Today, work on the final aspect of the long-term rebuild and rehabilitation of the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge will get underway in earnest,” said Governor Murphy. “With new lanes that will be constructed at-grade and drainage and other improvements that will be made underground, the entirety of this project is part-and-parcel of our overall goal of ensuring the safe, modern, and resilient infrastructure that our state needs.” 

“The Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project is an excellent example of how the Murphy Administration and the New Jersey Department of Transportation deliver projects that improve safety and improve the quality of life in our communities,” NJDOT Commissioner Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. “Today we are marking the beginning of the final contract of this project, but our commitment to this community will continue long after the asphalt is cured and the crews go home.”

“This project was introduced in 1993 and proposed by the Department of Transportation in 2007,” said Ship Bottom Mayor William Huelsenbeck. “It has now become a reality and Ship Bottom, ‘The Gateway of Long Beach Island,’ couldn’t be happier.” 

“We appreciate the improvements that the NJDOT has made in Stafford Township over the past several years and we look forward to continuing our mutually beneficial relationship,” said Stafford Township Mayor Gregory Myhre.

“Throughout the past year, we have been reminded of the importance of working together. As we recover and move forward, working together will be paramount to our success,” said Dave Velazquez, President and CEO of Pepco Holdings, which includes Atlantic City Electric. “Today, we are recognizing an incredibly important project that demonstrates how collaboration between the public and private sectors can help us efficiently upgrade New Jersey’s infrastructure, making it more accessible, stronger and resilient in the face of a changing climate and more extreme weather.”

This final construction contract for the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project is designed to improve safety and reduce congestion in Stafford Township at the Marsha Drive/Route 72 intersection and in Ship Bottom on Long Beach Island. In Stafford Township, Marsha Drive will be widened to provide double left turn lanes onto Route 72, and a third lane will be added on Route 72 in both directions near the intersection. 

In Ship Bottom, approximately 3,000 feet of Route 72 (locally known as 8th and 9th Streets) and three cross roads (Barnegat Avenue, Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard) will be widened. Two-way traffic will be restored along Central Avenue and Long Beach Boulevard. Five traffic signals will be reconstructed, and a new traffic signal will be installed at the intersection of 8th Street and Long Beach Boulevard. In addition, a new storm drainage system and new outfalls will be installed in an effort to reduce frequent flooding along Route 72 and these intersections. 

The $312 million Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges Project was broken up into five contracts and involved the construction of a new bridge parallel to the existing Manahawkin Bay Bridge, the rehabilitation of the existing bridge, and the rehabilitation of three trestle bridges. There have been improvements made to bicycle and pedestrian facilities, as well as environmental mitigation.  Construction began in 2013 and is expected to be complete in 2022.  

The new bridge carries eastbound traffic, while the rehabilitated Old Causeway Bridge carries the westbound traffic. Environmental mitigation and improvements to Cedar Bonnet Island were completed including wetland creation, mitigation for freshwater wetlands, and a public walking trail.

The project has been recognized by the Federal Highway Association and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials for environmental excellence and for improving the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. 

For more information about the Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridges project, visit NJDOT’s project-specific website





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OUT OF GAS: Trenton Man In Custody After Armed Carjacking In Morrisville, PA, Ends In Robbinsville, NJ

April 23, 2021 — Updated

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Trenton Police Department Detective Captain Peter Weremijenko told MidJersey.news that on Thursday April 22, 2021 around 10:08 pm Trenton Police Offices Olix Heredia and Marvin Hebert were on patrol in the area of West End Avenue when they saw a 2019 Jeep Compass, bearing a Pennsylvania license plate, driving in the area.  The officers were aware that the vehicle was reported as carjacked at gunpoint earlier in the evening in Morrisville PA.  The officers attempted to stop the vehicle when the driver of the Jeep accelerated and drove away.  Officers Heredia and Hebert continued to pursue the carjacked Jeep through the City of Trenton, onto Rt 195, then onto Rt 130.  The pursuit ended when the Jeep ran out of gas on Rt 130 south in Robbinsville.  The New Jersey State Police and Robbinsville Police Department assisted the Trenton Police Department to bring this incident to a peaceful conclusion. 

 Taken into custody and charged was:

Christopher R. Hersey, 30-year-old male from General Greene Ave. in Trenton

  • Eluding (2nd degree) 2C:29-2b
  • Several motor vehicle violations

New Jersey State Police Sgt. Philip Curry of the Public Information Unit told MidJersey.news that, on Thursday, April 22, at 10:15 p.m. Trenton Police Department notified the New Jersey State Police that they were engaged in a pursuit with a stolen vehicle that was heading out of Trenton. 

Troopers joined the pursuit as it continued on I-195 before the suspect vehicle exited the highway and traveled through multiple jurisdictions.  During the pursuit, the suspect vehicle struck two marked pursuing NJSP vehicles.

The pursuit concluded on US-130 south MP 65 in Robbinsville Township where the suspect, Christopher Hersey, 30, of Trenton, N.J.  was arrested.

Hersey was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, criminal mischief and was lodged at the Mercer County Jail.




Video of pursuit in Trenton by Waterfront Park-Arm and Hammer Stadium on Route 29 Video by MidJersey.news reader Jacqueline Leslie

See last night’s breaking news story here: Armed suspect leads multiple police agencies on high speed pursuit after carjacking in Trenton, ends in Robbinsville



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Truck Crashes Into Tree In Lakewood

April 23, 2021

By: Yossi Brander

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Around 12:30 am a truck took down a utility pole and wires before crashing into a tree on County Line Road and Route 9/Madison Ave. The driver was taken into custody for possible DWI. No further information about the crash is available.


Armed suspect leads multiple police agencies on high speed pursuit after carjacking in Trenton, ends in Robbinsville


UPDATE HERE: OUT OF GAS: Trenton Man In Custody After Armed Carjacking In Morrisville, PA, Ends In Robbinsville, NJ


April 23, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

BREAKING NEWS REPORT: This is a breaking news report from radio reports, on scene information, and sources. Once official information is available, the post will be updated.

TRENTON (MERCER)– A police pursuit involving multiple jurisdictions occurred late Thursday night following a carjacking of a Jeep Compass in Trenton.

Trenton Police called the pursuit around 10:00 pm, after a reported carjacking in the city. State Police joined the chase once the suspect vehicle got onto I-195. The vehicle continued to flee Eastbound on I-195 to Route 537 in Jackson, where he turned back around and went Westbound. The suspect exited I-195 into Hamilton, where he fled down Klockner Road and got onto Route 130. The pursuit continued on Route 130 Northbound to South Brunswick, where the suspect then turned around again, going South on Route 130. The suspect was reported to be armed with a gun. The vehicle reached speeds of 130 miles per hour while running red lights, and reportedly crashed into a few State Police troop cars during the pursuit.

The chase finally came to an end at about 11:03 pm in front of the A&M Market on Route 130 in Robbinsville. One male was taken into custody and transported to the hospital.

Vehicle drove though several towns including, Trenton, Hamilton Township, Robbinsville Township, Upper Freehold Township, Millstone Township, Jackson Township, East Windsor, Cranbury, South Brunswick, North Brunswick.

This is a developing story. Check back for more info.






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Governor Murphy Signs Legislation to Provide $10 Million to Support Food Banks in New Jersey

April 21, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Today, Governor Phil Murphy signed A5405, which will direct $10 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund established under the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. This funding will be distributed to seven New Jersey food banks in order to continue providing families with food assistance during the pandemic.   

“Our food banks have been a critical resource for thousands of families impacted by the pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “Today’s necessary funding will help organizations to continue supporting New Jerseyans to put food on the table for their families. I want to thank our Congressional Delegation for their commitment to secure this funding.”  

The funding will be distributed to the following organizations:  

  • Community Food Bank of New Jersey, $5,200,000;  
  • The Food Bank of South Jersey, $1,500,000;  
  • Fulfill Monmouth & Ocean, $1,500,000;  
  • Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, $1,100,000;  
  • Norwescap, $300,000;  
  • Southern Regional Food Distribution Center, $300,000; and  
  • Farmers Against Hunger, $100,000. 

“Food banks carry out a crucial and valuable role in serving the food insecure for all communities throughout New Jersey,” NJDA Secretary Douglas Fisher said. “This funding will help ensure access to meals and the necessary assistance for those who may find themselves in need of a helping hand during a time of stress.”  

“Food insecurity is a quiet crisis that has been made worse by the pandemic,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “The economic fallout has made it tragically hard for a growing number of families to put food on their tables. No one in America should be allowed to go hungry and no family should be forced to live with the fear of not knowing where the next meal is coming from. These food banks are a lifeline for those in need during a time of difficult challenges.”   

“Over 1.2 million people in this state now suffer from food insecurity, a staggering number that has increased substantially because of COVID-19,” said Senator Steven Oroho. “By lending a helping hand to large food banks, this law will help address the hunger crisis in New Jersey head-on.” 

“Far too many families are struggling to put food on the table right now because of the financial impact of COVID-19,” said Speaker Craig Coughlin, Assemblywoman Angela Speight, and Assemblyman John Armato, in a joint statement. “Throughout this crisis, food banks have been providing critical support to community members in need – ensuring no one who seeks their help goes home hungry. Allocating funds to New Jersey’s food banks will help these organizations continue their important mission of helping residents get through challenging times.”


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Hazmat Units Determine Suspicious Package Was Non Hazardous In Jackson

April 21, 2021

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JACKSON, NJ (OCEAN)–On Tuesday April 20, 2021 a township resident responded to police headquarters with what was reported to be a suspicious package containing a white powder substance. 

After the resident made contact with the watch commander and produced the package and powder, which was contained in a plastic grocery bag, the bag was immediately relocated outside headquarters and notification was made to the Cassville Fire Department, Berkeley and Joint Base MDL Hazmat Units to respond.  The headquarters lobby was closed off as a precaution until the substance could be identified.  After the package was inspected and tested, the substance was determined to be baking soda and not hazardous.  The area was opened again at that time.

The investigation into the origin of the package and why it is was sent to the resident is ongoing at this time.  Any residents who receive or come into contact with any packages or substances which they consider to be suspicious are asked to leave the package in place and contact the department at 732-928-1111.  As a safety precaution, they should not attempt to handle or transport the package.

Beachwood, NJ Man Admits To Running Illegal Lottery And False Tax Returns

April 20, 2021

An Ocean County, New Jersey man today admitted operating an illegal lottery and failing to pay more than $65,000 in federal taxes on his earnings from the scheme, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Edward O’Neill, 54, of Beachwood, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to an information charging him with one count of managing an illegal gambling business and one count of subscribing to a false tax return.

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

Between 2014 and 2019, O’Neill managed an illegal lottery in Hudson County that was based on the New Jersey Lottery Commission’s Pick Six. Participants in the illegal lottery paid a $20 entry fee and selected six numbers between 1 and 49. The first participant in the illegal lottery to have all six of their numbers selected in the official Pick Six drawing won a cash prize. For each drawing of the illegal lottery, O’Neill collected entry fees and participants’ numbers and entered the numbers into ledgers, which included identifying information for each participant and the numbers each participant had selected. O’Neill monitored the numbers selected in the official Pick Six and, when there was a winner of the illegal lottery, caused the winning participant to be paid in cash.

According to the ledgers, each drawing of the illegal lottery included up to 8,000 participants and the cash prize for each drawing often exceeded $100,000. In exchange for operating and managing the illegal lottery, O’Neill kept for himself 10 percent of the winnings from each drawing. O’Neill admitted that he failed to account for approximately $250,000 in cash winnings from the illegal lottery on tax returns he filed with the IRS between 2014 and 2018, causing him to underpay his federal incomes taxes by $65,674.

The gambling charge to which O’Neill pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, while the subscribing to a false federal income tax return count is punishable by up to three years in prison. Both charges carry a potential fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offenses, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 25, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, under the direction of Supervisory Special Agent Thomas Mahoney; special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez; and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Farrell of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Division.

21-142

Defense counsel: Jeffrey S. Chiesa Esq. and Brian P. O’Neill Esq., West Orange, New Jersey


Holzapfel, McGuckin & Catalano Legislation Would Prohibit Use of COVID-19 Vaccine Passports in NJ

Legislators Say People Shouldn’t Be Discriminated Against Based on Vaccination Status

The 10th Legislative District covers parts of Ocean County

April 19, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)--Senator Jim Holzapfel, Assemblyman Greg McGuckin, and Assemblyman John Catalano (all R-10) are taking action to prevent the use of COVID-19 vaccine passports in New Jersey that could lead to discrimination against people based on their vaccination status.

“We’re extremely concerned by Governor Murphy’s willingness to consider the use of vaccine passports that could prevent people from working, going to school, or visiting public places,” said Holzapfel. “In a free society that respects individual rights, we believe health decisions should be a personal, private choice that a patient doesn’t have to discuss with anyone but their doctor. Our new legislation would prevent vaccine passports from being employed here in New Jersey.”

So-called vaccine “passports” are physical or electronic documents or credentials that could be used to demonstrate that an individual has been immunized against COVID-19.

They could be used to prevent unvaccinated individuals from traveling, accessing public places or events, attending school, or even working.

“We don’t think our state government should threaten or allow for personal freedoms to be restricted based on vaccination status,” said McGuckin. “Requiring vaccine passports to engage in everyday activities would be discriminatory and raise a host of serious constitutional and privacy concerns. This fatally flawed idea needs to be nipped in the bud.”

Holzapfel will introduce legislation in the Senate that makes it unlawful to ask a person if they have received a COVID-19 vaccination or require a person to display proof of vaccination as a condition of or as a prerequisite to:

  • the exercise of any privilege or right granted under State or federal law;
  • conducting any business or commerce;
  • travelling to, outside, or within the State;
  • obtaining or maintaining an internship, obtaining or maintaining employment, or receiving a promotion from an employer;
  • participation in any governmental or political activity;
  • admission or enrollment into any child or adult day care program;
  • admission to, enrollment in, or graduation from a preschool program, elementary or secondary school, college, university, or any other institution of education;
  • participation in any activity, internship, opportunity, program, or sport offered by a preschool program, elementary or secondary school, college, university, or any other institution of education;
  • receiving adequate dental care or health care;
  • maintaining, receiving, or renewing a professional certification or license;
  • obtaining or renewing membership in any professional organization;
  • entrance into or service from any place of business, including, but not limited to, any market, restaurant, or store;
  • entrance into and service from any public building, office, or structure;
  • entrance into and use of any public park or beach; or
  • admission into or service from any amusement park, concert venue, theater, or sporting event.

Additionally, the legislation makes it unlawful to discriminate against or to take any adverse action against any individual who has not received a COVID-19 vaccine or who does not disclose whether the individual has received a COVID-19 vaccine.

McGuckin and Catalano will join as co-sponsors of identical companion legislation that is pending introduction in the General Assembly.

“After a year of watching Governor Murphy take extreme actions by executive orders, people don’t want their rights to be further eroded,” added Catalano. “Just like shutting down businesses and closing houses or worship, forcing people to show their documents to go out in public seems completely un-American. We have to fight back.”


Lakewood, NJ Man Pleaded Guilty To 1.5 Million Healthcare Fraud Against Blue Cross Blue Shield

April 19, 2021

An Ocean County, New Jersey, insurance producer today admitted filing false statements in connection with the delivery of $1.5 million in fraudulent claims by Blue Cross Blue Shield health care affiliates, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced today.

Jonas Knopf, 65, of Lakewood, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before Chief U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson to an information charging him with one count of making false statements related to a health care benefits program.

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

Starting in 2009, Knopf was chief executive officer of Madison Financial Services (MFS) in Lakewood and a licensed insurance producer – a person who is licensed to sell insurance products. MFS was the parent company of two sham companies created by Knopf and others solely for the purpose of marketing health insurance coverage to people who were not, in fact, his employees. These companies purported to be located and doing business in Pennsylvania and created the appearance of employment status for hundreds of individuals, largely Lakewood residents, who were seeking health care coverage through BCBS benefit plans. The fraud lasted until March 2013, when the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance caused Knopf to surrender his Pennsylvania insurance producer’s license and cease operation in the state.

Knopf used false personal information, including false addresses, dates of birth, marital status and employment functions, to give BCBS the impression that his clients were actually employees being paid for services rendered. In total, the scheme caused the health care insurers to pay out $1.5 million in fraudulent claims.

The count of making false statements relating to a health care benefit program carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or twice the gross loss from the offense, whichever is greater. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 19, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent In Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark; special agents of the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, New York Region, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Mikulka; and Investigators of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefit Security Administration, under the direction of Regional Director Darren Cohen, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Senior Litigation Counsel V. Grady O’Malley and Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Agnew of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.

21-139

Defense counsel: Michael Gilbert Esq., New York



Well Involved Garden Style Apartment Fire In Point Pleasant Beach Extinguished

April 18, 2021

By Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

POINT PLESANT, NJ (OCEAN)–Around 1:40 pm the Point Pleasant Beach Fire Department was dispatched for a smoke condition at the Point Beach Apartments next to the Ark Bar & Grill on Route 35.

Upon arrival the chief reported smoke coming from the 2nd floor of a garden style apartment building. The assignment was upgraded to a full first alarm sending additional fire units to the scene.

Fire quickly spread though the apartment and up into the roof area. Heavy fire was seen venting from windows until firefighters were able to force the door and put two hand lines in service to knock the fire down.

Firefighters searched for occupants but no one was home at the time of the fire. Point Pleasant Stations 40, 42 and squad 34 from Point Beach. Station 75 for the FAST TEAM. Along with squad 35.

The cause of the fire is unknown and currently under investigation. No further information is available at this time.


By Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


UPDATE: Barricaded Man Charged With Attempted Murder On 2 Police Officers And Other Offences In 8 Hour Lakewood Standoff Last Night

April 18, 2021

Official information from Lakewood Police Department:

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Last evening on April 17, 2021, at approximately 7:10pm Officers Joseph Rusk and Matthew McAvoy responded to Lisa Robyn Circle after receiving a report that a male and female were involved in a verbal altercation. Upon their initial arrival they did not find anyone in need of assistance. After multiple checks of the area, they were flagged down by 50 year old Kadiatu Sesay. Ms. Sesay told the officers that she and a friend were conversing in the living room of her Lisa Robyn Circle home when suddenly her 25 year old son, Stanley Williams came down from his upstairs bedroom and began acting erratically.

She then escorted Officers Rusk and McAvoy back to her home. Upon entering the home, Williams has already retreated to his bedroom. The Officers, as well as back up Officer Seehausen who was now on scene, ascended to the third floor where they identified themselves and as they knocked on the bedroom door they requested Williams to come out. According to the Officers, Williams swiftly opened the door and without notice, hesitation or warning began striking Officer McAvoy and Rusk about the face and head with what appeared to be a knife. He continued to advance towards them as they stood in the stairway. All three Officers sought cover but not before Officers Rusk and McAvoy sustained injuries to their face and head. At that time, the decision was made to exit the home to access their injury and seek treatment. 

As additional units arrived, the exterior of the home was secured as they awaited the arrival of the Lakewood Police Department Special Response Team and Crisis Negotiator Sgt. Peter Aakjer. Sgt. Aakjer was able to establish contact with Mr. Williams in an effort to convince him to surrender. However, despite the intense and extensive conversation, Williams would not comply. 

At approximately 2:30 am the Lakewood SRT, along with assistance from the Ocean County SWAT,  made entry into the home. As the team made their way through the home, they encountered Williams as he sat on the staircase, armed with what appeared to be a handgun. he immediately retreated to his room. Efforts were again made to have him surrender but all attempts were ignored. Once the tactical teams were in a safe position, Lt. Robert Shimonovich deployed pepper spray rounds through the third-floor bedroom window. A short time later, Mr. Williams emerged from his room, unarmed, and placed under arrest without incident. 

After he was taken into custody, Officers located an approximately 12″ smooth edge knife that was used to strike Officers Rusk and McAvoy, as well as they firearm he possessed on the staircase. Upon further inspection of the weapon, it was determined to be a realistic looking pellet gun. 

As a result, Stanley Williams was charged with Possession of a Firearm, Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Aggravated Assault on a Police Officer, and the Attempted Murder of two Police Officers. He was subsequently transported to the Ocean County Jail. 

The Lakewood Police Department would like to thank the Lakewood Emergency Medical Services, the staff at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, the Ocean County Prosecutors Office, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and the members of Chaverim who volunteered their time last evening. 


Previous MidJersey.News story here: Lakewood Barricaded Man That Reportedly Attacked And Injured 2 Police Officers In Custody


By Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

Lakewood Barricaded Man That Reportedly Attacked And Injured 2 Police Officers In Custody

UPDATE: Barricaded Man Charged With Attempted Murder On 2 Police Officers And Other Offences In 8 Hour Lakewood Standoff Last Night

April 18, 2021

By Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Early last night Lakewood Police Department responded to a mentally unstable man acting unstable. When police officers arrived the suspect allegedly attacked two police officers with a large machete type or similar knife. Two police officers were reportedly injured by the man before he barricaded himself in his apartment.

Several area SWAT teams assembled and arrived on scene. The man held a stand-off for 9 hours when police SWAT teams used pepper balls or other type chemical to help remove the disturbed barricaded man. The suspect was removed and placed in custody.

The two police officers that were cut and were transported to the hospital required stiches for their injures., The injured officers are reported to be in stable condition according to sources.

This is a breaking news report from on scene and witness reports. When we receive official information from the OCPO or Lakewood Police the story will be updated and any corrections made.


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Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


Ocean County Man Indicted For Allegedly Falsifying His Academic Credentials To Obtain His Position And Promotions

April 16, 2021

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TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a suspended senior engineer for the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) was indicted today for submitting false academic credentials in order to obtain his state position and promotions.

The Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability (OPIA) obtained a state grand jury indictment charging Roger Sequeira, 64, of Whiting, N.J., (Manchester Township, Ocean County, NJ) with second-degree official misconduct, second-degree theft by deception, third-degree theft by deception, and third-degree tampering with public records or information. The NJDOT Office of the Inspector General initially investigated this matter and referred it to the OPIA Corruption Bureau.

The indictment alleges that between Nov. 24, 2007 and June 16, 2020, Sequeira created and reinforced the false impression that he had obtained a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree from La Salle University. Sequeira allegedly submitted to the state a fraudulent document that purported to be a university transcript. As a result of this deception, NJDOT allegedly sustained losses of over $75,000 in the form of additional compensation paid to Sequeira based on fraudulently obtained promotions.

The indictment further alleges that between Oct. 22, 2018 and March 20, 2020, Sequeira stole more than $500 by fraudulently taking leave time he claimed was for illness or visits to healthcare providers and submitting false documents purporting to be from healthcare providers to support that leave time.

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Attorneys General Jonathan Gilmore and Adam Gerken of the OPIA Corruption Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Peter Lee and OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione.

Attorney General Grewal thanked the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General for their investigation and referral.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. The second-degree charge of official misconduct carries a mandatory minimum term of five years in prison without possibility of parole. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.

The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Defense Attorney: Assistant Deputy Public Defender Aletha Sheppard Robinson, Mercer County.


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Serious Crash Reported On 195 In Jackson

April 15, 2021

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–According to the NJ State Police, a serious accident was reported at 1:21pm east at mile post 22.2 in Jackson Township. Preliminary information indicates that a vehicle went off the road and struck a tree. Two serious injuries were reported. Right lane is currently closed for the accident investigation.


Point Pleasant Firefighters Quickly Knock Down Basement Fire

April 14, 2021

Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

POINT PLEASANT BOROUGH, NJ (OCEAN)–At around 4:20 PM Point Pleasant Police Department received a 9-1-1 call for a smoke condition at 213 Ida Drive in Point Pleasant Borough and all Borough fire departments were dispatched.

When the fire chief arrived he noticed heavy but lazy smoke in the home. Initial reports were reporting a fire in the basement due to dyer issues.

Firefighters quickly stretched an 1 3/4″ attack line from the engine and headed in to find the fire. When the fire was was found crews quickly knocked down the flames. A second line backup line was stretched and assisted in the fire attack.

All of the Borough fire departments responded with Station 24 for the FAST TEAM.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and is under investigation by the Ocean County Fire Marshalls and the Point Pleasant Police Department.


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

Manchester Man Charged With Leaving The Scene Of Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash

April 14, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on April 13, 2021, Kevin Noonan, 62, of Manchester, was charged with Knowingly Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, as well as Operating a Motor Vehicle with a Suspended Driver’s License while being involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:40-22a, relative to a pedestrian having been struck and killed by a vehicle in Whiting during the afternoon hours of April 13, 2021.

On April 13, 2021, at approximately 3:45 p.m., the Manchester Township Police Department responded to a residence on Yorktowne Parkway in Whiting for a report of a pedestrian having been struck by a motor vehicle.  Responding Officers found Jack Gotfried, 69, of Whiting, laying in the roadway with traumatic injuries to his lower extremities.  Mr. Gotfried was flown to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit and Manchester Township Police Department Detective Bureau revealed that Noonan had stopped at Mr. Gotfried’s residence to pick up of furniture that Mr. Gotfried was giving away.  In the course of loading the furniture onto Noonan’s vehicle, Noonan allegedly backed his vehicle up at a high rate of speed and struck Mr. Gotfried – pinning him between the rear of the vehicle and a truck parked in front of the residence.  Noonan then allegedly fled the scene, leaving Mr. Gotfried injured in the roadway.  A short time later, Noonan was found walking in the area of Western Boulevard in Lacey Township, where he was apprehended by a Detective from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.  Noonan was transported to Manchester Township Police Headquarters, where he was processed and consented to a draw of his blood; the blood draw was subsequently taken at Community Medical Center in Toms River.  Noonan is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail, pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Manchester Township Police Department Patrol Division, Manchester Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their cooperative assistance in connection with this investigation.

The press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.



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