Category: Brick

Brick Township Man Indicted For Murder Of Father

October 8, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on October 7, 2021, a superseding Indictment was returned against Mark J. Austin, 30, of Brick Township, charging him with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d, relative to the death of his father, Mark Richard Austin, in Brick Township on September 7, 2019. The superseding Indictment charges that Austin procured the commission of the murder of his father by payment or promise of payment of anything of monetary value, an aggravating factor which – if proven beyond a reasonable doubt at the time of trial – requires that Austin be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligibility. Austin and his co-defendant, Jeray Melton, 30, of Salem City, were originally indicted in connection with the murder of the victim on December 3, 2019; it was not known at that time that this was a murder for hire situation.

On Saturday, September 7, 2019, Officers of the Brick Township Police were summoned to a residence on Acorn Drive and discovered the victim’s body. At that time, it was discovered that the victim had been beaten to death. Following a thorough and extensive investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Major Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, it was determined that Austin and Melton had conspired to kill the victim. Mark J. Austin and Jeray Melton were charged accordingly and taken into custody on September 13, 2019, and have been incarcerated since that date.

Subsequent investigation determined that Austin agreed to pay Melton a sum of money in exchange for killing Mark Richard Austin. On February 25, 2020, Melton pled guilty to Aggravated Manslaughter in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4a before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C. Melton is currently lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution pending sentencing. Austin remains in in the Ocean County Jail awaiting trial.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Chief Trial Attorney Michael Weatherstone and Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Carr who are handling the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Brick Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Salem County Prosecutor’s Office, Salem City Police Department, New Jersey State Police Major Crime Unit, New Jersey State Police TEAMS Unit, New Jersey Department of Corrections, Port Authority Police of New York and New Jersey, Manchester Township Police Department, Millville Police Department, Bayonne Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their collective and cooperative efforts in connection with this investigation.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and 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.
R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).


3 Alarm Fire Destroys Home on Bay Way In Brick Township

September 27, 2021

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–On Monday afternoon, at 3:30 p.m., Emergency Responders answered a call of a house fire at 31 Bay Way in the Bay Harbor section of Brick. Upon arrival a heavy smoke and fire condition was observed. Strong winds helped to spread the fire quickly. The resident of 31 Bay Way, who was home at the time, was uninjured, but the home was completely destroyed.

The wind driven fire caused extensive damage to the upper portion of the house next door at 29 Bay Way. In addition spot fires on at least one area property were extinguished. The only injury was that of one of the fire fighters who suffered a minor burn that was treated by EMS on the scene.

The fire quickly reached a third alarm bringing Brick Township fire companies, Pioneer Hose, Breton Woods, Laurelton, and Herbertsville. In addition, the Point Pleasant Boro, Point Pleasant Beach, Silverton and East Dover fire companies also responded, along with the Police and the Brick Police EMS. Jackson and Lakewood covered the township’s fire houses while Brick Township’s fire and mutual aid companies worked to extinguish the fire.

The fire is being investigated by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, the Brick Police Detective Bureau and the Brick Fire Safety Bureau.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Brick Fire Safety Bureau Chief Kevin Batzel at 732-458-4100. No further information is being released at this time.



19 And 20 Year Old From Brick Township, NJ Killed In Illinois Crash

August 21, 2021

MULBERRY GROVE, IL (FAYETTE) –The Illinois State Police is investigating a fatal motor vehicle crash that happened on Route 70 East Bound at Milepost 55, in Mulberry Grove, Fayette County on August 20, 2021 at 9:19 a.m.

Police say, preliminary investigative details indicate the following occurred:

A 2020 Freightliner tractor trailer was traveling westbound on Interstate 70, near mile post 55.

A Chevrolet Pickup pulling a trailer with a car, and a Honda Odyssey were traveling eastbound on Interstate 70 at the same location.

The tractor trailer left the roadway to the left and traveled through the median. The tractor trailer struck the trailer of the pickup truck. The tractor trailer then struck the Honda, causing both units to skid into the south ditch.

The driver of the tractor trailer from Los Angeles, CA was airlifted to a regional hospital with serious injuries.

The driver and passenger of pickup from Missouri refused medical attention.

The 19-year-old male driver and 20-year-old female passenger of Honda from Brick Township, NJ were pronounced deceased on scene.

The ISP Traffic Crash Reconstruction Unit is continuing the investigation. No further information will be disseminated at this time.

The driver of the tractor trailer was cited for Improper Lane Use and Failure to Reduce Speed to Avoid a Crash.



New Jersey State Police Seeking Public’s Assistance with Identifying Police Impersonator

August 16, 2021

The New Jersey State Police, Wall Township Police Department, and Brick Township Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance with identifying a man suspected of impersonated a police officer.

On August 1, at approximately 2:00 p.m., the victim stopped her car in Brick Township because she thought a police officer was pulling her over. The suspect was driving behind the victim in a black, older model Ford Crown Victoria when he activated a blue dome light on the front dashboard.

When the victim pulled over, the suspect approached her vehicle and identified himself as a police officer. After a brief exchange, she became suspicious and asked him for identification. He failed to provide identification and instead instructed her to exit the vehicle. She refused to exit and the suspect attempted to remove her from the vehicle, before she fled the scene and reported the incident.

During the investigation, detectives discovered that a similar incident occurred on August 3 at approximately 9:45 p.m. in Wall Township. Another female victim reported that a man in black, older model Ford Crown Victoria pulled her over and impersonated a police officer.

The suspect is described as a white male, 40-50 years old, with long red hair pulled back in a pony tail, a red scruffy beard, and tattoos on both arms and the back of his hands. He was last seen wearing black BDU pants, a light blue short-sleeved bloused shirt with the word “police” on the front and non-descriptive patches on the arms that also said “police” but no specific department. He was also wearing a duty belt and a holster with what appeared to be black handgun.

A detective with the State Police Forensic Imaging Unit created a composite sketch of the suspect.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Christopher Mason of the Wall Township Police Department at 732-449-4500 ext. 1192 or Detective Michael Bennett of the Brick Township Police Department at 732-262-1100.


Local Youth Wrestling Coach Arrested And Charged With Distribution Of Child Pornography

August 4, 2021

BRICK, NJ (OCEAN)–A local youth wrestling coach was arrested today on a charge of receipt and distribution of child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced today.

Alec Donovan, 24, of Brick, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with receipt and distribution of child pornography. He  appeared by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy L. Waldor and was released on $100,000 unsecured bond.

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

Donovan used a messaging application to share videos containing child pornography over the Internet. From January 2021 through March 2021, Donovan sent three videos containing images of child sexual abuse and received two videos containing images of child sexual abuse via the web-based messaging application. The videos Donovan sent and received depicted sexual acts involving pre-pubescent children.

Donovan also used the web-based messaging application to solicit and engage in conversations with minors, including requesting nude photographs from the minors and sending nude photographs to them.

The charge of receipt and distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

The FBI’s Newark Field Office is asking anyone with information related to this case or who may be a victim, to contact them at NK-Victim-Assistance@FBI.gov.

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

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole F. Mastropieri of the Health Care Fraud Unit and Shawn Barnes of the Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

The charge and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

21-353 

Defense counsel: Nikole Pezzullo Esq.,, Freehold, New Jersey


Seaside Heights Man Charged With Attempted Murder From Yesterday’s Incident At Brick Township ShopRite

July 28, 2021

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Brick Township Chief of Police James Riccio announced that on July 26, 2021, Michael Stallworth, 37, of Seaside Heights, was charged with Attempted Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1); Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d, relative to a stabbing incident that occurred in Brick Township on July 26, 2021.

On July 26, 2021, at approximately 4:00 p.m., Officers of the Brick Township Police Department responded to the parking lot of the ShopRite on Route 70 in Brick in response to a male victim having been stabbed in the parking lot.  Responding Officers found a 44-year-old male victim with apparent stab wounds to his back.  The victim was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment of his injuries, where he is reported to be in critical but stable condition.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, has resulted in Stallworth being identified as the individual who stabbed the victim and caused his injuries.  Stallworth has not yet been apprehended, and is presently considered a fugitive from justice. 

The investigation further revealed that Kareem Reeves, 32, of Lakewood, removed Stallworth’s vehicle from the ShopRite parking lot after the stabbing in an apparent effort to hinder Stallworth’s apprehension.  As such, Reeves was charged with Hindering in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3a(1); he was arrested and transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he is currently lodged pending a detention hearing.

“Stallworth is encouraged to turn himself in; a warrant has been issued for his arrest and his name has been entered in the National Crime Information Center database.  Anyone with information concerning Stallworth’s whereabouts – or any information at all regarding this investigation – is urged to contact Detective Lindsay Woodfield of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3989, or Detective Michael Bennett of the Brick Township Police Department at 732-262-1122,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Riccio acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department Detective Bureau and Patrol Division, Lakewood Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and 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.  R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).


Stabbing At Brick Township ShopRite Parking Lot Under Investigation

July 27, 2021

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Brick Township Chief of Police James Riccio announced that on July 26, 2021, at approximately 4:00 p.m., Brick Township Police responded to the parking lot of the ShopRite on Route 70 in Brick in reference to a male victim that had been stabbed in the parking lot. Responding officers found a 44-year-old male victim with apparent stab wounds to his back. The victim was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment of his injuries where he is reported to be in critical but stable conditio

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Riccio would like to stress that this is an active and ongoing investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit. “There is no danger to the public at this time, our investigation indicates this was a targeted attack against the victim,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “We will release more information as it becomes available,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Anyone in possession of information related to this investigation is urged to contact Detective Lindsay Woodfield of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3989, or Detective Michael Bennett of the Brick Township Police Department at 732-262-1122.


Ocean Ice Palace To Close After Almost 60 Years

July 6, 2021

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean Ice Palace & Ocean Hockey Supply will be closing their doors after almost 60 years in business at the end of the month. The rink has brought many memories over the last 60 years and had a classic look with its Quonset hut style shaped roof.

According to the Ocean Ice Palace, Dr. Leon J. Dwulet built the Ocean Ice Palace in 1962. His vision was to provide skating and hockey development opportunities for the youth of Ocean and Monmouth Counties. The Dwulet family has operated the Ocean Ice Palace and Ocean Hockey Supply continuously for the last 59 years, and it is currently owned by Dr Dwulet’s daughter and managed by her daughter & son-in Law, Andrew & Raven Barten.

Ocean Ice Palace Facebook Post:

After almost 60 years of Family Owned & Operated business’ Ocean Ice Palace & Ocean Hockey Supply will be closing their doors at the end of this month. We are extremely thankful to all the friends who have become family and customers who have become friends over the years. The decision was not made lightly and certainly not without being given much thought. We will continue to run all programs and camps as scheduled through the end of this month and our shop will remain open until then. We welcome you to visit @OceanHockey and pick up some new gear before your season- shop starts at 40% off the entire store.







Brick Township Woman Indicted For Murder

June 30, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 30, 2021, Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus, 49, of Brick Township, was indicted by a Grand Jury sitting in Ocean County on a charge of Murder, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), in connection with the death of Rebecca Gavilanez-Alectus, in Brick Township, on May 17, 2020. Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus was also indicted on charges of Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d.

On May 17, 2020, Brick Township Police were summoned to a residence on Creek Road for a report of an unresponsive female. Upon arrival, Officers found the lifeless body of Rebecca Gavilanez-Alectus in an upstairs bedroom of the residence. On May 18, 2020, the Ocean County Medical Examiner performed a post-mortem examination of Ms. Gavilanez-Alectus’ body, and determined the manner of her death to be a homicide. A subsequent investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit revealed that both the victim and the defendant resided at the Creek Road address. The investigation further revealed that a cylindrical container used for the purpose of chilling wine was utilized in the commission of the murder. The injuries sustained by Rebecca Gavilanez-Alectus were consistent with the implementation of this item. Further investigation ultimately determined that Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus did, in fact, cause the victim’s death. On May 18, 2020, a warrant for the arrest of Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus was issued. On May 21, 2020, Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus was taken into custody by law enforcement in Houston, Texas. She was extradited back to New Jersey and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since her return to New Jersey.

Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Robert Cassidy, Assistant Prosecutor Ashley Angelo and Assistant Prosecutor Genna Moscato who are handling the case on behalf of the State as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department, Brick Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, New York Police Department, United States Marshals Service, and Houston Police Department for their collective assistance relative to this investigation resulting in today’s indictment. 


Dog Missing Over 2 Weeks Found By NJ State Troopers Swimming In Barnegat Bay

June 22, 2021

BRICK TOWNSHIP, MANTOLOKING, NJ (OCEAN)–Earlier this morning, Troopers Ryan Koehler and Vincent Ferdinandi, of Point Pleasant Station, located a Golden Retriever that was reported missing out of Brick, N.J. since June 6.

Troopers were preparing for their shift when they were dispatched to the report of a dog swimming in Barnegat Bay. Troopers Koehler and Ferdinandi responded in a vessel and located Chunk, who was swimming in the area of the Mantoloking Bridge, and were able to bring him safely to shore.

Chunk, who is three years old, was missing for more than two weeks. Needless to say he was ecstatic to be reunited with his grateful owners.


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

June 3, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following cases illustrate the range of the investigations:

Michael Maresca, et al.

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

Henry Kidd Jr., Javar Kidd, and Terrance Alford

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

Operation Zombie

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

Enrique “Neff” Alfonso

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

Christopher J. Pespas

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

Isiah Greene and Jamal Bethea

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

Peter Santos and Joshua Perez

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Enrique Alfonso

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

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


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

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

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

Brick Township Man Sentenced To 40 Years In Prison For Producing And Advertising Child Pornography

May 12, 2021

An Ocean County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 40 years in prison for producing images of himself sexually abusing young children, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Sebastien Attar, 36, of Brick, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Peter G. Sheridan to an information charging him with two counts of sexual exploitation of children. Separately, Attar also pleaded guilty before Judge Sheridan to a superseding indictment charging him with one count of advertising child pornography. Judge Sheridan imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in the case and statements filed in court:

Beginning in mid-2017, federal law enforcement began investigating individuals participating in a private chat messaging group dedicated to the discussion and dissemination of images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children. The private chat group was named “Taboo Train 2.0,” and law enforcement identified Attar as a member of that group, operating with the account identifier “Seb Seb.” The investigation revealed that on multiple occasions and in response to requests from other users, Attar, operating as “Seb Seb,” shared with the “Taboo Train 2.0” chat group images depicting adults sexually abusing very young children.

In March 2018, in connection with the investigation of the “Taboo Train 2.0” chat group, federal law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at Attar’s Brick, New Jersey residence, and seized a number of electronic devices and electronic storage media. In July 2018, a grand jury sitting in the Northern District of Georgia returned a superseding indictment charging Attar and others with advertising child pornography.

During a forensic review of the electronic media seized pursuant to the search of Attar’s residence, law enforcement discovered graphic images in which an individual – later identified as Attar – had photographed himself sexually abusing two infants. Attar was subsequently arrested and charged in a criminal complaint filed in the District of New Jersey. As part of the plea agreement, the superseding indictment filed in the Northern District of Georgia against Attar was formally transferred to the District of New Jersey so that Attar could plead guilty to that charge in conjunction with his guilty plea to the information filed in this district.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Sheridan sentenced Attar to lifetime supervised release.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI-Newark Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., and special agents of the FBI-Atlanta Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge J.C. Hacker, with the investigations leading to today’s guilty pleas. She also thanked prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, under the direction of Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine, for their assistance.

The government is represented by J. Brendan Day, Attorney in Charge of the Trenton Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

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Defense counsel: David Jay Glassman Esq., Marlton, New Jersey


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.


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


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.”


Two Brick Township Men Charged With Witness Tampering And Terroristic Threats Against A Police Detective, 3rd Involved Charges Dropped With Exculpatory Evidence

Updated: Charges against Alexander Santos, 22, have been administratively dismissed at the request of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office due to exculpatory evidence that exonerates the defendant.

April 3, 2021

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (0CEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced, Anthony Chieffo, 25, Connor White, 22 and Alexander Santos, 22, (charged dropped against Santos) all of Brick Township, were each charged with Retaliation Against a Witness in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:28-5b and three counts of Terroristic Threats in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3a

On March 29, 2021, a Brick Township Police Detective reported receiving threatening phone calls and text messages on his police department-issued cellular phone; the threats were directed at the Detective and members of his family.  A subsequent investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit revealed that the threatening calls and text messages had originated from Chieffo’s cell phone.

On March 30, 2021, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit performed a motor vehicle stop in Brick Township on a vehicle being operated by Santos, in which Chieffo was a passenger.  Santos and Chieffo were taken into custody and transported to Brick Township Police Headquarters where they were charged accordingly.  Both defendants are currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending their respective detention hearings.

Although sufficient probable cause existed at the time of his arrest to support the filing of charges against Santos, continuing investigation in this matter has revealed that White – not Santos – was the second individual who participated in making the threats against the Brick Detective in concert with Chieffo.  Consequently, White was taken into custody on April 1, 2021 and charged accordingly.  He is presently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

In light of the recent developments regarding this investigation, and in the interests of justice, the charges against Santos have been administratively dismissed at the request of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, and Santos has been released from the Ocean County Jail.  Chieffo continues to remain in the Ocean County Jail awaiting his detention hearing.

“At the outset of this investigation, sufficient credible evidence pointed to Chieffo and Santos as the individuals that threatened the Detective,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.  “As the investigation progressed, however, we were able to identify White as the second actor who participated with Chieffo in making those threats.  Additional information discovered during the investigation was exculpatory as it relates to Santos.  As such, the charges against Santos have been dismissed and he has been released from the Ocean County Jail,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, and Brick Township Police Department for their cooperative efforts in connection with this investigation.

“Threats against law enforcement will not be tolerated,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

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 woman charged with theft and forgery

February 5, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

BRICK TOWNSHIP (OCEAN)– Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Point Pleasant Borough Chief of Police Robert Lokerson announced that on February 4, 2021, Jessica Duffy, 37, of Brick Township, was charged with Theft in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a and Forgery in violation of N.J.S.A.  2C:21-1a(1).

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Unit and Point Pleasant Borough Police Department revealed that Duffy, employed as a bookkeeper at R.H. LeChard Marine Contractors in Point Pleasant, misappropriated approximately $260,000 from the company during the course of her employment.  Duffy was not authorized to sign checks on the company account, yet wrote numerous unauthorized checks to herself, forging the signature of the company manager on each check.  She then deposited the checks into her personal account for her personal benefit.

Duffy was processed at Point Pleasant Police Borough Headquarters, and released on a summons pending a future court date.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Lokerson acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Unit and Point Pleasant Borough Police Department for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation leading to these charges.

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



14 Year Old Charged In Brick Township Murder

January 17, 2021

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Brick Township Chief of Police James Riccio announced that a 14 year-old juvenile has been taken into custody and charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), in connection with a stabbing that occurred in Brick Township during the afternoon of January 16, 2021. The juvenile was also charged with Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d. The juvenile is currently being detained in the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center.

On January 16, 2021, at approximately 2:45 p.m., the Brick Township Police Department responded to a residence in reference to a 911 call for an apparent stabbing. Responding Officers found a 38 year-old male victim with a stab wound to the right side of his abdomen. The victim was transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries. The victim has been identified as Mohammed Khater of Brick Township.

Due to the fact that the individual charged with these offenses is a juvenile, N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-60 prohibits the release of any additional information.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Riccio are grateful for the hard work and collaborative efforts of all law enforcement personnel involved in this thorough investigation leading to the juvenile suspect’s apprehension, including officers and detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, the Brick Township Police Department, and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit.

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


Asbury Park Teen Sentenced To 10 Years For Aggravated Assault In Shooting Near Brick Memorial High School In 2019

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on January 14, 2021, Alonzo Legrande, 18, of Asbury Park, was sentenced by the Honorable Wendel E. Daniels, P.J.Cr.P, to ten years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Aggravated Assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1).  This sentence is subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2., meaning that Legrande will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility.  Additionally, Judge Daniels sentenced Legrande to ten years NJSP relative to his previously entered guilty plea to Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a.  The sentences will run concurrently.  Legrande entered his guilty plea to both charges on September 17, 2020 before Judge Daniels.  Legrande’s guilty pleas were contemplated in connection with his voluntary waiver of the Family Court’s jurisdiction in this matter, and his further agreement to be charged and prosecuted as an adult in Criminal Court. 

On Tuesday, October 22, 2019, at approximately 1:45 p.m., Brick Township Police were summoned to Brick Memorial High School for a report of a student who had sustained a gunshot wound.  Investigation revealed that the student was walking home from school with three friends when he was shot approximately one-quarter mile away from Brick Memorial; he then ran back to the school for help.  As a precaution, Brick Township Police and school officials locked down the high school as well as neighboring schools before determining there was no immediate danger to students.  The victim was treated at Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township and released.

As part of their investigation, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office reviewed video surveillance footage from nearby residences.  The video surveillance depicted Legrande, who was 17 years-old at the time, and Luis Rivas, who was also a juvenile, acting together and in support of one another in carrying out the shooting.  Further investigation revealed that Legrande was, in fact, the individual who fired the weapon.  He was apprehended on October 23, 2019, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center since his apprehension.  Rivas, who likewise agreed to be prosecuted as an adult, previously pled guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1), and was sentenced by Judge Daniels on October 2, 2020 to four years NJSP subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act.

“Our law enforcement partners at the local, county, state and federal levels displayed tremendous teamwork and cooperation in connection with this very thorough investigation,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.  “As a result of their exceptional efforts, both Rivas and Legrande been held accountable for their brazen lawlessness with these state prison sentences,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Chief Juvenile Assistant Prosecutor Anthony Pierro and Assistant Prosecutor Madeline Buczynski who handled the case on behalf of the State. Additionally, Prosecutor Billhimer is grateful for the hard work and persistence of all of the law enforcement agencies involved in securing this these state prison sentences for Rivas and Legrande:  Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit; Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit; Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit; Brick Township Police Department; Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit; Toms River Township Police Department; Lakewood Township Police Department; Bay Head Borough Police Department; Point Pleasant Beach Police Department; Asbury Park Police Department; Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit; Monmouth County Emergency Response Team; Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office; New Jersey State Police; New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center; and the United States Marshals Service. 


Repeat Offender From Brick, NJ, Ocean County Charged With Child Pornography

November 16, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–An Ocean County, New Jersey, man has been arrested on charges that he distributed and possessed images and videos depicting child sexual abuse, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Andrew Ramey, 34, of Brick, New Jersey, is charged by criminal complaint with one count of distribution of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He was arrested Nov. 13, 2020, by special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, appeared by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lois H. Goodman and was detained without bail.

According to documents filed in this case:

From March 13, 2020, through June 8, 2020, Ramey distributed material containing images of child sexual abuse and child pornography, via the BitTorrent Network, a publicly available online peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing network of linked computers. Users must download P2P software, which is widely available for free on the Internet. The software allows the user to place files into a designated “shared” folder on his or her hard drive, from which other BitTorrent users can then download those files directly to the “shared” folders of their own computers. Users can then search, select, and directly download, those files.

Law enforcement used investigative software to access the BitTorrent Network and downloaded video files containing child pornography from a device or devices assigned to an IP address at Ramey’s residence. On Nov. 13, 2020, law enforcement searched Ramey’s residence and found multiple images and videos containing images of child sexual abuse, as well as BitTorrent software, on a mobile phone belonging to Ramey.

In a prior federal prosecution in New Jersey in 2018, Ramey was convicted of one count of possession of child pornography. The distribution charge is punishable by a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a statutory maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, along with a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater. The possession charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, along with a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross pecuniary gain or loss, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations Atlantic City, under the direction of Newark Special-Agent-in-Charge Jason J. Molina; detectives of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer; the Brick Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Riccio; and the Mount Laurel Police Department, under the direction of Chief Stephen Riedener, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander E. Ramey of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Trenton.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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Defense counsel: Lisa J. Van Hoeck Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton

Brick And New Brunswick Men Charged With Roles In Drug Trafficking Organization

October 17, 2020

NEWARK, NJ –Two alleged ranking members off the Bloods street gang have been charged with conspiring to distribute fentanyl and heroin in Newark, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Leonard Wade, a/k/a “Clap,” 49, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Ezra A. Strong, a/k/a “Doonka,” 30, of Brick, New Jersey, are charged in separate complaints with conspiracy to distribute more than 400 grams of fentanyl and more than 100 grams of heroin. Wade is also charged with possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

Wade appeared for an initial appearance by videoconference today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer. Strong appeared for an initial appearance by videoconference on Oct. 14, 2020, before Judge Hammer. Both men are currently detained.

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

Law enforcement officials have seized 831 grams of suspected fentanyl and 612 grams of suspected heroin, as part of an investigation into a drug trafficking organization (DTO) operating in Monmouth and Middlesex counties, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.

The investigation has revealed that Wade, allegedly a ranking member of the Sex Money Murder (SMM) subset of the Bloods street gang, is a leader of the DTO. Strong, allegedly a ranking member of the Fruit Town Brims, also a subset of the Bloods street gang, distributes fentanyl and heroin on behalf of the DTO.

On Oct. 1, 2020, law enforcement officers executed a search warrant of Wade’s residence and recovered a 9mm caliber semi-automatic polymer “privately made” handgun, along with 50 rounds of 9mm ammunition and five rounds of .45 caliber ammunition.

The count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute over 400 grams of fentanyl carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $10 million fine. The ammunition offense carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Monmouth/Ocean HIDTA Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson, with the assistance of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Gang and Criminal Enterprise Unit, with the investigation leading to the arrests.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren E. Repole of the U.S. Attorney’s Office 4OCDETF/Narcotics Unit.

The charges and allegations in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

20-362 

Defense counsel:
Wade: Rahul Sharma Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark
Strong: Thomas Dunn Esq., Montvale, New Jersey

Sayreville Man Admits Role In Area Heroin Conspiracy Distribution In Monmouth and Middlesex Counties

September 22, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man today admitted that he conspired to distribute more than 100 grams of heroin as part of a conspiracy responsible for distributing significant quantities of heroin and cocaine in the Bayshore area of Monmouth and Middlesex counties, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Daniel McHugh, 50, of Sayreville, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti via videoconference to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin. McHugh also admitted to conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine and possessing with intent to distribute a quantity of crack cocaine.

Today’s guilty plea follows a coordinated takedown in November 2018 of 15 defendants charged by complaint with conspiracy to distribute heroin and cocaine. To date, 13 defendants have pleaded guilty, including supplier Gregory Gillens and lead defendant Guy Jackson. Gillens was sentenced on Sept. 8, 2020, to 10 years in prison. Jackson is awaiting sentencing.

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

From May 2017 to November 2018, McHugh and others engaged in a narcotics conspiracy that operated in the Raritan Bayshore region of Middlesex and northern Monmouth counties. Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, controlled purchases of heroin and cocaine, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that McHugh regularly obtained heroin and cocaine for further distribution from Jackson. Some of the heroin distributed by the conspiracy contained fentanyl, a dangerous synthetic opioid.

On the date of his arrest, McHugh gave consent to search his residence. During that search, law enforcement recovered quantities of heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine intended for further distribution.

The heroin conspiracy count to which McHugh pleaded guilty carries a statutory mandatory minimum term of five years in prison, a maximum of 40 years in prison, and a fine of up to $5 million. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 20, 2021.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited Special Agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, Jersey Shore Gang and Criminal Organization Task Force (including representatives from the Bradley Beach Police Department, Brick Police Department, Howell Police Department, Marlboro Police Department, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, Toms River Police Department, and Union Beach Police Department) under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr.; Special Agents of the FBI, Philadelphia Division, Scranton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Driscoll; the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent; the Matawan Police Department, under the direction of Chief Thomas J. Falco, Jr.; the Holmdel Police Department, under the direction of Chief John Mioduszewski; the Highlands Police Department, under the direction of Chief Robert Burton; the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni; the Old Bridge Police Department, under the direction of Chief William A. Volkert; the Keansburg Police Department, under the direction of Chief James K. Pigott; the Hazlet Police Department, under the direction of Chief Philip Meehan; and the Aberdeen Police Department, under the direction of Chief Richard A. Derechailo, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elisa T. Wiygul of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

The charges and allegations against the two remaining defendants are merely accusations and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

20-308 

Defense counsel: James R. Murphy Esq., Princeton, New Jersey

Fatal Pedestrian Accident In Brick

September 19, 2020

BRICK, NJ (OCEAN)–On Friday, September 18, 2020 at 10:48 pm, Brick Township Police responded to a motor vehicle crash involving a pedestrian, James Sommers, 76, of Brick on Mantoloking Road between Fairfield Avenue and Piel Avenue.

Upon arrival they discovered that Pedestrian James Sommers had been struck by a 2020 Honda CRV driven by Donna Kutzner, 66, of Brick, as he attempted to cross the roadway. He was unconscious, unresponsive and was not breathing.  Officers initiated life saving measures which were continued by Brick Police Emergency Medical Services and Paramedics from Hackensack Hospital.  Sommers was transported to Brick Hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.

   The Brick Township Police Traffic Safety Unit responded to the scene along with the Ocean County Sheriffs Criminal Investigation Unit.  Traffic was detoured for several hours while the scene was processed.

   This crash is under investigation and we would ask anyone who may have witnessed it or has information related to the crash to please contact Ptl. J. Farnkopf #173 at (732) 262-1140.

Trump Boat Parade Draws Thousands

September 6, 2020

SHIP BOTTOM, NJ (OCEAN)–Estimates of 2,500 boats participated in a Trump Boat Parade that was also supporting Law Enforcement Officers and Veterans yesterday.

Boaters are congregated at the mouth of Tom’s River in Barnegat Bay and split into two major groups north bound and south bound.

The northbound parade started at the mouth of Toms River and past the Mantoloking Bridge, F-Cove and Bay Head.

The southbound parade started from the mouth of the Toms River and went past the Manahawkin Bridge all the way down to Beach Haven. A large group of boaters anchored in Ship Bottom after the parade.



US Army Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta of Brick, NJ Dies In Aircraft Mishap While Training In California

August 29, 2020

By USASOC Public Affairs Office

FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta, 33, of Brick, New Jersey, and Sgt. Tyler M. Shelton, 22, of San Bernardino, California, died August 27, from injuries sustained during an aircraft mishap while conducting aviation training on San Clemente Island, California.

“The loss of Staff Sgt. Marketta and Sgt. Shelton has left a scar in this Regiment that will never completely heal,” said Col. Andrew R. Graham, commander of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). “Their level of dedication to the 160th SOAR (A) and their exemplary service in the Army is the embodiment of what it means to be a Night Stalker and a Soldier. Our priority now is to ensure the Families of our fallen warriors receive our complete support as we work through this tragedy together. We ask that you keep Staff Sgt. Marketta, Sgt. Shelton, their Families and fellow Night Stalkers in your thoughts and prayers.”

Staff Sgt. Marketta, a native of Brick, New Jersey, enlisted in the Army in 2011, as a 15T UH-60 “Black Hawk” Repairer. He was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) upon completing Advanced Individual Training, and the Regiment’s extensive training and assessment program in 2012. He spent 18 months as an aircraft repairer in 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A).  In 2014, Marketta remained in 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A) for service as an MH-60M Crew Chief.

While assigned to 160th SOAR (A), Marketta deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and deployed multiple times to Iraq in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE.

He graduated from the Enlisted Combat Skills; Combatives Level 1; MH-60 Maintainers Course; Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape School; MH-60 Non-Rated Crew Member Course; the Basic and Advanced Leaders Courses; and the MH-60 Flight Instructors Course.

Staff Sgt. Marketta’s awards and decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal with V device; Air Medal with C device; Air Medal; Army Commendation Medal with C device (2OLC); Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal (1OLC); Army Good Conduct

Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal (Campaign Star); Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 2); Army Service Ribbon; NATO Medal; Combat Action Badge; and the Basic Aviator’s Badge.

Sgt. Shelton, a native of San Bernardino, California, enlisted in the Army in 2016, as a 15T UH-60 “Black Hawk” Repairer. He was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) upon completing Advanced Individual Training, and the Regiment’s extensive training and assessment program in 2017. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A) where he spent eight months as an MH-60M Repairer. In 2018, Shelton remained in 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A) for service as an MH-60M Crew Chief.

While assigned to 160th SOAR (A), Shelton deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

He graduated from the Enlisted Combat Skills; Combatives Level 1; MH-60 Maintainers Course; Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape School; MH-60 Non-Rated Crew Member Course; and the Basic Leaders Course.

Sgt. Shelton’s awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal (Campaign Star); Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; and the Basic Aviator’s Badge.

Both Staff Sgt. Marketta and Sgt. Shelton will receive the Meritorious Service Medal posthumously.


New Jersey Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy Permanently Revokes License of Massage Therapist Who Inappropriately Touched Female Client During Massage

Board’s Action is Part of Ongoing Crackdown on Sexual Misconduct & Abuse by Licensed Professionals

August 27, 2020


www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases20/20200825_18KT00973200-Popper-Final-Order.pdf

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Furthering its efforts to protect the public from sexual misconduct and abuse in professional settings, the Division of Consumer Affairs (“the Division”) today announced that the New Jersey Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy (“the Board”) has permanently revoked the license of a massage therapist who engaged in inappropriate and unwanted sexual contact with a female client during a massage session at a Hand and Stone spa in Somers Point. 

John R. Popper, 48, of Little Egg Harbor is permanently barred from working as a massage therapist in New Jersey under a Final Order filed by the Board this week. Popper is the third massage therapist this year — and the ninth in the last 12 months — to have his license revoked by the Board as a result of sexual misconduct in the workplace. 

Concerns about unwanted sexual contact in professional settings have prompted the Division, under the direction of Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, to undertake a sweeping review of how its 51 professional boards address allegations involving sexual misconduct and abuse by its licensees and applicants to ensure that boards uniformly adopt best practices and enforce their rules. The boards oversee approximately 720,000 active licensed professionals, from accountants and doctors to plumbers, veterinarians, and massage therapists. 

The review, which is currently underway, is evaluating how boards screen applicants for licenses, approach investigations of alleged misconduct and discipline and engage with complainants who report abuses by a licensee or applicant. “No client or patient should ever have to fear for their personal safety while interacting with a licensed professional in this state,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We are committed to ensuring that all our professional boards hold licensees to the same strict standards, and act swiftly to address allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse involving licensees. By revoking the licenses of massage therapists who prey on their clients, the Board is carrying out its duty to protect the public.”

 “When you see a massage therapist you put your trust in their hands,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Therapists who violate that trust can cause real and long-lasting damage to their victims and are a danger to our community. We are pleased that the Board, through its actions, is sending a message that this kind of conduct will not be tolerated.” 

Popper is the latest massage therapist disciplined for inappropriately touching a client. On July 31, 2020, the Board voted unanimously to permanently revoke Popper’s license, effective immediately, after Popper was criminally convicted of harassment by offensive touching in Somers Point Municipal Court for placing his hand on a client’s vagina during a massage. Popper was originally charged with criminal sexual contact but the charge was downgraded to harassment, a disorderly persons offense, and remanded to municipal court. The Board accepted the State’s argument that Popper’s license should be revoked on the grounds that, among other things, he engaged in professional misconduct and committed a crime of moral turpitude. 

In a Final Order filed on Aug. 25, 2020, the Board concluded that Popper’s conduct was “so egregious and morally reprehensible, and so fundamentally at odds with anything that we would expect of a massage therapist that nothing short of permanent revocation would be sufficient to protect the public health, safety and welfare.” 

Since July 2019, the Board has revoked the licenses of eight other massage therapists for sexual misconduct.

They are: 

  • Asad Aliyev – License permanently revoked on July 25, 2020, for allegedly touching a female client inappropriately during a massage therapy session at a Hand and Stone spa in Allendale.
  • Aaron Coile – License revoked on January 28, 2020, for allegedly inappropriately touching a female client during a massage therapy session at the Sage Body and Mind spa in Voorhees.
  • Premkumar Perumal – License permanently revoked on October 22, 2019, for allegedly touching a female client inappropriately during a massage therapy session at a Hand and Stone Massage & Facial Spa in Clark. Perumal also allegedly inappropriately touched another female client while working at a Massage Envy in Hoboken. 
  • Magdy Masek – License permanently revoked on October 22, 2019, for allegedly inappropriately touching a female client during a massage therapy session at a Massage Envy in Piscataway.
  • Frank Giordano – License permanently revoked on September 24, 2019, for allegedly touching two female clients inappropriately during massage therapy sessions at Alternative Bodyworks in Nutley.
  • Michael Egan – License permanently revoked on September 19, 2019, for allegedly inappropriately touching a female client during a massage therapy session at a Massage Envy in Closter.
  • Leonardo Drittij – License permanently revoked on September 18, 2019, for allegedly touching a female client inappropriately, engaging in a conversation of an intimate sexual nature with her, and failing to drape her properly during a massage therapy session at a Massage Envy.
  • Jonathan Higgins – License permanently revoked on July 16, 2019, for allegedly inappropriately touching a female client during a massage therapy session at a Hand and Stone Massage & Facial Spa in Brick.  Higgins has been charged with sexual assault in connection with that alleged incident.

 In addition to taking disciplinary action against licensees for alleged sexual contact with clients, the Board has adopted new rules to help prevent and detect sexual misconduct and abuse in the industry. Those rules, among other things: 

  • Require massage therapists to notify the Board of criminal, civil, administrative, and employment actions against them. Every licensee is required to notify the Board within 10 days of action against the licensee by criminal authorities, including an arrest, indictment, or conviction; within 10 days of the licensee being named in a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding involving misconduct relating to his or her practice; within 10 days of disciplinary action by any state licensing authority; and within 10 days of action against the licensee by an employer based on client care concerns.
  • Require massage therapists to report misconduct by others. Every licensee is required to report any incident or series of incidents that the licensee believes may violate the applicable statutes and rules, including violations by other massage therapists of the rules relating to sexual misconduct. Additional reporting requirements apply if a licensee possesses information indicating that another licensee or healthcare professional presents an imminent danger to the public or any individual.
  • Protect minors from abuse. For clients under the age of 18, licensees need to obtain written consent of the client’s parent or legal guardian before providing massage or bodywork services.  For clients under the age of 16, the client’s parent or legal guardian would need to be in the room while the services are provided.

 Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted investigations in these cases. Deputy Attorney General Daniel Hewitt, of the Professional Boards Prosecution Section within the Division of Law, represented the State in the Popper matter. Deputy Attorney General Roman Guzik, of the Consumer Affairs Counseling Section within the Division of Law, represented the State in the other matters.   Clients who believe that they have been treated by a licensed massage therapist in an inappropriate manner can file a complaint online by visiting the State Division of Consumer Affairs website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200 to receive a paper complaint form by mail. * * *The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.

Monmouth County, Matawan Man Charged With Child Porn And Invasion Of Privacy After Recording Six Females Including 16 Year Old In Brick

Michael Mattina, 54, of Matawan, secretly recorded six female victims, including one sixteen-year-old victim, utilizing a hidden camera located in the bathroom of a residence in Brick Township. Further investigation revealed that Mattina posted the videos of the victims on two adult websites.

August 20, 2020

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Brick Township Police Chief James Riccio announced that an investigation conducted by the Brick Township Police Department Detective Bureau and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit has revealed that Michael Mattina, 54, of Matawan, secretly recorded six female victims, including one sixteen-year-old victim, utilizing a hidden camera located in the bathroom of a residence in Brick Township. Further investigation revealed that Mattina posted the videos of the victims on two adult websites. Accordingly, Mattina was charged with five counts of Invasion of Privacy for recording the videos in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-9b(1); six counts of Invasion of Privacy for posting the videos in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:14-9c; and Distribution of Obscene Materials in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:34-2b. Additionally, with regard to the crimes committed against his sixteen-year-old victim, Mattina was charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(1); Manufacturing Child Pornography in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(4); and Distribution of Child Pornography in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(a)(i). Mattina was processed at Brick Township Police Headquarters and released on a summons pending a future court appearance.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Riccio commend the Brick Township Police Department Detective Bureau and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit for their cooperative assistance in this investigation leading to these charges against Mattina.

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.


NJ Div of Fish and Wildlife and USDA Remove Plastic Container From Baby Deer’s Head

August 13, 2020

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife reports that the USDA Wildlife Services a (NJDFW partner) removed a plastic pretzel container stuck on a baby deer’s head on Monday, August 10. Technicians carefully immobilized the fawn deer, removed the container, and released the deer on site.

Brick Township Couple Charged With Operating A Controlled Dangerous Substance Production Facility

August 12, 2020

BRICK TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael T. Nolan, Jr. announced that Patrick Fasano, 31, and Maria Fasano, 27, both of Brick Township, have been charged with Operating a Controlled Dangerous Substance Production Facility in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4; Possession of Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(4); Possession of less than One-Half Ounce of Psilocybin Mushrooms with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(5); Possession of DMT in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Psilocybin Mushrooms in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of less than 50 Grams of Marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(4); Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2; Possession of a Firearm While in the Course of Committing a Controlled Dangerous Substance Offense in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1a; and Maintaining and Occupying a Fortified Structure in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-4.1c.

The United States Department of Homeland Security alerted the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force that a parcel had been intercepted entering the United States from the Netherlands, which was addressed to Patrick Fasano at a Brick Township address. The parcel contained approximately 920 grams of DMT, a Schedule I Narcotic known to produce hallucinogenic effects. An undercover Ocean County Narcotics Strike Force Detective delivered the package to Maria Fasano at that residence, and she accepted delivery of the package. On August 11, 2020, Detectives executed a search warrant on the subject residence, which resulted in the seizure of quantities of DMT, Psilocybin Mushrooms, and Marijuana. They also seized numerous firearms, ammunition, and approximately $1900 in cash. Additionally, Detectives located numerous items suggestive of maintaining a Controlled Dangerous Substance Production Facility, and further observed the residence to have an exterior mounted surveillance camera system indicative of a warning mechanism against potential law enforcement entry. Patrick and Maria Fasano were transported to Brick Township Police Headquarters to be processed and are currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

First Assistant Prosecutor Nolan extends his gratitude to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, United States Department of Homeland Security, and Brick Township Police Department for their cooperative assistance in this investigation leading to these arrests.

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.

Tilton Fitness Powered by Hackensack Meridian Health Closes Doors For Good

June 24, 2020

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Tilton Fitness Powered by Hackensack Meridian Health will be permanently closing due to the COVID-19 restrictions on gyms.

Locations were: Jackson, Manahawkin, Northfield-Egg Harbor, Hazlet, Edgewater, Galloway, Brick and prior to COVID-19 was scheduled to also open in Atlantic City.

Below is a letter to members of the clubs:

https://www.tiltonfitness.com/

Dear Tilton Fitness Members,

I am writing to share some difficult news. Tilton Fitness Powered by Hackensack Meridian Health will be permanently closing its doors on July 1, 2020.

Unfortunately, like other fitness centers across the country, our facilities have been hit hard by the mandatory closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing us to make this difficult decision. I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of you for your loyalty to the Tilton Fitness organization over the years and to our hard-working staff who worked tirelessly to support you on your health and wellness journey.

At Tilton Fitness, we have always prioritized our members and guests. We were committed to changing people’s lives by promoting total health and wellness and providing the best customer experience possible. Our seven fitness centers serving roughly 20,000 members represent a lifetime of effort and devotion. As you might imagine, this announcement is heartbreaking. You are as much of a part of our life as Tilton Fitness was part of yours. You have our deep and sincere appreciation.

Some of you may have questions regarding your membership. Please understand that it will take some time for us to respond to all inquiries. To the extent that you have any questions or concerns, we will be providing you the contact information of the individual who will be assigned to oversee the orderly dissolution in the next few days.

I have always believed we are more than a gym — we are a community. A community I deeply care for. A community I will sadly miss.

Sincerely,

Sam Young
President and CEO
Hackensack Meridian Fitness & Wellness