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.
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.
Defense counsel: Lisa J. Van Hoeck Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton
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.
Defense counsel: Wade: Rahul Sharma Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Newark Strong: Thomas Dunn Esq., Montvale, New Jersey
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.
Defense counsel: James R. Murphy Esq., Princeton, New Jersey
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
Sam Young President and CEO Hackensack Meridian Fitness & Wellness
BRICK, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Brick Township Police Chief James Riccio announced that on May 20, 2020, Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus, 48, of Brick Township, a fugitive from justice charged earlier this week with the Murder of Rebecca Gavilanez-Alectus, was apprehended in Houston, Texas by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshals Service, and Houston Police Department. “It is our understanding that Gavilanez-Alectus traveled to Houston, from New York City by bus,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.
On May 18, 2020, a warrant for Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus’ arrest was issued after an 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 determined that she was responsible for the death of Rebecca Gavilanez-Alectus, 32, also of Brick, on May 17, 2020. Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus was ultimately tracked down and taken into custody by law enforcement in Houston Texas, and is presently lodged in the Harris County Jail pending extradition to Ocean County.
Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Riccio would like to acknowledge 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 in taking Gavilanez-Alectus into custody. “I am extremely grateful for the support of our Federal law enforcement partners, as well as our law enforcement partners in in Houston Texas,” stated Prosecutor Billhimer. “It is extremely satisfying when law enforcement works together and we are able to get a dangerous person like Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus into custody. We will immediately begin extradition proceedings to bring Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus back to Ocean County to answer for these charges. Justice for Rebecca Gavilanez-Alectus weighs heavy on all of our minds,” the Prosecutor concluded.
The public and media are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law
BRICK, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Brick Township Police Chief James Riccio announced that Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus, 48, of Brick Township has been charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) in connection with the death of Rebecca Gavilanez-Alectus, 32, of Brick Township. Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus was also charged with Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d, and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d. Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus is not currently in custody and is currently a fugitive.
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. A warrant for the arrest of Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus has been issued. Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Riccio would like to acknowledge 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, United States Marshals Service, for their cooperative assistance in this investigation. “Great teamwork by all of the respective law enforcement agencies and officers involved in this investigation. Our focus now is to find Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus and bring her into custody. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Mayra Gavilanez-Alectus should contact Detective Ken Steinberg of the Brick Township Police Department at 732-262-1113 or Detective John Carroll of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit at 732-929-4760, ext. 3964,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. The public and media are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law
BRICK, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Brick Township Police Chief James Riccio announced that the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Brick Township Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office are currently investigating a suspicious death in Brick Township. At approximately 12:00 p.m. today, Brick Township Police were summoned to 28 Creek Road. Upon arrival, Brick Township Police Officers discovered a deceased female. This is an active and ongoing investigation. There is no immediate danger to the public at this time.
More information will be released as it becomes available.
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER) – For the first time ever, the annual Congressional Art Competition held by Rep. Chris Smith as part of a national competition for his district’s high school students, will be a “virtual” online show to ensure the safety of students, parents, teachers and the interested public.
In response to the coronavirus national emergency, the artwork, which is normally displayed for a month at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Hamilton’s Lakefront Gallery, will be posted on Smith’s congressional website ensuring that the students who have worked for many months can still take part in the national competition.
“For these young student artists whose school year has been turned upside down by coronavirus, I am happy we found a way forward and I am grateful to the parents, judges and teachers for making needed adjustments,” Smith said.
“We received strong support for a virtual art competition rather than cancel the show outright due to COVID-19 restrictions,” Smith said. “Safety is paramount, and a virtual gallery enables us to proceed safely not only for the students and parents, but for the patients and workers at RWJ-Hamilton, which has in the past, graciously hosted the show,” he said.
“I am delighted that this year’s show wasn’t canceled, but continued as an online competition,” said Wall High School art teacher, Jill Alexander, who has been preparing her students to enter the show every year for the past six years. “Students in the 4th district are thankful for the great show that Congressman Chris Smith puts on each year, but especially this year because of the challenges everyone is facing.”
“We love going to Robert Wood Johnson’s impressive gallery, and unfortunately that just wasn’t possible this year. My students start working in September preparing their best artwork to submit, and this show is the highlight of the year for us.
“High school students across the country will miss the opportunity to participate in many events this year, including proms, sporting events and even graduation,” Alexander said. “We are really pleased the art competition survives.”
The 2020 show will be exhibited in a virtual art gallery, will use online judging, with winners to be announced in May. Smith’s three-member team of professional judges, whose works are also normally displayed at the show, will also have artwork posted in an online gallery.
This year, students who place in the competition—as best-of-show, and first, second and third runners-up and honorable mentions—will receive ribbons and all participants will be mailed Congressional Certificates, instead of being presented them in person.
The best-in-show winner will be displayed in the Capitol Building in Washington along the busy public corridor/tunnel between the Cannon House Office Building and the Capitol Building for one year with other winners from across the nation. All the artwork entered into Smith’s competition this year will be displayed in his online gallery for one year.
Every year the Congressional Institute sponsors this national high school art competition to recognize and foster artistic talent in each congressional district. Since the competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have participated. Participation in the contest is at the discretion of each Member office. Currently, the Institute plans to accept the top winning artwork from every congressional show in America by June 18 and hold a reception in Washington on July 22.
The Executive Board of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) regrets to announce the passing of PFANJ President Dominick Marino. President Marino passed away suddenly Tuesday afternoon at home.
President Marino served for over 25 years as a firefighter in the North Bergen Fire Department and North Hudson Regional Fire Rescue, retiring from active service in 2011. He held multiple leadership positions in the firefighter union locals in both departments. President Marino served for many years as 2nd Vice President and Treasurer of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, the chartered state association of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), before becoming President in 2008.
President Marino leaves behind his wife Ellen, three children, and two grandchildren.
Additional details and services information will be made available once arranged.
Statement by Governor Murphy on the Passing of Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey President Dominick Marino
“Dominick Marino didn’t just run into burning buildings, he knocked down walls to protect his fellow firefighters. He put his heart and soul into everything he did for his members, and in doing so he exemplified everything you ever could want from a leader. One of the great honors of my governorship was to sign the Thomas P. Canzanella 21st Century First Responders Protection Act, but that bill could just as easily have carried Dominick’s name because of the dedication he showed in getting it passed. I will miss his friendship and good counsel, and his regular check ins, including this week. He was one of a kind. My deepest condolences go out to his family, his membership, and the entire New Jersey firefighting community.”
IAFF PFANJ President Dominick Marino at NJ State House Senate Committee 6/16/2011
It is with the heaviest of hearts we announce the untimely passing of President Dominick Marino of the PFANJ.
We all make up NJ Bravest. No matter what patch wear or what banner you fly we are bonded together by the fire service and public safety.
Donnie was a fierce advocate for Firefighters, EMT’s and Paramedics. We worked alongside each other in many situations. When we put our collective voices together we could truly accomplish so much in the interest of our members.
I am truly saddened by this loss. It is a reality check for me that the stresses of this job are deep and real. Donnie and I both shared a passion to help and a strong conviction to advocate on behalf of our members. Although sometimes we traveled down a different path we ultimately met up and and accomplished the goal together.
NJ lost a great a man and Union leader. His family lost a husband, father and grandfather.
On behalf of the over 5,000 members of the NJ FMBA I have the privilege to represent we offer our condolences to the PFANJ and the Marino family. If there is anything we can do, consider it done.
TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced the following recent enforcement actions against violators of Governor Murphy’s Emergency Orders related to COVID-19:
Newark Enforcement. The Newark Police Department’s COVID-19 task force issued 34 summonses for violations of the emergency orders and ordered two non-essential businesses closed in enforcement actions yesterday, April 8.
Sean M. McGuire, 42, of Camden, was charged yesterday, April 8, with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency, third-degree endangering, and fourth-degree risking widespread injury. McGuire allegedly refused to follow medical advice to self-quarantine and said he did not “give a [expletive] who he infected.” He allegedly threatened security staff at Cooper University Hospital and refused to cooperate with officers of the Camden Police who encountered him at the Walter Rand Transportation Center.
Willie Boles, 50, and Charles E. Scotton, 51, both of Pennsauken, were charged on Tuesday, April 7, by the Camden Police with violating the emergency orders and gambling in public. The two men allegedly held a large craps game on Marlton Avenue in Camden with approximately 19 people present. They were warned last month when they organized a similar gambling event.
Albert E. French, 33, of Milford, was charged in Clinton Township on Tuesday, April 7, with violating the emergency orders and disorderly conduct for walking back and forth along Route 22 displaying obscene poster boards and making obscene gestures to motorists.
Moshe Knopfler, 55, of Union City, was charged with violation of the emergency orders (disorderly persons offense) and failure to disperse (petty disorderly persons offense). Police had warned Knopfler on several prior occasions when he held gatherings on his property. He was charged on Tuesday, April 7, when police found approximately 13 people on his property.
Elizabeth Fernandez, 56, of Woodland Park, and Juan Rosario, 60, of Paterson, were charged by the Paterson police on Tuesday evening, April 7, with two violations of the emergency orders for opening Quilvio Tavern at 933 Main Street, where police found customers gathered inside and drinking at the bar.
Armin, Mahesh, 59, of Iselin, was charged with violating the emergency orders and alcoholic beverage control regulations at the liquor store he owns with his wife. Police responded to Medina Liquor Store at 709 East Jersey Street on a report that groups were gathering at the store and drinking alcohol. Officers found a number of patrons consuming alcoholic beverages in a back room of the store in violation of regulations and the emergency orders. Authorities shut down the business, where responding inspectors found multiple code violations.
Ibrahim Muhammad, 25, and Ashley Appleton-Tims, 25, both of Brick, were charged yesterday, April 8, with violating the emergency orders for opening the Coliseum Barbershop & Hair Salon in Brick. Ibrahim is the owner of the business, and Appleton-Tims is a salon employee who was assisting a client when police arrived yesterday.
Cheyenne M. Scott, 19, of Clayton, was charged with harassment, a petty disorderly persons offense, for spitting on a man yesterday in Clayton and then claiming she had COVID-19.
Richard Mariano, 66, of Randolph, was charged yesterday, April 8, with violating the emergency orders, theft by unlawful taking (disorderly persons offense), trespassing (petty disorderly persons offense), and disorderly conduct. Mariano allegedly entered the Randolph Township Recycling Center, stole a refrigerator from one of the recycling containers, then violently dismantled it by the side of the road while yelling at township employees
Steven C. Singleton, 29, Camden, was arrested on April 5 at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden, where he loitered for approximately 20 minutes, interacting with various persons and not taking any transportation. When he was approached by police, he allegedly resisted arrest and was found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana and two ecstasy pills (methylenedioxymethamphetamine—MDMA). He was charged with possession of ecstasy (3rd degree), possession of marijuana (disorderly persons offense), and resisting arrest (disorderly persons offense).
Madison L. Greenetz 25, of Cherry Hill, was charged on April 2, with violating the emergency orders, providing alcohol to minor (disorderly persons offense), and trespassing in violation of a local ordinance (petty disorderly persons offense). She allegedly was drinking alcohol in a township park with a juvenile.
William L. Joseph, 20 , of Lindenwold, was charged yesterday, April 8, with violating the emergency orders and defiant trespass, both disorderly persons offenses. Joseph was previously warned that outdoor basketball courts in the borough are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but police found him playing basketball in a park. Signs also indicated that the court was closed.
“Our police officers are working bravely and tirelessly every day to protect us during this health crisis. Regrettably, they are being called upon far too often to deal with people violating the emergency orders— or what is more egregious, people using the virus to spread fear or impede officers in their vital work,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Staying home and maintaining social distance isn’t just the best advice to stay healthy, it’s the law. Make no mistake, we will do everything in our power to keep our residents and officers safe, and that means we won’t hesitate to file charges against violators.” “Law enforcement and medical professionals are on the frontlines of this battle to protect the citizens of New Jersey from the COVID-19 virus, and we cannot stress enough how important it is that each person follow the guidelines set forth in the Executive Order,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Because lives are at stake, enforcement action will be taken without hesitation against those who are blatantly placing the lives of others at risk.” Violations of the emergency orders constitute a disorderly persons offense carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, violators can potentially face criminal charges including second, third, and fourth degree indictable offenses. Police have charged a number of persons with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency for claiming to have COVID-19 and threatening to infect law enforcement officers or others by coughing, spitting, or otherwise exposing them. That charge carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you are seeing a lack of compliance with the Governor’s emergency orders in your town, please contact your local police department or report here https://covid19.nj.gov/violation The Attorney General’s Office and New Jersey State Police will continue to work with law enforcement throughout New Jersey to deter non-complaint behavior. No one should take advantage of this pandemic to further their own biased agendas. COVID-19 is no excuse to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and or other biased stereotypes. Please report bias crimes at 1-800-277-BIAS.