Category: Lakewood

Lakewood Man Sentenced To 8 Years For Robbery

May 5, 2021

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

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

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

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


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

April 30, 2021

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

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

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

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

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


Related MidJersey.news coverage here:

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

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


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



Lakewood Overturned With Entrapment Sends 2 To Hospital

April 30, 2021

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


Photo credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop

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

April 29, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

April 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

April 23, 2021

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

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


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


See more at the Lakewood Scoop

Video credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop


Video credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop

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


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


Truck Crashes Into Tree In Lakewood

April 23, 2021

By: Yossi Brander

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


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

April 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21-139

Defense counsel: Michael Gilbert Esq., New York



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

April 18, 2021

Official information from Lakewood Police Department:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


By Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

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

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

April 18, 2021

By Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

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

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

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

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


Spring Biggest Sale BudgetPetCare 4

Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


BREAKING: Investigation reveals Lakewood wildfire was intentionally set, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office says

March 19, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

LAKEWOOD (OCEAN)– Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that an investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Squad-Arson Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, has determined that the wildland fire which occurred in Lakewood Township and advanced into Brick Township on Sunday, March 14, 2021, was intentionally set.

“We have located the origin of the fire and have concluded that the fire was intentionally set,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

On Sunday, March 14, 2021, at approximately 1:15 p.m., the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Observation Tower in Lakewood reported a wildland fire in the area of Cedarbridge Avenue and Airport Road in Lakewood. As the fire quickly spread, firefighters battled through the night – in the face of 20 mile-per-hour winds – in an effort to contain the blaze. During the course of the fire, a firefighter from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service suffered cardiac arrest. He was transported to Hackensack Meridian Ocean Medical Center in Brick Township where he is reported to be in stable condition. Approximately 167 acres of land were destroyed by the fire, and it was finally deemed under control on Monday, March 15, 2021, by approximately 1:00 p.m.

“The significance of this wildland fire cannot be overstated. We have a firefighter that suffered cardiac arrest while battling this fire. Three homeless people living in the woods were saved from the advancing fire. Numerous residences and commercial properties were damaged and hundreds of people were evacuated. It is only by the grace of God that no one was killed,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “This remains an active and ongoing investigation, and anyone with knowledge of information concerning this fire is urged to contact Sergeant Thomas Haskell of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3953,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Prosecutor Billhimer expresses his gratitude to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their thorough and collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation. Prosecutor Billhimer also commends the following agencies for their bravery and collective support in fighting and controlling this horrific fire: Ocean County Sheriff’s Office; New Jersey Forest Fire Service; New Jersey State Police; New Jersey State Police Traffic Incident Management Team; Ocean County Fire Coordinators; Ocean County EMS Coordinators; Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office; Lakewood Township Police Department; Brick Township Police Department; Toms River Township Police Department; Jackson Township Police Department; Howell Township Police Department; Chaverim of Lakewood; Hatzolah; Brick Township Bureau of Fire Safety; Brick Township EMS; Lakewood Township Fire Department; Lakewood Township EMS; Barnegat Township Fire Department; Beachwood Fire Department; Bayville Fire Department (Berkeley); Manitou Park Fire Department (Berkeley); Pinewald Pioneer Fire Department (Berkeley); Laurelton Fire Department (Brick); Breton Woods Fire Department (Brick); Pioneer Hose Fire Department (Brick); Herbertsville Fire Department (Brick); Toms River Fire Department Company No.1; Toms River Fire Department Company No. 2; Ocean Beach Fire Department (Toms River); East Dover Fire Department (Toms River); Silverton Fire Department (Toms River); Pleasant Plains Fire Department (Toms River); Manchester Township Fire Department; Whiting Fire Department (Manchester); Ridgeway Fire Department (Manchester); Mantoloking Fire Department; Waretown Fire Department; Ocean Gate Fire Department; Pine Beach Fire Department; Point Pleasant Borough Fire Department; Point Pleasant Beach Fire Department; Seaside Heights Fire Department; Seaside Park Fire Department; Island Heights Fire Department; Jackson Township Fire Department Company No.1; Jackson Mills Fire Department (Jackson); Cassville Fire Department (Jackson); Whitesville Fire Department (Jackson); Forked River Fire Department (Lacey); Lanoka Harbor Fire Department (Lacey); Lakehurst Fire Department; Joint Base McGuire-Dix Fire Department; Lavallette Fire Department; Eatontown Fire Department; Wanamassa Fire Department (Ocean – Monmouth County); Oakhurst Fire Department (Ocean – Monmouth County); West Long Branch Fire Department; Hamilton Fire Department (Neptune); Shark River Hills Fire Department (Neptune); Neptune City Fire Department; Colts Neck Fire Department; Southard Fire Department (Howell); and Goodwill Hose Fire Department (Belmar).





Lakewood Man Charged With Murder

February 25, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced that on February 25, 2021, Jahvontae Debose, 24, of Lakewood, was charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1) relative to the shooting death of Dajour Randolph during the evening hours of February 21, 2021.  

On February 21, 2021, at approximately 7:40 p.m., Lakewood Township Police were summoned to the area of Tudor Court in response to a 911 call regarding a male who had collapsed in the middle of the road.  Responding Officers found Dajour Randolph, 20, of Little Egg Harbor, with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest.  Mr. Randolph was transported to Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, in Lakewood, where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.  On February 22, 2021, the Ocean County Medical Examiner performed a post-mortem examination of Mr. Randolph’s body.  The Medical Examiner determined the cause of Mr. Randolph’s death to be multiple gunshot wounds, and ruled the manner of death to be homicide.

Debose was charged on February 23, 2021 with Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1); Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(11); Possession of more than Fifty Grams of Marijuana in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(3); Possession of a Firearm in the Course of Committing a Drug Offense in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1a; Being a Certain Person not to Possess a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7b(1); and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C: 39-4a(1).  Debose was taken into custody without incident by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force in Pleasantville, New Jersey, following a motor vehicle stop on February 23, 2021.  He was transported to the Ocean County Jail, where he remains lodged pending a detention hearing.

A thorough and extensive investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit between February 21, 2021 and February 25, 2021 revealed that Debose was, in fact, the individual responsible for Mr. Randolph’s death.  Dubose was served today in the Ocean County Jail with the complaint charging him with Mr. Randolph’s murder.

Anyone in possession of additional information concerning this investigation is urged to contact Detective Brant Uricks of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, or Detective Eric Cicerello of the Lakewood Township Police Department at 732-363-0200.

“Law enforcement officers at the local, county, state, and federal levels demonstrated outstanding teamwork in connection with this very deliberative and comprehensive investigation.  I am extremely grateful for their hard work and perseverance in expeditiously solving this horrendous and senseless crime,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Meyer commend the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 unit, New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center, Brick Township Police Department, Manchester Township Police Department, Toms River Township Police Department, Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Pleasantville Police Department, and the United States Marshals Service, for their collective and collaborative efforts relative to this investigation, ultimately leading to Debose’ arrest and appropriate charges.

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

Little Egg Harbor man killed in Lakewood shooting

February 22, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP (OCEAN)– Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Lakewood Township Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced that on February 21, 2021, at approximately 7:40 p.m., Lakewood Township Police were summoned to the area of Tudor Court in response to a 911 call regarding a male who had collapsed in the middle of the road. Responding Officers found Dajour Randolph, 20, of Little Egg Harbor, with an apparent gunshot wound to the chest. Mr. Randolph was transported to Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, in Lakewood, where he subsequently succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Meyer wish to emphasize 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, Lakewood Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and that there is no known danger to the public at this time. 

Anyone in possession of information concerning this investigation is urged to contact Detective Brant Uricks of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, or Detective Eric Cicerello of the Lakewood Township Police Department at 732-363-0200.



Lakewood Man Sentenced To Prison For Leaving The Scene Of A Fatal Motor Vehicle Accident

February 22, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 22, 2021, Mashon Wilson, 30, of Lakewood, was sentenced by the Honorable Steven F. Nemeth, J.S.C., to six years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Knowingly Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, relative to a motor vehicle crash that occurred on November 25, 2018 in Lakewood. Judge Nemeth likewise sentenced Wilson to forty-five days in the Ocean County Jail with credit for time served, and suspended his driving privileges for a period of six months, regarding his guilty plea to Driving While Suspended in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, also in connection with the November 28, 2018 motor vehicle crash.  Additionally, Wilson was sentenced to four years NJSP by Judge Nemeth as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to an unrelated charge of Burglary in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2.  The sentences will run concurrently. Wilson pled guilty to all charges on January 8, 2021 before the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C.

On November 25, 2018, at approximately 7:00 a.m., Lakewood Police responded to the area of West County Line Road and Cedar Road to investigate a two vehicle accident involving a fatality.  Upon arrival, they found that a 2019 Chevrolet Suburban had crashed into a tree; the driver was critically injured, and the passenger was pronounced dead on the scene.  Further investigation determined that the other vehicle involved in the accident, a 2018 Nissan Sentra, had fled the scene.  Police traced the car to a residence in Lakewood.  At the residence, they located Wilson and two other individuals — Shayna Lee (49) and Iyanna Hall (30) — both of Lakewood.  Lee and Hall told police that Lee was the driver of the Nissan in question, and had left the scene of the accident.  Subsequent investigation revealed that Wilson was, in fact, the driver of the vehicle, and that Lee and Hall had given false statements to the police.  Lee and Hall were both charged with Hindering the Apprehension of Another by Giving a False Statement to a Police Officer in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3a(7).  Those charges remain pending.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Schron who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, ultimately resulting in Wilson’s state prison sentence.

One Mercer, One Morris and One Ocean County Tickets Split $925,659 Jersey Cash 5 Jackpot

February 9, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Three lucky tickets matched all five numbers drawn splitting the $925,659 Jersey Cash 5 jackpot from the Monday, February 8, drawing. Each ticket is worth $308,553. The winning numbers were: 25, 28, 35, 36, and 45 and the XTRA number was: 04. The retailers will receive a bonus check for $2,000 for each winning ticket sold. Those tickets were sold at the following locations:

  • Mercer County: Tony’s Deli Grocery, 755 Hamilton Ave., Trenton;
  • Morris County: SHK Food Store, 321 Route 15, Wharton; and,
  • Ocean County: Route 88 Fuel LLC, 1441 Ocean Ave., Lakewood.

Lakewood Man Pleads Guilty To Robbery

January 27, 2021

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on January 27, 2021, Elioenai Aguinaga, 32, of Lakewood, pled guilty to Robbery in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(2), before the Honorable Rochelle Gizinski, J.S.C.  At the time of his sentencing on March 24, 2021, the State will be seeking a term of eight years New Jersey State Prison, subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.

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

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

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligence of Assistant Prosecutor Kaitlyn Burke who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the hard work and determination exhibited by Officers of the Lakewood Township Police Department and Detective Bureau in their investigation of this matter which ultimately resulted in Aguinaga’s guilty plea.

Lakewood Man Charged With Narcotics Distribution

January 15, 202`

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force joined forces with Toms River Police Department Special Enforcement Team (SET) to conduct an investigation into the distribution of Heroin, Fentanyl and Cocaine in Ocean County. The joint investigation identified an apartment in the Hampton Gardens Apartment complex in Toms River as being utilized to store and distribute quantities of Heroin, Fentanyl and Cocaine. As a result of the investigation, Detectives obtained a search warrant for the apartment and also obtained probable cause to arrest Rizjoun Smullen, age 20, of Lakewood, for Distribution of Heroin and Fentynl.

On January 13, 2021, Detectives, observed Smullen leave the residence on foot. Smullen was detained and placed under arrest without incident.  Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, and Toms River SET, executed the search warrant at the apartment. As a result of the search warrant, Detectives seized approximately 150 dosage units of Heroin and $2,100 in cash.

Smullen was arrested and charged with Distribution of Less Than One Half Ounce of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); two counts of Possession of Less Than One Half Ounce of Heroin with the Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); and two counts of Possession of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1). Smullen was transported to Toms River Township Police Headquarters and charged on a summons pending a future court date.

Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the cooperative efforts of Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit, Toms River Police Department Special Enforcement Team and the Point Pleasant Borough Police Department Detective Bureau in this investigation.

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

Lakewood Man Charged Murder Of Infant Daughter

December 10, 2020

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that David Smith, 36, of Lakewood, has been charged with Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), in connection with the death of his infant daughter on December 8, 2020.

On December 5, 2020, Detectives from the Lakewood Township Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit responded to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood for a report of a three-month-old infant, purportedly found to be unresponsive by her father, David Smith. Smith claimed that he immediately contacted 911 upon finding the infant unresponsive. The infant was initially taken to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus by emergency medical service personnel and subsequently transferred to Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick for further evaluation and treatment. An examination by doctors at RWJ revealed that the infant was suffering from significant internal injuries. Further investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and Special Victims Unit, working with the Lakewood Township Police Department and Detective Bureau, determined that Smith was at home with the infant on December 5th when she sustained her injuries.

On December 8, 2020, the infant succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced deceased at Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. On December 9, 2020, a post mortem examination was performed on the infant. The Ocean County Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be Shaken Baby Syndrome with blunt force trauma to the head, and the manner of death to be Homicide. Following a thorough and extensive investigation, Smith was identified as the individual responsible for the infant’s death.

On December 9, 2020, Smith was arrested at his residence in Lakewood. He was processed at Lakewood Township Police Headquarters, and is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

“The facts and circumstances uncovered in this investigation are beyond tragic. What happened to this innocent baby is disturbing,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “We in law enforcement will always stand up and fight for the most vulnerable members in our society, and no one is more vulnerable than an infant. Parents are supposed to protect, not harm, their children. Justice will be accomplished for this precious baby,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Detective Bureau, Jackson Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative and meticulous efforts relative to this investigation.

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

Teen Charged With Murder Waived To Adult Court

September 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

Off Duty Lakewood Police Officer Dies In Motorcycle Crash In Jackson Twp

September 6, 2020

Please keep the Lakewood Police Department in your prayers they lost an off duty active police officer and a retired officer yesterday.

JACKSON-LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–A fatal accident occurred around 4:54 pm in the 100 Block of Thompson Bridge Road involving a motorcycle, yesterday afternoon. Jackson Township Fire Department, Jackson Township EMS and Jackson Township Police all responded to the scene to try and save the man that was reported to be an off duty Lakewood Police Officer. Lakewood Township Police Department has announced the officer’s passing see below:

It is with an extremely heavy heart that the Lakewood Police Department announces the untimely passing of Officer Nicklas Shimonovich.

Twenty-three year old Nicklas Shimonovich was involved in an off duty motorcycle accident in Jackson Township earlier this afternoon in which he sustained life threatening injuries. He was transported to Monmouth Medical Southern Campus were he tragically succumbed to his injuries a short time later. At this time the accident is under investigation by the Jackson Township Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutors Office.

Officer Shimonovich was hired in March of 2018 and was assigned to our Patrol Division on the evening shift. He was well respected by his peers, supervisors and the community he loved to serve. We ask that you keep him and his family and friends in your thoughts during this difficult time.


Jackson Police Department News Release

Fatal MVC Investigation

On Saturday September 5, 2020 at 4:54 pm, officers and emergency personnel responded to Thompson Bridge Road on the report of a motor vehicle crash with injuries involving a motorcycle.

Responding officers and First Aid located the single vehicle and driver which was involved in this incident and provided care and transported the driver to an area hospital where he succumbed to the injuries received in the crash.

The driver was identified as Nicklas Shimonovich, age 23 of Jackson, NJ.

Initial investigation of the crash indicated that Mr. Shimonovich was travelling east on Thompson Bridge Road on a 2015 Harley Davidson when the motorcycle ran off the roadway and struck a mailbox and utility trailer which was parked on a property. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

The crash is under investigation by the department’s Traffic Safety Unit. Anyone who may have witnessed this crash is asked to contact Police Officer Tristan Bennett or Kevin Chesney at 732-928-1111.

Captain Steven Laskiewicz
Investigations Division Commander
Jackson Township Police Department
September 6, 2020



The Lakewood Police Department has also lost a retired member of their force Det. Larry Doyle #189 (Retired).

It’s been a sad day for the Lakewood Police Department.

It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Det. Larry Doyle #189 (Retired).

Det. Doyle was hired by the Lakewood Police Department in September of 1980. After 25 years and 4 months of service he retired in December of 2005.

Det. Doyle spent many years in our Patrol Division where he made numerous arrests and helped train newly hired Officers.

In 2002, he earned the rank of Detective and conducting numerous investigations involving burglary, theft and stolen cars.

Det. Doyle was also our resident expert regarding Hazardous Materials Training. Something he had vast knowledge in due to his time with the Fire Service.

Law Enforcment, Firefighting and his Family were his passion.

Toms River Man Sentenced To NJ State Prison For Lakewood Fatal Hit And Run

August 26, 2020

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on August 26, 2020, Alexander Politan, 31, of Toms River, was sentenced by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., to seven years in New Jersey State Prison. On February 25, 2020, Politan pled guilty to Knowingly Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, as well as Driving with a Suspended License in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:3-40, before Judge Ryan. Judge Ryan also imposed a six-month loss of driving privileges.

On Friday, October 4, 2019, at approximately 9:20 p.m., Lakewood Police were summoned to Oak Street, south of Albert Avenue in Lakewood Township for a report of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle. Investigation at the scene revealed that Jesus Lopez-Grande, 15, of Lakewood, and his father, Jesus Lopez-Ramirez, 37, also of Lakewood, were walking near the shoulder portion of Oak Street when they were struck by a vehicle. Jesus Lopez-Ramirez sustained an injury to his elbow. Jesus Lopez-Grande was found lying face down in the driveway of a home on Oak Street. Jesus Lopez-Grande suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Further investigation revealed vehicle debris was left at the scene. Detectives determined from the debris that vehicle parts located at the crash scene belonged to a black 2014 Jeep Cherokee. At that time, the Lakewood Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office launched an extensive search to locate that vehicle. On Sunday, October 6, 2019, a black Jeep Cherokee matching the description of the suspect vehicle was discovered in the driveway of a residence on New Hampshire Avenue in Toms River. The residence was unoccupied. The black Jeep Cherokee had damage to the passenger side. A search warrant was obtained for the Jeep Cherokee.

Further investigation revealed that Politan was operating the vehicle when it struck Jesus Lopez-Grande and Jesus Lopez-Grande. Politan was located and apprehended on October 8, 2019. He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since the date of his arrest.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Robert Cassidy and Assistant Prosecutor Kate Burke who handled the case on behalf of the State, and extends his gratitude to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Toms River Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit for their combined efforts in securing this state prison sentence.


Lakewood Man Has Been Arrested For Attempted Murder In Shooting Of 4 Year Old Girl

August 20, 2020


See previous MidJersey.News story here: Law Enforcement Asking For Public’s Assistance In Finding Shooter Of 4 Year Old Child In Monmouth County


FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)—A Lakewood man has been arrested and charged for his role in the shooting of a four-year-old Asbury Park girl, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Sciaire N. Jackson, 27, of Lakewood, has been arrested and charged with first degree Attempted Murder, second degree Aggravated Assault, second degree Possession of a Weapon For an Unlawful Purpose, second degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon and second degree Certain Person Prohibited from Possessing a Weapon.

At approximately 1:35 p.m. on Tuesday, August 18, 2020, a 4-year-old child was shot while sitting outside the family’s home with other family members on Boston Way, a residential village in Asbury Park.  The child was shot in the upper thigh area, breaking the femur bone. Physicians treating the child have deemed the injury as serious, but non-life threatening.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Asbury Park Police Department revealed that Jackson rode up on a bicycle and began firing a handgun at several people located outside of an apartment.  The child was just playing outside and was not the intended target.  A second person returned fire at Jackson; however that person has not has not yet been identified.

The Prosecutor’s Office would also like to extend a special thank you to the Lakewood Police Department for their help in this investigation.

The case is being investigated by members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Asbury Park Police Department. Anyone with information about this case is urged to call Detective William Anton of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-800-533-7443 or Asbury Park Police Detective Dillon Gourley at 1-732-774-1300.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; or by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available for iOS and Android – https://www.p3tips.com/community/index.htm).

If convicted of Attempted Murder, Jackson faces up to 20 years in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. He would also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison.If convicted of Aggravated Assault, the maximum potential sentence is a State Prison term of up to 10 years.  Any sentence imposed for the crime of Aggravated Assault would also be subject to “N.E.R.A.”
           

If convicted of either Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose or Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, the maximum potential sentence is a State Prison term of 10 years, and pursuant to the “Graves Act” there is a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of one half of the custodial sentence imposed, or 42 months, whichever is greater.If convicted of Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons, he faces up to 10 years in state prison with a five-year mandatory period of parole ineligibility.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogner.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

NJ MVC FAILURE: 1,000s Wait In Extreme Long Lines At NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Buildings, Complete Chaos as Fights Reported In Trenton and Edison

Motor Vehicle Commission Wait Times A Total Disaster With Times Exceeding Three Hours, with new reports some waited 6+ hours with nothing done. Fights were reported in at least Trenton and Edison. Edison Police had to call neighboring departments for help.

July 7, 2020 posted at 4 pm, updated at 9 pm.

TRENTON, LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, (MERCER), SOUTH BRUNSWICK, (MIDDLESEX), NJ –People set up camp and waited in line, some earlier than 6 am but, they were not waiting in line for a Black Friday Sale, A Trump Rally or even concert tickets, they were just waiting for a visit to the local NJ Motor Vehicle Commission office.

It has been months since people could process an in person transaction to get or renew a license, register a car, get new plates and any other in person transaction that the MVC office processes.

The extremely long lines, snaked though parking lots, around buildings and even up the side of highways as the first day the NJ MVC opened its doors since the COVID-19 closures months ago.

Just after 8 am, a fight was reported this morning at the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission in Trenton on South Stockton Street. Trenton Police responded and reported that the line was wrapped around the building.

In South Brunswick/Dayton hundreds were in line as the line snaked back and fourth though the parking lot then eventually up Route 130. A group of people still about 100 deep at that location reported they had been in line since 6 am.

In Lawrence at Bakers Basin the scene was similar with lines wrapping around and though parking lots. People sat in chairs and under umbrellas and even a frozen dessert truck set up in the area near Route 1.

Edison, NJ we have a report of a disturbance at the Edison NJ Motor Vehicle Commission and Edison Police had to call mutual aid departments to the scene around 1:42 pm.


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South Brunswick-Dayton: NJ Motor Vehicle Commission:


Photos below by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News

Trenton NJ Motor Vehicle Commission:


Lawrence Township: NJ Motor Vehicle Commission Bakers Basin:

Photos by: Brian McCarthy OnScene News

2020 BlueClaws, Minor League Baseball Seasons Cancelled

July 1, 2020

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–The BlueClaws shared the unfortunate news today that the 2020 Minor League Baseball season, and with it the 2020 BlueClaws season, has been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is news that we had hoped we wouldn’t have to share, but unfortunately we will not be playing baseball at the Jersey Shore this summer,” said BlueClaws Team President Joe Ricciutti.

This decision was made with the interests of fan, player, coach, and staff safety at the forefront.

“We understand and cherish our place as a much-needed outlet for fun and entertainment across our communities, but we also understand and support the need to prioritize the public health crisis,” said Art Matin, the managing partner of BlueClaws ownership group Shore Town Baseball.

BlueClaws ticket package holders will be contacted by staff members to go over their options. Additionally, BlueClaws ticket staff members will coordinate with group leaders that have booked 2020 outings as well. Those that have tickets as part of a group outing should wait to hear from their group leader directly.

Communication from BlueClaws staff members will begin on Wednesday morning, and the team asks that ticket holders be patient as the BlueClaws work through outreach on an individual basis.

“We thank each of our ticket package holders and group leaders for their patience while we waited for a resolution,” said Ricciutti. “This has been a trying time for us all and we want to make sure that each ticket holder hears directly from the BlueClaws.”

2020 was to be the 20th season in BlueClaws history with much planned to celebrate. The team will shift many of these 20th season promotions into 2021.

“We are already working on making 2021 the biggest and most exciting season in team history,” said Ricciutti. “We’ll just celebrate our 20th season and our 20th anniversary all together!”

Matin added: “The BlueClaws have many amazing fans and partners and we appreciate each and every one of them. We had lots of plans to celebrate our 20th season this year. Our message is simple – we want everyone to stay healthy and we can’t wait to open the gates and welcome people from across the Jersey Shore for some family entertainment and great baseball.”

A 2021 BlueClaws schedule has not yet been released. The team will announce their 2021 schedule, complete with the 2021 Opening Night, when available.

FirstEnergy Park executive offices remain closed to the general public as of today, though staff is working remotely. Please check BlueClaws.com and the team’s social media channels for additional information.

The BlueClaws are the Jersey Shore’s top stop for affordable, family entertainment and have drawn 7.7 million fans to FirstEnergy Park since their 2001 inception.

Lakewood, NJ Man And Utah Man Indicted For $8 Million Credit Card Fraud

May 29, 2020

NEWARK, NJ—A grand jury today indicted two men, one from Ocean County, New Jersey, and the other from Utah, with carrying out a fraudulent scheme to obtain credit cards in the names of third parties, make purchases on the cards to generate rewards points, monetize the points, and cancel the purchases.

Aharon Lev, a/k/a “Aaron Lev,” a/k/a “Aron Lev,” a/k/a “David Gold,” a/k/a “David Monroe,” 33, of Lakewood, New Jersey, and Timothy Gibson, 43, of Lehi, Utah, are charged by indictment with one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Lev is also charged by indictment with two counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Lev was previously charged by complaint and released on bond to Israel; he is required to return to New Jersey by June 9, 2020, to be arraigned on the indictment. Gibson will make his initial appearance at a date to be determined.

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

From August 2014 through May 2016, Lev recruited individuals to give him their personally identifiable information, such as names and Social Security numbers, which Lev used to open numerous small-business accounts in their names with the victim credit card company. With Gibson’s assistance, Lev then used those accounts to make purchases that generated rewards points, which could be redeemed for frequent-flyer miles with various airlines. Once the points were issued, Lev cancelled the purchases and sold the points to Gibson, who resold them to third parties for use as miles to purchase airfare. Over two years, the scheme cost the credit card company more than $8 million in fees paid to the airlines for acceptance of points for miles.

Each charge of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, restitution, and forfeiture. Each charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, to be served consecutive to any sentence on the wire-fraud and conspiracy charges.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, and postal inspectors with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James Buthorn, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah A. Sulkowski of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Cybercrime Unit in Newark.

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

20-156

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Lakewood Man Charged With Terroristic Threats And Other Charges At Dollar General In Jackson

May 20, 2020

JACKSON, NJ (OCEAN)–On Monday May 18, 2020 at 6:22 pm, Police Officers Matthew Jamison, Ryan Gladysz and Jody Benecke responded to the Dollar General located in Manhattan Street Plaza on the report of a disorderly person. It was reported that there was a male inside the store who had removed a face mask he had been wearing and then was refusing store employee’s requests to put it back on while he was also purposely touching other customers inside the store.

Officers located the male inside the store and had him go outside to speak with him. As they attempted to obtain his name, he refused multiple times to provide them with the information, claiming he did not have to and was from another state and did not have identification on him. When advised he was detained and needed to provide identification, he turned around and placed his hands behind his back and told the officers to arrest him. He was told he was under arrest and as the officers went to handcuff him, he pulled away and ran from the officers. He was caught after a short foot pursuit and then a struggle ensued as he refused to allow the officers to place handcuffs on him. After gaining control of his hands, the officers were able to handcuff him and a search then revealed his New Jersey driver’s license which identified the male.

The male then refused to cooperate with officers to be seated inside the patrol vehicle for transport to headquarters as he struggled with their attempts to seat him inside the vehicle and seatbelt him. He was then able to maneuver his hands from behind his body and get them to the front while seated.

While being processed at headquarters, the male continued to yell profanities at the officers while also threatening to assault them. During this time, he then spit directly into Officer Jamison’s face and claimed that he had the Coronavirus. The male was secured in a holding cell and it was soon observed that he placed the mattress from the cot over the camera to obstruct the view, and then began to use the toilet to flood the cell as water was observed coming from under the door. He was then secured in another room where he continued to yell obscenities at the officers, spit all over the room and cough at officers as they attempted to continue to process him while claiming to have the Coronavirus. For unknown reasons, he then disrobed and took his clothes off and sat in the room naked.

Arrested:

Marquise Cadet, age 26 of Lakewood, NJ. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office was contacted and approved the following charges: obstruction, resisting arrest, hindering apprehension, 4th degree aggravated assault (throwing bodily fluids at law enforcement officers while in performance of their duties) and 2nd degree terroristic threats (made during a state of emergency).

As officers from the oncoming patrol shift prepared to transport Mr. Cadet to the Ocean County Jail, it was discovered that he was able to free himself from the transport belt in the rear of the patrol vehicle. This required the officers to have to remove him from the vehicle, where he again refused to comply and struggled with them, and re-secure him for the transport to the jail, where he was eventually lodged. Mr. Cadet’s actions also required an immediate cleaning and disinfecting of the cell block area where he was processed.

– The media and the public are reminded that any persons arrested or charged with any offenses or crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

Lakewood Woman Missing

LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–The New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit and the Hillsdale Police Department are seeking the public’s assistance with locating Dale Murberg, 66, of Lakewood Township, N.J., Ocean County. Ms. Murberg was last seen, April 18

Lakewood and Burlington Among List of COVID-19 Stay At Home Orders This Week

May 16, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)—Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, today announced enforcement actions from the past week, including coughing and spitting assaults and noteworthy violations of Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders.  The Attorney General also announced enforcement actions targeting price-gouging, consumer fraud violations, and alcoholic beverage control violations. “We’re cracking down on those who jeopardize public health and undermine public safety,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We have zero patience for those who spit on cops, gouge prices, or try to exploit this pandemic for their personal gain.” “Although law enforcement and medical professionals are on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, we are ultimately winning the war because of the extraordinary resolve and fortitude of New Jersey citizens who are doing their part day in and day out, abiding by the executive orders and sacrificing for the greater good,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “Those who choose to ignore the law and selfishly place others at risk will face swift law enforcement action.” 

Violations of Executive Orders, Including “Stay at Home” Order, and Ordinance:

  • Antwan Strickland, 20, of Roebling, Jemir Jones, 21, of Mount Laurel, and Rashaun Turner, 33, of Burlington Township were charged May 14 with violating the emergency orders after Burlington Police responded to a report of a dozen people gathered in the back yard of an abandoned home in Burlington city. Strickland, Jones and Turner were previously warned by police in connection with several similar incidents involving large gatherings. In addition, Strickland and Jones were among four people charged with violating the emergency orders and other disorderly persons offenses in Burlington city on May 10.
  • Chan Kwon, 49, of Perth Amboy, N.J., was charged on May 13 with violating the emergency orders by operating a non-essential business. Kwon owns a beauty supply store in Perth Amboy. The May 13 incident was the second time Kwon has been charged with violating the emergency orders. He received a summons on May 5 under similar circumstances.
  • Yisrael Knopfler, 44, of Lakewood, N.J. was charged with violating the emergency orders and other disorderly persons offenses on May 11 in connection with an incident that began when police found him hosting a gathering of more than 10 people in his back yard, where a tent was set up. Upon the officers’ arrival, a group of approximately 20 men approached and began yelling at them. Host Knopfler allegedly became verbally aggressive and uncooperative with the police and, at one point, made physical contact with an officer.
  • Chaim Oestreicher, 52 and Sarah Oestreicher, 49, of Lakewood, were cited on May 11 after police arrived at their home to find approximately 15-to-20 people gathered in the back yard next to an uncontained fire.
  • Chaim Gutman, 37, was cited on May 11 with violating the emergency orders after police responded to a report of loud music and found a band playing on the deck at his home before a crowd of between 50 and 100 people.
  • Miran Lee, 45, of Passaic, N.J., was charged on May 12 with violating the emergency orders and risking/causing widespread injury (4th degree) after police found her massage business – New Asian Massage – open and serving customers. On two prior occasions, Lee was issued summonses for violating the emergency orders by operating the same non-essential business and failing to practice social distancing. 
  • Mohammad Bahar, 42of Cliffside Park, N.J., was charged on May 12 with violating the emergency orders by operating a non-essential retail business — S&S Furniture Gallery in Irvington. Bahar, the store manager, was cited after police observed the store open and operating with customers inside.
  • Diana Ron, 38, of Union, N.J. and Dunia Mora, 59, of Irvington, N.J. were both cited for violating the orders on May 11. Ron owns Antojito’s Restaurant in Irvington, while Mora is the restaurant’s manager. Both received a summons after police observed that the bar/restaurant was open for business on May 11 and serving alcoholic drinks to customers inside the establishment.
  • James Robyn, 69, of Chester, N.J., was charged with violating the orders on May 11 after police found his retail pool and hot tub store open for business, with multiple customers shopping inside. Robyn was reportedly warned two weeks ago that the store could not be open. He was charged with violating the emergency orders by operating a non-essential business
  • Rami Jabara, 45, of Little Ferry,  N.J., was charged by the Paterson Police Department on May 10 with violating the emergency orders for opening the jewelry store he owns, Jerusalem Jewelry on Main Street.  Officers found the store open with customers inside shopping, despite the fact that Jabara was warned by police the day before for opening the non-essential business.
  • Sergio J. Moya Jr., 27, of Jersey City, was charged by the Port Authority Police Department on the night of May 8 with resisting arrest (disorderly persons offense), disorderly conduct (petty disorderly persons offense), and violating the emergency orders. Moya allegedly harassed ticket agents at Newark Airport and refused to leave. 

AG Grewal and Col. Callahan Issue Weekly Round-Up on COVID-19 Enforcement Matters

May 1, 2020

TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, today announced enforcement highlights from the past week, including coughing and spitting assaults and bias incidents, and noteworthy violations of Governor Murphy’s Executive Orders.  The Attorney General also announced enforcement actions targeting price-gouging, consumer fraud violations, and alcoholic beverage control violations. “We’re cracking down on those who jeopardize public health and undermine public safety,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We have zero patience for those who spit on cops, gouge prices, or try to exploit this pandemic for their personal gain.” “Although law enforcement and medical professionals are on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, we are ultimately winning the war because of the extraordinary resolve and fortitude of New Jersey citizens who are doing their part day in and day out, abiding by the executive orders and sacrificing for the greater good,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.  “Those who choose to ignore the law and selfishly place others at risk will face swift law enforcement action.” Assaults and Threats Against Police Officers, EMTs, or Others

  • John R. Hendricks, 19, of Rumson, was charged on April 25 by the Middletown Township Police Department with terroristic threats during an emergency (2nd degree), aggravated assault on a police officer (3rd degree), resisting arrest (3rd degree), criminal mischief (3rd degree), and violating the emergency orders.  Andrew R. Jacome, 18, of Fair Haven, was charged with criminal mischief (3rd degree) and violating the emergency orders.  Homeowners called police to report two subjects throwing rocks at their door, vandalizing their vehicle, and exploding fireworks in their mailbox.  Police arrested Hendricks and Jacome nearby.  Hendricks allegedly attempted to flee and physically resisted arrest.  He allegedly screamed at the victims, threatening to return and burn their house down.  At police headquarters, Hendricks allegedly tried to kick officers and spat on the floor, claiming he had the coronavirus.         
  • Alana B. Hall, 24, of Wenonah, was charged on April 26 by the Woodbury Police with terroristic threats during an emergency (2nd degree), aggravated assault (3rd degree), and disorderly conduct. It is alleged that Hall purposely coughed on medical staff at Inspira Medical Center and said she was infected with COVID-19.  She allegedly scratched and struck a nurse technician, spat on her, and fought with other medical personnel.
  • Jaymee Tice, 37, of Point Pleasant Borough, was charged on April 26 by the Point Pleasant Borough Police with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency.  Tice entered the driver’s seat of an occupied vehicle while the driver was inside getting ice cream at Sundaes on Route 88.  The car owner saw Tice and returned to her vehicle. She managed to get Tice out, but Tice allegedly shouted at her, saying, “Do you want corona? Do you want to die?”
  • Jenna Richardson, 24, of West Deptford, was charged on April 29 by the West Deptford Police with second degree terroristic threats during an emergency and fourth-degree throwing bodily fluid at an officer. Richardson allegedly spat on an officer and said she had COVID-19.
  • Quentin Daniels, 33, of Mount Laurel, was charged by the Mount Laurel Police on April 28 with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer (4th degree) and obstruction (disorderly persons offense).  Police responded to a report of a domestic dispute.  Daniels refused to cooperate and attempted to leave. While being handcuffed, he allegedly purposely coughed on officers and said he had the coronavirus.  Throughout his transport and upon his initial detention at headquarters, he continually removed the N95 mask placed on him by police and repeatedly coughed on officers, saying, “I hope you all get the virus.”

Theft of Personal Protective Equipment

  • Stephen Milligan, 54, of South Amboy, was charged yesterday with conspiring with Kevin R. Brady, 49, of Point Pleasant Beach, to steal up to 1,600 respirator masks from Prudential Financial in Iselin.  Brady was charged in the theft on April 23.  Like Brady, Milligan was charged with theft by unlawful taking and conspiracy to commit theft, both third-degree charges. The two men were charged in an ongoing investigation by the New Jersey State Police, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Woodbridge Police Department, and Point Pleasant Beach Police Department, based on a referral from the National Hoarding & Price-Gouging Task Force headed by New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito.  Brady and Milligan were on-site electrical contractors who had access to storage areas in the Prudential Financial facility.  Between March 27 and April 1, Brady and Milligan allegedly stole seven to eight cases of N95 respirator masks, each case containing 200 masks.  Prudential Financial had intended to donate the masks to a local hospital.  The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office issued a press release detailing this further.

Price Gouging Enforcement ​AG Grewal announced updates on the Division of Consumer Affairs’ actions to stop price gouging. As of this week: 

  • The Division has issued 92 subpoenas to retailers and online market places reported by consumers for allegedly engaging in unfair price increases.
  • Approximately 756 cease-and-desist letters have been sent, warning retailers about the penalties for violating New Jersey’s price-gouging law, and the Consumer Fraud Act’s protections from gross and unreasonable inflation of the price of any product during a state of emergency.

 The Division has logged a total of 4,245 complaints related to the COVID-19 emergency against 2,358 locations. Nearly 90 percent of the complaints allege unlawful price hikes on essential items like food, bottled water, cleaning products, and personal protective equipment such as masks, disinfectants and sanitizers. Examples of alleged price hikes that consumers have reported to the Division include:

  • a convenience store allegedly charging $4.50 for a quart of milk
  • a wholesale store allegedly selling a case of paper towels for $65, almost double the previous $35 price
  • a supermarket allegedly raising the price of bacon from $4 to $9.99—an increase of over 50%
  • a medical supply store allegedly selling a 2.4-once bottle of hand sanitizer for $13.42
  • a convenience store allegedly charging $30 for a single face mask
  • a dollar store allegedly charging $3.99 for a package of gloves that used to cost $1.49
  • a gas station allegedly selling purified water that normally costs $3 for $14 a pack
  • a pharmacy allegedly charging $10 for small plastic containers of sanitizing wipes, which were previously sold for $3.99
  • a deli allegedly selling a dozen eggs for $5.99

 In addition to price gouging, the Division is looking into complaints from consumers alleging unlawful refund practices as a result of closures related to the COVID-19 health emergency. To date, the Division’s overall complaints include 202 reports of health clubs, hotels, ticket agents and other business allegedly refusing to issue refunds after they closed or suspended services as a result of theCOVID-19 pandemic. New Jersey’s price-gouging law, which took effect on March 9 upon Governor Murphy’s declaration of a state of emergency, prohibits excessive price increases during a declared state of emergency and for 30 days after its termination. A price increase is considered excessive if the new price is more than 10 percent higher than the price charged during the normal course of business prior to the state of emergency, and the increased price is not attributable to additional costs imposed by the seller’s supplier or additional costs of providing the product or service during the state of emergency. Price-gouging and other consumer fraud violations are punishable by civil penalties of up to $10,000 for the first violation and $20,000 for the second and subsequent violations. Violators may also be required to pay consumer restitution, attorney’s fees, and investigative fees, and will be subject to injunctive relief. Each sale of merchandise is considered a separate violation. Consumers who suspect consumer fraud, violations, or believe that businesses have unfairly increased their prices in response to COVID-19, are encouraged to file complaints online to report specific details investigators can follow up on. Photographs of items being sold, receipts and pricing can now be uploaded to our new price gouging complaint form.           Other Violations of Executive Orders, Including “Stay at Home” Order, and Ordinances

  • Newark Enforcement.  The Newark Police Department’s COVID-19 task force issued 490 summonses for violations of the emergency orders and ordered eight non-essential businesses closed in enforcement actions during the past week, April 24 through 30.
  • Paterson Enforcement.  The Paterson Police Department’s issued 21 summonses for violations of the emergency orders in enforcement actions on April 27.
  • Stephanie Hazelton, 48, of Medford, was charged with violating the emergency orders for her role in organizing and participating in a protest at the Capitol Complex in Trenton on April 28.  She was served with a complaint-summons at her residence.
  • Christopher Pitts, 38, of West Deptford, was charged on April 25 by the West Deptford Police Department with violating the emergency orders by allowing golfers to play at the golf course he operates, Westwood Golf Course.  Police had previously warned Pitts, but found approximately 24 people golfing on the course and sharing golf carts without social distancing. 
  • Naman Rafi, 39, of Galloway, was charged by the Galloway Police Department on April 24 with two violations of the emergency orders for opening his business, Tobacco Outlet on Jimmie Leeds Road.  Rafi had been warned several times about closing the business.
  • Delvis Rivera, 34, of Newark, was charged on April 24 by the North Arlington Police with violating the emergency orders for cutting hair at the business where he works, Avenue Cuts 34 on Ridge Road.  This was the second complaint about the barber shop being open.
  • Zachary Novosellar, 62, of Lakewood, was charged on April 28 by the Lakewood Police for hosting an engagement party at his residence on 14th Street.  Police found 25 to 30 cars parked on the street and approximately 20 people standing in front of the residence, without social distancing.  Novosellar said he arranged for the parties to meet to pick up engagement gifts. 
  • John C Bigham, 46, of Chatham, was charged on April 28 with violating the emergency orders by holding a large birthday party for his wife.  Police found a gathering of 25 to 30 people congregating and drinking on his front lawn. The crowd dispersed once the police came.
  • Miran Lee, 44, of Passaic, was cited twice by the Passaic Police Department, on April 29 and April 30, for violating the emergency orders by opening her massage business on Brook Avenue, which operates under the names Sky Spa, Ohangs and New Asian Massage.
  • Janice Lauria, 52, of Point Pleasant, was charged by the Point Pleasant Police on April 28 with violating the emergency orders by ignoring repeated warnings from the police and allowing individuals to exercise in the gym she owns on Route 88, Anytime Fitness.

 Violation of the emergency orders is a disorderly persons offense carrying a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.  Such violations are charged by summons, without arrest. COVID-Related Violations of State Alcohol Laws AG Grewal announced that the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) this week issued charges against 20 bars, restaurants, breweries and liquor stores for violating executive orders related to COVID-19. All 20 establishments face suspension of their liquor licenses for at least 10 days. Two other establishments were issued fines for lesser COVID-19 related infractions. Under executive orders issued by Governor Murphy, businesses licensed to sell alcohol in the state are permitted to remain open during the COVID-19 state-of-emergency, but only for take-out or delivery services of food and alcohol. No table or bar service is permitted, on premise alcohol consumption is prohibited, and alcoholic beverages “to go” must be in sealed original containers. The establishments facing suspension for violating the orders are:

  • Alchemist and Barrister in Princeton
  • Bask Bar and Grill in Woodland Park
  • Buteco Sports Bar in Long Branch
  • Core 3 Brewery in Clayton
  • Devil’s Creek Brewery in Collingswood
  • Disabled American Veterans, Clifton Chapter #2 in Clifton
  • Lina’s Restaurant in Bloomingdale
  • Linwood Inn in Linden
  • Medina Liquor Store in Elizabeth
  • Old Glory Kitchen and Spirits in Keyport
  • Quilvio’s Tavern in Paterson
  • Rail’s Steak House in Towaco
  • Randolph Diner in Randolph
  • Riviera Maya in Branchville
  • Riviera Maya in Rockaway
  • Tacos El Tio in Medford
  • Taphouse 15 in Wharton
  • The Sawmill in Seaside Heights
  • Vincenzo’s Ristorante in Middlesex

The establishments that received fines are:

  • Juliano’s Restaurant in Egg Harbor Township ($500) for offering investigators a beer before they identified themselves.
  • The Liquor King in Pennsauken ($750) for violation of face mask requirements.

 Since the state of emergency was declared in New Jersey on March 9, at least 28 people have been charged with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency for spitting, coughing, or otherwise threatening to deliberately expose officers, medical personnel, or others to COVID-19.  Second-degree offenses carry 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.

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

April 24, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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