Category: Toms River

Toms River Man Pleads Guilty To Vehicular Homicide

September 15, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on September 15, 2021, Roberto Sandoval-Guerrero, 38, of Toms River, pled guilty to Vehicular Homicide in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5b(1), before the Honorable Rochelle Gizinski, J.S.C., relative to the death of Daniel Cintron on September 5, 2020.  At the time of his sentencing on November 19, 2021, the State will recommend a term of seven years New Jersey State Prison, subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.  Sandoval-Guerrero also pled guilty to Driving While Intoxicated in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.

On September 5, 2020, the New Jersey State Police received a report of a pedestrian having been struck by a motor vehicle in the area of Garden State Parkway South at or near mile-marker post 86 in Toms River, with said vehicle then fleeing the scene.  The investigation determined that Daniel Cintron had previously been involved in a minor motor vehicle accident with another driver, Frank Puglisi.  The men exited their vehicles and were in the process of exchanging insurance information on the shoulder of the Parkway when they were struck by a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer operated by Sandoval-Guerrero.  Mr. Puglisi was struck on his left arm, while Mr. Cintron was thrown into the lanes of travel where he was run over by passing traffic.  Mr. Cintron was pronounced deceased at the scene.  Further investigation revealed that Sandoval-Guerrero continued to operate the vehicle southbound on the Garden State Parkway; he ultimately abandoned the vehicle on the shoulder and fled on foot.  Sandoval-Guerrero was eventually located in the area of Route 9 and Church Road and taken into custody.  Sandoval-Guerrero has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since his apprehension.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Michael Abatemarco and Assistant Prosecutor Andrew Leimbach who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, New Jersey State Police, Toms River Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, ultimately resulting in Sandoval-Guerrero’s guilty plea, and soon his state prison sentence.


State Police Charge Man with Vehicular Homicide in Fatal Boating Crash in Toms River

June 9, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Colonel Patrick J. Callahan and Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced today that Juan A. Fernandez II, 18, of Towaco, N.J., has been charged with vehicular homicide as a result of a boating crash in Toms River that killed Corey T. Molinari, 19, of Whippany, N.J. and injured 4 others.

On Sunday, June 13, at approximately 1:13 a.m., troopers from the New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau responded to Antiqua Avenue for the report of a serious vessel crash in Barnegat Bay. Upon their arrival, officers from the Toms River Police Department and local first responders were on scene treating the injured. Four occupants were treated for non-life-threatening injuries, and Corey Molinari was airlifted to Jersey Shore Medical Center where he later succumbed to his injuries.

As result of the investigation led by the Troop “C” Criminal Investigation Office, along with the NJSP Crime Scene Investigations Unit and investigators from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, detectives determined that Juan Fernandez II was operating a 2014 Bennington Pontoon boat in the Barnegat Bay when he struck Intracoastal Waterway Marker #26 head on. After the crash, he was able to navigate the vessel to Antiqua Avenue where he met Toms River police and first responders. Initially, Fernandez claimed that there were a total of six occupants on the vessel, but through various investigative means, detectives later determined that there were a total of nine occupants on the vessel prior to the crash, three who were let off just prior to the collision. At the time of the crash, two occupants were ejected.

As a result of a toxicology report on blood obtained from Fernandez on the morning of the crash and information obtained as a result of the investigation, the New Jersey State Police working in cooperation with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office charged Juan A. Fernandez II with Vehicular Homicide (2nd Degree), Strict Liability Vehicular Homicide (3rd Degree), and Hindering (Third Degree).

Juan A. Fernandez II was arrested in Boonton, N.J. on Wednesday, September 8. He was taken to NJSP Tuckerton Station where he was processed and then later lodged at the Ocean County Jail pending a bail detention hearing.

The case is being prosecuted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.

Charges are mere accusations, and the accused is considered innocent until proven guilty.


Related MidJersey.News story here:

19 Year Old From Whippany, NJ Killed In Boating Accident; 5 Others Injured When Pontoon Boat Strikes Marker



Toms River Man Indicted On Terroristic Threats And Causing False Public Alarm

August 12, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on August 12, 2021, an Indictment by a Grand Jury sitting in Monmouth County was returned against David Giordano, 36, of Toms River, on charges of Terroristic Threats in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3a, and False Public Alarms in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-3c, relative to an incident that occurred on April 12, 2021. These charges were presented to a Monmouth County Grand Jury due to a conflict arising out of the fact that Giordano’s threats were made against the Ocean County Judiciary.

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

On May 3, 2021, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Berkeley Township Police Department executed court-authorized search warrants on two residences – one in Toms River and the other in Berkeley Township – where Giordano is known to reside. As a result, Detectives recovered and seized several items containing digital evidence. A motor vehicle stop was subsequently performed by Toms River Township Police Officers on a vehicle operated by Giordano. Giordano was arrested and taken into custody without incident. Although initially detained in the Ocean County Jail and then transported to Monmouth County Correctional Institution shortly after his arrest, Giordano was released on July 21, 2021 pursuant to New Jersey Bail Reform.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Shanon Chant-Berry who is handling the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, and Berkeley Township Police Department, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation leading to Giordano’s indictment.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).


52 Year Old Killed In Toms River Accident

August 9, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–On Monday, August 9, 2021, at approximately 7:00 AM, police and fire units were dispatched to Route 571 near Oak Ridge Parkway for a motor vehicle accident with entrapment and a vehicle fire. Claudine Silvestri, 52 of Toms River, was traveling westbound on route 571 in the left lane when she suddenly drifted into the right lane and struck a curb and a guard rail according to a witness. The vehicle then veered to the left and entered the oncoming traffic lanes where she collided head-on with a sign truck before her vehicle caught fire.

Upon arrival, Police officers and EMTs extinguish the fire. Ms. Silvestri was trapped inside and had to be extricated from the vehicle. She was pronounced at the scene.

Along with Toms River Police, Toms River EMT‘s, Pleasant Plains and Silverton Fire Companies, the Ocean County Prosecutor‘s Office, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department CSI, and Berkeley Hazmat reported to the accident scene.

The accident remains under investigation by Toms River Traffic Safety Officers Mark Nater and Ryan Fitzgerald.


Toms River Police Search For Female Armed With Handgun, Residents Asked To Shelter In Place

UPDATE: August 3, 2021 * UPDATE 1:00 AM 8/3/2021* The female has been safely located and transported to the hospital for treatment. The shelter in place is now lifted.

August 2, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Police are actively searching for a suicidal female armed with a handgun in the wooded area behind Edgewood apartments, and the access road that runs along the power lines behind the Silver Ridge Apartment complex.

We are asking the residents in that area to please shelter in place for the time being. There is nothing further at this time.



South Toms River Man Sentenced To 10 Years In NJ State Prison For Aggravated Manslaughter

July 26, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on July 26, 2021, Marcus Samuels, 32, of South Toms River, was sentenced by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., to ten years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) as a result of his previously entered guilty plea to Aggravated Manslaughter in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4a(1), relative to the shooting death of Willie Love, 27, of Beachwood, that occurred in South Toms River on June 8, 2015. This sentence will be subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, meaning that Samuels will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility. Additionally, Samuels was sentenced to ten years NJSP as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Conspiracy to Commit Witness Tampering in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2 and N.J.S.A. 2C:28-5a(1), and five years NJSP in connection with an unrelated charge of Aggravated Assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b, relative to an incident that occurred in Seaside Heights on May 3, 2015. Samuels pled guilty to all charges before Judge Ryan on June 4, 2021. The sentences will run concurrently.

On June 8, 2015, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and Officers of the South Toms River Police Department responded to Community Medical Center in Toms River for a report of a male having suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. The male was identified to be Willie Love, who later succumbed to his injuries at Community Medical Center.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and South Toms River Police Department revealed that Samuels – who was driving a 2004 Dodge Nitro – pulled alongside a vehicle being operated by Mr. Love which contained three passengers. Samuels then recklessly fired a handgun into Mr. Love’s vehicle, striking Mr. Love, which led to his death. Samuels turned himself into law enforcement in the presence of his attorney on June 12, 2015, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since that date.

While Samuels was detained in the Ocean County Jail pending trial on these charges, he conspired with other inmates to influence a witness into retracting or changing a statement previously provided to law enforcement in connection with the investigation.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Chief Narcotics Assistant Prosecutor William Porter and Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Burke who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, South Toms River Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Science, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation, ultimately resulting in Samuels’ state prison sentence.


27 Year Old Scotch Plains Man Charged With Aggravated Assault In July 4th Toms River Incident

July 7, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on July 5, 2021, Raziel Mancebo, age 27, of Scotch Plains, was charged with Aggravated Assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(7); and Simple Assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1a(1), in connection with an incident that occurred in Toms River on July 4, 2021.

On July 4, 2021, at approximately 9:15 p.m., the Toms River Township Police were summoned to the area of Cattus Island Boulevard and Hazelwood Road for a report of an unconscious male in the roadway. Responding Officers found Alan Stever, age 56, of Toms River, with an apparent head injury. Mr. Stever was airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune where he is currently listed in serious but stable condition.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and the Toms River Township Police Detective Bureau revealed that a black BMW was traveling northbound on Hazelwood Road at a high rate of speed. The vehicle approached the cross street of Hazelwood Road and Cattus Island Boulevard and stopped at the stop sign. At this point a resident of the neighborhood, Jason Durante, age 50, of Toms River, approached the BMW. The driver of the BMW and Mr. Durante exchanged words and eventually became involved in a physical altercation.  The driver of the BMW also became involved in a physical altercation with Alan Stever, striking him. Mr. Stever fell to the ground and struck his head on the pavement. The driver of the BMW then got back into his vehicle and traveled eastbound on Cattus Island Boulevard. Extensive further investigation revealed that Mancebo was the driver of the BMW and was responsible for striking both Mr. Durante and Mr. Stever.

On July 7, 2021, Mancebo surrendered himself to the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office.  Mancebo was processed and charged at the Toms River Police Department and transported to the Ocean County Jail.  Mancebo will remain in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the collaborative efforts of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Toms River Township Police Department Patrol Division, Toms River Township Police Department, Toms River Township Police Detective Bureau, Scotch Plains Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit in this investigation.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.  R.P.C.3.6(b)(6).

Previous MidJersey.News story here: Developing: Victim Flown To Jersey Shore Medical Center After Altercation In Toms River


Toms River Police is Looking for the Best of the Best

July 6, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–The Toms River Police Department is excited to announce our 2021 recruitment test application process is underway, and will continue through July 31, 2021, for the testing process which will be in September. We are looking for qualified applicants who meet strict educational, physical and ethical standards, to take our police test. The recruiting process is ongoing, testing occurs once every 3 years. Join our Toms River Police Department Family, your career starts here! If you have any questions please visit us at http://www.trpolice.org and choose the “Recruitment” button or contact us at 732-349-0150 x 1327.



Developing: Victim Flown To Jersey Shore Medical Center After Altercation In Toms River

UPDATE: 27 Year Old Scotch Plains Man Charged With Aggravated Assault In July 4th Toms River Incident

July 4, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Toms River Police say that, on Sunday July 4, 2021, at approximately 9:30 p.m., police units were called to Hazelwood Road in Toms River for a reported injured person. Initial investigation revealed there was an altercation in the street and one victim was flown to Jersey Shore Medical University for serious injuries. The investigation is on-going at this time.

Further details to follow


Toms River Police Investigate Low-Flying Helicopter

Citation issued for Zoning Ordinance Chapter 348, 10.5 Unauthorized Helipad Zone

July 2, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–On June 24, 2021, and on other previous occasions, the Toms River Police Department received several anonymous complaints about a helicopter flying low within the township, and possibly landing in unauthorized areas and on private property on Dino Blvd. Officers were able to view the helicopter in question and obtain the tail number and owner information. Homeowner and pilot, Meir Gurvitz provided necessary information to officers and received a citation for Zoning Ordinance Chapter 348, 10.5 Unauthorized Helipad Zone. The FAA and DOT will be conducting an investigation into the incident and any other violations of federal and state laws.



UPDATE: Person Rescued From Barnegat Bay After Jumping From Route 37 Bridge

July 1, 2021–updated

Photos by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Police told MidJersey.news that on Thursday, July 1, 2021, at approximately 1:20 a.m., police and fire units were dispatched to the Mathis Bridge for a reported male that jumped into the bay.  Officer Bartoshek threw the victim a life ring, which he refused.  Toms River Fire company responded with their boat, along with officers Pinto and Elwood.  The officers pulled the victim from the water and he was transported via ambulance to Community Medical Center for evaluation.



4 Charged With Narcotics Distribution

June 30, 2021

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Narcotics Strike Force joined forces with Barnegat Township Police Department Crime Reduction Unit and Patrol Division, Toms River Township Police Department Special Enforcement Team, Stafford Township Police Department Drug Enforcement Unit and K-9 Unit, Ocean Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Lacey Township Police Department Detective Bureau and the Ocean County Sherriff’s Office, to conduct an investigation into the distribution of narcotics in the Ocean County area. The investigation identified a residence in Barnegat as being utilized by Elex Hyman, age 49 and Jaime Steen, age 38, to store and distribute cocaine.

On June 29, 2021, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Barnegat Township Police Department Crime Reduction Unit and the Toms River Township Police Department Special Enforcement Team established surveillance on the residence in Barnegat. Detectives maintained surveillance on Hyman and Steen as they traveled to an area in Toms River. Detectives observed Hyman meet with another vehicle that was occupied by Jesse Jackson, age 38, of South Toms River and Alicia Walker, age 44, of Union Beach. After the vehicles parted ways, motor vehicle stops were executed on both vehicles and the occupants detained. As a result of the motor vehicle stops, Detectives recovered approximately 63 grams of powder and crack cocaine, 150 wax folds of heroin and 100 Ecstasy tablets. Hyman, Steen, Jackson and Walker were all placed under arrest. Detectives applied for and were granted a search warrant for the residence in Barnegat. As a result of the execution of the search warrant, approximately $14,500 in US currency was seized. Arrested and charged were;

Elex Hyman, age 49, of Barnegat, was charged with Possession of Cocaine in an Amount Greater than One-Half Ounce but Less than Five Ounces with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Distribution of Cocaine in an Amount Greater than One-Half Ounce but Less than Five Ounces in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); and Knowingly Wander to Obtain or Sell a Controlled Dangerous Substance in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2.1B. Hyman is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Jaime Steen, age 38, of Barnegat, was charged with Possession of Cocaine in an Amount Greater than One-Half Ounce but Less than Five Ounces with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Distribution of Cocaine in an Amount Greater than One-Half Ounce but Less than Five Ounces in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); and Knowingly Wander to Obtain or Sell a Controlled Dangerous Substance in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2.1B. Steen was charged on a Summons and released pending a future court date.

Jessie Jackson, age 38, of South Toms River, was charged with Possession of Cocaine in an Amount Greater than One-Half Ounce but Less than Five Ounces with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Possession of Heroin with the Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); and Knowingly Wander to Obtain or Sell a Controlled Dangerous Substance in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2.1B. Jackson is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Alicia Walker, age 44, of Union Beach, was charged with Possession of Cocaine in an Amount Greater than One-Half Ounce but Less than Five Ounces with Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(2); Possession of Heroin with the Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5b(3); Possession of Ecstasy tablets with the Intent to Distribute in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-3b(3); Possession of Heroin in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Cocaine in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Ecstasy tablets in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(1); Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2a; and Knowingly Wander to Obtain or Sell a Controlled Dangerous Substance in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2.1B. Walker is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit, Barnegat Township Police Department Crime Reduction Unit and Patrol Division, Toms River Township Police Department Special Enforcement Team, Stafford Township Police Department Drug Enforcement Unit and K-9 Unit, Ocean Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Lacey Township Police Department Detective Bureau and the Ocean County Sherriff’s Office, for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. R.P.C.3.6(b)(6).




3 Dogs Abandoned, Left For Dead In Lacey Township; Toms River Woman Indicted For Three Counts Of Animal Cruelty

June 25, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 23, 2021, Allissa DeStefano, age 30, of Toms River, was indicted by a Grand Jury sitting in Ocean County on three counts of Animal Cruelty in violation of N.J.S.A. 4-22-17c(2).

During the evening hours of November 11, 2019, the Lacey Township Police Department responded to a residence in Lacey Township for a report that dogs had possibly been abandoned in the residence. Upon arrival, the officers determined that the house was indeed abandoned, and the remains of three dogs were discovered. An investigation by Detectives from the Lacey Township Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that DeStefano was responsible for the care of the dogs and had abandoned them in the residence, which resulted in their death. DeStefano was arrested without incident, and processed at the Lacey Township Police Department. She was released on a summons pending a future court date.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Carr who is handling the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the Lacey Township Police Department for their collaborative efforts relative to this investigation resulting in DeStefano’s indictment.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. R.P.C.3.6(b)(6).



19 Year Old From Whippany, NJ Killed In Boating Accident; 5 Others Injured When Pontoon Boat Strikes Marker

June 14, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–The New Jersey State Police has identified the victim in a weekend boating crash as Corey Molinari, 19, of Whippany, NJ.

According to NJ State Police Sgt. Alejandro Goez of the Pubic Information Unit the boating accident was reported around 1:30 a.m. near the Thomas A. Mathis Bridge – Route 37 Bridge. The pontoon boat struck a marker and Corey Molinari, 19, of Whippany, NJ sustained serious injuries. He was airlifted to Jersey Shore Medical Center, where he later succumbed to his injuries.

There were five other people onboard, two of which were ejected. Four sustained non-life-threatening injuries, and one sustained moderate injuries.


2nd Alarm in Toms River Brought Under Control Quickly

May 20, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–On Thursday, May 20, 2021 at approximately 10:20 AM multiple police and fire units responded to Orchid Court in Toms River for a reported structure fire. Upon arrival the unit was fully involved. Two occupants, who were home at the time of the blaze, were able to safely exit the home and call 911. Police evacuated nearby residences as a precaution. There were no tenant injuries in the incident. Two family dogs, and a cat, did perish in the fire. Toms River Animal Control was able to rescue a cat from the scene in an adjoining home.

Toms River Fire Companies quickly brought the fire under control and were able to save the adjoining homes in the complex. The American Red Cross responded to the scene and provided support for the displaced family. The cause of the fire is under investigation, but not deemed suspicious at this time. It is under investigation by Toms River Fire Inspector Charles Bauer. Please direct further inquiries to the Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention.


Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention Inspectors along with the Toms River Police Detective bureau are currently investigating a fire that took place this morning at 121 Orchid Court in Toms River. The fire was reported at 10: 22 this morning. Based on the number of phone calls the fire was escalated to a 2nd Alarm response. Companies responding on the initial dispatch and 2nd alarm were Pleasant Plains Fire Company, Toms River Fire Companies No. 1 & No.2, Silverton Fire Company, East Dover Fire Company and Island Heights Fire Company. Firefighters had the fire under control in twenty-three (23)minutes. –John NovakActing Chief Inspector


2nd Alarm Fire Chadwick Beach Section Of Toms River

May 6, 2021

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

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


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



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

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Toms River Couple Charged With Promoting Prostitution And Money Laundering

May 5, 2021

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

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

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

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

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


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

May 5, 2021

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

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

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


Toms River Man Charged With Terroristic Threats

May 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Seaside Heights Man Charged With Murder

May 4, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 30, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 23, 2021

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

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


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response

Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


See more at the Lakewood Scoop

Video credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop


Video credit: Yossi Brander,  The Lakewood Scoop

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


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


Video by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response


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

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

The 10th Legislative District covers parts of Ocean County

April 19, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Man Sentenced To 7 Years In NJ State Prison For Vehicular Homicide While DWI

April 3, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on April 1, 2021, Jeydon Lowe, 25, of Barnegat, was sentenced by the Honorable Linda G. Baxter, J.S.C., to a term of seven years New Jersey State Prison as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Vehicular Homicide in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.  This sentence is subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, meaning Lowe will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility.  Additionally, Judge Baxter suspended Lowe’s driving privileges for a period of five years in connection with his previously entered guilty plea to Driving While Intoxicated in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50.  Lowe pled guilty to both charges before Judge Baxter on January 27, 2021.

On March 25, 2020, at approximately 5:30 p.m., officers from the Stafford Township Police Department responded to a single vehicle crash on Stafford Avenue near Hilliard Boulevard.  An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Stafford Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit revealed that a 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt operated by Lowe was traveling eastbound on Stafford Avenue at an extremely high rate of speed.  Lowe lost control of the vehicle as he was attempting to navigate a right-hand turn, and consequently crashed into a tree.  A passenger in the front seat of the vehicle, Robert Parlin, 24, of Little Egg Harbor, succumbed to his injuries as a result of the crash and was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Lowe sustained minor injuries and was taken to Hackensack Meridian Health Southern Ocean County Medical Center in Stafford Township. A search warrant was obtained for a draw of his blood.  On April 14, 2020, Detectives received the laboratory results from the blood draw which indicated that Lowe had a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of nearly .12 percent.  An operator of a motor vehicle is presumed to be over the legal limit for purposes of alcohol consumption where his/her BAC is .08 or greater.

“This is an absolutely tragic case, which should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone who is tempted to drink and drive,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.  “Let me be clear:  drunk driving kills, and it has the potential to tear families apart.  Sadly, these types of cases are wholly preventable, particularly in this day and age of Uber, Lyft, and other readily available transportation services.  While this young defendant will go to prison for a long time for his senseless conduct on the night in question, nothing will bring Mr. Parlin back to his family” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.  

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, Stafford Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit for their combined efforts in connection with this investigation which resulted in Lowe’s guilty plea, and ultimately his state prison sentence.

See previous MidJersey.News story here: Barnegat Man Pleads Guilty To Vehicular Homicide And DWI For March 25, 2020 Fatal Crash In Stafford Twp.


Jackson Man Sentenced To 5 Years In NJ State Prison For Death By Auto

March 1, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on March 1, 2021, Douglas Thompson, 56, of Jackson, was sentenced by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, J.S.C., to five years New Jersey State Prison as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Death By Auto in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5a. This sentence is subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2, meaning that Thompson will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence before he may be considered for parole eligibility.  Furthermore, Judge Ryan ordered that Thompson’s driving privileges be suspended for life in connection with his sentence for Death by Auto.  Thompson pled guilty to this offense before Judge Ryan on November 19, 2020

At the time of he was sentenced on the Death by Auto offense, Thompson pled guilty to Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”) in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, for which Judge Ryan sentenced Thompson to 180 days incarceration to run concurrent with the five-year state prison sentence imposed on the Death by Auto conviction.  Judge Ryan suspended Thompson’s driving privileges for a period of ten years relative to the DWI offense, which as a practical matter will be subsumed by the life-time ban on his driving privileges imposed as a consequence of the Death by Auto conviction.  

On October 15, 2019, Toms River Township Police were dispatched to the intersection of Route 9 and Stevens Road for a report of a motor vehicle accident.  Thomas Marciano, 65, of Toms River, was stopped behind a motor vehicle making a left-hand turn when he was struck from behind by a vehicle operated by Thompson.  Mr. Marciano was transported to Community Medical Center and was subsequently flown to Jersey Shore Medical Center due to the severity of his injuries.  Mr. Marciano ultimately succumbed to those injuries on October 28, 2019.  Thompson submitted to chemical breath testing on the date of the crash, which revealed his Blood Alcohol Concentration to be .17 percent – more than double the legal limit under New Jersey law for purposes of alcohol consumption.    

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Robert Cassidy and Senior Assistant Prosecutor Jamie Schron who handled the case on behalf of the State, and commends the Toms River Township Police Department Traffic Safety Division, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Toms River EMS, and Silverton EMS, for their combined efforts in this investigation which ultimately resulted in Thompson’s guilty plea, state prison sentence, and life-time ban of his driving privileges.

Toms River Man Sentenced To 5 Years In State Prison For Child Pornography

February 27, 2021

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on February 26, 2021, Henry Ziolkowski, 56, of Toms River, was sentenced to five years New Jersey State Prison by the Honorable Michael T. Collins, J.S.C., as a result of a previously entered guilty plea to Possession of Child Pornography in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4b(5)(b)iii.  Ziolkowski will also be subject to Parole Supervision for Life.  Ziolkowski pled guilty before Judge Collins on December 1, 2020.

This investigation was the result of several referrals from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children through the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which identified a residence in Toms River as the location of several uploads of child pornography.  On July 7, 2020, Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit and Toms River Township Police Department executed a search warrant on the subject residence.  As a result, Detectives seized a computer belonging to Ziolkowski which contained numerous images of child pornography.  Ziolkowski was arrested and processed at Toms River Police headquarters.  He has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since the date of his arrest.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Shanon Chant-Berry who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Toms River Township Police Department, New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, for their collective and combined assistance in this investigation leading to Ziolkowski’s apprehension, and ultimately his state prison sentence.

Florida Man Charged With Theft By Deception

February 22, 2021

BARNEGAT TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Barnegat Township Police Chief Keith A. Germain announced that on February 12, 2021, Juan C. Piedrahita, 49, of Hollywood, Florida, was charged with Theft by Deception in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4.

The charges are the result of a joint investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Unit and Barnegat Township Police Department Detective Bureau in January 2021.  The investigation revealed that Piedrahita, posing as an attorney, telephonically contacted an elderly victim advising him that his nephew had been in a motor vehicle accident.  Piedrahita convinced the victim that his nephew was under arrest and that $10,000 cash bail was needed to secure his release.  The victim obtained the cash and met Piedrahita – now posing as a courier – at a CVS parking lot in Barnegat.  After leaving the parking lot, the elderly victim was contacted once again and instructed to provide an additional $10,000 as payment to the alleged victim of the purported motor vehicle accident.  It was only when the victim was questioned by bank staff that he contacted his nephew and confirmed that his nephew was not in actual trouble.  Detectives were able to obtain surveillance footage of the area surrounding the CVS parking lot, which captured the rental vehicle Piedrahita had rented at Newark International Airport, and were thereafter able to confirm Piedrahita’s identity based on that footage.

Juan C. Piedrahita’s location is presently unknown, and a Warrant for his arrest has been issued.  Anyone in possession of information concerning Piedrahita’s whereabouts is urged to contact Detective James Purcell of the Barnegat Township Police Department at 609-698-5000, extension 262.

“Sadly, these types of scams targeting senior citizens are all too prevalent in Ocean County,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.  “I urge our residents to speak with their elderly family members about potential scams that target seniors, so as to prevent them from falling victim to predators seeking to cheat and extort them,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Germain commend the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crimes Unit and Barnegat Township Police Department Detective Bureau for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.

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.




UPDATE: Woman Rescued From House Fire As Winds Whip Flames In Freezing Temperatures

January 29, 2021

Update to the early morning: BREAKING: House Fire In Toms River

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–On January 28th, 2021 at approximately 11:30 PM, multiple Toms River Police, Fire and EMS units responded to Loxley Drive for a reported structure fire. Upon arrival, officers observed a two story, single family home actively on fire. Due to strong winds in the area responding officers evacuated surrounding residences.

Neighbors believed the homeowner was still in the residence at the time of police arrival. Officer Rebecca Sayegh forced entry through the front door and located the homeowner in the foyer who was unable to open the door and exit due to the heavy smoke. Officer Sayegh confirmed that there were no other occupants inside the residence and escorted the homeowner, and her pets, across the street to the neighbors’ residence where she was evaluated by Toms River EMS.

Multiple Fire Departments responded and assisted in extinguishing the fire. Toms River Fire Companies 1 and 2, East Dover Fire Department, Silverton Fire Department, Pleasant Plains Fire Company, and Island Heights Fire Department, as well as, Brick Twp Fire and EMS Mass Care Response Team. Toms River Police Detectives Roger Hull and Travis Seaman were on scene along with Toms River Fire Inspectors Matthew Janora and Dana Mitchell.

Due to freezing temperatures, Toms River Department of Public Works responded to the area to sand and salt the roadways to prevent hazardous road conditions.

One firefighter was transported to Community Medical Center for treatment of a minor injury. The cause of the fire is under investigation by Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention and is believed to be accidental.

BREAKING: House Fire In Toms River

January 29, 2021

UPDATE: Woman Rescued From House Fire As Winds Whip Flames In Freezing Temperatures

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Just after 11:30 pm last night a fire broke out in the 600 Block of Loxley Drive. The first arriving officer reported a well involved 2nd floor and fire though the roof. Additional fire apparatus was called to the scene. Ariel master streams were set up to combat the heavy fire conditions. A rehab unit from Brick Police Department was requested due to the cold temperatures. There were radio reports of one firefighter transported for a foot injury. No further information was available about the fire.

Edison And Toms River Residents Arrested And Charged In $4.5 Million Health Care Fraud Conspiracy

January 28, 2021

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – Three New Jersey residents were arrested today for allegedly participating in a long-running scheme to defraud the New Jersey Traumatic Brain Injury Fund (TBI Fund), a publicly funded health care benefit program, of more than $4.5 million, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Harry Pizutelli, 62, of Edison, New Jersey, and C.R. Kraus, 55, and Maritza Flores, 43, both of Toms River, New Jersey were arrested by special agents of the FBI and IRS this morning and are charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit health care fraud. They are scheduled to appear later today by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni.

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

The TBI Fund is a publicly funded program run by the New Jersey Division of Disability Services, a component of the New Jersey Department of Human Services. The TBI Fund’s purpose is to provide New Jersey residents who have suffered a traumatic brain injury with services and support in order to maximize their quality of life when funding from insurance, personal resources, or other programs is unavailable to meet their needs. Services funded by the TBI Fund include physical, occupational, and speech therapy; service coordination; assistive technology; cognitive therapy; neuropsychological services; pharmaceuticals; wheelchair ramp installation and other home modifications; and general home management and maintenance.

After a prospective patient applies for services, TBI Fund personnel review the application and, if approved, the patient is authorized to secure designated services from a third-party vendor. Once a patient receives services approved by the TBI Fund, the vendor or service provider submits an invoice to the TBI Fund for payment. When an invoice is received, TBI Fund personnel review the invoice to ensure that the patient had been approved to receive the services. If the invoice is approved, an internal payment voucher is generated, authorized by TBI Fund personnel, and then submitted to the New Jersey Department of the Treasury for payment, which issues a check directly to the vendor.

Pizutelli was the manager of the TBI Fund and was responsible for the its day-to-day operation. He supervised, managed, and oversaw the process by which third-party vendors were paid for services rendered to eligible TBI Fund patients. From 2009 through June 2019, Pizutelli, Kraus, Flores, and others conspired to defraud the TBI Fund by misappropriating more than $4.5 million in fraudulent vendor payments for purported services that were never actually provided. Pizutelli orchestrated the distribution of fraudulent vendor payments to Kraus, Flores, and others by generating and processing false invoices and internal payment vouchers. Pizutelli generated these invoices and vouchers to give the appearance that Kraus, Flores, and other conspirators had provided approved services to eligible patients when, in fact, they had not provided any services. Pizutelli then approved and transmitted the internal payment vouchers so that his conspirators received vendor payments even though they had performed no services to eligible patients. Pizutelli orchestrated these fraudulent payments to maintain and further romantic and/or sexual relationships with Flores and other conspirators.

Pizutelli orchestrated the fraudulent payment of more than $4.5 million from the TBI Fund to members of the conspiracy, including more than $4 million in fraudulent distributions to Kraus and Flores, which they used for their own personal benefit and enrichment. To obscure their fraudulent conduct, Kraus and Flores also made material misstatements on their federal income tax returns, by significantly underreporting the income they had derived from the fraudulent scheme.

The health care fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and of $250,000 or twice the gross receipts to the defendants or gross loss sustained by any victims, whichever is greater.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Red Bank Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., and special agents of the IRS – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael Montanez, with the investigation leading to the charges. She also thanked the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, Division of Law, and the New Jersey Department of Human Services, for their assistance.

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

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

21-034

Defense counsel:
Pizutelli – Benjamin West Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton
Kraus – Bruce L. Throckmorton Esq., Trenton
Flores – Aidan P. O’Connor Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey