Category: State of NJ

Bipartisan Bill to Allow License Plate Frames that Don’t Fully Cover Lettering on License Plate Advances

May 18, 2022

Trenton –In an effort to ease the regulations on license plate frames, the Senate Transportation Committee today advanced legislation sponsored by Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. and Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer that would allow license plate frames that obstruct or conceal parts of the license plate if markings on the plate can still be reasonably identified. 

The Diegnan bill, S-2381, would apply to license plate frames and identification marker holders only. Dancer’s bill, A-3494, is in the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee. 

“Over 400,000 citations have been given to New Jersey drivers for illegal license plate frames in the past five years. Most of these citations were for frames covering a part of the license plate that did not prevent identification of the vehicle,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “These revised stipulations will allow for a significant decrease in unnecessary fines and reduce the number of New Jersey drivers being pulled over.” 

“This bill will help prevent thousands of drivers from being pulled over for minor license plate frame violations,” said Assemblyman Dancer (R-Ocean). “New Jersey drivers should not have to spend time and money seeking recourse through the court system. As long as pertinent letters and numbers are recognizable on a plate, a person should be free from unwarranted interactions with police who have much better uses for their time.”  

Currently, the statute does not allow a person to drive a motor vehicle that has a license plate frame or identification marker holder that conceals or otherwise obscures part of any marking on the vehicle’s registration or any part of any insert. A person violating the law is subject to a fine not exceeding $100. 

However, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled last August that it’s not a violation if the partially covered markings are still legible. The legislation conforms the statute to the court’s decision to eliminate any uncertainty. Committee amendments ensure temporary plates or certificates are covered by the bill. 

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 5-0. 


Big Snow American Dream To Reopen on May 27, 2022

May 16, 2022

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Big SNOW American Dream, North America’s first indoor, real-snow ski and snowboard center providing guests with year-round winter indoors, today announced it will reopen on Friday, May 27 from 1:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, the venue will host a snow-studded Beach Party, including DJ entertainment, live ice-sculpting, complimentary photo shoot sessions and an opportunity to meet and ride with athletes from Burton. Guests can also expect door prize giveaways throughout the day, including 50% off return visit vouchers.

“We are excited to reopen Big SNOW to guests this Memorial Day Weekend,” said Trish McLeod, Director of Resorts Marketing & Sales, SNOW Partners. “We thank our visitors and team for their patience as we’ve worked diligently to resume the full operation of the facility. We are appreciative of all the hard work that has gone towards this reopening and look forward to welcoming guests back to our slope where we offer endless winter fun right here in New Jersey.”

As a thank you for combatting last September’s fire, Big SNOW’s ceremonial “first chair” will honor representatives from various responding fire departments. The venue will also offer discounted tickets to responding firefighters and their families interested in hitting the slopes this summer.

“We are tremendously thankful for the quick response and efforts made by the local fire departments last fall,” continued McLeod. “These complimentary tickets are just a small token of our appreciation. At Big SNOW, every day is a snow day, so we hope to see local firefighters and their families cool off and hit the slopes this summer.”

Ideal for first-timers or those just looking to keep their ski skills intact this summer, Big SNOW offers Snow Day packages that provide everything needed to enjoy a day on the snow. Packages include ski/board rental, outerwear, complimentary access to Terrain Based Learning skills areas and a team of dedicated instructors. This summer also marks the return of Camp BIG’s Summer Series – a four-day camp designed for children ages 5-12 to level-up on their ski and snowboard skills. Participating campers will receive continuous supervision with personalized on-snow instruction, complimentary ski or snowboard equipment rental and outwear rentals, as well as, slope access tickets, daily snacks and a goodie bag.

For more information, guests can visit BigSNOWAmericanDream.com, or keep up with Big SNOW on Facebook and Instagram @bigsnowad



Scenes from Trenton Navy Week 2022

May 9, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Sailors of the U.S. Navy visited the Greater Trenton Area as part of Trenton Navy Week. The Navy sent 100 sailors into the area last week, to met with students to talk about the importance of STEM education, volunteering at local non-profits, and holding community events. Trenton was chosen as one of 14 cities to host Navy Week across the country this year and that took place May 2-8, 2022. This was the first time a Navy Week has been held in the state of New Jersey in the history of the program. A planned Trenton Navy Week in 2020 which had to be scrapped due to COVID.



Fire Controlman (Aegis) 2nd Class Jacob Gagliardi from Trenton, NJ attached to USS Gettysburg (CG-64) greets the crowd at TD Bank Ballpark, home field of the Somerset Patriots, as part of Navy Week Trenton.


Trenton Central High School:


Steinert High School:


Salvation Army:


Crockett Middle School:


Trenton Thunder:



TRENTON, N.J. — (MAY 5, 2022) U.S. Navy Religious Programs Specialist Michael Declaro from San Leandro, Calif. sends a shout out to his ship, USS Princeton, (CG-59) for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Roger S. Duncan

Boys and Girls Club:


Community Middle School Plainsboro:




Assemblyman Dancer introduces “Right to Try-Plus” bill for terminally ill patients

May 6, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Finding it unacceptable that New Jersey law recognizes the “right to die” for terminally ill patients but not enough other options, Assemblyman Ron Dancer wants to codify their right to try treatments and medications that a doctor believes could keep them alive.

Dancer’s “New Jersey Right to Try-Plus Act” (A3487) would allow patients with less than 12 months to live to request access to non-FDA approved investigational drugs, biological products, and devices. The “plus” is that, unlike other proposals, Dancer’s would also ensure they can try “off-label” treatments and medications with a doctor’s recommendation.

“Any person facing an end-of-life diagnosis deserves to try any medicine or treatment that could provide a cure or improve their quality of life,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said. “Terminally ill patients aren’t usually given the gift of time that is needed for full FDA approvals, so it is critical they are given the right to access potentially life-saving, but unconventional treatments.”

Under the bill, patients must have consulted with a physician and considered all other treatment options currently approved by the FDA, and give informed, written consent. Government medical assistance programs and private health insurers would not be required to cover the costs. If a patient sought the unapproved use of an FDA-approved drug or device, a hospital would be required to administer the treatment regardless of hospital protocols.

Dancer wrote the bill after a constituent said a doctor recommended a potentially life-saving treatment for a family member, but the hospital denied the treatment and the patient died.

“Approximately 50% of cancer patients receive some type of off-label drug in their treatment,” Dancer added. “This bill ensures patients who are dying cannot be denied the right to determine their own medical care.”



Million Dollar Replay Grand Prize Winner from Lawrenceville, NJ, Hamilton Man Wins 100K

$1,000,000  Ronald Demura Lawrenceville 

$100,000 Christopher Croux Hamilton 

April 29, 2022

New Jersey Lottery’s Million Dollar Replay Grand Prize Drawing was held today at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino, where more than $1,500,000 in prizes were awarded to our lucky players. Today’s top prize winner was Ronald Demura of Lawrenceville in Mercer County. The winner stood up in shock as his name was called out as New Jersey Lottery’s newest millionaire. Fourteen other Lottery players also received prizes ranging from $10,000 to $100,000 as part of the Grand Prize Drawing.

Throughout 2021, New Jersey Lottery players from all over the state submitted their non-winning instant tickets online for a second chance to win big prizes. Each quarter, 100 names were selected and awarded a $250 prize, as well as entry into today’s Grand Prize Drawing. An additional 19 raffle prizes were awarded to Million Dollar Replay finalists in attendance at the event today: seven $1,000 drawings, seven $300 Scratch-Offs drawings, and five gift basket drawings (containing $200 in Scratch-Offs plus Lottery swag). In addition to these drawings, there were 16 prizes drawn for the livestream sweepstakes open to the public, including one gift basket and 15 $200 Scratch-Off prizes. Guests also enjoyed the photo booth and prize wheels that provided many other opportunities to win.

New Jersey Lottery Executive Director James Carey, who assisted in the drawing, said, “I am thrilled to hold our 11th annual Million Dollar Replay.  After last year’s event was virtual due to the pandemic, we are excited to be back in-person.  Being able to add the excitement of minting a new millionaire makes it even better.”

Master of Ceremonies Steve Trevelise of NJ101.5 entertained the audience with jokes and witty banter throughout the event by interacting with the guests and prizewinners. Host Lauren Berman, conducted the drawing for the semi-finalists with the help of Lottery staff. The entire drawing process was completed under the observation of Mercadien, P.C. Certified Public Accountants.

The excitement of winning was already in the air when after Host Lauren Berman directed attention to the Big Spin wheel located next to the stage. The Big Spin game is New Jersey Lottery’s revolutionary new Scratch-Off that  allows  players  the  opportunity  to  extend  their  play  beyond  the  paper  ticket  to online for a chance to spin a large mechanical wheel to win up to $300,000. Two players won an opportunity to spin the wheel. Both contestants won $50,000 each. For information on The Big Spin Scratch-Off ticket and jackpot, visit our website at: https://www.njlottery.com/en-us/scratch-offs/01728.html

Grand Prize Winner Story:

Ronald Demura is a regular Lottery player, who plays consistently at the same two retailers near his home. He came to the Million Dollar Replay hoping to win something and was in shock when his name was called to win the million dollar prize. His wife and the rest of the room cheered as he began walking toward the winners’ table. Saying that he was ecstatic is an understatement. Ronald has been retired for a few years, enjoying life with his family. Now he will get to pay off his house and, hopefully, his wife can join him in retirement.


PrizeNameCity/State
$1,000,000 Ronald DemuraLawrenceville 
$100,000 Christopher CrouxHamilton 
$100,000 Thach HieuCamden 
$50,000 Rick Bunnell Rockaway
$50,000 Kevin LindholmWoodbridge 
$50,000 Richard San AndresFreehold 
$25,000 Daniel DesantoIselin 
$25,000 Mike SeminaraLedgewood 
$25,000 Patrick SweeneyRahway 
$25,000 James WelshmanBayville 
$10,000Andrea Giedosh Pitman 
$10,000 Dwayne AngleroCream Ridge 
$10,000 Kenneth OliverRoselle 
$10,000 Michelle SperberBeachwood 
$10,000Linda Handel Clifton 


BeiGene Breaks Ground on New Manufacturing and Clinical R&D Center at the Princeton West Innovation Campus in New Jersey

Flagship U.S. Facility Will Include Biologic Manufacturing and Late Stage Research and Clinical Development of Innovative Cancer Medicines, Sixth U.S. Location Adds to Global Expansion and Brings New Jobs to New Jersey 

April 29, 2022

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–BeiGene, Ltd. (NASDAQ: BGNE; HKEX: 06160; SSE: 688235), a global biotechnology company focused on developing innovative and affordable medicines to improve treatment outcomes and access for patients worldwide, today announced the groundbreaking of its flagship U.S. manufacturing and clinical R&D center at the Princeton West Innovation Campus in Hopewell, N.J.

“Our planned flagship U.S. R&D and manufacturing center supports our commitment to fight for life for people living with cancer around the world, through state-of-the-art commercial-stage biologic pharmaceutical manufacturing, late-stage research and clinical development capabilities,” said John Oyler, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of BeiGene. “The Princeton-Hopewell area is an excellent location for BeiGene and the thriving life science community, with a deep talent pool as we continue to advance our pipeline of innovative cancer medicines and work to diversify our global supply chain.”

The initial phase of construction is expected to include approximately 400,000 square feet of dedicated commercial-stage biologic pharmaceutical manufacturing space, with capacity for up to 16,000 liters of biologics formula. Construction of the initial phase is expected to run through 2024. BeiGene intends to recruit hundreds of new hires from the area’s attractive talent market to support its continued growth and its commitment to producing life-saving oncology medicines.

“BeiGene’s plans for hundreds of new jobs in New Jersey speak to our efforts to grow our state’s business-friendly environment and to our commitment to fostering innovation,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “We are proud to welcome BeiGene to the Princeton area and look forward to the company manufacturing innovative cancer medicines in its new state-of-the-art facility.”

In November 2021, BeiGene acquired the Hopewell property from Lincoln Equities Group and has retained DPR Construction as its construction management firm and IPS as its architectural and engineering firm. The property has more than one million square feet of developable real estate for future potential expansion.

Added Oyler: “At BeiGene, we are committed to not only delivering innovative and affordable medicines but also to upholding the highest standards of ethics and integrity, operational excellence, and environmental stewardship. This commitment applies to everything we do, including the development of BeiGene’s Hopewell project.”

“As a leader with a long history in New Jersey’s biotech industry, Hopewell Township welcomes BeiGene to our community,” said Hopewell Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning “We are pleased that BeiGene will bring their state-of-the-art technologies, manufacturing, and R&D center to Hopewell, whose products will help countless people all over the world. We look forward to continuing to work with BeiGene and are excited about what will be produced here in Hopewell.”

BeiGene currently has five offices in the U.S., in San Mateo and Emeryville, Calif., Cambridge, Mass., Ridgefield Park, N.J. and Fulton, Md. Globally, the company has more than 30 offices across five continents.



Acting AG Platkin: Division of Consumer Affairs Issues Alert on Gift Card

Scams and Guidelines for Retailers to Prevent Fraud  

April 29, 2022

Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced that the Division of Consumer Affairs has issued a consumer alert on gift card scams along with guidelines for retailers to train their employees on signs that a consumer is falling victim to this common form of fraud.

“The best tool we have to fight gift card scammers is widespread awareness of how they operate and how to stop them in their tracks,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “We commend the Division’s efforts and look forward to merchants around the state joining us in our efforts to protect consumers from these fraudulent schemes.”

The Division’s guidelines implement the Stop the Fraud Bill, which was signed into law by Governor Murphy in January.  The law requires New Jersey retailers that display and sell gift cards to train employees on how to identify and respond to gift card fraud. Covered employees must receive the training by August 1, 2022, or within 45 days of beginning employment, whichever is later.

The purpose of the training is to ensure that employees know how to recognize signs that someone may be the victim of gift card fraud, such as buying multiple gift cards with high dollar values or immediately taking pictures of the gift cards’ serial numbers. According to the guidelines, employees should be trained to use the “If you see something, say something” approach, and if they suspect fraud, ask the consumer why they are making such a purchase.

The required training will also result in retail employees understanding their employer’s policy for reporting suspected gift card fraud. Additionally, the Division’s guidelines encourage consumers and retailers alike to be familiar with a number of best practices to curb fraud.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), from January 2021 through September 2021, the FTC received over 39,000 reports of gift card fraud that may have cost consumers as much as $148 million. Some common gift card fraud schemes include:

  • Government Agency Scams – Someone claiming to be from a government agency demands payment in the form of gift cards to avoid arrest, receive assistance, or pay a fine to stop your social security number from being frozen;
  • Utility Scams ­– Utility company imposters claiming service will be cut off if payment is not received right away;
  • Refund Scams – A caller offers a refund, credits money in excess of the refund, and asks to receive the additional money in gift cards;
  • Grandparent Scams – Someone pretending to call on behalf of a relative or friend in distress and asking for money to assist them; and
  • Freebies and Sweepstakes Scams – A gift card is required to pay a processing fee to receive a prize of free merchandise.

“It takes a village to fight fraud, and that is why we are enlisting everyone’s help,” said Howard Pine, Acting Director of the Division. “By issuing these guidelines we aim to cripple the efforts of scammers who often use fear to intimidate unsuspecting consumers into buying gift cards to avoid utility service interruptions, or help a friend or relative in need.”

For consumers, the guidelines provide details on the preventive measures being implemented by merchants as well as tips to help them recognize gift cards scams. Some of the precautions include:

  • Never use a gift card to make a payment or to transfer money. Government agencies and legitimate businesses will never ask you to pay with gift cards;
  • Avoid sharing gift card information—including via phone, text, email, or photo—to pay bills or fees, or to fix any other problem;
  • Verify that urgent requests or emergencies that involve family, friends or co-workers are real by calling the person directly to confirm they need your help;
  • Hang up on any caller who tells you to lie to a store clerk about why you are purchasing gift cards;
  • Check the packaging and the back of the gift card before purchasing to make sure it has not been compromised; and
  • Keep the receipt or the gift card ID number to file a report if you lose the gift card or suspect fraud.

Consumers who believe they are victims of a gift card scam or suspect gift card fraud can file an online complaint with the Division by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail. Additional agencies to report this type of fraud and free resources for consumers are also included in the guidelines.

* * *

The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.


$10 Million Investment in License Plate Recognition Technology to Combat Rise in Auto Thefts Fueling Violent Crime in New Jersey

Funding Responsive to Spike in Vehicle Thefts in Suburban and Urban Areas Statewide

April 29, 2022

MARLBORO, NJ (MONMOUTH) – Governor Phil Murphy and Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced a $10 million investment in automated license plate recognition (ALPR) technology to reduce violent crime and motor vehicle theft in New Jersey through the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) State Fiscal Recovery Fund.

The funds will be used to purchase and expand existing high-speed, automated camera systems to capture and store computer-readable images of license plates in a centralized database accessible to law enforcement. The technology will be installed at both fixed locations throughout New Jersey and mounted on mobile units. This equipment provides law enforcement agencies additional tools to address the increase in motor vehicle thefts and a corresponding rise in violent crime seen in both suburban and urban areas of New Jersey. 

“The alarming uptick we are seeing in vehicle theft is unacceptable, and our administration is making investments to combat these occurrences statewide,” said Governor Murphy. “To aid law enforcement in this endeavor, an investment in ALPR technology will provide them with the tools they need to reduce these incidents and make our communities safer.”

“Thanks to Governor Murphy, we are investing significant resources to give law enforcement officers the tools they need to combat the rise in auto thefts across the state,” said Acting Attorney General Platkin. “Because stolen vehicles are increasingly used in the commission of violent shootings, deploying these automated license plate readers will save lives.”

Through the Murphy Administration’s $10 million ALPR program, a portion of the funding will be allocated to the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) to deploy cameras along major roadways that run throughout the state. Intelligence gathered will be shared by NJSP in real-time through the Regional Operations Intelligence Center and Real Time Crime Centers operated by the NJSP with relevant law enforcement partners as appropriate for investigative and operational need. 

The remaining funding will be made available to county and local law enforcement agencies, through a competitive process, for the purchase, installation, and expansion of additional units and systems, in strategic locations throughout the communities they serve. All entities receiving funding under the program must abide by ARP rules and agree to share captured license plate information with the NJSP.

The investment into ALPR technology advances ongoing efforts by OAG to combat the rise in auto thefts, including public service campaigns to raise awareness of the risks associated with leaving cars unlocked with the key or key fob inside. In March, OAG expanded the NJSP Auto Theft Task Force by adding detectives and prosecutors, as well as bringing on additional police departments from around the state. Additionally, $125,000 in federal Justice Assistance Grant funds is being made available to maximize the Task Force’s capabilities.

“The allocation of these financial resources to increase the use of automated license plate reader technology is, quite simply, a game changing moment in terms of our investigative capabilities,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “This investment will undoubtedly help combat the growing number of motor vehicle thefts and the associated rise in violent crime. I commend Governor Murphy and Acting Attorney General Platkin for their staunch efforts in supporting law enforcement’s mission to target auto theft and make our communities safer.” 

“Marlboro police officers do a great job for our community and I support their efforts 100% but they need to have the tools to do their job effectively,” said Marlboro Mayor Jonathan Hornik. “I reached out to Governor Murphy to share my concerns and thank him for his meaningful acknowledgement of the unique needs and concerns of New Jersey’s many suburban communities.”

“Today’s visit to Marlboro Township highlights Governor Murphy’s commitment to work hand in hand with local law enforcement agencies as we strive to continually improve our service to the communities we have sworn to protect,” said Marlboro Chief Peter Pezzullo. “I am sure that I speak for other law enforcement leaders throughout the state when I say that Governor Murphy’s investment in these technologies will help provide much needed data that can be utilized to detect possible criminal actors in a wide variety of investigations.”

The State has seen a serious spike in motor vehicle theft since the pandemic’s onset, an all-time high of 14,320 vehicles in 2021 in comparison to the previous five years. The first quarter of 2022 is on track to have a 53% increase in motor vehicle thefts from 2020. Increases in motor vehicle theft have occurred across the state, in both suburban and urban areas. Stolen cars are frequently associated with other violent crimes, particularly shootings. A significant percentage of individuals who commit auto theft offenses have also been involved in shootings.

“Communities throughout New Jersey have witnessed an increasing number of stolen motor vehicles and this funding will help upgrade technology available to law enforcement and provide additional tools to help bolster our ability to investigate these serious crimes,” said NJSPBA Executive Vice-President Marc Kovar.  “We appreciate Governor Murphy’s initiative in working to secure this critical funding and would also like to remind everyone of the importance of locking your car doors and taking your key fob along with you as you exit your vehicle.”  

“We need to do many things to stop the rise in car thefts in our shore communities and this announcement today is one of the many pieces which will help combat it. This allocation will help make our communities safer, our roadways less likely to be used for criminal enterprise, such as human trafficking or gun-running, and will enable officers to stem the rising tide of motor vehicle thefts across the state,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “I commend Governor Murphy and Acting Attorney General Platkin for seeing this urgent need, and responding to help suburban law enforcement enhance their capabilities, increase efficiency and better protect the neighborhoods they patrol by implementing the very latest in anti-crime technologies.”

Update: State Police Arrest Suspect Wanted for Shooting Man at American Dream Mall

April 26, 2022

ast Rutherford, N.J.- New Jersey State Police have arrested Anwar Stuart, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y., for allegedly shooting a man during an attempted robbery at American Dream in East Rutherford, Bergen County.

On April 7, troopers from the New Jersey State Police Meadowlands Station responded to the report of a shooting inside American Dream. When troopers arrived, they discovered one male victim was shot. The victim, who sustained serious injuries, was taken to an area hospital.

During the investigation, detectives determined that the victim was shot during an attempted robbery and identified Stuart as the suspect. Through various investigative means, detectives discovered that Stuart was staying at his residence in Brooklyn, N.Y.

On April 25, detectives from the New Jersey State Police Troop “B” Criminal Investigation Office, along with members of State Police Fugitive Unit, United States Marshall Service New York/ New Jersey Regional Fugitive Task Force, and New York Police Department arrested Stuart at his residence in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Anwar Stuart was charged with attempted murder, attempted robbery, conspiracy, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He was lodged at Rikers Island Jail pending extradition to New Jersey.

This case is being prosecuted by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

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




Earlier MidJersey.News story here:

April 7, 2022

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ– There are reports of a shooting at the American Dream Mall and the mall is currently on lock down. There are reports of a male being shot in the chest and numerous NJ State Troopers and other police are on location. Governor Phil Murphy stated that the public is advised to stay away from the area at this time.

Unconfirmed sources say that there were two gang related incidents, one inside the mall by Footlocker and the other near the parking garage.

Descriptions of the shooting suspects also from unconfirmed source state that one is a Hispanic male, dreadlocks, blue and black sweats, black puffy jacket. The other suspect is a black male, in a black puffy jacket.

Governor Phil Murphy:

“I have been briefed on the shooting at the American Dream Mall and @NJSP has set up a command post. We are closely monitoring the situation, and are praying for those impacted. The public is advised to stay away from the area at this time.”


Reefer Madness Hits New Jersey; Legal Pot Sales Brisk

Some customers waited in line for over 2+ hours on the first day of legal sales.

April 21, 2022

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Customers waited in lines as long as the DMV was during Covid for their first fully legal recreational cannabis sales that started today on April 21, 2022. Customers told MidJersey.News that some were waiting in long lines for over 2+ hours at Zenleaf Dispensary in Lawrenceville as lines wrapped around the building.


Press pool story by: Brent Johnson 

Gov. Phil Murphy joined New Jersey’s top two state lawmakers Thursday on a tour of a dispensary as legal recreational marijuana sales began in the state.

“Congratulations,” Murphy told officials and staff members as he walked around Zen Leaf in Elizabeth, one of 12 locations that opened for adults 21 and over to buy weed legally.

Murphy got applause from people in line as he entered the facility, five years after he campaigned on legalizing marijuana. He was joined on the tour by state Senate President Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, and Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage.

Murphy asked Coughlin: “You trying anything?”

“No,” Coughlin replied. “You?”

“No,” Murphy said. 

The governor noted this week marijuana is “not my thing” and he prefers Scotch.

Murphy also congratulated Scutari, who led the legislative effort for years to legalize pot. 

“Congratulations,” Murphy said. “We couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Thanks for the help,” Scutari said.

Zen Leaf General Manager Sonny Achrekar told Murphy there are separate lines for recreational and medical customers. He also said the dispensary opens for one hour each at the start and end of the day for patients only.

A staff member showed Murphy and the officials a bottle of sour watermelon gummies that cost $80 a bottle. 

Cashier was Israel DeJesus told Murphy that sales Thursday are expected to be “off the charts” and they have extra staff coming in.

“Thanks to you, man, everything is possible,” DeJesus told the governor. “This is what everyone is waiting for.” 


Photos by: Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

Long lines wrap around the building at Zenleaf, Lawrenceville:


Press Pool Photos below by: Michael Mancuso


Find a legal licensed dispensary at the following link:

https://data.nj.gov/d/uyq5-2c2g



Governor Murphy Marks Historic Opening Day of Adult-Use Recreational Cannabis Sales in New Jersey


Find a dispensary at the following link:

https://data.nj.gov/d/uyq5-2c2g


April 21, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – Governor Phil Murphy today marked the historic opening day of adult-use recreational cannabis sales in New Jersey at Zen Leaf in Elizabeth – one of several facilities across the state now selling cannabis to adults 21 years and older. The commencement of the adult-use recreational cannabis market represents another step forward in New Jersey’s ongoing efforts to create a new cannabis industry that continues to prioritize medical marijuana patients and advance social justice initiatives.

After careful consideration of necessary regulations for the cannabis industry and thorough review of various applicants, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) recently approved seven alternative treatment centers – sites already selling medical marijuana – to begin selling recreational cannabis to the adult-use market. The CRC confirmed these seven treatment centers, which operate 13 facilities in 11 different counties, will be able to meet critical requirements, such as ensuring enough supply for medical marijuana patients and meeting social equity standards.

The overarching goal of these efforts is to make New Jersey’s industry able to stand as a model for other states in the nation in ensuring racial, social, and economic equity and justice. Additional applicants are currently under review as the State works to grow the industry to serve as an engine of economic growth, a generator of new, good-paying jobs, and a vehicle for ongoing social equity efforts.

“From day one, my administration has worked with our partners in the Legislature to advance social justice on behalf of the communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition by working to expunge cannabis-related convictions, decriminalize possession, and establish an equitable cannabis industry,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “The first sale of legal, adult-use cannabis today marks a historic moment for New Jersey, as we leave behind the indefensible practices that led to the incarceration of countless people of color and embrace the opportunities of a fair, regulated adult-use market. It is a moment that required long hours of work to make sure we got it right the first time, and I am proud of our efforts to get to this point. With today’s launch, my administration will continue working to grow a cannabis industry that reflects the diversity of our state, protects access for medical marijuana patients, prioritizes justice, and promotes equal opportunities for communities of color.”

“It is an exciting time for New Jersey cannabis enthusiasts. I am proud of the work the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission has done to lead us to the market opening,” said Cannabis Regulatory Commission Chair Dianna Houenou. “While today is an important moment for New Jersey, it marks only the beginning of the better and more robust industry that is to come. I am excited for the market we ultimately hope to establish – with successful local businesses that reflect the diversity of our state.”

To ensure medical marijuana patients continue to receive the treatment they need, each of the alternative treatment centers approved by the CRC confirmed their ability to continue providing access to existing patients and prioritize their needs through strategies such as patient-specific hours and parking spaces.

Alternative treatment centers approved by the CRC to sell to the adult-use market are also required to meet critical social equity standards, including providing technical information to new cannabis businesses owned by individuals who have lived in economically-disadvantaged areas or have had cannabis-related convictions in the past. The centers will continuously be assessed on hiring and management diversity, support for community programs, and the percentage of minority-owned vendors or suppliers with which they contract. 70% of the sales tax collected on adult use cannabis sales will also go towards communities affected by marijuana-related arrests to further these social justice and equity goals.

“This is a milestone that marks real progress in creating a new cannabis industry that creates jobs, generates economic activity and offers opportunities to the communities that were hurt the most by the failed policy that criminalized marijuana,” said Senate President Nick Scutari, the architect of both the medical marijuana and adult use cannabis laws. “By replacing the past drug laws with a regulated system for adult use cannabis we are ending an era that wasted criminal justice resources, damaged the economic wellbeing of communities and destroyed lives. I hope to see more progress in the expansion of the cannabis market so that New Jersey continues to be a leader with the most significant social justice reforms of our time.”

“Today’s launch marks the latest major milestone in what has been a long journey to stand up an adult-use market in New Jersey,” said Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “As these initial retailers begin New Jersey’s first recreational sales, I am particularly excited to see the growth trajectory of the industry and what will be achieved for our economy through reinvestments into our communities.”

“This historic day represents the culmination of our work to put an end to the cannabis prohibition and bolster New Jersey’s economic development with the introduction of the adult-use cannabis market,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “I am proud to have sponsored legislation that made today possible.”

“New Jersey has entered a new era,” said Assemblyman Reginald Atkins. “With this industry, there will be job growth, investment opportunities, and increased tax revenues that will propel our State’s economy forward.”

“Today, only sixteen months after New Jersey’s residents voted overwhelmingly to amend our state constitution, approved stores across New Jersey will begin selling cannabis for adult recreational use,” said Sam Ferraino, UFCW Local 360 president. “Getting to this point has not been easy or smooth, but a determined coalition of stakeholders led by Governor Murphy and Senate President Scutari made sure we never lost momentum, or focus. We have worked to make sure that this industry prioritizes the needs of communities and provide career opportunities for workers in this new industry, which has led to vote after vote in favor of unionizing – including two in just the last week. And we built a process that gives extra consideration to businesses applications submitted by people from economically disadvantaged areas, or with a prior cannabis conviction. That is why I am so grateful to be here today, representing thousands of United Food and Commercial Workers union members, as we enter into this new era.”

“We cannot say enough about Governor Murphy’s first term agenda of legalizing adult-use cannabis,” said New Jersey CannaBusiness Association President Edmund DeVeaux. “He never wavered from the possibility of achieving some measure of social justice and economic parity for those harmed by the failed War on Drugs. Today we celebrate the mutual efforts of government, business, and the advocacy community.”

“This is a long-awaited and historic day supported by an overwhelming majority of voters,” said Bill Caruso, Chair of Archer Law’s Cannabis Group and longtime cannabis activist. “The beginning of safe, regulated access to adult-use cannabis sales will help to create new jobs and economic opportunities here in the Garden State as well as new tax revenue that can be reinvested in communities and restorative justice initiatives. Congrats to Governor Murphy, the Legislature, the CRC, as well as the advocacy community and industry partners for making this day a reality!”



U.S. Attorney Sellinger Announces Anti-Hate Crime Outreach, “United Against Hate” Initiative in New Jersey

April 20, 2022

NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today his office’s participation in a first of its kind, anti-hate crime outreach program entitled United Against Hate, which seeks to directly connect federal, state, and local law enforcement with traditionally marginalized communities in order to build trust and encourage the reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division joined U.S. Attorney Sellinger, Acting New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, and FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Terence Reilly to announce their federal and state partnership on this new initiative. After they spoke to an audience of community leaders, civil rights advocates, and community members, subject matter experts from their offices engaged in a presentation and direct discussions with community leaders and advocates about taking steps to identify, report, and prevent hate crimes and incidents.

“Hate crimes and discrimination are antithetical to the core principles underlying our democracy,” U.S. Attorney Sellinger said. “No one should ever be subject to acts of discrimination or hate because of where they are from, what they look like, whom they love, or how they worship. In response to a dramatic increase in hate crimes and hate incidents, we are launching the United Against Hate Initiative in New Jersey. Combatting hate crimes, hate incidents, and discrimination is core to our mission, and through dynamic outreach and prevention efforts, we are eager to take steps to combat hate beyond prosecution.”

“The U.S. Department of Justice continues to marshal all resources at its disposal to hold people who engage in unlawful, bias-motivated acts of hate accountable,” Assistant Attorney General Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said. “Through United Against Hate, we are bringing together the Justice Department, local law enforcement, and community leaders to strengthen our overall efforts to combat hate crimes and prevent hate incidents. Our communities, schools, workplaces and homes are all safer when we stand unified in the fight against hate.”

“The ripple effect of hate crimes is felt hundreds, even thousands of miles away,” FBI Acting Special Agent in Charge Reilly said. “People who identify with those victims see themselves and wonder ‘will it happen here?’ and ‘Will I be next?’ The Constitution of the United States grants us many freedoms. When any one of those freedoms – or any other constitutional right – is threatened or violated, we have to respond. And when I say ‘we,’ I’m not speaking just as a member of the FBI. I’m speaking as a member of the community. Because if we don’t respond, we risk the erosion of our very identity as a nation. That’s why the FBI embarked on a hate crimes awareness campaign last year. We want people to call us if they have witnessed or been subjected to a hate crime.”

“The numbers are clear. Hate and bias are at an all-time high across our nation and in New Jersey,” Acting Attorney General Platkin said. “One of the strongest tools we have at our disposal is the collaboration between government and community stakeholders. That is why I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with federal and state partners who share the same commitment and urgency to stem the tide of hate.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey was chosen as one of three districts, out of 94 districts in the nation, to advance the United Against Hate outreach initiative. The U.S. Attorney’s Office plans to engage with communities across New Jersey to deepen connections with those communities, further hate crimes prevention efforts, and encourage more people to report hate crimes and hate incidents.

Last month, U.S. Attorney Sellinger announced the creation of a Civil Rights Division within the U.S. Attorney’s Office. This new division, which enforces both civil and criminal civil rights laws, will engage with local community members, advocacy groups, and other federal and state agencies to protect civil rights. The division will lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s efforts in implementing the United Against Hate initiative.

Members of the public may report possible civil rights violations through the https://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement or may call the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Rights Hotline at (855) 281-3339.

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Amtrak Employee Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Defrauding Amtrak of $76K Worth of Chainsaws and Parts

April 19, 2022

TRENTON, N.J. – An Ocean County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for fraudulently obtaining chainsaws and chainsaw parts from his employer Amtrak and then selling this equipment for personal profit, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Jose Rodriguez, 49, of Brick, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi to an information charging him with one count of mail fraud. Judge Quraishi imposed the sentence today

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

Rodriguez had been an Amtrak employee since October 2007, most recently as a senior engineer and repairman, based out of an Amtrak facility in North Brunswick, New Jersey. Between March 2012 and July 2020, Rodriguez obtained approximately 114 chainsaws, 122 chainsaw replacement bars, and 222 replacement chains from Amtrak, the total value of which was over $76,000, under the false pretense that this equipment would be used for Amtrak projects, but then sold the equipment either on an online auction service or directly to purchasers. Rodriguez used the U.S. Postal Service to mail the stolen chainsaw and chainsaw parts to purchasers throughout the United States, including purchasers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Quraishi sentenced Rodriguez to three years of supervised release and ordered restitution of $76,379 and forfeiture of $53,381.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited detectives from Amtrak Police New York Division and Mid-Atlantic Division, under the direction of Chief Sam Dotson, and special agents from Amtrak Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Waters, Eastern Field Office, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Faye Schwartz in the Special Prosecutions Division and Cari Fais, Chief of the Criminal Division’s Opioids Unit.

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Defense counsel: Severiano E. Lisboa Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey


TSA extends face mask requirement through May 3, 2022

April 13, 2022

TSA will extend the Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs for 15 days through May 3, 2022.

CDC continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant that now makes up more than 85% of U.S. cases.  Since early April 2022, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of COVID-19 cases in the United States. During the 15-day extension period, CDC will assess the potential impact the recent rise of COVID-19 cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations, deaths, and healthcare system capacity. TSA will continue to coordinate closely with CDC and communicate any changes to this requirement with the public.

45-Year-Old Trenton, NJ Man Dies in Tractor Trailer Accident on I-81 in New York State

April 8, 2022

On April 8, 2022 at approximately 5:52 a.m., New York State Police and multiple fire departments responded to Interstate 81 south in the town of Homer for a report of a tractor trailer on fire.

An investigation on scene determined that the operator of the tractor trailer, a 45-year-old man from Trenton, NJ was operating a tractor trailer belonging to Granger Enterprises, Inc. For an unknown reason, he went off the roadway, struck trees and the vehicle became engulfed in flames. The man was later located deceased in the cab.

Members of the New York State Police Commercial Vehicle Unit and Bureau of Criminal Investigation responded to the scene. Fire agencies included the Homer Fire Department, Preble Fire Department and New York State Fire. The Department of Environmental Conservation, TLC Ambulance and the County Coroner also responded.



BREAKING: Shooting at American Dream Mall

NJSP UPDATE:

Earlier this evening, the New Jersey State Police responded to a shooting incident that occurred at the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, Bergen County.

At approximately 5:50 p.m., troopers from the New Jersey State Police Meadowlands Station responded to the report of a shooting inside the American Dream Mall. When troopers arrived, they discovered one male victim was shot. The victim, who sustained serious injuries, was taken to an area hospital in stable condition.

The American Dream Mall was immediately locked down and troopers cleared the building while safely escorting patrons out.

Based on the preliminary investigation, detectives determined that only one suspect shot the victim, and detectives believe this to be an isolated incident. There is no threat to the public and the incident remains under investigation.

The American Dream Mall plans to reopen tomorrow for regular operating hours.



Earlier MidJersey.News story here:

April 7, 2022

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ– There are reports of a shooting at the American Dream Mall and the mall is currently on lock down. There are reports of a male being shot in the chest and numerous NJ State Troopers and other police are on location. Governor Phil Murphy stated that the public is advised to stay away from the area at this time.

Unconfirmed sources say that there were two gang related incidents, one inside the mall by Footlocker and the other near the parking garage.

Descriptions of the shooting suspects also from unconfirmed source state that one is a Hispanic male, dreadlocks, blue and black sweats, black puffy jacket. The other suspect is a black male, in a black puffy jacket.

Governor Phil Murphy:

“I have been briefed on the shooting at the American Dream Mall and @NJSP has set up a command post. We are closely monitoring the situation, and are praying for those impacted. The public is advised to stay away from the area at this time.”







New Jersey Establishes Telework Pilot Program for State Employees

New Program Will Not Impact In-Person Services at New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development or Motor Vehicle Commission

April 6, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER) – The New Jersey Civil Service Commission (CSC) today voted to approve a pilot program empowering State of New Jersey departments and authorities to establish a telework program for employees. This action is a bold step toward modernizing New Jersey’s State workplace landscape while maintaining core services and ensuring responsiveness to the needs of constituents. Additionally, the shift to telework will offer more workplace flexibility, allowing State agencies to compete with the private sector by broadening strategies and incentives for talent recruitment and retention. 

The pilot program will last one year and apply to all State departments and authorities, with an implementation deadline of July 1, 2022.

“Telework will accelerate the modernization of New Jersey’s State government to reflect the evolving workplace landscape,” said Governor Murphy. “Our union partners have been integral to the creation of this telework pilot program. Through collaboration, we can continue to build a workforce equipped to handle the demands of the modern workplace.”

“The approval of the Model Telework Pilot Program is a monumental step that addresses the current needs of the State workforce,” said Civil Service Commission Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Deirdré Webster Cobb Esq. “During the height of the pandemic, we witnessed State employees successfully continue to deliver critical State and public services while teleworking. As we witness changes around the world in the landscape of how we work, it is important for us to adapt in order to attract and retain qualified State workers.” 

“CWA applauds Governor Murphy for taking the initiative in proposing a robust Pilot Telework Program for the State workforce,” said New Jersey State Director of the Communication Workers of America Fran Ehret.  “This is a significant step forward and demonstrates the progressive leadership of this administration to carve new paths for fairer and stronger public services.  We look forward to working with the Governor and his cabinet in implementing this program in a manner that is equitable and ensures that the highest quality services continue to be delivered to the public.”  

Not all State employees will be eligible for telework due to the nature of their jobs. For example, Department of Labor & Workforce Development and Motor Vehicle Commission employees whose primary job responsibilities involve in-person services will not be eligible for telework.

The pilot telework program establishes general parameters for all State departments and authorities to follow when developing their department-specific telework policies. Parameters include: 

  • All departments and authorities will be required to offer a telework program of no more than two working days per week based on operational need.  
  • Appointing authorities should make available flextime schedules and/or alternate work programs for employees who are not eligible for telework when operational needs allow. 
  • Employees will be required to engage in an application process to determine eligibility. Both employees and managers will be required to complete telework trainings as part of the approval process. 
  • Significant discretion shall be given to appointing authorities to consider operational needs when determining telework schedules for eligible employees.
  • Each department will be required to consult with relevant unions when developing their telework plans.   

All pilot telework plans must be submitted to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission (CSC) by June 1st and implemented by July 1st.


ABOUT TIME! Sunshine Protection Act Passes Senate by Unanimous Consent; One Step Closer to Making Daylight Saving Time Permanent

March 15, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor following the Senate’s passage of the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021 (S. 623). The bill would make Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanent across the country starting in 2023.
 
In 2018, Florida legislature’s enacted year-round DST. However, for Florida’s change to apply, a change in the federal statute is required. Nineteen other states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming — have passed similar laws, resolutions, or voter initiatives, and dozens more are looking to do so. 
 
If passed by the House and signed into law by President Joe Biden, the Sunshine Protection Act would apply to those states that currently participate in DST, which most states observe for eight months out of the year. States and territories that currently remain on Standard Time year-around would continue to do so. Many studies have shown that making DST permanent could benefit the economy and the country. A one-pager of the bill is available here.
 
Video of Rubio’s remarks is available here and a full transcript is below.



NJ Senator Cory Booker is a Co-Sponsor of the legislation





Rubio: “Others will be coming to the floor here, in a moment, and you’ll see it’s an eclectic collection of members of the United States Senate in favor of what we’ve just done here in the Senate. And that’s to pass a bill to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. 

“Just this past weekend, we all went through that biannual ritual of changing the clock back and forth, and the disruption that comes with it. And one has to ask themselves after a while, ‘Why do we keep doing it? Why are we doing this?’ 

“This really began back in 1918 as a practice that was supposed to save energy, and since then we’ve adjusted it. Today, Daylight Saving Time, which started out as six months, was extended to eight months in 2005, clearly showing you where people’s preference [is]. 

“So we’re doing this back-and-forth clock changing for about 16 weeks of Standard Time a year. I think the majority of the American people’s preference is just to stop the back and forth changing. But beyond that, I think their preference is — certainly at least based on today’s vote, and what we’ve heard — is to make Daylight Saving Time permanent. I’ll just tell you a couple of the reasons why I think that’s important. 

“There’s some strong science behind it that is now showing and making people aware of the harm that clock switching has. We see an increase in heart attacks and car accidents and pedestrian accidents in the week[s] that follow the changes.

“The benefits of Daylight Saving Time have also been accounted for in the research. For example, reduced crime as there’s light later in the day. We’ve seen decreases in child obesity. A decrease in seasonal depression that many feel during Standard Time. 

“And then the practical one, one that I’ve witnessed with my own eyes…. We’re a country [in which] we desperately want our kids to be outside, to be playing, to be doing sports, not just to be sitting in front of a TV or a computer terminal or playing video games all day. And it gets really tough, in many parts of the country, to be able to do that. Because what ends up happening is, especially for these 16 weeks a year, if you don’t have a park or an outdoor facility with lights, you’re basically shut down around five p.m. — in some cases as early as four or 4:30 p.m. And these lights in parks and things like that are expensive, and then a lot of communities are resistant to them. It makes it tough to do [activities]. 

“I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve watched youth sporting events be called in the middle or near the end of the game, before it’s actually concluded, because there’s not enough lights. 

“That’s one of the practical reasons why, if you look at the way we live in this country, you want to have the ability to spend more time in the evenings outdoors. Not just to enjoy the outdoors, but to make sporting and outdoor activities available for people at a time when, frankly, we’re losing an hour, an hour-and-a-half in some parts of the country, because of [the time change].

“I’m hoping that after today, this will go over to the House of Representatives, and they’ll act quickly on it. I know this is not the most important issue confronting America, but it’s one of those issues where there’s a lot of agreement. I think a lot of people wonder why it took so long to get here. 

“My hope is that after we’re done here today, that the House will take it up, that the House will pass it, and the President will sign it. 

“I want to lay out one caveat: this bill and the amendment does delay its implementation. The reason why, and I asked — believe me, I asked, ‘Why are we delaying this?’ I think it’s important we’re delaying it until November of 2023 because of airlines, the rails, and transportation methods. Others have already built out schedules based on the existing schedule on the existing timeline of this. They’ve asked for a few months here … to make that adjustment. 

“The good news is that we can get this passed. We don’t have to keep doing this stupidity anymore. Why we would enshrine this in our laws and keep it for so long is beyond me. 

“Hopefully, this is the year that this gets done. And pardon the pun, but this is an idea whose time has come.”



CosponsorDate Cosponsored
Sen. Lankford, James [R-OK]*03/09/2021
Sen. Blunt, Roy [R-MO]*03/09/2021
Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon [D-RI]*03/09/2021
Sen. Wyden, Ron [D-OR]*03/09/2021
Sen. Scott, Rick [R-FL]*03/09/2021
Sen. Hyde-Smith, Cindy [R-MS]*03/09/2021
Sen. Markey, Edward J. [D-MA]*03/09/2021
Sen. Hagerty, Bill [R-TN]*03/09/2021
Sen. Inhofe, James M. [R-OK]03/10/2021
Sen. Murray, Patty [D-WA]03/16/2021
Sen. Padilla, Alex [D-CA]03/16/2021
Sen. Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN]03/16/2021
Sen. Heinrich, Martin [D-NM]03/24/2021
Sen. Toomey, Patrick [R-PA]03/25/2021
Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA]11/16/2021
Sen. Tuberville, Tommy [R-AL]02/01/2022
Sen. Booker, Cory A. [D-NJ]03/14/2022



Trenton Man Admits to Participating in String of Armed Robberies in NJ and PA in May and June of 2019

Armed Robberies took place in Trenton, Hamilton, Lawrence, Rahway in NJ and Bristol and Morrisville in PA

March 15, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Omar Feliciano-Estremera, 44, of Trenton, today admitted participating in a string of armed robberies of businesses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in May and June of 2019, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Feliciano pleaded guilty court before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan in Trenton federal court to a five-count information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, three substantive counts of Hobbs Act robbery, and one count of aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm which was discharged during a crime of violence.

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

Feliciano and his conspirator Gabriel Lopez, [deceased], formerly of Trenton, committed a string of armed robberies in May and June of 2019 of businesses located in Mercer County, New Jersey, Union County, New Jersey, and Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Lopez entered the businesses, brandished a handgun, and demanded money from the store clerks working the register. After stealing the money, Lopez fled the scene with the assistance of Feliciano, who acted as the getaway driver. While fleeing the scene of one of the robberies, in Union County, New Jersey, Lopez fired a handgun at passing witnesses, shortly before being picked up by Feliciano. Feliciano admitted to conspiring with Lopez to commit eight robberies and aiding and abetting three robberies, including the Union County robbery at which a firearm was discharged.

Each of the Hobbs Act charges carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The charge of aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm that was discharged during a crime of violence carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Each count also carries a maximum fine of up to $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense, whichever is greatest. Sentencing is scheduled for July 18, 2022.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked officers of the Hamilton Township, Trenton, Rahway, Morrisville, Bristol Township, and Lawrence Township Police Departments for their assistance.

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

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Defense counsel: Santos A. Perez Esq., Rochelle Park, New Jersey




Police arrest Louisiana woman after TSA catches her with loaded hand gun at Newark Liberty International Airport checkpoint

March 9, 2022

NEWARK, N.J.— A woman from Louisiana was arrested by police after Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers prevented her from carrying a loaded handgun onto her flight on Tuesday, March 8, at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The .40 caliber gun was not loaded, but was accompanied by a gun magazine that was loaded with five bullets. It was spotted inside one of the woman’s carry-on bags when a TSA officer who was staffing the checkpoint X-ray monitor spotted the weapon. TSA then alerted Port Authority Police who confiscated the handgun and arrested the woman, a resident of New Orleans, on weapons charges.

“Running late for a flight is no excuse for bringing a gun to a security checkpoint. If you want to transport your gun for your flight, you need to take the time to properly pack it, just like you take the time to pack your other items for a trip,” said Thomas Carter, TSA’s Federal Security Director for New Jersey. “That means packing your unloaded firearm in a hard-sided locked case and then taking it to the airline check-in counter to declare it. The airline will ensure it is transported in checked baggage.”

TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.

Bringing a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a federal civil penalty because TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who have guns and gun parts with them at a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. Additionally, if a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Last year TSA officers detected 5,972 guns at security checkpoints nationwide and 86 percent of them were loaded.


TSA firearms catches at Newark Liberty International Airport checkpoints, 2017 to 2022

Year201720182019202020212022(As of 3/8/22)
Guns caught at Newark Liberty International Airport checkpoints 6  14  11 11 12 3


NJ Convoy to DC North Route Day 1

March 5, 2022

The New Jersey Convoy to Washington DC started in North Jersey today near Mahwah and proceeded down several highways on their way to New Egypt Speedway for a rally at 6:00 p.m. On Sunday the Convoy will leave New Egypt Speedway and proceed to several highways and meet at Salem County Fairgrounds for a final send off to Washington DC on Monday.

According to NJTruckerConvoy.com In solidarity with our brothers and sisters nationwide in the global Freedom Convoy phenomenon, a peaceful, nonpartisan convoy & event has been planned statewide in New Jersey from March 5th – March 6th, 2022. We Americans love our freedoms and our country. This convoy aims to restore our civil liberties and freedoms. Our goal is to protect the freedom of choice for future generations. It’s not about political parties, but more so, we believe our government has forgotten its place and has no regard for our Founding Fathers’ instructions, The Constitution of the United States of America. We believe that the power of politicians on all sides has been abused. We demand our voices be heard once again. We, The People, of all political affiliations & walks of life, demand the restoration of our democracy and an end to all unconstitutional mandates.





New Jersey Woman Hiking in New Hampshire Rescued

February 22, 2022

LINCOLN, NEW HAMPSHIRE–A Jersey City woman was rescued from a hiking trail in Lincoln, New Hampshire on Sunday. New Hampshire Fish and Game report that At 4:30 p.m. on February 20, 2022 the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department was notified of a hiker in distress on the Liberty Springs Trail in Lincoln. The hiker was not able to continue descending the trail and a companion with her called 911 for help. The hikers were only planning a day hike and did not have the equipment to spend the night. Conservation Officers and volunteers with the Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue team responded to mount a rescue effort as darkness approached.

At 5:56 p.m. a Conservation Officer met the hiker, who was slowly hiking down, about one mile from the trailhead. The distressed hiker was identified as Aleeza Shaikh, 26, from Jersey City, NJ. A group of Good Samaritan hikers also descending the trail had come across Aleeza, who was laying in the trail at the time, and provided her help to start moving again. Aleeza was able to hike the rest of the way down the trail with minor assistance, accompanied by a small rescue party. She reached the Liberty Springs parking lot without further incident at 7:00 pm. Due to the inaccurate planning and inadequate equipment of the hiker, the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department will be recommending that she be billed for this preventable rescue.

Hiking in the White Mountains can be extremely challenging and quickly become dangerous, even deadly, especially in winter conditions. People often underestimate the time required to complete a mountain hike in snowy and icy conditions. It is also easy to be deceived by trail distances, as hiking 4 miles on flat ground does not require nearly as much energy as hiking 4 miles in steep terrain. Conservation Officers would like remind everyone to plan for a safe hike and give plenty of time. Always bring dedicated lights, even on a day hike. For information please visit http://www.hikesafe.com/ for more information.

New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement Announces Preliminary Super Bowl Wagering Totals

February 15, 2022

ATLANTIC CITY – Today the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement announced preliminary wagering data related to the 2022 Super Bowl. 

Preliminary wagering statistics reported by Atlantic City Casinos and New Jersey equine racetracks show that wagering on this year’s Super Bowl totaled approximately $143.7 million, with a projected total sports wagering payout of $135.9 million. This resulted in a win of $7.8 million for the sports wagering books.

Wagering on last year’s Super Bowl totaled approximately $117.4 million with a total sports wagering payout of approximately $106.1 million, resulting in a win of $11.3 million for the sports wagering books. 

These unaudited revenue figures include New Jersey’s 12 retail sports books and 24 sports wagering mobile applications.


$20.5 Million Settlement over Allegations Academy Bus Fraudulently Billed NJ Transit

Today’s Agreement Is the State’s Largest-Ever False Claims Act Settlement Outside the Healthcare Sector

February 11, 2022

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced today that Academy Bus, LLC (Academy) and several related entities and individuals will pay a total of $20.5 million to resolve the State’s lawsuit accusing the defendants of overcharging New Jersey Transit by underreporting missed bus trips and by over-billing for hours and miles driven. The agreement represents the State’s largest-ever False Claims Act settlement outside the healthcare sector.

In November 2020, the State intervened in a former Academy employee’s whistleblower lawsuit against the company, which advertises itself as the nation’s largest private transportation company. The State’s complaint alleged that Academy engaged in an “extensive multi-year, multi-million-dollar fraud” by failing to report tens of thousands of missed bus trips between April 2012 and December 2018.  The complaint further alleged that the missed bus trips caused the riding public along the affected bus lines to suffer. 

In addition to the monetary payment, Academy is required under today’s settlement to implement specific steps designed to strengthen its internal accountability from drivers to executives and to provide greater transparency in any contracts with NJ Transit.  Among other measures, Academy has agreed to retain an independent Integrity Oversight Monitor and create new policies, procedures and training efforts to ensure the accurate reporting of missed bus trips, hours logged and miles driven.

“This settlement sends a clear message: defrauding the state doesn’t pay,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “We are not only requiring the corporate defendants to pay more than the amount of their alleged fraud. We also are holding individual defendants financially responsible and requiring Academy Bus to adopt corrective measures designed to prevent similar misconduct in the future.”

During the period at issue in the State’s complaint, Academy operated seven NJ Transit bus routes in the Hudson and South Hudson service areas.  The seven NJ Transit routes Academy handled involved approximately 175,000 bus trips each year. Academy billed NJ Transit approximately $12 million annually for its services, while NJ Transit retained all bus fares that Academy collected along the routes.

Under its contract with NJ Transit, Academy was required to report the number of bus trips that were missed for each bus route on a monthly basis.  An individual “trip” is when a bus travels from one end-point of a route to the other end-point of a route. NJ Transit would then deduct an assessment for each missed trip.

Academy also charged NJ Transit contractually-agreed-upon fees for miles and hours driven along bus routes it handled for the agency.  Academy could not charge fees for hours and miles driven for buses that did not run.

The State’s complaint alleged that Academy overcharged NJ Transit in at least two ways. First, by underreporting to NJ Transit the number of bus trips it had missed for each month, Academy avoided millions of dollars of missed trip deductions from the monthly invoices.  Second, Academy billed NJ Transit for miles and hours driven for buses that had not actually run.

The complaint also alleged that Academy’s internal records tracked two sets of bus trip numbers – the “real” number of missed bus trips (which Academy labeled “RN”) and an adjusted set of numbers that was always significantly lower, and which Academy submitted to NJ Transit.  According to the allegations in the complaint, the gap between the “real number” of missed trips and the number actually submitted to NJ Transit shrunk during periods when Academy knew NJ Transit was actively monitoring Academy’s performance.

Under the settlement announced today, Academy must do the following with respect to any contract or agreement to operate NJ Transit bus lines:

  • Submit with each invoice to NJ Transit a personal certification from a Senior Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer or such person’s designee that attests to the accuracy of the submission, as well as to the accuracy of the supporting Daily and Monthly Reports of Operation.
     
  • Retain for a period of three years an independent Integrity Oversight Monitor — approved by NJ Transit and paid by Academy — to oversee the accuracy of its internal documentation of bus trip operations, as well as the accuracy of invoices and missed trip and miles and hours reporting.   
     
  • Implement new policies and procedures to ensure accurate reporting of missed trips and hours and miles driven. The new policies and procedures must include staff training on accurate reporting, the maintenance of adequate records and databases, and adequate document retention.
     
  • Create bus operator training policies that ensure the proper use of all provided equipment, including proper use of Clever Devices and other telematics, as well as the proper reporting of equipment malfunctions.
     
  • Create procedures that Academy road supervisors must employ to ensure conformity to contracted bus service regulations, as well as driver adherence to specific bus routes and accident reporting.

In addition to Hoboken-based Academy Bus, today’s settlement includes affiliated corporate defendants Academy Lines, LLC; Academy Express, LLC; and No. 22 Hillside, LLC, as well as  individual defendants Antonio Luna, formerly an assistant manager at No. 22 Hillside, LLC; Eddie Rosario, a general manager at No. 22 Hillside, LLC; Thomas Scullin, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for all of the corporate defendants and Frank DiPalma, the Controller of each of the corporate defendants.

The settlement includes payments of $150,000 from Scullin and $50,000 each from Rosario and Luna.

Pursuant to the False Claims Act, a portion of the monetary settlement will be paid to Hector Peralta, a former Academy employee who filed a whistleblower complaint against the company.

Under the settlement, Academy and the other corporate and individual defendants make no admission of wrongdoing or liability.

The State has been represented in this matter by Deputy Attorney General and Section Chief Lara Fogel, Deputy Attorney General and Assistant Section Chief Kenneth Levine, Deputy Attorneys General Eric Boden and Dana Vasers, and Attorney Jedediah Pencinger, all from the Government & Healthcare Fraud Section of the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group, and Assistant Attorneys General Jeremy Hollander and Janine Matton of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group.





NJ Attorney General Finds Probable Cause Against Mansfield School District and Laurel Brook Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Disability-Discrimination Cases

February 11, 2022

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced today that the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) has found probable cause against two employers in disability-discrimination cases. Both cases involve allegations that employers discriminated against employees on the basis of disability, as well as leave time taken in connection with their disabilities.

In one case, DCR found probable cause against the Mansfield Township School District in Burlington County for allegedly violating New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by denying a disability accommodation for a fifth-grade science teacher who had returned to work after taking leave to undergo cancer treatment. DCR did not find probable cause, however, regarding the 57-year-old teacher’s claim of discrimination on the basis of age.

In the other case, DCR found probable cause against Laurel Brook Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center, a subacute rehabilitative center and skilled nursing facility in Mount Laurel. Laurel Brook is accused of violating the LAD by firing one of its longtime cooks after she took extended leave — first to deal with depression, and subsequently to undergo lung surgery.

“We are committed to protecting the right of all New Jersey workers to an inclusive and discrimination-free workplace,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “Our Division on Civil Rights takes every discrimination complaint seriously, and will hold accountable employers who violate the law.”

“The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to employees with a disability,” said DCR Deputy Director Rosemary DiSavino. “These cases serve as a reminder both that leave may constitute a reasonable accommodation, even when an extension of leave is needed because of multiple disabilities, and that an employee with a disability may require a workplace accommodation once they return to work.”

A Finding of Probable Cause does not represent final adjudication of a case. Rather, it means DCR has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support a reasonable suspicion the LAD has been violated.  

Mansfield School District

In this case, DCR found probable cause to support allegations by the complainant, a longtime elementary school science teacher, that the Mansfield School District denied her a reasonable accommodation for her disability and discriminated against her “based on disability and/or in retaliation for taking medical leave for her cancer treatment.”

In November 2019 the teacher, who had taught only science to fifth-grade students for most of the past decade, took a medical leave of absence to undergo treatment for Stage 3 ovarian cancer.

Upon her return to work in 2020, the teacher was informed she was being reassigned for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year to teach fourth-grade, where she would be required to teach four subjects (math, language arts, social studies and science) instead of one.

The Law Against Discrimination requires an employer to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee with a disability, so long as doing so would not impose an undue burden on the employer’s operations. It also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for requesting or utilizing a reasonable accommodation, including a leave of absence.

Upon learning of her reassignment, the teacher asked to remain in her role as a fifth-grade science teacher, explaining that her reassignment would be incompatible with her disability, and potentially harmful to her recovery from cancer.

Specifically, the teacher cited the stress of learning to teach three new subjects at a new grade level, and noted that her new fourth-grade classroom assignment would place her farther away from a faculty restroom. She explained that the restroom access issue was of concern due to unresolved complications from her surgery.

To support her request, the teacher submitted notes from three different medical providers, including her oncologist’s office, family physician’s office and surgeon’s office. All three medical notes advised that the stress of her reassignment had the potential to impact her recovery from cancer. The surgeon’s office note also advised that her condition required “close proximity to a restroom.”

Despite the woman’s condition and supporting medical provider notes, Mansfield schools declined to reconsider the teacher’s reassignment for the 2020-21 school year. The teacher filed her complaint with DCR on October 6, 2020, alleging in part that Mansfield Schools removed her from her fifth-grade teaching position and reassigned her to the fourth grade because of her disability and/or because she was returning from using a medical leave, and put, a less-qualified teacher without a disability, in the fifth grade in her place.

During DCR’s investigation, Mansfield School District officials noted that they provided additional classroom support to the reassigned teacher in the form of mentors and co-teachers. They also denied that the teacher’s reassignment was an adverse employment action, calling it a lateral transfer that did not result in a material change to the complainant’s salary, benefits or status.

The school district also claimed that the complainant was best qualified to fill a fourth-grade teaching vacancy created by the move of another teacher to an administrative position.

Notwithstanding the school district’s claims, the Partial Finding of Probable Cause announced today found that administrators had multiple alternatives to reassigning the cancer-stricken teacher from her long-held fifth-grade science teaching spot to a new grade level.

The Partial Finding of Probable Cause also notes that transitioning to an unfamiliar assignment after having undergone surgery and months of chemotherapy for an advanced form of cancer had in fact caused the reassigned teacher “a great deal of stress and negatively impacted her health.”

In addition, the finding document observes that the complainant’s new classroom assignment “still required her to walk several hundred feet to the closest restroom – a significant distance for one with urinary issues or bladder weakness.”

Based on DCR’s preliminary investigation, the Partial Finding of Probable Cause states, it appears the Mansfield School District “failed to adequately accommodate Complainant’s medically-supported needs for a low-stress return to teaching due to the fragile state of her recovery, and for a classroom in close proximity to a restroom due to the after effects of her treatment.”



Laurel Brook

In this case DCR found probable cause to support the complainant’s allegations that Laurel Brook unlawfully fired a longtime employee after the worker took nearly six months off to deal first with depression and then with surgery to remove a growth from her lung.

In her DCR complaint, the worker alleged that her firing after nearly eight years as a cook at Laurel Brook amounted to refusal by the facility to provide a reasonable accommodation for her disabilities.

According to the complainant, Laurel Brook verbally approved her request to take medical leave for a period of months to address “major depression,” and subsequently approved an extension of her leave to accommodate having a hamartoma removed from her lung. (Laurel Brook denies ever having provided leave approval.)

Upon contacting Laurel Brook about returning to work months later, the worker told DCR, she was advised there was no longer a job for her because she had failed to submit the paperwork required to document her need for medical leave.

Specifically, the woman was told her leave had not been approved and that she was therefore considered “resigned” after declining to submit forms required under the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

In its investigation, DCR determined the fired worker did, in fact, fail to fill out FMLA paperwork. The apparent reason was that the woman was confused by having already filled out separate paperwork required to claim temporary state disability benefits through Standard Benefit Administrators – a private, contracted insurance carrier that processes disability claims for client companies.

In issuing a Finding of Probable Cause, however, DCR noted that the worker’s failure to recognize a distinction between the disability paperwork she’d already completed and her need to fill out separate FMLA paperwork was “ultimately immaterial” and did not relieve Laurel Brook of its obligations under the New Jersey LAD.

DCR’s investigation included a review of multiple documents – including reports written by mental health providers and letters written by the worker’s thoracic surgeon – that were either submitted to Laurel Brook, or sent to Standard Benefit Administrators and copied to Laurel Brook officials.

These documents provided Laurel Brook “a stream of information” about the woman’s disabilities that evidenced her medical need to take leave, the Finding of Probable Cause notes, and triggered Laurel Brook’s obligation under the LAD to “enter into an interactive process to determine whether and how the employee may be reasonably accommodated.”



To view a Fact Sheet on disability discrimination and the rights of people with disabilities in employment, housing, education, etc., under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination go to: https://www.nj.gov/lps/dcr/downloads/fact-Disability-Discrimination.pdf

People with disabilities who believe their rights under the LAD have been violated can file a complaint with DCR by visiting https://bias.njcivilrights.gov/ or calling 1-833-NJDCR4U (833-653-2748).


TSA alarmed about frequency of guns carried to Philadelphia International Airport security checkpoints

TSA stresses the proper way to transport a firearm for a flight

February 11, 2022

HILADELPHIA –Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials are highly concerned about the frequency that they are seeing travelers carry their handguns to security checkpoints at Philadelphia International Airport. Most of those guns are found to be loaded.

“To me, this looks like a gun epidemic—one that is easily preventable,” said Gerardo Spero, TSA’s Federal Security Director for the airport. “Guns and security checkpoints don’t mix. Guns are never allowed to pass through a security checkpoint to be carried onto a flight. However, passengers can transport their guns for their trips if they pack them properly and declare them to the airline.”

The TSA team at Philadelphia International Airport detected a record 39 firearms at the security checkpoints in 2021. Philadelphia-based TSA officers caught five more guns just last month. 



When an individual shows up at a checkpoint with a firearm, the checkpoint lane comes to a standstill until the police resolve the incident. Thus, guns at checkpoints can delay travelers from getting to their gates.

“The most common excuses we hear from travelers is that ‘I didn’t know it was in my bag’ or ‘I forgot it was in there.’ But there is no excuse for trying to bring a handgun on a flight,” Spero said. “A responsible gun owner knows where their guns are at all times.”  


Guns caught at TSA security checkpoints at Philadelphia International Airport 

Year201720182019202020212022(As of 2/10/22)
Guns caught at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)35252026395

Passengers are permitted to travel with firearms in checked baggage if they are properly packaged and declared at their airline ticket counter. Firearms must be unloaded, placed in a hard-sided locked case, and packed separately from ammunition. Then the locked case must be taken to the airline check-in counter to be declared. TSA has details on how to properly travel with a firearm posted on its website.



TSA reserves the right to issue a civil penalty to travelers who bring weapons with them to a checkpoint. Civil penalties for bringing a handgun into a checkpoint can stretch into thousands of dollars, depending on mitigating or aggravating circumstances. This applies to travelers with or without concealed gun carry permits because even though an individual may have a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane. The complete list of civil penalties is posted online. If a traveler with a gun is a member of TSA PreCheck®, that individual will lose their TSA PreCheck privileges.

Travelers are responsible for the contents of bags and TSA recommends that travelers go through their carry-on and checked bags before they head to the airport to ensure that they have no illegal or prohibited items inside. Carrying a gun to an airport checkpoint carries a stiff federal civil penalty that can run into the thousands of dollars. Even if someone has a concealed carry permit, it does not allow for a firearm to be carried onto an airplane.

Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality and passengers should do their homework to make sure that they are not violating any local firearm laws. Travelers should also contact their airline as they may have additional requirements for traveling with firearms and ammunition.

Nationwide, TSA officers detected 5,972 guns at airport security checkpoints last year. Eighty-six percent of those guns were loaded. 

Grant Announced for Trenton MOVES Autonomous Vehicle-Based Urban Transit System Project

Innovative System to Promote Transportation Equity and Mobility

February 9, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)– Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, and Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora today announced a $5 million NJDOT Local Transportation Project Fund Grant for the Trenton Mobility & Opportunity: Vehicles Equity System (MOVES) Project. The grant to the City of Trenton will support the planned start up and eventual deployment of 100 Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) that will provide an on-demand automated transit system to serve the 90,000 residents of Trenton. 

“The Trenton MOVES project is an innovative solution to a longstanding transit deficit in the City of Trenton,” said Governor Murphy. “Using autonomous vehicle technology to combat inequities and to provide improved transportation in urban areas is a laudable and much needed effort. I am excited to see this project moving forward with the help of NJDOT, Mayor Gusciora, and Princeton University.

“Trenton MOVES is about utilizing innovation to sustainably improve the quality of life for a mobility-constrained population,” said NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “This is about equity and access to opportunity for everyone in Trenton.”

“This innovative project has the potential to turn one of Trenton’s greatest weaknesses into one of its biggest strengths,” said Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora.  “Trenton MOVES will put the latest technology at the disposal of seniors, students, state workers and thousands of other residents who will now have a low-cost solution to overcome our well-known transportation challenges. I’m incredibly grateful to Governor Murphy and the NJ Department of Transportation under Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti for this unprecedented investment in the Capital City.”

“This is a great opportunity for the residents of Trenton and students of Trenton Public Schools to increase mobility throughout the city,” said Trenton Public Schools Superintendent James Earle. “We are excited that Trenton MOVES reached out to partner with the district in an effort to include students and their families in the planning and implementation of this initiative. We look forward to the exciting work ahead and the impact that this project will have on our students.”

In Trenton, 70 percent of households only have one car or no car at all. This project will allow residents to utilize to a new form of low cost, environmentally friendly and efficient transportation. The Trenton MOVES project is being developed by the Governor’s Office, NJ Department of Transportation, the City of Trenton, and Princeton University.

NJDOT has offered a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) to help gather information from firms in the design, build-out and operation of a safe, equitable, affordable, sustainable, and efficient on-demand automated vehicle shuttle system for Trenton, NJ.

The project goals and specifications of the RFEI are available by accessing this link: Copy of Request for Expression of Interest.

The deadline for the RFEI response is February 25, 2022. NJDOT may issue formal requests for Qualifications or Proposals, following the solicitation of RFEIs. However, responses to the RFEI will not necessarily impact or be connected to the call for Proposals or Qualifications. 


Photos by: Brian McCarthy, OnScene News


Update: Suspect found Dead that was Wanted in Attempted Murder, Arson, and Assault

February 8, 2022

Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella announced that NICHOLAS PAGANO (DOB: 01/20/1991; single; nurse) of 968 Kings Highway, Apt X16, West Deptford, NJ, was found deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Waterford Township, NJ. NICHOLAS PAGANO was wanted on charges of attempted murder, aggravated arson, aggravated assault, and unlawful weapons possession.

On Monday, February 7, 2022, at approximately 5:15 a.m., the Hackensack Police Department received a 9-1-1 call from a Hackensack University Medical Center (“HUMC”) employee on a report of an assault at the hospital. Hackensack Police responded to the hospital, where they learned that a 54-year-old HUMC employee had been attacked and burned by another individual in a break room, and that the attacker had fled the hospital.

The victim suffered third-degree burns over her upper body, face and hands, as well as a laceration to her head that required stitches. She was treated in the emergency room at HUMC and subsequently transported to another medical facility where she remains in stable condition.

An investigation conducted by detectives from the Hackensack Police Department and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit revealed that NICHOLAS PAGANO burned the victim and struck the victim with a wrench. As a result of the investigation, on Monday, February 7, 2022, NICHOLAS PAGANO was charged with attempted murder and other offenses. At approximately 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, law enforcement learned that PAGANO was found deceased from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Waterford Township, NJ.

Prosecutor Musella would like to thank the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, Hackensack Police Department, West Deptford Police Department, Hammonton Police Department, Waterford Township Police Department, Winslow Township Police Department, State Park Police of New Jersey, Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office,

Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, and Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance in this investigation.



WANTED: Nicholas Pagano for Attempted Murder, Aggravated Arson, Aggravated Assault, and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon


UPDATE:


He is believed to be armed and dangerous.

February 8, 2022

Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella announced that NICHOLAS PAGANO (DOB: 01/20/1991; single; nurse) of 968 Kings Highway, Apt X16, West Deptford, NJ, is wanted on charges of attempted murder, aggravated arson, aggravated assault, and unlawful weapons possession. He is believed to be operating a 1998 white Jeep Grand Cherokee with black roof racks and New Jersey license plate number S57 NJH. He is believed to be armed and dangerous. The charges are the result of an investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Chief Jason Love and the Hackensack Police Department under the direction of Officer in Charge Darrin DeWitt.

On Monday, February 7, 2022, at approximately 5:15 a.m., the Hackensack Police Department received a 9-1-1 call from a Hackensack University Medical Center (“HUMC”) employee on a report of an assault at the hospital. Hackensack Police responded to the hospital, where they learned that a 54-year-old HUMC employee had been attacked and burned by another individual in a break room, and that the attacker had fled the hospital.

The victim suffered third-degree burns over her upper body, face and hands, as well as a laceration to her head that required stitches. She was treated in the emergency room at HUMC and subsequently transported to another medical facility for additional treatment.

An investigation conducted by detectives from the Hackensack Police Department and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit revealed that NICHOLAS PAGANO burned the victim and struck the victim with a wrench.

On Monday, February 7, 2022, NICHOLAS PAGANO was charged with first-degree attempted murder, N.J.S.A. 2C:5-1/2C:11-3a(1); second-degree aggravated arson against the person, N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a(1); second-degree aggravated arson against the property, N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a(2); second-degree aggravated assault, N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)1; third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d; and fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d.

NICHOLAS PAGANO should be considered armed and dangerous and should not be approached by members of the public. Anyone with information concerning his whereabouts or if he is observed, please contact the Hackensack Police Department at (201) 646-7777.

Prosecutor Musella states that the charges are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and he would like to thank the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office and the Hackensack Police Department for their assistance in this investigation.



Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines to Combine, Creating America’s Most Competitive Ultra-Low Fare Airline

February 7, 2022

Frontier Airlines flies daily from TTN Trenton-Mercer County Airport. Spirit Airlines flies daily from Atlantic City International Airport. Both Frontier and Spirit Airlines fly from Newark Liberty International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport to multiple destinations.

DENVER, Colo. and MIRAMAR, Fla., Feb. 07, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Spirit Airlines, Inc. (“Spirit”) (NYSE: SAVE) and Frontier Group Holdings, Inc. (“Frontier”) (NASDAQ: ULCC), parent company of Frontier Airlines, Inc., today announced a definitive merger agreement under which the companies will combine, creating America’s most competitive ultra-low fare airline.

Together, Frontier and Spirit expect to change the industry for the benefit of consumers, bringing more ultra-low fares to more travelers in more destinations across the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, including major cities as well as underserved communities. The stronger financial profile of the combined company will empower it to accelerate investment in innovation and growth and compete even more aggressively, especially against the dominant “Big Four” 1 airlines, among others.

William A. Franke, the Chair of Frontier’s Board of Directors and the managing partner of Indigo Partners, Frontier’s majority shareholder, noted that Indigo has a long history with both Spirit and Frontier, and is proud to partner with them in creating a disruptive airline. “We worked jointly with the Board of Directors and senior management team across both carriers to arrive at a combination of two complementary businesses that together will create America’s most competitive ultra-low fare airline for the benefit of consumers.”

“We are thrilled to join forces with Frontier to further democratize air travel,” said Ted Christie, President and CEO of Spirit. “This transaction is centered around creating an aggressive ultra-low fare competitor to serve our Guests even better, expand career opportunities for our Team Members and increase competitive pressure, resulting in more consumer-friendly fares for the flying public. We look forward to uniting our talented teams to shake up the airline industry while also continuing our commitment to excellent Guest service.”

“This combination is all about growth, opportunities and creating value for everyone – from our Guests to our Team Members to the flying public at large,” said Mac Gardner, Chairman of the Board of Spirit. “We’re a perfect fit – our businesses share similar values, including our longstanding commitment to affordable travel. At the same time, we have complementary footprints and fleets, including one of the youngest and greenest fleets worldwide. Together, we will be even more competitive for our Guests and our Team Members, and we are confident we can deliver on the benefits of this combination to consumers.”

“Together, Frontier and Spirit will be America’s Greenest Airline and deliver more ultra-low fares to more people in more places,” said Barry Biffle, President and CEO of Frontier. “I couldn’t be more excited for our team members, customers, partners, the communities we serve and our shareholders.”



Consumers Win With More Ultra-Low Fares to More Places

The combined airline is expected to:

Deliver $1 billion in annual consumer savings.

Offer more than 1,000 daily flights to over 145 destinations in 19 countries, across complementary networks. Expand with more than 350 aircraft on order to deliver more ultra-low fares.

Increase access to ultra-low fares by adding new routes to underserved communities across the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Deliver even more reliable service through a variety of operational efficiencies. Expand frequent flyer and membership offerings.

Team Members Win With Expanded Opportunities and Increased Stability

By 2026 Spirit and Frontier expect to add 10,000 direct jobs and thousands of additional jobs at the companies’ business partners.

Given the growth of the combined company, it is expected that all current team members will have an opportunity to be a part of the combined airline.

Team Members of the combined airline will have better career opportunities and more stability as part of the most competitive ultra-low fare airline in the United States.

Sustainability Wins With America’s Greenest Airline

Frontier and Spirit will be America’s Greenest Airline, providing nationwide access to sustainable and affordable air travel. The combined airline will have the youngest, most modern and fuel-efficient fleet in the United States, featuring the largest fleet of A320neo family aircraft of any airline in the country. The combined airline is expected to achieve over 105 seat miles per gallon by 2025.

Shareholders Win With Superior Value Creation

The combination of Spirit and Frontier is expected to deliver enhanced value to shareholders of both companies.

On a combined basis, the company would have annual revenues of approximately $5.3 billion based on 2021 results. Once combined, Frontier and Spirit expect to deliver annual run-rate operating synergies of $500 million once full integration is completed, which will be primarily driven by scale efficiencies and procurement savings across the enterprise with approximately $400 million in one-time costs.

The combined airline is expected to have a strengthened financial profile, with a cash balance of approximately $2.42 billion as of the end of 2021 on a combined basis.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, Spirit equity holders will receive 1.9126 shares of Frontier plus $2.13 in cash for each existing Spirit share they own. This implies a value of $25.83 per Spirit share at Frontier’s closing stock price of $12.39 on February 4, 2022, representing a premium of 19% over the February 4, 2022, closing price of Spirit, and a 26% premium based on the 30 trading-day volume-weighted average prices of Frontier and Spirit. The transaction values Spirit at a fully diluted equity value of $2.9 billion, and a transaction value of $6.6 billion when accounting for the assumption of net debt and operating lease liabilities.

Upon closing of the transaction, existing Frontier equity holders will own approximately 51.5% and existing Spirit equity holders will own approximately 48.5% of the combined airline, on a fully diluted basis, providing both Frontier and Spirit equity holders with substantial upside potential.

Bringing Our Airlines Together – Governance and Timing to Completion

The Board of Directors for the new airline will be comprised of 12 directors (including the CEO), seven of whom will be named by Frontier and five of whom will be named by Spirit. Mr. Franke will be Chairman of the Board of the combined company.

The merger is expected to close in the second half of 2022, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including completion of the regulatory review process and approval by Spirit stockholders. Frontier’s controlling stockholder has approved the transaction and related issuance of shares of Frontier common stock upon signing of the merger agreement. The combined company’s management team, branding and headquarters will be determined by a committee led by Mr. Franke prior to close.