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Murphy Administration Announces New Jersey State Parks are Ready for 2023 Summer Season

Oceanfront Lifeguards on Duty Starting This Weekend, Electric Vehicle Charging Stations Operational at Multiple State Parks, Forests

May 23, 2023

TRENTON – As summer approaches, the State Park Service is ready to kick off the season with lifeguards on duty during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend at Island Beach State Park, picnic areas ready for families and friends to gather, and electric vehicle charging stations available at several state parks and forests, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette announced today.

Island Beach State Park will be the first location to have lifeguards on duty for the holiday weekend, and each weekend throughout June before opening for daily hours on June 19. Staggered openings are planned throughout June for swimming areas at other state parks and forests. In addition, the State Park Service has increased the number of electric vehicles charging stations at its properties and continues hiring people for a variety of seasonal positions.

“New Jersey’s state parks and forests are an excellent choice for a few hours of relaxation, a day off or a vacation,” Commissioner LaTourette said. “It’s going to be a great summer and we look forward to being the public’s destination for swimming, picnicking, hiking or just quietly taking in the beauty of nature.”

Governor Phil Murphy has proposed a second year of free entrance to state parks, forests and historic sites in the FY24 budget, which is under review by the New Jersey Legislature.

 Swimming Areas

Lifeguards at Island Beach State Park will be on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 27 through Monday, May 29, and then each Saturday and Sunday following until June 19, when lifeguards will be on duty daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day, Sept. 4. Lakefront swim areas will open on staggered dates in mid-June.

Swimming will be available at High PointHopatcongSwartswood and Wawayanda state parks in the northern part of the state; Cheesequake State Park and Round Valley Recreation Area in the central region; and Island Beach State ParkAtsion Recreation Area (Wharton State Forest), Parvin State Park and Belleplain State Forest in the south, staff permitting. Detailed swim schedules for each property are available online.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

To make state parks, forests and recreation areas more welcoming to visitors with electric vehicles, 10 Level 2 charging stations are located on state park grounds across the state.

Two charging stations are in place and operational at Cheesequake State Park (Middlesex County), High Point State Park (Sussex County), Round Valley Recreation Area (Hunterdon County), Wawayanda State Park (Sussex and Passaic counties), and Wharton State Forest – Batsto Village (Burlington County). All charging stations are in the parks’ swimming areas, except at Wharton State Forest.  

“The tourism economy, outdoor recreation and public lands are vital to New Jersey, and our state parks, forests and historic sites are ready to welcome the public,” said Assistant Commissioner for State Parks, Forests & Historic Sites John Cecil. “We recognize the importance of having the necessary amenities for people, including the ability to charge electric vehicles and swim under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. Take some time and come enjoy a day at the park, in the forest or stepping back in time at a historic site.”

A $45,000 grant from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities awarded in March 2022 helped fund the 10 electric vehicle chargers. Additionally, a July 2022 BPU grant included $150,000 for two DC fast chargers that will be installed at a later date at Liberty State Park in Hudson County.

Summer Jobs

 Lifeguard positions continue to be available at swimming areas across the state, with salaries starting at $17.50 per hour. Oceanfront guards at Island Beach State Park start at $18.50 per hour.

While prior experience is not necessary, candidates must pass running and swim tests prior to employment. The State Park Service will train lifeguards in cardiopulmonary resuscitation/Automated External Defibrillator use, first aid and other medical matters. Each lifeguard will also receive a U.S. Lifesaving Association certification.

Lifeguard opportunities are available at High Point, Hopatcong, Swartswood and Wawayanda state parks in the northern part of the state; Cheesequake State Park and Round Valley Recreation Area in the central region; and Island Beach State Park, Atsion Recreation Area (Wharton State Forest), Parvin State Park and Belleplain state forests in the south. The State Park Service is also hiring lifeguards for Bass River State Forest to begin all required training and certifications in anticipation of a possible late summer opening.

After a successful pilot run in 2022, the State Park Service will continue expanding its aquatics program by hiring Junior Lifeguards at least 15 years old, at $16 per hour. While junior lifeguards cannot perform lifeguard duties for the public until age 16, the position provides a training head start for when they are able to provide full lifeguard duties.

Additional seasonal job opportunities with the State Park Service include general maintenance, naturalists and history educators, visitor services and office assistants. These positions start at $15 per hour and the hourly rate will increase with experience.

Applications are being accepted at

The State Park Service manages more than 453,000 acres of land, including 40 state parks, 11 state forests, three recreation areas and more than 50 historic sites and districts.

For more about New Jersey’s Parks, Forests & Historic Sites, visit

Trenton, NJ, Man Charged With Murder Of Daquan Brown

October 25, 2022

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Trenton man has been charged with the murder of Daquan Brown earlier this month in the city, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported.

Mack Williams, 32, is charged with murder and weapons offenses. He was taken into custody on Monday in Trenton by the U.S. Marshals NY/NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force with assistance from the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office. The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to detain Williams pending trial.

The charges are the result of an investigation by the Mercer County Homicide Task Force and the Trenton Police Department. At approximately 3:10 p.m. on Sunday, October 9, 2022, Trenton police responded to a Shot Spotter activation for multiple rounds in the first block of Ewing Street. Responding officers arrived on scene to discover an adult male lying on the ground at Kersey Alley suffering a gunshot wound to the shoulder area. He was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead a short time later. The victim was identified as Daquan Brown, 33, of Trenton.

Despite having been charged, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

At approximately 3:10 p.m. on Sunday, October 9, 2022, Trenton police responded to a Shot Spotter activation for multiple rounds in the first block of Ewing Street. Responding officers arrived on scene to discover an adult male lying on the ground at Kersey Alley suffering a gunshot wound to the shoulder area. He was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead a short time later. The victim was identified as Daquan Brown, 33, of Trenton.

Names of the 2022 homicide victims in the City of Trenton:

  1. 2/15/2022 Antwone Barnes, 37, of Trenton, Stabbing
  2. 2/23/2022 Leonardo Fernandez, 32, of Trenton, Stabbing
  3. 3/01/2022 Shimon Nesmith Jr., 19, of Trenton, Shooting
  4. 3/03/2022 Helen Nelson, 73, of Trenton, Physical Assault
  5. 3/15/2022 Albert L. Barnes, 46, of Trenton, Shooting
  6. 3/25/2022 Sequoya Bacon-Jones, 9, of Trenton, Shooting
  7. 3/31/2022 Tahaad Goss, 16, of Trenton, Shooting
  8. 4/07/2022 Jaquir Queen, 26, of Willingboro, Shooting
  9. 4/09/2022 Leroy Davis, 31, of Trenton, Shooting
  10. 5/01/2022 Jamir McNeil, 25 of Trenton, Shooting
  11. 5/22/2022 Ali Abdullah, 25, of Trenton, Shooting
  12. 6/01/2022 Dreiby Osorio, 16, of Trenton, Stabbing
  13. 9/02/2022 Rasheed Barlow, 35, of Trenton, Shooting
  14. 9/11/2022 Chron Jenks, 34, of Ewing, Shooting
  15. 9/20/2022 Keenan Anthony Trower, 31, of Hamilton Shooting
  16. 10/09/2022 Daquan Brown, 33, of Trenton, Shooting
  17. 10/10/2022 Daveigh Brooks, 25, of Ewing

** Pending determination:

18. ** Cause of “Suspicious death” for Corrine Daniels, 41, of Park Avenue in Trenton has not been released yet from MCPO ** Once official determination is made the list will be updated.

19. ** Cause of fire under investigation by Mercer County Prosecutors Office Brian Wharton, 57, of Trenton

East Windsor Hit And Run; Trenton Man Charged, Pedestrian In Critical Condition

October 11, 2021

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)—East Windsor Police say they responded to a serious pedestrian accident at 4:44 a.m. on Route 130 South at the intersection of Hickory Corner Road.

The preliminary investigation revealed that while traveling on foot, westbound, across Route 130 Carl J. Ewald 52-years-old from East Windsor was hit by a 2006 Ford Econoline driven by Francisco Merino-Angel 35-year-old from Trenton, NJ. The pedestrian suffered life-threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton by Robbinsville Township EMS and Capital Health Paramedics. The driver of the Ford Econoline left the scene of the crash and was later identified.

Police say, Mr. Francisco Merino-Angel (age 35) Trenton, NJ was charged with the following:

Leaving the Scene 39:4-129

Failure to Report 39:4-130

Unsafe Vehicle 39:3-44

Cracked Windshield 39:3-75

Leaving the Scene of an accident 2C:12-1.1

Endangering an injured victim 2C:12-1.2

The matter remains under investigation by the East Windsor Police Department’s Traffic Safety Unit and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Serious Collision Response Team.

Assisting Agencies: East Windsor Township Police Department

Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office

Robbinsville Township EMS

Capital Health Paramedics

UPDATE: Arrests Made In Shooting/Aggravated Assault On April 1, 2021

April 3, 2021

Original BREAKING NEWS story here from April 1, 2021: Reported shots fired during fight in Hamilton

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–On April 1, 2021 at approximately 11:00 pm, Hamilton Police were detailed to the area of Barnt Deklyn Road and Andrew Street for a disturbance involving several people fighting. Responding Officers located several people still in the area and learned that two handguns were involved in this incident. Investigating officers located a spent handgun shell casing at the scene. Once victim was located with a head injury from being struck with the butt of a gun. He was treated for his injuries and released from the hospital.

Hamilton Officers developed information to charge 20 year old, Chesterfield resident, Christian Elley and 20 year old, Hamilton resident, Mario Cruz with Aggravated Assault, and various Weapons Offenses.

Hamilton Police Detectives Patrick Quick and Robert Whartenby, additionally charged 18 year old Hamilton resident, Dominic Maloney, with Terroristic Threats, and Various Weapons Offenses including the Community Gun Offense.

All three suspects were processed and transported to the Mercer County Correctional Facility awaiting arraignment.

Hamilton Police Detectives are asking the public if anyone has additional information regarding this investigation to contact Detective Robert Whartenby of the Hamilton Police Criminal Investigations Section at (609) 581-4032 or via email at The public can also contact the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at (609) 581-4008.

Every defendant is innocent until being found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Original BREAKING NEWS story here from April 1, 2021: Reported shots fired during fight in Hamilton photos from the scene here:

National leader of outlaw motorcycle gang charged with illegally possessing a firearm

February 26, 2021

By: Tyler Eckel

NEWARK– A Suffolk County, New York, man was arrested today for illegally possessing a firearm, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Keith Richter, aka “Conan,” 62, of Bay Shore, New York, is charged by criminal complaint with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He is scheduled to appear by videoconference this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer.

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

Richter is the national president of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, an outlaw motorcycle gang known by law enforcement to engage in illegal activity, including narcotics trafficking, weapons trafficking, and violent crimes.

On February 20, 2021, the Pagans hosted a party in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While Richter was traveling home from the party late at night, he was stopped by law enforcement officers in Mercer County, New Jersey. Officers recovered a loaded Ruger P345 .45 caliber handgun from the vehicle.

Richter was previously convicted of felony offenses, including conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and attempted assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, for which he served 16 years in prison.

The count of being a felon in possession of a weapon carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson in Newark; special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Newark Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson; the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Timothy D. Sini; the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo; and the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan, with the investigation leading to these charges.

This case is part of Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiative to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensured that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Frazer, R. Joseph Gribko, and Samantha C. Fasanello, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.

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

Burlington County man admits interfering with law enforcement officers during civil disorder

January 26, 2021

Published by: Tyler Eckel

TRENTON (MERCER): A Burlington County, New Jersey, man today admitted attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder when he attempted to set fire to a police vehicle during a riot in the City of Trenton, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.

Killian F. Melecio, 20, of Columbus, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti to an information charging him with one count of attempting to obstruct, impede, or interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder affecting commerce.

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

On May 31, 2020, large-scale protests were held throughout the United States, including in Trenton, in response to the death of George Floyd. Although the May 31st protest in Trenton was peaceful earlier in the day, violence erupted later. A group of individuals proceeded down East State Street in downtown Trenton and began to riot, smashing store fronts, looting stores, and attacking multiple marked Trenton Police Department vehicles parked on the 100 Block of East State Street.

A City of Trenton street camera and other video footage taken by an individual present on the street captured Kadeem Dockery light an explosive device and throw it through the open front driver’s side window of a Trenton Police Department vehicle. Dockery then removed his shirt and handed it to Melecio, who then attempted to stuff the shirt in the gas tank of the police vehicle and ignite it. Melecio was then assisted by Justin Spry in attempting to set fire to the police vehicle. Law enforcement officers on scene arrested Spry, but Melecio and Dockery fled. Law enforcement later identified Melecio and Dockery through analysis of street camera and other video footage. They were arrested on Aug. 5, 2020.

The charge of attempting to interfere with law enforcement officers during a civil order carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. Scheduling is scheduled for May 26, 2021.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited special agents of the FBI and task force officers of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. She also thanked officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley; troopers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Col. Patrick J. Callahan; and officers of the New Jersey Department of Corrections, under the direction of Commissioner Marcus O. Hicks, for their assistance.

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

The charges and allegations remaining against Kadeem Dockery and Justin Spry are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

See MidJersey.News’ previous news story here: Trenton burns as rioters torch cars, loot stores, and clash with police after “peaceful protest” goes violent at dusk.

See MidJersey.News’ previous breaking news story here: BREAKING: Chaos in the City; peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest turns violent at dark.

The David L. Fried Humanitarian Award

December 23, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–On the July morning Brian Lotito slipped the surly bonds of this Earth after his motorcycle collided with another vehicle on Route 130 near Woodside Road, he was at peace.

More importantly for Paula Lotito, her son was not alone.

Thanks to Robbinsville resident Eric Steinberg.

“Eric said he prayed Jewish prayers over him,” Paula said. “He said Brian was peaceful, and he held his hand as he slipped away. Who does that? This was a nightmare for Eric. He saw it. He heard it. But he stayed, and I am forever indebted to him.”

Because of his selfless and compassionate act of human kindness, Eric Steinberg was presented with the first David L. Fried Humanitarian Award on November 28.”

Many of us may ask ourselves what we would do in such a moment, and deep inside our heart of hearts we all hope to do what Eric did for Brian and his family that morning,” Mayor Fried said. “There is no plaque or medal big enough, no amount of words eloquent enough, to honor Eric for his humanitarianism on July 11.”

Brian was a talented musician and vocalist and studied music and performing arts. According to his obituary, he was unique, driven and “an advocate for anyone that could not be one for themselves.

“When the day comes we can gather again at another State of Robbinsville Township Pay it Forward event, Eric Steinberg will be the guest of honor. Paula Lotito and her family will be there, too.”

It could have been anyone. Eric would have done it for anyone,” Paula said, holding back tears. “He would have stayed by their side. That’s just who he is. We are so grateful to Mayor Fried and the Township for creating this award for him. Eric is a man of grace and he will probably be embarrassed by all this, but if this motivates more people to be kind to others then this story needs to be told.”  

BREAKING: 3 Alarm Fire On Southard Street

September 22, 2020

Continuing Coverage:

Victim In 3rd Alarm Trenton Fire Identified, Fire Under Investigation

Trenton 3rd Alarm Now “Suspicious Death” Investigation

UPDATED: SEE UPDATED STORY HERE: Update: 3rd Alarm In 2 Family Home With “Collyer’s Mansion” Conditions Turns Fatal

BREAKING NEWS REPORT: Breaking news report from on scene and radio reports, if and when official information becomes available story will be updated and corrections made.

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Around 8:30 pm the Trenton Fire Department was sent to the 700 Block of Southard Street for a house fire. Upon arrival companies struck an “All Hands” sending the full first alarm and additional EMS units were also called to the scene. Fire was in a 2 1/2 story 2 family home with heavy fire conditions throughout. About 20 minutes into the fire a 2nd Alarm was called for and eventually the fire became a 3rd Alarm.

No further information was available about the fire.

Two Iranian Nationals Charged In Cyber Theft And Defacement Campaign Against Computer Systems In United States, Europe and Middle East


September 16, 2020

Two Iranian nationals have been charged in connection with a coordinated cyber intrusion campaign – sometimes at the behest of the government of Iran – targeting computers in New Jersey and around the world, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Hooman Heidarian, a/k/a “neo,” 30, and Mehdi Farhadi, a/k/a “Mehdi Mahdavi” and “Mohammad Mehdi Farhadi Ramin,” 34, both of Hamedan, Iran, are each charged in a 10-count indictment returned Sept. 15, 2020, with: one count each of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with computers and access devices; computer fraud – unauthorized access to protected computers: computer fraud, unauthorized damage to protected computers; conspiracy to commit wire fraud; and access device fraud; and five counts of aggravated identity theft.

“These Iranian nationals allegedly conducted a wide-ranging campaign on computers here in New Jersey and around the world,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “They brazenly infiltrated computer systems and targeted intellectual property and often sought to intimidate perceived enemies of Iran, including dissidents fighting for human rights in Iran and around the world. This conduct threatens our national security, and as a result, these defendants are wanted by the FBI and are considered fugitives from justice.”

“We will not bring the rule of law to cyberspace until governments refuse to provide safe harbor for criminal hacking within their borders,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said. “Unfortunately, our cases demonstrate that at least four nations—Iran, China, Russia and North Korea—will allow criminal hackers to victimize individuals and companies from around the world, as long as these hackers will also work for that country’s government—gathering information on human rights activists, dissidents and others of intelligence interest. Today’s defendants will now learn that such service to the Iranian regime is not an asset, but a criminal yoke that they will now carry until the day they are brought to justice.”

“The indictment of two Iranian nationals charged with computer hacking, fraud, and aggravated identity theft demonstrates how the FBI continues to work relentlessly with our law enforcement partners to identify cybercriminals who seek to do harm to American citizens, businesses, and universities, regardless of where those criminals may reside and hold them accountable,” George M. Crouch Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Newark Division, said. “Mehdi Farhadi and Hooman Heidarian are now fugitives and have been added to the FBI website for charges in connection with a massive, coordinated cyber intrusion campaign. These actions demonstrate how imposing risks and consequences on our cyber adversaries will continue to be a top priority for the FBI.”

According to the indictment:

Beginning in at least 2013, the defendants were responsible for a coordinated campaign of cyber intrusions into computer systems in New Jersey and around the world. The victims included several American and foreign universities, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, a defense contractor, an aerospace company, a foreign policy organization, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), non-profits, and foreign government and other entities identified as rivals or adversaries to Iran around the world.

Heidarian and Farhadi conducted many of these intrusions on behalf of the Iranian government. The stolen data was typically highly protected and extremely sensitive, and included confidential communications pertaining to national security, foreign policy intelligence, non-military nuclear information, aerospace data, human rights activist information, victim financial information and personally identifiable information, and intellectual property, including unpublished scientific research. The defendants also often vandalized websites using the pseudonym “Sejeal” and posted messages that appeared to signal the demise of Iran’s internal opposition, foreign adversaries, and countries identified as rivals to Iran, including Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Tactics and Techniques

The defendants conducted online reconnaissance to carefully select their victims, gathering data and intelligence to determine their areas of expertise, and assessing computer networks in preparation for launching cyber-attacks. They often used information obtained at this stage in latter phases of their hacking activities to complete a picture of processes, organizational structure, and potential soft spots of victim networks. The defendants used vulnerability-scanning tools to test the victim networks and to reveal security holes.

The defendants gained and maintained unauthorized access to victim networks using various tools, including: session hijacking, where a valid computer session was exploited to gain unauthorized access to information or services in a computer system; SQL injection, in which they used malicious code to access information that was not intended to be displayed, such as sensitive government data, user details, and personal identifiers; and malicious programs installations, which allowed the defendants to maintain unauthorized access to computers.

The defendants then used key-loggers and “remote access Trojans” to maintain access and monitor the actions of users of the victim networks. They also developed a botnet tool, which facilitated the spread of malware, denial of service attacks, and spamming to victim networks. In some instances, the defendants used their unauthorized access to victim networks or accounts to establish automated forwarding rules for compromised victim accounts, whereby new outgoing and incoming emails were automatically forwarded from the compromised accounts to accounts controlled by defendants

Using these methods, the defendants stole hundreds of terabytes of data, including confidential victim work product and intellectual property, and personal identifying information, such as access credentials, names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, and birthdates. The defendants marketed stolen data on the black market.

In addition to stealing intellectual property and other data, the defendants, using the pseudonym “Sejeal,” replaced the publicly available contents of websites with political and other ideological content, thereby defacing websites, for the apparent purpose of projecting Iranian influence and threatening perceived enemies of Iran. The defacements featured, among other things, images of burning Israeli flags and threats forecasting the death or demise of citizens in the United States, Israel, and elsewhere.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Crouch in Newark, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The counts of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and related activity in connection with computers and access devices, unauthorized access to protected computers, and computer fraud – unauthorized damage to protected computers, each carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison. The count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The counts of aggravated identity theft each carry a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. The count of access device fraud carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dean C. Sovolos of the U.S. Attorney’s Office National Security Unit, Daniel V. Shapiro, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division, and Trial Attorney Scott McCulloch of the National Security Division.

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

Trenton to Add More COPS Through DOJ Community Policing Grant Program

September 3, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)—Mayor W. Reed Gusciora announced today that the City of Trenton and the Trenton Police Department (TPD) have been awarded $1.25 million in competitive federal grant funds from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Orientated Policing (COPS), which will help hire 10 new officers and allow TPD to increase community policing and prevent violent crime.

Trenton City Council will consider accepting the award as well as the expenditure of additional funds to match the grant at tonight’s City Council meeting. The City of Trenton will be required to match $542,815 per year for the next three years.

“Trenton has had an uptick in violent crime, all made worse by a lingering health crisis and a police force that is still reeling from previous budget cuts,” said Mayor Gusciora. “This grant application allows us to put over a $1 million more into TPD’s efforts to enhance community policing programs and improve the safety of our residents at a time when they need it the most.”

“Due to ongoing budget constraints and retirements, TPD’s manpower is getting smaller and smaller as the needs of Trenton residents grow larger,” said Police Director Sheilah Coley. “While we work with our state and county partners to deploy more officers in Trenton neighborhoods, we should also secure every available resource at the federal level that will help keep residents safe and refine our community policing strategy.”

The COPS Hiring Program is a competitive award program that helps state and local law enforcement agencies implement community policing strategies and crime prevention efforts by hiring or rehiring additional police officers. Applicants must identify a specific focus problem, such as violent crime, and explain how the funding will be used to implement community policing approaches that address that focus.

“On behalf of the City of Trenton, I want to thank Senator Cory Booker, Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Shirley Turner for their assistance in advocating on behalf of the capital city,” said Mayor Gusciora. “There is no doubt that this funding will have a meaningful impact in helping TPD serve our residents.”

Murphy Administration to Open New Jersey’s Schools For In-Person Instruction Subject to Critical Health and Safety Protocols

Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Requiring Schools to Open for In-Person Instruction and Permitting Districts to Provide Remote-Only Instruction if They Cannot Meet Health and Safety Protocols Executive Order Also Allows Institutions of Higher Education to Resume Broader In-Person Instruction

August 13, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy and Department of Education Interim Commissioner Kevin Dehmer announced that New Jersey’s public and private school districts will be open for in-person instruction for the start of the school year. Public school districts can begin the school year via remote-only instruction if they cannot adequately meet critical health and safety protocols outlined in the state’s school reopening guidance, “The Road Back,” which was released in late June. Districts who need to delay the implementation of in-person instruction will be required to submit information to the Department of Education (DOE) describing the health and safety standards that they are currently unable to adequately meet, how they will address outstanding issues in a timely fashion, and a proposed timeline for reopening physical school spaces to students and staff for in-person instruction.  

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our students and educators, and we must ensure that schools reopen their doors only when it is safe for them to do so,” said Governor Murphy. “Since releasing our guidance on reopening, we have continued to have frequent discussions with stakeholders and educators across the state. Many districts have expressed that meeting critical health and safety criteria by the first day of school is proving to be a challenge. While we continue to believe that there is no substitute for being in the classroom, allowing districts to delay the implementation of in-person instruction will give them the time and flexibility they need to ensure buildings are ready and welcoming when they do open.”

Governor Murphy signed Executive Order 175, which directed the following for school districts:

  • Districts are required to certify to DOE that they can meet the health and safety protocols outlined in the Order, and further detailed in the “Road Back,” before resuming in-person instruction.  Private school districts will also be required to submit this certification;
  • Districts that can meet the health and safety protocols shall open to students for in-person instruction in the fall;
  • Even if school buildings are open for in-person instruction on the first day of the 2020-2021 school year, districts must provide a remote learning option for parents or guardians who request it for their children;
  • Districts unable to adequately meet health and safety reopening protocols must provide remote instruction to all students. These districts are required to submit documentation to DOE detailing which standard(s) the district is unable to satisfy, the anticipated efforts that will be taken to satisfy the standard(s), and a date by which the school anticipates resuming in-person instruction;
  • All schools required to participate in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program and those that voluntarily opt-in to those programs must offer required meals to all children on remote-learning days.

The Order also waives the use of student growth data from standardized assessments for this year’s educator evaluations. 

“This action reflects our responsiveness to the varying needs and challenges that each district faces as they prepare for the new school year,” said Kevin Dehmer, Interim Commissioner of Education. “We’re providing the flexibility that some school districts may need to ensure that reopening of schools and in-person instruction is done in as safe a manner as possible.”

“We are pleased to say that in East Brunswick we will be able to meet the health and safety standards outlined in the Department of Education guidance and return to our classrooms in the fall, all while keeping our students and staff safe,” said Dr. Victor Valeski, Superintendent of East Brunswick Schools. “While a return to full time in-person instruction is not possible for East Brunswick Public Schools, we are confident that the hybrid plan we are offering our students will ensure that all students, regardless of where they will be during the school day, receive a high-quality education.”

“While our goal remains to achieve in-person learning, our district determined that there is still much work to be done to ensure the health and safety of students and staff before we reopen our doors for in-person instruction,” said Dr. Neely Hackett, Superintendent of Willingboro Public Schools. “As a community committed to providing Willingboro students with an education grounded in 21st century thinking and learning, we remain committed and will work toward taking every necessary step to prepare our buildings, students, staff, and parents for in-person learning for the start of the second marking period.”

Executive Order 175 further permits institutions of higher education to resume in-person instruction not previously permitted under Executive Order 155, provided they can meet previously outlined health and safety protocols from the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, effective immediately. 

“We know how effective in-person learning is as it provides students academic and social supports that cannot be offered as efficiently in remote settings. As colleges and universities restart operations this fall, students will have a wider array of instructional options including in-person, remote, and hybrid learning,” said Interim Secretary of Higher Education Diana Gonzalez. “Regardless of the mode of instruction, our priority is to offer students the best college experience while prioritizing health and safety for all.”

Click here for a copy of Executive Order 175.

Governor Murphy Signs Executive Order Increasing Capacity Limit on Outdoor Gatherings

Order Also Allows Public and Private Recreational Campgrounds to Reopen

May 23, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed Executive Order No. 148, increasing the limit on outdoor gatherings from 10 to 25 people and allowing recreational campgrounds to reopen with social distancing measures in place. The limit on indoor gatherings remains at 10 people. The Order takes effect immediately.“Our steady progress on the road back has been made possible through the hard work and personal responsibility of New Jerseyans to safeguard public health,” said Governor Murphy. “I’m proud that we can confidently take this step today and provide further optimism for the unofficial start of summer.”

Outdoor GatheringsThe Governor’s Executive Order allows outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people so long as the following rules are complied with:

  • The gathering must take place entirely outdoors except for restroom use;
  • Limit capacity to no more than 25 people at all times;
  • Require attendees to be six feet apart at all times, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners;
  • Prohibit contact between attendees, and no organized or contact sports;
  • If the event is an organized gathering, the organizer should demarcate six feet of spacing in the area of the gathering to demonstrate appropriate spacing for social distancing;
  • Limit provided seating to single individuals, spaced six feet apart, and sanitized after each use;
  • Prohibit sharing of any physical items provided and require sanitization before and after each use; and
  • Require contactless pay options wherever feasible. 

Nothing in the Order shall prevent professional athletes from fulfilling their job duties, consistent with paragraph 10 of Executive Order No. 107 (2020).

Charter Boats and Recreational Businesses: The Order rescinds the 10-person capacity limit on charter boats and recreational businesses opened under Executive Order No. 147, including archery ranges, batting cages, golf driving ranges, horseback riding, tennis clubs, and shooting ranges, and imposes a new 25-person capacity limitation with a requirement that individuals can remain six feet apart at all times.

Parks, Beaches, Boardwalks, and Lakeshores: The Order allows gatherings of no more than 25 people at State Parks and Forests, county and municipal parks, public and private beaches, boardwalks, lakes, and lakeshores, but continues to prohibit special events such as festivals, concerts, fireworks, and movies.

Recreational Campgrounds: The Order permits private and public recreational campgrounds to reopen to the public. The following shall remain closed at recreational campgrounds: picnic areas; playgrounds; pavilions; and other buildings amenities, or facilities, except restrooms and showers. Recreational campgrounds that are open to the public must comply with the same restrictions required for recreational businesses.  The Department of Environmental Protection is required to prepare a phased-in reopening plan for all campgrounds located on State Parks and Forests within fifteen days.The Order also recommends, but does not order, that people wear a face covering while at outdoor gatherings and recreational campgrounds when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.