Wall Township Man Sentenced For Attempting To Endanger The Welfare Of A Child

March 17, 2023

FREEHOLD, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Wall Township man was sentenced to a total of three years in a New Jersey State Prison in connection with the 2019 attempt to endanger the welfare of a child, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Friday.  

On Friday, March 10, 2023, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. Lemieux, Kenneth Megill, 43, was sentenced on a third-degree charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Upon release, Megill faces mandatory Megan’s Law registration and Parole Supervision for Life.  

Megill pled guilty to the charge on October 14, 2022.       

Megill utilized an online dating platform in an attempt to endanger what he believed to be a 14-year-old male high-school student by sending him sexually explicit messages and requesting nude photographs of the child. Megill was arrested and charged following an investigation by the Wall Township Police Department, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.    

Investigators are seeking additional information about Megill’s activities. Anyone with information can contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Anthony Lacher at 800-533-7443.   

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android – https://www.p3tips.com/1182), by calling 800-671-4400 or by going to the website at http://www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com

This case was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan. Megill was represented by Robert C. Wolf, Esq., of Red Bank.

Kenneth Megill, 43, was sentenced on a third-degree charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child. Upon release, Megill faces mandatory Megan’s Law registration and Parole Supervision for Life.  

$1.87M Verdict for Woman Injured at Cranbury Inn

Debra Forman, 62, suffered traumatic brain and orthopedic injuries after a fall

March 17, 2023

CRANBURY, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The Lawrenceville-based law firm of Stark & Stark announced that Shareholder Evan J. Lide has secured a verdict totaling $1.87 million for 62-year-old Debra Forman after she tripped and fell at the historic Cranbury Inn in Cranbury, NJ.

At the date of the incident, Nov. 4, 2017, Ms. Forman was attending a wedding and tripped and fell on a fireplace that had been erected in the newer part of the building. Ms. Forman fell forward, landing on her face, resulting in non-displaced fractures on her nose and a non-displaced right humerus fracture. A few days after being discharged from the hospital, she exhibited post-concussion symptoms and later developed knee pain. It was also later determined that she had suffered a traumatic brain injury from the accident.

The Inn served as its own general contractor on the hearth extension that caused Ms. Forman’s fall, which was raised 1.375 inches. The building’s site inspection by a liability expert after the accident determined the hearth was a tripping hazard and was five times what the ASTM standards, the ADA, and the building code required (.25 inches).

This case was presided by the Honorable Christopher D. Rafano, J.S.C., in New Brunswick, NJ. After two weeks of trial, Debra Forman was awarded $1.35 million for pain and suffering, $402,596 for her loss of earning capacity, and her husband was awarded $120,000 for his loss of consortium.

“I am thankful that the jury saw the truth in this case and that her reputation was vindicated,” stated Mr. Lide. “When Debbie tripped over the raised fireplace hearth extension, she did in fact suffer a traumatic brain injury that has had devastating consequences for her and her family. This verdict means so much to Debbie and her family and I am proud of the work and resources dedicated by our team.”

Some of Ms. Forman’s injuries were not immediately known and many of her symptoms developed over time. Some of her pre-existing conditions (like migraines and a knee injury) returned or were exacerbated by the fall, and other injuries, like one to her bicep tendon that required surgery three years after the incident, were directly related to the injuries suffered immediately following the accident. The Defense argued that Ms. Forman was faking many of her injuries.

Another interesting component of this case was the fact that the ASTM and ADA standards are voluntary, and the Township of Cranbury, where the Inn is located, did not adopt them and they were therefore not legally binding. The plaintiffs, however, were able to argue that the legality of the standards ultimately did not matter because the hearth posed a dangerous condition that lacked any visual cues which would have drawn attention to the potential hazard.

Evan J. Lide is a Shareholder and member of Stark & Stark’s Personal Injury Group. He is also an expert Civil Trial Attorney as certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey. He has dedicated his career to seeking justice on behalf of those who have been wronged. Mr. Lide focuses his practice on representing people who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other catastrophic injuries, including death resulting from automobile crashes, product liability, and premises liability.

About Stark & Stark:
Since 1933, Stark & Stark (www.stark-stark.com) has developed innovative legal solutions to meet our clients’ needs. Boasting one of the oldest law practices in New Jersey, Stark & Stark offers a full range of legal services for businesses and individuals. After 90 years, our attorneys continue to deliver practical, efficient solutions to clients in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and throughout the United States.

Cranbury Inn Facebook Photo

Robbinsville Firefighters Respond To Reported Carbon Monoxide Incident In Windsor Section Of Township

March 16, 2023

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Details are sketchy but around 9:23 p.m. last night March 15, 2023, the Robbinsville Township Fire Department and EMS along with Police responded to 93 North Main Street in the Windsor section of the Township for a reported Carbon Monoxide Emergency. Upon arrival firefighters reported a carbon monoxide leak from a broken vent. It was reported that one person was transported to the hospital for evaluation but no word of condition. The Township Fire Official and Township Building Official were called to the scene to investigate.

This morning there were large red/orange signs posted at all the entrances that were visible from the street and once zoomed in it appeared that they read Unsafe Structure Notice with the date of 3/15/2023. There appeared to be yellow tape around the back of one of the buildings on the property. It was also reported a large amount of people were staying at the property and needed to find other places to stay once the building was closed.

Township Officials would not comment and referred all comments to the Robbinsville Township Police Department who would also not comment on the call last night.

If further details become available, the story will be updated.

Buildings at 93 North Main Street in the Windsor section of Robbinsville were posted with Unsafe Structure Notice. Yellow tape could be seen around the back of the building. All photos taken from across the street.

Millstone Firefighters Respond To Overturned Vehicle On Fire

March 16, 2023

MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–Millstone Township Fire Department responded to a crash last night on Smithburg Road between Baird and Route 33 on the border with Manalapan Township. The vehicle reportedly hit a utility pole, overturned and was fully engulfed in fire on arrival of the fire department. NJ State Police reported that Manalapan Township Police is handling the investigation. No other information is available at this time.

East Windsor Police Blotter Through March 15, 2023

March 16, 2023

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–The East Windsor Township Police Department initiated the following police reports through Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

  • False Report/Hit and Run Motor Vehicle Accident

Location: East Windsor Police Headquarters

Time/Date: 10:45 PM, 03/10/2023

An individual responded to East Windsor Police Headquarters to report damage to his vehicle from a motor vehicle accident. Investigation revealed that the individual had been involved in a motor vehicle accident, but he was responsible for the crash and left the scene without notifying police or speaking to the other driver. The individual was placed under arrest and later released pending court action.

Defendant: Ziaree Garcia Lakehurst, NJ 30 Years of Age

Charges: False Report to Law Enforcement Leaving the Scene of an Accident Failure to Report an Accident

Arresting Officer: Patrol Officer Chelsea Lyons

  • Shoplifting

Location:     319 Route 130 (ShopRite)

Time/Date:     5:41 PM, 03/13/2023

The officer responded to ShopRite for a report of shoplifting. Investigation revealed that the individual left the store without paying for $52.68 worth of merchandise. The individual was later identified and charged on a complaint summons.

Defendant:             Jeremiah Krameer Lawrenceville, NJ 29 Years of Age

Charges:                 Shoplifting

Arresting Officer:  Patrol Officer Michael Adelung

  • DUI/Obstructing

Location: Twin Rivers Drive North

Time/Date: 8:23 PM, 03/14/2023

The officer responded to the area of Twin Rivers Drive North for a report of a motor vehicle accident. Investigation revealed that the vehicle struck several parked vehicles. The driver fled the scene on foot, but was apprehended by officers. The driver exhibited signs of impairment and was placed under arrest. The driver was later released pending court action.

Defendant: Francisco Chavez-Arriaga East Windsor, NJ 32 Years of Age

Charges: Obstruction of Administration of Law DUI

Reckless Driving Careless Driving

Leaving the Scene of an Accident Failure to Report an Accident Open Container within Vehicle Unlicensed Driver

Failure to Exhibit Registration Failure to Exhibit Insurance Card

Arresting Officer:     Patrol Officer Brian Rust

  • Shoplifting

Location:     70 Route 571 (Target)

Time/Date:     12:16 PM, 03/15/2023

The officer responded to Target for a report of shoplifting. Investigation revealed that the individual left the store without paying for $322.35 worth of merchandise. The individual was later identified and charged on a complaint summons.

Defendant: Anthony Smith Bronx, NY 30 Years of Age

Charges: Shoplifting

Arresting Officer: Patrol Officer Maria Smith

Serious Injury Reported In Quakerbridge Road Crash

March 16, 2023

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Police reported that on March 16, 2023, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a 2013 Hyundai Elantra, driven by Maxwell Williams, 22-years-old, from Hamilton, was traveling northbound on Quakerbridge Road near Nami Lane, when the vehicle left the roadway and struck a telephone pole.  The vehicle rolled over and continued northbound before striking a second telephone pole and coming to a stop.  Williams had to be extricated from the vehicle by members of the Hamilton Fire Division.  He suffered serious injuries and was transported to Capital Health Hospital at Fuld by ambulance for treatment.

     The crash is being investigated by Officers K. McDonald and B. Wood from the Hamilton Police Traffic Unit.

  Any witnesses are asked to contact the Hamilton Police Traffic Unit at (609)581-4000. 

Hamilton Township Professional Firefighters reported that Around 1:00 a.m, Rescue 1/Engine1/Squad1/ and Battalion 1 responded to the area of 3500 Quakerbridge Rd for a reported Motor Vehicle Accident. Battalion 1 Arrived to find 1 victim trapped in the vehicle unresponsive. Rescue 1 started extricating the victim, the victim was removed from the vehicle in under 7 minutes. Patient care was turned over to Robert Wood EMS and Capital health Paramedics, and transported to the trauma center in critical condition. Update on the patient this morning was that he is stable. Hamilton Fire would like to thank the bystanders that stopped and attempted to keep the patient conscious.

Nottingham High School Step Team To Compete In March-Madness Style Brackets Culminating At The World-Famous Apollo Theater

March 16, 2023

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–On March 13th, Nottingham High School (NHS) Step Team of Nottingham High School (N.J.), one of New Jersey’s best high school step teams, begins its quest for the 2023 National High School Performing Arts (NHSPA)

 “Steptime at the Apollo” Step Championship. In a “March-Madness” type bracketed tournament, the competition’s first round matches will occur virtually, with the final four teams scheduled to compete at Harlem’s World-Famous Apollo Theater in April.

The Nottingham HS Step Team, based in Hamilton, N.J., has been stomping the Hamilton grounds with the Nottingham school spirit for several years. NHS Step Team actively performs at basketball games and various events at the school, throughout Hamilton Township and in Trenton, N.J. This year, the 13 active members are advised by Trish Tammaro and coached by NHS alumna Rachel Sanchez.

The competition begins with eight seeded teams paired off in head-to-head matches, with online fan voting battles to determine the top four teams. The third seeded NHS Step Team will face off against face sixth seeded Vision Steppers of New Rochelle (N.Y.), which has grown to more than 60 members strong and have performed and competed in many different cities across the country. The victor will advance to the NHSPA National Step Championship final four at the “StepTime at the Apollo” event on April 22nd. 

Co-produced by NHSPA and the World of Step (WOS), the championship will feature action-packed “Mano a Mano” excitement, empowering steppers with the opportunity to compete like athletes for $3,000 in cash prizes, a National Championship, NHSPA Step All-American recognition and school pride.

“The NHSPA Step Championship is an important event for showcasing the talents of young performers on a national stage,” said Victoria Duruh, Chief Talent Officer of UEG. “Fostering this new talent is significant to UpStaged, as we are dedicated to supporting the growth of the next generation of performing artists – this championship in particular is an incredible platform for celebrating student performers who deserve the same recognition and celebration as athletes.”

WOS is the Nation’s preeminent youth step producer, platform, and educator. NHSPA and WOS are working together to create a truly exceptional championship weekend event to highlight the talents of these incredible performers.

“These talented high school steppers have an unbelievable opportunity to compete for a National Championship at the Nation’s most storied historically black theater in the most world renowned black cultural Mecca, Harlem,” said WOS Founder and CEO Jessica Remo. “This is the Superbowl of Step, being played out in the Madison Square Garden of Performing Arts Venues.”

East Windsor Township Proclaims Boy Scouting Anniversary Week

March 16, 2023

EAST WINDSOR TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor Janice S. Mironov issued a Mayoral Proclamation recognizing Boy Scouting Anniversary Week, February 5 to 11, 2023Mayor Mironov presented the Proclamation, accompanied by pesonal donations of support, to each of the four local boy scout troops and their Troop leaders;  Boy Scout Troop 59 Scoutmaster Gary Schwartz, Boy Scout Troop 5700 Scoutmaster Bruce Kramer, Boy Scout Troop 6284 Assistant Scoutmaster Gayle Wilton, and Cub Scout Pack 53 Den Leader Robert Lisk.

            The Mayoral Proclamation, noting that the Boy Scouts of America was officially founded in 1910 and celebrating its 113th anniversary, praised Boy Scouting as a “youth program of character development, value-based programs and leadership training” and further stated “the Boy Scouts have continued to set an excellent example for all through their volunteerism, commitment to others, and dedication to bettering themselves and their communities.”  Mayor Mironov’s Proclamation “expressed appreciation to and commended the outstanding work of the Boy Scout organization, their scout members, leaders and volunteers in our community.” 

            Mayor Mironov expressed her “enthusiastic support of the local Boy Scout organizations,” noting “We are proud to recognize our local Boy Scout Troops during Scouting Anniversary Week and touting the great opportunities scouting provides young people in East Windsor.  We are very proud of our local Boy Scouts and the terrific adults who volunteer their time and abilities to provide young people with the opportunity to learn new skills and make friends, while instilling in them strong values.  For the young people who join Boy Scouts, we commend you on making a wise choice which will enhance your life experiences.  The Township has been proud to partner with so many Scouts for their Eagle Projects, which have been a great service and benefit to the community.  We appreciate all of the scouts and leaders who have contributed to the success of such a vibrant organization in East Windsor.”

Mayor Janice S. Mironov presented the Proclamation for Boy Scouting Anniversary Week, along with a personal donation of support, to local Boy Scout Troop 5700.- Pictured (from left to right) are: – Mayor Janice S. Mironov;    Jess Collecton, Assistant Scoutmaster;  Bruce Kramer, Scoutmaster;- Joey Rogers;  Adam Lewandowski;  Brennan Clissold;  Sam Zanghi;  Jack Conner;  Joey Nielsen;  Josh Conner;  Cody Lisk;  Cash Colleton, and Connor Suk.

Mayor Janice S. Mironov presented the Proclamation for Boy Scouting Anniversary Week, along with a personal donation of support, to local Boy Scout Troop 6284.- Pictured (from left to right) are: -Alice Hillary;  Teddy W.;  Aiden W.;  Mayor Janice S. Mironov;  Charlie F., and Gayle Wilton, Assistant Scoutmaster.

Mayor Janice S. Mironov presented the Proclamation for Boy Scouting Anniversary Week, along with a personal donation of support, to local Boy Scout Troop 59.- Pictured (from left to right) are: -Gary Schwartz, Scoutmaster;  Noah Schwartz;  Mayor Janice S. Mironov;  Milan Shah;  Sahaan Shyam, and Ellen Schwartz.

Mayor Janice S. Mironov presented the Proclamation for Boy Scouting Anniversary Week, along with a personal donation of support, to local Cub Scout Pack 53.- Pictured (from left to right) are: – Mayor Janice S. Mironov;Jonathan Connor;  Bethany Connor, and Robert Lisk, Den Leader.

“Operation Checkmate” Defendant Pleads Guilty To Conspiracy To Possess Cocaine With Intent To Distribute And Financial Facilitation

March 15, 2023

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on March 13, 2023, Mark Capichana, 55, of Keyport, pled guilty before the Honorable Lisa A. Puglisi, J.S.C., to Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine in an Amount Greater than Five Ounces with Intent to Distribute, as well as Financial Facilitation of Criminal Activity.  At the time of his sentencing on June 30, 2023, the State will be seeking a term of seven years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) as to the Narcotics charge and seven years NJSP as to the Financial Facilitation charge.  The sentences are to run consecutively.

“Operation Checkmate” was a four-month-long cooperative, multi-jurisdictional investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force, United States Drug Enforcement Administration – High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Group 5, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force,and New Jersey State Police – Trafficking Central Unit, in concert with many other state, county, and local law enforcement agencies.  The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force managed and directed three simultaneous multi-agency investigations into high level cocaine distribution in Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex Counties, as well as New York City.  During the course of these investigations, approximately 50 additional law enforcement personnel were assigned to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force on a full-time basis.  Multiple agencies – both within and outside of Ocean County – assisted in every aspect of all three investigations.  The investigations, identified as “Operation Checkmate,” began in July 2021 and concluded in October of 2021.

The three cocaine networks were responsible for the import of more than three kilograms of cocaine per week into the Ocean, Monmouth, and Middlesex County areas.  Through sophisticated surveillance methods and undercover operatives, “Operation Checkmate” was successful in disrupting and dismantling illicit controlled dangerous substance (CDS) distribution activities in these three counties, as well as New York City.  On October 26, 2021, “Operation Checkmate” closed with the apprehension of 24 individuals for various offenses involving distribution of controlled dangerous substances.  Additionally, 24 search warrants were executed resulting in the seizure of more than four kilograms of cocaine, over 15 pounds of marijuana, in excess of $650,000 in United States currency,  seven firearms (three handguns, three “ghost guns,” and one pistol grip shotgun), ten vehicles, and additional illegal narcotics. 

On October 26, 2021, Detectives executed court authorized search warrants at Capichana’s residence in Keyport and a business operated by Capichana, also located in Keyport.  As a result, law enforcement seized – in combination from the residence and the business – approximately 1,455 grams of cocaine as well as $166,000 in United States currency.  Capichana was transported to the Ocean County Jail, and later released as a consequence of New Jersey Bail Reform. 

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Chief Narcotics Assistant Prosecutor William Porter and Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Burke who are handling the case on behalf of the State, and also recognizes the following agencies for their collaborative assistance and cooperation with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force in connection with this investigation:  Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Asset Forfeiture Unit; Ocean County Regional SWAT Team; United States Drug Enforcement Administration – HIDTA Group 5; Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Strike Force; New Jersey State Police – Trafficking Central Unit; New Jersey State Police Teams Unit; New Jersey Air National Guard Counter Drug Task Force; Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Unit; Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force; Matawan Borough Police Department; Matawan Borough Police Department K-9 Unit; Keyport Borough Police Department; Manalapan Township Police Department; Ocean County Sheriff’s Office; Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Field Services Unit; Ocean County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit; Barnegat Township Police Department; Brick Township Police Department Street Crimes Unit; Brick Township Police Department Special Response Team; Brick Township Police Department K-9 Unit; Beachwood Borough Police Department; Berkeley Township Police Department; Jackson Township Police Department; Lakewood  Township Police Department Drug Enforcement Unit; Lakewood Township Police Department Special Response Team; Lakewood Township Police Department K-9 Unit; Manchester Township Police Department Special Enforcement Team; Ocean Township Police Department (Waretown); Point Pleasant Borough Police Department; South Toms River Police Department; Stafford Township Police Department; Toms River Township Police Department Special Enforcement Unit; Toms River Township Police Department Emergency Services Unit; Toms River Township Police K-9 Unit; Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office; Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit; Aberdeen Township Police Department; Asbury Park Police Department; Hazlet Township Police Department; Hazlet Township Police Department K-9 Unit; Keansburg Borough Police Department; Marlboro Township Police Department; Middletown Township Police Department; Sea Bright Borough Police Department; Old Bridge Township Police Department – Bureau of Narcotics; Union Beach Borough Police Department; Union Beach Borough Police Department K-9 Unit; New York City Police Department – 50th  Precinct Field Intelligence Office; and the City of New York Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

NJDEP Statement On East Coast Whale Mortalities

March 15, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–In consultation with NOAA Fisheries, the lead federal agency responsible for evaluating potential impacts to marine life and habitats from human activities in federal waters, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been monitoring an unusual humpback whale mortality event that has been affecting Atlantic coast states since January 2016. In January of this year, the DEP began receiving concerns from stakeholders that the development of offshore wind energy infrastructure off New Jersey’s coast is causing whale mortality. All offshore wind survey activities have been permitted by NOAA Fisheries and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and deemed safe for marine mammals, i.e., no injurious activities have been permitted for offshore wind developers.

As of March 2023, no offshore wind-related construction activities have taken place in waters off the New Jersey coast, and DEP is aware of no credible evidence that offshore wind-related survey activities could cause whale mortality. While DEP has no reason to conclude that whale mortality is attributable to offshore wind-related activities, DEP will continue to monitor. 

However, DEP remains concerned that ocean temperatures, which are projected to increase due to human-caused climate change caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, will continue to adversely impact marine mammals, including whales, their food sources, habitats, and migration patterns, as summarized in the New Jersey Scientific Report on Climate Change (Chapter 5.9). Due to these changes in ocean temperature and water chemistry, populations of marine species – including menhaden, a key whale food source—adapt by moving into new areas where conditions are more favorable. Changes that draw prey fish landward similarly increase the risk that these fish and their predators, including whales, may be drawn into conflict with human activities, such as vessel strikes that may increase whale mortality. 

DEP is dedicated to the conservation, protection, and restoration of all natural resources, including aquatic habitats and the fish and wildlife that rely upon the sound management of marine environments. In fulfilling this mission, DEP administers New Jersey’s Coastal Zone Management Program, regulates certain activities in state waters, including the development of energy-generating facilities and infrastructure, and otherwise coordinates environmental reviews with federal government agencies. DEP expects that all regulated entities, including offshore wind project sponsors, pursue development objectives responsibly, including assessing potential environmental impacts and avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating likely adverse effects upon natural resources, including marine mammals and their habitats.

In addition, the Offshore Wind Research & Monitoring Initiative (RMI), a collaborative effort of the DEP and BPU, has authorized $8.5 million in funding to date for scientific efforts to ensure the safe and ecologically responsible development of offshore wind energy.  As part of the BPU’s second wind energy solicitation, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, LLC, and Ocean Wind II, LLC committed $10,000 per megawatt of project-nameplate capacity awarded – a total of about $26 million – to fund regional research and ecological monitoring of the environmental impacts of offshore wind. The projects are being implemented by a variety of academic and research entities and include work to evaluate and minimize impacts to a variety of marine wildlife, including whales.

For more details on RMI, visit https://dep.nj.gov/offshorewind/rmi/ Click on the “Projects” tab for more information on the various research projects.

For information from NOAA on humpback whale mortalities, visit 2016–2023 Humpback Whale Unusual Mortality Event Along the Atlantic Coast | NOAA Fisheries

For a DEP microsite on whale mortalities, visit https://dep.nj.gov/humpback-whale-unusual-mortality-event/

Photos by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Responce

Record Amount of Blood Donated at Robbinsville High School Blood Drive

Students in the Red Cross Club Organize the Community Event

March 15, 2023

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville High School’s Red Cross Club collected 51 units of donated blood from community members in February, one of the largest totals in recent years.

“This is the biggest number I’ve seen since becoming the club’s adviser,” said teacher Sue Kanagawa, who began advising the club in 2017. “It’s amazing to see such community support for this important project.”

To put this year’s number in perspective, the club collected 47 units of blood in 2022, 25 units of blood in 2020, and 23 units of blood in 2019. A blood drive was not held in 2021 because of COVID-19.

Each unit of blood can be used by up to three patients, meaning this year’s donations could help as many as 153 individuals, according to the American Red Cross New Jersey Region.

Robbinsville’s Red Cross Club is one of the largest student organizations at the high school with about 90 members. They worked to plan, promote and manage a recent blood drive, while technicians from the American Red Cross set up stations and administered the blood donations. Students also served snacks to donors, including bagels donated by Bagels n’ Cream on Washington Boulevard.

For Sahana Prasad, a Robbinsville junior, volunteering for the club teaches her about the crucial role that blood drives play in keeping a stable supply.

“There’s really no substitute for blood and everyone has to do their part in helping others around the world,” said Prasad, the club’s secretary.

Someone in the United States requires additional blood or platelets every two seconds, which translates to a daily demand of 29,000 units of red blood cells, nearly 5,000 units of platelets and 6,500 units of plasma, according to the American Red Cross.

That urgency is what drove Suhani Agarwal to volunteer for the club, as well. The Robbinsville junior greeted donors at the door and helped ensure they had required documentation, among other duties.

Agarwal, Red Cross Club’s vice president, said serving others is a value that has long been instilled in her at home. Indeed, her mom was among those who donated blood.

“It makes me feel really nice to give back to my community,” Agarwal said. “It was great to have someone in my family donate. It was also nice to see how many people in our community who want to help.”

American Red Cross New Jersey Region CEO Rosie Taravella thanked students, staff and the Robbinsville community for their blood donations, noting the vast disparity between how many people need blood and the number of people who donate.

Robbinsville’s donations, Taravella said, will help bridge that gap.

“The need for blood is constant, and the students and staff at Robbinsville High School can be counted on to roll up a sleeve to help meet the need,” Taravella said. “One in seven patients entering a hospital will need a blood transfusion, but at the same time, only about three percent of Americans give blood. The American Red Cross is proud of the work the Robbinsville Red Cross Club puts into organizing blood drives and grateful for the humanitarian spirit exhibited at the school.”

Red Cross Club members promoted the blood drive with posters, social media and good old-fashioned word of mouth, especially in conversations between students and their parents, according to Shrika Yeddula, the club’s co-president.

“It’s a club that really opens up high schoolers to the world of volunteering; it is important to get involved in something that has greater purpose and could help other people,” said Yeddula, a senior who has been in the club for three years.

In addition to the blood drive, Red Cross Club collects food for military families, sends holiday cards to military personnel and hosts bake sales each year in support of the American Red Cross. The club also has raised money to fight wildfires and educate children about COVID-19 hygiene.

Abinaya Dharanikumar, the club’s treasurer, said she especially enjoys writing holiday cards to members of the armed forces. The club typically sends between 200 and 300 cards each year with messages that express gratitude to the recipients for their service.

“Everyone loves doing these cards,” said Dharanikumar, a senior who has been in the club since her freshman year. “For me personally I like making the cards because it is a way to show how much we appreciate them. Everyone feels the same way.”

How to Donate Blood

Download the American Red Cross Blood Donor App, visit RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

Red Cross Club members.

Red Cross Club executive members.

Visitors prepare to donate blood after student volunteers checked their IDs

Red Cross Club student volunteers at the blood drive.

Red Cross Club student volunteers at the blood drive.

South Brunswick Police Make Arrest In Threats Against Volusia County, Florida Sheriff

March 14, 2023

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond J. Hayducka announced the arrest of a Monmouth Junction man in connection to threats against a Florida sheriff. At 1:05 PM Monday members of the South Brunswick Police Department and Middlesex County Prosecutors Office executed a search warrant at a Tanglewood Court home. Police seized electronic devices and took Richard Golden age 38 into custody. Golden is wanted by Volusia County Sheriff’s Office in Florida for threatening Volusia Sheriff Mike J. Chitwood.
Golden was lodged at the Middlesex County Correction Center on a fugitive from Justice Warrant. He will be held pending extradition to Florida.
Chief Hayducka credited the cooperation between all the law enforcement agencies involved in tracking down the threats to Sheriff Chitwood. “The anonymous nature of the internet may make people feel they can say anything, but if you make threats or put people in fear we will use all our resources to track you down. Yesterday showed that being 974 miles away from the Volusia Sheriff’s Office was no distance too great for the teamwork of law enforcement,” said Chief Hayducka.

Maryland State Police Investigating Fatal Crash In Prince George’s County That Killed Burlington County, NJ Truck Driver

March 14, 2023

(BELTSVILLE, MD) – Maryland State Police are investigating a fatal crash that occurred this morning in Prince George’s County involving three vehicles.

The deceased is identified as Delando Woody, 56, of Florence, New Jersey. He was pronounced deceased at the scene by emergency medical service personnel. He was the driver and sole occupant of a tractor trailer involved in the crash. His body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy. He was an employee with Estes Express Lines.

The sole occupant of a Dodge Charger involved in the crash is identified as Troy Myers, 45, of Hanover, Maryland. He was transported by ambulance to MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. for medical treatment.

The driver and passenger of a Toyota truck were also injured in the crash. They are identified as Carlos Diaz Agustin, 22, and Anner Ramundo, 43, both of Beltsville, Maryland. Both were transported by ambulance to Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center in Silver Spring for treatment of their injuries.

Shortly after 5:30 a.m., troopers from the Maryland State Police College Park Barrack responded to a report of a multiple-vehicle crash on I-95 in the area of MD Route 212 in Beltsville. The preliminary investigation indicates the driver of a Dodge Charger traveling southbound on I-95 struck the Toyota, causing the truck to overturn into the median. Investigators believe the Charger crossed over the median and was struck by a tractor trailer traveling northbound on I-95.

I-95 was partially closed in both directions for more than 7 hours. Personnel from the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration assisted with road closures. The Maryland State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division as well as the Motor Unit responded to the scene to assist. The Maryland Department of the Environment also responded to the scene to assist with the diesel fuel spill.

The Maryland State Police Crash team is leading the investigation. Anyone who may have witnessed this crash or has information related to this crash, is asked to contact the Maryland State Police Crash Team at 301-669-8100.  

Charges are pending the outcome of the investigation and consultation with the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office. The investigation continues.

WUSA9 video

United States Files Complaint Alleging that Rite Aid Dispensed Controlled Substances in Violation of the False Claims Act and the Controlled Substances Act

March 13, 2023

The Justice Department announced today that the United States has filed a complaint in intervention in a whistleblower lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act (FCA) against Rite Aid Corporation and various subsidiaries (collectively Rite Aid) alleging that Rite Aid knowingly filled unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances. In addition to alleging claims under the FCA, the government’s complaint also alleges violations of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Rite Aid is one of the country’s largest pharmacy chains, with over 2,200 pharmacies in 17 states.

“The Justice Department is using every tool at our disposal to confront the opioid epidemic that is killing Americans and shattering communities across the country,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “That includes holding corporations, like Rite Aid, accountable for knowingly filling unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances.”

“We allege that Rite Aid filled hundreds of thousands of prescriptions that did not meet legal requirements,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “According to our complaint, Rite Aid’s pharmacists repeatedly filled prescriptions for controlled substances with obvious red flags, and Rite Aid intentionally deleted internal notes about suspicious prescribers. These practices opened the floodgates for millions of opioid pills and other controlled substances to flow illegally out of Rite Aid’s stores.”

“The opioid crisis has exacted a heavy toll on communities across the United States,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Today’s complaint is an important reminder that the Justice Department will hold accountable any individuals or entities, including pharmacies, that fueled this terrible crisis.”

“Pharmacies, physicians, corporations, and other health care entities that have contributed to the proliferation of opioids in our communities and the tragic loss of life from overdose deaths must answer for their role in the crisis we now face,” said First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle M. Baeppler for the Northern District of Ohio. “This complaint is a continuation of the Justice Department’s commitment to hold accountable those entities that aggravated and profited from the opioid crisis.”

The government’s complaint alleges that, from May 2014 through June 2019, Rite Aid knowingly filled at least hundreds of thousands of unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances that lacked a legitimate medical purpose, were not for a medically accepted indication, or were not issued in the usual course of professional practice. These unlawful prescriptions included, for example, prescriptions for the dangerous and highly abused combination of drugs known as “the trinity,” prescriptions for excessive quantities of opioids, such as oxycodone and fentanyl, and prescriptions issued by prescribers whom Rite Aid pharmacists had repeatedly identified internally as writing illegitimate prescriptions. The government alleges that Rite Aid pharmacists filled these prescriptions despite clear “red flags” that were highly indicative that the prescriptions were unlawful. The government further alleges that Rite Aid not only ignored substantial evidence from multiple sources that its stores were dispensing unlawful prescriptions, including from certain pharmacists, its distributor, and its own internal data, but compounded its failure to act by intentionally deleting internal notes about suspicious prescribers written by Rite Aid pharmacists and directing district managers to tell pharmacists “to be mindful of everything that is put in writing.” By knowingly filling unlawful prescriptions for controlled substances, the government alleges that Rite Aid violated the CSA and, where Rite Aid sought reimbursement from federal healthcare programs, also violated the FCA. 

Along with Rite Aid Corporation, the government’s complaint names as defendants the following Rite Aid subsidiaries: Rite Aid Hdqtrs, Corp.; Rite Aid of Connecticut, Inc.; Rite Aid of Delaware, Inc.; Rite Aid of Maryland; Rite Aid of Michigan; Rite Aid of New Hampshire; Rite Aid of New Jersey; Rite Aid of Ohio; Rite Aid of Pennsylvania; and Rite Aid of Virginia.

“The action supported today by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) should serve as a warning to those in the pharmacy industry who choose to put profit over customer safety,” said Special Agent in Charge Orville O. Greene of the DEA.

“Pharmacies are required to ensure prescription drugs are only dispensed based on valid prescriptions,” said Special Agent in Charge Maureen Dixon of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “Prescriptions which are not medically necessary, and not for a medically accepted indication, will not be paid for by Medicare and Medicaid. HHS-OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the Department of Justice’s Civil Division to recover improperly paid funds through the FCA.”

Whistleblowers Andrew White, Mark Rosenberg, and Ann Wegelin, who all previously worked for Rite Aid at various pharmacies, filed an action in October 2019 under the qui tam provisions of the FCA. Those provisions authorize private parties to sue on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery. The Act permits the United States to intervene and take over the lawsuit, as it has done here in part. Those who violate the Act are subject to treble damages and applicable penalties. The case is captioned United States ex rel. White et al. v. Rite Aid Corp., et al., No. 1:21-cv-1239 (N.D. Ohio).

The United States’ intervention in this matter illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud. One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the FCA. Tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).

This matter is being handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch (Fraud Section) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio. The DEA Cleveland Field Division, FBI Cleveland Field Office, and HHS-OIG provided substantial assistance in the investigation.

The United States is represented in this matter by Senior Trial Counsel Christopher Wilson of the Civil Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patricia Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Berry for the Northern District of Ohio.

The Justice Department is committed to holding responsible those who have fueled the opioid crisis by violating the law. Last week, the Associate Attorney General announced the creation of the Opioid Epidemic Civil Litigation Task Force, which formalizes and enhances coordination of the Department’s existing work and will consider new initiatives. Because of the scope and duration of the crisis, the Task Force includes U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Commercial Litigation Branch (Fraud Section), the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other Department components. The Task Force will steer the Department’s civil litigation efforts involving actors alleged to have contributed to the opioid epidemic, including by diverting prescription opioids.

The claims asserted against defendants are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

Ewing Police Arrest Four From Trenton In Ewing Shooting

March 13, 2023

EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–On Sunday, March 12, 2023 at 11:49 PM, Ewing police responded to a report of shots fired in the 400 block of Berwyn Avenue. The first responding Officers discovered a juvenile male victim that appeared to be suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was transported to the hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Immediately after the shooting, a suspect vehicle description was broadcast to responding units. Officer Luis Martir #212 quickly located the suspect vehicle and conducted a motor vehicle stop. The four occupants of the vehicle were detained pending investigation.

Using information developed during the investigation, Detective Matthew Wherley signed criminal complaints against the occupants of the vehicle. The alleged shooter has been identified as Matthew Wallace 3rd, (18 years old) from Trenton. The other occupants of the vehicle were Nekhi Leonard (21), from Trenton, Kendall Whittington Jr. (19), from Trenton, and Lakell Murphy (19), from Trenton.

Matthew Wallace 3rd has been charged with Attempted Murder, Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and Possession of a Prohibited Weapon. Nekhi Leonard, Kendall Whittington Jr., and Lakell Murphy have been charged with Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and Possession of a Prohibited Weapon     

Anyone with any information concerning this incident is asked to contact Detective Matthew Wherley at (609) 882-1313 ext.5566 or by email mwherley@ewingnj.org

You may also use our confidential Tip Line at (609) 882-7530 (Please note: this Tip Line SHOULD NOT be used to report crimes in progress or emergencies that require immediate response).

All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law

Reported Shooting On Berwyn Ave In Ewing

March 13, 2023

EWING TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Around 11:49 p.m. last night March 12, 2023, Ewing Police, EMS and Captial Health Paramedics were dispatched to the 400 Block of Berwyn Avenue. It was reported that the person had a gunshot wound to the pelvis and a “trauma alert” was called while transporting to Captial Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. Ewing Police are investigating the shooting.

Once official information is released the story will be updated.

Two Transported To Hospital From Manchester Crash

March 13, 2023

MANCHESTER, NJ (OCEAN)–On Sunday March 12, 2023, at approximately 2:38 p.m., officers from the Manchester Township Police Department responded to Route 547 in the Ridgeway Section of town to investigate a motor vehicle crash involving a vehicle which had left the roadway and struck a large pine tree and a guard rail.   

Upon arrival, officers observed a 2007 Toyota Camry with extensive front end damage on the grass portion adjacent to the roadway with the rear of the vehicle resting on the guard rail.  The investigation revealed that the Toyota was travelling southbound on CR 547, when it left the roadway, struck two traffic sign supports, a large pine tree, and a guard rail.  The vehicle was occupied by its driver, identified as 19-year-old Yanna Emilcar, and the front seat passenger, identified as 26-year-old Safiany Emilcar.  Both occupants were transported via ambulance to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment and evaluation of non-life threatening injuries.  The roadway was closed for several hours during the investigation. 

Assisting at the scene were members of the Ridgeway and Manchester Volunteer Fire Departments, Manchester Fire Department, Manchester Emergency Medical Services, Robert Wood Johnson Paramedics, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, Lakehurst Borough Police Department, the Ocean County Road Department, and Accurate Towing.  The investigation into the crash is still ongoing, however, driver error appears to be a contributing factor.  This crash is being investigated by Patrolman Jesse Hoydis of the department’s Traffic Safety Unit.

17-Year-Old Driver Totals Parent’s Corvette In South Brunswick

March 11, 2023

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–South Brunswick Police say that a contributing factor in a 1:00 a.m. crash on Georges Road that totaled a 2000 Corvette when a 17-year-old driver from Edison, lost control and damaged the entrance to Pierres Deli. The teen was driving the parent’s vehicle and was issued a summons.

No further information is available about the crash.

Cherry Hill Man Charged With Murder Died From The Result of Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wound On NJ Turnpike

Investigation Yields Cause of Death Determination at Clara Barton Rest Stop on Feb. 28, 2023

March 9, 2023

PEDRICKTOWN — The Attorney General’s Office today announced that the ongoing investigation into the incident that occurred at a New Jersey Turnpike Service Area in Salem County on February 28, 2023, has revealed that Kyle Foggy, 29, of Cherry Hill, died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. 

As previously announced, Mr. Foggy suffered the self-inflicted wound at approximately 1:45 p.m. at the Turnpike’s Clara Barton Service Area in the Pedricktown section of Oldmans Township, Salem County, while in the presence of law enforcement. He was pronounced dead at 10:16 p.m. later that same night at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware.

A review of the incident is being conducted by the Integrity Bureau within the Attorney General’s Office of Public Integrity and Accountability, pursuant to Attorney General Directive 2019-4.

That review is ongoing and no further information is being released at this time.

East Windsor Police Blotter Though March 8, 2023

March 9, 2023

EAST WINDSOR, NJ (MERCER)–The East Windsor Township Police Department initiated the following police reports through Wednesday, March 8, 2023.

  • DUI

Location: Route 133

Time/Date: 12:43 AM, 03/05/2023

The officer conducted a motor vehicle stop after observing the vehicle driving over the speed limit and failing to maintain its lane of travel. The driver exhibited signs of impairment and was placed under arrest after failing field sobriety tests. The driver was later released pending court action.

Defendant: Richard Malcolm Philadelphia, PA 49 Years of Age

Charges: DUI

Reckless Driving Careless Driving

Arresting Officer: Patrol Officer Joshua Pohl

  • Weapons Offense

Location:     Route 130

Time/Date:     9:01 PM, 03/06/2023

The officer conducted a motor vehicle stop on Route 130 after observing the vehicle improperly using its high beam headlamps and failing to maintain its lane of travel. Investigation revealed that the driver was in possession of an illegal handgun. The driver was placed under arrest and transported to the Mercer County Corrections Center pending court action.

Defendant:             Kevin Mercer Jr. Newark, NJ 23 Years of Age

Charges:                 Unlawful Possession of a Weapon

Certain Persons not to Possess Weapons Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose Failure to Maintain Lane

Improper Use of High Beams Unclear Plates

Failure to Exhibit Driver’s License Failure to Exhibit Insurance Card

Arresting Officer:  Patrol Officer Michael Whalen

  • Drugs/Shoplifting

Location: 839 Route 130 (Walmart) Time/Date: 4:00 PM, 03/07/2023

The officer responded to Walmart for a report of shoplifting. Investigation revealed that two individuals left the store without paying for $625.89 worth of merchandise. Both individuals were placed under arrest and later released pending court action.

Defendant:             Michael Battalia Fairless Hills, PA 32 Years of Age

Charges:                 Possession of Heroin

Possession of Methamphetamine Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Shoplifting

Defendant:             Amanda Devries Hamilton, NJ 33 Years of Age

Charges:                 Possession of Heroin

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Arresting Officer:     Patrol Officer Andrew Smith

Car Fire Extinguished Near South Brunswick High School

March 9, 2023

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MERCER)–South Brunswick Police reported that there was a car fire near South Brunswick High School at the start of school today. No injuries were reported in the fire. Monmouth Junction Fire Department quickly extinguished the fire.

Lakewood Man Charged With Two Counts Of Kidnapping, Endangering Welfare Of A Child And Robbery In Jackson

March 8, 2023

JACKSON, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Jackson Township Police Chief Matthew Kunz announced that on March 8, 2023, Gerson Aguilar-Lara, 24, of Lakewood, was charged with two counts of Kidnapping, Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and Robbery, in connection with a series of events that occurred in Jackson Township between March 7, 2023 and March 8, 2023.

On March 7, 2023, at approximately 10:30 p.m., the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from a female victim seeking help; the call was subsequently disconnected.  Upon callback, the victim was able to provide her name and basic information before the connection was again terminated.  The Jackson Township Police Department was able to ascertain the address of the victim as a residence on North Chapel Road in Jackson.  Through investigation, responding officers determined that the victim and her infant child had been taken from the residence against their will.  Further investigation revealed that Aguilar-Lara, who was in a dating relationship with the victim and father of the infant, had forced the victim and her child into a Chevrolet Equinox and then fled the area. 

The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and Jackson Township Police Department put out a description of the vehicle, and utilized various investigative techniques to locate the victims as well as Aguilar-Lara.  On March 8, 2023, at approximately 3:15 a.m., the Toms River Police Department observed Aguilar-Lara’s vehicle as it turned into a parking lot on Route 37 in Toms River.  As the vehicle came to a stop, Aguilar-Lara fled on foot; he was taken into custody by officers of the Toms River Township Police Department shortly thereafter.  Neither the victim nor her infant child were harmed.

Aguilar-Lara was transported to Jackson Township Police Headquarters, where he was processed and he is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief  Kunz acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Special Offenders Unit, Jackson Township Police Department, Jackson Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Lakewood Township Police Department, Toms River Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, and New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit, for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation leading to Aguilar-Lara’s apprehension.

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

R.P.C.  3.6(b)(6).

Hightstown Lost A Pillar Of The Community With Passing Of Neal M. Glackin, Past President, Chief And Life Member Of Hightstown Fire Company

March 8, 2023

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ (MERCER)–Hightstown Engine Company # 1 announced the passing of Past President , Chief , and Life Member Neal M. Glackin. Neal has over 50 years of service with the fire department and has held every fire line position, multiple executive line positions, chaired multiple committees, built numerous apparatus and served as the past two years as company President.

Neal was a longtime member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Msgr. Crean Div. 1, having served as a parade marshal of the Trenton/Hamilton St. Patrick’s Day for the past 37 years. He was a lifelong member of St. Anthony of Padua Church, and a longtime member of Hightstown/East Windsor Lions Club and the Hightstown American Legion.  Neal was very instrumental each year in organizing the Youth Fishing Derby at Peddie Lake. 

Neal was also a supporter of MidJersey.news for covering local news and Hightstown.

See statement from Hightstown Engine Company #1 and obituary below:

It is with heavy hearts that the Hightstown Engine Company # 1 announces the passing of Past President , Chief , and Life Member Neal M. Glackin badge # 196.

Brother Neal was a pillar not only in the firehouse but within the community. In his 50 plus years of service Neal has held every Fire line position, multiple executive line positions, built numerous apparatus, chaired multiple committees and for the last two (2) has lead the company as our president.

Weekend mornings you would find him at the Hightstown diner getting the town news and later in the afternoon he would be sitting at the station reading a firehouse newspaper, watching the Fighting Irish, Jets, Yankees or sitting on the bench near his favorite piece (Engine 41) watching over his beloved Hightstown.

Neal leaves very big shoes to fill and a legacy that will live on in the Mercer County Fire Service Community. Neal may you rest easy brother, we have it from here.

“May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand”

Services and arrangements are as follows:


Sunday March 12, 2023


Firefighters Service at 5pm

Simplicity Funeral and Cremation Services at Glackin Chapel

136 Morrison Ave

Hightstown, NJ 08520


Monday March 13, 2023

10:30am Mass

St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church

156 Maxwell Ave,

Hightstown, NJ 08520

A procession will depart from St. Anthony’s to Cedar Hill Cemetery

385 Mercer St

Hightstown, NJ 08520

Neal was a longtime member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Msgr. Crean Div. 1, having served as a parade marshal of the Trenton/Hamilton St. Patrick’s Day for the past 37 years. He was a lifelong member of St. Anthony of Padua Church, and a longtime member of Hightstown/East Windsor Lions Club and the Hightstown American Legion. 

Neal M. Glackin, Hightstown, NJ

Neal M. Glackin, 67, of Hightstown, NJ, passed away peacefully on Monday, March 6, 2023 at his daughter’s home surrounded by his loving family.

Born in Plainfield, NJ, he was a lifelong resident of Hightstown.  Neal was a graduate of Hightstown High School.  He began his career at Glackin Funeral Home on Morrison Avenue in Hightstown, NJ, a family-owned funeral home which his late parents founded in 1957 and ended his career with Glackin/Saul Funeral Home.  Neal was a life member of Hightstown Engine Co No 1.  He served as Past Chief and most recently Company President.  Neal was a longtime member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Msgr. Crean Div. 1, having served as a parade marshal of the Trenton/Hamilton St. Patrick’s Day for the past 37 years. He was a lifelong member of St. Anthony of Padua Church, and a longtime member of Hightstown/East Windsor Lions Club and the Hightstown American Legion.  Neal was very instrumental each year in organizing the Youth Fishing Derby at Peddie Lake.  He enjoyed blue fishing out of Point Pleasant, watching NASCAR races, Notre Dame Football, and New York Jets football         

“J!-E!-T!-S!…………………..Jets, Jets, Jets”.

Son of the late William F. and Patricia Glackin; he is survived by his daughter Samantha Glackin and her husband Steve Barclay, his son Corey Glackin; his beloved grandson Liam Barclay; his former spouse and friend Elly Glackin; his sister and her fiancé Barbara Glackin and Frank Myernick, his brother and sister-in-law Timothy and Gwyn Glackin; his godson Mario Lanzetta; and a very large extended family.

Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, March 13, 2023 at 10:30AM at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church 251 Franklin Street, Hightstown, NJ 08520.  All funeral attendees are asked to arrive to the church no later than 10:15AM.

Interment will be held at Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hightstown, NJ.

Visitation will be held on Sunday afternoon from 2-5PM at Simplicity Funeral and Cremation Services at Glackin Chapel, 136 Morrison Ave., Hightstown, NJ.  Fire company services will begin at 5:00PM.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Hightstown Engine Co No 1, 140 N. Main Street, Hightstown, NJ 08520 or to Fox Chase Cancer Center http://www.foxchase.org

To leave a condolence or for directions, please visit http://www.poulsonvanhise.com

Arrangements are under the direction of  Poulson & Van Hise Funeral Directors, Lawrenceville, NJ.

Boonton Police Captain Allegedly Steals Computer Towers, Internal Affairs Records from BPD, Conceals Them in Homes in Edison, Toms River

March 8, 2023

BOONTON — Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin today announced charges against a Boonton police captain who allegedly stole his own internal affairs records and computer hardware containing police data from the Boonton Police Department.

Stephen Jones, 42, of Toms River, has been charged by complaint with computer theft, tampering with public records, and other offenses in connection with the April 2022 incident. The charges are a result of an investigation by the Office of Public Integrity and Accountability’s (OPIA) Corruption Bureau.

The investigation revealed Jones removed at least five computer towers from the Boonton Police Department, three of which contained police information, including files on internal affairs (IA) matters. Additionally, he allegedly stole his own personnel file and IA file, stashing the computer towers in his Toms River home and the files at his in-laws’ home in Edison.

Then the officer-in-charge of the Boonton Police, Jones was allegedly captured on surveillance video late at night on April 13, 2022 removing containers and computer towers from the police department. According to the investigation, Jones removed the computer hardware and files without authorization and in violation of Boonton Police policies.

Jones is charged with one count of each of the following offenses:

• second-degree computer theft

• third-degree theft by unlawful taking

• third-degree tampering with public records

• fourth-degree falsifying or tampering with records

Second-degree crimes carry a five- to 10-year prison term with a $150,000 fine upon conviction. Third-degree crimes can carry a prison sentence of three to five years and a $15,000 fine. Fourth-degree offenses could lead to up to 18 months in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Deputy Attorney General Eric Cohen is prosecuting the case for the OPIA Corruption Bureau under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jeffrey Manis, Bureau Chief Peter Lee, OPIA Deputy Director Anthony Picione and OPIA Executive Director Thomas Eicher.

These charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Defense counsel: John Bruno, Esq., Rutherford

Beware Of Tax Scam In Mercer County

March 8, 2023

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office is aware of a scam using letters claiming to be from a fictitious Tax Assessment Securities division of Mercer County. This is not an official notice from the Mercer County Board of Taxation.

It is believed that this is an attempt to scam residents into paying a fake tax debt. The fraudulent notice has a bold heading claiming the notice is a distraint warrant and a toll- free number listed on the letter, which may lead recipients to believe this is a legitimate piece of communication. These letters attempt to scare residents to respond by stating it is a final judgmental notice and that the recipient must call within 15 days of receiving the letter to avoid enforcement and additional penalties, fees or interest.

Residents should not take any action or call the number listed on the notice.

Property owners with questions can contact the Mercer County Board of Taxation at (609) 989-6704, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or email botinquiry@mercercounty.org.

Sample of the Tax Scam

23 Stolen Vehicles Recovered Worth $1.33+ Million; Operation Terminus at the Port of New York/Newark

Five-day Operation with Federal, State, and Local Law Enforcement Partners nets 23 stolen vehicles worth $1.33+ Million being shipped out of the United States

March 8, 2023

NEWARK, NJ. – On February 13, 2023, U. S. Customs and Border Protection at the Port of New York/Newark conducted a five-day operation named “Operation Terminus,” to detect and recover stolen vehicles being shipped out of the United States.  CBP worked with Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, the New Jersey State Police, the NYPD Auto Crime Unit, the Hudson County, NJ Sheriff’s Office, the Port Authority Police Department – Criminal Investigation Bureau, and the National Insurance Crime Bureau leveraging their collective expertise and shared intelligence. 

Operation Terminus concluded on February 17, with a total of 23 stolen vehicles recovered, all of which were destined to Western African countries (Togo, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Monrovia, and Liberia) with an estimated value of $1,333,425.  Additionally, 109 rounds of various caliber ammunition were discovered concealed in a vehicle destined to Nigeria.

On the matter of outbound stolen vehicles, TenaVel T. Thomas, CBP Port Director, Port of New York/Newark said, “Identifying, degrading, and disrupting transnational networks requires a multi-layered approach that includes a focus on analytics and partnerships. CBP is proud to leverage our unique authorities, data holdings, and analytical abilities, combined with our robust collaboration with our federal, state, and local partners to dismantle these networks. These partnerships are the cornerstone of our recent success.”

  • Stolen Vehicles recovered:  23 (value $1,333,425.00 USD)
    1. 2021 Mercedes Benz G55                 $155,850.00
    2. 2020 Mercedes Benz S560                 $73,775.00                          
    3. 2021 Land Rover HSE Sport              $79,995.00       
    4. 2022 Jeep Wagoneer                           $69,990.00
    5. 2021 BMW X7                                   $63,985.00
    6. 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe                      $26,850.00
    7. 2022 Lexus RX 350                            $48,995.00
    8. 2021 Honda CRV                               $30,990.00     
    9. 2021 Audi Q8 S                                  $70,995.00
    10. 2021 Audi Q5                                     $42,950.00
    11. 2019 Land Rover HSE                        $72,995.00
    12. 2016 Lexus LX 570                            $54,490.00
    13. 2020 Hyundai Tucson                         $26,600.00
    14. 2021 BMW 540 XI                             $53,355.00                 
    15. 2020 Jeep Wrangler                            $52,220.00
    16. 2019 Honda CRV                               $28,000.00
    17. 2019 Mercedes Benz GLS                  $42,950.00
    18. 2020 Honda CRV                               $29,000.00
    19. 2022 Chevrolet Suburban                   $74,800.00
    20. 2020 Jeep Wrangler                            $41,700.00
    21. 2022 Jeep Wrangler                            $55,995.00
    22. 2020 Audi Q 5                                    $33,950.00
    23. 2022 BMW X 5M                             $102,995.00

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.

Brazilian Fugitive Sentenced To 15 Years For Murder Arrested In New Jersey

March 8, 2023

NEWARK, N.J. — On March 3, Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Newark arrested a citizen and national of Brazil in Newark who was subject to a foreign arrest warrant and is wanted in Brazil to serve 15 years and six months in prison for murder.

On an unknown date and unknown location, the fugitive entered the U.S without admission or parole.

On Jan. 26, 2010, the Pennsauken Police Department arrested subject for possession of a controlled dangerous substance. On Sept. 28, 2010, the Pennsauken Municipal Court convicted the fugitive of possession of a controlled dangerous substance and issued fines.

On Sept.18, 2018, ERO Newark officers encountered the subject, who was detained at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark, and lodged an immigration detainer with the facility.

Two days later, ERO Newark arrested the subject upon release from Essex County Correctional Facility and served them with a Notice to Appear in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act. ERO Newark detained the subject at the same facility pending removal proceedings. On Jan. 24, 2019, the subject was released from ICE custody after posting a bond.

ERO Newark confirmed that subject is wanted by the Brazilian Federal Police for murder. The subject was convicted of felony crimes against life in the state of Goias and sentenced in absentia to 15 years and six months of imprisonment on April 5, 2018.

On March 3, 2023, ERO Newark arrested the subject, who was then placed in ICE custody without bond pending removal proceedings. The case is currently pending before an immigration court.

In fiscal year 2022, ERO arrested 46,396 noncitizens with criminal histories; this group had 198,498 associated charges and convictions. These included 21,531 assault offenses; 8,164 sex and sexual assault offenses; 5,554 weapons offenses; 1,501 homicide-related offenses; and 1,114 kidnapping offenses.

Members of the public can report crimes and/or suspicious activity by dialing 866-347-2423 or completing the online tip form.

Regardless of nationality, ICE makes custody determinations on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with U.S. law and U.S. Department of Homeland Security policy, considering the individual merits and factors of each case.

ERO is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that protects the homeland through the arrest and removal of those who undermine the safety of our communities and the integrity of our immigration laws.

ERO, a directorate of ICE, upholds U.S. immigration law at, within, and beyond our borders. ERO operations target public safety threats, such as convicted criminal noncitizens and gang members, who have violated our nation’s immigration laws, including those who illegally re-enter the country after being removed and immigration fugitives ordered removed by federal immigration judges. ERO deportation officers assigned to Interpol also assist in targeting foreign fugitives for crimes committed abroad at-large in the U.S. ERO manages all aspects of the immigration enforcement process, including identification and arrest, detention, bond management, supervised release, transportation, and removal. Additionally, ERO repatriates noncitizens ordered removed from the U.S. to more than 150 countries worldwide.

Learn more about ERO’s public safety mission in your community on Twitter @ERONewark

Freedom Mortgage joins forces with Habitat for Humanity for Women Build 

The company donated $25,000 to Habitat and provided volunteers for new home construction and home repair projects in Mercer County 

March 8, 2023

Hamilton, NJ – A volunteer group from Freedom Mortgage, a top mortgage lending company, lent their hearts, hands, and hammers to Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey to build and repair homes for local women in need of a safe place to call home. Their work in the community was part of Habitat’s “Women Build Week” and amplified by a donation of $25,000 to support Habitat SCNJ’s affordable housing initiatives. 

Freedom Mortgage has been a longstanding partner of Habitat SCNJ. They not only provide financial contributions to our project, but take it a step further by coming out to our builds and putting in the dirty work, even with a crisp chill in the air and a blanket of snow covering the ground. In the past, Freedom Mortgage has supported Habitat SCNJ’s Veterans Build, so this was an exciting first for the partners as they set out to work together for Women Build Week. Volunteers focused their work on two construction sites; one, framing a new home under construction in Hightstown, and the other, refurbishing basement doors and replacing the stairs to the cellar, building a shed roof, and repairing soffits around a home in Hamilton. 

“The team at Freedom Mortgage is so invested in uplifting members of the community, and we’re so glad to have them out on the work site during Women Build Week so that we may empower local women together. The impact of their volunteer and financial support will last beyond today and this event, and we are so thankful to have partners like this who help us continue our work of building homes, community, and hope,” shared Habitat SCNJ Chief Development Officer, Annie Fox. 

Women Build is an annual Habitat event that seeks to empower women and help them achieve stability, security, and independence with hands-on learning experiences, financial education, affordable homeownership, and home repairs. The event invites members of the community to devote their time to help families build strength, stability, and self-reliance through permanent housing solutions. Women Build takes place during the first week of March, which coincides with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day on March 8th. By spotlighting the homeownership challenges faced by women and providing opportunities for skills training and homeowner education during this time, Habitat and Women Build participants aim to send the message that every woman can empower themselves and others through learning and using construction skills. 

Women Build is not just about supporting local women in their efforts to build brighter futures for themselves and their loved ones, but it’s also an opportunity to highlight local businesses that play critical roles in the communities Habitat builds in and serves women in their efforts to achieve and maintain homeownership. Companies like Freedom Mortgage amplify their own work as a mortgage lender as well as Habitat’s through their involvement in Women Build. The company’s support will bring more affordable housing opportunities to the community and provide women with pathways to move onward and upward from substandard living situations. 

Be sure to connect with @HabitatSCNJ on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to see photos from Freedom Mortgage’s volunteering. You can also visit http://www.HabitatSCNJ.org to learn more about Habitat’s events and services, find volunteer opportunities like Women Build, and give the gift of home to families in need. 

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Habitat for Humanity of South Central New Jersey (Habitat SCNJ) is an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, which operates through independent, local affiliates to ensure that all functions of the organization have maximum relevance and impact on individual communities. In January 2022, the affiliate changed its name to reflect its expanded service area, which covers Burlington, Mercer, Atlantic and parts of Middlesex Counties. 

You can find affordable homeownership and home repair projects from the Delaware River to the Jersey Shore, as well as ReStore locations in Egg Harbor Township, Hamilton and Maple Shade. Since its inception, the affiliate has built 286 and repaired 266 homes for low- and moderate-income families, serving 77 municipalities and over 1.1 million residents. Learn more at http://www.HabitatSCNJ.org 

Family-founded and operated since 1990, Freedom Mortgage is a top mortgage lender. The company specializes in mortgages that can help people buy or refinance a home regardless of unique circumstances. The company is particularly focused on helping service members realize the American dream of homeownership. For over 30 years, Freedom Mortgage has helped millions of Americans achieve their dreams of homeownership and financial betterment. The wellbeing and improvement of their customers’ lives and the communities in which they live fuels the organization’s ambition. They’re driven by boundless stamina and an unwavering focus on continuous collaboration, relentlessly seeking the right solutions for every customer and loan every day. Learn more by visiting http://www.freedommortgage.com 

AG Platkin, Division on Civil Rights Take Enforcement Action to Hold Municipalities Accountable for LGBTQIA+ Discrimination in Marriage Licensing

28 Municipalities Receive Notices of Violation for Publishing LGBTQIA+ Exclusionary Marriage License Application Forms On Their Websites

DCR has issued Notices of Violation to the following 28 municipalities: Audubon, Carney’s Point, Chester Township, Commercial, Delran, Fair Haven, Farmingdale, Hi-Nella, Lopatcong, Lumberton, Manasquan, Milltown, Morris Plains, Morristown, Ocean Gate, Oceanport, Old Bridge, Pemberton, Pennsauken, Pohatcong, Raritan Borough, Stockton, Sussex Borough, Vineland, West Cape May, Westhampton, Westville, and Woodlynne.

March 8, 2023

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) announced today that DCR has issued Notices of Violation to 28 municipalities across the state for allegedly violating the Law Against Discrimination by publishing marriage license application forms on their websites that exclude certain LGBTQIA+ individuals seeking to obtain marriage licenses.

The Notices of Violation announced today have been issued to 28 municipalities that have posted marriage license application forms on their websites that do not permit nonbinary people to apply for marriage licenses unless they misgender themselves, under oath, as either “m” (male) or “f” (female). That practice is inconsistent with the marriage license application currently published by the New Jersey Department of Health, which has included a third gender option for nonbinary applicants and other people with undesignated or unspecified gender identities since 2019.

DCR has issued Notices of Violation to the following 28 municipalities: Audubon, Carney’s Point, Chester Township, Commercial, Delran, Fair Haven, Farmingdale, Hi-Nella, Lopatcong, Lumberton, Manasquan, Milltown, Morris Plains, Morristown, Ocean Gate, Oceanport, Old Bridge, Pemberton, Pennsauken, Pohatcong, Raritan Borough, Stockton, Sussex Borough, Vineland, West Cape May, Westhampton, Westville, and Woodlynne.

In each case, the Notice of Violation advises that the exclusionary gender options in the municipality’s marriage application form violates New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (LAD). The LAD prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating on the basis of real or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and gender expression. Under the LAD, it is also unlawful for a place of public accommodation to display or post any communication or notice indicating that any of their offerings are unavailable based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression.

“Marriage equality is not just the law. It is a fundamental right,” said Attorney General Platkin. “The marriage equality enforcement actions we are announcing today reflect our continued commitment to ensuring that municipal governments do not discriminate against couples seeking marriage licenses on the basis of their gender, gender identity, or gender expression.”

“The law in New Jersey is crystal clear: No one can be denied the fundamental right to marry based on their gender identity,” said DCR Director Sundeep Iyer. “Municipalities have an obligation to ensure that they are not excluding LGBTQIA+ individuals from applying for marriage licenses. Today’s enforcement actions underscore our ongoing commitment to ensuring that marriage equality remains a reality for our State’s LGBTQIA+ residents.”

The Notices of Violation announced today are the latest enforcement actions taken as part of DCR’s Marriage Equality Enforcement Initiative, which was launched in October 2022. The Marriage Equality Enforcement Initiative seeks to ensure that municipal governments across New Jersey comply with the LAD by providing gender-inclusive and non-discriminatory marriage licensing applications and instructions to the general public.

The discriminatory language used by municipalities to describe marriage licensing requirements was first flagged in Marriage Equality in New Jersey: A Latina/o/x Perspective, a joint report issued in July 2022 by the Latino Action Network, Hudson P.R.I.D.E., and Garden State Equality. The report found that the websites of certain municipalities violated the LAD by expressly limiting marriage licenses to “opposite-sex couples.” DCR’s investigation identified other discriminatory language employed by municipalities, including the exclusionary gender options identified in the Notices of Violation announced today.

Among other things, the Notices of Violation issued by DCR warn each municipality that the marriage license application form published on their websites violates the LAD, and that such violations could result in financial penalties of up to $10,000.

The Notices of Violation also contain an offer of settlement. If the municipality does not contest the facts as set out by DCR, it can resolve the matter by entering into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance agreement. That agreement requires, among other things, that the municipality:

  • Update its websites to state that marriage licenses are available to qualifying couples of all gender compositions;
  • Ensure that its website does not contain gender-restrictive language regarding who may obtain a marriage license, and that the services the municipality offers will be open to all persons on an equal basis without regard to sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression;
  • Adopt a written policy prohibiting discrimination against persons using or seeking to use the municipality’s offerings and services;
  • Provide LAD training on compliance with the written anti-discrimination policy to all municipal employees involved in drafting website language and in issuing licenses; and
  • Remit to DCR a payment in lieu of penalty.

The Marriage Equality Enforcement Initiative will continue to investigate other possible violations related to the posting of marriage licensing information by municipalities across the State. The Initiative is being led by DCR’s Strategic Initiatives and Enforcement Unit, including Interim Chief Aarin Williams and Legal Specialist Iris Bromberg.


DCR is the state agency responsible for preventing and eliminating discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation (e.g., places open to the public like schools, businesses, hospitals, etc.). DCR enforces the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), the New Jersey Family Leave Act, and the Fair Chance in Housing Act (FCHA).

DCR has developed various fact sheets about the LAD’s protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression in housing, employment, and places open to the public. To learn more, visit https://www.njoag.gov/about/divisions-and-offices/division-on-civil-rights-home/division-on-civil-rights-resources/


Robbinsville High School Model UN Brings Home10 Awards from National Conference

Annual Night of Nations Fundraiser Scheduled for March 27


Autonomous weapons raise complicated questions that challenge even the most seasoned diplomats, legal scholars and war ethicists, but Allison Dera wasn’t fazed.

“It’s really balancing state sovereignty, countries’ security interests and humanitarian causes,” said Dera, explaining the geo-political nuances of the topic in a recent interview. “It’s a very difficult balancing act because you have to keep so many factors in mind.”

The Robbinsville High School senior confronted the issue as part of her work in Model UN, an international education program in which students simulate the United Nations General Assembly and debate world affairs.

Dera, vice president of Robbinsville High School’s Model UN club, was in Washington, D.C. in February for the North American Invitational Model United Nations, where she worked to get a resolution passed that outlined how countries can mitigate fully autonomous weapons systems. Her measure sought to codify into international humanitarian law limits on the capabilities of such weapons and when they can be used.

It’s just one example of the complex and urgent problems that Robbinsville students are addressing in Model UN — and their success with it.

Last month, the club brought home 10 awards from BosMUN XXII, Boston University’s Model United Nations Conference. Students won best position paper and outstanding delegate, in addition to verbal recognitions and honorable mentions. The awards highlighted students’ writing and arguments, communication, diplomacy and collaboration with others.

Before the Boston conference, students submitted papers identifying their chosen country’s positions on issues. Topics included global human trafficking, sustainability and the future of Congress. Students then debated the issues and voted on resolutions — policy documents detailing how countries can work together to solve the problem at hand.

The conference, held February 10-12, drew about 1,500 students from schools all over the nation and was the biggest competition the club has participated in since the COVID-19 pandemic began. For the past two years, Robbinsville’s Model UN club participated only in mock events within the school and in virtual competitions.

“It was a pretty big deal for us to do so well because we really hadn’t competed since COVID,” club adviser Mark Iannelli said.

Robbinsville’s team also earned six awards, including two first-place finishes, at the Rutgers Model United Nations conference in November. That competition drew about 800 students, mostly from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

To qualify for travel competitions, Robbinsville Model UN members must do well in mock events at the high school. These events entail writing position papers and debating with peers on various committees.

The experience has been life changing for Hammad Farooqi, the club’s president, who said Model UN has helped him grow as a student, leader and person.

“Model UN is a great club to build your public speaking skills and team-building skills by taking on the roles of different countries tackling important issues,” Farooqi said. “As a freshman I don’t think I was very confident, but through this role I was able to take on a new persona.”

The Robbinsville senior said although the work is demanding, he has enjoyed meeting people and forging new friendships. He plans to attend Princeton University in the fall to study computer science.

“The dream would be to have my own start-up and develop my own software, to be able to apply my love for computer science to the type of leadership roles in a team like we have at Model UN,” Farooqi said.

As for Dera, she is scheduled to travel to Madrid, Spain, later this month to compete in the Harvard Model Congress Europe competition with the All-American Model UN team. After graduation this year, the 18-year-old plans to attend McGill University in Montreal and wants to work in international development.

“I would like to work in economically developing regions of the world, addressing economic systems, public infrastructure systems, maybe even for the World Bank or a non-profit organization,” Dera said.

Robbinsville High School Model UN will host its annual fundraiser, Night of Nations, on Monday, March 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Club members will give presentations about different countries and prepare authentic cuisine.

Robbinsville High School Model UN club members at BosMUN XXII, Boston University’s Model United Nations Conference, in February.

Robbinsville High School Model UN club members who won awards at BosMUN XXII, Boston University’s Model United Nations Conference.

Robbinsville High School Model UN club members at the Rutgers Model United Nations conference in November.

Robbinsville High School Model UN club’s executive team.

Robbinsville High School Model UN club’s fall mock event.