July Sex Assault in Trenton Remains Under Investigation

Police Implore the Community for Information

September 18, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A sex assault that occurred in Trenton over the summer remains under investigation and police are once again asking the public for assistance with the case.

On July 23, 2020, a 29-year-old woman was walking to work in the early morning hours in the area of S. Broad Street and Chestnut Avenue when she was approached by her attacker.  Described as a heavyset black male with dark hair, possibly in his 30s, the suspect forced the victim into a nearby alley where he sexually assaulted her.

The Special Victims units of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the Trenton Police Department have been working for weeks to solve the case.  They have surveillance photos of the suspect and have identified a person of interest, and they are certain there are individuals out there that have information, but no one is coming forward to assist the police.

“We are getting calls to the tip line telling us there are people who know who did it.  They are giving us drips and drabs and ‘word on the street,’ but we need more,” Mercer County Prosecutor’s SVU Sgt. Joe Paglione said.  “We just need that last piece of information to take a dangerous man off of the street and stop this from happening to the next victim.”

“Law enforcement can perform its job so much more effectively when the public and media help,” Prosecutor Onofri stated.  “Just recently, following the publication of an article and photo on the arrest of Eridson Rodriguez for sexually assaulting women at two separate gatherings at his apartment, more victims came forward.  He now faces charges for assaulting three more victims, and we have information that there are many more out there.  This is what can happen when we all work together for justice.”

The investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information regarding the identity of the suspect in the photographs or the case is asked to contact Sergeant Joe Paglione of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit at (609) 273-0065 or Sergeant Lisette Rios of the Trenton Police Department SVU at (609) 989-4155.

South Brunswick Police Investigating Odd Crime Of Stealing Flowers From Front Lawns

September 17, 2020

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The South Brunswick Police Department is investigating cases of stolen flowers from front lawns within the township. A Ring camera video was provided and if your recognize the person in the video contact South Brunswick Police Department.


State Police Seeking Public’s Assistance with Identifying Two Men Wanted for Assault

September 17, 2020

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–The New Jersey State Police is seeking the public’s assistance with identifying two men who physically assaulted a man during a road rage incident on the New Jersey Turnpike.

On Saturday, August 15, at approximately 6:30 p.m., the victim and the suspects were allegedly involved in a road rage incident and pulled over on the shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike northbound on the inner roadway at milepost 82.0, East Brunswick Township, Middlesex County.

The two men pictured below exited their vehicle and approached the victim before striking him in the face with an unknown object. The suspects then fled the scene in a black Mercedes Benz SUV with an unknown New York license plate. The suspects are described as Hispanic males.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the New Jersey State Police Cranbury Station Criminal Investigation Office at 609-860-9000 ext. 4424.

Anonymous tips are welcome.

Governor Murphy Signs Legislation Designating the Howell House as the Official New Jersey Harriet Tubman Museum

September 17, 2020

CAPE MAY, NJ (CAPE MAY)–Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation (A3201), which designates the Howell House on Lafayette Street in Cape May, New Jersey as the official New Jersey Harriet Tubman Museum. The Governor participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony today for the museum. The Howell House is owned by the Macedonia Baptist Church. In 2018, the church gave Robert, Zach, and Cynthia Mullock permission to renovate the house into a museum honoring Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman has a special connection to Cape May, having spent a significant amount of time during the 1850s in the area, gathering funds to support her work through the Underground Railroad. The museum will inform current and future generations of the great sacrifices and efforts that Tubman made on her mission to save enslaved African-Americans and bring them to the free North.  The museum opened virtually on June 19, 2020, a date recognized as “Juneteenth” and recently designated an official State holiday in New Jersey.

“It gives me great pride in announcing that the Howell House in Cape May is now the official Harriet Tubman Museum of New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy. “Harriett Tubman’s extraordinary efforts helped establish and run the Underground Railroad, and her fearless actions during her lifetime led to the freedom of many. I am proud of the role that New Jersey and Cape May were able to play in her mission to free Black men, women, and children from slavery. This is just one small step in acknowledging the plight and struggle of the Black community, and we will continue to recognize and fight against all forms of racism.”

“Harriet Tubman was arguably the most well-known activist and abolitionist in US history. Her intellect, determination and iron will saved the lives of many enslaved Americans. She is our North Star. When we fight for equality, we think of her name,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “This museum, which is dedicated to her legacy, will now officially ensure that her name will forever be revered and honored in New Jersey history.”

“Our work here in Cape May for the last two years has been dedicated to preserving and creating a space worthy of magnifying Harriet Tubman’s life, and the life of so many luminaries who worked with her or followed in her footsteps in the struggle for racial and social justice.” said Cynthia Mullock, Executive Director of the Harriet Tubman Museum. “Among our many supporters was the Murphy administration. In particular, we want to thank Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver, Secretary of State Tahesha Way, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New Jersey State Historical Commission, and the grant programs through the Cape May County Department of Tourism, as well as the State’s neighborhood preservation program.

Primary sponsors of A3201 include Assemblymembers Carol A. Murphy, Gordon M. Johnson, and Antwan L. McClellan, and Senators Ronald L. Rice, Michael L. Testa, and Shirley K. Turner.

“Harriet Tubman was a hero who not only freed herself, but returned to the South over a dozen times to lead at least 70 other slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. Despite personal health problems and the threat of enslavement or death if caught, she courageously risked her own life in order to rescue others from slavery,” said Assemblywoman Carol Murphy and Assemblyman Gordon Johnson in a joint statement. “It is a source of pride for our state that such an inspirational figure spent time in Cape May, earning money to support her Underground Railroad operations. Cape May is further connected to these historical efforts with countless escaped slaves having passed through the town on their way to freedom and the area having served as a center of abolitionist activity. This museum will honor her legacy and recognize our state’s connection to an important movement, while simultaneously preserving this historic building. It’s only fitting that we recognize Howell House as the official New Jersey Harriet Tubman Museum.”

“I am excited and proud that Harriet Tubman is being honored and that there is a dedicated place here in New Jersey where people can go to learn more about this extraordinary woman who truly is an American hero”, said Assemblyman Antwan McClellan. “The more we learn about the Underground Railroad and the dangers faced, the more we understand the heroic, brave actions of the men and women who worked to abolish slavery.”

“Harriet Tubman was fiercely committed to equality for all people, black or white, male or female,” said Senator Michael Testa. “Through her tireless persistence, this determined woman helped bring about two historic society advancements that changed American society forever – she personally helped lead dozens of southern slaves to freedom in the north, and she was instrumental in the women’s suffrage movement.”

“Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist, a hero and a conductor of the Underground Railroad that ran through New Jersey. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this recognition. Ever since they began renovating the Howell House, there has been mounting excitement around the new museum, even being highlighted as one of the most anticipated museum openings of 2020 by the Smithsonian Magazine,” said Senator Shirley Turner. “On the date of their opening, the formal designation is a small token of our gratitude for the work their team has done to memorialize Harriet’s time in New Jersey, and educate us on its significance.” 

Trenton Health Director to Step Down in October

Former Health Director Appointed in Interim Pending National Search for Replacement

September 17, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Mayor W. Reed Gusciora announced today that Director Shakira Abdul-Ali of the Trenton Health and Human Services Department will be stepping down from her role effective Oct. 2, 2020 to pursue other professional opportunities.

James Anthony Brownlee, who previously served as the Trenton Director of Health and Human Services until he retired from the position in July 2018, will reassume that role pending the conclusion of a national search for a permanent replacement.

Director Abdul-Ali has served Trenton since July 2018. During that time, she has led the Gusciora Administration’s efforts to combat youth homelessness, address the need for expanded health services in the Trenton schools, and launch the “Resilient Trenton!” campaign with 22 partner agencies to transform Trenton into a trauma-informed city by 2024.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Director Abdul-Ali worked with the city’s healthcare community to help secure resources for homeless patients, provide information to the public regarding safety practices, and issue warnings for restaurants and public gatherings not complying with social distancing regulations.

“Director Abdul-Ali has been a tireless advocate for the most vulnerable members of our community who struggle with poverty, healthcare, addiction, homelessness, and trauma from violence,” said Mayor Gusciora. “We wish her the very best in her future pursuits. With his depth of experience, I’m confident that Acting Director Brownlee will effectively manage the city’s healthcare efforts while we find a permanent replacement.”

“Serving the City of Trenton and its people as the Director of Health and Human Services has been a tremendous honor,” said Director Abdul-Ali. “I’m proud of what this administration has achieved in the last two years and I’m thankful to have worked with a wonderful staff and countless community groups and advocates who fight for Trenton every day.”

Acting Director Brownlee has more than 30 years in public health management, including serving under both Mayor Tony Mack and Mayor Eric Jackson, and as an Assistant Commissioner at the N.J. Department of Health and Senior Services.

Lawrence Township Police Officer Charged in Internal Affairs Investigation

September 17, 2020

LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri reported today that a Lawrence Township police officer has been charged with disorderly persons offenses as a result of an internal affairs investigation.

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the Lawrence Township police discovered the falsification of records during an unrelated criminal investigation in August 2020. 

The internal affairs investigation revealed that Officer Andres Mejia submitted an official arrest report to his superior officers at the Lawrence Township Police Department on August 16, knowing that it contained false and misleading information regarding a fictitious witness in an incident that he had responded to in his official capacity as a law enforcement officer. 

As a result of the investigation, Mejia, 42, was charged with unsworn falsification and tampering with records, both disorderly persons offenses.  He was served with the summons complaint this morning.

Mejia has been suspended from the police department without pay.

Man Killed In Crash, Police Seek Hit And Run Driver Possibly From Trenton, NJ

September 17, 2020

FALLS TOWNSHIP, PA–Falls Township Police are looking for a hit and run driver possibly from Trenton, NJ see below:

LATEST UPDATE:   The victim may have been riding a bicycle at the time he was struck.  

We ask anyone who may have any information, please submit a tip or contact Det. Dennis O’Connell. On September 17, 2020 at 0111 hours Falls Township Police Department (FTPD) Officers were dispatched to U.S. Route #1 Northbound in the area of the Fairless Hills Exit for a report of a struck pedestrian. Responding officers found a 34 year old man deceased at the scene and determined that the striking vehicle had fled, said Falls Township Police Chief Nelson Whitney. Officers located the striking vehicle further down the highway (on the other side of the Fairless Hills Exit) unoccupied. K9 teams searched the area with no success in locating the driver. It is believed that the driver was picked up by another vehicle.

The highway remained closed for the investigation until approximately 0445 hours. The striking vehicle was a 2006 BMW sedan, black in color with NJ registration R54 EVK.

The vehicle is registered to Tierra Barber from Beakes Street in Trenton, NJ. Officers went to Barber’s home after the crash but were unable to contact anyone there.

The victim is from out of state and efforts are currently underway to locate and notify his family. Chief Whitney thanked the Morrisville Borough Police Department and PENNDOT for their assistance in this incident.

For further updates on this investigation, follow the FTPD Twitter feed @FallsTwpPolice. Anyone wishing to provide information about this case should contact Detective Dennis Oconnell at (215) 949- 9100 X416 or d.oconnell@fallstwp.com, you may also submit a tip below.

Roles Admitted In International Money Laundering Conspiracy

September 16, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A former member of Paraguay’s Congress and her husband have admitted their roles in an international money laundering conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Raimundo Va, 45, pleaded guilty today before Chief Judge Freda L. Wolfson to an information charging him with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. His wife, Cynthia Elizabeth Tarrago Diaz, 41, pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2020, before Judge Wolfson to an information charging her with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

On Nov. 21, 2019, Tarrago and Va were arrested by the FBI after they arrived in Newark as part of their unlawful money laundering activities, and were charged in a criminal complaint along with a third individual, Rodrigo Alvarenga Paredes, who remains at large in Paraguay.

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

Until January 2019, Tarrago was a member of Paraguay’s Congress, and in late 2019 had publicly announced her intention to run for mayor of the capital district of Asunción. While in office, Tarrago and her husband, Va, agreed to accept at least $2 million in United States currency from two individuals who represented themselves to be narcotics traffickers, believing the money to be proceeds of unlawful narcotics trafficking, and to launder the funds through an international network of accounts in order to disguise the unlawful source of the proceeds. Tarrago and Va traveled to New Jersey and Florida on multiple occasions and accepted approximately $800,000 in United States currency from the purported drug traffickers, and caused those funds to be laundered through the conspiracy’s network of accounts, and ultimately transferred back to an account maintained by the purported drug traffickers. To disguise the illicit source of the funds, members of the conspiracy generated fraudulent invoices that stated legitimate business reasons for the transfers of laundered funds to the purported drug traffickers’ account. Moreover, on multiple occasions during the purported drug dealers’ meetings with Tarrago and Va, Tarrago indicated that she would be able to assist the purported drug dealers with procuring large quantities of cocaine from Paraguay at an inexpensive price.

Unbeknownst to Tarrago and Va, the currency that they accepted from the purported drug traffickers and caused to be laundered was not actually illicit drug proceeds. Rather, those funds were provided to Tarrago and Va by two undercover FBI agents as part of an extensive investigation of the money laundering network. During the investigation, the undercover agents met with Tarrago and Va in the United States on numerous occasions, and obtained substantial video and audio recordings of their interactions with Tarrago and Va, during which details of the money laundering network were discussed. The evidence obtained during the investigation revealed that Alvarenga Paredes, operating through the auspices of a money-exchange company in Paraguay, coordinated the laundering of the funds that the undercover agents provided to Tarrago and Va.

The money laundering conspiracy counts against Tarrago and Va carry a statutory maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of the greater of $500,000 or twice the value of the funds involved in the conspiracy. Sentencing for both defendants is scheduled for Jan. 21, 2021. The investigation is continuing.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Trenton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr., with the investigation leading to today’s guilty pleas. He also thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs for their assistance in the case.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. Joseph Gribko of the Criminal Division in Trenton and J. Brendan Day, Attorney in Charge of the Trenton Office of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The charges and allegations against Alvarenga Paredes contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and he is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


Defense counsel:
Tarrago: Andrea Bergman Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Trenton
Va: David R. Oakley Esq., Princeton, New Jersey

Murphy Administration Announces $3.5 Million Investment in State Navigators to Assist Uninsured and Underserved New Jerseyans With ACA Health Insurance Enrollment

September 16, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Phil Murphy and Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride today announced $3.5 million in grant funding for community organizations to serve as state Navigators to provide free outreach, education, and enrollment assistance to residents shopping for health insurance during the Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Period. Despite drastic federal cuts to the Navigator program in recent years, the Administration has more than doubled its investment since the State began operating the program last year and has taken numerous actions to improve access to health coverage. The increased investment is made possible by the State’s move to its own health insurance marketplace, Get Covered New Jersey, for the upcoming year.

The Open Enrollment Period in New Jersey will run from November 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021, which is double the six-week period held last year, a benefit of New Jersey operating a State-Based Exchange.

“Our current public health emergency has underscored the importance of our efforts to ensure that as many residents as possible have access to health coverage,” said Governor Murphy. “We made the decision to establish our own marketplace last year based on the principle that health insurance is a fundamental right. This increased investment is an extension of that belief and could not come at a more important time.”

The investment in outreach and enrollment assistance is part of the state’s transition to a State-Based Exchange, also referred to as the Marketplace, to improve access to health coverage for New Jersey’s residents. Governor Murphy signed legislation last year to establish a State-Based Exchange in New Jersey.

“Navigators are vital to reaching New Jersey’s uninsured and underinsured and connecting them to quality, affordable health coverage and available financial help,” said Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride. “We are thrilled to expand our network of community organizations that provide assistance to New Jerseyans, and ensure that our residents can get the health coverage and care they deserve. I want to thank the organizations that have committed to assisting the residents of their communities at such a critical time. We look forward to working with additional community partners as we work to get New Jersey residents covered this Open Enrollment Period and throughout the year.”

Four current Navigators have been granted a one-year extension of their grants at their current funding levels for the next year; one current Navigator was awarded expansion funding. An additional 11 organizations will be funded to serve as new Navigators to support enrollment assistance in the State-Based Marketplace. All of the organizations serving as Navigators will have the ability to assist residents remotely during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Organizations who receive funding through the grant program must comply with state and federal requirements. Grantee activities will include outreach and education year-round for 2021 coverage, including in advance of and during the Open Enrollment Period.

The following organizations were awarded funding for the 2020-2021 grant year under the New Jersey State Navigator Grant Program:

Navigator Grant AwardeeGrant Amount
AtlantiCare Health Services$196,436
Center for Family Services Inc.**$493,070
Family Resource Network*$165,835
FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties dba Fulfill*$143,527
HOPES Community Action Partnership Incorporated$158,000
HRETNJ (Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey)$431,191
Lakewood Resource and Referral Center$351,662
New Jersey Citizen Action Education Fund$280,717
North Hudson Community Action Corporation$150,000
Ocean Health Initiatives$147,385
Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey, Inc.$134,288
Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers Inc$191,501
The Orange’s ACA Navigator Project (OACANP)*$200,000
University Hospital$182,203
Urban League of Hudson County*$150,258
Zufall Health Center, Inc.$170,000
*Current Navigators

** Current Navigator awarded expansion funding

In addition to state-funded Navigators, Certified Application Counselors (CACs) and Brokers will also assist consumers with health insurance enrollment. All Navigators, Certified Application Counselors (CACs), and Brokers are required to complete state training and certification to assist consumers with health insurance enrollment on the state Marketplace. Organizations interested in serving as Certified Application Counselor Designated Organizations (CDOs), which oversee CACs, and agents and brokers interested in assisting consumers with Marketplace coverage may find information on certification at getcovered.nj.gov under For Assisters and Brokers.

More information on health insurance options can found be at GetCovered.NJ.gov.

Governor Murphy Signs Legislative Package to Strengthen the Resiliency and Preparedness of New Jersey’s Long-Term Care Industry

Legislative Package Enacts Key Recommendations from Manatt Health’s Review

September 16, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Acting on a commitment to reform and build a more resilient long-term care industry, Governor Phil Murphy today signed a legislative package to address systemic challenges, mitigate the impact of COVID-19, and strengthen preparedness for future outbreaks. The legislative package enacts several recommendations made in Manatt Health’s rapid review of the state’s long-term care facilities, including wage enhancements for frontline staff, improved response coordination, and robust data reporting procedures. The legislative package received bipartisan support.

“The residents and staff of our long-term care facilities have borne an outsized burden of this pandemic,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “While we know this has not been a tragedy unique to New Jersey, we will learn from this crisis and emerge as a national model for solving immediate challenges and building future resilience. These measures not only support our ongoing efforts to get things right for our long-term care residents, staff, and families, but also ensure we have strong measures in place to deal with bad actors in the industry who put profit before people.”

The Governor signed the following bills into law: 

A4476/S2790 (Vainieri Huttle, Greenwald, DePhillips/Cryan, Vitale) -Establishes certain requirements concerning State’s preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

A4481/S2787 (Moen, Sumter, Quijano, Gove/Codey, Rice) – Establishes New Jersey Task Force on Long-Term Care Quality and Safety

A4482/S2758 (Tucker, Giblin, Chaparro/Cryan, Lagana) – Establishes minimum wage requirements for certain long-term care facility staff; establishes direct care ratio requirements for nursing homes; requires nursing home care rate study. 

A4547/S2813 (Vainieri Huttle, Benson, Johnson/Vitale) – Authorizes temporary rate adjustment for certain nursing facilities; appropriates $62.3 million.

“This package of bills will improve the resiliency and quality of our long-term care facilities and strengthen their emergency preparedness,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Most importantly, they provide the recognition the Certified Nursing Assistants deserve through wage increases and career ladder opportunities.”

“We thank our partners in the Legislature for working together with us to advance our shared goal of supporting nursing home residents and the staff who work tirelessly to care for them,” Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson said. “Today’s action will deliver new Medicaid funding of $130 million – a 10 percent increase  – over the remainder of the fiscal year to nursing homes to increase wages for the frontline certified nursing aide workforce and to support facilities’ compliance with health and safety directives, including COVID-19-related infection control, PPE, cleaning, staffing, and other needs.  These are critical steps as we work across the state to continue to fight the virus and prepare for any potential second surge this fall.”

“Long-term care centers were woefully underprepared and under-resourced to respond to a global pandemic. Many nursing and veterans homes in New Jersey have been cited for inadequate infection control policies, and few had consistent direct communication with hospitals and health departments before the pandemic. The system as a whole needs to be reformed,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Chair of the Assembly Aging and Senior Services Committee. “It is also critically important that we support the certified nurse aides in long-term care centers who are on the COVID-19 front lines day in and day out. They dedicate their lives to caring for our most vulnerable, and now they put their health at risk every day they’re on the job. If there’s ever a time to enhance wages for our severely underpaid and overworked nurse aides, it’s now.”

“COVID-19 has taken an immense toll on our long-term care community. This legislation is a combination of Manatt Health’s recommendations and the Senate Health Committee’s extensive discussions with stakeholders and concerned residents,” said Senator Joseph Vitale, Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Long-term care facilities service some of our state’s most vulnerable communities. At the onset of this pandemic our mothers, fathers and grandparents faced a compromised, exposed and impossible situation. These laws will help ensure that New Jersey does not ever let that happen again.”

“Over the past six months, nursing home workers across New Jersey have heroically risen to the challenges of COVID-19 and put their lives on the line to protect their vulnerable patients,” said Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1999SEIU United Healthcare Workers East. “Critically, this legislative package recognizes the essential nature of their work and the need for our state to have a stable, healthy and growing caregiver workforce.  We applaud Gov. Murphy and our legislative leadership for taking these important steps to reform the nursing home industry.”

“We applaud Governor Murphy and the NJ Legislature for passing this long-term care reform package, which makes significant and necessary improvements to protect residents and staff at New Jersey nursing homes and other long-term care facilities,” said Stephanie Hunsinger, AARP New Jersey State Director. “It is a tragedy that more than 7,100 residents and staff in New Jersey’s long-term care facilities have died due to COVID-19, and we must ensure this never happens again. These bills implement critical measures to save lives.”

“These bills are an important part of refocusing our priorities and, as a society, valuing the care delivered to New Jersey residents as they age,” said NJHA President and CEO Cathy Bennett. “That requires good policy, sufficient resources and the engagement of all stakeholders including the frail elderly, their loved ones, and the healthcare workers and long term care facilities who help care for them.”


The COVID-19 pandemic did not create the problems in long-term care; it merely exacerbated them,” said Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald. “Without adequate staffing, emergency response plans or central channels of communication with health officials, long-term care facilities were unequipped to keep residents and staff safe in the early critical days of the pandemic. Though no one could have predicted the toll COVID-19 would take, long-term care centers could have been more prepared. Going forward, a centralized command center devoted to long-term care will help us make sure these facilities have the resources they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies.”

“This necessary bipartisan legislation acts upon the lessons learned from the Covid-19 response, said Assemblyman Chris DePhillips. “In particular, the new Long Term Care Emergency Operations Center will provide greater preparation and coordination across the state in the event of a future outbreak.  Moreover, the legislation will ensure that long-term care facilities are more closely tied to the system of care in the state and have emergency plans in place to respond to a public health emergency.”

“The fatal consequences of the COVID pandemic fell the hardest on nursing homes, veterans’ homes and other long term care facilities that are home to our most vulnerable population of residents,” said Senator Joe Cryan. “It is tragically obvious that there was an absence of safeguards to prevent and respond to the outbreak. We need to use the hard lessons of this experience to help prevent anything like this from happening again. This includes preventive safeguards, action plans to contain any outbreaks and better pay for the frontline workers who care for the residents.”


In a joint statement, Assemblymembers Bill Moen, Shavonda Sumter, and Annette Quijano said:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed longstanding problems in our long-term care system. Not only do we need to address staffing shortages, quality of care concerns and emergency preparedness, but we will need to assess how we can modernize an outdated system to best fit the needs of our most vulnerable residents. The work of this task force will help us reform long-term care in New Jersey, including the expansion of home and community-based services, enhancing the use of telemedicine and optimizing resident wellness and infection control.”

“Without question, our state has an obligation to ensure that those living in long-term care facilities are provided with the highest level of care to maintain their quality-of-life, while also allowing for family members to play an active role in their lives,” said Assemblywoman Dianne Gove. “To that end, I’ve supported the establishment of a Task Force on Long-Term Care Quality and Safety so that New Jersey, moving forward, can and will develop and implement more effective policies that benefit our most vulnerable citizens.”

“COVID-19 devastated our long-term care community and it pains me to hear about how helpless the residents and staff members were at the height of this pandemic,” said Senator Richard Codey. “Establishing the New Jersey Task Force on Long-Term Care Quality and Safety would allow us to develop and implement improvements across the board. Our most vulnerable residents and their caretakers deserve better and this legislation would make sure improvements are realized.”

“COVID-19 swept through our long-term care facilities with such devastating speed, nobody knew what to do or how to handle the situation,” said Senator Ronald C. Rice. “The task force will ensure we develop strict procedures and workplace safety to make sure we are adequately prepared the next time an event like this comes around.”


“Nurses in long-term care facilities help residents bathe, dress, eat, use the restroom, and manage their medical care. Though they deliver vital care to our most vulnerable, they are often underpaid and overworked,” said Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker. “Now amid a global pandemic, they are putting their own health on the line every day. They deserve to be better compensated for their essential work.” 

“There are often staffing shortages and retention issues in long-term care facilities, in part because staff are poorly paid and may need to work multiple jobs to make ends meet,” said Assemblyman Tom Giblin. “Providing pay increases will undoubtedly attract quality workers to the profession and help facilities retain their staff, which in turn will ensure residents are better cared for.”

“Direct care staff are the unsung heroes of healthcare. Like all frontline workers, they have gone the extra mile to respond to COVID-19,” said Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro. “They dedicate their lives to helping our elderly or disabled loved ones live with dignity. It’s time we paid them a dignified wage in return.”


“Nursing homes are not only battling a public health emergency; many are also facing a fiscal emergency,” said Assemblyman Dan Benson. “Without the resources to adequately pay nursing staff or enforce infection control measures, it will become even more difficult to retain nurses and keep residents and staff safe. By increasing Medicaid reimbursements, we can provide financial relief to nursing homes so that they may improve their COVID-19 response and better care for residents.”

“As we look to a potential second wave of COVID-19 in the fall, we must make sure long-term care facilities have the resources needed to mitigate the spread of the virus,” said Assemblyman Gordon Johnson. “This includes, perhaps most importantly, the heroic CNAs who care for elderly and disabled residents in long-term care facilities and often work multiple shifts at several facilities to make ends meet. Increased wages will mean current CNAs won’t have to stretch themselves thin financially, as well as help to attract new staff hires, which in turn will improve quality of care for residents.”

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.

Hopewell Valley Central High School Switches To Remote Learning Due to COVID-19

September 16, 2020

HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hopewell Valley Regional School District switches Central High School to remote learning for Thursday and Friday due to COVID-19 protocols. See official notice below:


Earlier today we notified Central High School families and staff of a confirmed COVID case.  Based on our initial discussions with the Department of Health, we believe this case is limited to Central High School. Following our District protocols, Central High School will transition to Full Remote Learning for all students on Thursday and Friday, September 17 and 18.  All after-school activities are cancelled during this time. No students or staff will be allowed in the building until Monday morning, September 21, 2020.  This will provide ample time for our staff to deep clean the building and the Department of Health to conduct contact tracing. ALL OTHER HVRSD SCHOOLS WILL REMAIN OPEN.

We need your assistance during this public health emergency to keep us all safe. Please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Parents of all in-person students MUST complete the daily symptom form in OnCourse or on the HVRSD app.  We will continue to temperature screen students each morning. 
    • Failure to complete the daily screening will result in exclusion from school.
    • If your child has any COVID symptoms, do not send him/her to school.
    • If your child exhibits COVID symptoms while at school, he/she will be excluded for 10 days, unless cleared by a physician.
    • If your child has COVID symptoms, please contact your doctor and school nurse*.
    • If your family is quarantining due to possible exposure, please inform your school nurse*. *All information is confidential.

HVRSD Notification Protocols

Notification of a confirmed or suspected case in your child’s school:

  1. Email sent immediately from the building principal to all families in that school notifying them of a confirmed or suspected case. Personal information of the suspected or confirmed case is private and will not be shared.
  2. Email sent from the District with school closure information based on the Department of Health’s initial investigation.

Possible exposure notification:

  1. If your child has been identified as having been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case, you will be contacted by the Department of Health. Contact is defined as: within 6 feet for more than 10 minutes.
  2. If you are identified as a contact through the Department of Health tracing process, you will be contacted directly by the Department of Health with further details. 

We appreciate your assistance to keep our schools safe. 

Eight Arrested In Seaside

September 16, 2020

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, NJ (OCEAN)–On September 14, 2020, a YouTube group identified as The Nelk Boys rented the Jersey Shore House, located at 1209 Boardwalk. During the afternoon hours a small crowd of followers began to gather at the residence, a representative from the Nelk Boys requested from the Police Department one Off-Duty Police Security Officer to stand by with the group in addition to their security.

Over a short period of time, the crowd began to grow into a group of approximately 1500 people. In addition to this gathering, a NJ car club also gathered in the area of Dupont and Ocean Terrance at approximately 8:30 pm identified as Full Send NJ car club which consisted of approximately 1000 followers.

At approximately 7:30 pm outside the jersey shore house a male subject was placed under arrest for a disorderly person offense where glass bottles and rocks were thrown at officers during and after the arrest, additional officers from surrounding towns were called in to assist Seaside Heights Police with crowd control due to both locations in town being overwhelmed with disorderly person offenses.

Chief Thomas J. Boyd ordered the town to be closed off to non-resident traffic until this incident was brought under control.

Eight people were arrested during this incident and are identified as the following:

Nicolas Conner – Hackettstown NJ, Age 22 2C:33-2A Disorderly Conduct 2C:29-2A Resisting Arrest

Conner Utter – Hackettstown NJ, Age 22 2C:33-2A Disorderly Conduct

Seth Wilson – Toms River NJ, Age 20 2C:33-2A Disorderly Conduct

Jonathon Downey – Brick NJ, Age 21 2C:33-2A Disorderly Conduct

James Canas – Linden NJ, Age 19 2C:29-1 Obstruction

John Ojeda – Muniz – Linden NJ, Age18 2C:33-2A Disorderly Conduct

Adewusi Oluwatomi – Avenel NJ, Age 26 2C:33-2A Disorderly Conduct

David Dasilva – Kearney NJ, Age 21 2C:29-1 Obstruction

Officers gained complete crowd control over the crowds at approximately 12:00 am with the assistance of the following agencies: Ocean County Prosecutors Office Ocean County Sheriffs Department Bay Head PD Mantoloking PD Lavallette PD Brick PD Toms River PD Seaside Park PD Island Heights PD Berkley PD Seaside Heights Fire Department Station 44 Tri-Boro First Aid Squad

The media and the public are reminded that criminal charges are accusations only. Every criminal defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.

Nelk Boys YouTube:

Teen Charged With Murder Waived To Adult Court

September 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trenton Drug Trafficker Sentenced To 17 Years For Heroin And Firearms Offences

September 16, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–A Trenton man was sentenced today to 204 months in prison for his role as a supplier to a significant drug trafficking conspiracy that distributed more than one kilogram of heroin in Trenton and the surrounding area, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

David Antonio, a/k/a “Pop,” a/k/a “Papi,” a/k/a “Santiago Ramirez,” 32, previously pleaded guilty before Chief U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in Trenton federal court to Count One of a third superseding indictment charging him with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin. Judge Wolfson imposed the sentence today by videoconference.

In October 2018, Antonio, and 25 other individuals were charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute heroin. On Feb. 27, 2020, a grand jury returned a 10-count third superseding indictment charging Antonio and six other defendants with conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin and various other drug and firearm offenses. Twenty-three of the 26 defendants charged in the complaint have pleaded guilty.

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

From October 2017 to October 2018, the defendant and others engaged in a large drug trafficking conspiracy that operated in the areas of Martin Luther King Boulevard, Sanford Street, Middle Rose Street, Southard Street, Hoffman Avenue, Chambers Street, and Coolidge Avenue in Trenton, and which sought to profit from the distribution of heroin and numerous other controlled substances. Through the interception of telephone calls and text messages pursuant to court-authorized wiretap orders, controlled purchases of heroin, the use of confidential sources of information, and other investigative techniques, law enforcement learned that conspirators Jakir Taylor and Jerome Roberts obtained regular supplies of hundreds of “bricks” of heroin from Antonio. Intercepted communications among Taylor, Roberts, Antonio, and other conspirators revealed that Taylor and Roberts agreed to obtain from Antonio, and that Antonio agreed to supply, a “motherlode” of as many as 1,400 bricks of heroin in a single delivery – equating to approximately 1.5 kilograms of heroin. Taylor told Antonio that he intended to “flood the streets” of Trenton with this large supply, and Antonio agreed to supply a sufficient amount of heroin to Taylor that would allow him to do so. In communications with Taylor, Antonio indicated that he was “filling the bags” up with heroin and fentanyl. During coordinated arrests on Oct. 25, 2018, law enforcement arrested Antonio at a residence in Trenton, and recovered more than 1.4 kilograms of heroin, in addition to a significant amount of paraphernalia used to package heroin for distribution.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Wolfson sentenced Antonio to five years of supervised release.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, Newark Division, Trenton Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr.; special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, Newark Division, Trenton Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson; officers of the Trenton Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Sheilah Coley; officers of the Princeton Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police Nicholas Sutter; officers of the Ewing Police Department, under the direction of Chief of Police John P. Stemler III; officers of the Burlington Township Police Department, under the direction of Police Director Bruce Painter; and detectives of the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked officers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan; detectives of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Angelo Onofri; officers of the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff John A. Kemler; and members of the New Jersey State Board of Parole for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of the case.

The government is represented by Attorney-in-Charge J. Brendan Day and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Ramey of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Trenton.

This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the FBI’s Greater Trenton Safe Streets Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to enhance the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of individuals involved in gang-related activities, violent crime, and drug distribution in and around the greater Trenton area. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

The three remaining defendants charged in this case are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

20-297 ###

Defense counsel: David Schafer Esq., Trenton

Crash Leads to Arrest on Drug Distribution and Driving Under the Influence Charges For Ewing Man

September 14, 2020

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–A man was arrested shortly after 9 am Sunday morning for possession of marijuana and a large amount of Xanax following a single car crash attributed to the man driving while under the influence.

At 9:01am, Sunday, September 13th, police dispatchers received a call about a single car crash on Route 1 southbound at Sandhill Road.

Upon arrival, Officer Gerald Sarno found that a 1999 Lexus had crashed head-on into the concrete divider at the intersection. Officer Sarno also observed the driver, identified as Daniel Saladyga, 24 years old, of Ewing, NJ, sitting on the grassy shoulder of the roadway, uninjured.

On speaking with Mr. Saladyga about the crash, Officer Sarno noted that Saladyga’s eyes were glassy with pinpoint pupils, his diction slow, and his hands fumbling. Suspecting that Saladyga was under the influence, Officer Sarno gave Saladyga several field-side sobriety tests, which Saladyga failed. Saladyga was placed under arrest for DUI, and was searched incident to arrest, at which time he was found to possess a small amount of marijuana, as well as 112 bars of Xanax.

Mr. Saladyga was transported to Police Headquarters, where Detective Tim Hoover, a certified Drug Recognition Expert, performed a series of tests on Saladyga, ultimately determining that Saladyga was under the influence of a central nervous system depressant, in keeping with Saladyga’s statement that he had ingested Xanax earlier that morning.

Saladyga was charged with Possession of CDS with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Under 50g Marijuana, Unlawful Possession of Xanax, Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Driving, and other motor vehicle offenses. Saladyga was lodged in the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Center pending his bail hearing.

Chief Raymond J. Hayducka said, “Impaired driving can happen at any time of the day. This driver was on Route 1, impaired, and struck the concrete median at 9 am Sunday morning. Officer Sarno’s detailed investigation discovered the drugs and took this driver off the road. With thousands of cars and trucks using Route 1 daily, we are just lucky this crash wasn’t much worse.”

Victims Identified in New Brunswick Shooting, Total of 9 Shot Early Sunday Morning

2 Dead, Four victims remain hospitalized, three in stable condition and one in serious/critical condition. An additional victim in the shooting has come forward, bringing the total to nine victims.

See related MidJersey.news story here: 2 Dead 6 Injured In New Brunswick Shooting

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Anthony A. Caputo of the New Brunswick Police Department announced today that authorities have identified the two men who died in the shooting which took place yesterday in the City.

Lionel Macauley, 28, of Somerset, and Anthony Robinson 23, of  New Brunswick, have been identified as the two male victims who were taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and died from the injuries they sustained in the shooting.

The Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office performed the autopsies today and determined the manner of death for both victims, Lionel Macauley and Anthony Robinson, to be homicide. The cause of death being a gunshot wound.

An additional victim in the shooting has come forward, bringing the total to nine victims.  During the shooting this victim received minor injuries which did not require hospitalization.

Four victims remain hospitalized, three in stable condition and one in serious/critical condition.

The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Erika DiMarcello of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5200, or Detective Julissa Alvarado of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office  (732) 745-3848.

Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of Middlesex County, Inc.,  a non-profit organization that partners with law enforcement to enable the public to anonymously submit crime information and will pay a cash reward should it lead to an arrest.

Tip information may be provided anonymously by calling 1-800-939-9600 or submitted online at www.middlesextips.com.  Tips may also be sent by text messaging 274637 (CRIMES) with the keyword: “midtip” followed by the tip information.

NJ Forest Fire Service Sends More Help To The West Coast

September 13, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–The New Jersey Forrest Fire Service has been sending equipment and manpower to the west coast to help fight many wildfires. San Francisco Fire Department reports that units from Section B-10 have landed safely at the airport. Three additional engines and ten crew members were sent to California to help.

Section B-10 provides wildland fire suppression for the State of New Jersey covering Middlesex and Monmouth Counties in Central New Jersey primary response areas include: East Brunswick Twp, Englishtown, Freehold Borough, Freehold Twp, Helmetta, Holmdel Twp, Jamesburg, Manalapan Twp, Marlboro Twp, Monroe Twp, Old Bridge Twp, Plainsboro, Sayreville, South Amboy, South Brunswick Twp, South River, Spotswood and surrounding towns as requested.

2 Dead 6 Injured In New Brunswick Shooting

See related MidJersey.news story here: Victims Identified in New Brunswick shooting

September 13, 2020

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Director Anthony A. Caputo of the New Brunswick Police Department announced today that authorities are investigating a shooting which took place early this morning in the City.

Two victims have died, and six others were injured in the shooting.

 The New Brunswick Police responded to the area of 32 Delafield Street in New Brunswick at approximately 1:18 am this morning and found eight people suffering from apparent gunshot wounds. The victims were taken to various hospitals in the area. Two male victims were pronounced dead at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.

          Thus far the investigation has determined that there is no affiliation with Rutgers University or its students.

The shooting is being investigated by the New Brunswick Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Erika DiMarcello of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5200, or Detective Julissa Alvarado of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office  (732) 745-3848.

Driver Injured At New Egypt Speedway Flown To Trenton

September 12, 2020

NEW EGYPT – PLUMSTED TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–A driver was injured when his race car flipped this evening around 6:15 pm. at the New Egypt Speedway on Route 539. RWJ Barnabas Life Flight medical helicopter was called to the scene and the driver was flown to the Trauma Center at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton.

It was First Responders – Modified Championship Night at the speedway.

No update was available on the condition of the driver.

A New Jersey State Police helicopter was also dropping off a patient at Capital Health Regional Medical Center late this afternoon for an unknown condition. Shortly after the NJSP helicopter left Capital Health the RWJ Life Life Flight helicopter arrived.

A New Jersey State Police helicopter was also dropping off a patient at Capital Health Regional Medical Center late this afternoon for an unknown condition. Shortly after the NJSP helicopter left Capital Health the RWJ Life Life Flight helicopter arrived.

Freehold Township Remembers 9/11

September 12, 2020

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)—Members of Freehold Township Fire Independent Company # 1, Freehold Township Police, Township Officials and the public came together to honor the innocent lives lost and recognize the courage of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to save others 19 years ago.

About the Freehold Township 9/11 Memorial:

The Freehold Township community joined together to build a Memorial as a tribute to the men, women and children who perished on September 11, 2001. The Memorial was unveiled at a Dedication Ceremony on Tuesday, September 10, 2002. The Memorial is located at the Municipal Complex, Schanck and Stillwells Corner Roads.

This memorial encompasses all of the events of September 11, 2001. The base of this monument is Pentagon shaped. Enshrined inside the base are pieces of the World Trade Center. While they are not visible, they are entombed forever as a symbolic final resting place for those victims never recovered. Atop the Pentagon, Ground Zero is represented by a granite circle of 50 gold stars, one for each state. On top of Ground Zero, the twin towers stand forever. Each tower is 9 feet 11 inches tall, carved in black granite.

The five sides of the Pentagon are engraved and inlaid in gold. The front face is engraved with the date: September 11, 2001. The other four faces are engraved with the flight numbers of the four planes lost that day: United Flights 93 and 175 and American Flights 11 and 77. Mountain Laurels, the Pennsylvania State Flower, are planted on the site to honor the heroes of Flight 93.

Photos by: Steve Bibby and Scott Bibby for Freehold Independent Fire Company #1

Allentown, NJ Police Capture Man Wanted For 4th Degree Sexual Assault In Michigan

September 12, 2020

ALLENTOWN, NJ (MONMOUTH)–On September 3rd, 2020 around 3:05 PM, Ptl. Daniel Dascoli #8232 was on patrol in the area of Allentown-Yardville Road. While on patrol, Ptl. Dascoli observed a red Mazda with several motor vehicle violations driving down Allentown-Yardville Road.

After initiating a motor vehicle stop in this area, Ptl. Dascoli through investigation discovered that the driver, who is identified as Edwin Y. Sackie Jr, maintained an active Fourth Degree Sexual Assault warrant out of the state of Michigan. This warrant stated that it was Full Extradition from the state of Michigan.

Ptl. Dascoli spoke to authorities in Michigan who confirmed the warrant. Edwin Y. Sackie Jr. was placed under arrest and later transported to the Monmouth County Correctional Institution in Freehold without incident.

*** The media and the public are reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations and that the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. ***

Trenton Firefighters Run/Ride In Honor Of 9/11

September 11, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Members of the Trenton Fire Department ran together through the city in Remembrance of all the lives lost Sept 11, 2001. The route started at Headquarters, escorting Runners and Bicyclists to each and every fire station. Ending at Station 1 on Calhoun St, all participants accumulated over their goal of 9.11 miles.

OnScene News Photos by: Brian McCarthy, OnScene News

9/11 Remembered In Hamilton

September 11, 2020

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–It is hard to believe that 19 years ago we woke up to a beautiful September morning, readied ourselves for work, school, or wherever else our day would take us, not knowing that soon all of our lives would change forever.

Today, we pause to remember the lives that were tragically cut short, their loved ones, family members, and friends who each year honor those they lost and cherish the memories they made together. Today, we thank our first responders who heroically ran in – not knowing what lied ahead.

Today, we remember all those who gave of themselves only to become sick in the years following, from their days as rescue workers. Today, we thank all involved to help rebuild our Pentagon, create memorials across the country, and construct the Freedom Tower, united in American pride.

American Flags Replaced On NJ Turnpike Overpasses In Robbinsville By Police Union

September 11, 2020

Previous MidJersey.News stories on the flags here:

NJ Turnpike Authority Removes American Flags From Bridges, Flags Have Been In Place 19 Years Since Terrorist Attacks On The United States, September 11, 2001

Governor Murphy Directs Turnpike Authority To Stop Removing American Flags, Senator O’Scanlon and Assemblywoman DiMaso Sponsor Legislation To Keep American Flags On Overpasses

ROBBINSVILLE TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Flags that were in place for 19 years since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were removed recently by the NJ Turnpike Authority. Today a “Replacing American Flags” event was held at Community Park on West Manor Way and Gordon Roads hosted by Robbinsville Township Police PBA Union #344 that has been maintaining flags in Robbinsville, NJ.

In the early years the flags were placed initially on many overpasses by unknown individuals throughout the State. In Robbinsville Dino Colarocco (retired) from Public Works along with Joy Tozzi Township Administrator were instrumental getting flags replaced early in the process. Currently the Robbinsville Township Police Union has been maintaining the flags and recently purchased 20 flags to replace old tattered flags on the overpasses.

Robbinsville Township Mayor Dave Fried said, “This institution is non-negotiable. Proud to help re-hang Old Glory on the NJ Turnpike overpass near Community Park on this most solemn day.”

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) was in support of hanging the flags and helped hang a flag on the Turnpike overpass. Rep. Smith also talked about the the flags hanging since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Lieutenant Commander, US Navy (Retired) Steven Rogers who is part of Campaign for America was also on scene helping with replacing the flags.

Remembering the Victims of 9/11

September 11, 2020

By: Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ)

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when terrorists hijacked four airliners in order to commit the worst act of terrorism in American history.

Nearly 700 New Jerseyans—147 from Monmouth County alone—lost their lives that day.

No one remembers the shock, horror and numbing sorrow more, however, than the families and close friends of the victims.

              Because it was a surprise attack, there was no chance to fight back that day although when Todd Beamer and other passengers learned what happened to the Twin Towers, Todd famously said “let’s roll” and they attacked the terrorists on board the flight that crashed in a Pennsylvania field.

              Who can forget the courageous first responders running up the stairs of the burning buildings—with total disregard for their own safety.

              On the morning of 9/11, I got a mere glimpse—I say again, a mere glimpse—into the sense of horror suffered by the victim’s families when I couldn’t reach my own brother Tom—an American Airlines 757 Captain who often piloted Flight 11 from Logan to LA, the flight that crashed into the North Tower.

              Evacuated from the Capitol and stuck in traffic within sight of the burning Pentagon, cell phones were all but gridlocked. About noon I got through.  He and his flight attendant wife Sandy were safe but were in anguish because they knew the pilots and crew on board Flight 11.

For 19 years, the families and friends of those who died that day and since have had to endure their loss and a broken heart.

              Both then—and now 19 years later—words are inadequate to convey our empathy for those who died and for the victims’ families.

              For many, their faith in God has helped them survive and overcome.

              Some, including the Jersey Girls—four amazing women who lost their husbands at the World Trade Center—pushed the Congress to create the historic and transformative 911 Commission that was led so effectively by former Governor Tom Kean.

              As you know, 19 years later, the consequences—the ongoing loss of life and health attributable to 9/11—are even worse than anyone could have ever imagined.

              Congress enacted the World Trade Center Health Program Fund (WTCHP) & Victims Compensation Fund to provide health services for responders at the three crash sites, and others in the vicinity of the WTC site for health conditions related to toxic exposures from the attacks.

              Of the  105,272 individuals enrolled in the program—9,157 are from New Jersey alone—and a total of 19,150 responders and survivors have been diagnosed with cancer and more than 3,500 have died after September 11th .

Rigorous testing and early interventions offer some hope to those manifesting illness.

        So today, we remember and honor all the victims of 9/11—past, present and future.  

Trenton Fire Director Derrick Sawyer Has Resigned

September 11, 2020

TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Early this morning news spread that Trenton Fire Director Derrick Sawyer had resigned his post. The resignation came after frustrations with City Council.

Trenton Mayor W. Reed Gusciora told MidJersey.News, “I am deeply grateful to Fire Director Derrick Sawyer for his service to me and the people of Trenton. A professional and class act, Director Sawyer’s leadership, data-driven decision making, COVID-19 emergency response, and his respect for our residents and employees, elevated all of us and made our city stronger. I wish him and his family well in the months and years ahead.”

Prior to coming to Trenton and taking the post of Fire Director, according to Firefighter Nation “Battalion Chief Derrick Sawyer has been a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department for 25 years. He has a degree in fire science and is in his fourth year of the Executive Fire Officer Program (EFOP) at the National Fire Academy. Sawyer is a 2009 graduate of the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute, a 2010 graduate of Leadership Philadelphia and has obtained certification in the following areas: Fire Officer, Fire Service Instructor and Fire Inspector. Chief Sawyer was the liaison for the Philadelphia Fire Department to NFPA’s 2009 Urban Fire Safety Project.” 

Robbinsville Remembers September 11

September 11, 2020

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ (MERCER)–Robbinsville Township Fire Department, IAFF3786 members along with the police department and government officials conduct a September 11 memorial service today in the Town Center section of town at the memorial on Lake Drive. The site is dedicated to Robbinsville resident Pamela Gaff who was lost that day at the World Trade Center in NYC.

Chief Dan Schaffener began today’s annual remembrance ceremony honoring the 343 firefighters and all those who perished on September 11, 2001. We also remember those who have passed since from cancer and other complications from 911.

Hamilton Man Arrested for Aggravated Sexual Assault

September 11, 2020

See related MidJersey.News story here:

Hamilton Man Accused of Aggravated Sexual Assault
Ordered Detained

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–A 26-year-old Hamilton man was arrested this week and charged with sexually assaulting women at two separate gatherings at his Liberty Street residence last year.

Eridson M. Rodriguez, is charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and two counts of third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact.  The prosecutor’s office has filed a motion for Rodriguez’ detention.

The prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit and the Hamilton Police Division have been working with the victims and investigating the assaults since last year.  This month, facts and circumstances allowed for criminal charges.

Rodriguez is accused of having intercourse with two women, ages 19 and 20, who were intoxicated and incapacitated during gatherings at his house in March 2019 and again in May 2019.

The investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information on the case is asked to contact Detective Shari Johnson of the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit at (609) 989-6758 or Hamilton Police Detective Daniel Inman at (609) 581-4000.

Despite having been charged, all persons are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.