NEW JERSEY – Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced the following recent enforcement actions related to COVID-19, including those individuals allegedly involved in violating Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107:
Assaults and Threats Against Police Officers, EMTs, or Others:
- Jacob M. Carr, 30, of Barrington, was arrested on April 19, by the Barrington Borough Police Department on charges of second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency, disorderly persons obstruction, and disorderly persons violating the emergency orders by impeding the performance of an emergency function. After Carr learned that a COVID-19 testing center was being opened at the Rite Aid on Clements Bridge Road in Barrington, he allegedly posted angry messages on the Barrington Parent’s Page on Facebook, including “I’m gonna run you all over with my SUV if I see anyone getting tested.” This caused panic to residents, who alerted the police. Carr used a Facebook account opened under a false name to post the messages, but the police department traced the account to Carr.
Other Criminal Charges Involving Indictable Offenses:
- Firaz Osman, 18, and three Juvenile Males, all of South Brunswick, were charged by the South Brunswick Police Department with third-degree burglary and violating the emergency orders. The South Brunswick Police responded on April 19 at about 3:30 a.m. to Point of Woods Drive on a report of persons entering a vacant home. Police officers initially located Osman and two other male youths inside the home. While searching the attic of the residence for the fourth suspect, a police officer fell through the ceiling, injuring his abdomen. The officer was treated at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and later released. The fourth suspect was located by police later at his residence.
Other Violations of Executive Orders, Including “Stay at Home” Order, and Ordinances:
- Yasser Abraham, 55, Sabh Mahmud, 30, both of Plainfield, and a Male Juvenile were charged on April 19, by the Plainfield Police with violating the emergency orders for operating a non-essential business, My Home Furniture Store on West Front Street. Police found the store open and two employees on the premises, Mahmud and the juvenile male. They indicated they opened the store at the instruction of the owner, Abraham. Abraham had been warned several times before when police responded and found the store open for business.
- Tuvia Liberana, 53, of Passaic, was charged on April 19 by the Passaic Police with violating the emergency orders for holding a large party at his home on Aycrigg Avenue. When police arrived, they found a large number of people on the front lawn, inside the house, and in the rear yard of the home. Police issued a summons to Liberana and directed his guests to disperse.
- Marc Taylor, 19, of Jersey City, Dalanie Felton, 19, of Jersey City, Jeremy Perez, 22, of Union City, Dasean Lassiter, 19, of Jersey City, Bashard Davis, 18, of Jersey City, Quadra Domnie, 19, of Jersey City, and Prima Lockemy, 19, of Jersey City, were charged on April 19, by the Jersey City Police with violating the emergency orders, public consumption of alcohol, and possession of a gambling device, all disorderly persons offenses. Police found the defendants in Triangle Park at Danforth Avenue and Old Bergen Road, where they were allegedly drinking outside, playing dice, and failing to practice social distancing.
- Jose Vicente-Ruiz, 22, of Carteret, was charged by the Passaic Police Department with DWI and violating the emergency orders when he was stopped by police just after midnight on April 12 for driving erratically on Monroe Street in Passaic.
- Lucero Dalia, 21, Paul Morrobel-Cepeda, 20, and Frianky Nunez, 21, all of Passaic, were charged on April 20 by the Passaic Police Department with violating the emergency orders. Dalia drove to police headquarters and reported that her ex-boyfriend was following her in a vehicle. Her passenger was Morrobel-Cepeda. Nunez was stopped and said he wanted to speak to Dalia. None of the defendants had a legitimate reason for being out.
- Virginia Day, 55, of Rockleigh, was charged on April 19, by the Northvale Police Department with defiant trespass (disorderly persons offense). Day was found inside Rockleigh Woods Sanctuary, a municipal park that is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Police had warned her twice before that the park is closed.
- Dennis E. Brown, 69, of Bensalem, Pa., was charged on April 19 by the Lambertville Police Department with violating the emergency orders and municipal ordinances for riding a bike on the canal path in the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park after being advised the park is closed.
- Renee F. Perrine, 49, of Toms River, was charged on April 18, by the Bay Head Police with violating the emergency orders and operating an unregistered vehicle. When she was stopped for operating an unregistered vehicle, she said she was driving around playing Pokemon Go.
- Dipali Patel, 30, of New Brunswick, was charged on April 20 by the Woodbridge Police Department with DWI and violating the emergency orders.
- Luis Mojica, 34, John Rodriguez, 31, Ramon Rodriguez, 25, and Kyle Joans, 20, all of Paterson, were charged on Saturday, April 18, by the Paterson Police Department with violating the emergency orders for gathering on Park Avenue without an essential purpose, refusing to disperse, and failing to practice social distancing.
- Trindell Smith, 47, James Hart, 45, and Ernest Moss, 49, all of Paterson, were charged on Saturday, April 18, by the Paterson Police Department with violating the emergency orders for gathering on Rosa Parks Boulevard without an essential purpose and refusing to disperse.
- Foquir Melton, 22, Darren Johnson, 52, Devon Hobsen, 27, Jesus Hernandez, 65, Timothy Stefanovich, 43, and Jerome Ford, 64, all of Paterson, were charged on Saturday, April 18, by the Paterson Police Department with violating the emergency orders for gathering in the area of Main and Weiss Streets without an essential purpose and refusing to disperse.
- From April 8 through April 19, the Seaside Park Police issued summonses for public nuisance, a violation of a borough ordinance, to the following seven people for violating closure orders for beaches or parks related to COVID-19: Thomas M. Lanza, 27 of Toms River, N.J., and Dylan M. Connell, 26, of Palm Bay, Fla., on April 8; Jeffrey N. Burroughs, 53, of Los Angeles, Calif., on April 14; Zoe H. Bloodgood, 18, of Berkeley, N.J., on April 19; and Stefanie S. Gomes, 26, Robert P. Hickey Jr., 31, and Joao J. Pinho, 30, all of Kearny, N.J., on April 19.
The people who were charged strictly with violating the emergency orders or local ordinances and who do not face more serious charges were charged by summons— they were not arrested. Those cases will be adjudicated in municipal court.
“One month after Governor Murphy issued his emergency orders, we are flattening the curve and saving lives, because the vast majority of our residents are conscientiously obeying the social distancing rules and doing their share to fight COVID-19,” Grewal said. “Unfortunately, there are still those who violate the orders, risking the further spread of this deadly virus. What is worse, there are some who deliberately threaten our brave police officers, medical personnel, and other essential workers, impeding their vital work. Our message to violators is that we will hold you accountable, whether it is through a summons for those who violate the social distancing orders, or an arrest on indictable charges for those who deliberately harm or threaten others during this emergency.”
“Although law enforcement and medical professionals are on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19, we are ultimately winning the war because of the extraordinary resolve and fortitude of New Jersey citizens who are doing their part day in and day out, abiding by the executive orders and sacrificing for the greater good,” Callahan said. “Those who choose to ignore the law and selfishly place others at risk will face swift law enforcement action.”
Violations of the emergency orders constitute a disorderly persons offense carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, violators can potentially face criminal charges including second, third, and fourth degree indictable offenses.
Grewal announced on April 1 enhanced charges against six people who were charged with assaulting and threatening law enforcement officers and violating the emergency orders. Specifically, those enhanced charges included making terroristic threats during a state of emergency, which is a second degree offense carrying a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Sixteen additional defendants, including Jacob Carr, have been similarly charged since that time for alleged assaults or threats against police officers, emergency medical technicians, or others.
Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are seeing a lack of compliance with the Governor’s emergency orders in your town, please contact your local police department or report here: covid19.nj.gov/violation. To report bias crimes call 1-800-277-BIAS.
The Attorney General’s Office and New Jersey State Police will continue to work with law enforcement throughout New Jersey to deter non-complaint behavior.