AG Grewal and Colonel Callahan issue COVID-19 enforcement update
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:
- Patrick McFadden, 44, of Budd Lake – who was charged on April 14 by the Mount Olive Police Department with fourth-degree violating a restraining order, fourth-degree trespassing, and violation of the emergency orders – faces two new counts of each of those charges for allegedly returning to the victim’s residence twice on April 15.
- Charles Coward, 49, of Camden, was charged on April 15, with third-degree burglary, fourth-degree possession of an imitation firearm for an unlawful purpose, disorderly persons criminal mischief, disorderly persons trespassing, and petty disorderly persons possession of burglary tools. He also was charged with violating the emergency orders. The Pennsauken Police responded at 11:48 a.m. to an alarm at Forman Mills. They found a broken side window with a hammer on the ground nearby. Coward was inside the closed store. Police found two coats on the ground, one of which contained a black airsoft gun.
- Kevin R. Brady, 49, of Point Pleasant Beach, was charged Thursday with theft by unlawful taking and conspiracy to commit theft, both third-degree charges, in connection with the theft of up to 1,600 respirator masks from Prudential Financial in Iselin. He was charged in an ongoing investigation by the New Jersey State Police, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Woodbridge Police Department, and Point Pleasant Beach Police Department, based on a referral from the National Hoarding & Price-Gouging Task Force headed by New Jersey U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito. Brady is an on-site electrical contractor who had access to storage areas in the Prudential Financial facility. Between March 27 and April 1, Brady allegedly stole seven to eight cases of N95 respirator masks, each case containing 200 masks. Prudential Financial had intended to donate the masks to a local hospital. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office will be issuing a press release.
- Juvenile Charged. A juvenile female was arrested on April 14 and charged with third-degree bias intimidation, fourth-degree riot, disorderly persons simple assault, petty disorderly persons of harassment and disorderly conduct. In addition, the juvenile has been charged with violating the emergency orders. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Edison Police Department are continuing to investigate pursuant to the Attorney General’s Bias Incident Investigation Standards. The investigation determined that on April 4, the juvenile and a group of others surrounded an Asian woman. The juvenile allegedly yelled racial slurs at the victim related to the origins of the coronavirus. The juvenile then allegedly punched the woman in the back of the head. The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office will be issuing a press release.
- Eric Rock, 35, of Jersey City, was arrested at about 6 a.m. this morning by the Jersey City Police Department and charged with two counts of second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency, two counts of fourth-degree aggravated assault on a police officer, two counts of fourth-degree throwing bodily fluid at an officer, disorderly persons criminal mischief, and petty disorderly persons harassment. Rock allegedly went to a relative’s home and kicked in a window of the house when she would not let him inside. Rock does not live at the home or have any belongings there. Police were called and found Rock in front of the house. As he was being arrested, he coughed on police officers and claimed he had the coronavirus and would infect them. He allegedly said, “If I’m going to die, you’re going to die.”
- Jason Reiner, 44, of Atlantic City, was charged on April 15, by the Atlantic City Police with third-degree aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, disorderly persons shoplifting, disorderly persons resisting arrest, disorderly persons obstruction, and violating the emergency orders. Police were called to a CVS store on Atlantic Avenue on a report that Reiner was shoplifting. When officers approached Reiner, he began acting erratically and said he was on drugs. EMS was called but Reiner refused treatment. As officers then attempted to arrest him for shoplifting, Reiner allegedly resisted and intentionally and repeatedly coughed on police officers to spread germs and obstruct his arrest.
- Kayla Kraus, 22, of Point Pleasant, was arrested on Tuesday, April 14, by the Point Pleasant Police and charged with two counts of third-degree terroristic threats and fourth-degree aggravated assault on an officer. Kraus allegedly punched officers and threatened to infect them with COVID-19 when police responded to the Point Pleasant Inn on a report of an emotionally disturbed woman.
- Newark Enforcement, the Newark Police Department’s COVID-19 task force issued 72 summonses for violations of the emergency orders and ordered one non-essential business closed in enforcement actions on April 15.
- Jeffrey Brady, 62, of Cherry Hill, the owner of Corrado’s Pizza in Sicklerville, was charged on April 15, by the Winslow Township Police with violating the emergency orders because his employees were not wearing facial masks or gloves. Brady advised it was too hot near the ovens for his employees to wear masks and customers could not understand them on the phone with their mouths covered.
- Ali Siyam, 59, the owner, and Abdel Siyam, 21, an employee, were charged on April 15, by the Union City Police Department, with violating the emergency orders at the grocery store owned by Ali Siyam on Bergenline Avenue, New Way Supermarket. The employee and several customers were not wearing facial masks. The defendants had been warned by police at least three times on prior days that they needed to comply with the order to wear masks.
- Kevin Beneventa, 35, of Clementon, was charged by the Mount Ephraim Police with violating the emergency orders after he was involved in an accident on April 15. He also was ticketed for driving without a license, failure to keep right, and failure to wear a seatbelt. Police responded to a report of an accident at 6:05 a.m. with a car overturned on West King’s Highway. Beneventa told police he fell asleep while driving. His vehicle struck a parked car and rolled, ending up in the middle of the road. He was taken to Cooper University Hospital for treatment.
- Stalin Paulino, 39, and Mark Rombowski, 65, of West New York, were charged by the West New York Police with violating the emergency orders for loitering in a bus stop shelter with no legitimate purpose and failing to maintain social distance. Both had been warned previously about violating the orders.
The people who were charged strictly with violating the emergency orders and who do not face more serious charges were charged by summons— they were not arrested. Those cases will be adjudicated in municipal court, Grewal and Callahan said.
“Our police officers are working bravely and tirelessly every day to protect us during this health crisis. Regrettably, they are being called upon far too often to deal with people violating the emergency orders— or what is more egregious, people using the virus to spread fear or impede officers in their vital work,” Grewal said. “Staying home and maintaining social distance isn’t just the best advice to stay healthy, it’s the law. Make no mistake, we will do everything in our power to keep our residents and officers safe, and that means we won’t hesitate to file charges against violators.”
“Law enforcement and medical professionals are on the frontlines of this battle to protect the citizens of New Jersey from the COVID-19 virus, and we cannot stress enough how important it is that each person follow the guidelines set forth in the Executive Order,” Callahan said. “Because lives are at stake, enforcement action will be taken without hesitation against those who are blatantly placing the lives of others at risk.”
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
On April 1, Grewal announced enhanced charges against six individuals who were charged with assaulting 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 and carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Defendant Eric Rock is similarly charged for his conduct against law enforcement officers.
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.
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.