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AG Grewal and Colonel Callahan issue update on charges filed against violators of Gov. Murphy’s COVID-19 executive orders

NEW JERSEY – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced the following recent enforcement actions against alleged violators of Governor Murphy’s Emergency Orders related to COVID-19:

Newark Enforcement:  The Newark Police Department’s COVID-19 task force issued 26 summonses for violations of the emergency orders and ordered four non-essential businesses closed in enforcement actions yesterday, April 5.

Rumson Party— Ryan Sheftel, 46 of Rumson, was charged last night with disorderly conduct and violating a borough ordinance by disturbing the peace in connection with the large party and concert in Rumson on Saturday night, April 4. When officers ordered the partygoers to disperse, Sheftel allegedly cursed at the police and shouted “Welcome to Nazi Germany.” Earlier yesterday, the host of the party, homeowner John Maldjian, 54, of Rumson, was charged with reckless endangerment, disorderly conduct, and two separate charges related to violating the emergency orders – all disorderly persons offenses – and violation of two borough ordinances.

Marco Costa, 28, of Harrison, was charged today by police in Kearny with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency, three counts of fourth-degree throwing bodily fluid at a law enforcement officer, five counts of third-degree attempted burglary, and disorderly persons possession of a hypodermic syringe. Costa was arrested after police received a report of a man fitting his description pulling on car door handles in the area. While being handcuffed, Costa allegedly told officers he had the coronavirus and purposely coughed at them.

Dennis Steward, 52, of Valley Stream, N.Y., was charged on April 4 in Hamilton, Mercer County, with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency, fourth-degree throwing bodily fluid at an officer, and DWI. Steward was charged after he crashed into a house on South Olden Avenue in Hamilton. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Trenton at his request after he complained of chest pains. While there, he allegedly became aggressive and spat on hospital security guards, two Hamilton police officers, and a nurse. He claimed he had Covid-19 and had just come back from visiting someone in Bronx, N.Y., who died from the virus.

Derrick E. Hughes II, 32, of Woolwich, was charged on April 5 with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency, thirdd-egree endangering, fourth-degree throwing bodily fluid at an officer, disorderly persons violation of a temporary restraining order (TRO), and violating the emergency orders. Hughes was arrested by the Woolwich Township Police for violation of a TRO, and while being fingerprinted, he allegedly spat at officers. While being handcuffed, he allegedly breathed heavily on an officer and stated that he had COVID-19 and hoped the officers would catch it.

Terrance Edwards, 34, of New Brunswick, was arrested early Monday by New Brunswick police after he allegedly broke into a residence while naked and armed with a knife. He left that residence and allegedly attempted unsuccessfully to break into a neighboring residence. When officers arrived, Edwards yelled that he had the coronavirus. He was charged with second-degree burglary, third-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, fourth-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, and violation of the executive orders.

Anekia Dawkins, 35, of Morristown, was charged by local police with violating the executive orders for holding a party at her residence with more than 10 people on Saturday night, April 4.

Tyeashia Henderson, 20, of Hillside, was charged by police with violating the executive orders for holding a party at her house with approximately 20 people on Sunday, April 5.

Steven Nunez, 22, of Clifton, Tiffany Colon, 21, of Clifton, and Valerie Saez, 22, of Passaic, were charged with violating the emergency orders after a West Milford police officer found them parked in a vehicle at the Clinton Road Reservoir boat launch after hours.

“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.

Last week, 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. Defendants Costa, Steward, and Hughes are similarly charged for their conduct against law enforcement officers.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. 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.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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