SHIP BOTTOM, NJ — A Ship Bottom businessman accused of damaging the vehicles of a local competitor rejected a plea offer from Ocean County Assistant Prosecutor Alexander Becker on Tuesday, September 15.  The underlying matter was first reported by TAPinto Stafford-LBI in March.

Ray Dietrich, owner of Air Technical Services in Ship Bottom, was originally charged with criminal mischief by the Ship Bottom Police Department in March.  

According to police, Dietrich is charged with criminal mischief by recklessly or negligently damaging two vehicles owned by David Hill, owner of Express Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, also located in Ship Bottom. 

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Dietrich is accused of spraying WD 40 fluid onto the graphic design of the vehicles causing significant damage, police say. He is also accused of throwing the can at one of the vehicles causing more damage, according to police. Hill is seeking monetary compensation for the damage to the vehicles in the amount of $5,848.57.

On Tuesday, September 15, the case was heard by Superior Court Judge Linda G. Baxter.

Dietrich was present at the hearing via Zoom.  He was represented by Albert Mollo. Dietrich declined to accept an offer to plead guilty to a lesser charge. He rejected a pre-indictment plea deal offered by Assistant Prosecutor Alexander Becker of fourth degree criminal mischief with a penalty of probation and restitution of $5,848.57.  

Judge Baxter stated that this was Dietrich's last opportunity to accept the plea deal before it proceeded to a Grand Jury. “If an indictment comes from the Grand Jury there is a possibility you will face a more serious third degree criminal mischief charge,” Judge Baxter said. 

Lorraine Sult, attorney for Express Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, told TAPinto Stafford/LBI, “at this point we are waiting to see what happens, the court system is backed up due to Covid-19. The next court date will take place when the grand jury indicts the defendant.” 

Dietrich's attorney, Albert Mollo, declined to comment.

The new court date will take place in a few months. 

Editor's Note: In the interest of transparency, Express Plumbing and Heating is an advertiser on TAPinto Stafford-LBI.