CAMDEN, NJ — A 31-year-old woman and a 34-year-old man, both of Camden, were among those charged over the weekend for gathering in groups and thus violating the state’s emergency COVID-19 “Stay at Home” order.
According to an announcement Tuesday by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Colonel Patrick Callahan, Angel Martinez, 34, was charged on Saturday night and Dasia Syms, 31, was charged Sunday.
Martinez was charged with two violations of the emergency orders.
Police responded to a gathering on North 6th Street in Camden, where Martinez was reportedly served a warning.
The authorities said, “he ripped it up and discarded it, saying he does not care about getting a fine because he has money in the bank.”
The group then dispersed.
Dasia Syms, 31, was charged Sunday with fourth-degree causing or risking widespread injury, fourth-degree contempt, disorderly conduct, and failure to disperse (disorderly persons' offense).
Police said she was part of a large group of people who were observed exiting a home on Willow Walk. When they were advised to go home due to the ongoing pandemic, Syms allegedly cursed at officers and said, “I do not have to go anywhere.”
Syms then said she had the coronavirus, preceding to cough among five people including police officers.
“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,” said Grewal. “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.”
Also named in the attorney general’s announcement for recent charges dealt was Oscar Diaz, 40, of Elizabeth, Nikolas Whitehill, 39 or Parsippany, Thomas Wilson, 56, of Monroe Township, Ryan Coolahan, 24, of Monmouth Beach, and Dominic Affatoto, 35, of Maple Shade.
“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,” said Callahan, who is also the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Because lives are at stake, enforcement action will be taken without hesitation against those who are blatantly placing the lives of others at risk.”
Currently, violations of the executive order carries up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,000 — with additional second, third and fourth-degree indictable offenses depending on the circumstances.
“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,” state officials said.