PARSIPPANY-TROY HILLS, NJ – A Parsippany woman ignored police warnings and continued to accept customers to her dog grooming business, a violation of Gov. Phil Murphy’s emergency orders relating to COVID-19, said authorities.
The woman, Rita Lacis, 61, was charged with violating the emergency order on Saturday, said state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and state Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan.
They said Lacis was charged by police in Rockaway Borough, where she operates her business. According to her website, Lacis opened the business – Poodle Showcase – in the borough in 2012, having moved there from Denville. The site says Lacis has been in business for more than 25 years.
Grewel and Callahan said police first gave Lacis a warning after learning she was continuing to operate despite the fact that dog grooming it is not among the businesses allowed to be open during the COVID-19 restriction period.
“At that time, she claimed that she misunderstood the order requiring closure of all non-essential businesses,” said Grewal and Callahan.
Despite receiving the warning, Lacis continued to take in dogs, they said. “She was charged when officer saw two customers drop off a dog a short time later,” said Grewal and Callahan in their statement.
The Lacis case was one of seven cited by Grewal and Callahan in a statement designed to demonstrate that law enforcement officials are not tolerating people and companies that are ignoring Murphy’s coronavirus dictates.
“The Governor’s executive orders are commonsense measures to keep people safe during this historic health crisis,” said Grewal.
“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. “I have said that law enforcement will act swiftly against those who blatantly place the lives of others at risk.”
Violations of the emergency orders constitute a disorderly person 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, said Grewal and Callahan.