NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A custodian has been charged with a petty disorderly persons offense for smoking inside the James Monroe Elementary School. The Edison school subsequently was destroyed by fire over the weekend.

Middlesex County Acting Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Chief Thomas J. Bryan of the Edison Police Department announced that Jerome C. Higgins, 48, of East Brunswick, was issued the summons for smoking in the public place in violation of a statute that prohibits smoking and/or carrying lighted tobacco materials.

The charge was filed after Det. Ted Hamer of the Edison Police Department and Investigator Todd O’Malley of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined that Higgins, a custodian at the elementary school, smoked a cigarette inside the building and tossed an unfinished portion of the cigarette into a trash can.

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The contents of the trash can, located in a custodian’s office, caught fire and the blaze spread through the building at approximately 7:45 p.m. on Saturday.

Acting Prosecutor Carey thanked the Edison Police Department, the Edison Fire Department, Chief Tim Morley of the Edison Fire Department, Middlesex County Fire Marshal Mike Gallagher, the New Jersey State Police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their assistance in the investigation.

The investigation is active and in continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator O’Malley of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3300.