TRENTON, NJ – Police statewide are continuing to issue summonses and make arrests in the ongoing crackdown against violations of executive orders issued by Gov. Phil Murphy to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police yesterday announced the following enforcement actions:
Newark Enforcement. The Newark Police Department’s COVID-19 task force issued 86 summonses for violations of the emergency orders and ordered five non-essential businesses closed in enforcement actions April 14.
Paterson Enforcement. The Paterson Police Department charged 36 people with municipal ordinance violations for violating the COVID-19 related orders in enforcement actions on April 13.
Seaside Heights Enforcement. The Seaside Heights Police Department issued seven summonses for violations of the emergency orders from April 12 through 14.
Darrell Rude, 33, of Blossvale, N.Y., was charged with robbery (2nd degree), burglary, (2nd degree), shoplifting (4th degree), criminal mischief (4th degree), throwing bodily fluids at an officer (4th degree), refusal to provide a biological sample (4th degree), refusal to be fingerprinted (disorderly persons offense), and violating the emergency orders. The Hoboken Police responded April 15 to a report of a burglary in progress at Daniel’s Liquor, where a man shattered a glass window to gain entry. Police located Rude nearby with liquor bottles and cigarette cartons sticking out of his backpack. While being processed, Rude allegedly purposely coughed at officers and said he had COVID-19. He allegedly was uncooperative and kept biting and ripping off face masks and spit shields placed on his face.
Christopher Ospina, 20, of Haledon, was charged April 14, by the New Jersey State Police with eluding (2nd degree), obstruction (4th degree), disorderly conduct (creating a hazardous condition during a state of emergency) and violating the emergency orders. A state trooper in a marked car was traveling on I-80 West in the Lodi area when he observed a BMW with tinted windows traveling at speeds in excess of 130 mph. The BMW exited I-80, and Ospina was seen by troopers standing alongside his vehicle at a gas station in Lodi. Once Ospina saw the troopers, he jumped back in the BMW and recklessly drove back on I-80 until troopers lost sight of the vehicle. When Ospina turned himself in at Totowa State Police Station, he told troopers he possibly had COVID-19 symptoms before being taken to the Bergen County Jail.
Frank Castillo, 20, of Browns Mills, was charged on April 9 by the Pemberton Township Police with violating the emergency orders after he was stopped for a traffic violation. Police had stopped Castillo twice before and had issued warnings when they learned he was picking up various people in the Pemberton area and driving them around for non-essential trips.
Davide Camilo-Chiolo, 21, and Luis Diaz-Dejsus, 21, both of Perth Amboy, were charged April 14, with violating the emergency orders for participating in a parade and vehicle caravan through the business district of Perth Amboy. The two defendants were in a group of pedestrians who were wearing masks, but who failed to maintain social distancing and who were obstructing traffic. The defendants were charged after they failed to heed warnings to disperse. There were 17 vehicles in the caravan, and the drivers were issued traffic tickets.
Eric Brown, 27, of Salem, was charged April 14, by the New Jersey State Police with hindering apprehension or prosecution and violating the emergency orders, both disorderly persons offenses, after he was involved in a motor vehicle accident that led to a car fire. He allegedly called 911 and falsely claimed to be a witness, rather than the driver of the vehicle.
Ahmad R. Harrison, 19, of New Brunswick, was charged April 14, by the New Brunswick Police Department with violating the emergency orders. The suspect had been given multiple warnings about being out in public without an essential purpose.
Patrick McFadden, 44, of Budd Lake, was charged April 14, by the Mount Olive Police Department with violating a restraining order (4th degree), trespassing (4th degree), and violation of the emergency orders. Shortly after he was served with a restraining order and removed from the victim’s property, he took a car service back to the address and entered her home, in violation of the restraining order. He said he was there to retrieve belongings.
Guillermo Bonifacio, 18, Gabriel Lopez, 19, and Jovanny Santos, 19, all of Passaic, were charged with violating the emergency orders after the Passaic Police found them walking along Broadway shortly after 3 a.m. without a legitimate purpose.
Alshaquan Griffin, 23, Jose Haddock, 18, and a 17-year-old male, all of Elizabeth, were charged April 14, with violating the emergency orders after the Elizabeth Police responded to a report of a disorderly group on Bond Street, and found the defendants together, failing to observe social distancing. The defendants had been warned before about their conduct.
Arnell Green, 19, of Newark, was charged April 15 by the Hillside Police with violating the emergency orders. Police responded at about 4 a.m. to a report of suspicious persons near Bloy and Leo streets. Three individuals ran away when police arrived. Green was found hiding in some bushes. He had been warned before about being out in violation of the emergency orders.
“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.”
“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. “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. Police have charged a number of persons with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency for claiming to have COVID-19 and threatening to infect law enforcement officers or others by coughing, spitting, or otherwise exposing them. That charge carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
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.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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
The Attorney General’s Office and New Jersey State Police will continue to work with law enforcement throughout New Jersey to deter non-complaint behavior.