PISCATAWAY, NJ – Five Rutgers University football players, including a township high school star alumnus, are among a total of 10 people arrested Thursday on a variety of charges relating to assaults, home invasions, cash and drugs, according to officials.
In a press release Thursday afternoon, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office said that four university students and two former students were charged with allegedly assaulting a group of individuals, breaking one student’s jaw.
One of the former students charged in that incident is also believed to be involved, with four other people, in the “home invasions” of other campus students, designed to steal drugs and cash, according to the release.
Thursday’s arrests of nine of the 10 suspects in all of the incidents followed “an intensive investigation” by both the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and New Brunswick Police.
According to the release, the investigations began during the spring when police were called to a report of a home invasion at 11:29 p.m. on Prosper Street in the city.
Three masked men allegedly forced their way into the home and stole an undisclosed amount of cash and marijuana from five students at gunpoint, according to the release.
An investigation of that incident led police to charge former Rutgers student and football player Teejay Johnson, 23, of Egg Harbor with robbery, criminal restraint, theft and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.
Police were then able to link Johnson to another home invasion on Hartwell Street in New Brunswick on April 27.
According to police, Johnson and Andre Boggs, 20, of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, forced their way into the home armed with a baseball bat and knife, stealing about $900 and an undisclosed amount of marijuana.
They were both charged in that case with robbery, burglary while armed and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Another student, Dylan Mastriana, 19, of Rio Grande, also was charged with those counts after the investigation determined that he helped plan the robbery, according to the release.
The group attempted a third home invasion at a dormitory complex at Livingston College on May 5.
Police said Johnson and Boggs entered the dorm, but fled empty handed after the students targeted in the attempt resisted by closing the door and locking the alleged assailants out.
Johnson, Boggs, Mastriana Chen, 19, of New Brunswick, and Kaylanna Ricks, 20, of Perth Amboy were each charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, and attempted burglary in that case, according to police.
Johnson was also charged in connection with an assault on a group of four others on Delafield Street in New Brunswick on April 25.
The six allegedly attacked the other group, breaking the jaw of a 19-year-old Rutgers student, according to police.
Johnson, Ruhann Peele, 22, and Nadir Barnwell, 20, both of Piscataway; Rahzonn Gross, 20, of Franklin Park, and Delon Stephenson, 22, and his brother, Daryl Stephenson, 23, both of Sayreville, were each charged with aggravated assault, riot and conspiracy to commit a riot.
Bail has been set at $625,000 for Johnson; $500,000 each for Boggs and Mastriana; $100,000 for Chen and Ricks; $75,000 for Delon Stephenson, and $25,000 each for Daryl Stephenson, Peele, Barnwell, and Gross.
Daryl Stephenson, also a former student at Rutgers, remains at large, police said.
Five of the six are current players on the Scarlet Knights Football Team, and were scheduled to play in Saturday’s home opener against Norfolk State.
University Athletic Director Julie Herman put out a statement Thursday afternoon briefly saying that the players have been “suspended from the program.”
“We continue to monitor the situation,” her statement said. “We will have no further comment as this is a pending legal matter.''
The arrests came shortly after Scarlet Knights Head Coach Kyle Flood spoke to reporters at a press conference and said that the team was doing well, already working through a potential “distraction” caused when Flood allegedly contacted one of Barnwell’s professors by email to see if the junior cornerback was going to be eligible academically to play.
NCAA officials gave the university jurisdiction over the incident.
According to Flood, his “part of the process” has been concluded, and he would not speak about any timelines for a decision.
It is not clear what, if any, penalties would be imposed on the coach. Contacting professors directly to intercede for a player is not allowed.
In an earlier press conference, Flood said the communication was nothing out of the ordinary, and designed to see if there was any further work required of the player to improve his grade.
Flood said many students, not just athletes, are assigned “T” or temporary grades at the end of a semester that could be improved upon with other work.
In regard to whether or not he would be leading the team down the tunnel in Saturday’s game, Flood said he believed he would be.
“I have no reason to believe I wouldn't be the person leading the football team on Saturday,” Flood said. “Until there is a resolution, I really need to be respectful of the process and I won’t have any further comment on that.”
Flood said that he had not been given an eligibility report on Barnwell, and did not expect to see one until Friday, but that was shortly before word of the arrests and suspensions were made public.
Coach Flood’s office had no further comment on the situation after the arrests and suspensions were announced Thursday afternoon.