TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, today urged all New Jersey residents to do their part to beat the COVID-19 pandemic by staying home and maintaining social distance during this holiday weekend, as law enforcement continues to strictly enforce Governor Murphy’s emergency orders.
“It is hard this holiday weekend to miss loved ones and forego traditional family get-togethers, but it is absolutely critical that we all stay home and maintain social distance,” said Attorney General Grewal. “There are indications that these measures are indeed flattening the curve of this pandemic in the U.S., but if we let our guard down now by traveling for holiday gatherings, more lives will be put at risk. The vast majority of New Jerseyans are doing the right thing by following the emergency orders. As for the few violators, we will continue to hold them accountable with strong enforcement efforts this weekend. I urge you to support our courageous officers, who are on the frontlines of this battle, by not creating more work and risks for them during the holidays.”
“This holiday weekend is traditionally a time for many New Jersey residents to come together for religious services and family gatherings, but we are not currently living a traditional lifestyle,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “It is imperative that we continue to work together to practice social distancing and travel only when necessary. These preventative measures are proving to be effective, but we must stay the course to ensure the safety of everyone as we continue to move in the right direction towards flattening the curve.”
Attorney General Grewal and Colonel Callahan announced the following recent enforcement actions against violators of Governor Murphy’s Emergency Orders related to COVID-19:
- Newark Enforcement. The Newark Police Department’s COVID-19 task force issued 25 summonses for violations of the emergency orders and ordered two non-essential businesses closed in enforcement actions yesterday, April 10.
- William Wolverton, 50, of Egg Harbor Township, was charged yesterday, April 10, with second-degree terroristic threats during an emergency in connection with his arrest on April 1. While being processed on weapons and drug charges, Wolverton was told he was being charged on a warrant and would be lodged in the county jail. Wolverton allegedly said he was COVID-19 positive and was going to infect everyone in the station. He refused to submit to fingerprints, spat on the floor and toward an officer, and refused to comply with booking procedures.
- Miles Costabile, 21, of Hamilton (Mercer County), was charged early today by the Robbinsville Police Department with second-degree terroristic threats and DWI. Costabile was taken into custody for DWI after he crashed into a fence. While being processed at police headquarters, he allegedly coughed at officers and stated that he had COVID-19.
- John R. Mason, 34, , and Shaheeda Hobdy, 32, of Glassboro, were charged by the Glassboro Police on April 7 with endangering (third degree) and disorderly conduct. Police responded to a report of a large party at the defendants’ apartment and learned that they were holding a birthday party for a child with 15 to 20 people present, including several small children.
- Karin E. Fialka, 47 of Whitehouse Station, was charged yesterday, April 10, with violating the executive orders for opening her business, Up In Smoke Vape Shop on U.S. Route 202 in Raritan Township, after she was previously warned that she needed to close the shop.
- Kenneth D. Robles, 40 of Cherry Hill, was charged by the Pennsauken Police on April 9 with violating the executive orders for opening his business, Top Notch Barber Shop in Pennsauken. He was cutting a client’s hair with the windows covered and a roll-down gate over the door.
- Aziah Hansford, of Passaic, was charged by the Passaic Police on April 9 with disorderly conduct. He was involved in a fight on Market Street. When police arrived, he allegedly told an officer he had the coronavirus and hoped that the officer would get it from their interaction.
- Alex Nugent, 19, of Randolph, and Christopher Aro, 19, of Stanhope, were charged with violating the executive orders and possession of marijuana, both disorderly persons offenses, after their vehicle was stopped by police in Stanhope on April 8 for a motor vehicle violation.
- Elizabeth Enforcement. The Elizabeth Police Department’s issued five summonses for violations of the emergency orders in enforcement actions on Thursday, April 9.
- Mahmud Ibn-Dawud, 63, of Elizabeth, was charged yesterday, April 10, by the Elizabeth Police Department with violating the emergency orders for refusing to leave a city park.
- Pearl Moore, 54, of Elizabeth, was charged yesterday, April 10, by the Elizabeth Police Department with violating the emergency orders for loitering outside without a legitimate purpose after being warned.
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.
On April 1, Attorney General Grewal announced enhanced charges against six individuals who were charged with assaulting law enforcement officers and violating the emergency orders. Specifically, those enhanced charges included making terroristic threats during a state of emergency, which is a second degree offense and carries a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Defendants Wolverton and Costabile are similarly charged for their conduct against law enforcement officers.
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.
No one should take advantage of this pandemic to further their own biased agendas. COVID-19 is no excuse to promote anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and or other biased stereotypes. Please report bias crimes at 1-800-277-BIAS.
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