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ARSON DESTROYS MANCHESTER RESIDENCE – CAUSES DEATH WHITING WOMAN CHARGED

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced today the results of an investigation by Detectives from the Prosecutor’s Office Arson Task Force and the Manchester Township Police Department into the April 7, 2017 structure fire at 3 Kingfisher Way, Manchester, New Jersey.   That investigation has led to the June 21, 2017, arrest of Dianna Lynn Wills, 66, of Martin Drive in Whiting, NJ.  Wills is charged with 2nd degree Aggravated Arson and 2nd degree Manslaughter for the structure fire. It should be noted the investigation continues and the stated charges may be amended or expanded.  Wills is lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Wills’ arrest stems from Friday, April 7, 2017, when at approximately 9:35 P.M., a structure fire was reported at 3 Kingfisher Way, Manchester Township.  The Manchester Fire and Police Departments responded to the location.  Initial responding officers reported they observed the structure fully involved in fire with flames protruding from the roof.  The homeowner was able to safely exit the structure and summon assistance.  Unfortunately, the homeowner’s five dogs were trapped inside the residence and perished in the fire.  The fire ultimately consumed the majority of the structure, resulting in the Manchester Township Building Inspector deeming the dwelling uninhabitable.  The residence next to the structure fire, 160 Mockingbird Way, sustained heat damage and the homeowner, Steve Kundin, had to be transported from the fire scene to Community Medical Center for smoke inhalation.

An investigation into the origin, cause and circumstances surrounding the fire at 3 Kingfisher Way was completed.  The fire origin was determined to be near the North side of the residence entrance stairs. The cause of the fire was incendiary – an open flame was introduced to available combustibles.  Further investigation revealed Dianna Wills was at the front door of 3 Kingfisher Way prior to the homeowner discovering the fire and subsequently responsible for initiating the blaze.

On May 31, 2017, Steve Kundin died while hospitalized because of the 3 Kingfisher Way fire.  On June 4, 2017, the Designated Medical Examiner from the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office completed a post mortem examination of Mr. Kundin.  The Designated Medical Examiner determined Mr. Kundin’s death resulted from the smoke inhalation he suffered on April 7, 2017 and the death was ruled a homicide.

In addition to the Prosecutor’s Office Arson Task Force and the Manchester Police Department, the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit and the Ocean County Fire Marshall’s Office assisted with the investigation.  The case is being prosecuted by OCPO Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Bridget Coughlin.

The media and public are reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Follow the Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor online at Twitter and Facebook.  The social media links provided are for reference only.  The OCPO does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.  For additional information visit our website at www.oceancountyprosecutor.org.

 

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NEW INDICTMENTS IN BRICK SCHOOLS CASE

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced today the return of an indictment against Walter C. Uzsenski, the former superintendent of Brick public schools; Andrew J. Morgan, the former Interim Director of Special Services for Brick public schools; Jacqueline Halsey, Walter Uszenski’s daughter and the mother of J.H., and Lorraine Morgan, the wife of Andrew J. Morgan, and former Academic Officer for Brick public schools.

Prosecutor Coronato stated, “It is the intention of my office to pursue this case.  This case represents a serious breach of the public trust.  We have carefully reviewed the Court’s decision, which resulted in the dismissal of a prior indictment.  We are mindful of our legal responsibilities and obligations.  The matter has been presented to another grand jury, which after evaluation of the evidence presented, returned this new indictment.”

The indictment charges Walter Uszenski, Andrew Morgan and Jacqueline Halsey with Official Misconduct, a second degree crime, for engaging in a course of conduct that resulted in the creation and implementation of a fraudulent purported Individualized Education Program for Mrs. Halsey’s then pre-school aged child, the provision of illegal and improper in-home counseling services for the child at public expense and transportation expenses beyond that to which the child was entitled.  These defendants are also charged with theft by deception.

Lorraine Morgan is charged with Official Misconduct, a third degree crime, in connection with the approval of payment to a school district employee for providing in-home counseling services to the superintendent’s grandson, in her official capacity as the district’s Academic Officer.

The indictment charges Walter Uszenski with Official Misconduct, a crime of the second degree, for failing, as superintendent, to properly investigate Andrew J. Morgan’s prior employment history before recommending Andrew Morgan to the Brick Board of Education for employment as the Interim Manager of Special Education.

The indictment charges Andrew Morgan with two separate counts of False Swearing: one, for denying he had been previously convicted of an offense involving the possession or sale of a controlled dangerous substance and two, for certifying on his “Brick Township Public Schools Online Application” that he had never been arrested, charged or convicted of a criminal offense; and that he had never failed to be rehired, or never had been asked to resign a position, or had never resigned to avoid termination, or never had been terminated from previous employment.  False swearing is a fourth degree crime.

Walter Uszenski and Andrew Morgan are charged with Theft by Deception, a crime of the third degree, between the dates of June 18, 2013 and December 31, 2013, for creating the false impression that Andrew Morgan had truthfully set forth his employment and criminal histories on his employment application and was qualified to be appointed to the position of Interim Manager and/or Director of Special Services.

Walter Uszenski and Andrew Morgan are charged with Official Misconduct, a crime of the second degree, for falsely stating that Andrew Morgan, who at the time was an employee of the Brick school district, was not the subject of a criminal arrest, charge or conviction, knowing that Andrew Morgan’s employment with the district was subject to termination for such a misrepresentation.

Walter Uszenski is charged with Official Misconduct, a second degree crime, for failing to conduct any investigation into whether Andrew Morgan had misrepresented his prior criminal history and whether Andrew Morgan’s employment with the district was subject to termination before Andrew Morgan resigned his position.

Walter Uszenski is charged with engaging in a pattern of Official Misconduct as superintendent of the Brick public school district.  The allegations are that Walter Uszenski committed the following five (5) acts of Official Misconduct:

  1. Walter Uszenski failed to properly investigate the prior employment history of Andrew Morgan and did represent Andrew Morgan to be qualified for appointment to the position of Interim Manager and then Interim Director of Special Services, resulting in Andrew Morgan’s appointment by the Brick Board of Education to that position;
  2. Walter Uszenski, knowing that Andrew Morgan’s employment with the Board of Education was subject to termination, did falsely assert that Andrew Morgan was not the subject of a criminal arrest, charge or conviction;
  3. Walter Uszenski did illegally and fraudulently effectuate and approve a purported Individualized Education Program for his grandson which allowed his grandson to attend a private day care facility at public expense and to receive transportation benefits greater than those to which the child was entitled;
  4. Walter Uszenski, knowingly failed to initiate the necessary and appropriate investigation into whether Andrew Morgan had misrepresented his prior criminal and employment history, and whether Andrew Morgan was subject to termination, but rather did knowingly allow Andrew Morgan to resign his position without initiating or conducting any investigation;
  5. Walter Uszenski, did participate in a fraudulent scheme to provide his grandson with in-home counseling services at Brick school district expense.

Andrew Morgan is also charged with engaging in a Pattern of Official Misconduct.  The indictment alleges that Andrew Morgan engaged in the following acts of Official Misconduct:

  1. Andrew Morgan did illegally and fraudulently orchestrate, engineer, and effectuate a purported Individualized Education Program for Walter Uszenski’s grandson, which improperly and unlawfully allowed the child to attend a private day care at public expense from July of 2013 through June of 2014 and to receive transportation expenses greater than those to which the child was entitled;
  2. Andrew Morgan, knowing that his employment with the Board of Education was subject to termination, did falsely assert that he was not the subject of a criminal arrest, charge and/or conviction;
  3. Andrew Morgan, knowingly did effectuate and participate in a fraudulent scheme to provide Walter Uszenski’s grandson with in-home counseling services at the expense of the Brick school district.

The media and the public are reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations. Each person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until such person’s guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt in court.

Follow the Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor online at Twitter and Facebook.  The social media links provided are for reference only.  The OCPO does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.  For additional information, visit our website at www.oceancountyprosecutor.org.

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OCPO’S Best and Bravest Recognized

Prosecutor Coronato held an Awards Ceremony this past Monday at the Ocean Country Freeholders’ Board Room to recognize OCPO members, outside agency partners and community members who demonstrated outstanding bravery, work excellence and in 119,

Award recipients are listed below. Sadly those assigned to the Special Operations Group and others assigned to narcotic enforcement operations cannot be named here for fear of jeopardizing their undercover status.

OCPO Detective of the Year: Det. Stephanie Bayha

OCPO Assistant Prosecutor of the Year: Senior A.P. Mike Weatherstone

OCPO Support Staff of the Year: Carol Froberg and Marilee Janeczek

OCPO Unit Commendations:
Major Crimes/Homicide Squad
Domestic Violence Unit
Victim Witness
Megans Law Unit
Special Operations Group

Valor Award:
Ocean County civilian Mr. William Copes for burning car rescue
OCPO Det. Brad Frank
Berkeley PD Det. Jason Mroczka

Citation for Meritorious Service:
OCPO Det. Lindsay Llauget
OCPO Det. Ray Gardner
OCPO Det. John Carroll

Law Enforcement Service Award:
Detective John Scheigart, Stafford PD
Detective Greg Martinez, Barnegat PD
Detective Richard Nowak, Barnegat PD
Sergeant Lawrence Petrola, Brick PD
Detective Benny Alvarado, Brick PD
Wall Township Police Department

Appreciation/Recognition Award:

01-01-16 – Dawn Blake
01-01-16 – Louise Feeney
02-01-16 – Shanna Beal
02-01-16 – Rich Fiocco
09-01-16 – Joe Mackolin
09-30-16 – Nadine Bauman
09-30-16 – Sheryl Saldida
12-01-16 – Dan Roske

Civilian Service Award:
Ocean County Human Relations Commission
Mr. Al Pickler for assistance in identifying hit & run suspect/vehicle.

Certificate of Commendation in Travers criminal case:
Senior AP Michale Abatemarco
AP Robert Cassidy
Victim Witness Coordinator Carol Froberg
Det. Taryn Schwartz

As Individuals:
OCPO System Analyst Mandy Goodman
AP Renee White
Sgt. James Hill
Agent Gerard Eick

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LATEST DRUG INVESTIGATION NETS ARREST OF LOCAL METH DEALER

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced today the culmination of an investigation by Detectives from the Prosecutor’s Special Operations Group, Southern Enforcement Unit along with members of the Lacey Township Police Narcotics Unit and the Manchester Township Police Narcotics Unit resulting in the arrest of a Manchester man on drug related charges.

The above investigation centered on a Manchester man who was allegedly distributing quantities of Methamphetamine in the southern Ocean County area. The investigation identified David Dixon, age 58, of Circle Drive in Manchester Township as allegedly utilizing a 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe to store and distribute quantities of methamphetamine.

On June 16, 2017, detectives located the 2007 Blue Hyundai in the area of a strip mall located at 1015 Lacey Road, Forked River. Investigating detectives with the help of the Lacey Township Police Patrol Division conducted a motor vehicle stop on the subject vehicle. Mr. Dixon occupied the vehicle at the time of the motor vehicle stop. The investigating detectives conducted a search of the vehicle. As a result, approximately 75 grams of methamphetamine was located and seized. The 2007 Hyundai Santa Fe was also seized pending forfeiture proceedings.

David Dixon was charged with Possession of CDS (Methamphetamine) and Possession of CDS (Methamphetamine) over one half ounce with Intent to Distribute.  He was remanded to the Ocean County Jail pending a future court date.

The media and public are reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations and that this defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

David Dixon

Follow the Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor online at Twitter and Facebook.  The social media links provided are for reference only.  The OCPO does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.  For additional information, visit our website at www.oceancountyprosecutor.org.

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TD Bank Robbery

On June 19, 2017 at approximately 11:28 AM Brick Police responded to the TD Bank at 2292 Hooper Avenue, Brick, NJ for a Robbery.  The Arrestee, Zachary Canace, 42 years old, white male from Brick, approached the teller’s counter and stated “I need 5000 G’s strapped to go. Do not hit the alarm button and nobody gets hurt, just give me my $5000.00 now”.

The teller gave Canace some money from her drawer and he left the bank. Canace was recognized by another teller as a person she was familiar with.   The teller was able to provide a description to Officer Robert Heschle, who was familiar with Canace and knew he lived in the area of Tunesbrook Road, Brick, NJ. This information was provided to responding units and the subject was located at a residence on Drake Road.  A perimeter was set up around the residence by responding units. Canace soon exited the residence and was placed into custody without incident.  All of the proceeds from the Robbery were recovered.

Zachary Canace was charged with Robbery and Theft.  He was transported and lodged in the Ocean County Jail.

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JURY FINDS DEFENDANT GUILTY OF HEROIN POSSESSION & DISTRIBUTION CHARGES

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced an Ocean County jury yesterday (6/14) found Damian Arena, 38, of Toms River, guilty of possession and distribution of both heroin and cocaine.  Assistant Prosecutor Jamie L. Schron tried the case before Judge James M. Blaney.  The defendant was represented by Joseph Dochney.

The case stemmed from a May 13, 2014 operation where detectives from the Prosecutor’s Special Operations Group, Northern Enforcement Unit conducted an investigation that resulted in the arrest of two Ocean County residents on various drug charges. During the course of the investigation, Detectives from the Prosecutor’s Northern Enforcement Unit learned that the occupants of room 18 of the Sun and Sand Motel located on Route 37 in Toms River were allegedly distributing quantities of both heroin and cocaine from their room.  Based on an investigation conducted by members of the Prosecutor’s Northern Enforcement Unit, Detectives also identified a 2011 Buick Regal as being utilized to store and distribute narcotics.  At approximately 12:15 pm on May 13, 2014, Prosecutor’s Detectives located the 2011 Buick Regal as it left the area of the Sun and Sand Motel and traveled to the Shell Gas Station located on Route 37 and Fisher Boulevard in Toms River.  Prosecutor’s Detectives along with members of the Toms River Police Department executed a motor vehicle stop on the Buick Regal.  At the time of the stop, the vehicle was occupied by Damian Arena of Toms River and Jodi McConnon of Seaside Heights.

On that May 13 date, detectives also executed court-authorized search warrants at the home of Damian Arena at 119 Poe Avenue, Toms River NJ, as well as, on the 2011 Buick Regal and room 18 at the Sun and Motel.  The execution of the search warrants resulted in the seizure of quantities of heroin (approximately 170 individual dosage units) and cocaine under one half ounce. Police also located drug paraphernalia, specifically several glass crack (cocaine) smoking pipes. Both subjects were arrested and transported to the Toms River Police Department.  The 2011 Buick Regal was also seized pending forfeiture proceedings.

As a result of the operation Damian Arena, 35 at the time, of 119 Poe Avenue, Toms River NJ was charged with Possession of Heroin, Possession of Heroin with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Cocaine with Intent to Distribute and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.  Arena has remained incarcerated since the time of his arrest in the Ocean County Jail.

Assisting in the Arena investigation were members of the Ocean County Sheriffs Department K-9 Unit, the Toms River Police Department Operations Bureau and the Toms River Police K-9 Unit.

Follow the Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor online at Twitter and Facebook.  The social media links provided are for reference only.  The OCPO does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.  For additional information visit our website at www.oceancountyprosecutor.org.

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Findings of October 16, 2016 Non-Fatal Toms River Police Officer Involved Shooting Investigation

In compliance with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Directive 2006-5 (July 28, 2015) on the uniform statewide procedures and best practices for conducting police officer use-of-force investigations, this public statement is being issued regarding the October 16, 2016, Toms River Township Police Officer involved shooting of Russell Bauer.

The Office of the Attorney General agrees with the findings of Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato that the undisputed facts of this case establish that the use of deadly force by the police officer was legally justified. The Attorney General also agrees that there are no material facts in dispute with regard to the officers’ use of force. As a result, presentation to the Grand Jury is not warranted.

The facts regarding the use of force are as follows: On October 16, 2016, at 6:42 P.M., the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department 911 Communications center received a phone call from a man identified as “Russ”.   Sunset on that day was at 6:15 P.M. “Russ” reported that a man dressed in a black tee- shirt, hat, blue jeans and boots was walking in the area of Christian Court with a gun. Three Toms River police officers responded in their marked police vehicles. The officers were wearing police uniforms with a badge visible on their chest and each were carrying department issued firearms. The officers had been qualified with those firearms.

The officers encountered a man meeting the physical description provided by the 911 caller on Sand Creek Lane near the intersection of Christian Court. The man had his right hand behind his back and was standing in an assertive stance. The Officers commanded him to show his hands and he refused. One of the officers was heard yelling, “Let me see your hands,” on the MVR recording retrieved from the police cruiser.  The man quickly swung his right hand from behind his back and pointed a black object in the direction of the officers. Believing it was a gun, two officers discharged their weapons and hit the man twice.

The man, now identified as Russell Bauer, was transported by ambulance to Jersey Shore Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. During transport, Bauer informed medics and two other Toms River officers that he walked to the area from his motel and called 911 with the plan of him being shot and killed by a police officer.

OCPO Detectives interviewed Bauer at Jersey Shore Medical Center after he was treated and in stable condition. Bauer reported that he left his residence in Levittown, Pennsylvania, about two and a half weeks before the incident, met a woman that he had been communicating with online, and then moved in with her at a Seaside Heights motel. The relationship did not work out, so he left the motel, became homeless for a time and then wound up at the Red Carpet Inn in Toms River.

Bauer explained the he wanted to die and he came up with two ways to do it. The first option was through an intentional overdose of heroin. However, he did not have any money to buy the heroin. The second option was “suicide by cop” and he decided to “end it” that way.       Bauer walked approximately 6.2 miles from the Red Carpet Inn to the intersection of Sand Creek Lane and Christian Court because that is where his ex-girlfriend lived.

Bauer stated that he called the police when he got there. He told the 911 operator that there was a man on Christian Court with a gun and provided his own description. He did not have a gun, but rather a black television remote that he took from the Red Carpet Inn, a fact later corroborated by the OCPO detectives.

At that point in the evening, it was dark out and Bauer saw the police approach.  He indicated that he put his right hand behind back, as if he was going to draw a weapon, and then started backing up. When the police officers exited their vehicles, they drew their weapons, and told Bauer to show them his hands. Bauer claimed to be at peace with the situation and was smoking a cigarette. Bauer then took a few steps toward the officers, drew his right arm quickly from behind his back, and pointed the black television remote at the officers.  The officers then shot him.

On November 22, 2016, Bauer was charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:33-3A(2) for creating a false public alarm and was lodged in the Ocean County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail. On March 27, 2017, Bauer pled guilty to an Accusation alleging False Public Alarm in the Third Degree. The State recommended a mental health evaluation and 180 days in the Ocean County Jail as a condition of probation.  On June 9, 2017, Bauer was sentenced to two years of probation with mental health counseling and given credit for 200 days of time served in the Ocean County Jail.

The Office of the Attorney General and Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato are satisfied that the undisputed facts establish that the Toms River Township police officers used the appropriate force necessary to protect their lives and that they were legally justified in doing so. This investigation was conducted consistent with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Directive 2006-5 (July 28, 2015) regarding the uniform statewide procedures and best practices for conducting police officer use-of-force investigations.

Follow the Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor online at Twitter and Facebook.  The social media links provided are for reference only.  The OCPO does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.  For additional information visit our website at www.oceancountyprosecutor.org.

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G.R.E.A.T. YEAR FOR OCEAN COUNTY SCHOOLS

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato today announced the final G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) graduation within Ocean County Schools for the 2016/2017 school year.  The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Lakewood PD, and Lakewood Middle School staff close out this school year yesterday (6/13) by certifying 500 Lakewood Middle School children in the G.R.E.A.T. Program.

To date the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office in cooperation with the Ocean County Sheriff’s Dept., Toms River Police Department, South Toms River Police Department and Lakewood Police Department have trained over 2,500 fifth and sixth grade students in the Ocean County area in the G.R.E.A.T. program.  This training was conducted throughout the year in the following schools; Cedar Grove Elementary , Walnut Street Elementary , East Dover Elementary , Washington Street Elementary, West Dover Elementary, Hooper Avenue Elementary, Citta Elementary, North Dover Elementary, Silver Bay Elementary, South Toms River Elementary, Lakewood Middle School, Toms River Intermediate East and Toms River Intermediate North.

The program focuses on teaching children life skills that include decision-making, communication skills, anger management, anti-bullying and respect. The program is taught by Officer’s trained and certified by OCPO, allowing local Law Enforcement to work collaboratively with the School District and the community.  To date the program has imparted life skills/lessons to over 1400 students throughout Ocean County who have completed the school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curriculum.

The Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Program is an evidence-based, national and international gang and violence prevention program that has been building trust between law enforcement and communities for almost 30 years.  G.R.E.A.T. is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership.  It is designed for children in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior.  The program is built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula.

OCPO brought the program to Ocean County Schools in 2011 and have been continuously working cooperatively with other Ocean County law enforcement agencies to expand the program locally in an effort to reach as many children as possible.  Those wishing more Information about the G.R.E.A.T. program can go to: www.great-online.org.

Prosecutor Coronato commends all the dedicated G.R.E.A.T. Instructors: Toms River PD Ptl. Pam Slaven and Ptl. Ron Bayer, Lakewood PD Ptl.Steve Nickens, South Toms River Ptl. Michael Schneidt and Ptl. Anthony Giacinti, Ocean Country Sheriff’s Officer Joseph Kirby and SO Bill Zylkowski, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Det.I Taryn Scwartz, Det. Thomas Scalzullo and Sgt. Renee Nauyoks.

The G.R.E.A.T. staff thanks the Ocean County School Administrators and Teachers for allowing them the opportunity to work with their students and for helping to make this program a continued success.  They wish all a safe summer filled with positive life memories and growth.

G.R.E.A.T. partners at yesterday’s graduation from left to right are: Assistant principal Dr. Scott Horowitz (Lakewood Middle School), Ptl. Steve Nickens (Lakewood PD) , Det. Tom Scalzullo (OCPO), Det.I Taryn Scwartz (OCPO) and Principal Richard Goldstein (Lakewood Middle School).

Follow the Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor online at Twitter and Facebook.  The social media links provided are for reference only.  The OCPO does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.  For additional information visit our website at www.oceancountyprosecutor.org.

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Guilty Verdict of First Degree Attempted Murder for Christopher Dalzell

On June 1, 2017 an Ocean County Jury found Christopher Dalzell guilty of First Degree Attempted Murder, Third Degree Possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and Fourth Degree Unlawful possession of a weapon.  The offenses occurred on March 29, 2015 at Dalzell’s then residence in Brick Township.

The victim was a female 50 years of age.  The case was tried before the Honorable Patricia B. Roe by Ocean County Assistant Prosecutor Robert J. Cassidy.  Christopher Dalzell was represented by Richard Archer, Esquire.  Dalzell is scheduled for sentencing on July 14, 2017.  He faces a maximum 20 year sentence on the Attempted Murder charge where he will be required to serve a minimum 85% of his sentence pursuant to the No Early Release Act before being eligible for parole.  The case was investigated by the Brick Township Police Department and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Major Crimes Unit.

Follow the Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor online at Twitter and Facebook.  The social media links provided are for reference only.  The OCPO does not endorse any non-governmental websites, companies or applications.  For additional information visit our website at www.oceancountyprosecutor.org.

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JUVENILE CORRECTIONS OFFICER ARRESTED FOR DISTRIBUTION OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

TRENTON, N.J. – An Ocean County, New Jersey, man was arrested and charged today for allegedly distributing images and videos of child sexual abuse, Acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick announced.

Michael A. Ruggiero, 35, of Forked River, New Jersey, a corrections officer at a juvenile detention facility, was arrested at work this morning by agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), on a complaint charging him with one count of distribution of child pornography. Ruggiero is expected to appear later today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From April 16, 2016, to April 19, 2016, Ruggiero used a mobile chat application to distribute and share over the internet images and videos of children engaged in sexual acts. Anyone with information regarding possible victims of this activity is urged to contact HSI in Newark: (973)-776-5500.

The charge of distributing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents HSI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael; inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Postal Inspector in Charge Daniel Brubaker, Philadelphia Division; and members of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, with the investigation leading to today’s charge.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Veronica Allende of the U.S. Attorney’s Criminal Division.  The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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