Drive-by shooting in Long Branch

Long Branch – On Monday afternoon the area between Seventh Avenue and Ludlow Street was closed with police crime scene tape stretched across the road. Police cars with their emergency lights on filled the street and residents were peeking out their windows and doors.

Police started receiving phone calls of gunshots around 3:00 in the afternoon on January 16. Long Branch Police quickly responded and secured the area. It appears that a drive-by shooting occurred and several bullet casings were found on the roadway but as of this time no reported injuries.

Police have not released any details on the vehicle or accused individuals involved in the shooting. Besides witnesses there are several surveillance cameras in the area that might have recorded parts of the shooting.

Friday night in West Long Branch a shooting occurred at the La Quinta hotel on Highway 36 in West Long Branch, not much information is available on this incident. Police are looking into the two shootings to see if they are connected.

This is a developing story and we will update as we get information.

Trust donates to Rutgers Cancer Institute

Long Branch — Alexis Tucci, Esq. and Suzana Hot, Esq., Co-Trustees of the Jattrude Fogarty Trust, recently presented a $50,000 check to benefit research at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

Alexis Tucci, Esq. (far right) and Suzana Hot, Esq., (left) Co-Trustees of the Jattrude Fogarty Trust, present a $50,000 check to Shridar Ganesan, Associate Director of Translational Research, Chief of Molecular Oncology and Omar Boraie Chair in Genomic Science, and Sharon Cocuzza, Director of Development, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

Shridar Ganesan, Associate Director of Translational Research, Chief of Molecular Oncology and Omar Boraie Chair in Genomic Science, and Sharon Cocuzza, Director of Development, accepted the donation.

“The Trust has contributed approximately $750,000 to Rutgers Cancer Institute for Breast Cancer Research since 1997,” Tucci said upon presenting the check. “That’s a good amount, we are proud of it.”

Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey ( is the state’s first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. As part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Rutgers Cancer Institute is dedicated to improving the detection, treatment and care of patients with cancer, and to serving as an education resource for cancer prevention both at its flagship New Brunswick location and at its Newark campus at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey at University Hospital.

“Dr. Ganesan and I are so thankful for the Jattrude Fogarty Trust check of $50,000 today. Rutgers Cancer Institute is truly grateful for your support,” Sharon Cocuzza said.

Physician-scientists across Rutgers Cancer Institute also engage in translational research, transforming their laboratory discoveries into clinical practice that supports patients on both campuses. To make a tax-deductible gift to support the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, call 848-932-8013 or visit Follow them on Facebook at




West Long Branch Reorg 2017

By Patty Booth O’Neill
On Sunday, January 1, Reverend Jonathan Campbell from the Old First United Methodist Church led the invocation at the reorganization meeting.

Mayor Janet Tucci led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and then welcomed family and friends of officials there to be honored, which included:

Stephen Bray, Councilman and MaryLynn Mango, Councilwoman, both for three years.

The Fire Department’s Steven Nolin was sworn in as Chief and Tim Phillips as Asst. Chief.

The First Aid Squad welcomed Michael Rescinio as Captain, Karen Broome-Bischoff, 1st Lieutenant and Timothy Knotts as 2nd Lieutenant.

Mayor Tucci spoke about John Aria and Jose Villa and and their accomplishments during their time as a councilmen. She welcomed new council members MaryLynn Mango and Stephen Bray and had only good things to say about what they bring to the council.

Mango was a former member of the Shore Regional Board of Education and the West Long Branch Educational Foundation for local schools. “She has surely demonstrated her dedication and commitment to our town,” Mayor Tucci said.

She then spoke about the assets  of Stephen Bray. “Stephen’s acumen as CFO of his own engineering firm will be an excellent resource for our town as he takes over the leadership of the finance committee,” Tucci said.

She added how the residents of West Long Branch will benefit from both of the new council members’ expertise, knowledge and dedication.

Tucci went on to thank her colleagues Susan Juliano,  Fred Migliaccio, Chris Neyhart and John M. Penta, Jr.  How they volunteer countless hours of time and energy to borough business to ensure the town runs efficiently while continually exercising strong physical management standards.  “You are all indeed invaluable assets as part of our borough government.

You are also continually responsive to the concerns of our residents,” Tucci said.

She spoke about changes in the Police Department, with Paul Habermann becoming the new Police Chief replacing Larry Milon upon his retirement in February. “One outstanding police officer replacing another,” she added.

Tucci said that West Long Branch has an outstanding police department, and that was one of the reasons they received permission from the county to paint a blue line down Locust Avenue,  from Broadway to Cedar Avenue, to honor and show their police dept and how much they appreciate them. “I’ve received many calls from people who use that road and don’t live in town, saying ‘congratulations, it’s wonderful honor that you gave your police officers.’”

She spoke of numerous events the various council committees provide throughout the year, from concerts in the park during summer to their 87th annual Christmas sing. She also noted that the Shade Tree Commission continues to plant trees around Franklin Lake.

She mentioned how the borough is saving money by joining the Monmouth County Police dispatch system saving over $100,000 ultimately in their budget. They also saved money by entering into a local agreement with Long Branch for providing the services of chief financial officer. She thanked the residents of the town for paying their taxes in a timely manner despite the snafu the town was thrown into by the untimely resignation of the former CFO.

Tucci offered congratulations to all the officials sworn in as well as the numerous members of the various boards of commissions who have agreed to serve the borough and recognized how much time it takes away from their families. She said it was all these officials who make West Long Branch a great place to live and raise a family.

“I promise to continue my pledge as your Mayor to be readily accessible and responsive as an attempt to provide the necessary leadership.

“May each of you have a New Year filled with good health, happiness and peace.

“God Bless all of you, and God Bless America. May he watch over  and protect all of those brave men and women who continue to defend our freedom.”

Life without parole for Long Branch murder sentence

Days after an Ocean County man was convicted last week of a murder and robbery in Long Branch of a Point Pleasant man,  he was sentenced to Life in prison without parole, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
Alan Bienkowski, 58, will spend the remainder of his life in a New Jersey state prison without any possibility for release on parole after Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Ronald Lee Reisner imposed the sentence on Dec. 15. Bienkowski was found guilty the week before on all counts following a six-week trial.

Bienkowski was convicted on Dec. 8, 2016 of first degree counts of Murder, Felony Murder and Armed Robbery; second degree counts of Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Certain Persons Not to Possess a Weapon; and third degree Receiving Stolen Property.

The jury also found three aggravating factors for the charges that carry a mandatory sentence of Life Imprisonment with No Parole.  One of those aggravating factors was based on Bienkowski’s murder conviction obtained by the Ocean County

Prosecutor’s Office earlier this year. He had been convicted of killing next door neighbor.

Prosecutors say the victim, Michael Wells, 56, of Point Pleasant, arrived just before 4 a.m. on April 10, 2013 at his workday at on West Avenue in Long Branch.  As Wells walked to the front door to open the business he was hit in the back of the head by Bienkowski, who robbed him of cash before fleeing the area on foot. Wells chased after Bienkowski and the pair eventually came face-to-face in the backyard of a private residence on Cleveland Avenue.  Bienkowski, armed with a stolen gun, shot and killed Wells in the backyard.  Wells was discovered around 7:50 a.m. by a resident of Cleveland Avenue.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Long Branch Police Department resulted in Bienkowski’s arrest on May 16, 2013 for the robbery and murder of Wells.

A year later, a man who had moved into the defendant’s former Manchester Township residence discovered a gun buried in the yard. Investigators say the gun was determined to be the murder weapon, and it was found to be stolen in 2010.

Richard T. Smith keynote speaker at MLK Memorial Breakfast

Richard T. Smith, President of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP, will be the keynote speaker at the 28th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast hosted by The Community YMCA and YMCA of Western Monmouth County.
The annual YMCA event honoring the life and legacy of the civil rights leader and featuring winners of a high school essay contest, will take place Monday, Jan. 16, 8 to 10 a.m., at Branches Catering, West Long Branch.

Rhonda Anderson, President and CEO of The Community YMCA, said the YMCAs of Monmouth County are proud to host the annual memorial breakfast to help keep Dr. King’s spirit and teachings alive. “It is important for everyone to understand Dr. King’s legacy as a peacemaker and humanitarian. Now more than ever, his message needs to be carried on to the next generation,” Anderson said.

The memorial event will include presentations by the two winners of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest, sponsored by Investors Bank and Monmouth County Chiefs of Police Association.

High school students currently participating in programs at The Community YMCA or the Western Monmouth County YMCA are invited to enter the essay contest. Applications are available at The two winning essayists will each receive a $500 scholarship.

The deadline for applications for the essay contest is Jan. 5. Submissions and questions may be sent via e-mail to

Keynote Speaker Smith was elected to serve as the President of the New Jersey State Conference of the NAACP in 2013 and was overwhelmingly re-elected at the state convention in 2015 for another two-year term. A silver-life member of the NAACP, Smith has served as the 1st Vice President and the 3rd Vice President of the New Jersey state conference and as the Southern Region Coordinator. He also served as the Chairman of the NAACP Convention Planning Committee and seven terms as President of the NAACP Greater Vineland Branch, No. 2115.

He currently serves as one of seven commissioners on the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights and in 2013 was unanimously elected by his fellow commissioners as Commissions chairman. Smith also served on the Vineland Board of Education.
A native of Trenton, Smith attended Trenton State College, now the College of New Jersey, where he majored in Speech Communications and Theatre. He also attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and Atlantic County College. He retired in 2015 from a 25-year career with the New Jersey Department of Corrections and returned to work in January 2016 to accept a position as  Confidential Assistant to the Warden of the Cumberland County Department of Corrections.

He is member of St. Matthews Baptist Church in Williamstown, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., PBA Local 105, Coalition of Black Trade Unionist, Off Broad Street Players and Downtown Company of Performing Artists. He is married to Lucesita Smith and is the proud father of four children.

Anderson noted that the service project for the breakfast will support Project Homeless Connect of Monmouth County, a charity that works to provide various health and human services for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless. Donations of new gloves, mittens, scarves and socks will be collected at the breakfast.

Seating for the breakfast is limited. Tickets are $30 per adult, $10 per youth (12 & under) or $250 per table of 10 and are available online at

Gift card exchange benefits Garden State Equality

Asbury Park — In January, 2017 the Hotel Tides will host a gift card exchange on behalf of Garden State Equality (GSE). Throughout the month, the Tides will be accepting gift cards as gift certificates.

These cards will be donated to GSE so that they can purchase needed supplies, equipment and other pertinent materials to help their organization continue to operate.

The GSE recently made Asbury Park its home with a location on Main Street.
Founded in 2004, Garden State Equality is New Jersey’s leading civil rights organization ensuring quality of life for the LGBT community through education, advocacy, service and support.

Throughout January, 2017 patrons who bring in a gift card valued between $15 and $50 will receive $15 off their entire check. Anything higher than $50 value will get $25 off their check. This will only be applicable at the bar and may not be combined with any other offers and/or discounts.

“Garden State Equality works every day to ensure our kids are safe from bullying in schools, that LGBT seniors can live their fullest lives, and that everyone receives health care coverage. These are just a few ways New Jersey’s largest LGBT organization makes New Jersey a more equal place for all,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality
The Hotel Tides is open Wednesday-Sunday from 5 p.m.-11 p.m., and is located at 408 7th Ave. .

Please contact Ryan Jimenez at 732-897-7744 or via email at if you would like more information regarding this event.

Foreigner band members work with NJ songwriter Angel Vigier

Local singer/song writer Angel Vigier joins the BMI family and is ready to release a new single off his new studio album titled “Life is A Celebration – Already There.”

President and CEO of BMI Mike O’Neill with singer/songwriter Angel Vigier of Long Branch.

Angel was born and raised in Elizabeth, with his single mom and nine siblings, who moved often, landing in Long Branch. Growing up Angel always had a knack for singing which led him to become an award winning vocalist by coming in first place at the McDonalds Gospel Festival at The Prudential Center, Newark.

Angel, whose voice lives up to his name, began writing and recording originals in late 2013 with his first band The Earth Tones, which includes local musicians Lou Morreale and Chris Michael. They combined Angel’s voice with a pop retro sound that has been making heads turn since the early stages of his musical career.

While working with local writer/producer Ron Hanney, Morreale introduced Angel to award Winning singer song writer Jacob Bunton who flew in from Los Angeles to write and record with Angel in 2015.

Soon after, Jacob went back to LA with several of Angel’s tracks and brought him to the attention of a few folks in the music industry and immediately caught the keen ear of the great song writer Jeff Pilson.

Pilson, of Foreigner, is quoted as saying “As a producer, he’s a dream come true.” “as a writer, he’s dream come true.” “Angel has one of the best voices I’ve worked wi th, heard, been around, seen.”

Jeff, together with his current band mates from the classic rock band Foreigner, Mike Bluestein and Bruce Watson, co-wrote and produce a new studio album with Angel. They are all very excited with the results.

There is an abundance of experience that went into the recording of “life is a Celebration – I’m Already There”. Jeff Pilson, best known for his work with the SO’s rock bands Dokken, War and Peace and Lynch, also had a principle roll in the movie “Rock Star” alongside the likes of Jason Bohnam, Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston.

Foreigner band member Michael Bluesmen has worked With artists Boz Scaggs, Stevie Nicks, Enrique Iglesias and Anastasia. Michael was also a member of Jimmy Kimmel’s House Band.

Last but certainly not least, the very talented Bruce Watson. Bruce, also a current member of Foreigner, has had the privilege of working with the late great BB King, Rod Stewart, Christina Aguilera, Elton John, Sara Bareilles and Gavin DeGraw, just to name a few.

In addition, Bruce has worked on hundreds of TV Shows, commercials and film. Bruce has been quoted saying “Angel’s voice is jaw dropping. He has limitless range with a gorgeous tone and great vocal control. As a musician and a guy, he’s a pleasure to work with. He has a super strong work ethic and takes suggestions and direction really well. It’s like ‘Angel, gimme something’ and he will deliver.”

The band managed to write and record “Life is a Celebration – Already There” during their heavy 2016 touring schedule, splitting time between LA and New York. Angel’s new studio album is scheduled to be released in early 2017. The single set to release in the coming weeks along with his new video “Life’s a Celebration.”

The video was recorded here in Monmouth County by the very talented, up and coming local film maker Daniel Friedman of DMF Films. Dan is very excited about the release, feeling energized by the tracks. Local legendary Rock and Roll photographer Mark Weiss is working with Angel on the album cover. Vigier and Morreale are excited for everyone to see the new video.
Like their Facebook page and follow them at angelvmusic for new and exciting news.

Arrest made in attempted murder of an Eatontown police officer

New York – Detectives from the New York City Police Department contacted detectives at the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office to inform them that they had a 31-year-old Eatontown resident at one of their hospitals suffering from a gunshot wound.

AllTown Pharmacy in Eatontown where gunfire was exchanged between police and armed robbery suspect Aaron Riley.

Aaron Riley is the man who allegedly committed the armed robbery of the AllTown Pharmacy on Wyckoff Road around 6:45 p.m. on December 20, 2016.

Eatontown Police responded to the armed robbery call. Riley was reported to be demanding money and when the police arrived he ran out the backdoor of the pharmacy. Once outside he opened fire on the police officer who returned fire.

A foot pursuit then occurred and police believe that Riley had a getaway car parked in the lot of Michaels Arts & Craft which is located at 178 Highway 35, which is in back of the pharmacy.

The car, a 2007 Nissan Altima, was eventually located in the parking lot of Stony Hill Apartments. Police say the vehicle had damage from the gun fight.

Riley was charged with two counts of attempted murder and one count each of armed robbery, certain persons not to have a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. His bail was set at $1.45 million and is in the custody of the NYPD.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office detailed the injury Riley suffered as a gunshot to his leg. Police have not identified the officers involved. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Detective Brian Weisbrot at 1-800-533-7443.

Eatontown police officer exchanges gunfire with armed robber

FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating an armed robbery at an Eatontown pharmacy Tuesday evening. The unknown suspect fired his weapon at an Eatontown police officer who returned fire, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Eatontown police officer exchanged gunfire with armed robber on 12-20-16 at the All Town Pharmacy on Wyckoff Road

Eatontown police responded to a pair of 911 calls around 6:43 p.m. yesterday reporting an armed robbery in progress at the AllTown Pharmacy on Wyckoff Road. Eatontown police arrived on scene with the suspect inside the pharmacy. The suspect demanded prescription narcotics from an employee but fled the scene when he realized officers were arriving.

The unknown suspect wore a scarf covering his face. He was wearing a tan-colored hooded jacket with black gloves and jeans.

The suspect was fleeing the scene on foot when he fired at an Eatontown police officer during the foot pursuit. The suspect then ran to a vehicle in the Michaels Plaza parking lot and was last seen fleeing the scene on Route 36 West.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Detective Brian Weisbrot of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 1-800-533-7443.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers confidential telephone tip-line by calling 1-800-671-4400; can text “MONMOUTH” plus their tip to 274637; or, they can email a tip via the website Monmouth County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of criminals and fugitives.

Hockey game for KRF

Oceanport – On Saturday, January 14, at 8 p.m. the newly formed New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association (PBA) Hockey Team, made up of active law enforcement from throughout the state, takes on the Jersey City Police Enforcers.

All proceeds will go The Kortney Rose Foundation to fund pediatric brain tumor awareness and research.

This exciting game, the first for the NJ PBA Hockey Team, takes place at the Red Bank Armory Ice Complex, located at 76 Chestnut Street in Red Bank.

Admission to the game is $5.00 a person.

The Kortney Rose Foundation (KRF) is a 501(c)(3) charity set up by Kortney’s parents after her death in 2006 from a rare brain tumor to create her legacy of helping other children through the promise of research.

The KRF has already donated over $1.5 million directly and through advocacy to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and helped establish the world-class Children’s Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium ( housed at CHOP. The KRF reports that more than 94 percent of every dollar donated to KRF, including admission to the hockey game, goes directly to this research.

The New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association (NJSPBA) is a non-profit organization comprised of 33,000 NJ State law enforcement officers. Mike Schulze, of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, started the NJSPBA Hockey Team which now has 55 members in its starting pool.

Shore Point Advisors is the event sponsor.

For more information about the KRF, visit