GOP, Dem. candidate join for Puerto Rico relief

In a rare move, the two leading gubernatorial candidates come together last week to voice support of a statewide charity designed to raise funds for hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.

“New Jersey for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief” is sponsored and spearheaded by the Puerto Rican Congress of New Jersey and leaders of New Jersey’s half-million-strong Puerto Rican community to rally behind friends and family on the island suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and former Ambassador Phil Murphy both urged New Jerseyans to support the relief fund.

“The people of Puerto Rico face a long road ahead to return to normalcy, and they need our support,” Murphy said. “New Jerseyans coming together to do whatever is necessary and possible to help those in need shows the very best of our state. Together, we can make a difference, and can help Puerto Rico and its people begin to rebuild not just their island, but their lives.”

“This fund is just another example of what makes New Jersey great,” Guadagno added. “People from all parts of New Jersey, no matter their ethnic background or political slant, understand that this relief fund will be an enormous benefit to thousands of struggling Americans who live in the commonwealth.”

The relief fund, a non-profit, charitable entity with a 501c3 pending, is a one-stop source for people to donate directly to island-based charities. The fund is transparent and focused on delivering immediate, targeted aid.

Fund organizers say cash donations are encouraged, as opposed to in-kind donations that require sorting, boxing andlogistical expense. Cash donations allow reputable organizations, such as the New Jersey for Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief, to strategically support professional disaster relief agencies.

The coalition has partnered with the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico and others to get immediate aid to the people of Puerto Rico. The coalition has been working closely with commonwealth leaders; its honorary chair is former Puerto Rico Senate President Kenneth McClintock.

Coalition leaders hope the nascent effort will become a growing list of state officials, legislators, businesses, faith-based leaders and charities who can assist Puerto Rico in the difficult months and years to come.

To learn more about the relief fund, as well as the board members involved, please visit Donations are now being accepted through the site. Supporters can also call 1-833-NJ-HELPS.

Hundreds attend forum on youth suicide prevention

West Long Branch — More than 330 parents, teachers, clergy, social workers and concerned citizens attended the inaugural event of Monmouth University’s SRF Suicide Prevention and Training Project (SRF), a forum titled “Youth Suicide Prevention: Using the Media to Begin the Conversation,” on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Photo by Anthony Deprimo/Monmouth University. Monmouth University’s Michelle Scott, Ph.D., addresses the SRF Suicide Prevention and Training Project’s inaugural forum, held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Eatontown, on Wed., Sept. 20.

According to Michelle Scott, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the SRF project, the forum was inspired by the attention that followed the release of the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” earlier this year. She noted that she watched the national conversation on suicide shift following the release of the series from “something that needed to be talked about to something that was being talked about.”

However, she felt that a critical issue to be addressed with youth — how to start a conversation about suicide — remained outstanding. She hoped this forum would suggest ways to begin and expand that conversation in potentially life-saving ways.

In his remarks on beginning the conversation on a national level, Victor Schwartz, M.D., medical director of the Jed Foundation and co-creator of the talking points surrounding “13 Reasons Why,” said that the latest information released from the Centers for Disease Control and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that for the period 2007 to 2015, rates of suicide deaths have gone up by almost 50 percent.

Schwartz theorized that the proliferation of social media during this same timeframe may have some causal effect, though he did note that a lot is not yet known about “the impact of being on social media as much as young people are today on their development and growth.”

While the effects of spending excessive amounts of time in “a virtual world one step removed from a face-to-face interaction” has not yet been studied sufficiently to determine if it is harmful, Schwartz said that a young person’s ability to access extraordinary amounts of unfiltered information could be a problem under certain circumstances.

“Sometimes a small impediment can make a tremendous difference,” he said. “Where you used to have to go to a library, now you can access that [information] yourself.”

Adolescents and young adults are consuming more information and viewing more programming online than older adults, he said, noting that these groups are also the ones most at risk of negative consequences, such as suicide contagion.

Schwartz said that the alarm was raised in the suicide prevention community after the release of “13 Reasons Why” because of the “particular nature of the platform and the quality of the shows.”

“Here was this [series] on this platform [Netflix] that could be seen internationally by millions and millions and millions of kids in a completely uncontrolled way and it was very well made and it was very effective.”

Other artistic portrayals of suicide — such as Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” or the current Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen,” which both deal with self-inflicted deaths — have not had the global impact in the same ways as “this very affecting soap opera of a show,” he said. “This is partly because the kids were really appealing and the story was really compelling.”

Maureen Underwood, LCSW, a nationally recognized expert on youth suicide prevention, provided several key ways to use what is being presented in the media as a way to begin personal conversations. She pointed out that children are learning and talking about suicide at younger ages — including, she said, elementary age populations — which she sees as an impetus for learning how to have more “safe” conversations about suicide.

Noting that there does seem to be a generational difference in acceptability of conversational topics, Underwood noted that “students are more open today to talk about things that [older adults] would never have thought about.” She also encouraged those in attendance to watch the television shows, see the movies, listen to the music and, in general, consume at least some of the media that younger people are talking about and interacting with as a way to begin a conversation.

Underwood noted that most young people who watch potentially disconcerting shows, such as “13 Reasons Why” or who listen to music with disturbing lyrics are not suicidal, there is a small percentage who are, “so we are here to give you a bit of guidance in talking to kids.”

“The goal is to get kids to open up and tell you how they feel and not for you to give a lecture,” she said, emphatically.

“The three most important words in any conversation about suicide are ‘tell me more,’” she continued. “It is the best way to get more information.”

“And if the answer [the young person] gives makes you worried, you need to consult a mental health professional, your pediatrician or a hotline for more information.”

Robin S. Mama, Ph.D., LSW, dean of the School of Social Work, said that conferences such as this forum are important to the school. “We have community members who work in this area who need to have updated information; we have students who have internships that need this information and it’s an important issue — a social issue — that we cannot ignore as a school or as a community.”

After the conference was moved to an off-campus location due to overwhelming interest, Mama called the attendance “phenomenal.” She said that it showed that even more work needs to be done by the SRF project in this area to meet the demand.

For more information on the work of the SRF Suicide Prevention and Training Project or to make a donation to the project, visit or contact Michelle Scott at

If someone you know exhibits the warning signs of suicide, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255).

On Dec. 8, 2017 the Lords of 52nd Street, legends of the Billy Joel band, will present a concert to benefit the SRF Project at 7:30 p.m. in Pollak Theatre on the Monmouth University campus. For tickets, please call 732-263-6889 or visit

Eatontown police officer was justified in shooting at armed suspect

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) is releasing the following statement regarding a police-involved shooting in Eatontown as required by the Supplemental Law Enforcement Directive Amending Attorney General Law Enforcement Directive No. 2006-5. Based on a review of this matter by both the MCPO and the Attorney General’s Office, it has been determined that use of force by the officer involved was legally justified and that the MCPO fully complied with all portions of the above-referenced Directive regarding uniform statewide procedures and best practices for conducting police use of force investigations.

On December 20, 2016, at approximately 6:43 p.m., following an armed robbery of the Alltown Pharmacy on Wyckoff Road, 31-year-old Eatontown resident Aaron T. Riley was attempting to evade capture by police. He shot once at officers who ran after him. He then jumped in a vehicle and drove directly at another officer. The officer who was almost struck by Riley’s vehicle fired his weapon at Riley.
Following the incident, MCPO detectives from the Major Crimes, Professional Responsibility, and Crime Scene Units conducted an investigation into the circumstances and events leading up to the shooting. During the course of the investigation, detectives documented the scene, recovered ballistic evidence, interviewed all officers on the scene, as well as a number of civilian witnesses with relevant information.

Based on the results of the investigation, the MCPO determined that the use of deadly force by the officer who fired his weapon was clearly necessary to protect him or others from imminent death or serious bodily injury and there were no other means available at the time to avert or eliminate the danger that Riley created by his actions. No criminal charges were filed against the officer and the matter was not presented to a grand jury. The Division of Criminal Justice, Office of the Attorney General, reviewed the MCPO’s investigation and concurred with the conclusion that the use of deadly force was legally justified. Additionally, the Division of Criminal Justice agreed with the MCPO’s determination that the case forego presentation to a grand jury as there were no facts in dispute with the Officer’s use of force.

The investigation revealed that on December 20, 2016, at approximately 6:43 p.m., Eatontown Police Department received a 911 call regarding a robbery in progress at the Alltown Pharmacy. When officers arrived and approached the pharmacy, they observed two (2) men exit the pharmacy. Officer Kenneth Errickson told Officer Kevin Licknack to stop the first man while he and Officer Matthew Fix pursued the second man. The first man was immediately identified as a delivery driver. Officers Errickson and Fix yelled commands for the suspect (the second man) to stop as they ran after him. Officers Errickson and Fix both heard a concerned citizen say “he’s got a gun.” As they ran after the suspect, they observed him fall and drop something from his hands. The suspect picked up the item, turned toward them, and fired a shot at them. The suspect continued to run and went between parked cars. Officers Errickson and Fix observed Officer Licknack in the area where they saw the suspect run and tried to warn him that the suspect was nearby. At that point, a dark colored vehicle pulled out from the row of vehicles without headlights on and headed toward Officer Licknack at a high rate of speed. Officers Errickson and Fix believed Officer Licknack was going to get hit by the vehicle. They observed Officer Licknack fire multiple times at the vehicle but the vehicle continued to Route 36 and left the area. Officer Licknack fired six (6) times and stopped once the vehicle passed him. Forensics recovered six (6) shell casings at the scene.

An employee of the pharmacy told detectives that she observed the suspect after he entered the pharmacy on their surveillance camera. Based on his overall appearance and the fact that he arrived just before closing, she immediately knew something was wrong. She called 911, which is why the police arrived so quickly. Another employee of the pharmacy told detectives that, shortly after he entered the pharmacy, the suspect brandished a handgun and demanded narcotics. Detectives watched the surveillance footage, which corroborated what the witnesses told police.

The following day, the New York Police Department (NYPD) contacted the Eatontown Police Department to inform them that three (3) men from the Eatontown/Tinton Falls area flagged down a passing ambulance to get medical assistance at approximately 1:00 a.m. that morning. One of those men was identified as Aaron Riley. Riley had a single gunshot wound to his left leg. It is unclear whether a bullet from Officer Licknack’s gun struck Riley in the leg or he shot himself. The bullet in his leg could not be recovered at the hospital in order to be tested. Riley’s gun was never recovered. The vehicle Riley was driving after the robbery was later located in the parking lot of a nearby Eatontown apartment complex with visible projectile strike damage and shattered windows.

Riley was indicted by a Monmouth County Grand Jury for Armed Robbery, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, Resisting Arrest, Aggravated Assault, and Attempted Murder. The case is pending a status conference before a Monmouth County Superior Court Judge. The case is assigned to Assistant Prosecutor Sean Brennan. Riley is represented by Sarah Surgent, Esq., of Freehold.

Fall Job Fair set for Sept. 29

If you are seeking a new job or a career change, you should attend Monmouth County’s Fall Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at the Brookdale Community College Collins Arena, 765 Newman Springs Rd., Lincroft.

The County’s Fall Job Fair will provide you with access to employers seeking talented candidates in every discipline, from hospitality and health care to finance, education, telecommunications, computer science and everything in between.  Admission is free.

More than 140 local businesses and resource organizations have made arrangements to participate.

“Top employers from throughout the Monmouth County area will be participating and are looking to hire qualified candidates,” said Freeholder Serena DiMaso, Esq. liaison to the County’s Division of Workforce Development.  “Job fairs are one of the ways the County directly helps residents while also working to strengthen our businesses.”

From Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NJ to United States Customs and Border Protection, there will be a variety of employers attending the event. A full list of participating businesses is on

The 2017 Monmouth County Fall Job Fair is a partnership of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Monmouth County Workforce Development Board, Monmouth County Division of Workforce Development, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Monmouth-Ocean Development Council and Brookdale Community College.

“If you are a job seeker who is unable to attend the Job Fair, you can access job and career services through the County’s One-Stop Career Center,” said DiMaso. “The One-Stop Center provides resources, career counseling and training to people looking to find new employment no matter what the reason.”

The Monmouth County One-Stop Career Center is located at 17 Christopher Way in Eatontown.  The office hours are weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Save the planet and your budget this Halloween

Middletown — With Halloween approaching, it’s time to start thinking of costumes for you, your family, and even your pets. This year, upcycle your gently used adults’, kids’, and even pet costumes for a spooktacular new-to-you ensemble during the Monmouth County Park System’s Eek-O-Fabulous Costume Swap.

Monmouth County Park System’s Eek-O-Fabulous Costume Swap is a great way to save the planet and your budget.

Costume drop-offs will be accepted now through September 29 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday, September 30 from 10 a.m.-noon. For each costume you bring you will receive a token entitling you to a “new” costume on the day of the swap. Costume drop-offs can be done at the following locations:

• Dorbrook Recreation Area Visitor Center, Colts Neck;
• Fort Monmouth Recreation Center, Tinton Falls;
• Huber Woods Environmental Center, Middletown;
• Manasquan Reservoir Environmental Center, Howell; and
• Thompson Park Visitor Center, Lincroft.

“New” costumes can then be selected during the swap on Sunday, October 1 from noon-2 p.m. at the Fort Monmouth Recreation Center, Tinton Falls.

Almost due or have a newborn?  Just bring your bump or your baby to pick out a costume for free on the day of the event.

For more information about Eek-O-Fabulous Costume Swap or the Monmouth County Park System, please visit or call the Park System at 732-842-4000, ext. 4312.

Guilty plea to trying to sell ‘As Seen On TV’ co. secrets

A former employee of a New York company that invests in, imports and distributes “As Seen On TV” products admitted trying to sell trade secrets to one of the company’s competitors, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.
On Sept. 19, Ralph Mandil, 38, of West Long Branch, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Brian R. Martinotti in Trenton federal court to an information charging him with one count of wire fraud.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court, Mandil’s employer, sold products which included electrical and non-electrical appliances, beauty and personal care, pet care, fitness, auto and outdoor products that are frequently marketed via television ads and are commonly sold at large retailers such as Walmart.

Prosecutors say from August 2016 through October 2016, Mandil communicated and met with people he believed were representatives of a New Jersey-based competitor of the company. These individuals were actually government agents outfitted with audio and video recording devices.
Mandil offered to provide the agents with information belonging the company, in addition to providing them with access to its “drop box,” or cloud storage account, in exchange for money. Mandil also provided the government agents with samples of the merchandise he could steal from the company.

The wire fraud count to which Mandil pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 22, 2018.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher in Newark, with the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zach Intrater, Deputy Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark.

Defense counsel: Justin Walder Esq. and Aidan O’Connor Esq., Hackensack, New Jersey.

Woman killed crossing Ocean Blvd

On Friday, September 22, 2017, at approximately 10:15 p.m. a 60-year-old Stanhope woman died as result of injuries sustained when she was struck by a vehicle along Ocean Avenue in Long Branch.

Jake Pascucci, 28, of Long Branch and an off – duty Long Branch Police Officer, was traveling southbound on Ocean Avenue at the intersection of Broadway when the 2016 Jeep Cherokee he was operating struck Karen Borkowski, 60, of Stanhope.
Borkowski was pronounced deceased at the scene at 10:36 p.m.

An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and it’s Serious Collision Analysis Response Team (SCART) is active and ongoing at this time.

Anyone with information about the case is urged to call Detective Eric Kerecman at 800-533-7443

Due to the fact that this accident involves a police officer from the Long Branch Police Department, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office is handling all aspects of this investigation and the Long Branch Police Department is not participating in the investigation.

Collecting for hurricane victims

By Patty Booth O’Neill
Sometimes having to find a new location is a good thing. That was the case when Steven Levine and multiple supporters began accepting supplies for hurricane victims.

Steve Leving, owner of the Windmill helps tape up the last delivery donated from multiple businesses and people to victims of the latest catastrophes going on around the world. Steve was called by Kevin King to see when he would start collecting and the OEM building on Union Ave was soon filled with supplies and volunteers. Right after this delivery Convoy of Hope packed everything onto one of their trucks and delivererd them to those in need.

“Kevin King called me and asked, ‘What are we going to do?’” He didn’t have to explain further. “I knew he was talking about helping the hurricane victims.” Levine owner of the WindMill, and his family have always been there to help when someone’s in need. It’s a given.

And supplies began pouring in for victims in the south. Irma, Harvey victims, it doesn’t matter, there’s a dire need for goods.

Steve Levine inside the OEM building with hurricane victim supplies. Soon it too would be filled to capacity.

The supplies were being stored at the Oliver Byron fire house in NLB. When they ran out of space everything was moved to the OEM building on Union Ave.

“Stan Dziuba (OEM director for Long Branch) has been so much help,” Levine said. “He made arrangements to bring everything to the OEM building. He’s been a great asset in supporting the whole effort,”

Supplies have been donated from multiple sources. Under the direction of Ronnie MicciullaARMS (American Recreational Military Services) many have been bringing in much needed items.

Deal Police Department did a massive drive, as did Seacoast Chevy. Tasty Cake and Ice Cream in

Freehold, owned by Levine’s daughter Amy, also did a drive. “She’s always ready to help,” Levine said.

And, of course, locals drop off what they can. “Every little bit helps,” said Steve. “It adds up.”
Every night volunteers go the OEM building where items are separated, packed into boxes and are readied to ship out.

Convoy of Hope, a faith-based, nonprofit organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches and disaster response, will be responsible for driving the truckloads of supplies to the victims.

“They choose where the supplies go, they decide where they’re most needed,” Levine said.
Supplies will be collected up to the September18th.

“A truck will pick up everying on the 20th. Hopefully we will continue to collect after that and get it to the victims,” Steve said.

Supplies needed
New underwear (t- shirts and underwear for men and boys.
New bras, bralettes and panties, all sizes.
New socks, new flip flops
Unlimited food, Dry, canned protein bars, snacks, cereal, etc.
Prepackaged ready to eat meals
Cases water/sports drinks
Pails for cleaning,  cleaning products.
Hygiene products, toothbrushes and toothpaste
Cleaning products, wipes, bleach, pine sol, spray cleaners
Paper towels
Coolers for ice
Batteries, all sizes
New pillows and cases/blankets
Diapers all sizes (infant and adult) baby wipes
Feminine products
No used clothing or expired food please.

Speed bump repairs may face a bumpy future

By Coleen Burnett
Eatontown — At the workshop meeting of the Eatontown Borough Council on September 13, the hot topic was the release of the a “speed bump” study by Borough Engineer Ed Hermann.
Some quick facts:  A total of 26, from all across the borough, were examined.  Seven were deemed as being in “poor” condition.  One on South Street was determined to be in “fair” condition, but will need replacement down the road (pardon the pun).

Four others are in satisfactory shape and do not need immediate action. The rest are adequate, but some of those will need anywhere from tweaking to outright replacement within the next three to five years due to their age.

Most of the bumps, each of which vary in size and height depending on their location, were constructed and installed between 2006 and 2012.  Their normal life expectancy is four to seven years.

Hermann called the issue is a “highly volatile topic,” with the degree of anger usually dependent on where the humps are placed on the streets of a given neighborhood. The engineer even got into his personal vehicle and, using a preset speed, went over some of them himself.

“With the exception of about three, I found that at about 25 miles per hour, there were some that I felt more than others,” he admitted. “There were some where I said, ‘Boy, I wouldn’t want to do that again.’”

Hermann pointed out that it is more cost effective to do the project all at once rather, than in separate stages. With that in mind, Mayor Dennis Connelly suggested pulling up all of the bumps, milling down the street, and then conducting another in-house study to see if they are truly needed.

“See how they compare to when the speed bumps were there,” he said. “I do believe they work.

I know that’s not popular with everyone. I can actually hear {the trucks rumble over the humps} from my house”.

“I’m all about the safety factor,” he added.

But Councilman Anthony Talaric objected the Mayor’s idea, calling it “indiscriminate.” He said the report already identifies areas that need replacement and to use that as a template.

“I think it is counter-intuitive,” he said of the Mayor’s remarks on another study.

Councilwoman Virginia East suggested that the borough’s Traffic Advisory Committee have some input concerning the report as well. That, it turns out, will easily be done.

However, the discussion — which lasted a little over an hour — will have to wait a bit more for a solution. Connelly asked Hermann to go out and get prices for various scenarios and then report back to the council. Until then, the bumps will stay put.