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Police & Fire Recent News

33-Year Old Little Egg Harboar Woman Charged With Creating Fictitious GoFundMe Campaigns

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina and Pemberton Township Police Chief David King announced on October 8, 2020 that a 33-year-old Little Egg Harbor woman has been charged with creating a fictitious GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the funeral of her 4-year-old son, who she claimed died of cancer, but in reality had been adopted by a Pemberton Township couple after she signed away her parental rights.

Holly Garcia, of Lake Champlain Drive, was charged with Computer Criminal Activity (Second Degree) and Attempted Theft by Deception (Third Degree).

She was taken into custody September 24 and released last week following an initial appearance in Superior Court in Mount Holly. The case will now be prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment.

The investigation began in June after a couple from Pemberton Township who recently adopted Garcia’s 4-year-old son contacted police to say that his photo was being used in a GoFundMe campaign seeking $5,000 for funeral expenses for a child who had reportedly died from cancer.

The investigation revealed that Garcia created the campaign. Further investigation determined that Garcia had created multiple fictitious GoFundMe campaigns seeking money for the following: an urn for her dead son’s ashes; assistance for her 4-year-old son who is going blind in one eye (and whose father had died); assistance for her unborn child; a stroller for her two-month old son, who was born premature; and assistance raising rent money for an apartment, because she claimed she was four months pregnant and homeless.

The total amount requested by Garcia through all of the campaigns was $11,350. The campaigns were ended by the company after being notified by law enforcement that they were not legitimate. Garcia did not receive any contributions before they were taken down.

Garcia will be prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutor Joseph Remy, supervisor of the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit. The investigation was conducted by the Pemberton Township Police Department, with assistance from the BCPO Financial Crimes Unit. The lead investigator is Pemberton Township Police Detective Joshua Danka.

All persons charged with crimes are presumed innocent until proven otherwise in a court of law.

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Police & Fire Recent News

Four Suspects Arrested & Charged With Multiple Offenses in Connection With Shooting into Home of Camden County Police Officers

Chief Joseph Wysocki was joined by county, state and federal law enforcement representatives on October 5, 2020 to announce the arrest of four suspects who fired six rounds into the home of two Camden County Police Officers.

The suspects currently in custody are Kobbie Johnson, 30, Collingswood, Julio Nieves, 19, Pennsauken, Jeremiah McDonald, 18, Pennsauken, and Jaqwa Styles, 19, Pennsauken.

“I want to thank all of the participating agencies for closing this case and bringing justice to our victims,” Wysocki said. “I cannot say enough good things about the work that was done by our shooting response team with assistance from the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, FBI, ATF, DEA, the US Attorney’s Office, the East Hartford Police Department the Marshalls Task Force and the New Jersey State Police.”

On Tuesday night, Sept. 15, at 11:46 p.m., police responded to the 2900 block of Clinton Street. The residence of the officers was struck while they and their infant were on the second floor. Detectives located seven spent shell casings in front of the home with two rounds traveling through the front door into the interior of the residence.

“Getting these particular individuals off the streets will be a benefit for our community, that said, we are addressing a sudden surge in violent crime,” Wysocki said. “We are focusing all our efforts now on gun violence in order to proactively suppress and eliminate violent crime. That’s why today we are starting a new partnership with the ATF, so agents can work hand in glove with our shooting response team officers. We want to send a clear message to individuals that would even think about pulling a trigger- we will find you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law and you will not terrorize our community.”

Through the investigation, it was determined the officers’ home was not the intended target.

ATF Special Agent in Charge for the state of New Jersey, Charlie J. Patterson, talked about agency’s commitment to fighting gun violence throughout New Jersey.

“ATF will continue to be a dependable team player with our partners, and we will remain vigilant in the fight against violent crime in our communities,” Patterson said. “Moreover, let it be known, for those who insist on committing violent gun crimes in our communities, you officially have our undivided attention. ATF Newark, along with our partners will continue to dedicate every resource available to ensure that anyone who contributes to violent gun crime, to include the opportunistic straw purchaser, the potential firearms trafficker, and ultimately the trigger puller, are held accountable.”

All four suspects are being charged with three counts of Attempted Murder 2C: 11-3, Conspiracy to Commit Murder 2C:5-2, Unlawful Possession of Weapon 2C:39-5, and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose 2C. Johnson was also charged with one count of second-degree Certain Persons Not to Possess Weapons.

“These charges and arrests were made possible thanks to the coordination and collaboration between multiple departments, which is not an easy task,” said Acting Camden County Prosecutor Jill S. Mayer. “Detectives from the Camden County Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigations – Cherry Hill Office, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the New Jersey State Police and the West Hartford Police Department in Connecticut all played in integral part in identifying, charging, and arresting the four individuals in this case.”

Three of the four suspects have been remanded to the Camden County Correctional Facility. Johnson was arrested by the East Hartford Police Department will be extradited in the coming days.

*Post was updated/corrected on Oct. 5, 2020 at 7:41 p.m.

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Police & Fire Recent News

Woman Found Dead Inside Her Westville Residence; Jose Saez Charged With Felony Murder, Robbery

On Sunday, September 20, 2020, at approximately 1:25 pm, officers from the Westville Police Department responded to 608 Broadway, Westville, Gloucester County, New Jersey for a reported unconscious person at the residence.

Upon arrival, officers discovered 53 year-old Patricia Dorman deceased inside her residence.

An autopsy conducted on Monday, September 21, 2020, by Gloucester County Medical Examiner Dr. Gerald Feigin, ruled Dorman’s cause of death as blunt force trauma and the manner of death as homicide.

Through aggressive investigation, detectives from the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and Westville Police Department worked as a team, identifying 38 year-old Westville resident Jose L. Saez, as the person responsible for the murder of Patricia Dorman.

During the afternoon of September 22, Saez was arrested in the City of Camden by members of U.S. Marshal’s NY-NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force and the Camden County Sheriff’s Department.

Jose L. Saez is charged with the following criminal charges:

  • 1 Count: Murder
  • 1 Count: Felony Murder
  • 1 Count: Robbery
  • 1 Count: Tampering
  • 1 Count: Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
  • 1 Count: Possession of a Weapon for Unlawful Purpose

“The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and the Westville Police Department, under the leadership of Chief William Whinna, have been working tirelessly since the inception of this investigation. Through hard work, tenacity, and determination they promptly identified Saez as a suspect and developed key evidence linking him to the homicide. Patricia Dorman was well known by her neighbors and the cooperation and assistance from the Westville community was crucial in the arrest of Saez,” stated Acting Gloucester County Prosecutor Christine Hoffman.

Agencies assisting in and supporting this investigation and arrest include the U.S. Marshal’s NY-NJ Regional Fugitive Task Force, Camden County Sheriff’s Department, Camden County Metro Police Department, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Deptford Township Police Department, Woodbury City Police Department, and Brooklawn Police Department.

This investigation remains active and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office encourages anyone with information regarding this homicide to contact Detective Keith Palek of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-254-2433 or Detective Eric Hibbs of the Westville Police Department at 609-374-4737.

Information can also be e-mailed to the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office at tips@co.gloucester.nj.us.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of their rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State Law. 

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Police & Fire Recent News

Reward For Information In Attack on CCPD Officers Now $100,000

The reward for information leading to an arrest has reached $100,000 in the attack on the home of two Camden County Police Department officers on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Police are asking for the public’s help to find the suspects and bring them to justice.

Contributions are now being offered by nine organizations to assist the hunt for information:

  • The New Jersey Policemen’s Benevolent Association (PBA) – $20,000
  • Federal Burau of Investigations – $10,000
  • Lawmen Supply Company – $10,000
  • Anonymous Donor – $10,000
  • U.S. Marshals Service – $10,000
  • FOP Lodge 218 – $5,000
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) – $5,000
  • Miller Mendel, Inc. – $2,500
  • First Colonial Bank of Collingswood – $2,500
  • Fraternal Order Police, New Jersey State Lodge – $25,000

“On behalf of the entire Camden County Police Department, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to each of these organizations that have stepped up to aid us in this search,” said Chief Joseph Wysocki said. “This was an attack on two members of our department who have not only sworn to protect the people of this city, but who have worked tirelessly to better their community each and every day. We are continuing to ask that anyone with information that may be related to this crime to contact our department.”

Police are asking for the public’s help to find the suspects and bring them to justice.

Anyone with information on the shooting or the vehicle that was used in the shooting should call the CCPD tip line at (856) 757-7042, the Citizen’s Crime Commission at (215) 546-TIPS, or use the STOPit app.

More contact information for the agency can be found at www.camdencountypd.org. All tips and information are considered anonymous.

Post updated 9/21/2020 at 8:03 p.m., 9/27/2020 at 8:19 p.m.

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Bright Side Police & Fire

Cherry Hill, Gloucester Twp. & Camden County Police Depts. Awarded Grants to Encourage Use of Stationhouse Adjustments for Youth

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Juvenile Justice Commission (“JJC”) announced on September 17, 2020 that the Governor’s Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (“JJDP”) Committee has awarded six grants totaling more than $200,000 to local police departments and community-based organizations to encourage the use of stationhouse adjustments for youth who have contact with the local police.

The funding was made available to jurisdictions with high instances of juvenile arrests, particularly among youth of color, as a strategy for reducing racial disparities in the formal juvenile justice system.

Stationhouse adjustments allow police officers to divert youth accused of committing minor offenses, such as ordinance violations, disorderly persons offenses, and fourth degree offenses, from formal court proceedings. Stationhouse adjustments allow these minor delinquency matters to be resolved locally and outside of a court room, providing an opportunity to address root causes of behavior, impose immediate consequences, and offer supports to youth, which can include referrals to social service agencies, community service projects, financial restitution, mediation, letters of apology, or writing assignments. Parents, guardians, or caregivers and any known victims must agree to the stationhouse adjustment process.

“New Jersey has become a national model for reducing reliance on incarceration and other out of home placements among youth with minimal involvement in the juvenile justice system, but there is more to do,” said Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General.“Stationhouse adjustments allow local law enforcement and community members to encourage conversations and develop relationships with young people. These are the tools we will use to successfully build stronger communities and reduce the number of young people who are treated too harshly for minor infractions, many of whom are youth of color.”

“Years of research proves that the long-term success of young people increases dramatically if we can prevent them from formally entering the juvenile justice system. Behavioral change is more likely if young people are provided with immediate constructive consequences for their decisions, coupled with community-based supports,” said Jennifer LeBaron, Ph.D., Acting Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission. “Through this funding, communities can prevent youth from progressing further into the juvenile justice system and address the overrepresentation of youth of color in the formal system. Stationhouse adjustments are an important resource that should be available in every New Jersey community.”

Based on the philosophy that communities have a unique understanding of their local youth populations, the JJC administers several funding initiatives and state-level services that encourage the development and enhancement of a continuum of community-based services and sanctions, from prevention programs to sentencing options for at-risk, court-involved, and delinquent youth.

One such funding program is the federal Title II grant, which New Jersey receives for participating in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act. As part of the Act, participating states are required to have a governor-appointed committee comprised of juvenile justice professionals, community leaders, and individuals who have been involved with the juvenile justice system that oversees the state’s compliance with the Act and that makes decisions regarding the allocation of Title II grant funds. In New Jersey, this JJDP Committee funds both state- and local-level initiatives, community-based programs, and system reform efforts, including the Stationhouse Adjustment Support Initiative.

This competitive funding opportunity was made available to local police departments and non-profit and for-profit organizations serving municipalities with high levels of arrests and referrals to court, particularly among youth of color, based on data included in the 2017 New Jersey Uniform Crime Report. Programs funded through the project will run from June 1, 2020 – May 31, 2021.Up to $50,000 was available to each grantee for reimbursement of program costs to provide immediate, short-term sanctions and services for low-level youthful offenders. Many of the projects that received funding involve partnerships between police departments and community-based organizations to strengthen the level of support given to youth participating in the programs.

“The JJDP Committee awards approximately one million dollars annually to support local and state programs that prevent or reduce juvenile delinquency by improving systems, mobilizing resources, and engaging in advocacy to improve the lives of youth and families in the state,” said retired Judge F. Lee Forrester, JJDP Committee Chair.“The Stationhouse Adjustment Support Initiative is a perfect example of how the funds awarded by the JJDP Committee can help local jurisdictions support their youth and strengthen their communities.”

The programs receiving funding include:

  • Prevention Education, Inc. – $25,581. Prevention Education, Inc. (PEI Kids) will partner with the Lawrence Township Police Department to offer a diversion program for youth between the ages of 10 and 17 who have committed minor offenses in Lawrence Township and the surrounding Trenton-area community. Participants identified by the police department are referred to PEI Kids and participate in weekly sessions held at the Lawrence Community Center. Participants are required to participate for six consecutive weeks and complete a total 12 hours of curriculum time. Sessions address gang involvement, anger management, and substance abuse using the evidence-based Phoenix/New Freedom curriculum, which has demonstrated significant reductions in recidivism. Participants are also introduced to various community service opportunities, such as working in the community garden, and are required to complete 10 hours of service before completing the program.
  • Township of Bloomfield Police Department – $3,964. The Bloomfield Police Department (BPD) has incorporated its Junior Police Academy (JPA) into its existing Stationhouse Adjustment structure, allowing identified youth to participate in a key component of the BPD’s community policing efforts. This expansion of the Academy program allows approximately 40 first-time juvenile offenders to experience what is required to become a police officer. In addition, the curriculum includes sessions on gang awareness, the K9 Unit, crime scene investigation, self- defense, active shooter training, a SWAT demonstration, and Drill & Ceremony instruction.
  • Camden County Police Department – $50,000. Through the County’s Multi-Agency Lifeline (MALL), participants attend 48 classes held at the Salvation Army Kroc Center over a three-month period. The program consists of two Project Guardian events, which provide key relationship-building opportunities between participants and police officers. Youth are counseled on restorative diversion through the Center for Family Services (CFS) crisis intervention unit. CFS and the Camden County Police Department have designated a counselor to work with participants of the SHA program. The curriculum also includes various group activities, community service projects, and presentations by motivational speakers.
  • Cherry Hill Police Department – $45,612. The Cherry Hill Police Department, in partnership with the Cherry Hill School District, Project Little Warriors, and Crush Your Excuses has enhanced and expanded the diversion and intervention services provided through its SHA program. The program focuses on restorative healing practices that incorporate the youth participants, family members, and positive peer youth and adults who support participants’ success and help further reduce negative behaviors. The program components include understanding consequences, behavior modification, positive activities, lifestyle choices and supports, and family engagement.
  • Edison Township Police Department – $39,900. The Edison Mentoring Children (E=MC) program offers a six-week program for approximately 10 to 15 Edison youth in each session, serving a total of approximately 50 participants. Activities take place at the Police Department, Edison High School, and Family Support of Middlesex County and include bonding activities aimed at creating relationships between the participants and mentors, and educational/mentorship lessons by officers and other community leaders.
  • Gloucester Township Police Department – $50,000. The Gloucester Township Police Department (GTPD) SHA program enrolls eligible youth into a counseling program developed by Gloucester Township Police called “Handshakes not Handcuffs”. Youth ages 13 to 17 attend the program one night a week for one and a half hours for six weeks called GT FOCUS. The counselor addresses a different topic each night. A separate program is designed for youth 12 and under that includes parents to discuss the actions which resulted in police involvement. As part of the initiative, participants also meet with the School Resource Officers (SROs) and tour the police department as part of the mentoring component. One-on-one counseling is offered free of charge as necessary. In addition, the GCPD has partnered with Center for Family Services to further assist families holistically.