Coronavirus scofflaws are being arrested

Sussex County. New Jersey's attorney general is pleading with public and business owners to comply with the governor's order

30 Mar 2020 | 05:54

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal urged the public and business owners to comply with the governor’s emergency orders to ease the burdens and risks for hard-pressed law enforcement officers.

“Our police officers are going above and beyond the call of duty during this health crisis," he said. "Unfortunately, they are being called upon far too often to deal with people violating the orders put in place to protect us all — or what is more egregious, people falsely using the coronavirus to spread fear or impede officers in their vital work."

On March 24, David C. Morris, 54, allegedly told New Jersey state troopers in Sussex County that he had the coronavirus in an attempt to avoid arrest after a motor vehicle stop. He was charged with DWI. (See list for other recent arrests.)

Staying home and maintaining social distance is not just good advice to stay healthy, it’s the law, said Grewal. If you are seeing a lack of compliance in your town, contact your local police department or make a report at https://covid19.nj.gov/violation.

Make no mistake, we will do what it takes to keep our residents and police officers safe, and that means we won’t hesitate to file criminal charges against those who violate the emergency orders.”

Following orders

The governor's order, issued on March 21, prohibits all gatherings. When in public, people must stay at least six feet apart whenever possible, excluding immediate family members, caretakers, household members, or romantic partners.

The governor closed all non-essential retail businesses, except for grocery stores, farmer's markets and farms that sell directly to customers, and other food stores. Also exempt are pharmacies and medical marijuana dispensaries; medical supply stores; gas stations; convenience stores; ancillary stores within healthcare facilities; hardware and home improvement stores; banks and other financial institutions; laundromats and dry-cleaning services; stores that principally sell supplies for children under five years; pet stores; liquor stores; car dealerships, but only for auto maintenance and repair, and auto mechanics;p rinting and office supply shops; and mail and delivery stores.

Colonel Patrick Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police said the vast majority of New Jersey residents and businesses are complying with the governor's order, which must be strictly followed to prevent community spread of COVID-19

“As we work collectively to accomplish this goal, it is imperative that businesses and residents follow the protocols set forth in the executive order," Callahan said. "Failure to do so will result in a swift response from law enforcement.”

The health department reported 16,636 positive cases and 198 deaths statewide as of Monday, with 113 positive cases in Sussex County.

Coronavirus crimes
Here are some of the recent enforcement actions taken on alleged crimes related to COVID-19:
On March 12, Lea Piazza, 28, was charged with false public alarm and motor vehicle offenses after falsely claiming to be infected with the coronavirus during a DWI arrest in Hanover Township.
On March 16, Jennifer Burgess allegedly spit on officers in Dunellen, claiming to have tested positive for COVID-19. She was charged with throwing bodily fluid at a law enforcement officer and second-degree terroristic threats.
On March 17, Nicole A. Ayvaz, 23, was arrested in Belleville and charged with false public alarm for allegedly calling emergency dispatchers and claiming she had the coronavirus to try to get Essex County College to close. She did not have the virus.
On March 20, Shaul Kuperwasser, 43, was charged with maintaining a nuisance for holding a wedding in Lakewood the previous day, March 19, in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings.
On March 20, Eliyohu S. Zaks, 49, was charged with maintaining a nuisance for holding a wedding in Lakewood in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings.
On March 20, Zachary Hagin, 33, was charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and endangering for allegedly spitting on a police officer in Gloucester Township and claiming to have the coronavirus.
On March 20, Marina N. Bishara-Rhone, 22, allegedly coughed directly on an officer during a domestic violence incident in River Edge, saying she had the virus and she hoped he was now infected. She was charged with endangering and throwing bodily fluid at a law enforcement officer.
On March 21, Jacquon Jones, 37, was charged with disorderly conduct for holding a large party in Penns Grove in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings.
On March 21, David Haley, 52, was charged in Middlesex County with throwing bodily fluid at a law enforcement officer and second-degree terroristic threats. He claimed to be infected with the coronavirus.
On March 22, in Waterford, Carmen J. Fasanella, 25, was charged after he allegedly went out drinking with a friend and crashed his car. He was charged with DWI, reckless driving, and a disorderly persons offense for violating the stay at home order.
On March 24, Adrienne Morris, 34, was charged in Gloucester Township after she allegedly went to the home of another woman and assaulted her. She was charged with aggravated assault, harassment, and a disorderly persons offense for violating the stay at home order.
On March 24, George Falcone, 50, was charged with terroristic threats, obstruction, and harassment for allegedly purposely coughing on an employee at the Wegmans store in Manalapan and refusing to cooperate with a police officer.
On March 24, David C. Morris, 54, allegedly told New Jersey state troopers in Sussex County that he had the coronavirus in an attempt to avoid arrest after a motor vehicle stop. He was charged with DWI.
On March 24 in Lakewood, police charged Meir T. Gruskin, 37, with a disorderly persons offense for holding a wedding at his home in violation of the emergency orders.
On March 24, the Jersey City Police Department charged multiple individuals who were loitering as a group outside an apartment building. Three juveniles were charged with defiant trespass, failure to disperse, and disorderly persons offenses related to the emergency orders.
On March 25, Karley A. Rosell, 24, of Pitman, was charged in a domestic violence incident with leaving her home and allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at her boyfriend’s residence. It did not detonate. She was charged with arson and weapons offenses, as well as a disorderly persons offense for violating the stay at home order.
On March 25 in Lakewood, police charged Abraham Bursztyn, 48, with maintaining a nuisance, in violation of the emergency order prohibiting large gatherings, for holding a gathering of approximately 25 young men at the school where he is headmaster.
On March 25, Raymond Ricciardi, 51, was arrested in New Providence on domestic violence charges. He allegedly stated that he was infected with the coronavirus and started to cough at police and medical personnel. He was charged with obstruction and harassment.
On March 25, in Lakewood, Juan Gomez Sanchez was charged with a disorderly persons offense for purposely coughing at a liquor store and claiming he was infected with the coronavirus.
On March 26, police in Washington Township, Warren County, charged David Merring, 62, owner of Rack and Roll Billiards Hall, with obstruction of the administration of law for keeping his business open in violation of the emergency order. He was previously warned about opening during the emergency and closed down. He re-opened and had customers inside when police arrived.
On March 27, Piscataway Police charged four individuals, Yu Han, 20, Xiaonuo Shi, 18, Chenyu Yang, 19, and Roukai Wang, 19, with disorderly persons offenses for violating the emergency orders and criminal mischief for allegedly drag racing and doing donuts in a school parking lot.
On March 27, in Hazlet, state troopers charged Travis Urban, 30, with obstruction and hindering apprehension or prosecution for allegedly falsely claiming he had the coronavirus to try to avoid charges after being involved in a motor vehicle accident.
On March 26, Lakewood Police charged William Katzenstein, 39, with a disorderly persons offense for holding a wedding in violation of the emergency order.
On March 27, police charged Pria Milledge, 37, with a disorderly persons offense for holding a party in Bridgeton in violation of the order prohibiting large gatherings.
“Our police officers are going above and beyond the call of duty during this health crisis. Unfortunately, they are being called upon far too often to deal with people violating the orders put in place to protect us all — or what is more egregious, people falsely using the coronavirus to spread fear or impede officers in their vital work." --New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal