TRENTON, NJ — Attorney General Gurbir Grewal urged the public and business owners to comply with the governor’s emergency orders — not only to keep themselves and others healthy, but to avoid creating more work and risks for hard-pressed law enforcement officers. He warned in a March 27 statement that those who fail to comply will be held accountable, citing numerous cases where charges have been filed for violations of the orders or other offenses related to coronavirus.
“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,” Grewal said. “Staying home and maintaining social distance is not just good advice to stay healthy, it’s the law. 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.”
Here are a sampling of the many recent enforcement actions taken, as well as other cases where individuals were charged by law enforcement with 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 17, Nicole A. Ayvaz, 23, was arrested in Belleville and charged with false public alarm for allegedly calling emergency dispatchers and claiming she had 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, 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 coronavirus.
- 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 24, in Waterford, Carmen J. Fasanella, 25, 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, David C. Morris, 54, allegedly told New Jersey state troopers in Sussex County that he had coronavirus in an attempt to avoid arrest after a motor vehicle stop. He was charged with DWI.
- 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 26, police in Washington Township, 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.
If you are seeing a lack of compliance, contact your local police department or report it online at https://covid19.nj.gov/violation.
The charges against the individuals above are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.