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PHILL MURPHY RECALL PETITION FILED WITH STATE

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, the process to recall Phil Murphy is officially under way . A petition to recall Phil Murphy has been filed and last Thursday, the state of New Jersey acknowledged receipt of the letter of intent filed by New Jersey residents Monica Brinson, Terry Becak and Patty Hoch.

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Hoboken Police Officer Convicted of Stealing $187,000 in Superstorm Sandy Relief Funds

Superstorm Sandy

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a former police officer was sentenced to prison today after being convicted in October at trial of stealing $187,000 by filing fraudulent applications for federal relief funds related to Superstorm Sandy. His wife, who was convicted with him, was sentenced to probation and community service.

Nikola Lulaj, 45, of Seaside Heights, N.J., (formerly of Dumont, N.J.) – who forfeited his job as an officer with the Hoboken Police Department as a result of his conviction – was sentenced today to five years in state prison by Superior Court Judge James M. Blaney in Ocean County. His wife, Majlinda Lulaj, 32, was sentenced today to three years of probation, conditioned upon completion of 50 hours of community service. Both defendants were ordered to pay full restitution. The husband and wife were found guilty on Oct. 25 by an Ocean County jury of charges of second-degree conspiracy, second-degree theft by deception, and six counts of fourth-degree unsworn falsification.

Deputy Attorneys General Thomas Clark and Jamie Picard tried the case and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. They were assisted at trial by Detective Mark Byrnes, Detective Franco Cignarella and Analyst Rita Gillis.

The state presented testimony and evidence at trial that Nikola and Majlinda Lulaj filed fraudulent applications following Superstorm Sandy for FEMA assistance, a low-interest SBA disaster-relief loan, and state grants under the Homeowner Resettlement Program (RSP), the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation and Mitigation (RREM) Program, and the Sandy Homeowner and Renter Assistance Program (SHRAP) funded by the New Jersey Department of Human Services. As a result, they received a total of approximately $187,074 in relief funds.

The couple falsely claimed in their applications that a home they own on Webster Avenue in Seaside Heights, which was damaged by Superstorm Sandy, was their primary residence at the time Sandy struck. In fact, their primary residence was in Dumont, N.J. They have since moved to the house in Seaside Heights, but at the time of the storm, it was a vacation/rental property. As a result of the alleged fraudulent applications, Nikola and Majlinda Lulaj received $2,820 from FEMA, $90,200 in SBA loan proceeds, a $69,054 RREM grant, a $10,000 RSP grant, and a $15,000 SHRAP grant.

“For a police officer to commit this type of fraud is particularly egregious, because officers take an oath to uphold the law and we rightly hold them to the highest standards,” said Attorney General Grewal. “When disaster strikes, we cannot allow dishonest applicants to divert disaster relief funds from the intended recipients – namely, those victims whose primary homes were destroyed or damaged.”

“We have recovered well over $2 million through these prosecutions and have delivered a strong message that should deter this type of fraud during future disaster recovery efforts,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend our trial team for securing the verdict and these sentences, and I thank all of our law enforcement partners for their excellent work in these historic anti-fraud efforts.”

The case was investigated for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau by Deputy Attorney General Thomas Clark and Detective Mark Byrnes. They conducted the investigation with special agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, HUD Office of Inspector General and SBA Office of Inspector General. The case was investigated and prosecuted under the supervision of Lt. Vincent Gaeta, Lt. David Nolan, Sgt. Fred Weidman, Deputy Bureau Chief Mark Kurzawa and Bureau Chief Julia S. Glass of the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.

The Attorney General’s Office has charged over 120 defendants with fraud related to Sandy relief programs. Most of the cases involve “primary residence fraud” of the type committed by Nikola and Majlinda Lulaj. The 120-plus defendants allegedly were responsible for diverting more than $8 million in relief funds. The office is continuing its aggressive efforts to investigate fraud in Sandy relief programs, working jointly with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA), and the Offices of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Also assisting the taskforce is the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, New Jersey Office of the State Comptroller, New Jersey Department of the Treasury Office of Criminal Investigation, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the non-profit National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

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Passaic County Man Charged With Scamming Insurance Benefits

the staff of the Ridgewood blog 

Pompton Lakes NJ,  Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor today announced that a Passaic County man has been charged with insurance fraud and related offenses for allegedly receiving $60,000 in insurance benefits to which he was not entitled by submitting forged documents showing medical treatments for illnesses he did not have.

Todd Eckel, 47, of Pompton Lakes, was indicted on charges of second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree theft by deception, third-degree attempted theft by deception, and fourth-degree forgery in connection with four claims he filed with American Heritage Life Insurance Company (“American Heritage”). The indictment was handed up yesterday by a state Grand Jury in Trenton.

Between February 2016 and November 2017 Eckel allegedly submitted forged physician statements in four separate insurance claims to reinforce the false impression that he was treated for a heart attack, Parkinson’s disease, coronary artery disease, and a stroke.

American Heritage, a subsidiary of Allstate, paid Eckel $20,000 for each of the first three claims.

Second-degree crimes carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $150,000; third-degree crimes carry a sentence of three to five years in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $15,000; fourth-degree crimes carry a sentence of up to eighteen months in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $5,000.
The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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Joint Statement of New Jersey Law Enforcement Leaders : Numbers rarely tell the full story

Ridgewood Police Respond to Physical Altercation at Dim Sum Dynasty Restaurant

file photo by Boyd Loving

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, Every day, New Jersey’s 36,000 law enforcement officers put their lives on the line to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our fellow residents. They do extraordinary work—often under challenging circumstances and often without the recognition they deserve.

Our police officers interact with the public millions of times each year, with interactions ranging from routine traffic stops to active shooters. In the overwhelming majority of cases, these officers handle the matter professionally and the interaction ends without incident.

From time to time, officers are confronted with situations where they have little choice but to use force against an individual who is not complying with a lawful order or who poses an immediate threat to themselves or others. Oftentimes, this use of force is a necessary and appropriate response to a dangerous situation.

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Reader says , ” I’d respect him more if he just said hey, I was appointed by a left-wing-loon that wants to make NJ a sanctuary state”

It’s pretty bad when the Attorney General lies to the public.
I’d respect him more if he just said hey, I was appointed by a left-wing-loon that wants to make NJ a sanctuary state and this what he wants, instead of the make believe reason “we want all residents to feel safe interacting with state and local police officers”

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New Jersey AG Grewal Issues Statewide Directive & Enhanced Standards to Ensure Respect, Support Services, and Best Law Enforcement Practices for Sexual Assault Victims

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ, oh the irony Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today took important steps to ensure that victims of sexual assault continue to receive the services and respect they deserve and that their cases are handled in accordance with best practices by law enforcement officers and prosecutors.

Funny from a state that just elected an Senator that allegedly spent time with under age prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.

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New Jersey Acknowledges Historic Recognition of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Nation, Agrees to Pay Tribe $2.4 Million

photo courtesy of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Nation

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Trenton NJ,  Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today a settlement with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation under which the State acknowledges it has officially recognized the 3,000-member Tribe as an American Indian Tribe since 1982.

In addition to affirming its historic recognition of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Nation, the State will pay the Tribe a total of $2.4 million under the settlement agreement.
The State has also agreed to formally notify all relevant state and federal agencies of the Tribe’s official recognition status.

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Attorney General Grewal Announces Election Safeguards

VOTE_theridgewoodblog

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today that more than 200 Deputy Attorneys General (DAsG) will be assigned throughout the state on Election Day, November 6, to help ensure a fair election, and to assist county election officials in resolving any voting-related legal issues that may arise.

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