This month 13 Hudson County residents have been charged with violating the state-of-emergency orders meant to curtail the spread of COVID-19, according to announcements by New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
On April 19, Jersey City police officers charged Jersey City residents Marc Taylor, Dalanie Felton, Dasean Lassiter, Quadra Domnie, and Prima Lockemy, all 19, as well as Bashard Davis, 18, and Union City resident Jeremy Perez, 22.
They were charged with violating the state’s emergency orders, public consumption of alcohol, and possession of a gambling device, all disorderly-persons offenses, according to Grewal.
Police found the teens in Triangle Park at Danforth Avenue and Old Bergen Road, where they were allegedly drinking outside, playing dice, and failing to practice social distancing.
On Friday, April 17, police charged three people with allegedly violating the state-of-emergency orders in connection with a party of approximately 15 people inside an Airbnb rental in Jersey City.
Jersey City residents Isaiah M. George, 33, and Jabril Corley, 28, and Howell resident Megan Stoddart, 29, were charged.
Corley and Jersey City resident Marc Y. Bruny, 33, were charged with disorderly conduct.
On April 16, Jersey City resident Eric Rock, 35, was arrested at about 6 a.m. by the Jersey City Police Department after he allegedly went to a relative’s home and kicked in a window when she would not let him inside. According to the announcement from the AG’s office, Rock does not live at the home or have any belongings there.
Police were called and found Rock in front of the house. As he was being arrested, he allegedly coughed on police officers and claimed he had the coronavirus and would infect them.
He allegedly said, “If I’m going to die, you’re going to die.”
Police charged Rock with two counts of terroristic threats during an emergency, two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, two counts of throwing bodily fluid at an officer, criminal mischief, and harassment.
On April 12, Guttenberg Police officers arrested Union City resident Elvis Perez-Astacio, 25, after he allegedly threatened to harm an officer by coughing on the officer and infecting the officer with COVID-19.
According to the AG’s office, police responded to a report of domestic violence allegedly committed by Perez-Astacio. When they located him, he allegedly resisted arrest and verbally threatened to harm officers.
While being transported to headquarters, he allegedly said he would cough on officers and infect them with COVID-19, allegedly coughing through the trip to headquarters and while he was being processed.
He was charged with two counts of terroristic threats, simple assault, resisting arrest, possession of under 50 grams of marijuana, being under the influence of marijuana, failure to make lawful disposition of marijuana, and violating the emergency orders.
On April 7, Moshe Knopfler, 55, of Union City, was charged with violation of the emergency orders and failure to disperse after police found approximately 13 people allegedly on his property. According to the AG’s office, police had warned Knopfler on several occasions about holding gatherings on his property.
On April 3, Jersey City police charged Jersey City resident Bernadette Bisogno, 49, after detectives were assigned to investigate a possible COVID-related incident that occurred on April 2 at the Target store at 100 14th Street.
According to the AG’s office, Bisogno allegedly became involved in a verbal altercation at the store with another woman, with whom she had disputes in the past. During the incident, Bisogno allegedly purposely sneezed on the victim, leaving saliva on her clothing and skin.
Police charged her with harassment, simple assault, and violation of the emergency orders.
These charges are merely accusations. Those charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Summonses, fines, and jail time
Those charged with violating the emergency orders or local ordinances and who do not face more serious charges were charged by summons and were not arrested. Those cases will be adjudicated in municipal court.
Violations of the emergency orders constitute a disorderly persons offense carrying a potential sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, violators can potentially face criminal charges including second- third- and fourth-degree indictable offenses.
On April 1, Grewal announced enhanced charges for people who were charged with assaulting and threatening law enforcement officers and violating the emergency orders.
Those enhanced charges included making terroristic threats during a state of emergency, which is a second-degree offense carrying a sentence of five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three-to-five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while fourth-degree charges carry a sentence of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
“One month after Governor Murphy issued his emergency orders, we are flattening the curve and saving lives, because the vast majority of our residents are conscientiously obeying the social distancing rules and doing their share to fight COVID-19,” Grewal said. “Unfortunately, there are still those who violate the orders, risking the further spread of this deadly virus. What is worse, there are some who deliberately threaten our brave police officers, medical personnel, and other essential workers, impeding their vital work. Our message to violators is that we will hold you accountable, whether it is through a summons for those who violate the social distancing orders, or an arrest on indictable charges for those who deliberately harm or threaten others during this emergency.”
Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police Colonel Patrick Callahan said New Jersey is ultimately winning the war against COVID-19 due to the resolve of residents who are doing their part to abide by the executive orders and are “sacrificing for the greater good.”
“Those who choose to ignore the law and selfishly place others at risk will face swift law enforcement action,” he said.
Residents observing a lack of compliance with the governor’s emergency orders should contact their local police departments or report it at covid19.nj.gov/violation.