In The Courts News

Chesilhurst Man Pleads Guilty to Unlawfully Possessing Fraudulent Law Enforcement Credentials & Firearm

Camden, N.J. A Camden County, New Jersey, man previously convicted of multiple felony offenses including robbery, burglary, and aggravated assault admitted on June 5, 2020 to possessing fraudulent law enforcement credentials and unlawfully possessing a handgun, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Warren E. Shelton, 54, of Chesilhurst, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to an indictment charging him with one count of unlawful possession of imitation badges, identification cards, and other insignia prescribed for use by officers of a department or agency of the United States and one count of possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In 2018, Shelton designed, ordered, and acquired counterfeit Department of Homeland Security, Federal Protective Service (FPS) credentials, business identification cards, and a badge falsely representing that he was employed as a special agent with FPS and authorized to carry a weapon and enforce federal laws. During a court-authorized search of Shelton’s home in May 2019, investigators located and seized these counterfeit items and also located and seized a Colt .45 caliber handgun and ammunition along with two blank guns that resembled real firearms. As a previously convicted felon, Shelton is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Shelton faces a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for the firearm offense. He also faces up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 for possession of the counterfeit FPS credentials, business cards, and badge. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 7, 2020.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), under the direction of Assistant Special Agent in Charge Julio Santana; special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Protective Services (FPS), under the direction of Supervisory Special Agent Anthony Fuscellaro; special agents of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Jason Molina; special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, Philadelphia Field Office, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Henry; and special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Newark Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Charlie J. Patterson with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea. He also thanked officers of the New Jersey State Police, under the direction of Superintendent Col. Patrick J. Callahan, the Camden County Police Department, under the direction of Chief Joseph Wysocki, and the Chesilhurst Police Department, under the direction of Chief Wendell Smith for their assistance.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gabriel J. Vidoni and Daniel A. Friedman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden.

To view the indictment, click here.

Covid-19 Recent News

AG Grewal: Be Aware of False Claims, Scams in Sale of COVID-19 Antibody Tests

NEWARK – As testing for COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibodies continue to become more widely available, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs (“the Division”) today warned consumers to beware of false or misleading claims in the sale or administration of COVID-19 tests and COVID-19 antibody tests, and other deceptive practices related to testing.

“As public access to COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibody testing increases, so do opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to make money by exploiting people’s confusion and fears,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We’re urging consumers to do their homework, understand the types of tests being marketed, and recognize what those tests can and cannot do, so they don’t fall victim to false promises and outright scams.”

Last week the Division sent cease-and-desist letters to a Morris County health club and a Passaic County dentist warning them against making false or misleading claims in the sale of antibody, or “serological,” tests for COVID-19. These investigations and other similar investigations remain ongoing, so the Division is not releasing the names of the letters’ recipients at this time.

Antibody testing differs from diagnostic testing in that antibody testing is intended to determine if you possess antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, which indicates past exposure to the virus. Diagnostic testing is intended to determine if you currently have the disease.

In the letter to the Morris County health club, the Division said it had received information that the club had made misrepresentations in advertising COVID-19 antibody testing available to club members via a health and wellness center affiliated with the club. Among other things, the letter noted that the health club’s advertising stated that serological tests can determine “if someone has already contracted the virus and, thus, has developed the antibodies to prevent contracting it again.”

The statement appears misleading because a person may have contracted the virus but not yet developed antibodies that would result in a positive antibody test, and because it has not been established whether the presence of COVID-19 antibodies conveys immunity, and, if so, for how long.

In the letter to the Passaic County dentist, the Division said it had received information that he had made misrepresentations in advertising serological tests for sale to other dental and medical practitioners. Among other things, the advertising stated that medical practitioners can determine that a patient, upon testing positive for a particular antibody, is “now clear, they have the antibody, they’re safe.”

The statement appears misleading because it has not been established whether the presence of COVID-19 antibodies conveys immunity, and, if so, for how long, or whether someone with antibodies would not be able to spread the virus.

“Misinformation of this nature has the potential to provide false security to individuals and contribute, in the aggregate, to widespread public harm, and also violates New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act,” the Division stated in the letters.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”), “because a serology test can yield a negative test result even in infected patients (e.g., if antibody has not yet developed in response to the virus) or may be falsely positive (e.g., if antibody to a coronavirus type other than the current pandemic novel strain is present), antibody tests should not be used in the immediate diagnosis of a patient where COVID-19 infection is suspected.” Thus, antibody or serology tests “cannot be used for diagnosis of infection.”

The FDA also states that “serology tests can play a critical role in the fight against COVID-19 by helping healthcare professionals identify individuals who have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 virus and have developed an adaptive immune response. In the future, this may potentially be used to help determine, together with other clinical data, whether these individuals may be less susceptible to infection. At this time, it is unknown for how long antibodies persist following infection and if the presence of antibodies confers protective immunity.”

In addition to being aware of misleading information relating to testing for COVID-19 and its antibodies, consumers should also beware of outright scams connected to the sale of COVID-19 tests. Nationwide, individuals and entities are taking advantage of the burgeoning testing market by selling tests that haven’t been approved by the FDA and may not provide accurate results; going door-to-door and performing fake tests for money; and by purporting to offer free virus test kits in an effort to collect consumers’ personal and health insurance information. There are also reports that scammers posing as contact tracers are texting New Jersey residents with messages saying they came in contact with someone who had COVID-19. The text messages ask people to follow links and then try to get them to reveal their personal information.

“Unfortunately, where there’s money to be made, scammers, con artists, and identify thieves are never far behind,” said Paul R. Rodríguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “Consumers should be wary of anyone advertising tests for sales via email, on social media, or over the phone. With testing now widely available in New Jersey pharmacies and healthcare practitioners’ offices, finding a trustworthy testing site is easier than ever. And consumers should understand that legitimate contact tracers will never ask for social security numbers, bank account or credit card information, or insurance numbers over the phone. They don’t need that information.”

Tips to Avoid COVID-19 Testing-Related Scams:

Want a test?

  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist. If you want an antibody test, reach out to your healthcare provider or local pharmacy. They can help you figure out if the test will be covered by insurance and where to find a legitimate clinic, and can ensure that you understand what the results mean.
  • Do research before buying. Scammers put pressure on people to buy or commit without giving them time to do further research. Before you agree to anything, do some investigating. Check the FDA website to verify claims that a test has have been approved by the FDA or has received an emergency use authorization issued by the FDA.
  • Understand your options. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed guide to testing for COVID-19. Understand the different tests available and what you need.
  • Never share your personal information with strangers. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust.
  • Know what a legitimate contact tracing interview entails. To learn more about the contact tracing process, go to the NJ Department of Health’s Contact Tracing for COVID-19 webpage.
Covid-19 News Recent News

COVID-19 Update: Cases, Trends; Hospital Census & Cases by County

COVID-19 updates and data.

This post is updated every day and throughout the day as new information becomes available. Scroll through as post is organized:

  1. Camden County
  2. Gloucester County
  3. Statewide Data

Editor’s Note: Camden County recently announced that new cases and deaths in the County will no longer be announced on weekends or holidays. All weekend cases and deaths will be announced on the next business day and will be properly attributed to the day they were received.

Camden County:

One June 4, 2020, the Camden County Department of Health announced 32 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

This brings the aggregate number of confirmed positive cases to 6,944 in Camden County today and 343 total fatalities.

“Although we know the threat of this virus remains extremely real and incredibly deadly, I am happy to announce no new deaths caused by COVID-19 today in Camden County,” said Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. “For seven consecutive days we have now seen fewer than 100 new cases of coronavirus in our county. This incredible progress is entirely the product of our residents and their commitment to social distancing and other public health measures. Around the world, however, this virus is continuing spread and new cases are increasing, underscoring the reality that we have not defeated this invisible enemy. We must continue to take precautions and carefully follow the advice of public health experts so that we can avoid another deadly spike.”

The Department of Health is announcing 32 additional positive cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) identified in Camden County. Trace investigations are being facilitated with the patients and remain ongoing.

In addition, the county Department of Health is also announcing 1,187 confirmed resident cases and 443 staff cases have occurred out of the aggregate case load of 6,944 in our 56 long-term care facilities. At this time, 255 resident deaths have been reported from these facilities, as well as three staff deaths, out of our 343 total fatalities countywide.

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The county Health Department is currently working to trace close contacts of these newest cases. The investigations are still ongoing, and we will update the public with new developments as the information is gathered by our investigators.

Residents should call 9-1-1 during emergencies only, for those with questions or concerns related to the coronavirus, call the free, 24-hour public hotline at 2-1-1 or 1-800-962-1253, where trained professionals are standing by to answer your questions. New Jersey residents can now also text NJCOVID to 898-211 to receive text information and stay informed. To receive live text assistance, residents can text their zip code to 898-211.

Click here to read “Camden County Health Dept. Rectifies COVID-19 Cases From State.”

Gloucester County:

On Friday, June 5, 2020, the Gloucester County Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Emergency Management have announced an additional 18 cases of COVID-19.

As of June 5, 2020 Gloucester County has conducted 15,139 total tests.

Of these cases, 12,831 have come back negative and two are pending.

Gloucester County’s total positive COVID-19 case count is now 2,306.

Gloucester County has reported 150 deaths. A full list including age, sex and municipality is available here:

Information on COVID-19 deaths in Gloucester County begins on page 48.

Cases Per Town

Clayton Borough
Cases: 65
Deaths: 0

Deptford Township
Cases: 513
Deaths: 68

East Greenwich Township
Cases: 50
Deaths: 1

Elk Township
Cases: 29
Deaths: 0

Franklin Township
Cases: 75
Deaths: 2

Glassboro Borough
Cases: 126
Deaths: 6

Greenwich Township
Cases: 23
Deaths: 1

Harrison Township
Cases: 58
Deaths: 1

Logan Township
Cases: 35
Deaths: 1

Mantua Township
Cases: 92
Deaths: 1

Monroe Township
Cases: 259
Deaths: 8

National Park Borough
Cases: 19
Deaths: 2

Newfield Borough
Cases: 8
Deaths: 0

Paulsboro Borough
Cases: 57
Deaths: 3

Pitman Borough
Cases: 42
Deaths: 2

South Harrison Township
Cases: 80
Deaths: 0

Swedesboro Borough
Cases: 38
Deaths: 1

Washington Township
Cases: 342
Deaths: 28

Wenonah Borough
Cases: 12
Deaths: 1

West Deptford Township
Cases: 151
Deaths: 13

Westville Borough
Cases: 36
Deaths: 1

Woodbury City
Cases: 93
Deaths: 7

Woodbury Heights Borough
Cases: 16
Deaths: 1

Woolwich Township
Cases: 87
Deaths: 2

Image credit: Gloucester County

Statewide Data

Credit: New Jersey COVID-19 Dashboard

Credit: New Jersey COVID-19 Dashboard

Image credit: New Jersey COVID-19 Dashboard

**This post is regularly updated as new data becomes available.**

News Recent News

Bellmawr Mayor & Council Recognize EMS, Public Works

At the May 28, 2020, virtual meeting of Mayor and Council, Bellmawr Mayor Chuck Sauter thanked Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) “for their hard work and dedication that they provide to us and to the Borough of Bellmawr.”

Proclamations that were read included:

  • A Proclamation for Department of Public Works Week- May 17 – 23.
  • A Proclamation for Emergency Medical Services Week – May 17 -23
  • A Proclamation for National Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 5.

Excerpts from Council’s Committee Reports

Councilman Paul DeAngelis

Due to the coronavirus, there has been a drastic increase in trash and recycling because more people are home. The Department of Public Works has assigned additional manpower and equipment to accommodate this. “The guys are working very hard, doing a lot of work, and picking up a lot of trash because there are a lot of people home,” Councilman DeAngelis said.

Councilman DeAngelis asked residents to be mindful of the amount of trash that they are putting out due to spring clean-outs, etc. and if possible, to try and spread out what is put by the curb over several weeks. “This will make it easier for the guys to get their jobs done quickly,” he said.

Concrete and asphalt crews are busy working on the east side of town performing concrete upgrades prior to the paving season. Paving schedules will be delivered to the residents prior to work being performed.

Be aware of additional construction sites in town as the construction crews have been working on the Missing Moves project on the west side. “Please slow down to help those crews out,” Councilman DeAngelis said.

Councilman Jamie Casey

The old water tower at Warren Avenue has been demolished. “The eye sore is now gone and now we have our new water tower,” Councilman Casey said. “All of that metal is going to be recycled and is on our 20/20 recycling tonnage report.”

SJO Photo taken May 26, 2020

Casey reminded residents and businesses to only flush toilet paper down the toilet. “We have been experiencing issues with pumps due to items, such as rubber gloves and wipes, in our sewers,” he said.

Councilman Jim D’Angelo

The tennis courts at the Rec Center have been repaved. In a few weeks, they will be painted.

The bids for the bathroom project have been rejected. “We are not abandoning the project. However, we need to discuss options before we move forward,” Councilman D’Angelo said.

The Rec Department continues to maintain vacated properties and are still working on getting the fields ready for if and when the teams return this year.

Two eyesores in town — the Pennant and the old water tower were both demolished recently.

SJO Photo taken May 15, 2020

Councilman Craig Wilhelm

Municipal Court began to hear cases virtually on May 18. As of late last month, there were 75 court sessions that were heard. “The prosecutor and the public defender are working behind the scenes with defendants through emails and these cases are being put on the record,” Councilman Wilhelm said.

The judiciary dropped in on them recently to see how they were doing and commended the court. We appreciate the efforts of our court administrator, Amanda Cubbler, and our Judge for getting things done, Councilman Wilhelm said.

Councilman Steve Hagerty

The Public Safety Departments are all working extremely hard during this time. “With the many different circumstances that have emerged, they have handled themselves very professionally,” Councilman Steve Hagerty said.

He also congratulated Sgt. John Mader who retired effective June 1 after 22 years.

Councilman Ray Bider

Regarding the adopted budget, the breakdown will be: local plus 1.8 cents, county minus 1.6 cents, school local plus 2.5 cents, Black Horse Pike Regional minus 1.2 cents for a total increase in the Borough of plus 1.5 cents.

Residents can expect to receive estimated tax bills for the third quarter. “This is the first time that Bellmawr has done this, but due to the delay in the State budget, it was necessary to send out the estimated report,” Councilman Bider said.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Borough has spent $27,451.” Hopefully, the majority, if not all , of that money will be given back to the Borough, through the applications of Emergency Management,” Councilman Bider said.

The Borough’s department heads have done a tremendous job, he said. “I would also like to thank all of the Bellmawr workers in every department for their dedication to keep things going.”

Only a portion of flags have been placed at St. Mary’s cemetery. The remaining part will be done in June.

Mayor Chuck Sauter

The Summer Youth Program, the Clean Communities Program, and the Borough’s Fourth of July festivities have been cancelled. “It was a tough decision, but it was made with the guidance from both State and County officials and we are disappointed. We are hoping that once the restrictions from the pandemic are lifted, we can all get together for a town-wide community event,” Mayor Sauter said.

The mayor also thanked the Office of Emergency Management, EMS, Police, Fire, Public Works, and their employees for their continued support, dedication, and hard work during this pandemic. “It is very much appreciated. We could not do it without all of those involved,” he said.

Police Promotions

  • Arty G. Tessier was promoted to Sergeant for the Bellmawr Police Department
  • Brian K. Ertl was promoted to Corporal for the Bellmawr Police Department

To view the meeting agenda with the supporting Resolutions, click the image below.

A Special Meeting of Bellmawr Mayor and Council has been scheduled for Tuesday June 9, 2020 at 5:00 pm conference call.

The purpose of the meeting is to open the meeting and thereafter rescind Resolutions #05:115-20 and #05:116-20 adopted on May 28, 2020, and to consider adoption of a Resolution for Local Examination in accordance with N.J.A.C. 5:30-7.6 a & b, adopt the 2020 Municipal Budget and the Resolution Authorizing Amending the 2020 Capital Budget.

In addition, Mayor and Borough Council reserve the right to take any additional action, not anticipated at this time, that may be necessary, including items of a routine nature, which come before Mayor and Council. A public portion will be conducted.

The May 28, 2020 meeting can be viewed in its entirety on the Borough’s YouTube Channel:

News Recent News

Somerdale to Dispose of Portion of Nature Trail Park to Correct Encroachment; Public Hearing July 8

The Borough of Somerdale has filed a request with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres Program, proposing to dispose of 1,700 S.F./0.039 acres of Nature Trail Park (Part of Block 129.02, Lot 71) in connection with correcting an encroachment.

As compensation for the proposed disposal, the Borough of Somerdale proposes to accept payment in the amount of $5,000.00 from the owner of adjoining Block 129.02, Lot 70.

Pursuant to N.J.A.C. 7:36-26.6(c) a hearing to obtain public comment on this request will be held at the Somerdale Borough Hall at 105 Kennedy Boulevard on July 8, 2020 at 7:30 p.m.

All information submitted by the Borough of Somerdale to the Green Acres Program in support of this requested disposal of parkland is available for public inspection at the Borough of Somerdale Municipal Offices, Somerdale Public Library at 125 South Hilltop Avenue and the Green Acres Offices located at 501 East State Street, Trenton, NJ.

Written comments on the disposal request may be directed to Mayor Gary Passanante at the Somerdale Borough Hall or by calling 856-783-6320.

Please send a copy of any comments submitted on this request to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres Program, Bureau of Legal Services and Stewardship, Mail Code 501-01, P.O. Box 420, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420.

Public comment on this disposal request will be accepted during the public hearing or until July 22, 2020.