The Family Unit consists of five full-time assistant prosecutors, two assigned to juvenile, two to the domestic violence section of the unit, and one supervisor. In addition to the attorneys assigned to the unit, there are two clerical workers, one legal assistant, one victim witness advocate assigned to the Domestic Violence contempt cases in Family Court, and one detective assigned to the unit. The Juvenile Section of the Family Unit is charged with the prosecution of all juvenile delinquency cases scheduled on the formal court calendar in Family Court. In addition, assistant prosecutors assigned to the unit appear on behalf of the State at all detention hearings, and at hearings requesting an order to release juvenile police/probation records.
The Unit Supervisor provides recommendations to the Prosecutor concerning applications to prosecute a juvenile as an adult in criminal court. While the unit’s functions are essentially and predominantly legal in nature, assistant prosecutors in the unit must be knowledgeable in all areas of juvenile therapy, counseling, and education. Additionally, they work with probation officers, social workers, therapists, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, and others concerned with the welfare and care of juveniles in order to help keep juveniles out of the criminal justice system.
The Domestic Violence Section of the Family Unit screens all domestic violence cases that come to the Office. The section prosecutes incidents of Domestic Violence and takes indictable matters to the Grand Jury and trial when necessary. Additionally, the unit co-chairs the County Domestic Violence Working Group. The unit also screens and prosecutes interference child custody cases and willful non-support matters. In addition to indictable level cases, two assistant prosecutors in the unit are responsible for the prosecution of disorderly persons contempt cases in the Family Court. Additionally, all applications seeking the return of weapons seized as a result of domestic violence must be reviewed by the legal staff to ensure that the return is appropriate. Where forfeiture of weapons is sought, an assistant prosecutor will argue such applications on behalf of the State in the Family Court. Finally, assistant prosecutors in the domestic violence section prepare training materials for presentation to local law enforcement and also the domestic violence response teams where necessary.
SIGNIFICANT CASES PROSECUTED IN 2018
STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF M.W.
On May 2, 2017 at approximately 11:45 pm, police responded for a report of male with a gun in Monroe Park. Officers spoke with a male, T.R., and female, H.J., on scene, who indicated that a black male came up to them pointing a handgun, forced T.R. to the ground, and forced H.J. to walk with him towards the creek. H.J. revealed that the male threatened to shoot her several times, hit her in the head with the gun when she tried to get away, and ultimately forced her to take her shirt off, ripped her bra, and forced her to perform oral sex. M.W. was subsequently identified as a potential suspect following a similar incident in the park. The victim, H.J., identified M.W. as the suspect. Additionally, in October 2017, a CODIS hit came back from the SANE examination performed on H.J., with a match to M.W. The DNA match was confirmed after a search warrant was executed for a sample of M.W.’s DNA. M.W., who was fourteen years old at the time of the offense, was ultimately charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, and third-degree assault with a deadly weapon.
A trial commenced in Family Part on February 22, 2018 and February 23, 2018. M.W. was found guilty of all charges and sentenced to two years in the Jamesburg Training Facility for Boys.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY IN THE INTEREST OF S.F.
On Thursday, July 26, 2018, at approximately 0236 hours, officers from the Edgewater Park Township Police Department were dispatched to the 7-11 store, located at 1133 Cooper Street, for an armed robbery that had just occurred. Detective Sergeant John Harris spoke with the store clerk, Nirmal Singal, who advised that three male subjects entered the store, brandished handguns, and demanded money. Specifically, he stated that one of the subjects stood by the door while the other two stood at the front counter and demanded money from the register. Mr. Singal confirmed he opened the cash register and gave them all the cash inside. Once he gave them the money from the register, the three subjects ran out of the store.
On Saturday, July 28, 2018, Detective Michael Casella from the Burlington Township Police Department (BTPD) responded to the 7-11 store located at 1611 Columbus Road, to assist patrol units with an armed robbery investigation. Upon his arrival, he was advised that three unknown males entered the store. Two of the males brandished handguns and proceeded behind the counter where they removed the entire cash drawer and several packs of Newport Cigarettes. After leaving the store, the three subjects then fled the scene on foot on Columbus Road in the direction of Route 130.
On Sunday, July 29, 2018, at 12:59 a.m., Delran Township Police Department units were dispatched to the 7-11 at 18 Haines Mill Road for an attempted armed robbery. Dispatch described the suspects as two black males wearing black ski masks and displaying a handgun. Dispatch further advised that the suspects left the location in a vehicle prior to police arrival. Upon arriving on scene, Patrol Officer Jill Boyle spoke with three witnesses, Serena S. Grace, Mark M. Szymanski, and Mykayla K. Haley, who advised that they were together in an Uber that pulled into the 7-11 after picking them up from Whistler’s Inn. Mr. Szymanski stated he was the front seat passenger and Ms. Grace and Ms. Haley were seated in the rear of the vehicle. Although there were no vehicles in the parking lot, they observed two male subjects inside the store, which they found strange.
According to Ptl. Boyle, all three witnesses gave the same account of what happened. First, they described Suspect #1 as a younger back male, approximately 6’ tall and wearing dark pants and a black ski mask. Suspect #2 was described as a younger black male, approximately 5’6” to 5’8” tall and wearing a white T-shirt, dark pants, and a black ski mask. The witnesses advised that the shorter male was standing in front of the register and the taller male was next to the lottery machine. When the shorter male observed their Uber pull into the lot, he began motioning to the other suspect with his hands to leave. The shorter male then ran out of the store in the direction of Sal’s Barber Shop. The taller male ran out of the store and the witnesses observed a silver firearm in his hand. Mr. Szymanski stated he was unsure whether it was a revolver or a handgun. They witnessed the suspects run to an unknown black four-door vehicle parked in the rear of Sal’s Barber Shop. Mr. Szymanski stated the vehicle was possibly a 2005 or newer model and may be a Chevrolet. Prior to getting in the vehicle and fleeing, the witnesses observed the taller suspect with the gun raise his arm in the air and fire a round straight up into the air. The witnesses stated that they heard the gunshot and observed a flash in the air after the discharge. They did not see where the vehicle went because they instructed their Uber driver to pull out of the parking lot and leave to call the police.
After the Delran Township robbery, Det. Casella decided to process another one of the water bottles and the traffic cone from the Burlington Township robbery for any additional latent prints. He did so by fuming the items and was able to develop four additional potential prints. All prints were secured into an AFIS Request for Latent Fingerprint Examination envelope and transported to the West Trenton AFIS Unit for identification.
On July 31, 2018, Detective Casella received notification from the AFIS Unit who identified one of the prints as belonging to B.R. A check of B.R.’s criminal history revealed his picture. Detective Casella immediately identified B.R. as Suspect # 3 who was casing the 7-11 just prior to the Edgewater Park robbery and noted that he was wearing the same glasses in his CCH picture. Detective Casella notified Detective Harry Cassey from Delran Township and Detective Sergeant Harris of his recent findings. Based on this new information, Detective Sergeant Harris investigated further and learned B.R. was reported missing by his mother on Thursday, July 26, 2018, and was last seen with S.F. He also learned B.R. was no longer entered in NCIC as a missing person but was now at home. A criminal history check for S.F. revealed his date of birth and his address of Spruce Street in Camden, NJ.
The subsequent investigation resulted in the following charges:
For the incident occurring on July 26, 2018, S.F. was charged on a juvenile complaint with the following offenses: Count One charged first-degree Robbery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(2); Count Two charged fourth-degree Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(4); Count Three charged second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Handgun), in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b(1); and Count Four charged fourth-degree Theft of Moveable Property by Unlawful Taking, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a.
For the incident occurring on July 28, 2018, S.F. was charged on a juvenile complaint with the following offenses: Count One charged first-degree Robbery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(2); Count Two charged second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Handgun), in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b(1); Count Three charged second-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1); Count Four charged fourth-degree Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(4); Count Five charged fourth-degree Theft of Moveable Property by Unlawful Taking, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a; and Count Six charged second-degree Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(2).
For the incident occurring on July 29, 2018, S.F. was charged on a juvenile complaint with the following offenses: Count One charged first-degree Robbery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(2); Count Two charged second-degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1); Count Three charged second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (Handgun), in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b(1); Count Four charged fourth-degree Aggravated Assault with a Firearm, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(4); and Count Five charged second-degree Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:5-2a(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1a(2).
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A:4A-26.1(c)(2)(a), Robbery, which constitutes a crime of the first degree, is eligible for waiver. Accordingly, the three separate charges of first degree Robbery were eligible offenses. The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office filed a motion for juvenile waiver, seeking to prosecute S.F. as an adult for all three incidents. Prior to the waiver hearing, an agreement was reached where S.F. consented to a voluntary waiver to the Superior Court- Criminal Part. In the Superior Court- Criminal Part, S.F. pled guilty to three counts of first-degree Robbery and three counts of second-degree Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in exchange for ten years in New Jersey State Prison with an 85% period of parole ineligibility pursuant to the No Early Release Act. In exchange for his voluntary waiver, S.F. shall be placed in a facility by the Juvenile Justice Commission until the age of 21 and may continue to serve his sentence in a juvenile facility past the age of 21 at the discretion of the Juvenile Justice Commission. Sentencing is currently scheduled for June 12, 2019.