Three More Indicted in Expanding Investigation of New Brunswick Water Utility Conspiracy

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A state grand jury indicted a suspended Water Utility employee and two Hub City landlords on September 16.

It’s just the latest big news that authorities have been keeping under wraps as their widening investigation into a half-million dollar city government scheme continues.

The indictments accuse the suspended city employee and two local landlords of conspiring to falsify their water and sewer bills and rip off the rest of New Brunswick.

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New Brunswick Fire Department Promotes First-Ever Latino Deputy Chief

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Jorge “George” Arriaga became the first Latino Deputy Chief in the New Brunswick Fire Department (NBFD) in a ceremony on September 12.

Mayor Jim Cahill made the promotion official, along with several others, before a packed crowd in City Hall.

Fire brass from East Orange, Passaic, Perth Amboy, Trenton, Camden and Hoboken reportedly came out to support Deputy Chief Arriaga on on his promotion.

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New Brunswick Today Public Safety Blotter: September 2019 Incidents, Arrests, and Indictments

For the benefit of our readers, New Brunswick Today will be consistently updating a list of incidents and occurrences in the city, including emergencies, reported crimes, police investigations, and other public safety developments, including grand jury indictments and significant criminal cases.

The following information is based on various records obtained from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, and Middlesex County as well as additional information gathered by New Brunswick Today. We have selected the most newsworthy or interesting incidents, and shared what we think is important. Accused or indicted individuals are considered innocent until proven guilty by the NJ court system.

UPDATE: This article has been expanded and updated as of September 23.

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Who is New Acting Middlesex County Prosecutor Chris Kubereit?

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Andrew Carey is out as Middlesex County’s top cop, and until Governor Phil Murphy chooses a permanent replacement, former First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher L. C. Kubereit is now at the helm.

But the Governor is exercising his right to remain silent on the matter, and he declined to answer this reporter’s question about the recent personnel change on September 5.

“I have nothing to say on that, thank you,” Murphy responded.

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Governor Murphy Praises Convicted Felon John Lynch as “Great Mayor”

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—At a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new school, Governor Phil Murphy made sure to praise both the current and former Mayor of the Hub City.

Murphy, a staunch supporter of Mayor Jim Cahill, was introducing the eight-term Mayor when he felt the need to express his support for Cahill’s predecessor, a legendary politician who did time in federal prison on a felony conviction.

The comment came just minutes before Murphy declined to address a personnel change in the important law enforcement role of Middlesex County Prosecutor, a recently-vacated position to which Murphy has not yet nominated anyone.

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Rutgers Police Found a Dead Man Near Campus, But Authorities Kept it Quiet For Weeks

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—A local family got some terrible news after a missing family member turned up dead next to a railroad bridge on the morning of June 26.

But that news did not reach the family of 34-year-old Derek Rashawn Hicks until 28 days later, according to several sources who spoke to New Brunswick Today.

“They didn’t let us know about his death until July 24th, and he had been in the morgue almost a month,” said Carol Hicks, the mother of the young man.

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After Trying to Withdraw His Guilty Plea, Killer Gets 16 Years For Fatally Shooting Woman

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Christian Cortes, the 27-year-old man who admitted to fatally shooting a woman on 7th Street in New Brunswick, tried and failed to withdraw his guilty plea on August 28.

The following day, Judge Joseph Rea sentenced Cortes to 16 years in state prison, in accordance with the plea agreement negotiated by Cortes’ prior attorney.

“He’s going to do the full 16 years because… it’s necessary for the protection of the public,” said Rea, who noted that Cortes has “anger issues” and “impulse control issues.”

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Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million in Oklahoma Opioid Case

NORMAN, OK—A judge suggested that Johnson & Johnson was the kingpin of Oklahoma’s opioid crisis on August 26, ordering the New Brunswick-based pharmaceutical giant to pay $572 million to fix the ravage the epidemic has caused the state’s residents.

The verdict could be a warning to other drug companies facing similar cases in courts across the nation.

There are more than 2,000 court cases across the country with the objective of holding drugmakers, retail pharmacy chains, and distributors accountable for the wrong use of opioids.

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After 6-Month Lapse in Compliance, Crane Permit Was Issued 12 Days Before Collapse

INTERIM CITY ENGINEER: “I DIDN’T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THAT.”

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The construction crane that came crashing down on two homes during a July 21 storm was apparently operated without a proper city permit for over six months, according to records obtained by New Brunswick Today.

The red crane was observed in action on June 6, well before the July 9 permit approval.

Vergona Crane Company, Inc.’s 2019 permit application is dated July 9, just 12 days before the crane failed, and more than six months after a previous permit had expired.

The head of the city’s Department of Public Works and Engineering (DPWE) admitted on August 22 that he signed to approve Vergona’s late permit application, even though a city ordinance regulating construction cranes only authorizes “the city engineer” to issue or deny such a permit.

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WATCH: Reporter April Ryan Has Her Bodyguard Forcibly Remove NBToday Camera and Reporter

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—New Brunswick Today’s camera equipment was briefly stolen by a bodyguard who proceeded to violently force this reporter out of a hotel lobby.

Newly-released video shows the bodyguard, Joel Morris, getting physical with the author of this article on August 3 shortly after 8:30pm at the Heldrich Hotel.

The video was handed over to the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) two days later, only after this reporter questioned the department about why it had not yet been retrieved.

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