15 charged as Prosecutors, Lakewood Police break up funeral with 70 people
The message of stay home, don't partake in social gatherings hasn't yet sunk in or been acknowledged by certain individuals in Ocean County.
On Wednesday evening, Lakewood Police responded to a large gathering on the corner of 8th Street and Madison Avenue for what turned out to be a funeral where between 60 and 70 people were assembled, announced Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer and Lakewood Police Chief Gregory Meyer.
This gathering was in violation of Executive Order No. 107 signed by Governor Phil Murphy on March 21 which bans gatherings of individuals, whether they be at weddings, parties, celebrations, or other social events including funerals.
As Lakewood Police Officers tried to disperse the crowd, the crowd "became unruly and argumentative."
Backup had to be then called in with additional Officers from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office arriving to assist with dispersing the crowd.
As the Officers were collecting names from funeral attendees, one man refused to properly and truthfully identify who he really was.
The man was eventually identified as Samuel Manheim, 27, of Brooklyn.
Manheim originally gave Officers a false name and social security number.
He was then placed under arrest.
Manheim was charged with Hindering His Own Apprehension, as well as Violating Any Rule or Regulation Adopted by the Governor During a State of Emergency.
Prosecutors Billhimer said that the following individuals were also charged with Violating Any Rule or Regulation Adopted by the Governor During a State of Emergency.
Joel Jakubowitz, 36, of Brooklyn, New York; Marcus Strulovic, 43, of Lakewood; David Kaf, 37, of Lakewood; Moshe Friedman, 20, of Lakewood; Nossom Strulovic, 25, of Lakewood; Solomon Strulovic, 21, of Lakewood; Joel Strulovic, 39, of Lakewood; Yosef Kohn, 35, of Lakewood; Mitchell Strulovic, 24, of Lakewood; Alexander Ellison, 64, of Lakewood; Mordechi Strulovic, 18, of Lakewood; Shimon Cardozo, 25 of Lakewood; Shimon Hus, 18, of Brooklyn, New York; and Bernard Strulovic, 45, of Lakewood.
“The Governor has banned all public gatherings during this state and national public health emergency. This ban applies to everyone,” Prosecutor Billhimer said. “To be blunt, ignoring the Governor’s Order places lives at risk – not just the lives of everyday citizens, but the lives of our brave men and women in Law Enforcement who are required to respond in order to break up these unlawful gatherings. I am imploring everyone to abide by the Governor’s Order and stay at home, so that we might all get through this very difficult time together -- as painlessly as possible."
This incident follows a string of unlawful behavior including an engagement party that was broken up on Tuesday and a Bat Mitzvah on Sunday.
During Governor Phil Murphy's daily press conference on Tuesday, Lt. Colonel Pat Callahan, the Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police said that there would be certain cases where everyone at a party, wedding or large social gathering would be charged and not just the homeowners.
“We need maybe to shift to everybody at that gathering is going to be cited," Callahan said.
A couple hours after the press conference in Lakewood eight people in addition to the homeowners were charged with Violating Any Rule or Regulation Adopted by the Governor During a State of Emergency for their attendance at the engagement party.
Colonel Callahan said everyone at a gathering may either be exposed to the virus or giving it to someone else.
“When law enforcement has to go to a large gathering, those law enforcement officers are now exposing themselves as well. This is a close-up hands on profession," Callahan said Tuesday.
Ocean County 10th District State Senator Jim Holzapfel, (R), and Assemblymen Greg McGuckin, (R), and John Catalano, (R), announced on Tuesday that they will be introducing legislation to create significant monetary penalties for those who host gatherings in violation of the Emergency Health Powers Act.
“There have been a number of large public gatherings since the Governor has issued the stay at home order, and we feel violators should face significant consequences for failure to comply with a directive that’s necessary to save lives,” Senator Holzapfel said. “During this public health crisis, the executive order mandating social distancing should not be taken lightly. Mass gatherings during this pandemic put an unnecessary strain on an already fragile healthcare system, create risk for responding law enforcement officers, and threaten the lives of participants.”
The measure would establish a monetary penalty of $10,000 to $15,000 for anyone who willfully or knowingly hosts a public gathering.
Previous reporting by David Matthau was used in this report.
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