Monday, October 2, 2023

News Digest 5.10.2006

By Rick Racela

More Time to Pay
COURT HOUSE – When Debbi Fitzpatrick pled guilty to one charge of theft in March, part of her plea agreement required her to pay back $567,000, allegedly falsely obtained from investors, or serve four years in state prison. By paying back the money to people who reportedly thought she was staging a production of “Phantom of the Opera” in Las Vegas, which never occurred, before sentencing she could still receive 364 days in county jail with some probation time. When Fitzpatrick came to court May 5, she asked for more time to pay claiming a divorce from her husband was holding up her finances. Superior Court Judge Carmen Alvarez gave her until June 1 to come up with the dough but refused to hinge her sentencing on the completion the divorce.
Truck Driver Sentenced
COURT HOUSE – Theodore Marchina, 28, of Lower Township, was sentenced to three years in prison May 3, for the accident which took the life of 22-year-old Erika Mungen of Middle Township Sept. 19, 2005. Marchina pled guilty in March to a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident. After striking Mungen with his pick-up truck, as the U.S. Navy veteran walked along Hand Avenue with her stepbrother on her way to catch a bus for work, Marchina left the scene without stopping. He was found two hours later, based on Mungen’s stepbrother’s description of the truck and tested positive only for methadone, which would reportedly not affect his driving.
Rowdy Hot Rods?
WILDWOOD – Participants planning to show off their classic or custom vehicles at this year’s 14th Annual East Coast Boardwalk National Car Show, that runs May 11-14, will have to adhere to a new set of rules. In September of last year, Mayor Mr. Ernie Troiano, Jr. issued a suspension for the annual spring and fall car shows due to the “extreme unruliness” of the event. This weekend’s car show will serve as a test run of the city’s new policies, such as cancellation of the evening cruise and a crackdown on burnouts.  
Gus Six-Feet Under
NORTH WILDWOOD – The real “Gus,” more formally known as Augustus Hilton and the city’s first mayor, was found resting peacefully in at the Salem Cemetery in Pleasantville. Surrogate Robert Hentges unearthed his whereabouts as well as the date of the former mayor’s death and his will. Hilton died at age 84 in September 17, 1946 at his home at 327 East Maple Avenue. The Maple Avenue home is still standing today, with a for sale sign emphasizing the use of the property for condominiums.
JCOW Meeting Change
WILDWOOD – The Joint Construction Office of the Wildwoods changed their monthly meeting date to May 19. The meeting will be held at the JCOW office at 4004 Pacific Ave. at 8:30 a.m.
Morning Accident
ERMA – Daniel Archibald, 18, of Lower Township, was transported by helicopter to Atlantic City Medical Center after his car reportedly left the roadway and went into the woods on May 6 at 2:30 a.m. Archibald was trapped inside his vehicle at the corner of Shunpike and Breakwater roads until he was rescued by Lower Township police and firefighters from Erma and Villas. A summons was issued for DWI, according to reports. The accident remains under investigation and blood test results are pending.  
Roll Over
COLD SPRING – Thomas Sexton, of Glassboro, was charged with motor vehicle violations and possession of marijuana, after his Dodge Dakota reportedly rolled over on the middle thorofare bridge. Police responded to the accident a little after 10 p.m. on May 6. Sexton was transported to Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital for treatment. The accident remains under investigation and blood test results are pending.    
Set for Centennial
NORTH WILDWOOD – The city plans a gala centennial celebration kickoff May12-16. For all the details, see stories and photos in the premier issue of On Deck, the Herald’s new seasonal publication, available wherever you pick up your Herald. Friends and out-of-town relatives who can’t pick up their copy of On Deck may view the entire publication online at the Herald’s Web site:
Back to Zoners
STONE HARBOR – Nextel Communications is to appear before Stone Harbor Zoning Board Friday at 8 p.m. seeking a variance for a fourth cell phone antenna atop Hall Harbor Condominium, 351-96th St. Grassroots opposition to the variance has grown, and some residents told the Herald they plan to attend to protect the borough’s gateway from such antennae. Twice last month, Superior Court Judge Steve Perskie has ruled on the antennae. On April 8, he vacated a variance granted by the zoning board for lack of proper notice for the hearing. On April 18, the judge denied Nextel’s motions for stay and reconsideration of that ruling. Since the cell phone provider opted to reappear before the zoning board prior to May 15, the trial date set by the judge for that date is adjourned until the board makes its decision on Nextel’s reapplication.
Digital Bugs
COURT HOUSE – Middle Township police have been communicating on analog equipment because digital gear doesn’t function correctly. Equipment provider Tek-Tron is reportedly working to correct the problem, and in so doing will replace about $150,000 worth of radios and other equipment. The $1.3-million upgrade to digital will, when working correctly, cut communications from patrol cars to dispatchers, since officers will use computers similar to laptops in their cars. That system will allow direct links to license and crime databases. During the equipment problem, old standbys have functioned so that communications have been reliable.
Watch Chickens?
DIAS CREEK – Chickens, long used by the county Mosquito Commission to detect West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, have hatched into the 21st Century in the forefront of avian flu. Ten flocks, scattered around the county, will be monitored by the county Department of Mosquito Control for signs of the Asian bird flu. Although not here yet, migrating fowl may bring it to this area.
Counseling Contracts
CREST HAVEN – Freeholders were slated last night, too late for the Herald’s deadline, to award a $474,956 contract to Cape Counseling Services. That includes $286,057 for outpatient mental health and psychiatric services, $154,400 for adult intensive outpatient programs, and $34,499 for outreach and case management for vulnerable population.
2 Farmland Purchases
COLD SPRING – Freeholders were slated last night, too late for the Herald’s deadline, to approve two development rights purchases under the county’s Open Space and Farmland Preservation program. Jonathan and Laura Sacher would receive an estimated $2 million for 18 acres at 574 New England Road in Cold Spring. They grow hay. Eric and Earlene Klein would receive an estimated $2.86 million for 266 acres at Moore Road north of the county Animal Shelter in Crest Haven. They grow ornamental dune grasses and have a woodland management plan. Open Space Director Barbara Ernst said that includes 28 acres of uplands, 17 acres of buffer area and the remainder is wetlands.
Reset Planning
SEA ISLE CITY – The special Planning Board meeting scheduled for Monday was cancelled due to time restraints. “There was only one item on the agenda anyway,” explained city Clerk Terry Tighe. The next meeting will be held May 18 at 7 p.m.
Zoners Strike
SEA ISLE CITY – The Zoning Board doesn’t plan to meet again until the commissioners promise to protect its members in court. The board sent a letter to the commissioners stating that they feel the city won’t provide legal counsel for board Solicitor Ellen Nicholson Byrnes as well as board member Patricia Urbaczewski in regards to their zoning duties. The dilemma traces back to Louise Clemente’s 2003 application for a height variance that would allow her handmade gazebo to be four feet above city regulations. Urbaczewski, who lives adjacent to the property, filed the original complaint, prompting Clemente to allege that she didn’t receive a fair hearing. City Solicitor Paul Baldini claims that the matter is a “misunderstanding.” A settlement conference is set for May 16.
Family Matters
MAYVILLE – John Meade III, of Lower Township allegedly attempted to stab his brother Robert E. Meade, of Philadelphia and other family members with a knife at a family gathering on Gulf Club Road May 7. According to Middle Township police, Robert Meade pulled out a .38-caliber gun and fired a bullet into the ground. Officers arrived on the scene around 10:30 p.m., and  John Meade was taken away with cuts from the knife and bite marks from a German shepherd that he had tried to stab. He was charged with four counts of aggravated assault with a weapon, making terroristic threats, and unlawful weapons possession. He’s being held at the county jail on $100,000 bail. Robert Meade was charged with several weapons offenses, including possession of illegal hollow-point bullets and is being held in jail on $40,000 bail.
Airport Set  for Grant
WOODBINE – The municipal airport will receive a $68,690 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to finance weather-reporting equipment. The grant awards, which totaled $2.6 million in all and included grants for other south Jersey airports, were announced by U.S. Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez (both D) on May 5.
Off-Track Bet Stalls
TRENTON – Off-track wagering was approved by voters in 2000 and 15 sites were approved by the Legislature in 2002, but there still aren’t any betting parlors open. Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) introduced a resolution May 8 that is designed to speed up the Sports and Exposition Authority’s efforts.  Another bill that came before the Tourism and Gaming Committee May 8 would open the off-track wagering licenses to competition. The bill is sponsored by Assemblywomen Linda Stender (D-22nd). The state Sports and Exposition Authority has been approved run 13 of the 15 sites and claims that the approval process for one site is nearly complete.  
Elderly Assault
VILLAS – Jason Martin, 26, of this community was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest for a May 7 incident that injured an elderly man. Police responded to a report of a hit-and-run accident around 7 a.m. in the area of Main Street and Maryland Avenue. On arrival, they received a report of a subject being chased down the street by another person, leading police to determine that the incident was an assault and not a motor vehicle incident. They found the elderly victim lying in the street allegedly beaten by the assailant. Martin is being held at the county jail on $10,000 bail.
Domestic Assault
VILLAS – Michael Wollamer of this community was arrested for assault May 7. Police responded to a 9-1-1 hang-up call around 10 a.m. They saw a child standing outside of the residence claiming that his parents were fighting. Wollamer became hostile while in the back of the patrol car, kicking out the window, and needed to be subdued with pepper spray. Wollamer was charged with assault for the domestic, resisting arrest, and the criminal mischief to the police car. He is being held at the county jail on $10,000 bail.
Villas Drug Arrest
VILLAS – After receiving information regarding a large purchase of heroin, Lower Township police stopped a vehicle on Fulling Mill Road May 3 about 4:30 p.m., and seized 22 bags of heroin, a small amount of crack cocaine, and a hypodermic syringe. Thomas J. Decicco, of Ocean City, was charged with possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to distribute. According to a police report, when asked for identification, a detective saw several bags of heroin protruding from Decicco’s wallet. A passenger in the vehicle, Michael Lynch, of Villas, was charged with possession of a hypodermic needle. Bail for Decicco was set at $25,000. He was found to have outstanding warrants from Hamilton Township and Atlantic County. Lynch was released on a summons.
Trailer Fire
DIAS CREEK – A fire at King Nummy Campground here on Route 47, May 2 about 4 a.m. destroyed two travel trailers, a vehicle, and damaged two other trailers. Trees and brush also caught fire. Jerome Hubis Jr. of Parkside, Pa. was found outside his trailer suffering from burns and smoke inhalation. He told police he awoke to find his trailer on fire and escaped through a window. Hubis was flown via helicopter to Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. Preliminary investigation indicated the fire started in a gas heater. 
Apartment Fire
NORTH CAPE MAY – A fire at the Channel’s Apartments, Bayshore and Ferry roads May 6 about 4:30 p.m. injured two. The fire started in the bedroom of an apartment. Two people suffered minor injuries and were transported to Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital by Lower Township Rescue Squad. No other units were damaged. The apartment where the fire originated was determined to be uninhabitable. 
Can’t Say That
TRENTON – The state Commerce, Economic Growth, and Tourism Commission has dumped the phrase “Come See for Yourself,” as its tourism slogan after it discovered it had formerly been used by West Virginia. The slogan came as a result of a contest, a project of former Gov. Richard J. Codey. The slogan will not be featured on television commercials promoting state tourism.
Two Arrested
ERMA – Lower Township police arrested two on outstanding warrants in North Cape May shopping center May 2 about 1 p.m. and discovered drugs on one of the individuals. Following a pat down search, April Jordan, 22, of Rio Grande, was allegedly found concealing 10 bags of heroin on her person, according to a police report. A passenger in the vehicle, Timothy E. Marco, 23, of North Cape May, was found to be wanted on a body warrant from the county Prosecutor’s Office and two warrants from Lower Township. Both were lodged in the county jail, Jordan under $25,000 bail and Marco with no bail for the body warrant and $612 for the other two warrants.
Assault Sentence
COURT HOUSE – Philip E. Cimini, 24, was sentenced to two, four-year prison sentences May 4 to be served concurrently for sexually molesting two young girls. According to Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten, Cimini had been arrested 42 times in the last 12 years on charges ranging from lewdness to burglary. He pled guilty earlier this year to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Cimini could have faced 10 to 20 years in prison but the girls, who are his relatives, asked for a lighter sentence.
Ax Threat
WOODBINE –  Jose Lopez, of this city, was arrested May 6, after State Police said he robbed two men, threatening them with an ax. Lopez was charged with terroristic threats, armed robbery, possession of a weapon and cocaine. With his face covered by a red bandana, Lopez approached two men about 7 p.m., according to police. He robbed them of a cell phone and about $120. One of the victims ran to the nearby police station to report the robbery. Lopez was found one block away. He was lodged in county jail under $50,000 bail.   
Dog ‘IDs’ Owner
COURT HOUSE – Kelly A. Lord, 36, of Wildwood Crest, was indicted by a grand jury May 9 on charges of leaving the scene of an accident. Lord struck Sergio Montes with her vehicle in the intersection of Morning Glory Road and Atlantic Avenue, Feb. 17, according to the indictment. Lord’s dog jumped from her vehicle at the scene. After the dog’s photo was published in a newspaper, she was identified as the dog’s owner. Police found damage on her vehicle that was consistent with the accident. Witnesses testified she exited her vehicle, looked at Montes, and drove from the scene, minus her dog. 

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