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Co-founder of Summit robotics lab indicted for sexual crimes against students

A Union County grand jury has returned a fourteen-count indictment against the co-founder of a Summit-based robotics laboratory charged with sexual crimes against six students, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel and Summit Police Department Acting Chief Steven Zagorski jointly announced Thursday.

Christopher P. Marbaix, 60, is charged with five counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 13, six counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, and three counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual contact with a child.

These charges are the result of a joint investigation by members of the Summit Police Department’s Juvenile Detective Unit and the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Bryan Tiscia, who is prosecuting the case. The investigation revealed that on multiple occasions from September 2015 through December 2018, Marbaix allegedly inappropriately touched the six victims while they were under his personal instruction at Robot Revolution, when they were between the ages of 9 and 15.

Since filing charges against Marbaix in November of 2020, further information led investigators to file six additional charges in January of 2022 in connection with three new victims, bringing the total alleged victim count from three to six and the total charges against Marbaix from eight to fourteen.

Robot Revolution’s website describes the program as the largest robotics school in the state, having given instruction to more than 3,000 students since opening nine years ago.

“Children endeavoring to learn should be able to so safely, and the alleged actions of this defendant impacted that right,” said Prosecutor Daniel. “The law enforcement agencies of Union County are dedicated to protecting the children of our community and the continued work during this joint investigation between the Prosecutor’s Office and the Summit Police Department is a testament to that commitment.”

“This indictment is the result of diligent work and a coordinated effort between the Summit Police Department and the Union County Prosecutor’s Office,” explains Acting Summit Police Chief Steven Zagorski. “Working together, we were able to identify additional victims and bring forward stronger charges to secure this action.”

Anyone with information regarding Marbaix’s activities is still urged to contact Summit Police Department Captain Ryan Peters at 908-277-9380.

Convictions on second-degree criminal offenses are commonly punishable by 5 to 10 years in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Elizabeth man charged in connection with fatal stabbing

An Elizabeth man has been arrested and charged in connection with a fatal stabbing that took place overnight, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel and Elizabeth Police Director Earl Graves and Elizabeth Police Chief Giacomo Sacca jointly announced Saturday.

Edwin Rivera, 48, is charged with first-degree murder and two related weapons offenses in connection with the fatal stabbing of Jose Burgos, 56, of Elizabeth.

Shortly before 9 p.m. on Friday, December 31, members of the Elizabeth Police Department responded to the 400 block of Elizabeth Avenue after receiving reports of a stabbing at that location. A witness drove Burgos to Trinitas Hospital, where he was ultimately pronounced dead, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Colleen Ruppert, who is prosecuting the case.

Rivera was taken into custody without incident and is currently being held in the Union County Jail pending a first appearance.

This fast-moving investigation was led by the Union County Homicide Task Force and the Elizabeth Police Department, and was assisted by the Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit.

Anyone with information about this matter is still urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Sergeant Danika Ramos at 908-451-7739, Detective Kevin Stanicki at 908-477-6649 or Elizabeth Police Department Detective Eduardo Lozada at 908-558-2033.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Prosecutor

Newark man arrested and charged for Plainfield kidnapping sexual assault

A Newark man has been arrested and charged in connection with a kidnapping and sexual assault that took place in Plainfield earlier this year, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel and Acting Plainfield Police Director Captain David Guarino jointly announced Thursday.

Jafa McAllister, 33, is charged with four counts of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault,three counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, four counts of third-degree terroristic threats, one count each of first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary, and third degree aggravated criminal sexual contact, and three related third and fourth degree weapons charges.

On November 28, 2021, members of the Plainfield Police Department were notified that a kidnapping and sexual assault had occurred on the 300 block of Liberty Street in Plainfield.

A joint investigation launched by the Union County Special Victims Unit and the Plainfield Police Department revealed that in the early morning hours of November 28th, a female awoke to find three unknown males in her home, who were armed and demanding money, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Tina Fay, who is prosecuting the case.

The investigation revealed that, over the course of several hours, McAllister and two yet unidentified intruders held the woman and her three children captive in their home. During the attackthe adult victim was sexually assaulted at knife-point. The three then forced the victims into their own car and drove them to Newark, where they were held for several hours before escaping when the assailants exited the vehicle, Fay stated.

The exhaustive investigation, assisted by the Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit and the New Jersey State Police, resulted in McAllister’s identification and arrest on themorning of December 28th. He is currently being held in the Essex County Jail pending a first appearance.

This matter remains under active investigation, and anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit Sergeant Janet Lopez at 908-347-8491, Detective Jennifer Smith at 908-759-8254, or Plainfield Police Department Detective Chanel Johnson at 732-343-0718.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously by phone at 908-654-TIPS (8477) or online at www.uctip.org; submission of tips made in this fashion that result in an indictment and conviction can be eligible for a reward of up to $10,000 via the Union County Crime Stoppers.

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Former Plainfield Police Sergeant found guilty of thefts from City

A Union County jury has returned guilty verdicts on several charges filed against a former Plainfield Police Sergeant who exploited her position to further a scheme to steal money from the City and citizens of Plainfield by falsifying work records in order to fraudulently obtain unearned pay, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel announced today.  

Leslie Knight, 51, of Plainfield was found guilty Tuesday on several counts of both third and fourth-degree theft by deception and one charge of falsifying records, a fourth-degree crime, following a two-week trial before Union County Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch and five hours of jury deliberation.  The jury found her not guilty on one count of official misconduct and six additional counts of theft.   

An investigation which began in the Plainfield Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit, and was subsequently referred to and taken over by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Prosecutions Unit, revealed that for an eighteen month period between 2012 and 2013, Knight — who was then a Sergeant in the department’s Administrative Bureau and had been employed by the Department since 2001 – “purposely submitted false requests for overtime and extra-duty job payments that overlapped with each other, and also with her regular duty hours, resulting in her pocketing double and sometimes triple payments from the City of Plainfield for the same hours”, according to Assistant Prosecutors Robert Rosenthal and Christopher Desimone who prosecuted the case.  The value of the thefts for which Knight was found guilty amounted to more than $1,100, they added. 

Knight was initially charged in September of 2014 and indicted by a Union County Grand Jury in August of the following year.  In 2019, Knight pled guilty to a disorderly persons offense, agreed to forfeit her public employment and pay restitution.  Knight later successfully moved to withdraw her guilty plea, and the matter was set for trial.  Knight had been was suspended without pay while awaiting the outcome of the case.

Sentencing has been scheduled for Friday, March 11, 2022 before Judge Kirsch, at which time Knight can face a sentence of up to six-and-a half years in state prison, be ordered to pay restitution, and be permanently barred from future public employment in New Jersey.

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Elizabeth man sentenced to 25 years for 2019 shooting death

A defendant who previously pled guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the 2019 shooting death of an Elizabeth man has been sentenced to 25 years in state prison for the crime, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel, Elizabeth Police Director Earl Graves and Elizabeth Police Chief Giacomo Sacca jointly announced today.

Ronald Santiago, Jr., 25 of Elizabeth, must serve at least eighty-five percent of the 25-year term before becoming eligible for parole, according to terms handed down on December 10th by State Superior Court Judge John Deitch.

During the early morning hours of Tuesday, June 4, 2019, Elizabeth Police Department patrol units responded to a report of a shooting at the community pool area of the Mravlag Manor housing complex. There they found 27 year-old Alphonso James suffering from what was later determined to be eleven gunshot wounds, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Grady, who prosecuted the case. James was pronounced dead a little more than half an hour later, Grady said.  The crime was caught on surveillance cameras, and a joint investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force, Elizabeth Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit quickly resulted in Santiago being identified as a suspect in the case. Santiago was arrested  on the same morning of the shooting.  Detectives later uncovered blood-stained evidence, containing the victim’s DNA, in an apartment in which Santiago was staying, Grady added.  Santiago ultimately confessed to shooting James. 

Santiago was indicted by a Union County Grand Jury in August of 2019 and pled guilty before Judge Deitch in October of this year.  At that time, he also pled guilty to possessing a handgun for an unlawful purpose for which he was sentenced to 5 years, during which he must serve 42 months before being eligible for parole on that charge.

“We are grateful for the collaboration with our partner law enforcement agencies who worked with our Office in bringing Mr. Santiago to justice,” Prosecutor Daniel said. “And we hope his conviction and sentence can bring some small measure of comfort to all those grieving Mr. James.”

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Fatal shooting in Elizabeth under investigation

A fatal shooting that took place in Elizabeth on Thursday evening is under investigation, Union County Prosecutor William Daniel, Elizabeth Police Director Earl Graves and Elizabeth Police Chief Giacomo Sacca jointly announced Friday.

The victim has been identified as Shamar L. Brown, 34, of Elizabeth.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 16, members of the Elizabeth Police Department responded to the intersection of Second Street and Bond Street in Elizabeth, where they found Brown at that location, having sustained serious injury, according to the preliminary investigation. He was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene.

This matter remains under investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force, Elizabeth Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit, and the Union County Police Department Ballistics Unit. 

Anyone with information is being urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force Sergeant Christopher Scuorzo at 908-472-0492, Detective Richard Acosta at 908-347-0404, or Elizabeth Police Department Detective John Londono at 908-578-5192.

The Union County Crime Stoppers are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case; tips can be given anonymously by phone at 908-654-TIPS (8477) or online at www.uctip.org.

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Plainfield man charged in connection with October sexual assault

A Plainfield man has been charged in connection with a sexual assault that occurred in the city earlier this year, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel and Acting Plainfield Police Director Captain David Guarino jointly announced Thursday.

Terence Rhue, 22, is charged with first-degree aggravated sexual assault with a weapon, third-degree aggravated criminal sexual contact with a weapon, and two related fourth-degree weapons offenses.

On October 4, 2021, members of the Plainfield Police Department responded to a residence on Randolph Road in Plainfield following reports of a sexual assault by an armed individual at that location, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutors Caroline Lawlor and Bryan Tiscia, who are prosecuting the case.

DNA evidence collected at the scene of the October 4th incident was processed through the Prosecutor’s Office Forensic Laboratory for testing, where analysis revealed a strong match to Rhue.

This investigation was led by the Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Plainfield Police Department, with assistance from the Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit.

These new charges are in addition to several charges already pending against Rhue for his alleged role in a home invasion and sexual assault that took place in Westfield on October 19, 2021.

Rhue has remained lodged in the Essex County Jail since his October arrest. A first appearance for the additional charges is scheduled for later today.

Anyone with information about this matter is still urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Detective Annie Coll at 908-347-2474 or PPD Detective Carlos Navarro at 908-753-3415.

Convictions on crimes of this nature are commonly punishable by terms of up to twenty years in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Public’s help sought in string of violent robberies under investigation in Plainfield

A series of violent street robberies which have occurred over the course of several weeks in Plainfield is under investigation, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel and Acting Plainfield Police Director Captain David Guarino jointly announced Wednesday.

The robberies have been carried out in Plainfield, primarily during early morning and daytime hours, and the suspects — believed to be a group of between two and four black males utilizing stolen motor vehicles– appear to be targeting lone Hispanic males throughout the City. “The investigation into these intolerable attacks has been ongoing and was ramped up after four robberies of Hispanic males were reported over this past weekend” Daniel stated.  Evidence gained throughout this investigation has led to information possibly linking the current attacks to numerous additional robberies dating back to the spring of this year. 

The Prosecutor’s Office and Plainfield Police Department are releasing video footage obtained during the investigation in hopes that a member of the public will recognize one or more of the perpetrators or have information that would assist in identifying the suspects, additional victims or persons with further information. 

A joint investigation involving the Plainfield Police Department and Union County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit remains ongoing, and anyone with information about this matter is being strongly urged to contact Plainfield Police Sergeant Thomas Collina at 732-620-2209 or Union County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Alex Lanza at 908- 672-2011.

Tips can also be submitted anonymously by phone at 908-654-TIPS (8477) or online at www.uctip.org; submission of tips made in this fashion that result in an indictment and conviction can be eligible for a reward of up to $10,000 via the Union County Crime Stoppers.

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Veteran East Orange Police Department officer/PAL youth football director indicted for sexual crimes against children

A Union County grand jury has returned a 16-count indictment against a 30-year veteran of the East Orange Police Department charged with serious sexual crimes against 4 children, Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel announced Tuesday.

Edward Giles, 61, formerly of Roselle, is charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault of a child, two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault of a child victim over whom the defendant had supervisory or disciplinary power, five counts of various second-degree sexual offenses against a child victim, four counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child by photographing or videotaping child in a prohibited sexual act, and three counts of third-degree invasion of privacy.

Giles, a 30-year veteran of the East Orange Police Department, served as a community resource officer and youth football director for the East Orange Police Athletic League (PAL).

In 2019, a seven-month investigation led by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit (SVU) was initiated following a referral by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, who also assisted the investigation alongside the Prosecutor’s Office’s Cyber Crime Task Force and the Roselle Police Department. Investigators determined that several of the alleged incidents occurred at Giles’s home on the 300 block of West 4th Avenue in Roselle, according to SVU Director and Union County Assistant Prosecutor Caroline Lawlor, who is prosecuting the case.

The initial investigation revealed that the first victim, a student-athlete playing for the East Orange Wildcats youth football team, then coached by Giles, was allegedly assaulted on several occasions from 1998 into 2000, when he was between 11 and 13 years old, Lawlor said. The second victim, also a youth football player, was allegedly assaulted from 2002 into 2003, when he was between 12 and 13 years old.

Following the execution of a search warrant at Giles’ home, forensic analysis of recovered recorded materials resulted in the addition of several charges. The recordings were made between April 2018 and October 2019, when the victims were between the ages of 13 and 15 years old.

Anyone with additional information about Giles’ activities is urged to contact Union County Prosecutor’s Office Lieutenant Sofia Santos at 908-577-4256.

Convictions on criminal charges of this nature are commonly punishable by 10 to 20 years in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

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Plainfield man charged in connection with fatal stabbing

Michael Gonzalez, 27, of Plainfield, has been arrested and charged in connection with a fatal stabbing that took place Sunday morning in Plainfield, Union County Prosecutor William Daniel and Plainfield Police Department Acting Director Captain David Guarino jointly announced Monday. 

Gonzalez has been charged with first degree aggravated manslaughter, two related second degree weapons offenses, and fourth degree hindering an investigation.

Shortly before 4:40 a.m. on Sunday, members of the Plainfield Police Department responded to the 400 block of Liberty Street and found the victim, Osmond Franklin, 48, of Plainfield, at that location, having sustained serious injury, according to preliminary investigation.

Franklin was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where he was later pronounced dead.

A fast moving investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force, Plainfield Police Department, and Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit resulted in Gonzalez being identified as the suspect. Gonzalez was taken into custody without incident on Sunday evening and is lodged in the Union County Jail pending a first appearance and detention hearing to take place in Union County Superior Court.  

Anyone with information about this matter is still urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Task Force Sergeant Christopher Scuorzo at 908-472-0492, Detective Nora Berrio at 908-370-3016, or the Plainfield Police Department at 908-753-3360.

Convictions on criminal charges of this nature are commonly punishable by terms of 10 to 30 years in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.