An Old Bridge man who allegedly sent a harassing email to an Old Bridge Township councilperson has been charged with bias intimidation.
Adam Valvo, 52, of Old Bridge, was charged on April 27 with two counts of fourth-degree bias intimidation and one count of harassment, according to information provided by Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Acting Chief Joseph P. Mandola, Jr. of the Old Bridge Police Department (OBPD) on April 28.
A joint investigation by the OBPD and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO) was initiated after authorities learned a racist email had been sent to Old Bridge Ward 3 Councilwoman Edina Brown on March 7. The investigation was assisted by the Division of Criminal Justice, Bias Crimes Unit.
The investigation by Detective William Dugan of the OBPD and Detective Jason Mendelson of the MCPO determined Valvo authored and sent the email, which contained profanities and racial epithets, to Brown, according to the allegations.
“Let me be clear: hate has no home in New Jersey, and we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who seek to harm, harass, or intimidate others through their racist actions,” Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in the statement. “We have zero tolerance for acts of bias and hate in the Garden State, and I commend Middlesex Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone, the MCPO, and the OBPD for their successful investigation, identifying the alleged actor who targeted Councilperson Brown last month with a vile, racist and threatening email.”
“I commend all the law enforcement agencies for their professional and successful investigation. The MCPO has a proud tradition of zero tolerance for any acts of bias and hate,” Ciccone said in the statement.
Brown, one of two Democrats on the Township Council and the only member of color on the dais, received the letter on March 7.
She began her first term in 2018.
A member of the public read in full the email at a Township Council meeting on March 9, which called Brown a “whining” derogatory name, and the email continued using the derogatory name referring to Black people and was not sure how Brown was elected to a position in a Republican township, according to past reports in the Suburban.
During prior council meetings, Brown had expressed concerns about feeling threatened from other members on the dais. She did not appear in person at a council meeting on March 23 because she was told she was not allowed to bring her own security to the meeting.
At the time, Mayor Owen Henry had said “any speech, whether written or spoken, in which any type of racial epithet or slur is included, is unacceptable, inappropriate and condemnable.
“I immediately instructed that all warranted resources be committed to identify the author or group responsible for composing and sending such an offensive document,” he said. “Additionally, I have requested that appropriate outside law enforcement agencies be contacted to assist as required. Given that this is an open and continuing investigation, I am not at liberty to discuss details of the investigation and/or matters related to it.”
After the announcement on April 28, Henry praised township and county law enforcement for working together and apprehending the suspect.
“I want to thank the MCPO and their investigators and the township’s police department and their investigators in working together to locate and arrest the suspect,” Henry said a statement. “When I was first made aware of the hateful email, I immediately advised then-Chief Volkert to use all available resources, including joining with any and all law enforcement agencies, to track the email to ensure that the person responsible for this reprehensible act would be found and prosecuted.
“While the past few weeks have been difficult, I know that the entire Township Council joins me in thanking all those involved in the investigation and ultimate arrest. Under advice of counsel, we were told not to comment on the email and investigation so that the investigators would not be thwarted in their effort to apprehend the culprit. Now that has become a reality. We thank you for a job well done.”
The investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information should call Dugan at 732-721-5600 or Mendelson at 732-745-8382.
- Kathy Chang and Jennifer Amato contributed to this report.