The office manager of a Tinton Falls-based construction company has been criminally charged with swindling her employer out of more than $2.2 million over the course of seven years, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced.
Donna Cook, 52, of Howell, is charged with second degree theft, third degree forgery and third degree false uttering, according to a press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.
An investigation initiated by the Tinton Falls Police Department that ultimately grew to also involve members of the prosecutor’s office Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau was launched several months ago and soon determined that starting in 2015 and continuing into 2021, Cook allegedly stole company funds by writing herself unauthorized checks, according to the press release.
The investigation further determined that Cook had allegedly forged the signature
of a company principal for the unauthorized checks, some of which were made payable
to cash. The total yearly payouts ranged in value from a little more than $75,000 to
nearly $475,000 and were allegedly used by Cook for personal expenses, according to the press release.
Cook was charged and released on her own recognizance pending a court appearance on Feb. 15. If convicted on the second degree offense, Cook would face up to 10 years in
state prison, according to the press release.
Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation (S-3319/A-5507) into law that eliminates certain juvenile justice fines, fees, costs and other monetary penalties. The legislation acts to improve the juvenile justice system by eliminating unnecessary costs, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.
“Eliminating these fees will contribute toward breaking the cycle of poverty that often stems from historically biased institutions,” Murphy said. “The imposition of fines and fees on justice-involved youth often falls disproportionately on minority and low income families. I am proud to sign legislation that will further the rehabilitation goals of the juvenile justice system and make New Jersey stronger and fairer for everyone.”
The law prohibits a warrant from being issued for a juvenile defendant or the parents or guardian of a juvenile defendant for failure to pay certain statutorily imposed assessments, probation fees and other court imposed financial obligations, restitution or child support, according to the press release.
Live Standardbred horse racing, also known as harness racing, must continue at racetracks in New Jersey under a new law sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer (R-Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex and Burlington).
On Jan. 10, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the bill (A-2265/S-3771) into law. The law requires Standardbred racetracks that have sports wagering licenses to hold a minimum of 151 race dates, with limited exceptions, according to a press release from the state Assembly Republicans.
“The horse racing industry relies on thousands of jobs, from veterinarians to trainers and many others, and generates millions of dollars in tax revenue while also supporting open space,” Dancer said. “My bill will protect this vital industry while making sure fans can continue to experience the excitement and thunder of harness racing in New Jersey.”
The legislation affects the two Standardbred racetracks in the state, the Meadowlands in East Rutherford and Freehold Raceway in Freehold Borough.
Gov. Phil Murphy has signed into law S-3416, which codifies marriage equality in New Jersey law by providing that all laws concerning marriage and civil union are to be read with gender neutral intent.
Marriage equality currently exists in New Jersey based on state and federal court decisions. The new law protects marriage equality by codifying it into New Jersey law, according to a press release from the Governor’s office.
“Despite the progress we have made as a country, there is still much work to be done to protect the LGBTQ+ community from intolerance and injustice. New Jersey is stronger and fairer when every member of our LGBTQ+ family is valued and given equal protection under the law,” said Murphy. “I am honored to sign legislation that represents our New Jersey values and codifies marriage equality into state law.”
State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Monmouth) was a sponsor of the bill and said, “Basic equal rights should not be denied to any class of citizen, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The law must protect all civil rights and continue to honor the union between two people who love each other. We need to make these rights more secure by writing them into law.”
This legislation brings New Jersey statutory law into conformance with the 2013 decision in Garden State Equality v. Dow, as well as the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which held that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right and that all states are required to allow same-sex couples to marry, according to the press release.
Enacting S-3416 into law ensures that the right to same-sex marriage will continue to exist in New Jersey even if these state and federal court precedents were to be overturned, according to the press release.
The Monmouth County Board of County Commissioners has announced that Monmouth County Tourism has been honored with the President’s Award from the New Jersey Tourism Industry Association (NJTIA) for the development and launch of the new tourism website in 2020.
“I am thrilled Monmouth County Tourism has received the President’s Award from the NJTIA for all of the effort that was put into the new tourism website,” Commissioner Director Thomas A. Arnone was quoted as saying in a press release.
“The (coronavirus) pandemic forced tourism to adapt to the changing and increasing demands for user-friendly online access to information and I commend the county tourism staff for their hard work and dedication to the residents and visitors of Monmouth County,” Arnone said.
The award highlights that in early 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic began, Monmouth County Tourism began rebranding its web presence and created a new website. The transformation of the new website began in 2020 and officially launched in April 2021.
By early August, the website had nearly 30,000 users. In addition to the new website, Monmouth County Tourism also commissioned promotional videos that focused on Monmouth County being a year-round tourism destination, according to the press release.
Atlantic Highlands Councilman Brian Boms, who has been a member of the Monmouth County Library Commission for two years, was named chairman of the commission during the panel’s 2022 reorganization meeting, according to a press release.
In stressing he importance of a library system, Boms quoted Andrew Carnegie in his belief that “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people.”
“Our staff continues to meet the challenges of working around the (coronavirus) pandemic while planning the completion of renovations and improvements at the headquarters library” in Manalapan, Boms said.
Barbara McMorrow was named vice chairwoman of the commission; Mary Ann Musich continued as secretary; and Marcy McMullen, treasurer. The board welcomed Barbara Lovell, West Long Branch, as a new member of the commission, according to the press release.