Monmouth County News Briefs, Dec. 14


The Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey (PDFNJ) is inviting New Jersey high school students to create original music with substance use prevention messages as part of the 2023 Your Song! Your Voice! Shout Down Drugs New Jersey music competition.

Back for its 19th year, the Your Song! Your Voice! music competition allows teenagers to have a free platform to promote their music while inspiring other teens, according to a press release.

The competition is open to any type of music genres or any musical style. It does not matter what kind of music a teenager may be into; jazz, rock, reggae, rhythm and blues, and more, The PDFNJ wants to hear Your Song! Your Voice!

Entries will be accepted through March 5. Students interested in sharing their musical talent can submit original music with lyrics about substance use prevention.

“The Your Song! Your Voice! music competition was established on the premise that music has an ability move people.” said Angelo Valente, PDFNJ’s executive director. “It is a great opportunity for today’s youth to not only get their music heard by thousands, but also become peer leaders by creating positive messages about substance use prevention that can have a great impact on people’s lives.”

A panel of judges will select a group of finalists whose songs will be showcased in the 19th annual virtual Prevention Concert on April 26.

The winner of the Your Song! Your Voice! competition will be announced live on WRAT-FM at the end of the Prevention Concert. The winner will receive a $5,000 music contract. The second and third place performers will receive $3,000 and $2,000 music contracts, respectively, with the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, according to the press release.

For rules and information about how to enter the competition, contact Diane Higgins at 973-275-7985 or [email protected].


Fulfill, a leader in alleviating hunger and building food security in Monmouth and Ocean counties, has named Jonathan Rowe as its new vice president of operations.

Rowe joins Fulfill from Clutter Moving and Storage after spending the last year as senior operations manager for the Northeast Region. In that role, Rowe oversaw four warehouses across the company’s most complex and busiest region, including three new launches in 2022 because of an acquisition merger, according to a press release.

Prior to Clutter, Rowe spent seven years in various operations, quality and process improvement roles at E-Commerce distribution centers at Wayfair and Amazon.

Rowe is a U.S. Navy veteran, twice deployed to Afghanistan. He resides in Howell with his wife, Kaelyn, and children, Brielle and Nathan.

“I am very excited about joining the Fulfill team and having a position that allows me to work in service to the community,” he said. “The mission of Fulfill, the impact they have and what will be accomplished in the future are all reasons why I look forward to this opportunity.”


The Monmouth County SPCA held its second annual Doggy Paddle Polar Plunge on Nov. 26 at D’Jais in Belmar. This year’s event raised more than $100,000 with hundreds of participants, according to a press release.

The plunge kicked off at 10 a.m. with a pre-plunge party that featured breakfast, music and a kiddie pool filled for dogs to take a “plunge” of their own to choose treats and toys.

The official plunge kickoff occurred at noon with a welcome by MCSPCA Executive Director Ross Licitra when prizes were awarded for the best human and animal costumes. Individual participants and teams who raised the most funds also received prizes for their contributions.

Under the watchful eye of Belmar police officers and EMS squads, hundreds of supporters then crossed the street to the beach and took a plunge in the ocean. An After-Plunge Party at D’Jais featured live music from Holme and Bobby Bandiera.

This year’s polar plunge marked the first time a special award was presented for the youngest animal advocate participant. Finn Richard, 8, who raised more than $700 as a “Puppy Plunger,” received the Nancy Voccola Warm Heart Award. The award celebrates and encourages youth activism for humane welfare, according to the press release.


A resident of Englishtown has admitted producing multiple videos depicting him sexually assaulting a minor, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced on Dec. 6.

Christian Importuna, 27, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to one count of an indictment charging him with production of child pornography, according to a press release from the United States Attorney District of New Jersey.

According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, in March 2020, Importuna produced at least two videos that showed him sexually assaulting a pre-pubescent female child.

The videos came to the attention of law enforcement on March 24, 2020 when Importuna attempted to trade images of child pornography with an undercover law enforcement official on an internet-based application.

Law enforcement officials initially linked the videos to Importuna through business records indicating they were sent from his Englishtown residence. The investigation further linked Importuna to the production of the images through physical identifiers that were visible in the subject videos.

According to the press release, the charge of production of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison, a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 17.