LAKEWOOD – Another local man was charged with hosting a wedding while such parties are prohibited during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lakewood Police were dispatched to a Wayne Street residence on March 26 for a report of a gathering of about 40 people. This was in violation of Executive Order No. 107, which bans gatherings of individuals, such as weddings, parties, celebrations, or other social events, said Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.
The owner of the property, William Katzenstein, 39, was issued a summons for Violating Any Rule or Regulation Adopted by the Governor in violation of APP.A. 9-49h. Katzenstein received a future court date and the gathering was dispersed.
“We understand that everyone’s daily routine has been affected by the coronavirus and our state’s effort to isolate and contain the spread of this outbreak. It’s not easy. We understand how difficult it is change your way of living. We are all adapting as best we can. We all need to recognize the vital role we all have in flattening the curve of this outbreak. Stay home, practice social distancing and please be considerate of the risks our men and women in law enforcement are facing every day,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.
Flattening the curve is a term medical professionals have been using to describe slowing the spread of the disease so that it doesn’t overflow the hospitals. Currently, in other states and countries, medical professionals have been getting sick and dying from the disease as they try to treat people. In New York City, refrigerated trucks have been brought to hospitals to store the bodies.
This latest arrest is just one in a series of people flaunting the quarantine rules. Two other incidents happened in Lakewood and one in Penns Grove, according to a statement by Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal.
“Our first responders should not be expending their limited personal protective equipment and putting themselves at risk by breaking up large gatherings…” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “That’s why we’ve charged these three individuals and will charge anyone else who threatens public health by holding large gatherings during this emergency. Our message is clear: stay home!”
The first incident in Lakewood was a wedding on March 25. Police responded to a large group of people gathered at a tent outside a home. Police attempted to disperse the wedding, however, the homeowner continued. Lakewood Police issued a summons to the homeowner, Meir T. Gruskin, 37, charging him with a disorderly persons offense for violating the emergency order. After the summons was issued, the wedding ended and the crowd dispersed.
The second incident in Lakewood was later that evening, when police discovered a gathering of about 25 teenage and adult males at a school. At the conclusion of the gathering, officers issued a summons to the school’s headmaster, Abraham Bursztyn, 48.
In Penns Grove, police responded to a noise complaint on Lanning Avenue on the night of March 21. There were 30 people at a house party. Penns Grove Police Department broke up the party and charged the man who was hosting the party, Jacquon Jones, 37, with a disorderly persons offense. Party guests were making videos of the party to post on YouTube.
These charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The point of banning gatherings is to slow the spread of the coronavirus before hospitals get overwhelmed.