The overdose death of an Oxford House resident has resulted in charges against a man described by authorities as an acquaintance. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
An Avon-by-the-Sea man has been charged for allegedly supplying the heroin that led to the overdose death of a resident of Rumson’s Oxford House rehab facility last October, the Monmouth County Prosecutor announced Tuesday.
Michael Renna, 25, was charged with one count of first degree strict liability for a drug-induced death and one count of third-degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a prepared statement.
News about the death of 25-year-old Christopher Pesce was the first that word that nearby residents had that the recovery residence had opened two months earlier in their residential corner of Rumson, and ignited a firestorm of objections.
It also led to a pair of countervailing lawsuits by the borough and Oxford House, litigation that now appears to be close to settlement.
Oxford House says in a court filing that the group home at 61 South Ward Avenue is getting new residents. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Oxford House has gone on the legal offensive against Rumson.
The parent organization of the embattled group home for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts filed a federal lawsuit against the borough on Friday, alleging discrimination in violation of fair housing and Americans with Disabilities laws.
The suit claims the town and borough Administrator Tom Rogers “have interfered with operation and occupancy” of the residence in the aftermath of two drug overdoses at the house since it opened in August – one resulting of the death of a 25-year-old Holmdel man in October, and the second in December, in which a resident required emergency treatment.
The manager of Oxford Houses for New Jersey says the Rumson group home is still occupied, but declines to say if there’s a proctor on site. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Rumson officials failed in their attempt to get a court order forcing a group home for recovering addicts to be vacated. But they appear to have effectively gotten what they wanted:
an empty Oxford House.
Or have they?
Contrary to the impressions of town officials and some neighbors, “it’s not vacant,” according to George Kent, who manages the house, at 61 South Ward Avenue, for the nonprofit Oxford House.
The house at 61 South Ward Avenue has been occupied by Oxford House since August. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Officials overseeing Rumson’s Oxford House were planning to turn the four-month-old addiction recovery facility for men into one serving addicted women and their children by the end of the year, redbankgreen has learned.
What will become of that plan is unclear, however, in the aftermath of a purported second drug overdose at the house in nine weeks and the filing of a borough lawsuit that slams Oxford House as a failure on its own terms and a danger to the neighborhood.
Oxford House on South Ward Avenue at about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
A medical emergency at Oxford House, the controversial addiction recovery residence that opened in Rumson without public notice in August, had neighbors buzzing about a possible second overdose there Tuesday.
Police Chief Scot Patterson tells redbankgreen that paramedics were called to the house on South Ward Avenue sometime after 5:30 a.m. on a report of an unresponsive person inside. Paterson said he did not know the nature of the emergency.
“All I know is that when the person left, he was alive and being treated by paramedics,” Paterson said.
“Not the best mix” of residents formed the initial population at the Oxford House when it opened in Rumson in August, a facility official told neighbors Tuesday night. One of the residents died of a drug overdose. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
The addiction-recovery residence that popped up unannounced in a quiet Rumson neighborhood this summer “did not get off to a good start,” an official with the organization that sponsors the facility told residents Tuesday night.
“We haven’t been good neighbors,” said George Kent, a regional manager with Oxford House, “and I take full responsibility for that.”
Standing at a lectern in the nave of St. George’s by the River Episcopal Church just a block from the Oxford House on South Ward Avenue, Kent fielded sometimes hostile questions from about 40 residents of the West Park neighborhood, hoping to establish a dialogue in the aftermath of a drug overdose death at the house.
An overflow crowd jammed Rumson’s council chambers to air concerns about an addiction recovery house in town. Below, Barbara Russell returns to her seat after speaking with borough Attorney Marty Barger. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Rumson residents packed a borough meeting Tuesday night to demand action regarding Oxford House, an addiction-recovery residence where a tenant died of a suspected drug overdose 10 days ago.
Seated on the floor and standing in the hallway outside the bimonthly meeting of the town’s governing body, neighbors teed up Oxford House for setting up a residence at 61 South Ward Avenue without notice and for a self-governance model they say isn’t working.
“They’re sitting on the porch and they are drinking,” in violation of Oxford’s own bylaws governing locally chartered houses, Washington Avenue resident Barbara Russell said of the house’s nine residents.
Having recently completed alcohol and drug treatment programs and then allowed to live together without supervision, Oxford’s young clients are naturally “going to come out and have a party,” said Russell, who described herself as a recovering alcoholic for 26 years.
Novelist Pam Jenoff served as Vice Consul for the US State Department in Krakow, Poland and is an expert on Poland and the Holocaust. On the morning of Sunday, February 28, Pam Jenoff speaks at Congregation B’nai Israel in Rumson about the role her State Department experiences played in shaping many of her novels.
Jenoff’s internationally best-selling debut novel The Kommandant’s Girl was based on actual events and was cited by Publisher’s weekly for its “luminous simplicity….”and hailed as “a breathtaking debut. “ This poignant Holocaust story – a suspenseful “page-turner” – is on the reading list of several area Book Clubs. Jenoff’s talk will be followed by book sales and author signings.
A 22-year-old Rumson resident was among 32 Americans chosen Saturday for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in England.
A senior economics major at Princeton— and former redbankgreen summer intern — Evan Soltas (seen at right) said he plans to use the two-year opportunity, worth $100,000, to refine his pursuit of economic truths and falsehoods underlying government policies.
“I’m still in shock, like, 48 hours later,” he told redbankgreen on Monday. “I’m totally thrilled, but in the moment, there was something of a panic attack. You don’t really believe it.”
Rumson officials said they learned that Oxford House had created the recovery home at 61 South Ward Avenue only after a resident’s death there. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
An Avon-by-the-Sea man has been indicted for the overdose death of a resident of Rumson’s Oxford House addiction recovery facility, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni announced Monday.
Michael Renna, 26 of Sylvania Avenue, faces two counts arising from the October 2013 death of 25-year-old Christopher L. Pesce, according to Gramiccioni.
Rumson officials have launched an effort to evict the residents of an addiction-recovery house following what Mayor John Ekdahl called an apparent drug overdose there early Tuesday morning.
Ekdahl said the town filed suit in Superior Court in Freehold Tuesday afternoon asking for an order that Oxford House residents, at 61 South Ward Avenue, clear out immediately, and that Oxford be barred from using it as a home for drug addicts and alcoholics.
The action follows the overdose death of an Oxford House resident on October 13 and a medical emergency involving another resident shortly before dawn on Tuesday.
Tim McCooey and Tom Ridgway, running under the banner of Rumson Family since launching their campaign less than two weeks ago, polled a combined 1,445 votes, compared to incumbent Republican Joe Hemphill, with 1,176, and zoning board member Laura Atwell, also a Republican, with 1,143, according to unofficial tallies posted by the Monmouth County Clerk’s office.
Inspired in part by what they saw as an insufficient response by the current administration to the sudden appearance in town of Oxford House, a drug-and-alcohol recovery home that was the scene of a drug fatality on October 13, McCooey and Ridgway hastily built a campaign that they said would live on, win or lose.
A write-in campaign for two candidates billing themselves as the Rumson Family ticket emerged in the wake of the Oxford House controversy last month. Below, Tim McCooey at the October 22 borough council meeting, the night before he became a candidate. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
If the trend over the past century holds on Election Day, Rumson will seat an all-Republican borough council in January.
Ah, but which Republicans?
In a development that may add drama to Rumson’s usual election-night snoozer, two political newcomers have mounted an eleventh-hour write-in campaign, hoping to harness what they say is frustration with their party’s incumbents.
The Rumson house where a man was found dead of a suspected drug overdose Sunday quietly became an addiction recovery residence in August, neighbors say. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Nestled in a quiet Rumson neighborhood still recovering from floodwaters that tore through a year ago, the grey house at the corner of South Ward and Washington avenues stands out, towering over its neighbors.
It also stands out as the subject of complaints to the police.
“They party all the time,” a neighbor who asked not to be identified said of the home’s occupants. “They are up all night. Partying on the front porch. Running through the neighborhood.”
Sunday evening, though, the police were at the house for another reason: looking into the death of one of its residents from a purported drug overdose.
To the surprise of many in this affluent community, the house turns be a drug- and alcohol-rehab residence.
Crime and arrest reports, unedited, as provided by the Fair Haven Police Department for the month of April, 2015.
4/3- An Oxford Ave resident reported that an unknown subject(s) had attempted to defraud the victim through a PayPal account. Ptl. John Koetzner took the report.
4/9- Janienn Dastagirzada, 32, Red Bank, was placed under arrested after an active traffic warrant for her arrest was located during a call for service. Subject was released after posting full cash bail. Det. Stephen Schneider was the arresting Officer.
Crime and arrest reports, unedited, as provided by the Fair Haven Police Department for August, 2014.
08/08/14- Erick Aviles-Sibrian, 21, Red Bank, was placed under arrest for possession of under 50 grams of Marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Subject was processed and later released pending a Fair Haven Court appearance. Ptl. John Koetzner was the arresting Officer assisted by Sgt. Jesse Dykstra.
8/22/14-Andrew Halper, 18, Eatontown, turned himself in on an active traffic warrant out of Fair Haven. Subject posted bail and was released. Ptl. John Koetzner was the arresting Officer.
Crime and arrest reports, unedited, as provided by the Fair Haven Police Department for the period of February 1 through March 31, 2014.
02/08- Rudolph Kastner, Age 50, Rumson, was arrested by Sgt. Jesse Dykstra for a warrant issued out of Rumson Borough for failure to comply with a court order. Subject posted bail before being released.
02/08- Gabrielle Zomro, Age 26, Rumson was arrested by Ptl. Dwayne Reevey for Driving While Intoxicated. Ms. Zomro also received summonses for Speeding and Reckless Driving. Subject was released pending a Fair Haven Court appearance.
Recent crime and arrest reports, unedited, as provided by the Middletown Township Police Department.
[See UPDATE below]
On December 14, 2013 Patrolman John Mele arrested a 17 year old male juvenile from Middletown, NJ, for Possession of under 50 Grams of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was released pending a court date.
James McBurney, age 24, from Navesink, NJ, arrested on December 13, 2013 by Patrolman John Mele on a Contempt of Court warrant issued by the Keansburg Municipal Court. He was released after posting $90.00 bail.
Jennifer Smith, age 35, from Hudson Avenue in Middletown, NJ, arrested on December 14, 2013 by Patrolman Adam Colfer for Harassment. She was released after posting $500.00 bail.
Recent activity reports, unedited, as provided by the Middletown Township Police Department.
Michael Dahlquist, age 38, from David Terrace in Red Bank, NJ, arrested on December 13, 2011 by Patrolman Charles Higgins for Criminal Mischief. He was released pending a court date.
Kimberly Rieger, age 20, from Prospect Avenue in Middletown, NJ, arrested by Corporal Keith MacDonald on a Contempt of Court warrant issued by the Middletown Municipal Court. She was held on $2,500.00 bail.
Mo Rocca interviewed Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl back during shorts weather for an upcoming piece for CBS Sunday Morning. (Click to enlarge)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
New Jersey, it seems, is always on the defensive. There’s the ‘Jersey stinks‘ stigma, and while we have the small luxuries of pork roll sandwiches and not having to pump our own gas, the Garden State can’t quite get past the perception that it’s a dump with mafia ties and is a breeding ground for ultra-tanned, fist-pumping troublemakers.
In reality, all one really has to do is stop looking at photo galleries glamorizing the bronzed figureheads and TV shows celebrating jaw-dropping indulgence and take a trip to a place without a boardwalk or parkway rest stop.
Like, say, Rumson.
CBS News did, and on an upcoming Sunday morning plans to air a piece showcasing all this affluent community has to offer: shoreline tranquility, a bustling business district, horse-and-carriage rides, speed-boating on the Navesink you know, the typical wintertime stuff.
But the story is not that CBS made this discovery a half-year ago, nor was it interviewer Mo Rocca‘s yacht club-ish outfit, a pink Oxford and baby blue shorts.
She writes, she directs, she sings: Suzanne Sweeney leads her actors in warm-up vocal exercises before a recent rehearsal for this weekend’s show.
By LAURA KOSS
Sitting alone in an otherwise empty auditorium, Suzanne Sweeney watches from the fourth row as, yet again, a student on stage over-emotes.
“Feel the pain in your eyes and slowly roll to the ground,” Sweeney calls out. “Not like you’ve been shot!”
The student tries again. This time, after a perfect take, Sweeney whispers to herself, “Yes, yes, that’s it.”
It’s a small but satisfying moment for Sweeney, an English and drama teacher at Rumson Fair Haven Regional High School who has directed school plays for more than 20 years — or so she thinks. Heading into this week’s staging of “Into the Woods,” she’s lost track, she says.
“I dont know,” she laughs. “I just keep coming back every year.”