Ten people charged after police in New Jersey shut down engagement party

The hosts were charged with six counts of child endangerment for each of their six children in attendance.

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By Janelle Griffith

Ten adults, including a 99-year-old man, were charged Tuesday after police in New Jersey shut down an engagement party that violated the state's order against social gatherings, authorities said.

Around 4:30 p.m., police in Lakewood Township, near the Jersey Shore, were called to a residence on a report of a social gathering, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and police Chief Gregory Meyer said in a joint statement.

Officers found a group of people, including children, on the front lawn and inside the home, the statement said.

The homeowners who hosted the engagement party, Yaakov Kaufman, 47, and Eti Kaufman, 45, were charged with six counts of child endangerment for each of their children who was in attendance and with violating any rule or regulation adopted by the governor during a state of emergency.

Gov. Phil Murphy issued a stay-at-home order March 21 that includes a ban on social gatherings, such as weddings and parties.

Eight other Lakewood residents at the engagement party were also charged with violating any rule or regulation adopted by the governor during a state of emergency: Joshua Lichtenstein, 54; Brocha Lichtenstein, 22; Tzipora Wolfe, 24; Shmuel Kaufman, 23; Syril Lichtenstein, 54; Samuel Wolfe, 27; Michael Zimmerman, 99; and Ruky Zimmerman, 21.

The incident comes as another Lakewood couple faces multiple child endangerment charges for hosting an event with dozens of people on Sunday, authorities said. Lakewood police were called to the home of Eliezer Silber, 37, and Miriam Silber, 34, and ordered 40 to 50 people gathered in the front yard to disperse.

And on Friday night, about 40 miles northwest of Lakewood, in Ewing Township, police broke up a house party in which 47 people crammed into a 550-square-foot apartment, Murphy said over the weekend. The 54-year-old organizer was issued two disorderly persons citations for obstruction and violating an executive order, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said.

New Jersey has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases among any state, 18,696 cases as of Wednesday, with 267 deaths.

Murphy tweeted Saturday: "Can’t believe I have to say this at all, let alone for the second time. But here we are. NO CORONA PARTIES. They’re illegal, dangerous, and stupid. We will crash your party. You will pay a big fine. And we will name & shame you until EVERYONE gets this message into their heads."