10 charged in NJ over engagement party violating coronavirus ban on gatherings

Ten people at an engagement party in New Jersey – including the hosts and a 99-year-old man — were charged with violating the state’s ban on social gatherings amid the coronavirus pandemic, authorities said.

Lakewood cops responded to a home on Spruce Street Tuesday afternoon and found several adults and children milling about on a front lawn and inside the residence, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer and Lakewood Police Chief Gregory Meyer announced Wednesday.

Cops then made contact with homeowners Yaakov Kaufman, 47, and Eti Kaufman, 45, who were hosting an engagement party with their six children and 8 other people, authorities said.

The celebration violated Gov. Phil Murphy’s March 21 executive order barring gatherings of people “whether they be at weddings, parties, celebrations, or other social events,” Billhimer and Meyer said.

In addition to being charged with violating Murphy’s order, the Kaufmans were also charged with six counts of child endangerment — one count for each of their children at the soiree, authorities said.

The other people charged for being at the party — all of whom also live in Lakewood — were identified as 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 engagement bash was the latest in a string of social events broken up by cops in Lakewood, where three weddings had to be disrupted in less than three weeks.

Summonses for violating the stay-at-home mandate were also issued in Lakewood on Sunday and Monday, including to a couple charged with child endangerment for hosting a bar mitzvah with up to 50 guests, NJ.com reports.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 355 people in New Jersey have died from coronavirus, while 22,255 others have tested positive, according to state health officials. At least 438 cases have been identified in Lakewood, Ocean County Health Department data shows.

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