Joseph Coronato, Ocean County Prosecutor

The Mayors’ guests were Ocean County Sheriff Michael Mastronardy (on the left above) and Prosecutor Joseph Coronato (right). They updated the Mayors on the work of their offices. Sheriff Mastronardy, for example, spoke about foreclosed properties coming onto the market and what that means for municipalities. He also said some assets are being purchased at extremely low prices by speculators who immediately put them up for sale at much higher prices.

Prosecutor Coronato focused on the opioid epidemic that has been particularly tragic in Ocean County. He described in compelling words overdose deaths and their devastating impacts on families and communities. The prosecutor explained how addicts in need of drug money shoplift area stores then return the goods at other stores, often for gift cards they then sell to pawn shops at enormous discounts. The pawnshops in turn resell the gift cards at high prices that are still below face value. Ordinances passed by Ocean County municipalities have helped his office address the scheme that provided windfall profits for pawnbrokers, he said. His office has the largest task force dedicated to opioid enforcement in the state with 28 people including 9 detectives, he noted. While his office vigorously pursues dealers, when it comes to addicts the prosecutor is more interested in getting them help than in jailing them. The prosecutor outlined a three-point program for dealing with the opioid epidemic based on education, prosecution, and health care. He said the recent surge in opioid overdose deaths in the county has been contained and reversed.

The Ocean County Mayors’ Association has been found tax exempt by the IRS. Donations are deductible. Documentation of this determination and related financial disclosure documents are available for public examination. cir

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