November 6, 2013

County Prosecutor’s Office Makes Decisions Regarding Three Recent Princeton Incidents

The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office issued three announcements last week regarding investigations of incidents that took place in Princeton.

One announcement revealed that the man charged in the reckless driving incident resulting in the death of a local rabbi has been indicted. The office also indicated there will be no charges filed related to Councilwoman Jo Butler’s 911 call last month when no emergency existed. In a third incident, involving two parking meter enforcement officers who received food and other goods with downtown businesses in exchange for not issuing parking tickets, no charges are being filed.

Eric D. Maltz, 21, of Braeburn Drive, has been indicted on one count of first-degree manslaughter, one count of second-degree death by auto, and one count of fourth-degree assault by auto in the March death of retired Rabbi Diamond, who served as the director of Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life for many years. A Mercer County grand jury returned the indictment October 30, according to Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini, Jr. If convicted of the first degree offense, Mr. Maltz could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in state prison. He is currently free on $100,000 bail.

It was on the morning of March 28 that Mr. Maltz was driving his 2003 BMW south on Riverside Drive at a speed between 60 and 80 miles per hour in the 25-per-hour zone. He struck an unoccupied, parked Toyota Camry, which then traveled 500 feet and struck a parked Toyota Prius. Rabbi Diamond, 74, was struck and killed as he was preparing to enter the Prius. Robert Freedman, 63, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of the Prius, was seriously injured.

Mr. Maltz, who had struggled with mood swings and depression and had been previously treated at University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, was driving with a propane tank in his vehicle, according to witnesses at the scene. The presence of the tank led to questions about whether he intended to harm himself by crashing his car.

911 Call

The decision not to charge Ms. Butler in the 911 call she made September 18 was announced by the Prosecutor’s Office on October 30. She was issued a warning for the call made from the Dinky station to 911, during which she asked whether she was talking to the Princeton Police or Princeton University Public Safety department but hung up when asked if she was reporting an emergency.

Ms. Butler has expressed concern in recent Princeton Council meetings about whether calls made from a cell phone are sent to municipal police or to campus safety officials. Unable to get a satisfactory answer, she decided to try and make such a call herself. She has apologized to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Princeton Police for making the call.

Parking Enforcement

The Prosecutor’s Office announced on October 29 that it would not file charges against parking enforcement officials Chris Boutote and Jon Hughes. Mr. Boutote was fired after an internal investigation into allegations that he allowed employees of local businesses to park without paying in exchange for free food and drink. Mr. Hughes was suspended for one month without pay, and reassigned to a municipal parking garage as an attendant.

In an email to reporters, Prosecutor’s Office spokesperson Casey A. De Blasio wrote, “In light of the proofs in the case, Mr. Boutote’s age and lack of prior record, our office determined that his likely sentence would have been admittance into a pretrial intervention program conditioned upon job forfeiture. This was accomplished through Mr. Boutote’s termination by Princeton, and our office felt that prosecution would not serve the interest of justice.”

Regarding Mr. Hughes, Ms. DeBlasio wrote, “Our office agreed that he was appropriately addressed through Princeton’s administrative channels.”