Merriken resurfaces, at borough council and in court

Spring Lake Heights Councilman Robert Merriken. FILE PHOTO

SPRING LAKE HEIGHTS — Councilman Robert Merriken made his first appearance in Neptune Township court on Thursday for his April 4 arrest in neighboring Neptune City. His appearance, however, only ended in another rescheduling.

Mr. Merriken and his attorney, Charles F. Shaw III, requested more time to locate Cherice Hernandez, Mr. Merriken’s co-defendant and passenger of the car he was driving when both were arrested on April 4. Ms. Hernandez was found guilty in municipal court April 30 and was sentenced with a fine and probation. Mr. Shaw subpoenaed Ms. Hernandez to testify at Mr. Merriken’s hearing; however, she could not be found at the Lake Como address given to the court.

Ms. Hernandez was found guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a hypodermic needle and obstruction of justice. Mr. Merriken is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and a hypodermic needle, along with motor vehicle charges.

Judge Robin Wernik accepted the request and Mr. Merriken is due to appear again in Neptune Township Municipal Court on Thursday, July 19 at 4:20 p.m.

Earlier in the week, surprised whispers greeted the appearance of Mr. Merriken at the June 4 meeting of the borough council — his first since March 19, prior to his arrest.

Councilman Richard Diver, said, “If he had missed this meeting, he’d be in danger of removal.” According to Mr. Diver and Borough Administrator John Barrett, Mr. Merriken’s wife recently died, following a long illness.

Mr. Merriken, who has said he expects to be cleared of the charges against him, has more recently declined to comment on his situation.

He participated in the council meeting 

The council acted on the following during the meeting:

• Approval of liquor license renewals for Doolan’s Shore Club, CJ’s Tavern, St. Stephen’s Green, Spring Lake Manor, Spring Lake Golf Club and The Mill for consumption and 71 Central for distribution;

• Authorization of a fireworks display on July 2;

• Approval of a $7,500-a-raise for Robert Stuphin, a longtime employee of the department of public works, who will now be paid $88,095;

• Approval of summer recreation hires;

• Cancellation of property taxes for a totally disabled veteran.

For more on this story, read The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.