Heights Councilman Robert Merriken arrested again

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Heights Councilman Robert Merriken [right] following a July 19 court appearence in Neptune, with his attorney, Charles F. Shaw III. PHOTO BY DANIELLA HEMINGHAUS

BRIELLE — Spring Lake Heights councilman Robert Merriken Sr., who is awaiting trial on charges stemming from an April 4 arrest, was arrested again on Wednesday, following a motor vehicle stop on Highway 71, Brielle police said.

According to a press release from the Brielle Police Department, Mr. Merriken was arrested Aug. 8 for alleged possession of a “Controlled Dangerous Substance” and drug paraphernalia.

The councilman was released on his own recognizance, the press release stated, adding that the investigation is “ongoing” and “the charges were forwarded to the Monmouth County Superior Court for adjudication.”

Mr. Merriken is currently awaiting trial for an incident that occurred on April 4, in which he was arrested and charged with possession of a hypodermic needle, drug paraphernalia and motor vehicle violations in Neptune City.

He is has disputed those charges has continued to serve on the Spring Lake Heights Council despite calls from Mayor Thomas O’Brien and fellow council members to resign. 

In response to the additional new charges against Mr. Merriken, Spring Lake Heights Council President Chris Campion was explicit in his frustration.

“I’m furious with this situation and demand Robert Merriken resign immediately. He is an embarrassment to himself and the Borough of Spring Lake Heights. He is a disgrace to the position he holds. There is no logical reason for him to stay in office. He does not represent the good people of our community. Our residents deserve better,” Mr. Campion said in an email Thursday.

Fellow councilman and Chairman of the Republican Party of Spring Lake Heights Richard Diver also called for Mr. Merriken to resign once again.

“It is time for Mr. Merriken to step down. It is time for him to take care of his personal affairs, and it is time to let the people of Spring Lake Heights move on,” he said.

When contacted Thursday, Mr. Merriken said he was still waiting for his attorney to comment, but did assert his innocence, adding “[the police] found an applicator for medicine from my wife, who passed away, that was left in the car.”

Mr. Merriken’s trial date on the April charges is set for 5 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the Neptune Township Municipal Court.

For more on this story, read next week's edition of The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.