Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on January 31, 2023, the motions filed by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to revoke the pre-trial release of Aimee Lonczak, 49, and Michele Nycz, 58, both of Brick Township, were denied by the Honorable Guy P. Ryan, P.J.Cr.P. On December 3, 2022, Lonczak and Nycz were arrested and charged with Animal Cruelty and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
On December 2, 2022, Officers from the Brick Township Police Department were summoned to a residence on Arrowhead Park Drive in reference to an anonymous complaint that the residents at the address were running a puppy mill. While speaking with the residents, Lonczak and Nycz, in the driveway of the residence, responding Officers could smell a strong odor coming from the residence and heard barking. Officers were subsequently permitted to enter the residence and immediately detected a strong odor and unsanitary conditions. Additionally, the Officers observed stacks of animal crates on top of each other with dogs and cats in the crates. Because of the conditions, the Officers were forced to exit the residence and requested that a Hazmat team respond. Rescuers in Hazmat equipment subsequently removed approximately 129 dogs and 43 cats located in the residence, and six dogs and one cat living in a vehicle parked outside the residence. Lonczak and Nycz – who resided at the residence with Lonczak’s 16 year-old child – were both taken into custody at the scene and transported to the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.
Following a detention hearing on December 8, 2022, the Honorable Wendel E. Daniels, J.S.C. (retired and temporarily assigned on recall), released Lonczak and Nycz under the conditions that they were to have no contact with animals and not return to the residence without written approval from the Court. Judge Daniels likewise ordered that Lonczak have no contact with her 16 year-old daughter unless authorized by the Department of Child Protection and Permanency and the Family Part of the Superior Court, and that Nycz have no contact with the 16 year-old juvenile. On January 10, 2022, Nycz attempted to have the no-contact order with the juvenile lifted; that request was denied by the Honorable Linda G. Baxter, J.S.C. (retired and serving on recall).
On January 19, 2023, the Brick Township Police Department was contacted by management of the Southern Ocean County Animal Shelter in Stafford Township. Management from the shelter reported that Lonczak and Nycz were at the shelter demanding the return of their dogs. The shelter ultimately refused to turn over the dogs to the defendants.
On January 20, 2023, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office filed motions to revoke the pre-trial release of both Lonczak and Nycz, citing that their actions on January, 19, 2023, violated the pre-trial release conditions imposed by Judge Daniels.
In his decision of January 31, 2023, Judge Ryan denied our request to revoke pre-trial release, but imposed an additional condition of the defendants’ release – specifically that they are to have no contact with animal shelters or pet stores.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the diligent efforts of Assistant Prosecutor Alexander Becker, who is handling this matter for the State.
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.