TOMS RIVER, NJ – If you still follow Rise Up Ocean County on their new social media platforms since they were shut down by Facebook, a complaint filed by U.S. Attorney General William Barr and the U.S. Department of Justice suggests the feds may be watching you.
A federal lawsuit against the Township of Jackson for alleged religious discrimination has revealed the administrators and followers of the group “Rise Up Ocean County” have been under surveillance by federal authorities for quite some time. In the twenty-seven page complaint, the Department of Justice identified Rise Up Ocean County and its influence on local government officials in Jackson. Rise Up Ocean County maintains close ties to Jackson Mayor Michael Reina and Toms River Mayor Maurice Hill and often times carries out political attacks against detractors of both mayors and their allies. Rise Up Ocean County is run by Richard Ciullo, a Toms River resident who was sentenced to a jail sentence that includes weekend incarcerations for a guilty conviction in a fraud case.
“Rise Up Ocean County (“RUOC”) was started in 2018 and had a public Facebook page with over 14,000 followers as of August 2019 RUOC also maintained a second closed-group Facebook page. Facebook removed RUOC from its site recently, but the group still maintains an active website and other social media accounts,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in his complaint. “RUOC’s internet platforms contain posts, commentary, and videos about growth issues in Ocean County that include derogatory statements and imagery about Orthodox Jews.”
Barr also identified a Facebook group run by Jennifer Cusanelli, a Jackson Township Resident whose “Jackson Strong” Facebook page was taken down by Facebook earlier this year. Cussaneli launched a new Facebook group in April to replace Jackson Strong, called “Take Back Jackson, NJ”. Cusanelli’s group was cited in the DOJ complaint.
“On April 8, 2020, another existing Facebook group became Take Back Jackson, NJ and describes itself as “Calling out all the BS that effects [sic] Jackson residents.” This group has approximately 430 members and remains active. It contains postings and comments similar to, and sometimes excerpted from, RUOC,” AG Barr said in the complaint.