New Jersey Hate Page Run by Con Shutdown by Facebook, MeWe Had Ties to Ocean County Elected Officials

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TOMS RIVER, NJ – A social media page that has been condemned by many, including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Bilhimer and the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders has finally been shut down by Facebook and MeWe.   Richard Ciullo, the one time ‘leader’ of Rise Up Ocean County has seen his hate group take a big fall in the past two weeks after receiving a lifetime ban from both social media platforms.

It’s the third time Rise Up Ocean County had been removed from Facebook, but this time, perhaps the worst offenses were committed.  In his latest incarnation of online hate, Ciullo, a two-time convict, convicted of defrauding customers out of thousands of dollars from his now-failed online marketing business, Web Ninja used cartoon caricatures of young boys, sometimes naked and often holding sex toys in a failed attempt to harass and intimidate those who opposed his fraudulent hate messages.  Not everyone opposed Ciullo.  Several local elected officials and prominent members of the Ocean County Republican party were huge fans of Ciullo, often cheering on and sharing his posts on their own social media pages.

Mo Hill, mayor of Toms River was a frequent flyer on Ciullo’s hate pages, along with New Jersey Assemblyman Gregory P. McGuckin, Toms River Councilman Kevin Geoghegan, Plumsted Mayor Jack Trotta and Howell Township Business Manager Brian Geoghegan.

“MeWe has a strict Terms of Service – lawbreakers, haters, harassment, bullies, violence inciters, etc. are not welcome on MeWe. Our Trust and Safety Team works hard every day to investigate, seek out, and remove TOS-violaters. Our Trust and Safety Team found that the “Rise Up Ocean County” page and [another run by Ciullo] had both violated MeWe terms, and so our team removed both pages from MeWe,” David Westreich, an executive at MeWe.

An executive at Facebook familiar with Ciullo’s pages said this was the third time the platform has removed Ciullo and noted that future attempts by Ciullo to relaunch his hate on their platform will be met with a similar fate.

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Ciullo in recent years has become obsessed with Orthodox Jews living in and around Lakewood.  He and his followers are often seen photographing and videoing Jewish residents doing things they feel are either illegal or against societal norms, often mocking their religious rituals and beliefs.  In recent months, since the pandemic began, Ciullo has blamed the community of Lakewood for a “cluster” of infections to have infected the rest of Ocean County, a claim not supported by the Ocean County Health Department or the New Jersey Department of Health.

Ciullo’s hate pages were full of conspiracy theories of Jews paying off U.S. Attorney William Barr, Governor Phil Murphy and other political officials whose opinions or actions contradicted those of Ciullo.

Officials within Ocean County’s Republican Organization said Ocean County GOP Chairman Frank Holman paid Ciullo to write his blog posts, but that has been unconfirmed.  Holman has denied his involvement, but Monmouth County Blogger Art Gallagher said Holman and his party did reach out to him to pay him to write stories.  Gallagher said he denied those offers to be compensated by Holman, McGuckin and Hill to write stories for Ciullo’s pages.

Last month, Ciullo was nearly arrested again after approaching an elected official in Toms River during a meeting. On two occasions a police officer and township attorney had to restrain Ciullo from attacking the elected official. Caught on video by the Asbury Park Press, in that exchange a Toms River Police officer warned Ciullo that he would be charged with a disorderly persons offense if he did not leave the meeting voluntarily.

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