Pleasantville man jailed for violating mask order three times
A Pleasantville man was ordered held in jail Thursday, after he was arrested three times within 48 hours for violating the governor’s order to wear a mask inside essential businesses. Robert Bell, 35, has no criminal history, but his “repeated lawless behavior indicates a danger above the mere degree of the offenses,” Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury ruled Thursday. Bell was first arrested at the Wawa in Pleasantville, where he refused to wear a mask, according to the charges. He was released on a summons, but was met by police again at the Dollar General. It was there that the defendant told police, “If you want to stop me, you’ll have to put me in jail,” Assistant Prosecutor Rick McKelvey told the judge. Bell again was charged and released. “The defendant was told multiple times over the course of the days that all he had to do was correct his actions,” said McKelvey, calling Bell’s actions “willful obtuseness.” Bell was arrested a final time at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Pleasantville, where he refused to leave when told he couldn’t be there without a mask, according to the charges. It was then that the disorderly persons charge was raised to fourth-degree contempt. He was also charged with resisting arrest and defiant trespass, which are disorderly persons offenses. Bell was taken to the Atlantic County Justice Facility, where he will now remain until trial or a plea. While he has no criminal history, Bell’s public safety assessment — used as a factor in deciding detention under bail reform — recommended no release. “By his own words, he sees no public health concern with his actions,” McKelvey said. “By his own words, he does not consider these orders valid.” The judge said the risk to public health left him with no choice but to detain Bell. “The defendant’s contemptuous conduct is a risk to public safety,” DeLury said.
Note: The Atlantic County Justice Facility no longer provides mugshots to the media, citing the Atlantic County prosecutor’s order. The Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office says it’s part of the Attorney General’s Guidelines. There is no such guideline, according to the Attorney General’s Office, but they have told these offices for years that they should not release any photos that appear to be mugshots.