A Toms River man – already freed under the state’s bail reform law with a pending theft charge – admitted to that crime, as well as setting ablaze a local business that had recently fired him.
Jorge Euxaque-Ballesteros, 26, of Toms River, pled guilty before Superior Court Judge Kenneth T. Palmer March 31 on charges in connection with separate incidents that occurred in Lakewood on April 9, 2021 and Jan. 19, 2022 respectively. At the time of Euxaque-Ballesteros’ sentencing on May 19, 2023, prosecutors will be seeking a five-year prison term on the set of charges to run concurrently.
In the April 2021 incident, Lakewood police officers responded to a home on Congress Street for a report of a man attempting to steal a bicycle that was locked up at the residence. The victim was able to provide a description of the suspect to police and, a short time later, officers located a man in a nearby wooded area, later identified as Euxaque-Ballesteros, who matched the description provided by the victim. Further investigation revealed that Euxaque-Ballesteros was, in fact, the individual who attempted to steal the bicycle. Euxaque-Ballesteros was placed under arrest and transported to the Ocean County Jail, but was subsequently released as a consequence of New Jersey’s bail reform statute.
The more serious of the two charges stemmed from a call received by Lakewood police at about 2 a.m. on Jan. 19, 2022. Police and firefighters were dispatched to a business on Cross Street in reference to a sprinkler system alarm. Firefighters were able to extinguish a fire in the basement of the business, and an ensuing investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Arson Squad, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, and police determined that the cause of the fire was “incendiary by an unknown person using an open flame to ignite cardboard and paper in the basement,” prosecutors said.
A subsequent investigation revealed that Euxaque-Ballesteros – a former employee of the business who was recently terminated – was responsible for setting the fire.
Later in the day, Euxaque-Ballesteros was taken into custody in Toms River by Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Arson Squad and Lakewood Police Department. He was transported to Lakewood Police Headquarters, processed, and transported to the Ocean County Jail where he has been lodged since his apprehension.