By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor
MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. — Edward Cagney Mathews, the 45-year-old Mount Laurel resident whose most recent racially-charged tirade was captured on video and uploaded to social media, will remain in jail pending trial for several charges related to his conduct.
Mathews currently faces 14 different criminal charges dating back to 2020. According to prosecutors, Mathews has kept up a sustained campaign of harassment and bias intimidation at Black members of his community’s homeowners’ association. Typically, the authorities would free a suspect with conditions pending trial, but a Burlington County judge decided to keep Mathews in prison because of his past criminal record and the fact that he’s a threat to the community.
“I do view that he is a high risk of danger to the community,” Judge Terrence Cook said during Mathews’ virtual detention hearing.
Mathews didn’t speak at all during his virtual detention hearing. He has been convicted for 20 crimes dating back to 1994 — including incidents involving drugs, theft, burglary, and resisting arrest — along with a number of previous failures to appear in court. He’s been sentenced to stays in New Jersey state prisons multiple times throughout his life.
During the detention hearing, Assistant Burlington County Prosecutor Jamie Hutchinson also detailed more of Mathews’ misconduct in the community.
According to Hutchinson, Mathews faces charges in connection with cases involving him leaving threatening notes on his neighbors’ vehicles, shooting his neighbors’ vehicles with high-grade, ball-bearing ammo, throwing rocks through his neighbors’ windows, and at least one incident in which he smeared feces on a vehicle’s windshield.
Mathews was being investigated by the FBI for a note he left for a neighbor earlier this year. Although the details of this note weren’t shared during the detention hearing, it could lead to additional criminal charges against Mathews. Additionally, a Mount Laurel detective received a camera from the homeland security agency to use on an emergency basis. The detective installed the camera near Mathews’ home from November 24 to December 11 of last year, but he didn’t catch him committing a crime on film.
Hutchinson noted a pattern of residents calling the police on Mathews, sometimes signing their own complaints against him, and law enforcement consistently following up on these cases. Although the Mount Laurel police even asked the FBI for help, many of these cases fell apart at the municipal level. Hutchinson’s findings show that the Mount Laurel Police Department, which was widely criticized by community members for their inaction against Mathews, was more involved in stopping his conduct than previously believed.
“These people were doing everything they could,” Hutchinson said. “The police were doing everything they could.”
One particular incident involving Mathews took place in August of last year. He was accused of smearing feces on another resident’s car, but a municipal court judge didn’t establish probable cause that Mathews committed this crime. The homeowners’ association, however, fined Mathews $500 and held a Zoom meeting with police to discuss its need for more action against Mathews’ conduct.
“This defendant is a clear danger to other persons in the community,” Hutchinson said. “Who’s to say what he’s going to do next? He’s a public disturbance waiting to happen.”
Mathews’ lawyer, Anthony Rizzo, offered to order Mathews away from the Essex Place condominium complex or the entire township of Mount Laurel as conditions for his release. However, this was denied because Mathews was deemed a threat to the community.
Clarification: A previous version of this article said that Edward Mathews will remain in prison. This has been edited to reflect Mathews remaining in jail pending trial on his charges.
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