Fair Lawn-Saddle Brook Follows: The Case of Natalie Akselrod
"Fair Lawn-Saddle Brook Follows," is a new weekly column where we'll take Fair Lawn-Saddle Brook readers' lingering or long sought questions about their communities and find an answer.
If you've got a burning question about Fair Lawn or Saddle Brook -- no matter how great or small -- we're here to find you an answer. It could be something peculiar you've always wondered about, a rumor you want to confirm or a follow-up to a story that we've covered here in the past. "Fair Lawn-Saddle Brook Follows" is here to answer those fleeting questions you've been bottling up inside so you can have some peace of mind!
If you have a question for Fair Lawn-Saddle Brook Follows, email me at email@example.com or pose your question in the comments. I'll respond to one question per week.
We'll begin this week with a follow-up to a story that made national headlines last year.
Fair Lawn mother Natalie Akselrod was arrested and charged with child endangerment last May after she left her two infant children unattended in a running minivan while she ran in to the Radburn CVS to fill a prescription for one of them.
While Akselrod was inside, the minivan -- which had been left in neutral -- rolled backwards out of its spot and into parking lot traffic, grazing a car behind it. When the woman whose car was hit stepped out of her vehicle to inspect the van, she found no driver inside – just two babies – and yelled for someone to call the police.
Police arrested Akselrod at the scene and notified the Division of Youth and Family Services. She was charged with child endangerment, which carries up to a 10-year prison sentence and $150,000 in fines.
Two days later, Akselrod pleaded not guilty to the charges in municipal court and the judge sent the case up to the Bergen County prosecutor's office.
That's where Patch and every other news organization that covered the story left it.
So what ultimately happened?
In September 2012, Akselrod waived her right to a trial by jury and accepted a pretrial intervention on fourth-degree child abuse and neglect charges, which carry no jail time.
Per the agreement, Akselrod must pay $125 in fines and complete a 12-month PTI program that requires her to receive psychiatric counseling or take parenting classes. She is permitted to have contact with her children. Akselrod's criminal record will be expunged if she completes the program.
James Kleimann contributed to this report