NEWARK - Police say children were picked up in Newark and dropped off in Toms River without money, food or a cell phone and forced to sell candy door-to-door alone.
The man police say is behind the operation, Louis Cruz, 25, is being charged with child abuse and neglect. Authorities say Cruz picked up local boys and girls, ages 11 to 17, in his van and drove them an hour and a half south to Toms River.
Officials say Cruz would drop the children off in developments to sell candy and cookies for the New Jersey Youth Club.
The Department of Labor says children working door-to-door must be at least 14, and must receive at least minimum wage, not just commission. The New Jersey Division of Taxation tells News 12 New Jersey that New Jersey Youth Club had its certificate of registration revoked in September. The state says it was taken away because the non-profit has not filed an annual report since 2009.