NJ councilman refuses to resign following drug-related arrest

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A Monmouth County councilman is refusing to resign from office following a drug-related arrest last month.

Spring Lake Heights Councilman Robert Merriken was arrested April 4 in Neptune City after he and a woman were pulled over for a traffic violation.

Video of the traffic stop was recorded by the police. In the video, the officer says that he sees drug paraphernalia inside Merriken’s vehicle.

“There is a needle in the vehicle, and that is the least of it, I didn't get to look at everything yet.  There's a syringe, a hypodermic needle,” the officer is heard saying.

Merriken and the woman he was with, identified as Cherice Marisol Hernandez, can also heard in the recording discussing what else was in the car, while officers searched the vehicle.

“You didn't have the weed in your car right?" Hernandez is heard asking.

“I forgot about the weed,” Merriken said.

Merriken is facing various drug charges but has refused to step down from his position on the Spring Lakes Heights Council.

Four out of five council members called for his resignation at a council meeting Monday night. Merriken was not present and hasn't been at the last three council meetings.  If he misses a fourth meeting, he can then be removed.

Hernandez also faces drug charges and had five outstanding warrants against her. Merriken is heard on the recording telling police that Hernandez is a friend of his deceased son.

News 12 New Jersey reached out to Merriken for comment but has not heard back.

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