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Latest News in Morris Plains, NJ

Morris County Man Indicted on Tax and Bankruptcy Fraud

NEWARK, N.J. – A Morris County, New Jersey, man was arrested today by federal agents on charges of tax and bankruptcy fraud, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division announced.Zeki Donuk of Landing, New Jersey, is charged by indictment with three counts of aiding or assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns, two counts of tax evasion, five counts of failure to collect, truthfully account for, and pay ove...

NEWARK, N.J. – A Morris County, New Jersey, man was arrested today by federal agents on charges of tax and bankruptcy fraud, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division announced.

Zeki Donuk of Landing, New Jersey, is charged by indictment with three counts of aiding or assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns, two counts of tax evasion, five counts of failure to collect, truthfully account for, and pay over trust fund taxes, and two counts of making false statements in bankruptcy proceedings. He is scheduled to make his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge André M. Espinosa in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Donuk operated a construction business first under the name Titan Builders LLC and later as Titan Steel Construction LLC (collectively, “Titan”). From at least 2016 through 2019, Donuk allegedly cashed checks payable to Titan instead of depositing them into business bank accounts. Donuk allegedly concealed the cashed checks and did not report them either as gross receipts on Titan’s corporate tax returns or as income on his or his wife’s personal returns. From the third quarter of 2016 through the third quarter of 2017 Donuk also did not collect, account for, or pay over to the IRS, employment taxes on behalf of Titan’s employees, despite a legal obligation to do so. For those quarters, Donuk allegedly did not file quarterly employment tax returns on behalf of the businesses. In 2019, Donuk allegedly made false statements on documents he filed in a personal bankruptcy case. Donuk allegedly concealed from the bankruptcy court that he owned a vacation property in Pennsylvania, had signatory authority over certain bank accounts, owed tax debts to the IRS, and operated his construction business as Titan Builders and Titan Steel.

Each count of aiding or assisting in the preparation of false income tax returns carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of tax evasion carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of failure to collect, truthfully account for, and pay over trust fund taxes carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count of making false statements in bankruptcy proceedings carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of IRS-Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Tammy Tomlins; the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McKay; and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s arrest.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Levin of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s National Security Unit in Newark and Trial Attorney Melissa Siskind of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Tax Division in Washington, D.C.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Morris County Historical Society Receives $15,000 Morris County Grant

Nonprofits Also Assisted by Morris County Small Business ProgramThe Morris County Historical Society received a $15,000 grant from the Morris County Board of County Commissioners this week through the county’s Small Business Grant Program, which was designed to aid both nonprofits and local entrepreneurs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.The Historical Society (MCHS), founded in December 1945, has established itself as the center for artifacts an...

Nonprofits Also Assisted by Morris County Small Business Program

The Morris County Historical Society received a $15,000 grant from the Morris County Board of County Commissioners this week through the county’s Small Business Grant Program, which was designed to aid both nonprofits and local entrepreneurs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Historical Society (MCHS), founded in December 1945, has established itself as the center for artifacts and publications connected to Morris County’s extensive history. The nonprofit advocates for the preservation of Morris County’s historical resources from Acorn Hall, the Victorian Italianate country home of the Crane-Hone family.

Built in 1853, it was donated to the society in 1971 and has since operated as a headquarters and museum.

Morris County Commissioner Deputy Director John Krickus presented the $15,000 grant to Amy Curry, MCHS Executive Director, inside Acorn Hall on Tuesday after touring parts of the preserved home, which is furnished with original family pieces and art from the 19th Century.

“This is a very, very welcome grant. We were forced to close Acorn Hall and offer free online and outdoor programming to keep people engaged with the Morris County Historical Society during the pandemic,” said Executive Director Curry. “Unlike many local history-focused organizations, which are supported by their municipalities, we're an independent member-supported organization. Nearly all the funds we receive, otherwise, including state, local, and foundation grants, are through highly competitive processes.”

The society lost funding during the pandemic when lock downs forced a suspension of its annual activities, including group tours, fundraisers and general admission to Acorn Hall.

“More than 40 local cultural and historical groups qualified for grants under our unique Small Business Grant Program, which is important because their activities contribute greatly to our economy,” said Deputy Director Krickus.

Morris County Small Business Grant Program, which the Commissioners created through a unique use of American Rescue Plan Act funds, was launched on Valentine’s Day. The application process was closed on Sept. 30, with an estimated 750 applications approved and many more are still undergoing review.

The MCHS is one of many nonprofits that benefited through the program.

MCHS maintains an extensive archival and object collection of nearly 15,000 historical items drawn largely from Morris County, but also from other parts of New Jersey. Executive Director Curry noted during the visit by Commissioner Krickus that MCHS also holds one of the richest, most diverse historic costume collections outside of New York City. MCHS also has an archive of business and legal records from Morris County’s earliest days, including records from once prominent families, documents on commemorative events and area atlases and maps.

Acorn Hall was the ancestral home of four generations of the Crane-Hone family, and the MCHS has steadily worked to preserve the home and its original furnishings as they appeared in the 19th Century. The home now reflects its earliest known exterior and interior designs, and features artworks that adorned the house in its earliest days.

Learn More about the Morris County Historical Society at:

https://morriscountyhistory.org/

Photos: Deputy Director Krickus visiting Executive Director Curry at Acorn Hall.

Freshman leads Chatham girls soccer to 2nd straight Morris County title (PHOTOS)

A month ago, rookie Amanda Thornton was terrorizing JV defenses across Morris County so often that Chatham could no longer afford to leave its up-and-coming freshman off the varsity roster.On Saturday night, she was putting the fear into West Morris’ defense in the county final.The freshman scored twice for Chatham and gave her team the offensive lift it needed to win its second straight Morris County title. Thornton scored her first goal in the 58th minute to give Chatham its initial lead and then added another go...

A month ago, rookie Amanda Thornton was terrorizing JV defenses across Morris County so often that Chatham could no longer afford to leave its up-and-coming freshman off the varsity roster.

On Saturday night, she was putting the fear into West Morris’ defense in the county final.

The freshman scored twice for Chatham and gave her team the offensive lift it needed to win its second straight Morris County title. Thornton scored her first goal in the 58th minute to give Chatham its initial lead and then added another go-ahead with five minutes left to put the Cougars up for good in a 3-1 win.

It was a dream come true for a young playmaker who was watching from the stands last fall.

“It felt good to get in and make an impact,” said Thornton, who has subbed into games, but did not play in the semifinals earlier this week. “On the first goal, I just saw the ball laying there in the box and I saw an opening to score, so I took it. This has been so cool to be a part of this year instead of just being in the stands. There are some nerves, but once you get going, it’s just fun. This is every kid’s dream.”

Chatham beat West Morris with a single goal in last year’s Morris County title game and it looked like the rematch was going to end the same way with neither team scoring through the 58 minutes. Then, Thornton ran onto a ball and ripped it into the side of the net to break the scoreless tie.

That was her first career varsity goal and it came in the biggest moment of the season.

Chatham coach Anthony Correale said that the more his staff heard the rave reviews from the JV level this season, the harder it became to leave Thornton down. So, Chatham called her up for a workout to train with the varsity and see how she fit in. Thornton was a natural and she was on varsity for good now.

What happened this weekend was unfathomable though.

Who knew that Thornton would score a goal? Let alone two.

“You dream about these moments and I have to give it up to (Amanda); she got her moment and took it,” said Correale. “Today, I asked her if she was ready, and man, was she ready. She stepped up and made an impact for us that you just couldn’t imagine.”

Indiana commit Paige Droner added a score for Chatham off of a penalty kick in the final minute of the game to ice it, matching the PK that West Morris’ Sophia Chen scored to tie things up in the 70th minute. Droner scored the game-winner off a free kick in overtime last fall to win Chatham its first county title, so getting in on the scoring for the second straight year was a special moment for the senior.

Chatham had its struggles earlier this year as it become accustomed to a new coach and new lineup.

The Cougars turned things around late in the year though and Chatham was unbeaten in Morris County in the last month. That run included a regular-season 3-1 win over West Morris, so Chatham knew what it was capable of if it brought its best effort to the field in the championship setting.

“You learn a lot of things when you lose,” said Droner. “You learned how to be mentally prepared and how to stay focused and not get sidetracked. This game we were locked in. We played (West Morris) twice already this season and we knew if we could match their intensity, we were going to win.”

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Morris County Salutes Veterans Day 2022

Seven Veterans Presented with Distinguishes Service MedalsThe Morris County Board of County Commissioners presented Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medals and Certificates of Honor to seven veterans last night during their annual Veterans Day Observance ceremony, where state and federal authorities also issued honors to the former service members.State Sen. Anthony Bucco (Morris-25) and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (Morris-25) presented “Citations of Commendations and Praise” to e...

Seven Veterans Presented with Distinguishes Service Medals

The Morris County Board of County Commissioners presented Morris County Distinguished Military Service Medals and Certificates of Honor to seven veterans last night during their annual Veterans Day Observance ceremony, where state and federal authorities also issued honors to the former service members.

State Sen. Anthony Bucco (Morris-25) and Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (Morris-25) presented “Citations of Commendations and Praise” to each of the medal winners, who were accompanied by family and friends. Willy Tolba, the Veterans and Military Affairs Liaison for U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, joined the ceremony with other members of the Congresswoman’s office to present honors to the veterans.

“Morris County has always celebrated and cherished the sacrifices of our veterans – the men and women who left the safety and comfort of their homes to serve in our military for the benefit of all Americans. These medals we present tonight are unique to Morris County, and they were established by past members of this board more than 20 years ago so that Morris County could continue to honor and recognize our friends, neighbors and relatives who dedicated their lives to serve this nation. This Board of Commissioners is honored to carry on that tradition tonight and say thank you to each of you,” said Commissioner Director Tayfun Selen.

The event was held at the start of a regular public meeting of the Commissioners on the 5th Floor of the Morris County

Administration and Records Building.

Director Selen noted Nov. 10, today, marks the 247th birthday of the United States Marine Corps and Nov. 13 marks the 40th Anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Morris County joined the County College of Morris this past summer in helping VFW Post 7333 in Randolph host the Moving Wall. It is a half-sized version of the memorial in Washington that tours the nation, allowing people who cannot get to the nation’s capital to pay tribute to those lost in that war.

The Honored Veterans in Brief

Richard David Allen, Jr., 39, Washington Township

Served with the U.S. Marine Corps as an intelligence specialist during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom from December 2001 to September 2006.

Arthur Lloyd Charlton, 95 of Boonton

Mr. Charlton is a long-time Boontonite and local historian. He served in the U.S. Army Oct. 25, 1945, to July 4, 1947, in the aftermath of World War II, stationed in a hospital in Korea. Processed separation papers for soldiers returning home from war.

Carl “Mike” Cabanas, 41, Morristown

A veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, he served in the U.S. Army and the New Jersey Army National Guard between Oct. 1, 2000, to July 21, 2013.

Tarek Al-Aydi, 56, Morristown

A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corp who served during the War on Terror in Operation Iraqi Freedom from Dec. 28, 1993, to March 12, 1998.

Stephen Dickson Reynolds, 76, of Flanders

A Vietnam Era veteran of the U.S. Army who served a tour of duty from Oct. 13, to 1968 to Aug. 1970.

Lawrence Leonard Walsh, 60, of Mendham

U.S. Army veteran who served from May 1984 to August 1991, including during the invasion of Panama known as Operation Just Cause.

Timothy Nathaniel McCloe, 62, of Morristown

U.S. Marine Corps Veteran of the Cold War era who served in 1979.

VETERANS WHO PRIVATELY RECEIVED MEDALS

Bryan Lamar Jones, 41, of Long Valley

A veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Mr. Jones served in the U.S. Army from July 7, 1999, to February 23,2013

Richard Neal Jones, 72, of Morristown

A veteran of Vietnam, Mr. Jones served in the U.S. Navy from February 1969 to December 1972.

Bryan Saavedra, 33, Morris Plains

A veteran of the War on Terror, Mr. Saavedra served in the U.S. Army from Aug. 20, 2007, to Oct. 19, 2011.

George C. Marmo of Montville (honors issued posthumously)

A veteran of World War II, Mr. Marmo served in the U.S. Army as a tank cannoneer under General George S. Patton from Dec. 21, 1942, to Nov. 9, 1945.

Photos:

Top Right: Arthur Lloyd Charlton celebrates receiving his medal

Top Left: Deputy Director John Krickus presents a medal to fellow Marine Richard David Allen, Jr.

Top Center Right: Commissioner Deborah Smith presents a medal to Tarek Al-Aydi

Center Right: The medal worn by Carl “Mike” Cabanas becomes a chew toy for his child.

Bottom Left: Morris County's three Veteran Service Officers at the ceremony, (l-r) Jessica Tomalo, Andrew Cornwallis and Jason Leffler.

Bottom Right: Veteran Lawrence Leonard Walsh thanks the Commissioners for the honors and addresses the audience.

Bottom Row:

Left: Director Selen presents a medal to Timothy Nathaniel McCloe with Commissioner Douglas Cabana presenting a certificate of honor

Center: Veterans and their families pose with the Commissioners, Sen. Bucco, Asw. Dunn and other dignitaries after the ceremony.

Right: Commissioner Kathryn DeFillippo presents a medal to Stephen Dickson Reynolds

Morris County Honors Allison Larena For 20 Years Leading MPAC

Resolution of Honor Presented Prior to Oct. 14 PerformanceAllison Larena, President & CEO of Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown, was honored Friday night, Oct. 14, by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners for her 20 years at the helm of the arts organization.Commissioner Deputy Director John Krickus presented Larena with a framed “Resolution of Honor” inside MPAC’s Starlight Room just prior to the performance of “Croce Plays Croce” at the theate...

Resolution of Honor Presented Prior to Oct. 14 Performance

Allison Larena, President & CEO of Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) in Morristown, was honored Friday night, Oct. 14, by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners for her 20 years at the helm of the arts organization.

Commissioner Deputy Director John Krickus presented Larena with a framed “Resolution of Honor” inside MPAC’s Starlight Room just prior to the performance of “Croce Plays Croce” at the theater on South Street.

“I am grateful for the recognition by the Morris County Board of Commissioners in honor of my 20th anniversary at MPAC. MPAC is fortunate to be located in a county that recognizes the value of our cultural institutions and how they contribute to the quality of life for our residents. The Commissioners support of our education programs this past year has been a vital lifeline to helping these programs return to enrich the lives of thousands of children every year,” said Larena.

The resolution notes that Larena has been instrumental in transforming the Morristown-based theater into a world class performing arts center and for growing its annual operating budget from $1.5 million to more than $13 million. Under her tutelage, MPAC operations grew from about 50 events annually to over 250 events, welcoming more than 240,000 patrons each year and generating over $9 million in ticket sales, while simultaneously having an estimated impact of $15 million dollars on the local economy.

“On behalf of the Morris County Commissioners We are pleased to present you with this resolution recognizing your 20 years of leadership of Mayo Performing Arts Center. MPAC is a crown jewel for Morris County,” said Deputy Director Krickus.

“Morris County was proud to provide MPAC with $600,000 of funding for education programs as part of the recovery from COVID, and also recently approved $24,000 of historic grant funding for the plans to renovate the historic facade to the theater,” he added.

MPAC, which operates out of a 1937 theater designed by Thomas Lamb, has served more than 40,000 children through education and outreach programs, and Larena is credited with launching innovative programs during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the arts accessible.

Among the programs were the first outdoor drive-in concerts, the first limited-capacity concerts and the first livestreams in New Jersey as she kept the theatre active and relevant, while creating a safe environment for people to enjoy an indoor arts experience.

To learn more about MPAC and upcoming events, go to: https://www.mayoarts.org/

Photos by Katharine Boyle

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