Articles on this Page
- 08/22/17--06:06: _Santander bank enco...
- 08/22/17--11:09: _Firebombing ex-cop'...
- 08/22/17--17:15: _JCP&L customers can...
- 08/22/17--21:53: _Murder suspect brou...
- 08/23/17--05:09: _In surprise move, M...
- 08/23/17--05:42: _N.J.'s top 30 high ...
- 08/23/17--06:05: _Firebombing ex-cop,...
- 08/23/17--06:25: _Ousted Edison Democ...
- 08/23/17--11:07: _Girls soccer: Retur...
- 08/23/17--08:03: _Dog-friendly 5K com...
- 08/23/17--10:00: _Boys soccer: Return...
- 08/23/17--16:32: _New trial for man a...
- 08/24/17--03:32: _More vintage photos...
- 08/24/17--05:36: _They're back: The 1...
- 08/24/17--06:29: _Boys soccer: Return...
- 08/24/17--08:28: _N.J. waitress floor...
- 08/24/17--08:18: _Girls soccer: Retur...
- 08/24/17--09:56: _Cop's case involvin...
- 08/25/17--05:06: _Strong dog needs ex...
- 08/25/17--14:22: _Fatal shooting at c...
- 08/22/17--06:06: Santander bank encouraged me to work unpaid OT, manager says in suit
- 08/22/17--17:15: JCP&L customers can get $10K rebate for Nissan Leaf
- 08/22/17--21:53: Murder suspect brought 'a handgun to a fistfight,' prosecutor says
- 08/23/17--05:09: In surprise move, Marco Rubio to weigh in on N.J. Senate race
- 08/23/17--05:42: N.J.'s top 30 high school running backs of the last 30 years
- 08/23/17--06:05: Firebombing ex-cop, wife cut deals in cases | Your comments
- 08/23/17--08:03: Dog-friendly 5K coming in September
- 08/24/17--03:32: More vintage photos of summer fun in N.J.
- 08/24/17--05:36: They're back: The 13 returning NJ.com All-State football players
- 08/24/17--08:28: N.J. waitress floored by $1,200 tip on $20 check
- 08/25/17--05:06: Strong dog needs experienced owners
The federal suit was filed last week in U.S. District Court naming a New Jersey branch location
SOUTH AMBOY -- A former Santander bank branch manager has filed a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of refusing to pay overtime to its workers.
The federal suit, filed last week in New Jersey's U.S. District Court by Crystal Sanchez, claims that she was encouraged to work more than 40 hours per week without pay to ensure effective service at the Route 9 location and meet goals set by district level-managers.
Sanchez also alleged in the lawsuit that she was sexually harassed on the job and retaliated against when she reported the harassment.
A spokeswoman for Santander Bank, Ann Davis, said while she cannot comment on pending litigation or employee matters, the bank denies the accusations in the suit.
"Santander takes the rights of our employees seriously and we do not tolerate any form of harassment," Davis said in a statement.
In addition to the overtime claim, Sanchez accuses one of the bank's tellers of sexual harassment and theft in the suit. She claims that after she reported the alleged activity, the branch and district managers failed to address the complaints.
Instead, Sanchez says in the suit her bosses retaliated against her by reducing her bonuses. Sanchez left the bank last year.
Sanchez is seeking back pay and compensation for the emotional distress caused by working in the local branch.
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Alycia Dotro, the wife of former Edison police officer Michael Dotro, signed an order into the pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders Tuesday morning.
NEW BRUNSWICK -- A day after her ex-cop husband admitted to firebombing his supervisor's house, Alycia Dotro cut a deal with prosecutors to enter a pre-trial program that could lead to the dismissal of charges against her in the couple's tire slashing trial that started last week.
Dotro, 42, of Manalapan, who was facing more than 21 years in prison, signed an order to enter the program for first-time offenders Tuesday morning before Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez in New Brunswick.
If she completes the two-year program, the charges against her -- which include drug charges and lying to investigators -- will be dropped.
Her husband, Michael Dotro, a 10-year veteran of the Edison police department, pleaded guilty Monday to attempted murder and second-degree arson in the May 2013 firebombing of his supervisor's home. The plea resolved two arson cases and a host of charges, including multiple counts of attempted murder.
Under a plea agreement, 40-year-old Michael Dotro will be sentenced to 20 years in state prison. He must serve 17 years before he is eligible for parole.
Alycia Dotro's attorney, Richard Incremona, said after court Tuesday his client maintains her innocence. She has been painted in a bad light throughout the last four years while her and her husband have been charged with numerous crimes by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, Incremona said.
"My client has been maligned," Incremona said. "She has been through a lot mentally and financially."
As part of her deal, Alycia Dotro has agreed to testify in any future investigations against another person, Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Russell Curley said during the hearing. It is unclear who that person is.
When the judge asked Curley if that person is her husband, the assistant prosecutor hesitated and called him or her "a person named at a later date."
When Michael Dotro was charged with witness tampering last week, prosecutors accused him of working with an unnamed person to intimidate a witness set to testify at his trial in Middlesex Superior Court.
Curley and Incremona declined to comment further on that condition of her program.
Alycia Dotro declined to comment after the hearing, saying she was "hurt" by a story by NJ Advance Media about the couple's Freehold restaurant, Alycia's Bistro. The story had reported the two had used different names in an interview with the Asbury Park Press on the eatery.
Alycia Dotro's charges stemmed from allegations that she and her husband slashed the tires of a woman with whom Michael Dotro had an affair and later accessing the police department's computer database illegally about the incident. She was also accused of leaving threatening messages for the woman who worked in the Edison Police Department.
Prosecutors also alleged she was in possession of drug paraphernalia when police searched their home after Michael Dotro purchased marijuana for her.
Nissan is offering customers of JCP&L a $10,000 rebate on its all-electric vehicle the Leaf, the utility said. The rebate is being offered until Sept. 30 or until supplies of the car last. To qualify, customers must buy the car in New Jersey, present a copy of a billing statement as well as a copy of a flier, which...
Nissan is offering customers of JCP&L a $10,000 rebate on its all-electric vehicle the Leaf, the utility said.
The rebate is being offered until Sept. 30 or until supplies of the car last.
To qualify, customers must buy the car in New Jersey, present a copy of a billing statement as well as a copy of a flier, which can be viewed here.
Buyers may also qualify for up to $7,500 in federal electric-vehicle tax credits as well as an exemption from state sales tax for qualified zero-emissions vehicles.
Nissan dealers across the state are participating in the rebate program, including in Vineland, Neptune, Freehold, Butler and Toms River.
Jahmmel Cephas is accused of fatally shooting aspiring youth mentor Richard Pryce in Perth Amboy in 2015.
NEW BRUNSWICK -- A trial continued Tuesday for a 35-year-old Franklin Park man accused of fatally shooting an aspiring youth mentor in Perth Amboy in 2015.
On the early morning of Feb. 14, 2015, Jahmmel Cephas stood over 31-year-old Richard Pryce, who had already been shot twice, and fatally shot him in the chest, prosecutors said. Cephas' attorney, however, has argued that Pryce brutally attacked Cephas, leaving him no choice but to defend himself.
Cephas was charged with murder 10 days after the shooting and was arrested three weeks later in Georgia by the U.S. Marshals Service.
During opening statements Thursday before Judge Colleen Flynn in New Brunswick, Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Dize said Pryce attended a surprise birthday party for a friend's wife that day at the 829 Lounge in Perth Amboy.
About 1:30 a.m., Cephas showed up to the club and got in an argument with Pryce over Pryce's girlfriend, Dize said. The two fought and Pryce was kicked out of the club, the assistant prosecutor said.
A minute later, Cephas left and followed Pryce down Barclay Street from Amboy Avenue, Dize said. Pryce saw him out of the corner of his eye and turned around as Cephas pulled an illegally possessed 9-mm handgun out of waistband and pointed it at Pryce, prosecutors said.
"What're you going to do with that?" Pryce, who was unarmed, asked Cephas, according to Dize.
"The defendant answers by pulling the trigger," Dize said.
Cephas continued to shoot as Pryce charged him, Diez said. Five shots later, Pryce was lying on the ground on his back with two gunshot wounds to his right leg. He put his arms up to surrender, prosecutors said.
"Yo, yo," Pryce told Cephas as he stood over him with the gun, Dize said. "That's it."
Cephas then shot Pryce in the chest, breaking a rib and severing an artery, Dize said. The bullet exited his back.
The defendant ran as witnesses stared "frozen in shock" at Pryce, Dize said. Pryce then stood up and ran to the club, where his friends drove him to the Raritan Bay Medical Center.
They carried him into the emergency room and Pryce told doctors he could not breathe, Dize said. Emergency personnel put multiple IV tubes in him and unsuccessfully performed CPR after he lost consciousness, the assistant prosecutor said.
Pryce was pronounced dead at the hospital, just blocks from the Raritan Bay Area YMCA where he often volunteered, friends said.
Cephas never intended to fight Pryce with his fists, Dize said.
"Why else would you bring a handgun to a fistfight?" he asked the jurors.
About a month later, Cephas was arrested without incident at a barber shop in Lithonia, Ga., a suburb outside Atlanta, the U.S. Marshals Service said.
Prosecutors plan to show jurors surveillance video from inside the club and on the street, Dize said. The state will also call people who witnessed the shooting to the stand, as well as experts who say they discovered DNA from Cephas and Pryce on the defendant's hat left at the scene.
Cephas' attorney, Caroline Bielak, told the story differently.
Bielak said Pryce approached Cephas before the fight at the club. Once the lounge closed, Cephas walked home and turned down Barclay Street when Pryce rushed at him, she said.
The defendant fired multiple warning shots at the ground in self-defense, she said.
"He could not get away, Richard Pryce just kept coming," Bielak told the jurors. "Ladies and gentleman, this is a case of self-defense."
Pryce grabbed Cephas and pulled him to the ground, attacking him, Bielak said. During the fight, more shots were fired and Pryce was struck in the chest, she said.
When Pryce ran back to the club, Cephas did not try to stop him or take another shot, his attorney said.
"He just wanted to get away," Bielak said of Cephas. "This is a sad case, there's no way around that. It's a sad case because ... Jahmmel Cephas had no choice."
Prosecutors said Cephas has ties to the Bloods 36th Street and a criminal record dating back to 1998.
Court documents show that by 26, Cephas had multiple convictions for crimes including aggravated assault, criminal trespass and possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute.
In previous interviews, friends and family remembered Pryce, the son of Jamaican immigrants, as meticulous, passionate and encouraging. He "wanted to see the best in you," his childhood friend, Ray Santiago, told NJ Advance Media in 2015.
"I know that recently, he had a strong passion about helping the community, especially young men like him," Santiago said. "That's why it's been especially painful in recent days for those close to him, because he was outspoken against this same sort of violence."
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is expected to endorse the Republican challenger in a New Jersey state Senate race, NJ Advance Media learned.
TRENTON -- In a rare instance of a politician wading into a legislative race outside of his home state, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is expected to announce Wednesday that he is endorsing the Republican challenger in a New Jersey state Senate race, NJ Advance Media has learned.
"My friend Ileana Schirmer has my full support in her campaign to take Trenton in a new direction," Rubio said in a statement obtained by NJ Advance Media. "She is an independent-minded leader with a proven track record of fighting for affordability in her community. I know that Ileana will be a fierce advocate for her constituents and will not stop until a serious dent is put in New Jersey's affordability crisis."
Schirmer worked on Rubio's New Jersey campaign in his failed bid for the 2016 presidential nomination. Along with Gov. Chris Christie, Rubio was one of 15 GOP candidates who lost the primary to eventual President Donald Trump.
Both Rubio and Schirmer have Cuban roots, as well. Rubio was born in the U.S. to Cuban immigrants, and Schirmer is a Cuban immigrant.
Schirmer is also friends with Carlos Rendo, the mayor of Woodcliff Lake who is the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor under GOP nominee Kim Guadagno in this year's gubernatorial race. Rendo, also a Cuban immigrant, co-chaired Rubio's New Jersey presidential campaign and is a fundraiser for the Florida senator.
Schirmer, who works in the pharmaceutical industry, is aiming to become the first Republican Hispanic woman elected to the state Senate, the upper house of the New Jersey Legislature.
Republicans have high hopes of recapturing the seat in the 14th district, which includes parts of Mercer and Middlesex County -- an area that includes a large amount of public workers.
Greenstein won a special election in 2010 for the seat previously held by Republican Bill Baroni.
But Greenstein has had to whether two tight campaigns to hang on to the seat since then. She beat former state Sen. Peter Inverso by a mere 1,400 votes in 2013.
Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in the district by nearly 2-to-1, but there are about 70,000 unaffiliated voters in the district.
Schirmer also has the support of he Republican State Leadership Committee, which helps GOP candidates get elected in state legislatures across the country.
The group's Future Majority Project donated the maximum $8,200 to Schirmer's campaign last month.
All 120 seats in the state Legislature are up for grabs in November's election, and Democrats are expected to hold onto their majorities in both houses: the Senate and Assembly.
But the 14th is one of a few districts Republicans are targeting in an effort to pick up seats.
We rank the state's best ballcarriers of the previous three decades.
This week, as both sides were set for opening statements in the couple's tire slashing case, the pair from Manalapan cut deals, resolving all their charges. Here's what our readers had to say about the case's resolution:
Keith Hahn, a police officer in Edison, is running on a platform of offering the voters a choice in the predominantly one-party town.
EDISON -- The ousted head of the township's Democratic party has thrown his hat into the Edison mayoral race, but he's switching sides and running as a Republican.
Keith Hahn, the once political outsider who shocked the local party members in 2015 after edging out the establishment candidate to become the powerful chairman the Edison Democratic Organization, announced his candidacy on Tuesday evening.
"I would like to thank Guy Gaetano Gaspari for nominating me to replace him as the Republican Mayoral Candidate in Edison," Hahn said in a post on Facebook.
Hahn faces Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey, a Democrat, on the November ballot. Lankey is seeking reelection to his second term.
Hahn is running on a platform of offering the voters a choice in the predominantly one-party town. He accused the current Democratic mayor, who was elected in 2014, of cronyism and criticized the administration's tax policy over the last four years.
Edison, the fifth-largest town in the state, has been a historically Democratic municipality, where the party has held the mayor's office and controlled the council for decades.
The move comes just over a month after Hahn was pushed out of the power local Democratic political organization, which holds significant political sway over endorsements for local candidates among other party decisions.
Hahn, a township police officer, lost his position as the chairman of the Edison Democratic Organization after a spate of infighting stemming from a ballot filing issue.
Hahn had come under fire a sitting committeewoman was nearly left off the June primary ballot. Deborah Andrews, the only black committeewoman, called for a new chairman, accusing Hahn of leaving her off the ballot because of her race.
Hahn has said it was an accident and moved to restore Andrews to the ballot on the party line after a lawsuit was filed in Middlesex Superior Court.
But Andrews and other political insiders called for a new chairman.
Shariq Ahmad, a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and now chief-of-staff to Assemblyman Robert Karabinchak, now runs the local party organization of 156 party seats, which are voted on by party members during the June primary.
Hahn has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Stelton Community Center to make the official announcement.
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Which top returning stat leader will light up the state again in 2017?
NORTH BRUNSWICK -- Karma Cat and Zen Dog Rescue Society will hold its third annual Fetch and Pounce 5K on Sept. 16. The chip-timed, USATF-certified race will take place rain or shine at North Brunswick Community Park at 2053 Route 130 in North Brunswick. Registration and packet pick up begins at 7:30 a.m.; the race begins at 9 a.m. Participants...
NORTH BRUNSWICK -- Karma Cat and Zen Dog Rescue Society will hold its third annual Fetch and Pounce 5K on Sept. 16.
The chip-timed, USATF-certified race will take place rain or shine at North Brunswick Community Park at 2053 Route 130 in North Brunswick. Registration and packet pick up begins at 7:30 a.m.; the race begins at 9 a.m.
Participants are encouraged to bring well-mannered leashed dogs as running partners; retractable leashes are prohibited and participants must clean up after their pets.
Registration is $25 with all proceeds benefiting the East Brunswick-based nonprofit rescue. For more information and to register, go to runsignup.com/Race/NJ/NorthBrunswick/FetchPounce5K or karmacatzendog.org
Shelters interested in placing a pet in the Paw Print adoption column or submitting news should call 973-836-4922 or email email@example.com.
Who will best the most dangerous scorer of 2017?
Joshua Green, who was convicted in 2013 on three sex assault charges and a count of kidnapping, will get a new trial in the September 2011 incident in Perth Amboy
PERTH AMBOY -- A court has overturned the conviction of a 26-year-old man who was previously found guilty of dragging a woman in the bathroom of a city store and trying to rape her six years ago.
Joshua Green, who was convicted in 2013 on three sex assault charges and a count of kidnapping, will get a new trial in the September 2011 incident in Perth Amboy, according to state records. He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence.
The state appellate court wrote in an opinion Monday that case against Green "lacked forensic evidence tying defendant to the crime" and too much weight was given to police officers' opinion in identifying Green.
The incident took place at a nutrition product store when a man entered the shop just after it opened, pulled her into the rear bathroom, choking and hitting her as she resisted the sexual advance, according to court documents.
When two customers entered minutes later, the man tried to barricade the woman inside the bathroom and ran.
The man was caught on a camera from a neighboring store as he ran, according to the ruling, which noted the surveillance video was poor.
The Perth Amboy police, which were not called until hours later due to the woman's apprehension about reporting the rape, did not dust for finger prints or collect DNA evidence from the scene since multiple people had been in the store since the assault, according to court documents.
Police sent around photos of the surveillance footage and an officer in South Brunswick told Perth Amboy police he believed the man to be Green "based on 'dealings' in South Brunswick."
Two months later, the woman picked out Green's photo as her attacker, but one of the customers who had claimed to have gotten a good look at the suspect said he was 50 to 75 percent sure Green fled the store that day.
"However, when defendant stood up in court, [the woman] said he was much shorter than he appeared the day of the attack. Still, she was "certain it's him." the court documents said. The customer also identified Green as the attacker in court.
Before Green was a suspect, the woman also told police she had seen her attacker at the bus stop near her work, but when authorities stopped the bus no one matched the description she gave, according to the ruling.
The three-judge panel ruled that the South Brunswick officer's opinion, as well as two Perth Amboy officers' testimony, in identifying Green in the video "improperly 'intruded on the jury's role'" in the trial and should have not been allowed.
The officers said under oath they could not confirm Green's identity in the video.
"The admission of that testimony was still error, the Court concluded, because the detective lacked personal knowledge of the attacker's appearance," the ruling said.
Green claimed he was going to a job interview in Perth Amboy that day, according to court records. However, the job agency Green used to obtain temp work had no records of him seeking a work that morning.
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I found countless photos of folks having fun in the summertime in New Jersey. There were so many pictures to choose from, in fact, that this is the second summer fun gallery of the season. MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey As you look through these photos, remember: I ALWAYS welcome submissions for use in these weekly nostalgic features....
I found countless photos of folks having fun in the summertime in New Jersey. There were so many pictures to choose from, in fact, that this is the second summer fun gallery of the season.
As you look through these photos, remember: I ALWAYS welcome submissions for use in these weekly nostalgic features.
What photos should I send, you ask? Yours, I reply. As long as it was taken before 1987, I'll almost always be able to find a way to work a photo of yours into one of the myriad of topics featured in these galleries. All you have to do is convert your photo(s) into jpg files and attach them to an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, here are some other summertime galleries you might enjoy.
There are 13 players returning who were named to one of the three NJ.com All-State teams last fall.
Who will be the most dangerous playmaker of 2017?
Brianna Siegel is a server at the Bar Loui restaurant in Woodbridge
Brianna Siegel, a server at Bar Louie restaurant in Woodbridge, served a couple Tuesday evening, and after they paid their $20 bill, they gave her an envelope and gave her some instructions, News 12 reported.
They told her to open it when she got home.
So, she waited. When she got home, she dropped to the floor -- seeing a check made out to her in the amount of $1,200, the report said.
The envelope also included a note, a portion of which read, "Whenever it gets hard, know God got you."
Siegel, who plans to use the money toward nursing school and a new car, told News 12 that she couldn't understand why the couple chose to give her such a large tip.
She said she had been talking with them and laughing, describing them as "really nice people," the report said.
In an interview with News 12, her boss described her as a terrific worker always willing to come in and help out.
Which top returning stat leader will light up the state again in 2017?
Suspended Carteret cop Joseph Reiman was charged with assault and three counts of official misconduct over the May 31 arrest of the teenager Watch video
Joseph Reiman, 31, has been charged with assault and three counts of official misconduct over the May 31 encounter after the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said the review of the dashboard camera footage from the arrest confirmed the teenager's account.
NJ Advance Media first reported the alleged assault after an interview with the 16-year-old and a neighbor, who claimed to witness the incident on June 7.
Last month, the prosecutor's office released four dashcam videos from the arrest showing the officer climbing on top of the teenager and punching him for more than a minute.
Reiman appeared before Superior Court Judge Michael Toto Thursday morning accompanied by his family and friends, including his brother and fellow Carteret officer Charles Reiman.
Assistant Prosecutor Christine D'Elia said the state has started to review evidence and had given copies of more than 50 discs to Reiman's attorney Charles Sciarra.
Reiman's case is set to go to a grand jury in late September, according to the judge.
Reiman, who is the brother of the borough's mayor, Daniel Reiman, has been suspended with pay pending the charges and has been on supervised release since his first appearance on the charges on June 10, when he pleaded not guilty.
The charges stem from an encounter in the early hours of May 31. The unlicensed 16-year-old had taken his parents car and crashed into a suspension wire on a utility pole at the corner of Bergen and Edwin streets after a police chase.
The teenager, who's not being named because he's a minor, said previously he got out of the car with his hands up and Reiman started beating him.
"The first thing on the video is that kid didn't have his hands up," Sciarra said in the court house halls after the proceedings. "This case will be fully defended. We're not running from this. We are going to engage full force."
Sciarra claimed that alleged eye witnesses have said the teen got out of the car with his hands up, but he contends the video does not show that. He said the case was already on "shaky" ground.
"What was reported out and said initially has already taken a big hit in terms of what just the video shows," Sciarra said.
Richard Watkins, whose front door is about 35 feet from where the incident occurred and the only witness interviewed by NJ Advance Media who said he saw the alleged assault, said previously he went outside after hearing screams.
Watkins described the force used during the arrest as "excessive" but did not see the initial moments of the encounter.
The video released on July 20 shows much of the incident, but not everything as first described by the teen. Some of the encounter is out of frame, leaving some unanswered questions about the account given by the teen and Watkins.
Sciarra maintained Thursday that Reiman, a former Marine who joined the force in 2015 as a disabled veteran, followed his training and that the teen suffered injuries in the crash.
Sciarra said, however, he was unable to do forensics on the crashed car because the family has since destroyed the car.
Sciarra claimed that glass was taken out of the kid's eye and he was not wearing a seatbelt so he could "book" after he crashed.
The teen admitted he was not wearing his seatbelt but said he was not injured in the crash.
In the video, the teen is not seen running from police and appears to comply with Reiman's commands to get on the ground.
The state has argued the teen's injuries were not consistent with an accident but of an assault.
The teen also alleges one of the four officers at the scene kicked him in the face as he was cuffed. The videos provided by the prosecutor's office do not show a kick.
No other details of the traffic stop have been released by police, other than the teen was arrested after a police chase and crash. The teen's father told NJ Advance Media, his son was not charged with any crime and had only received a series of traffic tickets the next week in the mail.
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OLD BRIDGE -- Roxy is a 2-year-old female American bulldog mix at the Old Bridge Animal Shelter. Found with her littermates on the side of the road in Old Bridge in December 2015, she was adopted as a puppy twice but was returned both times. Shelter workers say she can be "a challenge" and cannot be in a home with...
OLD BRIDGE -- Roxy is a 2-year-old female American bulldog mix at the Old Bridge Animal Shelter.
Found with her littermates on the side of the road in Old Bridge in December 2015, she was adopted as a puppy twice but was returned both times.
Shelter workers say she can be "a challenge" and cannot be in a home with other pets or children younger than 16. Her ideal home will have owners familiar with strong dogs. Roxy has been spayed and is up-to-date on shots.
To meet Roxy and other adoptable pets at the Old Bridge Animal Shelter, visit the shelter at One Old Bridge Plaza. The shelter is open every day from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, call 732-721-5600, ext. 6300 or email email@example.com.
Shelters interested in placing a pet in the Paw Print adoption column or submitting news should call 973-836-4922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 21-year-old victim was in a Jacuzzi in the room he rented with three others before answering a knock on the door and being shot to death, authorities said
WOODBRIDGE -- The fatal shooting of a Bronx man at a couples motel in June was a robbery gone wrong, according to the attorney of a woman accused of helping plot the heist.
Cynthia Rivera, 18, of the Bronx, is accused of planning with her boyfriend, Martin Martinez Jr., to rob a 24-year-old man after he posted on social media about possessing a large sum of money, Assistant Prosecutor Keith Abrams said Thursday during a detention hearing in Middlesex County Superior Court.
Rivera was at the Loop Inn Motel in the Avenel section of Woodbridge with Andrew Torres, Chelsey Mendoza and the unidentified 24-year-old man, all of whom are from the Bronx. Rivera had told her boyfriend, Martinez, of the score, Abrams said.
The four rented a room and were in a Jacuzzi when Martinez and another unnamed man arrived with handguns, knocked on the door and fatally shot Torres, according to the prosecutor. The unnamed 24-year-old, who had posted about the money, was also shot multiple times.
"She facilitated this entire crime, your honor," Abrams told Superior Court Judge Michael Toto of Rivera.
"To say that she facilitated this is just not accurate," Rivera's attorney, Anthony Fazioli, later told the judge.
Rivera, Martinez and Mendoza were arrested on charges of conspiracy and murder. The three appeared in court Thursday, handcuffed in green jumpsuits.
Shortly after 4:50 a.m. June 21, Woodbridge police responded to the shooting at the motel, where officers found 21-year-old Torres, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim, who had posted about the money, was shot multiple times and taken to University Hospital in Newark in critical condition, prosecutors said.
Before undergoing surgery, the man told authorities he and Torres went to the motel with Rivera and Mendoza. He said he had never met the women before that night.
A motel clerk told police Torres rented a room at the motel early that morning, Abrams said. About an hour later, two men arrived at the desk and said they were there for a party. The clerk did not give them access into the motel, so the two rented a room under the name Martin Martinez, Abrams said.
While the victims and the two women were in the Jacuzzi in the motel room, Torres answered a knock at the door and was "immediately shot," the assistant prosecutor said.
Rivera and Mendoza ran out of the room as two men, one of whom was later identified as Martinez, entered the room with handguns, Abrams said. The man who posted about his money on social media was then shot and robbed, he said.
Rivera's attorney said he was unsure if the armed man with Martinez was being sought by police.
Woodbridge police referred questions about the unnamed man to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, which is leading the investigation. A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said she could not confirm or deny whether a second gunman was involved.
After the killing, Rivera and Martinez, who Abrams said are dating, as well as Mendoza and the other unidentified man drove back to the Bronx, the prosecutor said. Martinez's car was seen on camera traveling over the George Washington Bridge into New York about half an hour after the shooting, he said.
Prosecutors claim Rivera planned the meeting after the man who was shot but lived posted on social media displaying "a large amount of money." Once at the motel, Rivera let Martinez know of their whereabouts, Abrams said.
Fazioli, Rivera's attorney, said his client did not arrange the gathering. When he asked the judge not to order his client detained, Fazioli said Rivera, who is pregnant, was not the shooter and argued that her mother could monitor her at home if she were released.
"She indicated that there was supposed to be a robbery, but that this went too far," Fazioli said.
Toto, however, ordered Rivera detained on a felony murder charge. She had already been detained on the conspiracy charge and posed a risk of running from authorities, the judge said.
Rivera turned herself into authorities about three weeks after the shooting. The prosecutor's office announced Mendoza, who was also charged with hindering her own apprehension and hindering the apprehension of another, was arrested the same day.
Martinez turned himself in the week prior.
The motel opened in 1988 and is advertised as a romantic "scenic hide-away" that caters to couples looking for a getaway for their honeymoon or anniversary, according to its website.
The New York Police Department assisted Woodbridge police and the prosecutor's office in the case, Abrams said.