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    Who were the best players across the state during the season's opening weeks?


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    Anthony Trimble, 54, of Howell Township, admitted to taking $1,500 from a client to write positive drug test reports.

    NEW BRUNSWICK - A former drug counselor who admitted to taking $1,500 from a client to write positive progress reports despite a drug test failure was sentenced Monday to three years of probation. 

    Anthony TrimbleAnthony Trimble, 54, of Howell Township (Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office)

    Anthony Trimble, 54, of Howell Township, was working part-time at Journey to Wellness, a privately-owned substance abuse and treatment facility in Perth Amboy, when he took $1,500 from a client, authorities said. 

    The client's lawyer contacted police after the exchange and Trimble was arrested in December on an extortion charge. He was fired after the allegations were made public. 

    As part of a plea deal with Assistant Prosecutor Christine D'Elia, Trimble gave up his counseling license and was barred from working with substance abuse clients, the prosecutor's office said. He also forfeited public employment and must repay the $1,500. 

    Since 2010, Trimble worked for the state as an employee at the Special Treatment Unit at Avenel, making $63,470 a year. He was suspended from his state post after the arrest. 

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka.

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    Get a look at who made their mark during the first week of the season.


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    Karl Kjer, 57, secretly filmed a 19-year-old woman while she showered at his home, authorities said.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- A former Highland Park man who illegally videotaped women, including a 19 year old he secretly filmed while she showered at his home, was sentenced Monday to three years of probation. 

    Karl KjerKarl Kjer (Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office)

    Karl Kjer, 57, was ordered to have no contact with the teenager he allegedly videotaped with a hidden camera in June 2015, the prosecutor's office said.

    He must also undergo a mental health evaluation and treatment. 

    Kjer, who now lives in Jersey City, was charged with invasion of privacy in February after the teenager was identified. 

    Authorities said they obtained additional spy camera videos they believe were taped by Kjer, however, the women in those videos have not been identified. 

    It was unclear how Kjer knew the women or why the teen was at his home.

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka

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    Sayreville's football coach still doesn’t know why he was ejected vs. East Brunswick.

    Sayreville coach Chris Beagan was ejected during a game against East Brunswick last week and, by rule, will not be eligible to coach this week.

    The NJSIAA’s rules about ejections are simple: if you’re ejected, you miss the next game.

    Beagan, who didn’t even draw a penalty flag, questions the circumstances surrounding the first ejection of his career — and with no chance to appeal, questions the lack of accountability for officials in these situations.

    Sayreville had just scored with around eight minutes left in a game it would go on to win, 48-21, when an incident unfolded nearly 40 yards behind the play.

    "We were blocking a kid, he got blocked and proceeded to grab our kid because he was out of the play, tossed him, was on top of him throwing punches," Beagan said. "Our kid lays on the bottom and doesn't respond, just gets up and walks away, no flags."

    Sayreville will also be without Mike Germann, one of the top defenders in the Greater Middlesex Conference, after he was ejected for running off the sideline and into the fray during the altercation.

    Beagan, the 2016 NJ.com Coach of the Year who led Sayreville to a North Jersey, Section 2, Group 4 title last season, asked the officials over and over again why there was no flag for the East Brunswick player who threw punches, and he says there was no flag thrown on him.

    "I've had many times in my career where an official says, 'Coach, I've had enough.' And I go to the sideline, they give you your warning. I'm still asking for an explanation, he didn't say anything to me as far as 'I've had enough,' there was no flag, there was no bean bag, no nothing, no hat, nothing thrown in regards to that he was going to throw me out,' Beagan said. "I was told when I was on the sideline, they came to me and told me I was ejected. For asking for an explanation how there was no penalty thrown on the East Brunswick kid for throwing punches."

    Beagan said that the official's report claims that there were offsetting fouls during the incident in which the coach claims punches were thrown.

    "None of his report is corroborated by the video. We have no course of correction when officials blow a call and make a mess of things as he did,"Beagan said. "What happens is an official can write a report and there doesn't have to be any corroboration on it, there doesn't have to be anything. He just writes a report, files it, done. End of story, everyone is ejected. There's no review appeal process, nothing."

    The NJSIAA confirmed that Beagan and Germann would be ineligible against Edison, but Assiant Director Jack DuBois said he had not reviewed the official's report.

    "It's a little revisionist history. They go and write a report, and they can write it however they want it to happen. Because no one is checking anything," Beagan said. "No one from the NJSIAA has asked for a video."

    The Sayreville administration has been in contact with the NJSIAA. But there is no appeals process, and as of now Beagan will not be allowed to be at the Stadium for Sayreville's game against Edison. Assistant coach Mike Novak will assume head-coaching duties for the game, according to Novak.

    Sayreville now has two disqualifications on the season and per NJSIAA rules would be ineligible for the playoffs if a third occurs this season.

    "There should be some review," Beagan said. "Where is the review of the officials? Where is the appeal process? Where is the corrective behavior? There is corrective behavior for everyone but the people that have the power."

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at jschneider@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Fernando Rios, 33, was arrested Tuesday and charged with identity theft, trafficking in personally identifying information and burglary

    SAYREVILLE -- A borough man allegedly stole more than 1,000 medical records from an East Brunswick storage unit and sold them, according to authorities. 

    Fernando Rios, 33, was charged Tuesday with identity theft, trafficking in personally identifying information and burglary, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said in a release. 

    Rios was arrested after a joint investigation with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to the release. It was unclear when the break-in occurred. 

    Three doctors from East Brunswick and Somerset stored their patients' medical records in the storage unit, the release said. 

    Craig McCarthy may be reached at 732-372-2078 or at CMcCarthy@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @createcraig and on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    The new location on Hadley Road in South Plainfield is set to open in early 2018

    SOUTH PLAINFIELD -- After losing its lease at a local office earlier this year, the state Motor Vehicle Commission will soon open a new location in the borough.

    The new location on Hadley Road is set to open in early 2018, MyCentralJersey reports. 

    "I am thrilled that the Motor Vehicle Commission will be returning to South Plainfield," Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin wrote on Facebook. "It's a win-win for our residents and I look forward to the opening of the new facility."

    The location at the Golden Acres Shopping Center on Oak Tree Road closed in May after the landlord decided not to renew the agency's lease. It was unclear why.

    Legislators said they were "outraged" and "disappointed" after the news broke. 

    The Middlesex County location received statewide attention last year when a 17-year-old's mother called into Chris Christie's monthly radio appearance about her fruitless four-month quest to renew her son's learner's permit. 

    Christie later showed up at the agency in South Plainfield with the mother and her son. The teen was then able to get his permit within 10 minutes. 

    Hadley Road was home to a local MVC office before the state agency moved to Oak Tree Road in 2007.

    Craig McCarthy may be reached at 732-372-2078 or at CMcCarthy@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @createcraig and on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    In 1998, if you picked two random students out of the student body, the chances of the pair being the same racial and ethnic category were 42 percent. Today, they'd be 31 percent.


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    Jesse Namotka, 22, is accused of attempting to kidnap his cousin and trying to fire shots at police chasing him, but instead hitting his own backseat.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- A 22-year-old man who attempted to kidnap his cousin and fire shots at police who were chasing him was sentenced Monday to eight years in state prison.

    Jesse Namotka, who lived in Sylva, N.C., before his father brought him back to New Jersey several years ago, was sentenced on charges he took his cousin's car while attempting to kidnap her and tried to fire a handgun at police vehicles chasing him Nov. 21, 2015, in Edison.

    Namotka was initially charged with attempted murder, threatening to commit murder and carjacking, among other charges. He has since pleaded guilty to lesser charges of aggravated assault and unlawful possession of a weapon.

    He must serve at least 3 1/2 years before he is eligible for parole.

    Namotka's cousin, Jessica Namotka, asked Middlesex Superior Court Judge Colleen Flynn to impose a maximum sentence, saying she has had multiple surgeries for injuries sustained while jumping from the vehicle. She said she now suffers from seizures, memory loss and post-traumatic stress disorder.

    "Since the day this incident has happened, I've had many sleepless nights," she said. "I'm constantly afraid and less truthful to people around me."

    Namotka of Allentown, Pa., leaped from the passenger-side of the Jeep Cherokee as Jesse Namotka slowed for traffic on Route 1 and Wooding Avenue, police said. Jesse Namotka, 20 at the time, then collided into another vehicle stopped in traffic before speeding from the crash.

    As police chased him, Namotka lost control of the Jeep almost five miles away along Amboy Avenue near Franklin Avenue. When Namotka surrendered to officers, authorities said they recovered drugs and two handguns -- a stolen revolver and .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun -- inside the Jeep.

    Police later found bullet holes and slugs from the revolver in the backseat, which authorities said indicated Namotka tried to shoot at pursuing patrol cars during the chase.

    Before he was sentenced, Namotka said he was sorry for the pain he caused his cousin. He also apologized to the court for "wasting your time."

    As part of the plea deal with Assistant Prosecutor Brian Shevlin, Namotka can have no contact with his cousin. Shevlin called the agreement "more than generous."

    Namotka's defense attorney, Brynn Giannullo, argued that Namotka had a "tortured upbringing" that contributed to his criminal history, which consists of three prior juvenile adjudications, two of which were for robbery.

    Rose Jordan, Namotka's aunt who has a master's degree in clinical social work and is trained in trauma and attachment therapy, said Namotka had little supervision as a child and was exposed to drugs, alcohol and domestic violence. His mom was addicted to prescription drugs and his father, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, used recreational drugs at home, she said.

    When his parents divorced, Namotka told family members that there was no food at their house, which they reported to the Department of Children, Youth and Families, Jordan said. Namotka was then taken in 2007 to live with extended family in North Carolina, she said.

    "Jesse, at the age of 12, was separated from everything he knew and loved," Jordan told the judge.

    After his maternal grandmother died, he moved in with his uncle. He had anger management issues and was evaluated by counseling services, which determined he was not a threat but required treatment, Jordan said.

    But before his counseling began, his father took him back to New Jersey. His behavior escalated and he was taken to a University Behavioral Healthcare facility, Jordan said.

    Diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder and cannabis abuse, Namotka was to begin counseling May 13, 2009. He has said he has anxiety and depression, and was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia.

    But 10 days before he was to start that counseling, he was arrested for armed robbery, his first offense. Jordan said she believed the gun was unloaded and nothing was stolen.

    At the age of 14, Namotka accepted a plea deal of six years for the armed robbery, Jordan said. A month into his incarceration, his mother died of a drug overdose, she said.

    In telling the judge about Namotka's upbringing, Jordan argued that the state's juvenile justice system failed Namotka by incarcerating him instead of providing him with substance abuse and mental health services.

    "He is the perfect example of the school to prison pipeline," she said. "I ask that the court show mercy. At the age 22, Jesse has endured so much."

    After sentencing him, the judge told Namotka that she was "sorry that your life has been the way it has been," but that his upbringing did not justify the crimes. She advised him to use his time in prison to take classes.

    Restitution is expected to be discussed at another hearing.

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka.

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    Who has been crushing it on the pitch to start 2017?


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    Frank Polera, 31, is accused of killing his mother, Patricia Polera, on the night of Nov. 26 in the home they shared on Kirschman Drive.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- An Old Bridge man was indicted Tuesday on charges he killed his 61-year-old mother over Thanksgiving weekend in 2016, court records show.

    Frank Polera, 31, is accused of killing Patricia Polera on Nov. 26 in the home they shared on Kirschman Drive. 

    When police arrived at the house shortly after 8:45 p.m., authorities found Patricia Polera dead. Frank Polera was arrested the next day after his mother's death was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation, police said.

    Frank Polera pleaded not guilty to the murder charge in December.

    Assistant Prosecutor Scott LaMountain said Frank Polera called police that night to report that his mother had fallen out of bed. Despite numerous attempts by police on the phone to walk Frank Polera through CPR, he was not interested and seemed "more concerned about taking care of the dogs," LaMountain said.

    The door was locked when police arrived at the home, LaMountain said. Officers were left outside for so long, they eventually contacted headquarters to make sure they had the correct address, the prosecutor said. 

    Patricia Polera had worked at Newark Liberty International Airport as a customer service supervisor for United Airlines. She lived in the neighborhood on the border of Matawan for nearly two decades.

    Neighbors and co-workers remembered Patricia Polera as kind and welcoming.

    "Pat was loved by everyone," said Luciana Moreira, one of her co-workers at Untied. "She will be missed." 

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka.

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    Palate-pleasing places from around the Garden State.

    635804286189279563-1960-southern-kitchen.jpg 

    We all have a "go to" place to eat.

    That place that solves the problem of everyone answering "I don't care" when asked where they'd like to go for a meal. The place you don't have to worry about a reservation or getting "dressed up" ... where the food is always great and the price is always right.

    And, we in New Jersey have tons of such places to choose from.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Last summer, while spending some time in south Jersey, I met some out-of-state construction workers who were in town building a warehouse. I was told that the company that builds these warehouses has regular crews who travel around the country; they're put up in local accommodations and spend weeks on the jobsite.

    The workers I met were electricians from Oklahoma. They said there's good money to be made if you can accept living away from home for long stretches. And, they also said their favorite place to work is New Jersey ... because of the limitless choices of places to eat.

    They literally raved about the state's eateries, commenting on how the food was always good and there was usually more than they could finish. And all I could do was offer a knowing nod, because we in the Garden State most certainly don't take our eateries for granted.

    Here's a gallery of establishments that provide foods for every taste in New Jersey. And here's a link to last year's gallery.

    Vintage photos of eclectic eats in N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    The 20-year-old junior was attacked after he exchanged words with a member of the frat, his parents said

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- A 20-year-old man has been charged with stabbing another Rutgers student following an altercation outside an off-campus fraternity party early Sunday, according to a report. 

    Robert Mannifield, of North Brunswick, attacked the other student with a box cutter type object on Delafield Street between between Courtland and Bristol streets around 12:45 a.m., authorities told MyCentralJersey.com.

    The victim, a 20-year-old junior from Toms River, was stabbed three times near his abdomen, his parents told the website. The business major is recovering at home after being treated at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, the report said.

    His parents said their son doesn't know Mannifield, the report said. They added that their son exchanged words with a member of the fraternity after his friend was denied entrance to the party, the report said.

    Mannifield is charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     

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    The 32-year-old screamed at emergency workers and got in the face of a fireman before being arrested

    ASBURY PARK -- A 32-year-old man was arrested after yelling and becoming aggressive toward emergency personnel who rescued him from the ocean on Wednesday night, authorities said. 

    Joshua H. O'Donnell, of Metuchen, was intoxicated when he was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Asbury Park police said.

    Police and firefighters responded the the 5th Avenue beach around 9:30 p.m. after being told that a swimmer was struggling in the water. 

    O'Donnell was pulled from the ocean near 6th Avenue, but then began shouting at his rescuers and "took a threatening stance" while screaming in a fireman's face, authorities said. He also raised his arms in what police described as a "violent manner," authorities said.

    O'Donnell was issued a summons and taken to a local hospital to be evaluated, according to police. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

     


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    Kyle Lankey, the mayor's son, was arrested in South Plainfield after police found 17 Xanax pills on him. He was indicted earlier this month.

    EDISON -- The son of Edison's mayor could serve prison time after being indicted on a drug possession charge while on probation for a drug conviction, court documents show. 

    Kyle Lankey was arrested May 17 in South Plainfield after police found 17 Xanax pills on the 31-year-old in a small, purple case inside a sock, according to a criminal complaint. Lankey was indicted Sept. 1 by a Middlesex County Grand Jury on a charge of possessing a controlled dangerous substance, court records show.

    The full details of the arrest were not known.

    Lankey, the son of Edison Mayor Thomas Lankey, is scheduled to appear Monday before Middlesex County Superior Judge Joseph Rea for a post-indictment conference, court records show.

    Assistant Prosecutor Jessica Ma said during a hearing Aug. 8 the state would seek a prison term after Kyle Lankey's attorney rejected a deal on the charges, according to an audio recording of the proceeding. He has pleaded not guilty to the new charges.

    Lankey may be re-sentenced on his 2016 conviction on counts of possession and distribution of heroin if county officials cannot resolve both cases together, the prosecutor's office said.

    Superior Court Dennis Nieves sentenced Lankey to four years of probation in March 2016 after he admitted to drug charges, which stemmed from an arrest two years ago when authorities found him unconscious behind the wheel of an idling car on a home's lawn.

    Law enforcement sources previously told NJ Advance Media that Lankey was found with about 200 packets of heroin, a small amount of marijuana, pills and about $400 in cash.

    Lankey's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment. 

    "Countless families in New Jersey - and elsewhere - are victims of our national opioid crisis," Mayor Thomas Lankey said in a statement to NJ Advance Media, which claimed news of the arrest was sent to news outlets for "underhanded political reasons."

    "Most families do not have their personal business make news headlines," he said. "My family's personal struggle is now being exploited as a political weapon to smear me. That is absolutely disgraceful."

    NJ Advance Media reporter Craig McCarthy contributed to this report. 

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka.

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    Seven teams dropped out of the NJ.com Top 20 after the first week. Find out who the new teams in are.


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    Which girls have already given their verbal commit to play girls soccer.


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    Trial began Thursday for a 28-year-old man accused of stalking and fatally shooting his ex-girlfriend in 2015 in South Brunswick.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- As Alicia Martinez left her boyfriend's home in June 2015, her ex-boyfriend, Giver Vasquez, waited outside in his car.

    He had placed a GPS tracker on Martinez's vehicle and hours earlier, illegally bought a handgun and ammunition, prosecutors said.

    On that morning June 24, 2015, Vasquez followed Martinez, 24, of New Brunswick, to an industrial park where she worked on Docks Corner Road in South Brunswick. Before she got out of her car in the parking lot, Vasquez shot Martinez in the head in front of her friends and co-workers, authorities said.

    "This is nothing short of a cold-blooded execution," Assistant Prosecutor Bina Desai said Thursday during opening arguments in his trial before Judge Pedro Jimenez.

    Vasquez, 28, also from New Brunswick, confessed to the killing and was charged with murder, stalking, possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of a weapon, prosecutors said. He has pleaded not guilty in court.

    His defense attorney, Robert Corbin, told the jury there is "no question" that his client was responsible for Martinez's death. He asked the jurors, however, to consider the conditions surrounding her death and their relationship, suggesting that the crime was an act of passion, not a planned murder.

    "This is a unique case," Corbin told the jurors, saying it is not a case about who killed Martinez, but why.

    The killing was the first murder in South Brunswick since 2008 and the first time someone died by gunfire at the hands of a criminal in the township since 1989.

    Authorities have said Martinez was shot three times at about 7 a.m. that day outside the Prologis complex in the Dayton section of the township.

    After the shooting, Vasquez fled to Pennsylvania, where police arrested him the next day in New Hope. He was extradited to New Jersey, where a judge kept his bail at $2 million.

    During a previous hearing, Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Scott LaMountain said Vasquez was in the United States illegally. He said the two had a "tumultuous relationship."

    Alicia Martinez's brother, Marlon Martinez, has said his sister moved to the United States from Honduras when she was about 15 to escape difficult circumstances.

    "She was trying to make her American dream come true," he said in 2015. "She was very happy about her life."

    Martinez's family declined to comment Thursday outside the courtroom.

    Prosecutors will call law enforcement experts and Martinez's boyfriend and co-workers, among others, to testify at trial, she said. 

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka.

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    EAST BRUNSWICK -- New Beginnings Animal Rescue will hold its "Biggest and Best Yard Sale" on Saturday, Sept. 23 from noon to 4 p.m. at its facility in East Brunswick. The sale will feature housewares, bric-a-brac, collectibles, small furniture, antiques, jewelry and pet supplies with no reasonable offer refused. All proceeds benefit animals in the care of the nonprofit rescue...

    plastic-lawn-sticks.jpg 

    EAST BRUNSWICK -- New Beginnings Animal Rescue will hold its "Biggest and Best Yard Sale" on Saturday, Sept. 23 from noon to 4 p.m. at its facility in East Brunswick.

    The sale will feature housewares, bric-a-brac, collectibles, small furniture, antiques, jewelry and pet supplies with no reasonable offer refused. All proceeds benefit animals in the care of the nonprofit rescue group.

    The yard sale takes place at 706R Cranbury Road. For more information, call 732-257-3145.

    Shelters interested in placing a pet in the Paw Print adoption column or submitting news should call 973-836-4922 or email middlesex@starledger.com.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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