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    Two city water utility workers were indicted Friday over accusations of asking for more than $5,000 in a pair of bribes in exchange for "drastically" reduced water and sewer bills.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- Two city water utility workers were indicted Friday over accusations of asking for more than $5,000 in a pair of bribes in exchange for "drastically" reduced water and sewer bills. 

    William "Billi" Ortiz, 55, allegedly solicited the money from residents as a city meter reader, while Joseph "Gordo" DeBonis, 55, senior account clerk then, allegedly changed the customer's bills, state Attorney General Christopher Porrino said.

    An alleged $4,200 bribe provided the customer, who has multiple properties throughout the city, with bills reduced by 90 percent, according to an investigation last November. 

    The customer was not named by authorities. 

    Ortiz, of North Brunswick, and DeBonis, of Toms River, are also accused of teaming up in another alleged scam in 2014 where they replaced a customer's meter reader with a faulty one for $1,000, Porrino said in a release. 

    Both face charges of conspiracy, official misconduct, bribery in official and political matters and tampering with public records or information, the release said. 

    "When public employees like Ortiz and Debonis allegedly take bribes for special treatment, trust in government is undermined and the public ends up footing the bill," said Porrino. 

    Both men have been suspended from their jobs pending the outcome of the charges. 

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

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    The first 20 students in Mercer County Community College's new drone program get one Watch video

    WEST WINDSOR -- Drones are the future of aviation and Mercer County Community College wants to train the pilots who will fly them, the college said this week in announcing a drone pilot certification program.

    The certification program starts in late October, and the college says they're the only college in the greater Trenton area offering such a course.

    And to help the program take off, they're outside partner is offering a free DWI X3 Micro WIFI Quadcopter with HD Camera to the first 20 students who enroll.

    Students enrolling as a group of three will receive a FPV-WIFI 2.4G R/C Drone with light and 720P camera, the college said.

    The college is partnering with ABJ Drones in Cranbury on the program, a company that provides commercial drone services to the construction, public safety and agriculture industries, as well as training pilots.

    ABJ is offering the 20 college freebies.

    Secret Service to fly drone for Trump security at N.J. golf club

    The first class starts Oct. 24 during the college's seven-week session. It's called UAS 101, Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

    The course will provide an overview of drone systems and technology, commercial and military history usage and current and future applications.

    The course will also offer a Federal Aviation Administration remote pilot certification and students will finish 14 to 18 credit-hour curriculum with a certificate of achievement in Aviation Technology, the college said.

    "Drones are a technological game changer in the way we solve problems, conduct business, innovate and view our world," Vip Jain, CEO of ABJ Drones said in a statement.

    "We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift driven by the use of drones," Jain said.

    As the government clears them more and more for use in the nation's airspace, the college said as many as 100,000 new drone-related jobs are on the horizon in the law enforcement, real estate, scientific surveying and news industries, according to drone industry reports.

    "We have seen the future of aviation, and drone-based technology will play an integral part in how business and industry approaches the application of aircraft for a variety of commercial and scientific needs," said Dr. Jianping Wang, president of MCCC. "

    More information is available at

    Kevin Shea may be reached at Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find on Facebook.


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    Teams of 20 attempted to pull a 93,000 pound United Boeing 737 Watch video

    NEWARK -- More than 50 teams of 20 people from police and fire departments, and private companies, displayed their brawn Saturday in attempting to pull a United Airlines Boeing 737 by hand.

    The airliner weighs 93,000 pounds.

    "It's a lot of fun and people practice for this year round," said Robert Belfiore, a retired police chief retired and current director of the New Jersey Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics.

    "We appreciate they are here raising money and awareness to help special athletes throughout New Jersey," he said.

    More than a thousand people gathered attended the event at Newark Liberty International Airport , sponsored by the Torch Run, which specifically benefits the Special Olympics of New Jersey (SONJ).

    The first pull is for the fastest time a team of 20 can move the plane 10 feet, the second pull is the lowest aggregate weight to pull the plane 10 feet.

    The strength competition hosted by United Airlines and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was open to the public, with free food and family activities for both adults and children. 

    SONJ, the nonprofit in Lawrence, provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in 24 Olympic-style sports for more than 25,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. 

    The organization says it offers the training free of charge, offering athletes continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

    Patti Sapone may be reached at Follow her on Instagram @psapo,  Twitter @psapone.  Find on Facebook.

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    Nomination deadline is approaching.


    EDISON -- John P. Stevens High School is accepting nominations for its Hall of Honor.

    The Hall of Honor recognizes graduates from for "outstanding personal, professional and community-related/public service accomplishments, as well as good character."

    Graduates from the classes of 1965 through 2008 are eligible for nomination.

    Nomination forms are available at or by calling 732-452-2836. Nominations can also be made online at All nominations must be received by Oct. 15.

    To submit school news send an email to

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    The shipping company opened a new distribution hub in Hamilton this year.

    HAMILTON -- FedEx is planning to hire 1,800 seasonal workers in New Jersey to ship packages during the busy holiday season, according to a report.

    The Memphis-based company recently opened a 343,447-square-foot distribution center on Route 130 in Hamilton Township. Many of the seasonal employees will work out of this center, the article said. 

    FedEx also has locations in Woodbridge, Union and Bellmawr. 

    Bankruptcy won't stop Toys 'R' Us from hiring thousands for holidays

    "It's a great place to grow and advance your career," Robert Brigham, Woodbridge Hub's senior manager said in a press release. "And these factors make FedEx one of the best and most admired companies to work for around the world."

    Paige Gross may be reached at pgross@njadvancemedia.comFollow her on Twitter @By_paigegross. Find on Facebook.


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    Rutgers University is helping 26 students find temporary housing after a kitchen grease fire set off sprinklers, causing water to reach lower apartments.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- Twenty-six Rutgers students were displaced Sunday after a kitchen grease fire in an apartment building set off sprinklers, causing water to reach apartments on lower floors.

    No injuries were reported after the 3 p.m. fire in an upper-floor apartment in the Sojourner Truth Apartments at College Avenue and Hamilton Street in an area of campus known as The Yard, Rutgers University spokesman Neal Buccino said.

    Water from the building's sprinklers system, however, reached apartments in lower floors down to the lobby, Buccino said.

    The university is helping about 26 students find temporary housing until they can return to their apartments.  

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

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    A man affiliated with Rutgers University was assaulted by several males after a verbal altercation at a party on Delafield Street, police said.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- A man described by police as affiliated with Rutgers University was assaulted by several people at a party Saturday, authorities said.

    The attack occurred at 5:20 p.m. on Delafield Street between Courtland and Bristol streets near the university's College Avenue campus, Rutgers police said.

    The man told police he was at a party inside a home when he was assaulted by several males after a verbal altercation. The victim fled the area as the fight continued onto the front porch, authorities said in an alert to the community.

    No weapons were used and the man received treatment for his injuries. Descriptions of the suspects were limited as of Sunday, police said.

    About two weeks ago, a 20-year-old junior from Toms River was stabbed multiple times with a box cutter type object on the same street. 

    Robert Mannifield, 20, of North Brunswick, has been charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in that incident. 

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

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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey need permanent homes.

    This information on dog safety was compiled by members of the Dog Bite Prevention Coalition -- the U.S. Postal Service, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Humane Society, Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance.

    If a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog into a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. Parents should also remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

    People often assume that a dog with a wagging tail is a friendly dog, but this is far from the truth. Dogs wag their tails for numerous reasons, including when they're feeling aggressive. A tail that is held high and moves stiffly is a sign that the dog is feeling dominant, aggressive, or angry.

    Dogs, even ones you know have good days and bad days. You should never pet a dog without asking the owner first and especially if it is through a window or fence. For a dog, this makes them feel like you are intruding on their space and could result in the dog biting you.

    ALL DOGS are capable of biting. There's no one breed or type of dog that's more likely to bite than others. Biting has more to do with circumstances, behavior, and training.

    Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and their intentions to others around them. Although dogs do use sounds and signals, much of the information that they send is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures. You can tell how a dog is feeling (sad, tired, happy, angry, scared) by looking at the position of a dogs' ears, mouth, eyes, and tail.

    Dogs are social animals who crave human companionship. That's why they thrive and behave better when living indoors with their pack -- their human family members. Dogs that are tied up or chained outside are frustrated and can become aggressive because they are unhappy. They can also become very afraid because when they are tied or chained up, they can't escape from things that scare them.

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

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    The number of foreign and out-of-state students admitted to Rutgers University is on the rise.

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    There is new No. 1 team in the football Top 20 on Oct. 1.

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    These teams and players had noteworthy performances in Week 4

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    A look at the biggest boys soccer games for the week ahead.

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    The Toms River man misrepresented the type of job his employees did to save $600K in workers; compensation

    TOMS RIVER -- The owner of an electronic recycling warehouse was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for orchestrating a $600,000 scam in which he lied about the type of work his employees did to obtain cheaper workers' compensation rates.

    boufarah.jpgAlbert Boufarah 

    Albert Boufarah, 50, of Toms River, the owner of Supreme Asset Management Recovery in Lakewood, was also fined $100,000, the state attorney general's office said in a statement.

    Boufarah said most of his employees performed clerical functions, though the majority worked in a warehouse.

    In reality, they did jobs such disassembling and refurbishing televisions, computers and other electronic devices. Insurance premiums are higher for those workers, the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor said.

    The scheme cost New Jersey Casualty (NJC), a subsidiary of New Jersey Manufacturer's Insurance Company (NJM), about $598,282 from January 2011 through June 2014.

    Boufarah was convicted in October

    An official at SAMR, Donna DeMartino of Brick previously pleaded guilty to third-degree insurance fraud and received three years probation.

    Three people associated with a Neptune insurance company, the Amato Agency, face charges of conspiracy, theft, insurance fraud and misconduct by a corporate official.

    They are:

    • Joseph Amato II, 74, of the Waretown section of Ocean Township in Ocean County. He is the owner of Amato Agency as well as an agent.
    • Agent Joseph Amato III, 50, of Howell.
    • Agent Jennifer Phillips, 44, of Old Bridge.
    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.

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    An Elizabeth man charged with fatally striking a recent Rutgers University graduate with his car and fleeing the scene has been offered an eight-year plea deal.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- Prosecutors have offered an eight-year plea deal to an Elizabeth man accused of fatally striking a recent Rutgers University graduate with his car and fleeing the scene.

    Eduardo Perez, 33, has been indicted on one count of vehicular homicide and one count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident in the May 12 crash that killed 23-year-old Mujahid "Mu" Henry, authorities said. 

    His attorney, however, claimed he may have been drugged at a strip club before the crash.

    During a hearing Monday, Assistant Prosecutor Arabelys Santos told Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez that prosecutors have offered Perez an eight-year plea deal. He has pleaded not guilty. 

    Outside the courtroom afterward, Perez's attorney, Richard Robinson, called the offer harsh and said his client may have been drugged or robbed before the crash.

    Perez went to Cheeques, a strip club in Linden, with about $700 that day, Robinson said. When he left, he was "kind of out of his mind," had no money and later did not remember anything about the crash, his attorney said.

    Dump truck driver charged in hit-and-run crash that killed bicyclist

    Perez has admitted he was drinking and should not have driven, Robinson said. 

    "He feels awful about what happened," he said. 

    Perez was driving east on the 1200 block of East Linden Avenue at 12:30 a.m. that day when his 2007 Ford Escape struck Henry, authorities said. Henry, of Newark, was thrown into a parked car and pronounced dead at the scene, officials said. 

    Perez then collided with several parked cars while he drove to the 700 block of Lidgerwood Avenue in Elizabeth, where he abandoned his car, police said.

    Elizabeth police officers patrolling on nearby Kenneth Avenue arrested him shortly afterward, authorities said. 

    Perez had three previous criminal convictions and was on probation for the second of two assault convictions when he struck Henry, court records show. Perez also served prison time for robbery, according to court documents. 

    The most recent case was transferred from Union County to Middlesex County because one of Henry's relatives worked in the criminal division of the court in Elizabeth, his former attorney said.

    Henry was set to walk at Rutgers-Newark's graduation five days after he was killed. He graduated with a degree in public affairs and administration in January. 

    His father, Darryl Henry, accepted his son's posthumous degree at the May 17 commencement ceremony. 

    Henry also worked as a legislative aide to Essex County Freeholder Leonard Luciano and campaigned for Phil Murphy in the Democratic gubernatorial primary race. 

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

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    A New Jersey woman Jenna DeCandio underwent surgery Monday afternoon after she was injured in the mass shooting Sunday night in Las Vegas.

    JAMESBURG -- A New Jersey woman underwent surgery Monday after she was shot Sunday night in the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed at least 59 people and wounded more than 520, family said on social media. 

    Jenna DeCandio was shot in her hip and pelvis area, a family member said in a post on Facebook. The bullet missed her stomach and vital organs, a nurse told the family, according to the post. 

    She underwent surgery at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, the family member said. A spokesperson for the medical center confirmed a woman by that name remained hospitalized Monday night. 

    DeCandio lives in Jamesburg, according to her Facebook page, and her LinkedIn showed she has worked in the borough since June as a knit programmer at Shima Seiki USA, Inc. in Monroe. An employee at her job confirmed she was at the hospital and that her co-workers were awaiting updates from the family.

    In the post, family thanked friends for their prayers and kind words. Briefly reached by phone Monday night, family members in Las Vegas said they were not ready to comment publicly. 

    N.J. police union leader describes chaos in Las Vegas

    Sunrise Hospital -- the closest trauma center to the Las Vegas strip -- said it has treated 180 patients who were injured in the shooting. The hospital's trauma team performed about 30 surgeries.

    "Our trauma team and all supporting nursing units, critical care areas and ancillary services are all at work this morning in the aftermath of this tragedy -- and most stayed throughout the night -- to help the victims and to assist their loved ones," the hospital's CEO, Todd P. Sklamberg, said in a statement. 

    The attack at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino -- the deadliest mass shooting in modern history -- began as country music star Jason Aldean was performing at the end of the three-day Route 91 Harvest Festival in front of a crowd of more than 22,000. Officials say Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the hotel.

    SWAT teams using explosives stormed the gunman's hotel room and found he had killed himself, authorities said. He had as many as 10 guns with him, including rifles, officials said.

    There was no immediate word on the motive for the bloodshed.

    don't drink and scoot

    A post shared by Jenna DeCandio (@jennadcan) on

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

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    Jahmeel Stevenson, 21, of Piscataway, is accused of shooting to death his 24-year-old brother Henry Jr.

    NEW BRUNSWICK -- Prosecutors have offered a Piscataway man charged with shooting and killing his brother in June a 30-year plea deal.  

    Jahmeel Stevenson, 21, has been indicted on a murder charge and weapons offenses in the death of his 24-year-old brother, Henry Stevenson Jr., of Piscataway, authorities said.

    During a hearing Monday, Assistant Prosecutor Vincent Vitale told Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez that prosecutors have offered Stevenson a 30-year plea deal. If Stevenson is found guilty on all charges, he faces life in prison, Vitale said.

    Stevenson appeared in court handcuffed in a green court-issued jumpsuit. He sat in silence as his defense attorney, Lauren Bayer, and the prosecutor discussed the case.

    The prosecutor's office has said Stevenson shot his brother June 16 after an argument at their residence. 

    Henry Stevenson was found by police lying on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds near the intersection of West 3rd Street and Poplar Place shortly after 7 p.m., police said. 

    He was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick where he died later that day, authorities said. 

    Jahmeel Stevenson was charged in the killing a week later. 

    On the night of the shooting, police taped off half-a-block in the residential neighborhood for more than four hours and appeared to focus their investigation around a detached one-car garage.

    Stevenson's trial is expected to begin by March, the judge said. 

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka

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    The accident, which involved a box truck and a car, happened around 7 a.m. at the corner of Herrod Boulevard and Stults Road

    SOUTH BRUNSWICK -- A crash in the township near an NJ Turnpike entrance injured four people and is expected to snarl traffic in the area, affecting routes 130 and 535, until at least noon, police said. 

    The crash, which involved a box truck and a car, happened around 7 a.m. at the corner of Herrod Boulevard and Stults Road, South Brunswick Police Capt. James Ryan said. 

    Two helicopters airlifted those injured in the crash to nearby hospitals, according to Ryan. The extent of the injuries to the four people was not known. 

    Multiple police and fire departments, as well as emergency medical responders, are on scene as of 7:30 Ryan said. 

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

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    Check out the top high school players from this past weekend.

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    A look at the remaining unbeaten teams in N.J. girls soccer.

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    See which players stood out in each of N.J.'s 15 conference this past week.

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