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    The best games of Week 7 all in one place.


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    Joseph Iko, who joined the county in 1992, says in his 2015 lawsuit that he was harassed for more than a decade over his Type 1 diabetes

    MIDDLESEX COUNTY -- A Middlesex County Sheriff's Office investigator who filed suit claiming he was harassed for more than a decade because he has Type 1 diabetes is getting his day in court.

    Opening arguments began Tuesday in the civil case filed in 2015 by Joseph Iko alleging he was regularly bullied by superiors and called "walking dead," "half-dead," "Mr. Magoo," "Stevie Wonder" and "eye lab" due to his medical condition, which affects his vision.

    Iko, who started working for the county in 1992, also claims another officer pointed a loaded gun at his head as part of the hostile work environment.

    The case is being heard in Somerset County Superior Court before Judge Edward Coleman. Middlesex County officials has denied the claims in court filings.

    In the lawsuit, Iko accused his superiors -- Undersheriff Angelo Falcone, Sgt. Bobby Semler, Chief Michael Barbieri, Capt. James Rizzi, Director Tom Farrell, Director Gilbert Nielsen, Lt. Donald Blount, Lt. James Mullen and Sgt. Robert Rittenhouse -- of regularly bullying him at work and named nearly a dozen others who witnessed the alleged harassment.

    Veteran police officer alleges discrimination in lawsuit

    The lawsuit also claims that in the years after Iko's pancreas transplant, Director Tom Farrell, who at the time was a Sergeant, used racial slurs toward the investigator ridiculing the race of organ donor.

    Additionally, the suit says Falcone put Iko on cell cleaning duty during flu season because his immune system was compromised from the transplant. 

    In another alleged incident, Iko claims Mullen pointed his loaded service weapons at Iko head while the two were in the old juvenile holding cells in the courthouse, according to the suit.

    Iko says he was "humiliated and abused" for years about his disability. He says was given undesirable assignments as a result, including picking up dead rats, shredding papers and moving furniture, and denied special training, according to the court filing. 

    When he complained to his union, Iko says he was told "You're lucky to have a job. You're half dead."

    Iko makes $92,248 in his annual salary, according to pension records. 

    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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    Which teams have the best dual threat offensive combinations?


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    A look at which girls soccer teams in N.J. have allowed the fewest goals


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    Nine of 43 undefeated teams lost in Week 6. How many of the 34 remaining unbeaten teams in New Jersey will run the table?


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    Which players have emerged as the leaders in statistics in boys soccer this year?


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    New Jersey diners have a character ... and characters ... all their own.

    If you grew up in New Jersey and never ate at a diner, then you must have had good reason.

    I would venture to say that few things are as intrinsically connected to a state as diners are to New Jersey. Perhaps that's the reason our diner galleries are among our most popular.

    According to zagat.com, "In the state of New Jersey, diners are more than just a place to grab a breakfast sandwich or a late-night cup of coffee. Often the center of the community, diners built in the 1920's are still beloved by their guests despite modern restaurants filling up Main Street."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Who doesn't love a diner? Diners are where a customer is able order bacon with the instruction to make it "ridiculously crispy" and the waitress writes it down and then delivers it to the table "just right."

    Pete Genovese of nj.com identifies the Summit Diner as the oldest diner still in operation in the state, opening in 1929; Max's Diner in Harrison opened earlier, in 1927, but has gone out of business.

    There are 566 municipalities in the state and, according to nj.com, at last count, some 525 diners. Those numbers make finding a diner in the Garden State easy work. How many have you found?

    Here's a gallery of New Jersey diners. And here are links to other related galleries.

    Vintage photos of diners in N.J.

    Vintage photos of diners and eateries in NJ

    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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    See how a number of county tournament upsets shook up the Top 20 this week.


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    Some precarious prognostication for Week 7 in New Jersey football.


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    A look at the Top 75 girls soccer freshmen in New Jersey.


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    Off-duty Long Branch police Officer Jake Pascucci was traveling southbound on Ocean Boulevard on Sept. 22 when he hit 60-year-old Karen Borkowski. Watch video

    LONG BRANCH - An off-duty Long Branch police officer who fatally struck a woman on Ocean Boulevard last month told officers at the scene he had a green light and that she was jaywalking, newly obtained dashboard camera video shows.

    Jake Pascucci, 28, was driving a 2016 Jeep Cherokee southbound on Ocean Boulevard when the vehicle hit Karen Borkowski at the Broadway intersection around 8:15 p.m. on Sept. 22, authorities said. The intersection, located in front of the Ocean Place hotel near Pier Village, has traffic lights and a pedestrian walkway.

    Pascucci.jpgOfficer Jake Pascucci was named "Cop of the Month" in February 2015. (Long Branch Police Department Facebook page)

    "She walked right in front of me, jaywalking," Pascucci can be heard telling officers in the video. "I have a green light, going this way, southbound. She walked right out in front of me.

    "I swerved," he continued. "That's why I ended up coming over here."

    One of the video clips, obtained by NJ Advance Media through the state's Open Public Records Act, shows front-end damage to Pascucci's Jeep, which is facing southbound on the northbound side of the road. 

    The police report notes that there are streetlights on both sides of Ocean Boulevard but no lighting in the median. It was starting to get dark at the time the crash occurred, the report said.   

    It does not mention the speed Pascucci was traveling. 

    Borkowski, 60, of Stanhope, was found by first responders on the southbound side of the road along the grass median. They performed CPR on her but she was pronounced dead at 8:36 p.m.

    At around 8:48 p.m., Pascucci was taken to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch by members of the Long Branch First Aid Squad.

    The investigation is ongoing.

    The crash was initially under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. However, Pascucci worked on an investigation with the prosecutor's office. Seeing a potential conflict, the prosecutor's office contacted the state Attorney General's Office, which had the case transferred to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, a spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, Charles Webster, said.

    No charges or summonses have been filed as of Thursday. 

    It's unclear if Pascucci remains on duty during the investigation. Jason Roebuck, the acting police chief in the city, said he needed to check to see if he could release that information. 

    Pascucci, of Long Branch, has been a full-time police officer with the city's police force since August 2014. He was previously a full-time Oceanport police officer and a part-time special officer for Long Branch.   

    In February 2015, Pascucci was recognized by the Long Branch Police Department as the "Cop of the Month."  

    "The choice to recognize Officer Pascucci was not made on one incident alone, but his overall work performance in recent months," a post on Facebook announcing the award said. "He has proven to be a true go-getter in the field and a real asset to the police force."

    NJ Advance Media reporter Craig McCarthy contributed to this report.

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Greyhounds, Wildcats a tornado and more are vying to be named N.J.'s top HS mascot


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    Just because you don't end up with a scholarship from a college ranked nationally, doesn't mean you aren't a good player. There are outstanding players all over the state. Here are the best 38 players in N.J. nobody knows.

    The best N.J. football players nobody knows05.JPGPaulsboro's Dehron Holloway (1) carries the ball during the first quarter of the football game against Woodbury, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. (Lori M. Nichols | For NJ.com) 

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    A state trooper was accused of falsifying records. 20,000 cases are under scrutiny. What happens next?

    TRENTON -- Prosecutors in New Jersey are notifying more than 20,000 people charged with drunken driving that their cases are under review after a State Police sergeant who oversaw breath-testing devices was accused of falsifying records, NJ Advance Media has learned.

    County prosecutors have been sending letters to people charged with driving while intoxicated between 2008 and 2016 that a specially appointed judge would weigh "whether you are entitled to relief" based on the accusations against the sergeant.

    Prosecutors and defense attorneys told NJ Advance Media the number of cases that could be thrown out as a result of the criminal inquiry is likely low. But the issue, which came amid a similar probe of the State Police drug lab, created a morass of legal challenges which could take years to sort out.

    Sgt. Marc Dennis, a coordinator in the State Police Alcohol Drug Testing Unit, was accused last year of lying on official documents about completing a legally required step in re-calibrating the machines, known as Alcotest devices, which are used to check the blood-alcohol level of accused drunken drivers.

    The sergeant, who denies the charges against him, was allegedly observed skipping the step in calibrating just three machines. But the criminal accusations raised a cloud of doubt over every device touched by the trooper, who performed routine checks on devices used by local police across five counties.

    "Sergeant Dennis' alleged false swearing and improper calibrations of these three instruments may call into question all of the calibrations performed by Sergeant Dennis over the course of his career as a coordinator," said one letter, a copy of which was obtained by NJ Advance Media.

    The letters were sent in recent weeks to DWI defendants in Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset, and Union counties.

    Dennis was charged in September 2016 with second-degree official misconduct, third-degree tampering with public records and fourth degree falsifying records. He was indicted on those same charges in December, but the misconduct charge was dropped in a second indictment in June, records show. 

    His attorney, Robert Ebberup, said Dennis denied any wrongdoing.

    "At the end of the day, I'm sure he is going to be exonerated," Ebberup said. 

    In the meantime, a retired appellate judge, Joseph Lisa, is sorting through the thicket of as many as 20,667 cases affected by the claims against the sergeant. 

    According to an April Supreme Court order apponting him as "special master," Lisa will rule on whether Dennis' alleged failure to perform a preliminary temperature check required under Supreme Court rules would "undermine or call into question the scientific reliability of breath tests subsequently performed" on those devices. 

    The state Division of Criminal Justice has maintained that the check, while legally required, was not scientifically necessary.

    But under state law, a person is guilty of driving under the influence if they have a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent. Tougher penalties kick in for those who blow a .10 or higher. 

    Defense attorneys argue that because guilt or innocence or the level of punishment can hinge on a few decimal points, anything that suggests protocols weren't followed should bring test results into doubt. 

    A spokesman for the state judiciary said a hearing date on the matter had not been set. 

    The state also faces a potential class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of those defendants. That suit, filed in federal court, was dismissed in August but could be reinstated pending the state judge's decision. 

    S.P. Sullivan may be reached at ssullivan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     
     

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    Every county has a top administrator who takes policy and budget orders from the elected board of freeholders. Five counties also have an elected county executive


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  • 10/20/17--05:07: Cats need a home together
  • Jade and JocelynGreg Hatala | The Star-Ledger  EAST BRUNSWICK -- Jade and Jocelyn are mother and daughter cats at New Beginnings Animal Rescue. The cats, who must be adopted together, were rescued from a hoarding situation along with more than 100 other cats. Both cats have been spayed, are FIV/FeLV negative and up-to-date on shots. During the month of October, New...

    mx1022pet.jpgJade and Jocelyn 

    EAST BRUNSWICK -- Jade and Jocelyn are mother and daughter cats at New Beginnings Animal Rescue.

    The cats, who must be adopted together, were rescued from a hoarding situation along with more than 100 other cats. Both cats have been spayed, are FIV/FeLV negative and up-to-date on shots.

    During the month of October, New Beginnings  is hosting a "Pick a Pair of Pumpkins" promotion. With the promotion, fees will be waived for anyone who adopts a bonded pair of cats.

    For more information on Jade and Jocelyn, call 732-238-1348 or email info@newbeginningsanimalrescuenj.org. New Beginnings is an all-volunteer group committed to finding homes for pets in Middlesex County. The group is currently caring for 40 cats and five dogs.

    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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    A look at the hot topics in N.J. girls soccer this past week.


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    SAYREVILLE -- The Peterpank Diner on Route 9 in Sayreville is shown in this undated photo. MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey Previously known as Margaret's Midway Diner, the eatery was purchased in 1957 by Alex and John Panko. Peterpank was open for business for nearly 60 years before closing on Dec. 30, 2015. If you would like to share...

    SAYREVILLE -- The Peterpank Diner on Route 9 in Sayreville is shown in this undated photo.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Previously known as Margaret's Midway Diner, the eatery was purchased in 1957 by Alex and John Panko. Peterpank was open for business for nearly 60 years before closing on Dec. 30, 2015.

    If you would like to share a photo that provides a glimpse of history in your community, please call 973-836-4922 or send an email to middlesex@starledger.com. And, check out more glimpses of history in our online galleries on nj.com.

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


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    Check out all the must-read content

    ESSENTIALS
    LIVE updates, results and links for Week 7
     19 bold predictions for Week 7
    NJ.com Top 20, group and conference rankings
    Another Top 3 showdown and 25 other must-see games
    34 unbeaten football teams remain
    Season statistical leaders
    Week 6 top performers
    Week 7 schedule/scoreboard by conference
    Conference standings
    Power points


    PLUS: Hidden gems: The 38 best N.J. football players nobody knows


    PICKS
    Top 20
    Picks for all six conferences
    Every game, every winner

    MUST-READ CONTENT
    Hidden gems: The 38 best N.J. football players nobody knows
    19 bold predictions for Week 7
    Hobbled West Deptford, Haddonfield renew rivalry
    The Face of Pope John: Jake Brown is Lions' leader
    Football recruiting hearing for St. Joseph (Mont.) recruiting allegations delayed
    Voorhees, North Hunterdon look to re-write history
    12th Man TD Club honorees
    Which N.J. alums shined in College Football Week 7?
    Steinert defense ready for huge Allentown test
    Asbury Park to name stadium after log-time coach Friday


    WATCH: Videos for #NJmascot challenge - last days to nominate N.J.'s best mascot


    RECRUITING
    Which football recruits has Rutgers offered in October?
    How have N.J.'s top 50 football recruits fared in 2017?
    Brooklyn coach has 2 headed to Rutgers
    N.J. RB Keshon Farmer back on market

    GAMES OF THE WEEK

    NJ.com/Star Ledger: South River at Keansburg
    South Jersey Times: Gloucester Catholic at Woodstown
    Times of Trenton: Burlington Township at Trenton


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    What has been the biggest news in N.J. boys soccer?


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