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    The New Brunswick chapter of Sigma Chi was shut down this past November.

    Sigma Chi fraternity members at Rutgers University allegedly drugged members of a sorority during a mixer this past fall with punch spiked with Xanax, according to records obtained by the Daily Targum

    The New Brunswick chapter of the Sigma Chi frat was shut down in November, but the university didn't disclose the reason for its closure, the Rutgers student newspaper reported.

    Rutgers University spokesman John Cramer said the school reached a mutual agreement with the national Sigma Chi fraternity to suspend the New Brunswick chapter following an "investigation into reports of policy violations." 

    "All operations and activities of the chapter are terminated until August 2020, after which the national organization may consider establishing a chapter with new members, without the involvement of suspended members," Cramer said. "In addition, the Sigma Chi national organization agreed to directly inform all members still on campus that, for the remainder of their undergraduate careers at Rutgers, they must cease any and all fraternity activity."

    A source told The Daily Targum Xanax was put into a communal container of alcohol and fruit juice during the mixer with the Sigma Delta Tau sorority on Sept. 16. Frat members were the only ones who allegedly had access to the communal container. 

    Records obtained by the student newspaper reported about 10 sorority members suffered bouts of vomiting, incoherence and black outs. The spiked punch also reportedly interfered with one individual's prescribed medication. 

    Cramer said student privacy laws bar the university from providing further comment on any additional aspects of the student conduct investigation. 

    Two months before the frat chapter was shuttered, the school issued a cease-and-desist order barring it from holding parties. 

    Messages placed on Friday to the national Sigma Chi organization and the local Sigma Delta Tau sorority haven't yet been returned. 

    Justin Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have information about this story or something else we should be covering? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    The biggest questions entering the season.


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    They hope to start a countywide focus on mental health, beginning with an event next month

    The superintendents of each public school district in Mercer County issued a "a call to action" Friday to address what they say is an alarming trend - teen suicides.

    In the past 20 months, seven students have taken their own lives, the 10 educators said in letter form. Each was a resident of or attending a public school in the county.

    "These deaths are not always attributed to our county because of the way in which deaths are recorded, but make no mistake these are our students," the letter says.

    They have a plan, and it begins with an event next month, the educators say.

    "We write this letter jointly as superintendents representing every public school in Mercer County because we are heartbroken by the senseless loss of our children," the letter says.

    "No town is immune from suicide," it says.

    Principal makes emotional plea for understanding after student's death

    "What should further concern us all is the alarming number of students who are referred for mental health services, sent to crisis centers, or hospitalized for self-harming acts or ideations," the letter says.

    The letter describes how talking about mental health and suicide often brings "blame and shame" and as a society we must stop "fruitless finger pointing."

    Public schools offer counseling services, proactive parent and student programming, health curriculums includes suicide, depression, anxiety, stress and mental health, they argue.

    "Our staffs are trained, but we can always do more...So what can we do in the short-term?" the superintendents ask

    "We can listen, we can provide guidance and assistance to one another, and we can provide environments of love and support. Students must know that they are not alone; families must know that they are not alone; mental health providers and educators need your support," the letter says.

    To do that, they've planned the public program - a "first step" - at Rider University in Lawrence on Jan. 9. Superintendents will gather representatives from the state's Traumatic Loss Coalition, mental health providers and, hopefully, community members and parents.

    The aim is start a "countywide focus on mental health."

    The Rider event will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Cavalla Room at the Bart Luedeke Center at Rider. More information and resources can be found at the state's Youth Suicide Prevention website.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    See which facilities bring in the most money to the Port Authority and which eat up the most cash


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    The precipitation is expected to move into the area late Sunday night.

    A hazardous weather outlook was issued for central and northern parts of New Jersey ahead of what forecasters say could be a light mix of freezing rain and snow Sunday night.

    The outlook, issued by the National Weather Service early Sunday, is for the following counties: Sussex, Warren, Morris, Hunterdon, Somerset, Middlesex and parts of Monmouth.

    "A light mix of freezing rain and snow is possible tonight," the outlook says. "Any minor ice accumulations may lead to slick spots."

    Sunday will start with mostly cloudy skies with highs in the mid-30s in most parts of the state. Temperatures will be warmer in the southern part of the state, with a high near 45 in Atlantic City.

    The precipitation will move into the area late and continue into the early morning hours. But the weather will dry up by the Monday morning commute and temperatures are also expected to warm up, with highs in the 40s.

    Temperatures will continue to get warmer and Tuesday could see highs in the mid-50s. However, those temperatures are expected to fall back to the 40s on Wednesday and Thursday.

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

     

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    Nine members of a cocaine distribution ring were arrested Thursday after they were found moving about 1/3 of a kilogram of cocaine a week, officials said.

    Nine members of a cocaine distribution ring were arrested Thursday after an investigation found they were moving about 1/3 of a kilogram of cocaine a week, officials said.

    The nine-month investigation, dubbed "Operation Snowball," found that Hugo Hernandez, 48, worked as a leader of the ring, giving cocaine to lower-level dealers and telling them to take it to locations in downtown Freehold borough, according to a news release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

    Operation-Snowball.jpgNine were arrested last week in a cocaine distribution ring. (Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office)

    In the investigation, officials seized more than 721 grams of cocaine and $14,943. 

    Hernandez, of Freehold borough, was charged with leader of a narcotics trafficking network and a slew of other drug charges.

    Among the dealers was Hernandez's brother, Carlos Hernandez-Campos, 35. 

    Hernandez-Campos, of New Brunswick, and Lucino Roldan-Coria also known as "Rufino Roldan," 58, of Freehold borough, were charged with possessing and intending to distribute cocaine. 

    Miguel Garcia-Tapia, 30, of Freehold borough, was charged with possessing and distributing cocaine. 

    Procopio Morales-Hernandez, 49, of Freehold borough and Antonio Romano-Jiminez, also known as "Merito Romero-Jimenez," 29, of Freehold borough, were charged with conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine.

    Gregorio Morales-Morales, 35, of Manalapan, John A. Depaola, 53,  of Jackson, and Roberto Tlapa De La Era, 35, of Freehold borough, were charged with conspiracy to possess cocaine.

    Sara Jerde may be reached at sjerde@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SaraJerdeHave information about this story or something else we should be covering? Tell us: nj.com/tips


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    Authorities said the uniforms and weapons may have been used in at least one armed robbery early Sunday morning.

     

    Two weapons and New Jersey State Police uniforms were taken from an unmarked troop car stolen over the weekend in the North Brunswick area, authorities said Sunday.

    The white Chevrolet Tahoe was stolen sometime Saturday night or early Sunday morning, State Police said in a statement.

    Investigators recovered the SUV late Sunday morning in North Brunswick, and believe the uniforms and weapons may have been used in least one armed robbery in Middlesex County earlier in the day, authorities said. State Police did not specify the type of weapons taken from the vehicle.

    Authorities have asked anyone concerned or suspicious of an officer's credentials to call 911 for verification.

    Further information about the investigation, which authorities described as "active," was not immediately available Sunday evening.

    Sara Jerde may be reached at sjerde@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SaraJerde. Have information about this story or something else we should be covering? Tell us: nj.com/tips

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    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey. We are now accepting dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at ghatala@starledger.com or call...

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We are now accepting dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at ghatala@starledger.com or call 973-836-4922.

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


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    These N.J. teachers were allowed to keep teaching despite allegations. How "passing the trash" puts N.J. students at risk.


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    The state's urban centers, home to many immigrant communities, are not the only places were ICE is making arrests, as a stepped up enforcement effort spreads across New Jersey.

    In a series of New Jersey raids announced last week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement took into custody 101 foreign nationals they said were in this county illegally--a sweep that stretched across much of the state.

    Experts say the targeted areas underscored the wide landscape where immigrants live in the state.

    While most of those arrested were in Essex, Hudson, Camden and Middlesex counties, ICE said others were taken into custody in Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Cumberland, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset and Union counties.

    Lori Nessel, director of the Seton Hall University School of Law Center for Social Justice, said while the largest numbers of immigrants facing deportation are found in New Jersey's largest cities, "it is notable that there are now immigrants facing deportation in even the smallest towns and boroughs."

    In fact, new data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a non-partisan research group based at Syracuse University of pending cases in the state's immigration court showed those facing deportation live throughout New Jersey. And they are not just in the urban centers that have traditionally been home to immigrant communities.

    That data, which TRAC said was based on a detailed analysis of millions of records covering each deportation proceeding initiated by the Department of Homeland Security, was obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), a unit within the Department of Justice which oversees in the administrative courts.

    Residents from Newark represented the most number of pending cases, at 3,151, followed by Elizabeth, at 1,896, and Plainfield, at 1,490.

    But there were cases that grew out of Lakewood, Kearny, Hackensack, Fairview, Long Branch, Perth Amboy and Cliffside Park, where more than 200 people living in each of those municipalities had pending immigration court matters.

    Immigration attorney Harlan York, who represents many individuals in cases before those courts, said the wide disparity of where ICE finds those targeted for removal comes as no surprise.

    "Geography is mainly no issue because there are many ways that Immigration and Customs Enforcement starts removal cases," he said.

    Undocumented immigrants with no legal status can be stopped at the border, or found living just about anywhere by ICE. York said removal cases can also involve immigrants in lawful status who are taken into custody because of a criminal court issue.

    ICE last week said its five-day operation in New Jersey was targeted at criminal aliens and those charged with immigration violations. Officials said most of those arrested, who ranged in age 20 to 71 years old, had prior felony convictions. However, they offered no breakdown of the charges they faced.

    Nessel said the ongoing enforcement efforts are being carried out in an indiscriminate, rather than focused, way with mothers, children, the ill, and those who have long-standing ties to the community all vulnerable to deportation at any moment.

    "Without a prioritized plan and with the diminished use of discretion, enforcement efforts are carried out across the state and sweep up many immigrants who have traditionally been viewed as low-priority," she said.

    Other immigration advocates were also critical of the ICE arrests.

    In a statement, the Immigrant Defense Project charged that ICE has repeatedly used "lies, exaggerated charges, and mischaracterizations of people's records in an attempt to justify their unconstitutional and immoral raids."

    The New York-based group said some of those being arrested by ICE have found themselves targeted from an offense years in the past, and have since rebuilt their lives.

    In October, the Newark field office of ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations arrested 36 people in Middlesex County, including some who had been incarcerated at the Middlesex County Jail and released after county officials declined to honoring the ICE detainers to hold them in custody.

    ICE said in a statement it "does not exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement," and that all those in violation of the immigration laws "may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States."

    Ted Sherman may be reached at tsherman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL. Facebook: @TedSherman.reporter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The Metuchen officer was hospitalized with minor injuries.

    A Metuchen police officer was injured Monday morning when his cruiser was struck by another vehicle as the officer was about to conduct a motor vehicle stop, police said.

    The officer was trying make a traffic stop shortly before 8 a.m. when his cruiser was struck by another vehicle near Central and Lake avenues, according to police.

    The officer, whose name was not released, was hospitalized with minor injuries, officials said.

    Authorities said they did not believe anyone else was injured in the accident.

    The incident remains under investigation, police said.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the officer was pursuing a speeding driver. The officer was about to conduct a motor vehicle stop when his cruiser was struck by another vehicle.

    Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Where can you see the best basketball this week?


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    Stolen troop car was used in two robberies and a theft before trooper realized it was missing, police say.

    An unmarked State Police vehicle stolen from the driveway of a New Jersey state trooper was used to commit two robberies and a gas station theft before it was recovered by police, authorities said Monday.

    Police say the suspect who stole the troop car remains at large.

    According to State Police, the unmarked Chevrolet Tahoe was stolen from a trooper's home "in the area of North Brunswick" either Saturday night or Sunday morning.

    It was used in a string of crimes across Middlesex County before the trooper, whom State Police declined to identify, realized it was missing.

    State Police car stolen

    Police say the SUV was used to pull over a truck driver on the New Jersey Turnpike around 6:50 a.m. The suspect stole cash from the driver near mile marker 74.7 in South Brunswick, authorities said.

    A half hour later, the suspect filled up the car at a Colonia gas station and left without paying, authorities said. The suspect then pulled over a cab driver at the Woodbridge Center Mall, again stealing cash, police said.

    The trooper reported the vehicle missing after realizing it was not in the driveway just after 9:30 a.m. The car was found in North Brunswick late Sunday morning.

    State Police released no details about the suspect, but said no weapons were used in either robbery.

    "This is an active investigation, and we continue to work cooperatively with North Brunswick Police Department and local law enforcement," State Police spokesman Sgt. Jeff Flynn said in a statement Monday.

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

     

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    Briccio Guevara was found shot to death at his home in Carteret in December 2016.

    Two men admitted in court Monday their role in the shooting death of a 63-year-old man during a robbery attempt at his Carteret home in December 2016, 

    Carteret shooting suspectsMiguel Delgado Benitez, left, and Juan Carlos Marrero-Cardona. (Photo provided by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office)
     

    Miguel Delgado Benitez, 22, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and Juan Carlos Marrero-Cardona, 33, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey announced.

    Benitez and Marrero-Cardona were charged with shooting Briccio Guevara, 63, as he returned to his home on Dec. 6, 2016. Police found Guevara shot at the entryway of his home after neighbors called police to report hearing the sound of gunfire.

    Guevara was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Rahway where he was pronounced dead.

    Both men were facing charges of murder, armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, according to court documents.

    Benitez will be sentenced to 25 years in prison as part of the plea agreement with prosecutors while Marrero-Cardona will get 10 years, Carey said. Both men must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence before they are eligible for parole. 

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


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    According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $24,274.

    In this week's "On the market" property, we feature a home in Edison with more than 4,300 square feet of living space.

    The home is listed for $1.15 million. According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $24,274.

    The home features four bedrooms, five full bathrooms and one partial bath.

    The median sale price for homes in the area is $465,000.

    Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The first early National Signing Day is here and NJ.com has got you covered, tracking over 100 student-athletes in 2017.


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    The N.J. pick features 120,000 lights and a tree taller than the one in Rockefeller Center.

    There's always that one house in the neighborhood. The house you take a detour to on your way home during the holiday season just to see what the owners concocted. The house, let's be honest, you pray you don't live next door to. 

    Except that house in your neighborhood is most likely at junior varsity level, at least compared to what Keith Shaw and his wife Marina put forth on Main Street in Cranbury every December.

    It's the best Christmas lights display in all of New Jersey, according to a recent Daily Meal article that tracked the best Christmas lights presentations in all 50 states.

    Christmas display with more than 120,000 lightsChristmas Spectacular on Main Street created by Keith Shaw with his sons Alexander Shaw and Kristopher Shaw. (Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)
     

    "Keith Shaw is just your average guy with a passion for the holidays, and that's why his Christmas Spectacular on Main Street in Cranbury, New Jersey, is a must-see," the article states. "His 36-foot-tall Christmas tree is a towering spectacle with over 50,000 lights -- that's more than the Rockefeller Plaza tree! Each show features 120,000 lights and musical synchronization all in one yard."

    It's truly a spectacle. And in 2016, Shaw helped raise over $22,000 for a local food bank with the display.

    The Daily Meal highlights the dazzling light displays at zoos and botanic gardens across the country, but what separates Shaw and his lights is this is his actual home.

    Just find a parking spot in Cranbury and walk over to the Shaw's property. Then, enjoy the hour long-show, which features over 135,000 lights synchronized to 18 Christmas jams, and will be live the rest of the season with three shows from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Dec. 27, excluding Christmas Eve. 

    It's certainly more exciting, creative and jolly than the 65 bland holiday displays you have to pay $6 to see in North Dakota, or the 45 light displays throughout a one-mile loop in Iowa that the Daily Meal also highlighted.

    Joe Atmonavage may be reached at jatmonavage@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @jatmonavageNJFind NJ.com on Facebook


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    See which players were selected as NJ.com's Player of the Week in each of N.J.'s conferences.


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    Take a look who led the state statistically in the first four days of the year.


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    The tickets were from five separate counties. The winners will split the jackpot.

    Five tickets matched all five numbers in Tuesday's Jersey Cash 5 drawing and will split a nearly $1.3-million jackpot.

    Each ticket is worth $258,711. The winning numbers were 1, 3, 41, 42 and 43. The XTRA number was 4.

    The tickets were sold at the following locations:

    • Krauszer's Food Store on Grant Avenue in Dumont, Bergen County
    • Krauszer's Food Store on Washington Street in Northvale, Bergen County
    • Lincoln Park Shell on Communipaw Avenue in Jersey City, Hudson County
    • Vingo Wine & Spirits on Route 9 in Old Bridge, Middlesex County
    • 7-Eleven on Lakeside Boulevard in Landing, Morris County

    Each retailer gets a $2,000 bonus check for selling a winning ticket.

    There were 1,089,340 tickets purchased for the drawing. The odds of a $1 ticket matching all five numbers are 962,598 to 1.

    Spencer Kent may be reached at skent@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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