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    The driver hit the center of the flatbed part of the truck, according to Plainsboro police

    A 77-year-old man was killed after his car crashed into a flatbed tractor-trailer attempting to make a U-turn on Scudders Mill Road in Plainsboro on Wednesday night, authorities said. 

    John Eaton, of Plainsboro, was pronounced dead at the scene minutes after the car he was driving struck the center of the flat bed portion of the truck in the westbound lanes just before 11 p.m., Plainsboro police said Thursday.

    The truck driver attempted to make a legal U-turn from the eastbound lanes and nearly completed the maneuver when the car plowed into the tractor-trailer. The truck was blocking both westbound lanes when it was hit.

    Police ID woman, 83, killed in Parkway toll plaza crash

    The truck driver, a 51-year-old Wilmington, North Carolina man, remained at the scene, police said. 

    Scudders Mill Road was closed between College Road and Campus Drive near Bristol-Myers Squibb for several hours while police investigated. 

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

     

     


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    Police were doing their quarterly firearms certification when the gun went off during cleaning

    A veteran Woodbridge Police detective is recovering from an accidental injury during firearms practice earlier this week.

    Douglas Cioni, an 18-year veteran of the force, was unloading his gun to clean it when it discharged and a bullet struck one of his hands, township spokesman John Hagerty said.

    The incident occurred at about 11 a.m. Tuesday during firearms certification at the police shooting range in the Keasbey section of the township.

    Cioni was treated at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and has been released, Hagerty said.

    The department's Internal Affairs Unit is investigating the incident.

    - Reporter Craig McCarthy contributed to this report.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    The cops don't have to acknowledge whether or not they had records relating to an investigation

    ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York state's highest court has ruled the New York Police Department can use a Cold War-era legal tactic to conceal whether it put two Muslim men under surveillance.

    The Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the NYPD was in its rights to decline acknowledging whether records existed pertaining to possible surveillance of a Manhattan imam and a former Rutgers University student.

    The two men sought any records the NYPD had relating to surveillance or an investigation. The men sued the NYPD in lawsuits prompted by a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning stories by The Associated Press on NYPD surveillance of Muslim groups.

    The court split 4-3 in ruling that the NYPD properly invoked what's known as a Glomar response by neither confirming nor denying whether the records existed.

     

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    Hillary Clinton spoke at Rutgers this afternoon, and her $25K set off a firestorm of conversation on the Internet.


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    Victim Patricia Polera, 61, was a customer service supervisor for United Airlines at Newark Liberty International Airport

    An Old Bridge man who admitted strangling his mother to death at their home in 2016 was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday.

    Frank Polera, 31, called police on Nov. 26, 2016 and told them his mother had fallen out of bed. 

    Police attempted to talk him through CPR, but Polera was not interested, and seemed "more concerned about taking care of the dogs," Assistant Prosecutor Scott LaMountain said when Polera was indicted.

    Police arrived shortly before 9 p.m. and found his mother dead.

    Polera initially pleaded not guilty to a murder charge before he admitted to the killing in January and pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter.

    Judge Pedro Jimenez Jr. sentenced Polera Thursday in Superior Court in New Brunswick, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

    Under the terms of the No Early Release Act, Polera must serve 85 percent of the sentence before he is eligible for parole

    Patricia Polera, 61, was a customer service supervisor for United Airlines at Newark Liberty International Airport. 

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

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    The letter also orders Carteret's new police director, Kenneth Lebrato, to take over the departments internal affairs unit

    The county prosecutor admonished the Carteret police department's leadership in a letter this week, calling its top sworn officer "ineffective" after reports of serious excessive-force complaints and failing to run background checks on gun buyers for two years.

    The scathing letter sent by Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey to borough officials --which was obtained by NJ Advance Media Thursday but dated Monday -- orders the recently hired Carteret police director, Kenneth Lebrato, to take over the departments internal affairs unit for at least six months. 

    Lebrato is a retired assistant prosecutor, who worked previously as the borough's municipal attorney and under Carey during his time at the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

    Carey described Lebrato as "uniquely well qualified" because of his experience in the prosecutor's office.

    Citing internal affairs issues in the letter, Carey calls current Carteret Deputy Chief Dennis McFadden, who is referred to as the chief in the borough's news releases, "ineffective in executing his official duties."

    Mayor Daniel Reiman and McFadden did not return immediately return calls for comment. 

    The borough and its 50-person police force have made headlines over the last year after the violent arrest of a local teen involving the longtime mayor's brother, Joseph Reiman, was captured on dashcam recording.  

    Reiman -- who had accounted for more than a fifth of the department's incidents involving force during his 23-month tenure -- has since been indicted on charges of official misconduct and assault in connection with the May 31 encounter.

    The 31-year-old officer is currently suspended with pay.  

    The prosecutor's office, the top law enforcement agency in the county, is allowed under state guidelines to step in and appoint someone to take over a department's internal affairs unit, allowing that person to investigate and order others to investigate potential criminal activity in the department.

    In the letter, Carey calls the intervention an "extraordinary measure" and writes, "It's otherwise quite apparent that the Carteret Police Department is in need of effective leadership at the highest level.  As such, the duties associated with internal affairs must fall to another."

    Capt. Michael Dammann has been handling the internal investigations. According to civil service records, Dammann, who was promoted from lieutenant sometime last year, has not yet passed the captain's exam.

    The borough, however, was allowed to make the temporary promotion since the civil service list for the rank of captain was incomplete in April of 2017, with only captains Robert Wargocki and Jeffrey Van Woeart achieving the certification, according to the state agency.

    None of the Carteret police captains were named in the letter or have been accused of any misconduct. 

    Borough residents who have had run-ins with Reiman previously told NJ Advance Media they had filed complaints against the officer but were ignored, and most said they dealt with Dammann during the process. 

    In the hours after the arrest of the teen last year, three officers were recorded candidly discussing the incident and Reiman's reputation on the force, in which they say the officer's reputation was well-known, but the department had covered for the officer.

    NJ Advance Media published the officers' conversation on Saturday. 

    The prosecutor's office also said last week the police department's top cops were not properly performing background checks when processing more than three dozen gun permits and licenses over the last two years. 

    In New Jersey, local police are charged with vetting applicants seeking firearms ID cards and handgun purchase permits. The police chief is often the one responsible for contacting references and checking mental health status, but the job can be tasked to another supervisor in the department.

    The New Jersey State Police have since taken over issuing gun permits and licenses in the borough.

    Before Lebrato was hired last November, Carteret had been without a police director since early 2016 when Ronald Franz was charged with DWI after just weeks on the job. 

    In 2012, Carey's office stepped up its involvement in Edison police's internal affairs but stopped short of appointing a monitor despite the police chief Thomas Bryan request for outside oversight.

    Read Carey's letter to Carteret officials below:

    Prosecutor's Letter to Director Lebrato March 26 by Craig McCarthy on Scribd

    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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  • 03/30/18--05:03: Island girl needs a home
  • Moira was saved from a dog pound on St. Martin.

    mx0401pet.jpgMoira 

    MIDDLESEX -- Moira is a 4-month-old female mixed-breed pup in the care of Island Puppy Rescue.

    Saved from a dog pound on St. Martin, volunteers describe her as "sweet and friendly and great with other dogs."

    Moira is up-to-date on shots, and her adopter will be provided with information on the NJ Low Cost Spay Neuter Program, so she can be spayed when she reaches 6 months.

    For more information or to arrange to meet Moira, email islandpups@msn.com or call 908-720-5167. Island Puppy Rescue is a nonprofit organization working to save homeless and mistreated animals from the Caribbean; the group is currently caring for three dogs. For more information, go to islandpuppyrescue.org.

    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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    EDISON -- Rae Carraturo, Helen Senkin and Jeanne Meaney wear the styles of the time at Edison High School in 1970. MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey 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...

    EDISON -- Rae Carraturo, Helen Senkin and Jeanne Meaney wear the styles of the time at Edison High School in 1970.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    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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    The coffee roasting company and shop offers high-quality, fairly sourced coffee.

    Believe it or not New Jersey, there are places to get coffee outside of Wawa.

    And according to Food & Wine, the best coffee in New Jersey comes from a chic coffee shop just a few minutes from the Garden State's state university.

    The magazine chose Highland Park's OQ Coffee Co., which describes itself as a coffee roasting company and shop offering "high-quality, fairly sourced coffee," as having the best brew in New Jersey.

    "Ben and Jessica Schellack bootstrapped their way to building one of the best roasting operations in the state, this year bringing home a Good Food Award--not their first, either," Food & Wine wrote. "That's quite the climb from their early days in the rented basement of a New Brunswick non-profit. Today, a lively cafe, just across the river from Rutgers' Old Queens campus, hence the name, is a hub of creativity."

    A post shared by OQ Coffee Co. (@oqcoffee) on

     

    The 900-square-foot Highland Park location opened in 2012, according to Patch.

    According to OQ Coffee's website, a big focus is "increasing awareness of sustainable coffee practices, cultivating community, and promoting social action."

    As mentioned by Food & Wine, OQ Coffee was a finalist in the coffee category in 2017 and 2018 for the Good Food Awards, which celebrates high-quality food and drinks that are also sustainable.

    OQ Coffee Co. was not the only New Jersey coffee shop to be recognized by Food & Wine. The magazine also recommended coffee lovers try Black Swan Espresso in Newark and Trenton Coffee House and Records.

    And even Food & Wine is taking shots at New Jersey's obsession with a certain convenience store:

    "Long content with convenience coffee (rhymes with Schmunkin up north, and Schwawa down south), New Jersey is suddenly fascinated with the good stuff," they wrote.

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

     

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    Who are the top outfielders in New Jersey?


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    Wrestlers from 16 states battled it out on the mats in Wildwood.

    More than 1,600 youth wrestlers made their way to Wildwood this weekend to compete in the 15th Annual "War at the Shore" Folkstyle Nationals wrestling tournament.

    The tourney's most popular event is the "Boys War," in which girls can also compete. There is also a girls-only competition on Friday as well as an adult event on Saturday.

    New Jersey was well represented with more than 700 wrestlers competing. Hundreds of wrestlers from nearby Pennsylvania and New York also took to the mats, but the tournament also drew competitors from states as far away as Florida, Texas, Nevada, Ohio and Vermont.

    A record number of girls competed in this year's "War at the Shore," with nearly 100 girls from pre-kindergarten through high school registered.

    Competition continues today at the Wildwoods Convention Center. For a full list of results, visit flowrestling.org.

    Related stories:

    Photos of the 2017 "War at the Shore"

    Photos of the 2016 "War at the Shore"

    Lori M. Nichols may be reached at lnichols@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @photoglori. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    (from gulfnews.com)

    A dog lover in Dubai is supplying fresh home-cooked meals for pets in order to provide them with an alternative to processed foods.

    Egyptian expat Nael Basily, 35, said it was his pet dog's medical condition that led him to launch the initiative 'Just Chew.'.

    Basily said his 6-year old golden retriever, Twixy, was diagnosed with cancer last November, and the vets attributed unhealthy diet and lifestyle to be one of the reasons for the ailment.

    "Back home in Cairo, I used to cook for my pet every day. But ever since I moved to Dubai two years ago, I began feeding her processed food. Although I relied only premium brands that promised the best nutrition, it was not helping her. So I decided to start cooking for her again and it's working wonders on her health and looks," said Basily.

    "There are 40 pet owners ordering food from me. I have a set menu prepared for all days of the week. I cook two days a week - Sunday and Wednesday. Delivery is done on the same days. I pack food boxes with days of the week marked. Initially I used to do the delivery myself, but now I have a delivery boy," he explained.

    The dishes on his menu include: Chunky Chic, a mix of steamed potatoes, carrots and brown rice topped with a boneless chicken leg, eggshell powder and a splash of olive oil; Jerkey Turkey made of sweet potatoes, zucchini and brown rice topped with Turkey eggshell powder and olive oil a meal containing a mix of steamed veggies, brown rice and salmon bites.

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


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    With two officers and a sergeant, Helmetta's police department lacks enough manpower to serve the borough.

    In a borough of only 2,200 residents, Helmetta's three-person police force has long been a revolving door. 

    Officers frequently join the department directly from the police academy or while they're still attending, and the force's small size leaves little room for career development, Mayor Christopher Slavicek said. Combine that with salary restrictions, he said, and officers often quickly leave for nearby towns. 

    "You're not going to hold somebody back from wanting to better themselves in the police world," Slavicek said Friday. 

    Those staffing challenges have forced Helmetta to seek to disband its police department, which is one of the smallest in New Jersey. Two officers and a sergeant currently patrol the borough, and the chief is on medical leave. 

    The borough council is expected to vote April 18 to eradicate the force and enter into a shared services agreement with neighboring Spotswood or Jamesburg. 

    The move would mirror the footsteps of other municipalities, like Fieldsboro and Lake Como, that have gotten rid of their small police departments in favor of having another municipality assume those services at a lower cost. 

    Helmetta's three officers have been given layoff notices, Slavicek said. He said Spotswood police, which shares a PBA union with Helmetta, was working with the laid-off officers to help them find other jobs. 

    The borough's police equipment and vehicles will be auctioned, Slavicek said. 

    The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office for more than a year had been providing two supervisors to oversee Helmetta's officers, but notified the borough last year that it would not continue to do so.

    In a letter to Slavicek in August, Prosecutor Andrew Carey said Helmetta's police department historically "has been in various stages of turmoil." The force lacks enough patrol officers, has no specialized officers or administrative staff, and fails to have sufficient written policies and procedures, Carey wrote. 

    The department also doesn't have the infrastructure it needs, including dashboard cameras, body-worn cameras and tasers, the letter said. It said Helmetta's officers are often unavailable to attend mandatory, in-service trainings. 

    "The HPD currently relies heavily on surrounding towns for basic police functions," Carey wrote. "... Consolidation with a nearby town is clearly the next logical step."

    Borough officials this month sent a letter to 1,088 households saying Helmetta planned to seek shared services with Spotswood or Jamesburg and asking for residents' opinions. Modernizing Helmetta's department to meet mandated police training standards and staffing would result in significant tax increases, officials said in the letter. 

    Roughly 75 percent of residents who responded said they preferred to share a police force with Spotswood, which Slavicek said already has "a quasi-marriage" with Helmetta. The two municipalities share EMS services and trash removal, while Helmetta students attend Spotswood schools. 

    Slavicek said continuing to allow only three police officers to serve Helmetta would be a disservice to residents' safety and fiscally irresponsible. At a cost of more than $800,000 in 2017, police services are the borough's largest budget item. 

    Slavicek said he and the borough's public safety committee didn't want to have to disband the police department, but concluded it was in Helmetta's best interest.

    "You have to think with your head and not your heart, unfortunately," he said. 

    Yvette Bruno, who has lived in Helmetta since 1990 and served on the council in 2014, said the borough has been trying to improve its police services for as long as she can remember. 

    "In all honesty, it's about time, and it's really been in the making for many years," she said. "Small towns really need to merge with the bigger towns."

    Marisa Iati may be reached at miati@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @Marisa_Iati or on Facebook here. Find NJ.com on Facebook

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    Snow slowed the start, but the first full week of high school baseball has some interesting match-ups.


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    Long Branch police Detective Jake Pascucci admitted he had a blood-alcohol level of .08 or more when he fatally struck a woman crossing the street in September. Watch video

    An off-duty Long Branch police officer admitted Tuesday that he was driving drunk when he fatally struck a woman as she crossed the street in September.

    Detective Jake Pascucci acknowledged that he had a blood-alcohol level of .08, the state's legal limit for drivers, when he hit Karen Borkowski, 66, as she crossed Ocean Boulevard at the intersection of Broadway in Long Branch on Sept. 22.

    Pascucci pleaded guilty before Judge Lorraine Pullen in Superior Court in Middlesex County to strict liability vehicular homicide and DWI. Prosecutors will drop the reckless and careless driving charges as part of the agreement.

    The case was transferred to Middlesex County because Pascucci had worked on an investigation with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and that office felt it was a conflict of interest, a spokesman for the agency has said.

    05copInCourt.JPGLong Branch police Officer Jake Pascucci appears in state Superior Court in New Brunswick. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) 

    Pascucci was facing a sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison under third-degree strict liability vehicular homicide, a new statute created in July in response to an outcry over light sentences for some drunken drivers who killed people.

    Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Keith Abrams will request at Pascucci be sentenced to 364 days in jail. But the agreement allows Pascucci's attorney, Steven Altman, the opportunity to argue for no jail time and just probation.

    It also forces Pascucci to hand in his Long Branch Police Department badge and requires him to pay restitution to the victim's family if there is any. Since the incident, Pascucci has been working with the police department in a support capacity and getting paid.

    Altman declined to comment after the hearing.

    04copInCourt.JPGLong Branch police Officer Jake Pascucci, right, and his attorney Steven Altman, left, appear in state Superior Court in New Brunswick. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) 

    Around 8:15 p.m. on Sept. 22, Pascucci was driving a 2016 Jeep Cherokee southbound on Ocean Boulevard when he hit Borkowski.

    Her husband, Ed Borkowski, told NJ Advance Media after the incident that the two were staying at a nearby hotel for a church conference and his wife was crossing the street to go to the CVS to buy him bandages because he suffers from lymphedema, which causes him to have severe blisters on his legs.

    "I want justice," he said. "And, as far as I'm concerned, it's not my will but God's will. We'll find out. He (God) is going to find out how to do it and Karen is probably up there telling him what to do."

    Ed Borkowski was not present at Tuesday's court hearing. Other family members of Borkowski were present, but they were not immediately available to comment afterward.

    Pascucci told officers at the scene that he had a green light and that Borkowski was jaywalking, according to dashboard camera video from police at the scene, obtained by NJ Advance Media through the state's Open Public Records Act (OPRA). 

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

    Pascucci is scheduled to be sentenced on June 28. 

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

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    Check out which players have reached the century mark in their careers.


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    It is unclear what caused the van to hit the divider, officials said.

    One person died after a van crashed into a divider on the Garden State Parkway Tuesday, authorities said. 

    The van was heading northbound on the Parkway before hitting the divider at 12:20 p.m. near mile marker 127 in Sayerville, State Trooper Alejandro Goez said.  

    The person was pronounced dead at Raritan Bay Medical Center, officials said. 

    It is unclear if the victim was the driver, and if there were other passengers in the car, he said. 

    The accident temporarily shut down the left lane of the parkway, which was reopened around 2:30 p.m. as police finished their investigation, Goez said. 

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    Check out the first set of conference players of the week.


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    A look at some of N.J.'s top college athletes in track and field


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    The trespasser, who remains unidentified, was fatally struck by an Amtrak train at the New Brunswick train station.

    A person was struck and killed by an Amtrak train near the New Brunswick station Wednesday morning, causing NJ Transit delays on the Northeast Corridor line.

    The person, who was not identified, was hit by the train at 10:15 a.m. The Amtrak train was traveling from Newark to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. No injuries were reported on the train.

    The Northeast Corridor rail service was suspended between Metro Park and Trenton for about 30 minutes while police investigated.

    Service resumed before 11 a.m. with 45 minute delays, though westbound trains will bypass Edison and New Brunswick, NJ Transit said on Twitter. 

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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