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    CARTERET -- Richard Mancini captions this photo: "My junior prom, Carteret High School, 1963. From left, Richard V. Mancini, Jr., Susan Pavlonnis, Linda Schotz and Lenny DiNicola." MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey "The theme was Mardi Gras and I was in the Prom Queen's Court." If you would like to share a photo that provides a glimpse of history...

    CARTERET -- Richard Mancini captions this photo: "My junior prom, Carteret High School, 1963. From left, Richard V. Mancini, Jr., Susan Pavlonnis, Linda Schotz and Lenny DiNicola."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    "The theme was Mardi Gras and I was in the Prom Queen's Court."

    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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    New Jersey will be well-represented in two of the most prestigious high school events at the Penn Relays, the 4x800m and distance medley relays. Take an N.J. deep dive on the past, present and possible future of these two events.


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    Who's undefeated run will go the longest? Who faces a tough test soon?


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    A conference-by-conference breakdown of the top teams and players in N.J. girls lacrosse this week.


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    The scam cost city about $500,000, according to officials. Both men must give up their public jobs and pensions.

    Two suspended New Brunswick Water Department employees admitted Friday to a scheme to reduce the water and sewer bills for dozens of properties in exchange for more than $20,000 in bribes.

    Joseph "Gordo" DeBonis, 55, of Toms River, a senior account clerk, and meter reader William "Billi" Ortiz, 56, of North Brunswick, cost the city roughly $500,000 in their frauds, according to the state Attorney General's Office. They pleaded guilty to official misconduct. 

    "By taking bribes to falsify meter readings and water and sewer bills, Ortiz and DeBonis corruptly profited at the expense of city residents, who ultimately pay higher rates when services are stolen in this manner," state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.

    DeBonis will face a recommended sentence of five years in state prison, including two years without parole. Ortiz will face the same recommended prison term with one year of parole ineligibility.

    Both men must give up their government jobs and pensions, officials said. They will also be banned from future public jobs.

    The suspended city workers cut utility bills for about 50 properties over several years in return for bribes. In the scam, Ortiz acted as a recruiter to solicit payoffs from agency customers and arrange for bill reductions through DeBonis, who setup the water and sewer discounts.

    "Fees were reduced at times by as much as 90 percent. DeBonis took a share of the bribe payments in return for falsifying the bills," the Attorney General's Office statement said.

    In another scam, Ortiz took bribes from customers in exchange for installing a faulty meter, that he dubbed the "thief," which didn't record water usage.

    The men must also pay restitution to the city. 

    A New Brunswick spokesperson could not be immediately reached to comment Friday night.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at ncohen@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahycFind NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Who are the top seniors in the Garden State?


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    Romulo Meneses-Alvarez, an Elizabeth officer, has been charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.

    An Elizabeth cop accused of driving drunk while off-duty and fatally striking a motorcyclist now has additional charges, prosecutors announced.

    Romulo Meneses-Alvarez, 30, had previously been charged with strict liability vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated after he struck Jairo Lozano, 29, on Oct. 31.

    On Friday, a grand jury in Union County indicted Meneses-Alvarez on those charges and added two counts of third-degree hindering prosecution, one count of fourth-degree tampering with evidence and one count of fourth-degree obstructing the administration of law.

    It's not clear what spurred the additional charges. A message for a prosecutor's office spokeswoman was not returned Saturday.

    An attorney representing Lozano's family previously said he found a witness who saw Meneses-Alvarez leave the scene, and that this account was verified by body cameras.  NJ Advance Media has not been able to review the body cameras to confirm the account.

    EPD crash report-0.jpgA diagram from the police report about the crash. 

    Lozano was riding his 2005 GSX Suzuki motorcycle near Carteret Park when Meneses-Alvarez and his 2007 Jeep Wrangler collided with him. Lozano was pronounced dead that evening at Trinitas Regional Medical Center.

    The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office is handling the case because of an unspecified potential conflict of interest if Union County prosecutors were to handle the case.

    Meneses-Alvarez, who worked previously at the Union County Sheriff's Office, joined the Elizabeth police in 2015 and makes $57,076 a year. Elizabeth Chief John Brennan said the officer is suspended without pay.

    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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    A family sleepover ended in tragedy after a Middlesex County home caught fire Saturday morning, sending two men to a burn center with serious injuries. Thirteen people were sleeping in the Vernon Way home in Port Reading after a get together on Friday night, authorities say.   A fire broke out in the basement of the home around 10 a.m....

    A family sleepover ended in tragedy after a Middlesex County home caught fire Saturday morning, sending two men to a burn center with serious injuries.

    Thirteen people were sleeping in the Vernon Way home in Port Reading after a get together on Friday night, authorities say.  

    A fire broke out in the basement of the home around 10 a.m. Saturday morning, said Lt. Joseph Licciardi of the Woodbridge Township Police Department. 

    Marcos Mercado, 23, told NBC New York that a boiler blew through the floor of the home. 

    "It was a big hole in the floor right next to my niece and her hair was on fire. She put it out while she was running out the house," Mercado said. 

    Two men were flown to the Saint Barnabas burn center in critical condition, according to Capt. Richard Fritzsch of the Port Reading Fire Department. 

    Eleven others were treated for injuries at a local hospital. 

    Social media photos show the home completely engulfed in flames.  

    Capt. Fritzsch said about seven fire departments responded to the blaze that took less than an hour to contain.

    "A lot of people were involved, the Woodbridge Police Department, numerous first aid rigs. It was a big joint effort," Fritzsch said. 

    There is no update on the condition of the victims, authorities said Sunday afternoon.

    The cause of the fire is still under investigation, authorities said. 

    Alexis Johnson may be reached at ajohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexisjreports. Find nj.com on Facebook.


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    Rescues and shelters throughout New Jersey have pets available for adoption.

    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.


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    Where are the top games this week?


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    Hundreds of cheerleaders compete for titles at N.J. competition.

    Approximately 30 cheer squads competed in the Beast of the East cheerleading championships in Wildwood Sunday.

    Hundreds of cheerleaders -- mostly from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, -- competed in recreation, prep, all-star and dance divisions on a 54- by 42-foot spring floor.

    The event, hosted by Spirit Brands, was one of two cheerleading competitions held at the Wildwoods Convention Center over the weekend.

    Spirit Brands is hosting a Spring Festival competition at the Collins Arena in Lincroft on Sunday, April 29, and the North American Spirit Tournament in Atlantic City on Saturday, May 5, and Sunday, May 6.

    The convention center is home to hundreds of events throughout the year, including the "War at the Shore" youth wrestling championships, USAIGC New Jersey Regional Gymnastics Championships, the Wildwood Polar Bear Plunge, and Wildwoods International Kite Festival, among others.

    For more information on events in Wildwood, visit www.wildwoodsnj.com.

    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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    An Edison man apparently shot and killed his son before turning the gun on himself, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office announced on April 23, 2018.

    An Edison man apparently shot and killed his son before turning the gun on himself, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office announced on Monday.

    Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said Jeremy Lorence, 39, of Edison, was pronounced dead at 4:46 p.m. on Sunday inside the Loeb Court home he shared with his father. Gerald Lorence, 71, was also pronounced dead at the scene.

    Autopsies performed Monday by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Jeremy Lorence died from a gunshot wound to the head, according to a news release. His death has been ruled a homicide. Gerald Lorence died from a gunshot wound to the head, and his death has been ruled a suicide.

    Police responded to their home after receiving a call from a concerned family member, the prosecutor's office said. A handgun was recovered at the scene.

    The investigation into the shooting is active and continuing, according to the prosecutor's office.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Edison Police Det. Joseph Kenny at 732-248-7400, or Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Det. Craig Marchak at 732-745-3904.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Fewer New Jersey hospitlals earned an A for safety in the latest Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades report. Check out how your local hospital fared.


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    South Brunswick police advised drivers to use Route 130 as they investigated Tuesday's early morning accident near Henderson Road

    Police closed the northbound lanes of Route 1 in South Brunswick for several hours early Tuesday after a pedestrian was struck by two tractor trailers.

    The fatal accident occurred about 4:45 a.m. in the northbound lanes just past Henderson Road.

    The pedestrian had apparently been in a travel lane when he was hit, police said. He died about 5:06 a.m., police said.

    The highway between Henderson Road and Blackhorse Lane was closed as South Brunswick police investigated.

    Motorists were advised to use Route 130 as a detour during the morning commute, said Deputy Police Chief James Ryan.

    "The morning rush hour has been gridlock with up to a three-mile backup on Route 1," Ryan said in an email.

    The highway was expected to reopen about 9:45 a.m.

    Authorities were working to identify the victim, Ryan said.

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    NJ.com breaks down the 28 high school events for the 2018 Penn Relays.


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    The top hitters and pitchers around the state for April 16-22.


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    Two of the infants were found in Trenton and another in Highland Park. One of the babies survived after being rushed to a hospital

    Police found a newborn baby girl dead inside a vacant building on South Broad Street in Trenton Monday evening, authorities said.

    The infant appeared to be a day or two old, police said. She is the third newborn abandoned in New Jersey this month. Two of the infants were found in Trenton. The baby boy found earlier this month in the city survived. 

    Police were called Monday to the vacant building on the 800 block of South Broad,, a busy commercial and residential area less than 2 miles from the Statehouse for a report of an unresponsive newborn, Trenton police spokesman Detective Lt. Darren Zappley said.

    Detectives are looking for the mother and do have some leads, Zappley said. The Middlesex County medical examiner's office took the baby for an autopsy.

    New Jersey has a Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, which allows parents, or someone acting on their behalf, to surrender a child less than 30 days old at hospital emergency rooms, police stations, fire houses and rescue squads - with no questions asked.

    Zappley said, unfortunately, some pregnant mothers are still unaware of the program.

    Since 2000, 64 babies have been surrendered through the Safe Haven program, a state spokesman said recently.

    Trenton police are also continuing to look for the mother of an infant boy found in a duffel bag on the porch of a home on Beechwood Avenue in Trenton's West Ward on April 15.

    The newborn boy was rushed to a local hospital and police later said he was in good condition. That baby was later placed with state child protective authorities.

    In Highland Park the next day, police found a newborn baby boy outside a Lincoln Avenue home. Emergency crews rushed the infant to a hospital, where the boy died.

    Middlesex County authorities have since arrested the 14-year-old mother on murder-related juvenile charges and her 35-year-old mother on charges she endangered the welfare of her daughter by not seeking medical care for the teen, and tampering with evidence in the case.

    In addition to the Safe Haven website, parents or others can call the New Jersey Safe Haven hotline -- 1-877-839-2339 - to find directions to the nearest surrender location. No name or other identifying information must be provided when dropping off an infant.

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

     

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    A Middlesex County man that shot and killed his son and then himself was a retired firefighter that went into a depression after his wife passed, according to neighbors of the victims.

    Soon after Gerald Lorence lost his wife of 40 years in August, the 71-year-old retired firefighter required several months of care in a nursing facility.

    His neighbor Yimeng Ling said she didn't even know that Lorence recently had returned to his home, where he lived with his 39-year-old son Jeremy, until Sunday when the police started to arrive in their Edison quiet cul-de-sac.

    Family members had called authorities after Lorence suddenly stopped returning phone calls. Inside the house, police found both father and son dead.

    Prosecutors say Gerald Lorence shot his son in the head before turning the gun on himself.

    Ling said she believes Lorence struggled after the death of his wife, Kathleen, a retired school nurse.

    "We were very saddened by her death because it was all of a sudden," Ling said of Kathleen, who cared for Ling's cat when she was away. "It wasn't a long-term illness. So I think that was too much for the husband."

    Jeremy had a long-term condition that prevented him from leaving the house often and required the care of his parents, she said.

    "The son almost never came outside," Ling said. "I saw him only a few times."

    Another neighbor, Hubert Syzmanski says he didn't speak to Gerald Lorence often, but he always had a kind word.

    "We came back home around 7 o'clock Sunday and I saw about four cop cars. I had no idea what was going on." Syzmanski said. "He was a nice guy from the times I spoke with him."

    He said he believed Lorence had retired from the Bayonne Fire Department.

    Chief Keith Weaver of the Bayonne Fire Department said he did not know Gerald Lorence, but a man by that name retired from the department in July 1994.

    Details about when exactly the shooting took place are still unclear, as the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office said Tuesday that the investigation is still ongoing.

    Alexis Johnson may be reached at ajohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexisjreports. Find nj.com on Facebook.


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


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    The cop's attorney, Charles Sciarra, says Officer Joseph Reiman has nothing to hide, but experts questioned lawyer's judgment

    A lawyer for an indicted Carteret police officer wants to reopen the dismissed criminal cases against two men he arrested and put his cop client on the stand while officer faces criminal prosecution and lawsuits over alleged excessive force.

    The attorney, Charles Sciarra, said Officer Joseph Reiman has nothing to hide, but experts questioned lawyer's judgment to push for his client to be questioned under oath while facing indictment and if it was even possible to reinstate the charges. 

    Jamal Merritt and Aramis Rosario were arrested by the Reiman during his 23-months on the force and have accused the officer of excessive force. 

    Reiman, who is the youngest brother of longtime Carteret Daniel Reiman, faces multiple counts of official misconduct and an assault charges in the violent arrest of a teenager last year. 

    "Upon my motion, these matters were dismissed based upon my mistaken belief the arresting officer, Joseph Reiman, would be unavailable as a witness in these cases because he had been indicted by a Middlesex County grand jury," municipal prosecutor John Kawczynski wrote in the motion filed Friday. "I have subsequently learned that Office Reiman would be willing to testify despite the fact that he is under indictment."

    Both men faced charges of resisting and obstruction in two separate incidents that were detailed in an investigation into Joseph Reiman's history of force on the department in which NJ Advance Media found the officer had accounted for more than 20 percent of all incidents involving force during his tenure. 

    But those charges, as well as other motor vehicle violations and a count of possession in Rosario's consolidated case, were dismissed in South Amboy municipal court last month when no one from the Carteret Police Department appeared to testify. The judge ruled the cases could not move forward without the state's witness.

    Sciarra had asked the municipal prosecutor to file the motion, saying that Reiman was ready and willing to take the stand, but had not been told of the March 20 hearing.

    "As a bail restriction, Reiman is not permitted to communicate with the police department," Sciarra said in a statement via email. "He had no idea these cases were scheduled or being dismissed until the Star-Ledger reported on it. These are solid arrests and should be prosecuted and Police Officer Joseph Reiman will offer testimony to support these prosecutions."

    Both Rosario and Merritt got word Monday from their attorney about the motion and expressed concern in separate interviews about being brought back into court for cases that had been closed. In Merritt's case, he'd been fighting the charges along with his mother, sister and friend since August of 2015. 

    "There's an expectation of finality when a prosecutor dismisses a case," said Paul Catanese, who spent 20 years on the bench in multiple municipalities and served as the presiding judge for municipal courts in Mercer County.

    The attorney who represents both men, Kevin Flood, said if the judge approved the motion, he would take the cases to trial where Reiman's credibility would be challenged as he faced cross-examination by four lawyers on just Merritt's case alone.

    "He is opening himself up to being questioned, under oath, on the matters for which he faces serious criminal charges, and for which it appears he faces very serious time in state prison," Flood said in an emailed statement. 

    "He is also opening himself up to being cross-examined on what other law enforcement officers and administration officials did and did not do in these cases, and many of these other law enforcement officers and administration officials are being sued civilly on the same matters. So we will see," Flood wrote.

    Sciarra also doubled-down Tuesday on his previous claim that the other officers involved were ordered not to testify in the cases.

    Carteret Police Director Kenneth Lebrato said he never told the officers involved not to take the stand. The borough spokesman, Jon Salonis, however, would not say whether or not someone else in the department had ordered the officers not to attend the hearing. 

    The borough's attorney, Robert Bergen, said the other officers involved were not notified of the hearing because they were set for trial at a later date.

    "Some defense attorney perhaps misadvised the court and it appears the prosecutor that these officers would not be available to testify in various matters," Bergen said. "This makes no sense because, as I indicated, several officers beside Joseph Reiman had instituted the charges against these various individuals."

    Robert A. Bianchi, a former Morris County prosecutor who is now a partner at the Bianchi Law Group, said the motion, if approved, could violate due process and raised a number of double jeopardy issues. 

    "It can only hurt your client, not help them," Bianchi said of potentially putting Reiman on the stand to face cross-examination. "The basis of any good representation is to remain silent."

    However, he noted, since the municipal prosecutor admitted he made a mistake, he believed there was a possibility the case could be reinstated. 

    Catanese didn't believe the motion would double-jeopardy protections because the cases were dismissed in pretrial hearings but didn't believe the cases would be reopened. 

    The motion argues it would be clearly unjust to not reinstate the charges based on the "misunderstanding" over the arresting officer's availability.

    Bianchi said in similar cases, it is common for a witness facing charges to plead the Fifth while the other matters are pending, which would prohibit the prosecutor from moving forward if the officer was the state's key witness. He also said that a prosecutor has the discretion to dismiss a case if they questioned the officer's credibility. 

    "Reiman neither pleaded the fifth nor has the prosecutor said anything about Reiman's credibility," Sciarra said when asked about details of dismissal. "Not sure what 'expert' dreamt that up." 

    Before the cases were dismissed, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office had sent a letter to the municipal prosecutor to ensure the state could be proved the case beyond a reasonable doubt, according to spokeswoman Andrea Boulton.

    Reiman, who was hired in 2015 as a disabled veteran, has been suspended with pay as he fights the charges. He currently has an annual salary of $61,505, which is about $5,000 more than he was making when he was charged, according to salary records obtained through a records request. 

    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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