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    A grand jury did not indict another man who prosecutors previously alleged was involved in the scheme

    A grand jury last week indicted one man on charges accusing him of pocketing money from a nonprofit, and dismissed another man in connection with the same alleged scheme.

    Joseph Armstead, who was the principal of Middlesex County Vocational & Technical Schools' Piscataway campus, was indicted July 20 on charges of third-degree burglary, two counts of theft by unlawful taking, financial facilitation and one account of fourth-degree forgery.

    The grand jury said there was insufficient evidence to indict Brian Bilal, the assistant superintendent of the county vocational and technical schools. 

    The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office previously alleged in a news release that the men were taking paychecks from a nonprofit for which they performed no work.

    "Any money that I received by check was for services rendered," Bilal told NJ Advance Media this week. He said he reported the roughly $12,000 of income on IRS 1099 forms since he was an independent contractor, and that he showed prosecutors his Google calendar, EZ Pass records and handed over his cellphone to prove that he had worked.

    Bilal said he remains suspended from his post but his employment will come up for review at a school board meeting in August.

    Armstead's next court date is Aug. 3 before Judge Dennis Nieves.

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

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    Authorities said the man entered the student's room while she was asleep

    A New Brunswick man is accused of sexually assaulting a foreign exchange student at a residence where she was renting a room, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office announced Thursday.

    Emmanuel Romero, 22, entered the 23-year-old woman's room while she was asleep around 2 a.m. Wednesday, and began choking and sexually assaulting her, the prosecutor's office alleged.

    The two struggled when the young woman fought back. She sustained serious injuries after falling down a flight of stairs, the office said. 

    She was taken to a nearby hospital and required surgery for her injuries.

    Romero faces two first-degree counts of aggravated sexual assault, as well as burglary, aggravated assault, criminal sexual contact and obstruction, the office said. He also rented a room in the same home as the student.

    Authorities did not say what country the victim is from, or where she's a student.

    Romero was being held at the Middlesex County jail Thursday, awaiting a court hearing.

    The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to Detective Victor Delgado at 732-745-5200, or Detective Oscar Ayala at 732-745-4045.

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at gdelia@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Saturday is National Water Park Day, so grab your bathing suits and sunblock and head to one of New Jersey's wet and wild water parks.


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    Former Newark police officer Joseph Macchia drew his service weapon and shot to death a Middlesex County man during a bar fight. Watch video

    Former Newark police officer Joseph Macchia, who drew his service weapon and shot a man to death two years ago while he was off-duty and drinking at a Union Township bar, was sentenced Friday to six years in prison.

    Macchia Pic.jpgoseph Macchia, 37, a former Newark cop who fatally shot man outside of a bar in 2016. 

    Macchia, an 11-year veteran of the police department, was convicted last month of of reckless manslaughter in the shooting death of Michael Gaffney, 37, of Piscataway.

    "As a police officer he should have not drank in excess having six beers and two Jack Daniels in the time he was at the bar; and certainly should have not while he was armed," Judge John M. Deitch said.

    gaffney-selfie.jpgMichael Gaffney, 37, of Piscataway, was shot to death May 13, 2016. (Facebook)
     

    "He should have not brushed his pregnant wife aside as she was begging him to leave and physically trying to drag him away. He should not have ignored the pleas of literally the entire bar who were telling him to go."

    Before sentencing, Gaffney's mother and daughter asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence, which would have been 10 years on his second-degree manslaughter charge.

    "My dad was my protector," his teen daughter Alexia Gaffney told the judge. "He took that protection, love and happiness from my heart."

    "Macchia makes a good cop look bad," Gaffney's mother Judy Valdes said outside Union County Superior Court.

    The judge said during sentencing that Macchia has had a lack of remorse for killing Gaffney since the beginning of the trial, and that he was only sorry the event happened to him.

    Deitch also called Macchia's testimony inconsistent, and said the defense went out of its way to blame the victim.

    James Stewart Jr., president of Newark Fraternal Order of Police, also weighed in on the sentencing. 

    "Although disappointed in the verdict by the jury, we respect their conclusion and hope that it brings a measure of closure to the Gaffney family," Stewart said. 

     "Joe will pay a steep price for his actions that night, but we appreciate that Judge Deitch took into account Joe's prior history and service to the community when he handed down the sentence." 

    CopSentenced.jpgFormer Newark police Officer Joseph Macchia is led away after he's sentenced to 6 years in prison for shooting to death a Piscataway man. (Taylor Tiamoyo Harris | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) 

    Gaffney and Macchia, 36, were acquaintances and got into an argument in the bar. Their fight turned physical for a few minutes. It ended, but flared back up again outside the bar.

    During the fight, Macchia pulled out his gun and fatally shot Gaffney. A 911 caller reported hearing five shots.

    Macchia, was not arrested after the shooting, and he was not identified by the Newark Police Department. His blood-alcohol level was tested, however, and he was found to be have .13, above the .08 legal limit for driving.

    He was indicted on a manslaughter charge the following November, and was released on bail. He was on unpaid leave since his indictment.

    Gaffney's mother has been urging lawmakers to create and pass legislation making it a crime for a police officer to drink and carry a firearm. An online petition in support of "Gaffney's Law" said it should be illegal for officers to carry a gun into a bar or anywhere they plan to drink. It was signed by more than 6,100 people, but no legislator has drafted the bill.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyoFind NJ.com on Facebook. 

     

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    People heading south for a weekend at the Jersey Shore Friday evening were hit with flooding and congestion along some of the state's major roadways.

    People heading south for a weekend at the Jersey Shore Friday evening were hit with flooding and congestion along some of the state's major roadways.

    One of the worst areas was on the southbound side of the New Jersey Turnpike, where flooding from torrential thunderstorms caused major delays south of Exit 12 near Carteret around 9 p.m., according to NJ511. The traffic was backed up as far north as Newark Liberty International Airport and as far south as Woodbridge.

    A disabled bus south of exit 12 on the Turnpike added to the traffic mess as the right lane of the outer roadway on the south side was closed.

    Flooding was also reported on Route 1 north near Parsonage Road in Edison, which caused the right lane of the highway to be closed, according to NJ511. More flooding on Route 440 and Route 9 in Woodbridge around 9:45 p.m. also snarled traffic

    The messy conditions in central New Jersey were not likely to stop anytime soon as a flood warning was in effect for northeastern Middlesex County until 11:15 a.m. Saturday, according to AccuWeather.

    Several roads remained closed in Woodbridge and Carteret as of 9:15 p.m. and some other areas including New Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Edison could still experience flooding, AccuWeather noted in a flood alert.

    According to preliminary data from the National Weather Service and the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network, based at Rutgers University, more than 5 inches of rain fell in the Woodbridge area in a few hours on Friday and 4.2 inches of rain fell in nearby Carteret.

    Flooding was also reported in the north lanes of the Garden State Parkway near exit 131, according to NJ511.

    There was also congestion reported on the Garden State Parkway near the Driscoll Bridge, but traffic was flowing relatively smoothly south of that following earlier delays due to weather and flooding.

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Len Melisurgo contributed to this report. Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Pope Francis has accepted U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick's offer to resign from the College of Cardinals

    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis has accepted U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick's offer to resign from the College of Cardinals following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy, and ordered him to conduct a "life of prayer and penance" in a home to be designated by the pontiff until a church trial is held, the Vatican said Saturday.

    Francis acted swiftly after receiving McCarrick's letter of resignation Friday evening, after recent weeks have brought a spate of allegations that the 88-year-old prelate in the course of his distinguished clerical career had sexually abused both boys and adult seminarians. The revelations posed a test of the pontiff's recently declared resolve to battle what he called a "culture of cover-up" of similar abuse in the Catholic's church's hierarchy.

    McCarrick had been already removed from public ministry since June 20, pending a full investigation into allegations he fondled a teenager over 40 years ago in New York City. A man, who was 11 at the time of the first alleged instance of abuse, says a sexually abusive relationship continued for two more decades. McCarrick has denied the initial allegation.

    The prelate rose steadily up the U.S. Church's ranks, from auxiliary bishop in New York City, to bishop in Metuchen, New Jersey, to archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and then to Archbishop of Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, the city where the papal ambassador to the United States is based.

    While most of the scandals involving pedophile clergy have involved rank-and-file priests, some cases involved bishops, and there are a few involving cardinals, including a current case in Australia of one of Pope Francis' closest advisers, Cardinal George Pell, who now faces a criminal trial in his homeland.

    In the case of Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien, accused by former seminarians in 2013 of sexual misconduct, Francis only accepted his resignation after the Vatican's top abuse prosecutor conducted a full investigation, two years after the first revelations came out.

    But the Holy See's announcement about McCarrick said that Francis was taking action, by isolating McCarrick and ordering penance even before "accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial." In addition, Francis, "ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry," indicating he was approving the measure already in effect since last month.

    A Catholic University canon law expert, Kurt Martens, noted that this was the first time an order of penance and prayer had been issued before a church trial could take place.

    Since he is over 80, McCarrick was already no longer eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a pope. But being a "prince of the church," as cardinals are sometimes called, is a top honor of the church, and those elevated to that rank are called upon to advise the pope.

    Bishops have been implicated in the sexual abuse scandals that have stained the Catholic church's reputation worldwide for decades now, but often for their roles in covering up for pedophile priests by shuffling them from parish to parish and keeping the faithful in the dark about the allegations about clergy whose pastoral duties often bring them into contact with minors.

    Earlier this month, an Australia bishop became the most senior Roman Catholic cleric to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse. Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson was sentenced to 12 months in detention by an Australian court in a landmark case welcomed by some abuse survivors as a strong warning to institutions that fail to protect children.


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    Find out which schools have the highest average SAT score in your area.


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    James T. Ryan Jr. has been a volunteer for South Amboy First Aid and Safety Squad since August of 1958 as well as serving in the Air Force during Vietnam.

    A lifelong resident of South Amboy will be honored for 60 years of service with the South Amboy First Aid and Safety Squad during which he is estimated to have answered more than 15,000 emergency calls and visited every house in the city at least once.

    James T. Ryan Jr. joined the South Amboy First Aid and Safety Squad in August of 1958 after graduating from St. Mary's High School. He has already received many honors including "Citizen of the Year", "Irish Man of the Year" and "First Aider of the Year" and will now be celebrated with a city hosted picnic and ceremony on August 19.

    He married his wife Eileen in 1965 and together they raised six sons in South Amboy.

    "The reason that really keeps me going is my wife. She constantly encourages me. We've been married for 53 years," said Ryan. 

    He has dedicated his life to serving others beyond the scope of the city by serving in the United States Air Force as a 1st Lieutenant in Vietnam and a nurse in the 26th Casualty Air Group during the war in 1967 and 1968. 

    In addition to his volunteer work, he worked for 32 years as an educator and administrator with the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical School District after earning a bachelor's degree from Jersey City College and a master's degree in education from Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

    One of his earliest memories is of responding to the 1958 Bayonne train crash which killed 45 passengers and three railway workers. He also responded to notable emergencies including the Hercules explosion, Durham Woods explosion, and the New Year's Eve bus crash.

    "My father was a charter member of the emergency squad and he was the one who planted the seed in my brain. I hope this encourages young people to become involved in volunteer service. The EMS and fire services are suffering now with a drop off in membership," said Ryan. 

    Ryan also reflected on how the emergency squad has changed over its 85 years of volunteer service. When he began in 1958 there were no women on the team and now the squad is made up of 45 members both male and female. 

    "The cost of equipment and supplies has become astronomically expensive over the last 25 years... for 85 years (the squad) has been volunteer and there have been no charges," said Ryan.

    The community by state law can give $35,000 in support and the rest of the funding is collected by door to door donations and solicitation on the highway on Sundays. 

    "Over the years I've participated in the delivery of five babies, I've been on numerous state calls, but the biggest situation that EMS faces is the opioid crisis. It did not exist years ago when I started, but we see so many lives lost because of it and we work diligently to try to do something to reduce the number of deaths," said Ryan. 

    Delaney Dryfoos may be reached at ddryfoos@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @delaneydryfoos. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    This is the fifth and final trip report in our search for N.J.'s best hot dog joint.


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    The fact that the Trump administration is using these phony charges as justification for cutting public safety grants only compounds the sin.

    Several times in recent months, the federal government has attacked Middlesex County for releasing unauthorized immigrants from jail even when they are convicted of terrible crimes, like sexual abuse of children.

    If the charge were true, it would indeed be outrageous. These are the first people who should be deported. On that much, at least, most Democrats and Republicans can agree.

    But it is not true. It is a terrible slander of Middlesex County. The fault, in fact, often lies with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency itself, which blew opportunities to deport some of the very people it is citing in its unfair attacks on Middlesex.

    ICE arrests surging in N.J. under Trump. Here's why.

    The fact that the Trump administration is using these phony charges as justification for cutting public safety grants only compounds the sin.

    Take the case of a 32-year-old sex offender from Mexico, arrested in 2016. ICE put a detainer on him then - a request for the jail to hold him for up to 48 hours extra, while immigration officials decide if they want to take him into custody. The jail agreed to this. Yet ICE never picked him up. Instead, the guy sat behind bars for nearly two years, awaiting trial.

    ICE says people should be held accountable for their crimes before they get deported. We agree. But ICE had two years to get a judicial order requiring this man to be detained after his sentence was completed, until it could pick him up. And it did nothing.

    In May, he pled down to a lesser charge and was sentenced to time served. The county notified ICE that the detainer would no longer be honored, because it's against jail policy to hold inmates convicted of lesser crimes past the final date of their sentence.

    But ICE never responded and never took him into custody. He was let out 24 hours later.

    Then ICE issued a scathing news release, citing this case and slamming Middlesex for being a "sanctuary." Please. How is it not ICE's fault that he was released?

    At the core of this debate with ICE is the detainer, which is basically a request to hold inmates after they have completed their sentences. The problem is that while ICE demands that, the courts have repeatedly found that the practice violates inmates' due process rights. So, if Middlesex obeyed ICE, the county might have to pay big settlements, funded by property taxes.

    Middlesex has agreed to take that risk with the most serious criminals. But ICE hasn't done its part by getting federal court orders to authorize that added time in detention. Instead, ICE rants at the county jails and blames them.

    Yes, Middlesex should be better at communication and not so absolutist in its stance that it can't help ICE in any way. Its jail already holds people beyond their release date when they're convicted of the worst crimes, despite the liability. 

    It should routinely give ICE a heads up in situations like this sex offender, who pled down from serious charges and was about to get out, or anyone convicted not just of higher level crimes, but also a serious third-degree offense, like aggravated assault. A phone call 24 hours ahead of time does not hold the same legal risk as a detainer.

    But what ICE has been saying about Middlesex amounts to a defamatory smear. And this is not the only example. ICE also unfairly blamed the county for releasing a man from Honduras accused of sexually abusing a minor, when its own agents never picked him up.

    He arrived at the jail on Dec. 1, 2017, having been sentenced to a lesser charge. The ICE detainer came in Dec. 4 and the jail rejected it the same day. Yet he remained in the lock-up until Feb. 23rd. So, again, why didn't ICE come for him?

    Based on cases like these, the Trump administration says it will punish Middlesex and other so-called "sanctuary" counties, by withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual policing grants.

    This goes directly to the heart of public safety. It's money to help enforce Megan's Law and fund our SWAT teams that battle gun and gang violence. By imposing this penalty, it is the Trump administration putting public safety at risk, not Middlesex.

    A better solution is for ICE to actually show up before these guys get out of jail. If it doesn't have the capacity, maybe it should reallocate some resources from its amped-up arrests of grandpas with no criminal records.

    Rather than sit back and call this county a "sanctuary," why not take a drive over to Middlesex to pick up a sex offender?

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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    Animals throughout New Jersey await adoption at shelters and rescues.

    There's summer heat, and then there's oppressive summer heat.

    We've experienced some of the latter recently, and while we do everything we can to keep ourselves cool, it's important to remember our pets as well.

    "If it's hot to you it's just as hot for your dog or cat, and probably even worse," said John Gickling, a board certified veterinarian in emergency and critical care. "We're better equipped to handle the heat because we perspire."

    Some tips on making sure your pets can deal with excessive heat:

    * If you walk your dog, pick the coolest time of the day, follow a shady route and bring water for your pet.

    * Older pets, overweight animals and dogs with short snouts suffer more in high heat.

    * If your pet is outdoors, make sure it has a cool place to lay and that water is always available. Avoid taking your pets anywhere that has concrete or blacktop until temperatures normalize.

    * Dogs may be overheating if they can't get up, aren't alert or can't stop panting. If you suspect overheating, hose your dog off but never use ice water, which worsens the situation. If this doesn't work, a visit to a veterinarian is important.

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


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    Here are the ten finalists in our epic search for N.J.'s best hot dog joint.


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    Here is the schedule for the finalist visits in our N.J.'s best hot dog joint showdown.

    The 10 finalists have been named in our search for N.J.'s best hot dog joint, and we will visit all 10 this week with a crew of assistant judges. 

    Don't forget you can vote for your favorite hot dog joint in our Readers' Choice poll. The voting deadline is noon Sunday, Aug. 5.

    I will pick the overall winner. On Tuesday, Aug. 7, we will walk, unannounced, through the door of the winning hot dog joint. You'll be able to watch it live on NJ.com. Watch for details next week.

    Here's the schedule for the finalist visits. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello to the crew!

    TUESDAY, JULY 31

    11 a.m.-noon: The Hot Grill, Clifton

    12:15-1:15 p.m.: Rutt's Hut, Clifton

    WEDNESDAY, AUG. 1

    11 a.m.-noon: Hiram's Roadstand, Fort Lee

    12:45-1:45 p.m.: Tommy's Italian Sausages & Hot Dogs, Elizabeth

    THURSDAY, AUG. 2

    11 a.m. - noon: Andys' Roadside Dive, Mt. Arlington

    1-2 p.m.: Randy the Hot Dog Guy, Hillside 

    FRIDAY, AUG. 3

    11 a.m.-noon: Maui's Dog House, North Wildwood

    1:30-2:30 p.m.: Hot Diggidy Dog, Chatsworth

    SATURDAY, AUG. 4

    noon-1 p.m.: Destination Dogs, New Brunswick

    2-3 p.m.: Relish, Belmar

    Peter Genovese may be reached at pgenovese@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @PeteGenovese or via The Munchmobile @NJ_Munchmobile. Find the Munchmobile on Facebook and Instagram.


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    A boy was in critical condition Monday night after nearly drowning at a water park.

    A boy was in critical condition Monday night after he was found not breathing at a water park.

    Police were called to Crystal Springs Family Waterpark in East Brunswick at 3:35 p.m. for a report of a child not breathing, East Brunswick Police Lt. Sean Goggins said.

    CPR was performed on the boy, and he was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick where was listed in critical condition Monday, Goggins said.

    Goggins said he did not have any information on the incident as of 8 p.m.

    Crystal Springs, which is owned by the municipality, features water slides, recreational and kiddie pools, according to the East Brunswick web site.

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

     

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    Middlesex County Superior Court Assignment Judge Alberto Rivas wrote in the order it was "in the interest of justice to establish a process for immediate release" of people who could not post bail of $500 or less

    As part of the state judiciary's overhaul of the bail system in New Jersey, the top judge in Middlesex County has ordered the release of people arrested and held for failing to appear in municipal court over minor offenses, such as unpaid parking tickets. 

    The majority of the counties have already rolled out similar local-level bail reform in response to recent public scrutiny and a scathing report by the state judiciary earlier this month that lambasted municipal courts, according to Peter McAleer, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the Courts.

    But the move last week came as a surprise law enforcement in the county.

    Superior Court Assignment Judge Alberto Rivas wrote in the order -- which was issued on July 25 and obtained by NJ Advance Media Monday -- it was "in the interest of justice to establish a process for immediate release" of people who could not post bail of $500 or less due to the "negative consequences" the practice has on residents and their families. 

    If bail is set above $500 for the minor municipal charges, according to the order, the person is entitled to a hearing within 48 hours to determine whether or not the person can be released with a future court date.  

    The order essentially extends the practices of the state's sweeping criminal bail reform into municipal courtrooms, where the majority of residents have their interactions with the justice system over parking tickets and other low-level offenses. 

    Under the reform last year, cash bail was all but eliminated in criminal cases and, instead, judges would either set varied release restrictions or jail the person because they were a risk to the public or unlikely to return to court. 

    Andrea Boulton, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, said the agency, which oversees and issues policy directives to local law enforcement, was taken by surprise when they learned of the order late last week. 

    "We weren't even given a copy of the order," Boulton said. 

    The order is expected to reduce police resources spent on low-level offenses.

    The state judiciary had asked the superior court assignment judges across the state to issue guidance on the municipal court bail process as part of the recent criminal justice reform in New Jersey, McAleer said. 

    Atlantic County Superior Court Assignment Judge Julio L. Mendez, who was on that committee, was the first to issue a similar municipal bail order last year, according to McAleer.

    The recent report by a committee charged with reviewing New Jersey's local court system said the courts profited off of poor defendants, pulling in $400 million in fines and fees in 2017.  

    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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    New Jersey got drenched with rain during the month of July. Here's exactly how much rain fell in each of the state's 21 counties.


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    Officials will announce major crackdown on contaminated sites across the state.

    Authorities in New Jersey are ramping up efforts to claw back money for environmental cleanups from polluters, filing six lawsuits over contaminated sites around the state.

    State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver are scheduled to announce the suits at a series of press conferences in Newark and Atlantic City on Wednesday.

    "Today is just the beginning," Grewal said in a statement. "We are going to hold polluters accountable -- no matter how big, no matter how powerful, no matter how long they've been getting away with it. And we're sending a message to every company across the state: if you pollute our natural resources, we are going to make you pay."

    New Jersey has spent decades grappling with its legacy of industrial pollution and is home to more toxic Superfund sites than any other state in the country.

    The sites targeted in the new lawsuits include a Superfund site in Warren County, a school built on an industrial site that cost millions to de-contaminate, a former cigarette lighter factory in Newark and a former manufactured gas plant in Atlantic City, among others. 

    Murphy gets flak for diverting Exxon money

    Officials in Gov. Phil Murphy's administration say they are bringing the fight back to polluters after eight years under Gov. Chris Christie, who seldom went to court over contamination.

    During Christie's tenure, the state drew criticism over a $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil, which was the highest sum ever collected by New Jersey in an environmental suit but far less than the $8.9 billion the state claimed it was owed. 

    But the settlement was ultimately upheld by the courts, and Murphy drew the ire of environmental advocates for diverting most of the money to balance the state budget, putting only $50 million toward environmental cleanup projects. 

    Now the state is looking to fill its coffers even more with money from such natural resource damages claims, which seek payment for the domino effect of industrial pollution on the surrounding environment including groundwater, soil, rivers and streams.

    Environmentalists applauded the Murphy administration's move. Greg Remaud, the   NY/NJ Baykeeper, said the new lawsuits are a signal to polluters that New Jersey is once again serious about enforcing clean up laws.

    "What you'll see from this action, I suspect, is that a lot of other companies that are in violation will come into compliance now," Remaud said.

    Three of the lawsuits filed Tuesday mark the first time in a decade the state has filed new natural resource damages claims. Three others are "cost recovery" cases seeking to reimburse taxpayers for work done by state agencies to clean up the contamination.

    The six sites targeted by the state for this new legal action are representative of industry's toxic legacy in New Jersey.

    The Pohtacong Valley Superfund Site in Warren County contaminated a nine-mile stretch of groundwater near Washington Township, Frankling Township and Greenwich Township with cancer-causing chemicals like perchloroethylene. 

    In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a $92 million settlement with the site's potentially responsible polluters. Pechiney Plastic, Inc. was given the primary responsibility for cleaning the site.

    Two sites in Newark's Ironbound neighborhood are being targeted by the new lawsuits.

    The first is the Ronson Metals Corporation site, the former home to a cigarette lighter manufacturer that contaminated groundwater with volatile, cancer-causing compound trichloroethylene. Homes were built on the site after Ronson left, despite deed restrictions that were supposed to stop residential development, and vapors from the pollution filled became a major problem for the new households.

    The second Newark site is the former home of Ruggerio Seafood, Inc., another manufacturing facility.

    In Middlesex County, two sites in Woodbridge are included in the new action. Both, a former Hess refinery in Port Reading and a former Mobil gas station in Fords, are reminiscent of the kind of pollution that led to the Exxon litigation.

    The final location targeted by the state is the former site of a manufactured gas plant in Atlantic City. The site is now owned by Duell Fuel Company.

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

    Michael Sol Warren may be reached at mwarren@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MSolDub. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Longtime customer Alan Kallman, of Monroe Township, placed the first bet at Harrah's, putting $25 on the New York Yankees to win the World Series

    A fourth Atlantic City casino has begun taking sports bets.

    Harrah's started accepting bets at 11 a.m. Wednesday, two days after Bally's, its sister property in Atlantic City, began accepting them.

    Longtime customer Alan Kallman, of Monroe Township, placed the first bet at Harrah's, putting $25 on the New York Yankees to win the World Series.

    The U.S. Supreme Court in May sided with New Jersey and struck down a decades-old federal ban on sports gambling outside of Nevada and three other states.

    In addition to Harrah's and Bally's, the Borgata and Ocean Resort casinos in Atlantic City and the Monmouth Park and Meadowlands horse racing tracks now offer sports betting.

    No one has yet been approved to offer mobile or online sports betting, although numerous gambling companies have applied to state gambling regulators for permission to do so before football season begins in September.

    Sports BettingThis Monday, July 30, 2018, photo, shows the sports betting section of Bally's casino in Atlantic City. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry, File) 

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    Rooms for rent from New Jersey's past.

    A report by the Combined Heat and Power Partnership (CHP) of the Environmental Protection Agency shows that in 2015 there were a total of 101,668 rooms available to book in New Jersey.

    From bed and breakfasts to centuries old historic houses to the classic motel signs and designs of the Jersey Shore, travelers have always had a tremendous choice of places to stay in New Jersey.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Here's a gallery of vintage hotels and motels, as well as links to other galleries you might enjoy.

    Vintage photos of N.J. hotels, motels and inns

    Vintage photos of mansions and estates in N.J.

    Vintage photos of estates and mansions in N.J.

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


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    Here's what you can do to save that furry friend trapped in a hot car.


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