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    Find out which freshmen stood out in each conference this week.


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    Harrison's friends and coworkers said his achievements in life were just the backdrop to what he did best: caring about others.

    He was a big guy with a big heart, friends said.

    Tyrone Harrison, a vice principal in the New Brunswick Public Schools district, was walking from the Edison train station to a relative's house Saturday night when a street racer allegedly hit him with his car, and sped off.

    It was a tragic end to what friends say was a life full of service to others. Harrison was an Ohio State University football player before becoming a special education teacher and then a vice principal at New Brunswick High School.

    The 49-year-old resident of the Somerset section of Franklin Township was working toward becoming a principal in the district, and seemed to have a bright future in education ahead of him, according to the district.

    But, his friends and coworkers said his achievements in life were just the backdrop to what Harrison did best: caring about others, especially the students who walked the hallways of his school.

    "... he was huge and big in stature," New Brunswick Public Schools Superintendent Aubrey Johnson said. "He was such a kindhearted (person). Very humble, soft when he spoke to kids and individuals. He was like a big teddy bear."

    Street racer charged in death of New Brunswick educator

    Freddy Garcia, 21, of Piscataway, allegedly lost control of his Honda Accord while street racing with several others and struck and killed Harrison, officials from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office said.

    Garcia was charged Thursday with manslaughter, causing a death while driving with a suspended license and leaving the scene of an accident, it was previously reported.

    Employees and students of the school district are still struggling to come to terms with Harrison's sudden death. District authorities said they made grief counselors available.  

    "It's hard to cope with, but they've come together as a school community," Johnson said. "They're planning something later on to pay tribute to him."

    Family and friends will gather Monday for memorial and funeral services.

    Harrison was a vice principal at New Brunswick High School from 2006 to 2017 before recently transferring to become vice principal of McKinley Community School, a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school. He made the transition to help him prepare to become a principal, according to Johnson.

    "I visited the (McKinley) staff two days ago," Johnson said. "The staff said how much of an impact he made in such a short period of time. He was really, really motivated with the change."

    Adrienne Harrison, his widow, told Pix 11, that Harrison was an honest, decent "man of substance."

    Harrison was a letter-winner at Ohio State in 1989 and 1990. In his career, he had 24 carries for 92 yards, and had a reception for 10 yards, Cleveland.com reported.

    Greg Frey, a former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback and Harrisons' teammate, said he remembers Harrison's work ethic, smile and gentle attitude -- characteristics he carried with him through the rest of his life.

    "He would go above and beyond to help out the students," Johnson said. "He had that type of spirit about him."

    Cassidy Grom may be reached at cgrom@njadvancemedia.com Follow her at @cassidygrom. Find NJ.com on Facebook.Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Jairo Lozano, 29, was a father of two with "big dreams," his family said Watch video

    A former Elizabeth police officer who was driving drunk when he killed a motorcyclist on Halloween wept in court Friday as he took responsibility for what he did - but he's still fighting the 270-day jail sentence the judge imposed.

    The jail and probation sentence for Romulo Meneses-Alvarez, 30, were less than prosecutors asked for, and several family members of the victim, Jairo Lozano, 29, left the courtroom upset with the sentence.

    The sobs of his mother and sister were heard in the Union County courtroom throughout the hearing, and they told the judge in statements that Meneses-Alvarez took the life of a good man and tampered with evidence to hide his guilt.

    "Mr. Meneses moved the vehicle from the scene... Mr. Meneses fled the scene without taking a sobriety test," the victim's sister, Diana Lozano, said through her tears, hands shaking on her typed-up statement.

    "We lost a caring, loving, charismatic, honorable, happy and positive person in our lives. He left two children, a loving wife and mother behind. Now they won't have a father to give them a guide in life," she said.

    Meneses-Alvarez, who pleaded guilty in June, wiped away tears with a handful of tissues when she finished speaking. He was allowed to walk free Friday after the judge granted a one-week stay on the sentence while it is appealed.

    Meneses-Alvarez admitted that he was driving drunk while off-duty on Oct. 31, 2017. He turned left onto Vine Street from Elmora Avenue without yielding to Lozano, who was going straight through the intersection on a motorcycle. He also pleaded guilty to drunk driving and tampering with evidence by moving his vehicle after the crash.

    Middlesex Assistant Prosecutor Keith Abrams, who prosecuted the case because there was a conflict of interest within the Union County Prosecutor's Office, said in court Friday that Meneses-Alvarez had consumed three gin-and-tonics and some shots at Central Park, a bar in Roselle.

    Inexplicably, he took an Uber home from the bar but then decided to go back out and got behind the wheel of his Jeep Wrangler, Abrams said.

    lozano.jpegJairo Lozano (Facebook) 

    After the crash, Meneses-Alvarez stayed on scene but moved his vehicle, making it more difficult for the officers -- his colleagues -- to investigate the crash. Body-camera footage from the scene shows that when officers arrived, Meneses-Alvarez was kneeling beside Lozano, who was unconscious, and helped EMS workers get him onto a stretcher.

    Judge John M. Deitch noted in court that Meneses-Alvarez's actions at that point were "troubling." He told officers on scene that Lozano was driving without his lights on -- something disproven by surveillance videos. He also left the scene after giving his information to police, saying later that the officers told him he could leave. When his superiors called him to try to get him to come back, he didn't answer his phone.

    Police eventually found him and, with a warrant, took him to a hospital where he had blood drawn several hours later. He was found to be over the legal limit of .08, but Abrams said an expert opined that his blood alcohol content at the time of the crash was likely around .13, given the time that elapsed.

    Meneses-Alvarez had been suspended without pay and was terminated from the Elizabeth Police Department when he pleaded guilty June 4.

    In court Friday, Meneses-Alvarez was supported by his family and several police officers, wearing PBA Local 4 shirts.

    He wiped away tears as he told the judge he was filled with regret and shame.

    "I make no excuses for it, judge. I'm wholly responsible for my actions, not only for Jairo, but for his family and for what I put my family through," he said. "Neither one of those families deserved that. I may deserve that, but they shouldn't."

    In arguing for a sentence of 364 days in jail and five years probation, Abrams said noted that lawmakers purposely created the charge he pleaded guilty to -- strict liability homicide -- last year because they wanted to ensure that people convicted of killing someone in a drunk driving crash couldn't get a slap on the wrist.

    The law made the crime a third-degree offense with a recommended sentencing range of three and five years, and said there should be a legal presumption that anyone convicted of it, even if it is their first offense, should do time.

    However, that doesn't mean three years is a mandatory minimum. In a similar case sentenced under the statute, a Long Branch police officer who killed a pedestrian was given 364 days in jail as part of a plea deal.

    Lozano's family pleaded with Judge Deitch for justice, saying that Meneses-Alvarez has been given preferential treatment since the beginning because he was a cop.

    "It's been already a year and he's just like a king, walking on the street," Lozano's mother, Maria Lizarazo, said of Meneses-Alvarez. She spoke through an interpreter, sometimes pressing a hand to her mouth to stifle her sobs. "I ask myself, if it had been my son who hit Mr. Meneses... would it be my son on the street at this point?"

    Diana Lozano told the judge, "the badge should not stand in the way of his punishment."

    "He had big dreams and projects for his family," she said. "Instead, it will be a year since his life was taken away by a drunk driver."

    Meneses-Alvarez's attorney, Robert Norton, submitted 30 letters vouching for his client's character and argued that there was no need for a jail term because his client was remorseful and did not need to be deterred from reoffending.

    "I don't think there's a remote chance this man will ever get involved in anything illegal again," he argued.

    Deitch said he believed a jail term was necessary and that 270 days was a "purposeful but not malicious" sentence. However, after Norton asked for a stay while his client appealed the sentence, Deitch said Meneses-Alvarez could remain free for one week to see what the higher court decides.

    The judge did not let Meneses-Alvarez leave the courtroom until his passport had been surrendered.

    Lozano's family is suing Meneses-Alvarez and Central Park bar for their roles in Lozano's death. Josh McMahon, the attorney representing them in the civil suit, was in court Friday and issued a statement on their behalf.

    "The Lozano Family appreciates the efforts of the Assistant Prosecutors to help give their family justice, and they remain hopeful the Appellate Division will agree with Judge Deitch that a period of incarceration is necessary to allow the former Officer to reflect upon this tragic loss of life," he said.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    From Bergen County all the way South, what are the top stories heading into counties?


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    He allegedly changed posts to make it more difficult to find the driver accused of fatally striking the educator.

    Authorities have arrested a second man in connection with the death of a beloved vice principal.

    Sohjah Powell-Warner, authorities say, allegedly tried to hide online details about the street race that killed Vice Principal Tyrone Harrison.

    The 49-year-old educator was walking to a relative's house Saturday night when he was struck and killed by a car that was allegedly involved in a race.

    Powell-Warner, 21, allegedly hindered law enforcement by altering the social media posts of "78 Imports," a street racing group, following the crash, authorities said.

    Powell-Warner was the administrator for the groups' Instagram and Facebook accounts, and authorities from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's said he changed the social media posts to intentionally make it harder for police to find the driver of the car that hit Harrison.

    Authorities announced Powell-Warner's arrest Friday afternoon.

    Freddy Garcia Jr., the alleged driver of the 2003 Honda Accord which struck and killed Harrison, was arrested Thursday and charged with multiple criminal counts, including aggravated manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

    Garcia was illegally racing several other cars near Ethel Avenue at the time, police allege.

    Harrison was a vice principal at McKinley Community School and had worked at New Brunswick High School for years, friends said.

    He was, "huge and big in stature," New Brunswick Public Schools Superintendent Aubrey Johnson said. "He was such a kindhearted (person). Very humble, soft when he spoke to kids and individuals. He was like a big teddy bear."

    Police ask anyone with further information about the incident to call Officer Meredith Robbins at 732-562-7652 or Detective Jonathan Berman at 732-745-4328.

    Cassidy Grom may be reached at cgrom@njadvancemedia.com Follow her at @cassidygrom. Find NJ.com on Facebook.Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Hugo Fleites now works as a fire instructor at two county fire academys

    A former Perth Amboy city firefighter who now works as a fire academy instructor was arrested Friday on charges he sexually assaulted a minor starting in 1998, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office announced.

    Hugo Fleites.jpgHugo Fleites 

    Hugo Fleites, 57, of Perth Amboy, is charged with one count of sexual assault for assaults that happened between 1998 and 2001 in Fleites' home while he was a Perth Amboy city firefighter.

    The prosecutor's office did not reveal the gender of the victim, but said the person was 13 to 16 years old at the time.

    Fleites currently works part time at the Middlesex and Monmouth county fire academies, the prosecutor's office said.

    The office did not elaborate on what led to Fleites being charged years after the alleged abuse.

    State records show Fleites retired in 2012 after serving as a firefighter for just over 25 years. He collects a pension that pays him $5,276 per month.

    Perth Amboy Police Detective Riscardo Rosado and prosecutor's Detective Deon McCall are investigating Fleites. Anyone with information for them can call Rosado at 732-324-3872 or McCall at 732-745-3652.

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

     

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    Big moments from Week 6 of the high school football season.


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    Two top SJ teams took their lumps in Week 6. That had ripple effects.


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    Pets throughout the state await adoption at shelters and rescues.

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

    We accept dogs and cats for listing 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 greghatalagalleries@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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    The median salary is below $60,000 in more than 100 districts.


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    Lots of horsepower behind this bill. And some horsehockey. It already passed the Senate.

    It isn't often that our lawmakers draft "consumer protection" bills that favor car dealers, particularly a dealer that has been slammed by penalties as high as $750,000 by the Attorney General for bait-and-switch treachery, at the same time that it is facing 72 complaints under review by the Division of Consumer Affairs.

    And if that dealer happens to be a donor to some of the biggest names in Trenton, you would hope that somebody pumps the brakes until it can be determined that everyone's motives are pure.

    But there is a bill that is making its way through the Legislature that calls for a cap on attorneys' fees in fraud cases against car dealers, while also making it harder for plaintiffs to win triple damages.

    This could have merit - the bill's backers like to use the example of a 2012 Middlesex County case in which trial court awarded $650 in plaintiff damages and $99,250 in legal fees. There is nothing wrong with cracking down on exorbitant attorneys' fees and frivolous lawsuits.

    But a Philly.com investigation published Tuesday demonstrated that a key beneficiary from this bill is mega-dealer Charles Foulke Jr., whose Cherry Hill-based company operates six dealerships around the state. Foulke and his son - when they're not being sued, anyway - have donated hundreds of thousands to a PAC that supports Senate President Steve Sweeney and other powerful Democrats, but that didn't come up during the Senate debate that resulted in a 29-5 passage a few months back.

    "It may look salacious, but (Foulke) is not the only one - he's just targeted most often," Sweeney said. "This is slip-and-fall stuff, and it's a very common occurrence with a small group of attorneys. It's a worthwhile bill."

    The more relevant point, however, is that the bill helps a very narrow set of retailers with political connections.

    And even the lawmakers who voted for it have a problem with the details in the Philly.com report.

    "If you're going to do legislation with a specific set of scenarios in mind, the obligation should be doubly transparent," said Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth. "Just make the case, so it doesn't look like someone is getting away with something. If there's an injustice in a specific scenario, let us know in complete transparency."

    Would you buy a used car from your Assemblyman? | Editorial

    Meanwhile, the Division of Consumer Affairs told Philly.com that "the Division has serious concerns about how certain provisions of this bill would adversely impact consumers."

    The bill, which has yet to be introduced in the Assembly, has two components. The first requires dealers to notify buyers of recalls before the sale of a vehicle. Good idea.

    The second section also falls under the Consumer Fraud Act. It allows a court to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, including treble damages - or triple the compensation - if there is an egregious violation. But it does not define "egregious."

    It also stipulates that the attorney can be awarded a fee of $1,000 or "up to one-third of the amount of damages" in such an action. That's the thorny part. If the consequence of an egregious violation is death or life-altering injury, the compensation could be considerable. It could take expensive legal muscle to pursue such a case, and advocates say capping the fee would damage consumer protections, and it would be harder for poor victims to afford legal help.

    Auto retailer lobbyist Jim Appleton calls the bill "a good-faith attempt to balance competing interests between business owners and plaintiffs' lawyers."

    No doubt, if lawyers are exploiting the system, there should be a legislative remedy. But this bill is clearly a work in progress, and if better transparency in the Assembly exposes the bill's flaws, changes should be made.

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


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    A new law enacted this year has made some important changes in the practice of voting by mail.

    Camden.jpg 

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    The crash took place in Cranbury just before 8 a.m.

    A serious crash on Route 130 in Middlesex County has left multiple people injured and closed the highway, authorities said. 

    The crash took place at the Cranbury circle - the intersection of Route 130 north and South Main Street - just before 8 a.m, Cranbury police said. 

    Motorists are urged to avoid the area and expect delays through the morning rush as all lanes are temporarily closed and detoured. 

    Cranbury police couldn't immediately be reached for additional information.


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

     


     


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    Find out which players, coaches and teams stand out so far.


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    Here are the biggest boys soccer games this week.


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    The best matchups of the seventh week of the season


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    Gov. Phil Murphy is under fire amid questions over handling of rape accusations against senior staffer.

    UPDATE: Phil Murphy launches investigation into why alleged rapist was hired for top state job


    New Jersey's attorney general has taken a sexual assault case involving a former senior official in Gov. Phil Murphy's administration out of the hands of the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office amid questions over how it was handled. 

    The case is now being overseen by prosecutors in Middlesex County "out of an abundance of caution," said Sharon Lauchaire, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. 

    The move could lead to a reopening of the case as county and state officials scramble to explain how they responded to accusations against Albert J. Alvarez, who worked on Murphy's campaign and later joined the administration. 

    Multiple media outlets -- including NJ Advance Media -- published reports last week citing anonymous sources saying that Alvarez was investigated after a woman accused him of raping her. 

    Alvarez resigned from his post as chief of staff of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority earlier this month as the accusations began to surface. 

    Katie Brennan, the chief of staff at the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, came forward publicly over the weekend in a story published by the Wall Street Journal.

    "I have pursued every form of justice available," Brennan said in a statement Sunday. "But it has become clear that this system is not built for survivors."

    In a statement, Lauchaire said the case was being moved in accordance with "well-established procedures for addressing conflict-of-interest issues." 

    Lauchaire said that the case was opened and closed in 2017 by career employees in the Hudson County prosecutor's office and that Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez had no involvement. 

    However, after receiving a media inquiry about why the office had not pursued charges, Suarez "realized that she personally knew both the complainant and the subject of the investigation.

    Ask Alexa

    "Although these personal relationships in no way affected the investigation that was conducted in 2017, Prosecutor Suarez decided -- out of an abundance of caution -- to request that (state officials) supersede the case."

    The state Division of Criminal Justice referred the case to prosecutors in Middlesex County, where detectives "are reviewing the case file and will take any additional investigative steps they deem appropriate."

    NJ Advance Media staff writers Brent Johnson and Susan K. Livio contributed to this report.

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

     

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    There are a few new teams in the ranking. Find out who they are.


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    A state official accused a top staffer in Gov. Phil Murphy's administration of raping her. Murphy called for an investigation into how he was hired. Here's what you need to know.


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    Paranormal Cirque is a "dark world inhabited by creatures with incredible circus art abilities." It's coming to Elizabeth and Woodbridge this month.


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