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    See the boys soccer players and keepers that stood out in Week 6.


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    The 44-year-old wasn't tethered to the cargo lift, Edison police said.

    A 44-year-old worker was killed Monday morning at a Macy's warehouse in Edison after falling 35 feet from a cargo lift, authorities said. 

    Jose R. Caba, of Perth Amboy, was not tethered to the lift while handling merchandise on storage shelves at the warehouse on Clearview Road, Edison police said in a statement.

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    Caba, who landed on a concrete floor, was pronounced dead at the scene by emergency responders just after 7:30 a.m. 

    Caba worked for Macy's for 14 years. 

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident.


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

     

     

     

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    NJ Advance Media releases its latest group and conference rankings of the season.


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    Parents are demanding the closing of a Middlesex Borough school until an issue with elevated carbon dioxide levels is resolved, a day after a Board of Education meeting turned fiery.

    Parents are demanding the closing of a Middlesex Borough school until an issue with elevated carbon dioxide levels is resolved -- and 100 of the parents kept their kids home Tuesday, a day after a Board of Education meeting turned fiery.

    Superintendent Linda Madison, however, said parents should not be alarmed, and that fire and hazmat officials have not found any dangerous substance at the Von E. Mauger Middle School, and school maintenance workers will remediate issues related to air flow.

    "Their worries are not warranted. There's no hazardous gases in this building," Madison said, noting that two more independent groups will come test levels this week. "We're going to figure this out but there's no reason for anyone to feel like they're not safe in this building."

    Officials from the Public Employees Occupational Safety and Health Program visited the Middlesex Borough school unannounced in September to take readings, after teachers filed a complaint alleging headaches and drowsiness.

    The state workers found CO2 levels over the 1,000 parts-per-million threshold in 18 areas. The highest reading was about 3,000 parts-per-million.

    The district has been aware of the air quality levels since the spring, Madison said during the meeting Monday night.

    The school has moved to replace 11 ventilation units, which are used to improve air circulation in the classrooms. While this will take some time, teachers were asked to open windows and maintenance workers are cleaning the ventilators to improve the efficiency, Madison said. 

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    Parents are voicing their concerns in Facebook groups, ranging from anger that the school did not inform them or act quickly enough, adding to worries of how long-term exposure could affect their children, who have been complaining of headaches, nausea and lethargy.

    "I can't have this anymore, I'm not happy about it. They've known about it for a while and not one parent is finding out until now," said Corilyn Dessino, whose 14-year-old daughter Samantha is attends the school. "There's no communication. A lot of parents are furious over it."

    Dessino intends to keep her daughter home Wednesday, and is planning a visit to the doctor to check Samantha's sleeping habits.

    "I was getting mad at her because she needs to get up. She's a teenager, she stays in her room, but she shouldn't come home and sleep three hours," she noted. "She wants to be in school, but her health is more important than missing a few classes."

    Dessino and other parents want to see the school closed until the issue is resolved, but Madison said there is no need.

    While the superintendent said she understands why parents are upset, Madison said she was unaware that anyone's children were sick until the meeting, and asked the school nurse to compare statistics of sick students in school from this year to 2017 and 2016.

    "We're going to chip away, we're going to repair what we can repair. It won't be all year," Madison added. "We need our kids to be in a safe environment and learn in schools. It's our priority."

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

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    Police said the teen did not use a nearby crosswalk functional pedestrian crossing signal

    A 14-year-old Plainsboro boy suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a car on Clarksville Road in West Windsor Tuesday night, township police said.

    The teen was hit at about 8:50 p.m. when he ran across Clarksville Road at the entrance of Windsor Athletic Center. He was coming from Raven Boulevard in the Princeton Terrace Apartments across the street, police said.

    Police said the teen did not use a nearby crosswalk functional pedestrian crossing signal.

    He was struck by a southbound vehicle driven by a 40-year-old man who had his two children in the car. At the time of the crash, another vehicle was traveling north on Clarksville Road and was about to make a right turn on Raven Boulevard into the apartments, police said.

    West Windsor first responders took the teen to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. The injuries to his head, face, torso and shoulder were later deemed to be non life-threatening.

    No charges have been filed in the incident, police said Wednesday.

    Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to contact West Windsor Officer Frank LaTorre at 609-799-1222 or LaTorre@WestWindsorPolice.com.

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

     

     

     


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    Lights ... camera ... what exit?

    During a sports broadcast last week, Walt Disney Studios released a trailer for its release of "Aladdin" ... in the summer of 2019. I understand this is a live-action version, but didn't they release the animated version in right after I got married (1992)?

    I'm hearing excellent reviews for "A Star is Born" starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper ... but wasn't the Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson version released when I was in high school (1976)?

    Remakes are certainly nothing new in Hollywood. Go to the Wikipedia page for 'List of Film Remakes' and prepare to sprain your index finger scrolling. It's split into two lists actually, because there are simply so many.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    But even though some of the films in this gallery scored ... quite low on rottentomatoes.com, I still watch/watched them, because they're original. Some fall into the 'so bad it's good' designation, while others really ARE good but simply got overlooked.

    New Jersey has hosted film crews for some truly outstanding classics, like "On the Waterfront," and some ... others. The movie industry was BORN in New Jersey, beginning with Thomas Edison and moving to the cliffhangers that were actually filmed on and over the cliffs around Fort Lee and Palisades Park. Even though major studios no longer call the state home, they regularly returned to their roots for the unique scenery that is New Jersey.

    Here's a gallery of films that were made, all or in part, in New Jersey. If you think of one that might be missing, check this previous gallery for more.

    Vintage photos of movies filmed in N.J.

    And here are some other galleries you may enjoy:

    Vintage photos of famous people seen in N.J.

    Vintage photos of famous folks from 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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    CentraState sued Horizon for relegating them to a more expensive tier in the company's OMNIA discount health plans, and costing them millions in revenue.

    CentraState Medical Center in Freehold Thursday became the latest hospital to drop a three-year-old lawsuit against Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey that accused the state's dominant health insurance provider of squeezing community hospitals out of the market.

    CentraState was once one of seven hospitals that sued Horizon for relegating them to a more expensive tier in the company's OMNIA discount health plans, which Horizon said would revolutionize health care options in the state.

    Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, the last plaintiff in the case, and Horizon are scheduled to square-off in a state Superior Court Bergen County on Monday, Valley's attorney Michael Furey said.

    These are the documents Horizon did not want you to see

    The lawsuit accuses Horizon "breached its duty to act in good faith" by relegating the hospital to OMNIA's second tier, costing the hospitals -- smaller, independent and largely Catholic hospitals -- millions of dollars.

    According to once-confidential documents NJ Advance Media obtained through a lawsuit, Horizon did not select tier 1 hospitals based on lower costs. The largest hospital systems came out ahead even if smaller competitors scored better on quality measures.

    OMNIA's 400,000 policy holders are able to save thousands of dollars more in copays and deductibles by using 39 "tier 1" hospitals and medical professionals, which have agreed to Horizon's terms to accept lower reimbursements in exchange for higher patient volume. Consumers can use "tier 2" hospitals and doctors but they will pay more to do so.

    In a joint statement Thursday, Horizon and CentraState officials said they were "pleased to put our differences behind us and to recognize that working collaboratively to improve the quality of care, lower costs and enhance the patient experience is better than continuing to focus on differences."

    CentraState will remain a Tier 2 hospital, the announcement said. 

    Next year, the hospital's orthopedics and maternity/newborn care programs will "accelerate the development of value-based care initiatives" which focus on preventive care.

    "CentraState and Horizon will continue our long history of working together to transform the healthcare system to one that promotes health and wellness over sick care and shifts the focus from the volume of care delivered to the quality of outcomes and the value of care achieved."

    The original seven hospital systems suing Horizon were Capital Health System in Trenton and Hopewell; Centrastate; Holy Name in Teaneck; JFK Medical Center in Edison; St. Luke's Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg; Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth and Valley Hospital in Ridgewood.

    Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck withdrew its claim against Horizon for an undisclosed financial settlement in July.

    Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick filed a separate lawsuit to challenge its tier 2 designation.

     Susan K. Livio may be reached at slivio@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said

    Middlesex County authorities have made an arrest in a crash on Route 1 last month that killed an 80-year-old man in North Brunswick, prosecutors said Thursday.

    The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office charged Elizabeth Gomez, 42, of Paterson, with second-degree vehicular homicide and fourth-degree assault by auto in the Sept. 22 death of East Brunswick resident Wen-Fu Lin, authorities said in a statement.

    Investigators from the North Brunswick Police Department and the prosecutor's office eventually determined Gomez had been intoxicated when she crashed her BMW into Lin's Chevrolet Malibu near Fashion Plaza Drive, authorities said.

    Police at the time said Gomez had just run a red light when she collided with Lin, who was pulling out of the Walmart shopping center just after midnight.

    Lin was pronounced dead at the scene, while his 47-year-old son was taken to an area hospital for treatment of non life-threatening injuries. It was unclear Thursday whether Gomez had sustained any injuries herself.

    The prosecutor's office said Gomez has been lodged in the county jail pending a video court appearance scheduled for Friday.

    In addition to the felony offenses, Gomez faces municipal charges of DWI, reckless driving and failing to observe a red light, the prosecutor's office said.

    It was not immediately clear whether she had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

    Authorities said the investigation was still active as of Thursday, and asked anyone with information to call North Brunswick Officer Jason Zier at 732-521-0222 or prosecutor's office Detective David Abromaitis at 732-745-4436.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on Facebook

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    In all, eight games this week feature seven of top 11 teams. Watch on any device

    It's a great weekend to watch N.J. high school football on NJ High School Sports Live. 

    One of N.J.'s greatest public-school rivalries is on the bill Friday night - No. 5 Piscataway visits No. 9 Sayreville. Here's all you need to know about that classic matchup. If that's not enough, perennial power No. 11 Don Bosco visits No. 1 DePaul, and No. 1 hasn't been a safe place to be this season.

    Hey, wait - they're both at 7 p.m. Not a problem. Watch one on your tablet and cast the other to your TV. Or watch one live and the other on-demand. NJ High School Sports Live gives you all kinds of options.

    In all, there are eight games this weekend - five Friday and three on Saturday - featuring seven of NJ.com's 11 top-ranked teams. The full lineup is below.


    MORE: Learn about NJ High School Sports Live


    If you couldn't make it to the games or want to watch an on-demand replay, NJ High School Sports Live was made for you. You can watch these games on your computer, phone or tablet - and you can watch live or on demand. Our season pass also give you access to any in-network game. The Week 6 schedule is listed below, click on the links to watch.

    FRIDAY, OCT. 19
    No. 5 Piscataway at No. 9 Sayreville, 7 p.m.
    No. 11 Don Bosco at No. 1 DePaul, 7 p.m.
    Parsippany Hills at No. 10 West Essex, 7 p.m.
    No. 6 Somerville at Montgomery, 7 p.m.
    Dickinson at Kearny, 7 p.m.

    SATURDAY, OCT. 20
    Cedar Grove at Verona, noon
    Barringer at Irvington, 1 p.m.
    Paramus Catholic at No. 3 Bergen Catholic, 1 p.m.

    Andrew Koob can be reached at akoob@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKoobHS. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook

     

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    A grand jury in Middlesex County Superior Court handed up the indictments charging each of the officers Friday

    Five Edison officers were indicted Friday over an alleged no-show job scandal in which authorities say the cops pulled in tens of thousands of dollars by taking advantage of a corrupt system in the police department.

    A grand jury in Middlesex County handed up the indictments charging each of the officers with two counts of theft, two counts of official misconduct, financial facilitation of criminal activity and conspiracy, according to the county prosecutor's office.

    Those charged included Sgt. Ioannis "John" Mpletsakis, 38, of Edison; officer James Panagoulakos, 32, of Edison; officer Gregory Makras, 33, of Cranford; and Sgt. Brian Rossmeyer, 41, of Bedminster.

    The 11-count indictment also named officer Paul Pappas, whose arrest in March sparked a multi-pronged probe into the department. Pappas was indicted on five counts of official misconduct, including a pattern of misconduct over a two-year span, in a separate case three weeks ago.

    The indictments handed up Friday also accuse the five of a pattern of official misconduct over of the last 21/2 years.

    In addition, Mpletsakis is facing a new charge of organizing street crime and Makras has been charged with hindering, uttering a forged document and fabricating physical evidence, according to the prosecutor's office.

    The months-long investigation by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office into the police department's side jobs, and the system for assigning the shifts, could implicate as many as 20 officers, including those already charged, sources have told NJ Advance Media. The department has 170 sworn officers.

    County Prosecutor Andrew Carey has said he expects more officers to be charged in the alleged scam, but the office has yet to bring criminal charges against anyone else in the department. It was not known whether or not any of the others' involvement was criminal or will be referred to internal affairs for internal discipline. 

    Carey said Friday the investigation was "very active" and ongoing. 

    2de_sl_cops_gallery00052841a_011.jpegFour Edison police officers appear in State Superior Court in New Brunswick before Judge Michael Toto related to collecting side-job pay for no-show jobs on Aug. 21, 2018. (Keith Muccilli | For NJ Advance Media 

    The five cops, who are each facing more than a decade in prison with the charges, have been accused of taking pay for off-duty jobs, in which the officers have full police duties but are working security or construction details, but not working the shift.

    In some cases, the cops were clocking in at three places at once, sources say.

    The voluntary details were assigned from inside the department and pay between $40 to $90 per hour. The contracted jobs are paid through the township's payroll but the bill is footed by the third party that requested the job. 

    One of the officers, Mpletsakis, made more than Police Chief Thomas Bryan for two years. 

    NJ Advance Media requested copies of those contracts when it reviewed the off-duty earnings in May, but the township clerk said no records exist.

    Pappas sat down with investigators in August and, according to Assistant Prosecutor Christine D'Elia, his voluntary interview was expected to lead to charges against one of the indicted cops. 

    The 44-year-old officer, who is suspended without pay, was arrested in March after authorities say he drove to New Brunswick and slashed his girlfriend's tire. He was on duty at the time. 

    That arrest put the department under a microscope and also led to allegations of steroid use and illegally running license plates through law enforcement databases. 

    The four others indicted on Friday were suspended without pay when charged.

    Carey has also spoken out publicly against township officials, who he says "are responsible for allowing a system of fiscal irresponsibility to exist."

    "The assignment of extra-duty jobs being handled by multiple individuals with very little oversight, paired with an inadequate system of accounting, has directly resulted in nepotism and corruption," he said in a statement previously.

    Andres Rosa, a retired Edison officer, had handled the booked for police force's off-duty work, but since news broke of the alleged scam, the town has moved to hire a third party to handle the assignments. 

    Police in Edison pull in roughly $3 million per year in those details, according to a review of payroll records by the news outlet.

    "While the Edison Police Department has recently taken important steps to ensure that the extra-duty jobs are now assigned and completed in a legitimate fashion, this investigation is very much active and continuing," Carey said. 

    The officers are scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 6. 

    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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    A judge rules no irreparable harm in denying a request by Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman for a restraining order aimed at his political opponents.

    With an election looming just weeks away, efforts by Carteret Mayor Daniel Reiman to bar opponents from posting "defamatory statements" on social media were rejected by a judge, who denied the mayor's request for a temporary restraining order.

    In the ruling Thursday by Superior Court Judge Vincent LeBlon, the court said the Democratic mayor "failed to demonstrate" that he would suffer irreparable harm if an injunction was not granted.

    "Courts have held that a preliminary injunction should not be entered except when necessary to prevent substantial, immediate and irreparable harm" the judge said.

    The litigation involves claims by the mayor of defamation against Frederick Gattuso, his Republican opponent in the mayoral race, along with Anthony Gallo, head of the Republican Party in Carteret, and two others, in connection with the posts that went up on Facebook. Those posts included a letter from an alleged victim who claimed "Daniel Reiman is a sexual predator who preys upon underage boys..."

    Defamation lawsuits against the four will continue, said the mayor's attorney, Angelo J. Genova of Newark.

    "Despite the court's decision yesterday, my client will continue to vigorously pursue the matter through a full trial," said Genova. "This decision only pushes the case to a later date."

    He added that the claims "are false and injurious to Mayor Reiman, and that will be established."

    The mayor had asked the court to order all four individuals to immediately stop making defamatory statements about him on social media, in writing or in public statements.

    Reiman, running for his fifth term as mayor, said he had been falsely accused by the four of sexual misconduct, corruption, theft, and driving while intoxicated  claiming that the Carteret Republican Party, led by Gattuso, had launched "a series of slanderous and personal attacks against my administration and myself."

    But the judge said Reiman, as mayor, "should have reasonably known that public attention and scrutiny would be the result of him holding office, which cannot be deemed as irreparable harm."

    The mayor did not return a call for comment.

    Gattuso, who had not known that the mayor's request for a restraining order had been denied until contacted by a reporter, said he was convinced "justice will prevail" in the case.

    "I feel there should be an investigation into these allegations. I feel the mayor is trying to suppress the truth," he said.

    Gallo said the Republican party was not responsible for the statements about the mayor.

    "The mayor is a public figure and he owes his constituents answers to these allegations," he said.

    Read the court ruling

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


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    Officials said that the 24-year-old man died from the "combined toxic effects" of heroin and fentanyl.

    A 67-year-old man who allegedly sold a "toxic" combination of drugs that killed a Metuchen resident was arrested Friday and charged with strict liability, officials said.

    Sherman Williams, 67, of Old Bridge, provided a combination of heroin and fentanyl to a 24-year-old man, whose name was not released, who was found dead in his home on Sept. 28, according to a release issued Friday by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

    The Middlesex County Medical Examiner determined the cause of death to be the result of the "combined toxic effects of heroin and fentanyl," the release stated.

    Williams was previously charged on Sept. 28 with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, distribution of a controlled and dangerous substance - heroin, and possession of heroin with intent to distribute, police said.

    Further investigation showed that he supplied the lethal combination of drugs to the 24-year-old, prosecutors said.

    Williams was being held at the Middlesex County Jail pending his first court appearance in state Superior Court in New Brunswick.

    Anyone with information about the incident was asked to call Metuchen Police Det. Sergeant Robert Belluscio at 732-632-8500, or Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Det. Erik Larsen at 732-745-3263. 

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

     

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    Carbon dioxide, typically a harmless gas we all exhale, can cause problems in a classroom


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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption from shelters and rescues.

    Some notes on homeless animals in New Jersey:

    * According to the State of New Jersey Office of Animal Welfare, "it is estimated that the number of free-roaming cats in the United States may be equal to that of owned cats, approximately 70 million. If left unchecked, free-roaming cats will breed and their populations increase at locations where they find suitable shelter and food."

    The office goes on to note that pet cats that are abandoned will not easily fend for themselves outdoors. Unfortunately, most of these cats and their offspring will suffer premature death from disease, starvation or trauma.

    * Among shelters and rescue groups around New Jersey, the top 10 reasons for owners relinquishing a dog are: (1) moving; (2) landlord issues (3) cost of pet maintenance; (4) "no time for pet;" (5) inadequate facilities; (6) "too many pets in home;" (7) pet illness; (8) "personal problems;" (9) biting; and (10) no homes for litter-mates.

    Other interesting facts from the Office of Animal Welfare:

    * As many as 25 percent of dogs entering shelters across the country each year are purebreds.

    * One unspayed female cat and her unaltered offspring can produce 420,000 cats in seven years.

    Here is a gallery of homeless animals from all over New Jersey. Consider visiting a local shelter or contacting a local rescue group when looking for a pet for your family.

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


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    Joe Jennings is one of the longest-tenured season ticket holders. He isn't giving them up for anything.


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    Dean of the Rutgers' School of Social Work delivered Leuchten's degree to the woman at her Mountain Lakes home.

    It took 36 years but Joyce Leuchten now has her degree.

    The diploma may not eradicate the pain, or bring closure, or make up for the lost career she so desperately wanted.

    It doesn't change the past, nor is it institutional penance for Rutgers University.

    The current dean of the Rutgers' School of Social Work acknowledged all that when she hand-delivered Leuchten's degree to her Mountain Lakes home Thursday afternoon.

    "We're closing the loop," said Cathyrn Potter. "It doesn't erase the 36 years of Joyce's story but I do admire how her life unfolded and she found so many other ways to make a difference.

    "This is a person we would have been proud of as an alumna of our school," she said. "That, too, has been lost."

    But the degree is proof of what happened to Joyce Leuchten was real.

    Leuchten has evidence that she did more than what was required to earn her degree, only to have that work negated to protect the reputation of a professor and the university that employed him.

    It doesn't set things right. It simply tells the truth.

    Last December, as the #MeToo movement began to unfold and male celebrities - Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer - were toppling, equally famous women were coming forth with their stories. Ashley Judd and Taylor Swift stepped up.

    But outside of celebrity circles, there were millions upon millions of women with untold stories to tell.

    Leuchten reluctantly came forward in this column to tell hers.

    Leuchten was then in her mid-40s, the married mother of five children, four of whom were in college, when her #MeToo moment shattered her lifelong dream of becoming a social worker, she said.

    She was completing her master's degree in social work at Rutgers when a prominent professor, now deceased, began to casually ask her to have dinner with him. Leuchten gently put him off, but she said the pressure increased to a point where she began to feel uncomfortable.

    He left letters in her locker and made other overtures. When she met him during his office hours, she said he'd slap a hand on her thigh to accentuate points about her work.

    All these years later, Leuchten remains charitable toward the professor.

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    "His wife was in a nursing home and he was lonely," she said. "I think he just wanted female companionship."

    She said "he was not a creep" and doesn't necessarily believe it was the professor who undermined her career.

    "When I complained to the administration, everything changed," she said. "My advisor asked me, 'What do you want to do?' and I answered, 'Nothing until I get my degree.'

    "I think they took that to mean I was going to sue or something after I graduated," she said. "But I had no intention of suing or doing anything. I just wanted to get my degree and work."

    At that time, she was completing her practical experience, working outside the classroom at Riverside Hospital in Boonton. Without warning, she said she was removed. A failing grade followed. She would not graduate. Worse, she was told to reapply for reentry to the program.

    She said she was stunned. Her cap and gown was already ordered, she had submitted paperwork on how her name should appear on her diploma, and she had planned a graduation party for herself and two of her children who were also graduating from college.

    For years afterward, she fell into a deep depression and "felt like a failure." Shame had her keep the story hidden from children and friends for years, she said. None were aware until the column came out last year, and Leutchen received a flood of letters citing her courage and bravery.

    One came from social worker Jon Brecka of Livingston.

    "I was embarrassed for our profession," he said. "Social work is all about being fair, and helping the underdog or helping people having problems with the system. I didn't belief a social work school would have done that to her."

    Brecka began a campaign to get justice for Leuchten. He wrote letters to Rutgers and followed up with phone calls to Potter's office. During one phone call, Brecka was told Potter would speak to Leuchten.

    A meeting was scheduled and Leuchten went down with her box of evidence: her transcripts, letters from the offending professor and glowing letters about her work from the very same people who months later would dismiss her from the program. The box also contained some of the writing she made, describing her heartbreak and pain over the incident.

    "She took the box," Leuchten said, "but warned me there wasn't much she could do."

    Tell your story of harassment

    That was in May. Months went by, as Potter said, trying to get all the people who could make the decision in one place.

    Ironically, it came the day after the Judge Brett Kavanaugh hearings and whlie NJ Advance Media reporters Kelly Heyboer and Susan Livio were questioning Rutgers officials about the university's policy of not investigating sexual harassment complaints older than two years. The policy was changed immediately when the story was published Oct. 3. 

    For Leuchten, it was a perfect storm.

    In a room with Rutgers President Robert Barchi, school lawyers, Potter and other members of the administration, it was decided that awarding Leuchten her degree was a "no-brainer," Potter said.

    The times may be still be changing but for Leuchten they had changed enough for her to get her degree.

    "I know this is a bittersweet moment for you," Potter said as she handed the Leuchten degree.

    If it was, Leuchten didn't let on. She accepted it with grace, and let the moment speak for itself.

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @MarkDiIonno. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Prosecutors add new charges in death of college student.

    A Somerset man is accused of driving under the influence of marijuana when his car fatally struck a 19-year-old Rutgers University student last month, authorities said Monday. 

    Prosecutors added a charge of strict liability vehicular homicide against David Stewart in the Sept. 28 crash, which killed Cory Aufiero on George Street in New Brunswick.

    Stewart was also issued a motor vehicle summons for driving while under the influence of marijuana, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. The 36-year-old was initially cited by police for driving with a suspended driver's license.

    Aufiero, of Colts Neck, lost his footing and fell into traffic near Albany and Somerset Streets before he was struck by the Nissan Sentra that Stewart was driving, authorities said.

    Stewart is scheduled for a Nov. 15 court hearing in Middlesex County Superior Court. It was not immediately known if he had retained an attorney to comment on the allegations.

    Authorities asked anyone with information call New Brunswick Police Officer Sean Cahill (732) 745-5200 or prosecutor's office Detective David Abromaitis of the at (732) 745-4436.

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

     

     


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    The hospitals said they have lost millions of dollars since OMNIA entered the market in 2016. All seven have now settled with Horizon.

    The last of seven hospitals suing Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey settled out of court on Tuesday, averting what would likely have been a contentious battle accusing the state's dominant health insurance provider of pushing community hospitals out of the health care market. 

    The 2015 lawsuit contended Horizon "breached its duty to act in good faith" by relegating seven small independent hospitals to a less desirable tier in the OMNIA plans, requiring patients to pay more to use them. The hospitals said they have lost millions of dollars since OMNIA entered the market in 2016.

    The attorney for Valley Hospital in Ridgewood declined to discuss the financial terms of the settlement. When asked if Horizon was re-classifying Valley hospital as a more desirable tier 1 hospital, Attorney Michael Furey said, "not yet."

    "Valley Health System is pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with Horizon that is beneficial to the hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents Valley serves," Furey said in a statement released on the day the trial was scheduled to begin in state Superior Court in Bergen County.

    "The agreement helps ensure Valley's ability to serve its community for years to come."

    Horizon spokesman Tom Vincz said in a statement the company "looks forward to continuing our longstanding relationship with Valley and working together on innovative, value based programs that deliver quality, affordability, and customer experience to our members and their patients."

    The settlement concludes a bitter battle the hospitals have described as a fight for their survival, in a state in where community hospitals are merged to create large conglomerates.

    Another N.J. hospital drops lawsuit to access to Horizon's discount plans

    Horizon launched the OMNIA insurance products in 2015 with the promise of transforming the market by offering high quality at a 15 percent discount from its other products. Patients would save even more money if they used only Horizon's hand-picked tier 1 hospitals, which were either the most dominant facilities in the county or were part of a large chain.

    The lawsuit accused Horizon of breaching "its duty to act in good faith" by not allowing every hospital to compete to join the tier 1 network.

    The 36 hospitals in tier 1 agreed to accept lower reimbursement rates in exchange for the anticipated higher volume from patients flocking from tier 2 hospitals.

    According to once-confidential documents NJ Advance Media obtained through a lawsuit, Horizon did not select tier 1 hospitals based on lower costs or quality measures. A consultant's report shows Horizon chose the largest hospital systems even when smaller competitors scored better on quality measures or offered lower prices. 

    Horizon countered that it did not consider past prices important because it would be moving to a new "value pricing" system based on how effectively the tier 1 hospitals kept large groups of people well and managed chronic conditions.

    The original seven hospital systems suing Horizon were Capital Health System in Trenton and Hopewell; Centrastate; Holy Name in Teaneck; JFK Medical Center in Edison; St. Luke's Warren Hospital in Phillipsburg; Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth and Valley Hospital in Ridgewood.

    Last week, CentraState Medical Center in Freehold settled its case with Horizon.

    Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick filed its own lawsuit on similar grounds against Horizon four years ago. That case is ongoing.

     Susan K. Livio may be reached at slivio@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.
     


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    "If I have to come meet you now," he allegedly threatened the victim, "it's gonna be a problem."

    A former Middlesex Borough fire inspector who boasted of a connection to organized crime was sentenced Tuesday to nearly three years in prison after admitting to a $15,000 extortion plot targeting a local developer.

    The cash ultimately handed over to Billy Donnerstag and his co-defendant, Joseph P. Martinelli, actually came from the FBI, federal prosecutors said.

    U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo on Tuesday sentenced Donnerstag, 50, of Hackettstown, to 34 months in prison for conspiring to commit extortion through threats of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

    Donnerstag, according to court documents, told the unidentified victim he was the son of Gerald Donnerstag, a mob associate convicted of murder in Pennsylvania in the 1970s.

    "You need to iron this out with Joe," Billy Donnerstag allegedly told the victim of the payments, which he claimed was a debt owed to Martinelli. "Again, if, if I have to come meet you now--again, it, it, it, it'd become, it's gonna be a problem."

    Arrested by the FBI in June 2017, Donnerstag ultimately took a plea deal rather than take his case to trial.

    The borough fired him from his $83,000-a-year job the day after he was charged.

    If Donnerstag had decided to face a jury, government lawyers indicated in court filings last year, the prosecution would have relied heavily on audio recordings of Donnerstag threatening the developer.

    Martinelli also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit extortion, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 26, prosecutors said.

    Donnerstag, who was represented by court-appointed counsel, faces three years of supervised release after he completes his prison term, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on Facebook

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    Scores are better overall but many students are still falling short.

    PARCC testing might be on the way out in New Jersey, but that doesn't mean the scores don't count for anything. 

    The state last week released the latest test scores for every public school, results that will be used in New Jersey's new school rating system and some teachers' performance reviews

    The math and English scores from spring 2018 show small gains statewide. As expected, the results in schools and districts are largely tied to zip code and income, as with nearly all standardized testing. 

    The best scores commonly came from affluent communities and specialized high schools with selective enrollment. 

    The worst scores? Schools in urban areas serving students from low income families, including many who are learning English as their second languages. 

    Checkout the lookup tool below to sort the results for every public school. 

    The tests were graded on a scale of 1-5, with students scoring a 4 or a 5 considered to be meeting the expectations of their grade level. Those scoring a 3 are "approaching" the expected performance, while students earning a 1 or 2 need significant improvement.

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    Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind NJ.com on Facebook.  

     

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