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    The junior 149-pounder is the preseason favorite to take home the hardware in Pittsburgh. Watch video

    Princeton University junior 149-pounder Matthew Kolodzik feels he has one job this season.

    "It's to win one match in front of a bunch of people on March (23)," said Kolodzik.

    Kolodzik is a two-time All-American and finished last year third at 149 pounds at the NCAA Championships in Cleveland. His goal is to take two steps up on the podium this year in Pittsburgh and win Princeton's first national title since Bradley Glass captured the program's only title in 1953.

    Kolodzik is ranked No. 1 in the preseason by InterMat, FloWrestling, OpenMat and WIN Wrestling Magazine. According to Princeton University, Kolodzik is the first wrestler in the program to start the year ranked No. 1 this century.

    "How should I phrase this?. .... It will be a whole lot better to end the season No. 1 than to start it No. 1," said Kolodzik, the only Princeton wrestler to ever become All-American as a freshman.

    Rutgers wrestle-off results

    Kolodzik will face Duke's Mitch Finesilver on Friday in the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic in Denver, an unofficial kickoff to the 2019 campaign. The Tigers open competition on Sunday at the Princeton Open, and Kolodzik may not compete because of his participation in the NWCA event.

    "My philosophy is to control what I can control to the best of my ability," said Kolodzik, an Ohio native who wrestled in high school for New Jersey prep school power Blair. "Everything I am doing in short is to get better. In terms of ranking, I know I can compete and beat these kids in the running. I'm not thinking much about the other guy.

    "The last few years I went to the NCAAs knowing I was good enough to be an All-American and wondering if I was good enough to win a national title. Now I 100 percent know I can win a national championship this year."

    Princeton coach Chris Ayres said coming so close last year - Kolodzik lost in the NCAA semifinals to Lock Haven's Ronald Perry, 5-3 - has been motivation.

    "He wants something big and he feels like he missed something," said Ayres. "When you're third, you're that close. You walk away a little proud, but he was a stall call away from the final and a chance to win a national title.

    "He has the confidence to be a national champ. He hasn't been a great full-season wrestler in the sense not every match can he bring his best. He has bad matches, but he's been able to bring his best at the end of the year. I don't think I'm insulting anybody in our room by saying he's the hardest worker on the team. He's in there at 7 a.m. with me and one of the other coaches. He pushes hard all the time, and not only in wrestling, in school too. He's an achiever.

    "Winning a national title would be a big feat, but he's won at the highest level. He's been a Fargo champ. He was a University world team member."

    Kolodzik said his slow start to the 2017-2018 season had nothing to do with moving up from 141 pounds, where he competed his freshman year, to 149. Because of some early losses, Kolodzik was only seeded 11th at the NCAA Championships.

    "It was just coping with school and wrestling, I was taking five classes for the first time," said Kolodzik. "It was psychologically and emotionally taxing."

    Kolodzik spent much of this summer wrestling freestyle around the country and said he worked some with New Jersey legend and Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs.

    In what would be an intriguing sidebar to Kolodzik's chase for a national title, the wrestler who could be in his path is Rutgers senior Anthony Ashnault.

    Kolodzik and Ashnault split a pair of matchups two years ago - Kolodzik winning an outdoor match in the season-opening dual meet, while Ashnault defeated Kolodzik in the NCAA quarterfinals.

    Ashnault is ranked No. 2 by Intermat and Win Magazine and third by FloWrestling and OpenMat.

    "I think it's awesome we're both being ranked high," said Ashnault. "It would be awesome if that's how it ended up, determining the national champion. Right now, I'm just trying to focus on myself. If I can compete my best, I've beaten him before and I've dominated him before. As long as I'm competing my best and feel good about how my wrestling is going, it should be a good year."

    Ashnault and Kolodzik are both affiliated with the New Jersey Regional Training Center and while they've worked together, they haven't been close training partners.

    "I think it's pretty cool, we have a good relationship with Rutgers," said Kolodzik. "I've trained with Ashnault at the RTC. At the end of the day we're competitors. It's an opportunity to put it on the line. He beat me the last time, so it would be an opportunity to wrestle to my potential, which I didn't the last time. It will be a shot at redemption."

    Ahsnault and Kolodzik will likely meet up in a dual meet at Rutgers on Feb. 3 prior to possibly hooking up in the NCAAs.

    "I would imagine Rutgers would promote the heck out of it, I know we would if it was at our place," said Ayres. "If that would determine our dual meet ... I imagine that would generate a lot of interest in the state.

    "At the end of the day it would be an awesome rivalry and a great story, and I love great stories."

    Princeton has a chance to write several great stories and at least one terrific ending on March 23.

    Blll Evans can be reached at or by leaving a note in the comments below. Follow him on Twitter @BEvansSports. Find and like the High School Wrestling page on Facebook. 

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    Detectives say he got about $900 from one robbery

    The man suspected of robbing eight banks across the region admitted his role in at least one of them, a court document shows.

    Since his arrest Tuesday, Mark Elbaum, 52, of Hillsborough, has been charged with robbing banks in Trenton, West Windsor, Franklin Township, Bridgewater, North Brunswick and Middlesex Borough in a spree that started Oct. 1. 

    elbaum-mug.jpgMark Elbaum, police photo 

    On Friday, the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office charged him with robbing the Northfield Bank in Flemington on Oct. 24. Around 8:45 a.m., Elbaum entered the bank and handed over a demand note, the office said in a news statement. It did not mention a dollar amount.

    Court records in Pennsylvania don't show any recent charges for Elbaum, though he is believed to be the man who entered a First Bank in Bensalem, in Bucks County, with a demand note. Two tellers there are seen on video denying that man's request for cash.

    Elbaum, after he was arrested and read his rights, was interviewed and it was recorded, according to an affidavit of probable cause in the case.

    In that interview, police showed him a surveillance photo of one of the robberies and Elbaum admitted his involvement, the affidavit reads.

    That document also alleges he received $900 in $50 and $100 bills from the Bridgewater robbery.

    Elbaum remains in the Somerset County Jail.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find on Facebook.

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    Izaia Bullock is also accused of plotting to kill 2 people

    The former Rutgers University football player accused of hatching a double-murder plot harassed a woman online by threatening to send nude photos of her to her employer, according to newly obtained court documents.

    Izaia Bullock, 22, is charged with two counts of first-degree attempted murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder. On Thursday, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office announced it had filed an additional charge of cyber harassment, a fourth-degree offense.

    Bullock, according to the complaint associated with that charge, had photos of a woman that "were sexual in nature" and was threatening to send them to her employer.

    The court documents do not state the relationship between Bullock and the victim.

    He was also sending those photos to her "in an attempt to harass or emotionally harm her," the documents state.

    The victim took screenshots of her Oct. 25 messages with Bullock, the complaint says.

    Bullock is currently being held at the Middlesex County jail. He appeared in court on Friday for a detention hearing, however, his attorney, Steven Altman, requested the hearing be adjourned until Wednesday.

    Superior Court Judge Michael Toto granted the request.

    Authorities say Bullock, who walked on to the Rutgers football team as a linebacker in the fall 2017, was plotting to "murder the family members of an acquaintance."

    He's accused of trying to recruit someone else to act as the getaway driver and a lookout. That person recorded Bullock talking about the alleged murder plot and gave it to the Rutgers Police Department, according to authorities.

    The 10 Rutgers football players sidelined by criminal probes this year

    When police searched Bullock's car, they found a mask, gloves and crushed Tylenol, authorities have said.

    Altman declined to comment on the case following Bullock's court hearing.

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    Can the pair make history for Rutgers together like they did in high school? Watch video

    Anthony Ashnault and Nick Suriano share a special bond. 

    And not just because they are teammates on a Rutgers University wrestling team that will push for a Top-10 national ranking this season. 

    Ashnault and Suriano are the only undefeated four-time state champions in New Jersey high school wrestling history. 

    Ashnault - who returned from a medical redshirt year and is in his sixth year of eligibility - accomplished the feat six years ago at South Plainfield. Suriano became the second wrestler to win four titles three seasons ago at Bergen Catholic. 

    Both of their marches to immortality were among the most eagerly-watched moments in the state's history. And now for one year, they will be in the same lineup

    Ashnault is the only Big Ten champion, winning twice, and three-time All-American in Rutgers wrestling history. Now a junior, Suriano became the program's first national finalist a year ago after transferring from Penn State. 

    This year, they will try to make history together - the first national champions in school history. After three seasons at 141 pounds, Ashnault is moving up to 149 pounds, while Suriano is starting the year at 133 but could drop down to 125, where he reached the final last year. 

    Suriano's weight decision for now

    The season begins Saturday with a quad match against Centenary, Fresno State and Johnson and Wales at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

    "It's awesome man, he paved the way for me in high school," said Suriano, who was a freshman when Ashnault won his fourth state title in 2013. "Then I did it. I traveled the country, went all over the country, kept the record undefeated. I saw him do it. He was someone I looked up to, he was an older guy. 

    "Now it's awesome to have him, to train with. We're both hungry. I was with him all last year, but he was injured. Then he was back this summer and I was injured. But now, we're going to feed off each other and we're looking to go to the top." 

    For Ashnault, having Suriano in the same lineup with him has provided added motivation in a number of ways. 

    "It's awesome just being on (Suriano's) team, especially you get to see his work ethic and how he competes," said Ashnault. "It's definitely very motivating. For me seeing someone push you every day, you get a little bit better just being around him. It's really encouraging having him on the team, and I'm looking forward to the first time in my career getting to compete with him in the lineup. 

    "Seeing him compete before I compete will just help me with my performance. He's an exciting wrestler. You can just picture that in the room times five. His intensity is like no other. He brings everyone else in the room up."

    When Ashnault came, Rutgers was starting to develop into a program that was going to be able to compete with some of the better teams in the Big Ten and the country. Now, he's seeing the RWJBarnabas Health Athletic Center - the Scarlet Knights' future training facility - going up near the RAC and Rutgers coming off an 11th-place finish at the NCAAs without him in the lineup.

    "It's been a little surreal (watching the program build up)," said Ashnault. "When I was 17, you think it would happen a little quicker. You get here and realize it's a process. Now it's in your face. We're getting top recruits every year and better classes and new facilities and new amenities. It's been awesome. I hope I get the opportunity to coach here and continue being around here." 

    Rutgers coach Scott Goodale feels Suriano has helped take the weight of the world off Ashnault's shoulders as the face of the program. 

    "It's pretty well documented what (Ashnault's) meant to this program," said Goodale. "He could have went anywhere in the country and he came here. He's had a lot of pressure and expectations. Nick came here and I think that alleviated some of that, but he saw what Nick did and he wants to do it side by side with him. 

    "Something Anthony has always wanted to do is win a (top-four) trophy at the national tournament, and we have the guys to do it." 

    Some of the other best wrestlers in state history have spent time in a Rutgers singlet. Undefeated three-time state champion Scott Winston was in on the beginning of Goodale's building project at Rutgers - Goodale coached Winston at Jackson - and was a multiple-time national qualifier. 

    Four-time, once-beaten state champion Andrew Campolattano transferred to Rutgers from Ohio State but lasted only a part of one season before quitting the sport. 

    But Ashnault and Suriano are the two of the most accomplished wrestlers in state high school history, and they can now achieve their ultimate college goals in New Jersey. If they do that, it bodes well for the future of a program which is already on the upswing. 

    "If you're a high school recruit and look at our lineup and two of the best wrestlers in high school from New Jersey. .... Both four-time state champs undefeated, if I was looking at that as a high school recruit, I'd say I can get it done right now," said Ashnault. "Nick was in the final last year, I'm a three-time All-American, two-time Big Ten champ. There's no reason you have to go anywhere else to get what you want. You can come right here and be a national champ. 

    "We're looking to prove that this year, get two of them. The pace we've been improving would be multiplied through the roof. We're getting good recruits now, but getting (two national titles) is something else to advertise."

    Blll Evans can be reached at or by leaving a note in the comments below. Follow him on Twitter @BEvansSports. Find and like the High School Wrestling page on Facebook. 


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    The alleged crimes occurred in Woodbridge, and the suspect now lives in Manchester

    An Ocean County man has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor in Middlesex County in the early 1990s.

    Robert Jazikoff 

    Robert Jazikoff, 64, of Whiting in Manchester Township, was arrested Thursday on two counts of aggravated sexual assault and two counts of sexual assault. The Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office alleges he assaulted a minor in 1991 and 1992, in Woodbridge, when the victim was 12 and 13 years old.

    Woodbridge police and the prosecutor's office said they started investigating Jazikoff after the victim recently notified authorities.

    At the time of the alleged abuse, Jazikoff was a volunteer firefighter with the Port Reading Fire Department, in Woodbridge. He later served the department as volunteer fire chief in 1996, the prosecutor's office said.

    He's currently employed in the maintenance department at Hackensack Meridian Health's JFK Medical Center in Edison, the office said.

    Jazikoff was jailed at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center Friday, pending a detention hearing, which is scheduled for next week.

    The prosecutor's office did not elaborate on the case beyond a statement announcing the charges, and it was unclear if he had a lawyer.

    The investigation into Jazikoff is ongoing. Anyone with information can call Woodbridge Detective Nicole Hubner at 732-634-7700 ext. 7614, or prosecutor's Detective Deon McCall 732-745-3652.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find on Facebook.


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    Fall has finally arrived in the Garden State, which means stunning hues of red, orange and yellow are taking over the trees.

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    An off-duty officer shot and killed Michael Gaffney in a bar brawl two years ago Watch video

    In Texas, it's illegal to carry a gun into a bar.

    In Tennessee, you can bring your handgun into a bar, but you can't have even a sip of alcohol.

    In Iowa, the threshold for when you're too drunk to carry a gun is the same as driving: .08.

    Many states have similar laws -- but not New Jersey.

    It may be because the state's strict laws mean most carrying handguns are current or retired officers, and you might think cops know better than to get drunk while armed.

    But that's exactly what happened when Michael Gaffney lost his life to a drunk, off-duty cop in 2016.

    gaffney-selfie.jpgMichael Gaffney 

    Now that his killer has been convicted, his loved ones want lawmakers to create and pass a bill they're calling "Gaffney's Law," named for the 37-year-old Piscataway father killed during a fight with a then-Newark cop outside a Union Township bar in 2016.

    Gaffney walked away but Joseph Macchia, 36, restarted the brawl and then he shot him three times, a jury found in June.

    Macchia was fired and is now serving a 6-year prison sentence.

    "I think all 50 states should have drink and carry laws," said Gaffney's mother, Judy Valdes of Berkeley Township. "This never should have happened to Michael. It should have already been a law."

    Johanna Aguilar, Gaffney's girlfriend of 10 years before his death, said she believes most cops are smart enough to leave their guns locked at home if they plan to drink.

    "It's common sense. If you're intoxicated you shouldn't be able to carry or fire a weapon, just like you can't drive a car," she said.

    Not long after Gaffney died, his friend started a petition on calling for "Gaffney's Law" to make it illegal for police officers to drink while armed with a handgun or to carry weapons into any bar or establishment where they plan to drink. Valdes said they now think it should apply to anyone who has a handgun in New Jersey.

    State law only allows certain people to carry firearms, like current or retired police officers and people who can need it for their jobs, or rare cases when a civilian can prove he or she needs a handgun to protect themselves from a specific, proven threat.

    macchia.jpgJoseph Macchia (NJ prisons photo) 

    Aguilar, of Piscataway, said that soon after Gaffney died, she contacted her state senator, Sen. Bob Smith, but never heard back. She contacted and met with Assemblyman Jamel Holley, whose district includes the township where the shooting occurred. She said he seemed interested in packaging it with another bill, but nothing ever came of it.

    Aguilar or Valdes have not reached out to any legislators since then, but they're hoping news coverage and the more than 6,000 signatures on the petition will encourage a lawmaker to sponsor a bill.

    After hearing about the proposed law Friday, Rev. Robert Moore, the executive director of the Coalition for Peace Action, in Princeton, which includes the anti-gun violence group CeaseFire, said it sounds like the kind of legislation his group could get behind.

    "We should proactively take steps to stop that from reoccurring," he said of Gaffney's death.

    He said it would need refining, such as specifying whether the legal limit would be .08, as it is for driving a car.

    "It certainly sounds like a good idea and a reasonable, common-sense idea," he said.

    Calls and emails to the state offices of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) , the Policemen's Benevolent Association (PBA) and the Association of Chiefs of Police were not returned Friday.

    James Stewart, president of the Newark FOP Lodge 12, said in a statement that Macchia's case has been dealt with and that a law wasn't necessary.

    "I can cite at least five other instances where Newark cops have been in liquor establishments where armed robberies occurred and they were able to take action only because they were armed," he said.

    "In today's climate, where everybody knows what the term 'active shooter' means, cops need to be the professionals they took an oath to be, and be responsible for their actions," he said. "More legislation is not the answer."

    Alexander Roubian, president of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, declined to comment on whether such a law is necessary, but said "rule number one" of responsible gun ownership is never mixing alcohol and firearms.

    Even if one beer may not make someone intoxicated, he said, instructors and responsible gun advocates always advise gun owners to avoid any alcohol while carrying.

    Roubian said noted that drunken shootings are not common, especially in New Jersey, where so few people can carry handguns.

    "There's no epidemic of people going out and doing this" because most gun owners are responsible, he said.

    Roubian said he also believes that since most people carrying guns in New Jersey are police officers, the state Attorney General's Office could make such a rule statewide without having to go the legislative route.

    Current policies

    The state Attorney General's office doesn't have existing rules or guidance about when and how officers can carry guns while off duty, spokesman Peter Aseltine said.

    "Issues related to law enforcement officers carrying firearms off-duty are addressed in police training and Standard Operating Procedures issued by individual police departments," he said.

    The New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police suggests in a model firearm policy on its website that departments include the following language:

    "Officers shall not carry a firearm while consuming or under the influence of alcoholic beverages to any degree whatsoever (unless such consumption is approved in accordance with the performance of official department duties)."

    The policy also says that while officers are encouraged to carry their service weapons while off duty "to enhance their ability to take law enforcement action when appropriate and necessary," they should not be carried if officers "anticipate consuming alcoholic beverages."

    Cop arrested, 3 suspended after party brawl

    NJ Advance Media inquired and sent public records requests about the off-duty firearms policies of the seven biggest municipal police departments in the state.

    Newark's policy dictates that off-duty officers "may be unarmed at their own discretion" when on vacation, when there is a risk of loss or theft of the gun, such as a beach, or when participating in activities where it would not be advisable. "Such activities especially include those at which alcoholic beverages are consumed," the regulation says.

    In Atlantic City, according to Sgt. Kevin Fair, "the decision to carry off-duty is up to the individual officer and they must consider several factors when making that determination, including the consumption of alcohol."

    Elizabeth officials said they had no policy specifically addressing off-duty drinking while carrying. Jersey City, Paterson, Trenton, and Camden did not provide answers by Friday evening.

    There is a federal law that mentions current or retired officers carrying guns while drinking, but the law is primarily meant to deal with reciprocal carrying rights and not people carrying in their home state, Aseltine said.

    The 2004 Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act says "qualified" current and retired officers can carry a handgun almost anywhere in the U.S., but specifies that being under the influence of alcohol or another intoxicating or hallucinatory drug or substance" is disqualifying.

    However, the Attorney General's Office decided in 2005 that the federal law did not change gun ownership rules within the state.

    'This needs to be done'

    Aguilar said she hopes law enforcement wouldn't be opposed to "Gaffney's Law," because it's obviously a bad idea to drink and carry a weapon -- and most cops know that.

    Sure, there are "cop bars" where officers like to wind down after a shift, but Aguilar said she believes most lockup their guns before imbibing, based on conversations with her friends and family in law enforcement.

    And while some might say that what happened to Gaffney was a rare occurrence, Aguilar pointed to headlines from around the country where drunk officers shot people.

    In a single week in 2014, articles from the New York Times and the New York Post detailed three drunken shootings by New York City cops, though one was accidental.

    Valdes said she also supports the police, but she thinks the law could prevent unjustifiable killings like the one that took her son.

    "If I'm going to get anything out of this, to find peace in my heart, it's getting this law passed so it doesn't happen to anyone else," she said. "It's not even in my heart. It's in my gut. This needs to be done."

    "For me, Mike was supposed to be my forever. I never saw any future without him," Aguilar said of her late partner.

    She said it's also hard to see his 15-year-old daughter, Alexia, grow up "knowing how much she meant to him, and all the plans he had for her."

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find on Facebook.

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    A police officer said the fire appeared to have started from a dryer in the home's basement.

    A fire ravaged through a single-family home in Perth Amboy Sunday, as fire crews worked to get the flames under control. 

    Emergency crews were called to the home on the 400 block of Summit Avenue in Perth Amboy late Sunday morning. 

    A police officer at the scene told a photographer for NJ Advance Media that it appeared the fire originated from a dryer in the basement of the home and had spread up to the attic.

    It wasn't clear at the scene if the fire caused damage to neighboring homes, but it did hit a power line on the street. 

    The Perth Amboy Fire Department, which responded to the scene, was not able to be immediately reached for comment about the incident. 

    Keith Muccelli contributed to this story. 

    Paige Gross may be reached at pgross@njadvancemedia.comFollow her on Twitter @By_paigegross. 

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    Dogs and cats await adoption at shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    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 to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on, please contact Greg Hatala at

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

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    Robert Schumann. Richard Strauss, and Benjamin Britten. All delightfully revisited

    This weekend's New Jersey Symphony Orchestra concerts presented an interesting case study in the perils of performing classical music in our 21st Century digital era. The program featured three well-regarded classics written by geniuses, who if not still household names, remain well-known today and were musical titans in their time: Robert Schumann. Richard Strauss, and Benjamin Britten.

    But in our era of high-grade digital recordings and the availability of everything on the Internet, why should Garden State residents spend an evening or afternoon schlepping to a concert hall when they can hear the same music for free at home? (Especially on a weekend with good weather and when music director Xian Zhang isn't on the podium.)

    Granted you would need a pretty top-notch stereo system to equal the rich sounds created by guest conductor Christoph Konig and the NJSO Sunday afternoon at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. And listening at home, you would miss the raw impact of the fine French horn playing, plus the intimacy of concertmaster Eric Wyrick's violin solos in Strauss' 1888 tone poem, "Don Juan." But both this piece (which opened the concerts) and Schumann's 1851 "Rhenish" Symphony (which closed them) both were recorded masterfully with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra by Columbia Records in the 1960s, not to mention many fine albums by star artists since then.

    This problem would seem to be exacerbated in the centerpiece work of the NJSO's program, Britten's Violin Concerto, which premiered in 1940, so you can go to YouTube and literally call up an old Decca recording from 1970 and hear the piece, conducted by the composer himself!

    And yet despite all that, when violinist Augustin Hadelich stepped out and began playing Britten's youthful concerto (written here in America when he was only 26-years old) it was immediately clear why everyone had gathered at the State Theatre New Jersey to come hear this music live.

    All one has to hear is a few notes from Hadelich, the 34-year old Grammy-winning Italian virtuoso, to be convinced he is indeed a fine fiddle player. Hadelich and his 1723 Stradivarius violin make blooming melodies and tactile textures that delight the ear.

    Until recently, Britten's violin concerto wasn't that widely played outside of the UK, but in Hadelich and Konig's hands, the British composer's music felt less formal, less mannered that it often can. They make a case that even if not as probing as Berg's or Bartok's, Britten's concerto is of the same rank as other great violin concertos written in the 20th century.

    Konig really amped up the tempo in the second movement "Vivace," but Hadelich seemed unfazed by this despite the many difficult passages where he handled the double stops, double harmonics and left-hand pizzicato with ease. The final movement "Passacaglia" was also impressive.

    All in all, it was an invigorating performance, one that earned a warm hand from the State Theatre audience--which set the stage for what happened next. Hadelich returned after a few curtain calls and made it clear that he would honor the crowd with an encore. In halting English he called out: "Bach. Second Partida. Sarabande."

    He then began playin the rough hewn sounds of this solo piece written in the early 1700s. This sarabande lacks a catchy hook at the top, but Hadelich brought intense passion to the straightforward lines of music. Even the simple quivering between two notes became beautiful in his hands. It should be said that Hadelich is not the most graceful figure on stage. He can be a halting presence when playing--or even when listening to the orchestra and waiting to play. And on Sunday, he was wearing a big, blue nehru-collared coat, making almost look like the Bond villain Blofeld. 

    But when it's just him and the violin, the physical world recedes. All you experience is the music. Hadelich somehow brings you back in time--while listening to him play Bach I felt as if I was in a dark, candle lit room 300-years ago hearing the composer himself conjuring these melodies from his brilliant musical mind. 

    The tone of Hadelich's playing filled the hall as richly as the full orchestra had only a few minutes earlier, the delicacy of the notes flickering like a lambent flame. 

    It was a magical moment and all those gathered in New Brunswick seemed to feel it. A generous ovation followed. Even in 2018 there's no technology known to man that's a substitute for experiencing music-making like this in person.

     James C. Taylor can be reached Find on Facebook. 

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    The exit by New Jersey-based QuickChek from the pharmacy business will result in the elimination of 60 jobs.

    QuickChek plans to close its pharmacy departments in nine New Jersey stores later this month in a deal with CVS that also calls for one QuickChek location to be sold outright to the pharmacy chain, company officials said.

    The move affects 60 QuickChek employees whose positions will be eliminated. CVS plans to interview those workers for jobs as part of the transition, QuickChek officials said in a statement.

    QuickChek will transfer its prescription records to CVS and notify customers about the change.

    The QuickChek stores with pharmacy departments closing in late November are:

    • Bayonne
    • Beachwood
    • Ewing
    • Fords section of Woodbridge
    • North Bergen
    • Passaic
    • Point Pleasant
    • Scotch Plains
    • Totowa

    Those stores will be remodeled to match a new design unveiled last year at other locations. QuickChek, which is based in Hunterdon County, has 159 locations in New Jersey and New York.

    The QuickChek store in Washington, Warren County will be purchased by CVS and operated by the pharmacy retailer. The date of the sale and transition to a CVS store was not announced.

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    "CVS Pharmacy will continue to meet the pharmacy and health care needs of our customers, as well as provide career opportunities for our pharmacy team members," said QuickChek Director of Pharmacy Mike Wunder.

    The companies did not announce the terms of the deal.

    QuickChek is opening a new store on Tuesday in North Plainfield, its eighth new location in the last 10 months. Another eight new stores are planned for 2019, officials said.

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    Voters are hitting the polls in full force this morning, but some N.J. residents have had to jump through hoops to make sure their ballot is cast.

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    Brett Riccio lost his balance after stepping into a metal grating that wasn't properly secured

    A technician who injured his shoulders and knee when he fell while working to modernize an elevator nearly four years ago settled his lawsuit against the owner of the commercial building for $2,025,000. 

    The law firm representing Brett Riccio confirmed the settlement in a press release posted on its website. His attorney Richard Winograd, of Gallardo Gonzalez Winograd, didn't immediately return a message from NJ Advance Media.

    NJLawJournal was the first to report on the settlement, which was reached Sept. 28

    Riccio was hurt when he stepped onto a metal grating that hadn't been properly secured as he left the elevator machine room on the roof of a six-story commercial building in Clifton on Dec. 10, 2014.

    As the metal grating came off its angle support and went into a vertical position Riccio was thrown into mid-air as he tried to grasp the sides to prevent a fall. He landed face up on the hanging grating, hyper-extending both shoulders and spraining his right knee, the law firm said. 

    NJ Transit to pay $2.3M to man hit by bus, dragged nearly 2 miles on highway

    Riccio was treated for his injuries and attempted to go back to work the next day. He continued to work for about a week until the discomfort became too much and he had to seek additional treatment.

    He later had arthroscopic surgery to repair a tear of his right knee's medial meniscus and then had additional surgeries to fix bilateral torn labrums in both shoulders and a torn rotator cuff in the left shoulder.

    Riccio is longer able to do that job, which required heavy lifting. 

    The New Jersey Law Journal said the building's owner, Telx, was responsible for $2 million of the settlement. Thyssen Krupp, which specializes in elevator technology, covered $25,000. 

    The grating section where Riccio lost his balance didn't have an anchorage clip or a weld to hold it into place, an investigation showed. 

    The suit was filed in Middlesex County. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.



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    Unofficial results for races in Middlesex County's Nov. 6 general election.

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    Izaia Bullock, 22, is charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Watch video

    Editor's note: This post was updated to reflect that Izaia Bullock's court appearance on Wednesday was adjourned. 

    The former Rutgers University football player accused of plotting to kill two family members of an acquaintance was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday but the hearing was adjourned to a later date. 

    Izaia Bullock, who walked on to the Rutgers football team as a linebacker in 2017, is charged with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder. 

    Bullock.JPGFormer Rutgers football player Izaia Bullock appears in Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick on Nov. 2, 2018. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for

    Bullock, 22, was arrested on Oct. 29 after authorities said he confirmed to Rutgers police his plan to commit the double murder and a search of his vehicle turned up a mask, gloves and crushed Tylenol.

    Police learned of Bullock's plan, authorities said, after another person came forward to police with a recording of Bullock discussing the plot. Bullock confided in that person and also attempted to recruit him as the getaway driver and the lookout, according to authorities.

    On Nov. 1, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office announced it had filed an additional charge of cyber harassment against Bullock. Authorities said he threatened to send nude photos to a woman's employer.

    Because the additional charge was filed a day before Bullock's initial detention hearing, his attorney, Steven Altman, requested additional time to review all the discovery in the case.

    That request was granted by Superior Court Judge Michael Toto.

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    Rev. Douglas Haefner told the bishop, 'I borrowed money from the parish.'

    Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Rev. Douglas J. Haefner's attorney. 

    The longtime pastor of a Catholic church in Somerset County resigned last week after officials said he took $500,000 from his parish's coffers because of his "compulsive behaviors."

    The allegations against Rev. Douglas J. Haefner, who for 27 years has served as the pastor of St. Matthias Church in Franklin Township, came to light in a Nov. 2 letter from the Diocese of Metuchen to the church's parishioners.

    "It is with sadness that I must inform you that Father's resignation coincides with serious questions and concerns that recently have been raised regarding the handling of parish finances," the letter states. "... Father came to me about his own health problems and these financial issues in recent weeks and has expressed his sorrow for his actions and for letting us all down."

    Bishop James F. Checchio, who signed the letter, told a crowd of a couple hundred parishioners in a Monday evening address that Haefner "borrowed" approximately $500,000. That figure is not official because an internal audit is ongoing.

    A spokeswoman for the diocese, Erin Friedlander, said law enforcement is investigating the disappearance of the funds. Friedlander declined to say what agency was leading the investigation.

    The Franklin Police Department referred comment to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Tuesday, which declined to comment on the matter.

    Friedlander said it's too early to tell the exact amount of money involved, and from where within the parish it came from.

    Checchio told the congregation that Haefner came to him a few weeks ago to express his disappointment for acting out on "emotional problems." The discussion with the parishioners was reported by the local TAP media website and the content of the conversation was confirmed by Friedlander.

    "(Haefner) came to see me in my office, and he said, 'I need help,'" Checchio told the congregation. "'I've been sick. My physical but also emotional problems that I've been struggling with are feeding off each other. Some of my emotional problems have led to compulsive behavior on my part, and the compulsive behavior cost money.' (Haefner) said, 'I borrowed money from the parish.'"

    Checchio had also told Haefner to seek an evaluation of his physical and mental health.

    When Haefner returned to the church, about a week later, the two agreed that the longtime pastor should step down.

    The bishop was not immediately available for an interview with NJ Advance Media.

    St. Matthias currently has 3,225 registered families, Friedlander said.

    The St. Matthias School operates on a separate budget and hasn't been operating on a deficit, Checchio told the crowd. However, he stressed that it can't be ruled out that the school's funds were affected. 

    "I do know that the school is going to be cared for and the parish is going to be cared for," Checchio said. "There's no deficit showing on the books right now for the school. As soon as we're able, we're going to release whatever we can, but that's not up to me."

    An attorney for Haefner, Matthew Adams, emailed NJ Advance Media the following statement on behalf of his client: 

    "To know Father Doug is to know a caring man who has spent decades ministering to parishioners from all walks of life, including during times of extreme peril," Adams said. "Father Doug has indeed stepped back from his public ministry to address serious health issues. It is quite unfortunate that, as he steps out of the public, some have used the opportunity to violate the confidentiality that, as a matter of law, attaches to those health-related issues. With respect to the allegations being leveled against him, Father Doug enjoys the same constitutional presumption of innocence as any other citizen."

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    "Veterans Day ... is a day for all of us to begin our journey of protecting our freedom and the freedom of many future generations."

    Special thanks to for this explanation of the importance of Veterans Day to military veterans and civilians alike.

    "On the 11th hour...of the 11th day...of the 11th month...the fighting of World War I ended in 1918.


    "Due to the conclusion of 'the War to end all Wars,' November 11th became a universally recognized day of celebration.

    "The day was originally declared 'Armistice Day' 8 years after the end of World War I and honored only veterans of that war. Then in 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, it was renamed 'Veterans' Day' to honor all veterans who served America in war and defended democracy.

    "So, today we honor all of our veterans ... who unselfishly placed their lives on the line for our freedom.

    "Those men and women were ordinary people... until they heard the call of duty and answered it. They left their families ... their homes ... and their lives ... not for recognition or fame or even the honor we bestow upon them today. They fought to protect our country ... to maintain our way of life.

    "As we honor our veterans and remember their great deeds, let us also salute those who are currently fighting for our freedom.

    "The War on Terrorism has helped us all realize how truly unique the American way of life is. The freedom we enjoy is extremely special, and that is why we must defend it.

    "So, now is the time to not only honor those have fought or are fighting for our is also the time for each of us to take part in protecting it.

    "The defense of freedom is not just for those in the military; each of us shares that duty and that responsibility. We don't have to join the army or the navy or any other organization of defense to actively defend our way of life. We can protect our freedom simply by maintaining it here in America.

    "If we want to preserve our freedoms, we must put them into action - for example, by voting in elections or speaking out against injustices. We must also ensure that everyone feels the benefits of freedom. And we can do that by volunteering in our communities or teaching our children what it really means to be an American.

    "Veterans' Day isn't just a day for veterans - it's a day for all Americans. It's a day to remember why they were fighting and a day for all of us to begin our journey of protecting our freedom and the freedom of many future generations.

    "Thank you for honoring our veterans today. Let us walk toward tomorrow still honoring living in the freedom they protected."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Here are links to other related galleries:

    Vintage photos of Medal of Honor recipients from N.J.

    Vintage photos of women and the war effort in N.J.

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

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    N.J. has the most top-rated rated hospitals for safety in the nation, according to The Leapfrog safety study.

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    They often charge $1,500 or more for services that legitimate providers do for free, or a small fee

    In Latin American countries, "notarios" are lawyers who can provide legal services to clients.

    In this country, though, notaries, or notary publics, cannot. They're not lawyers, and can only witnesses the signing of documents.

    But across New Jersey, some people or storefront shops that use that word "notario," mainly in urban areas, are fraudulently offering immigration and legal services.

    They prey on the immigrant community and Spanish-speaking customers, who believe they're being represented by a lawyer of someone with special knowledge of immigration procedure, state authorities alleged Friday.

    Some of the businesses were charging $1,500 or more for immigration services that, by law, can only be provided by licensed lawyers or representatives accredited by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and working for DOJ-recognized organizations, the state' Division of Consumers Affairs said in a statement that.

    The division has identified 28 of these businesses or individuals, and are going after them with violations and fines.

    The violations total $326,000 in civil penalties, ranging from $6,000 to $16,000 per person or business.

    The actions are the result of a months-long undercover operation, based on tips, consumer complaints and investigators checking out the places, which often hold themselves out as tax preparers or travel agencies and offer notary public and immigration assistance for sale.

    IMG_1968.jpgOne of the targeted businesses, Mundo Travel Agency in Trenton. (Kevin Shea | NJ Advance Media) 

    Typically, the organizations offer their services for free or a small fee.

    Some of the businesses leave their clients without money or irreplaceable documents like birth certificates or passports, and expose them to possible immigration detention or deportation.

    Some unauthorized practitioners are predators looking for victims to scam and charge high fees and pocket the money without doing any work.

    Others are well-meaning who make mistakes, file incorrect or incomplete forms and miss deadlines.

    Either way, people who need real representation often find out too late, after missed deadlines, the state says.

    "Today we are reinforcing our commitment to protecting all New Jersey residents, regardless of their legal status, from financial predators," Paul R. Rodriguez, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs said in a statement.

    "All New Jersey residents who fall victim to fraud or other unlawful conduct should know that they can safely report the matter to law enforcement. We are here for you," he said.

    The businesses that face fines from the state:

    • A.A.N. Accounting & Multi-Service, Kearny
    • A & A Consultants, Elizabeth
    • AC Velox Multiservice, Elizabeth
    • Airsealand Tours, Inc. / Air Sea Land Travel & Tax, Kearny
    • AMC Immigration Services, Garfield
    • Angel Financial Services, Elizabeth
    • Borche's Service Express Travel / Services Express Corporation, Plainfield
    • Consuelos Travel & Consuelos Immigration Services, Lakewood
    • D' Vazquez Tax Solutions / D'Vazquez Tax Solutions / E.C.T.A. Envios El Costeno, Garfield
    • Dieugrand Insurance Agency, Jersey City
    • Foto-Loft / Photo Loft, Newark
    • IG Tax Multiservices LLC / IG Tax Multi Services, North Bergen
    • J.V. Services / JV Typing Services, Elizabeth
    • La Feria Services, Plainfield
    • Miriam Caso / Bookkeeping & Tax Services, West New York
    • Master Agency, Paterson
    • MIA Services, Union City
    • Nancy Tax Services, Union City
    • N-VIA Travel & Associates, Trenton
    • P & L Multiservices, Garfield
    • Pro Immigrants Foundation, Elizabeth
    • QAP Total Services, Elizabeth
    • Kenny Tax Service, Paterson
    • Mundo Travel Agency, Trenton
    • SS Professional Services, Jersey City
    • Sylvana's Multiservices / Marilyn's Services, Elizabeth
    • Time Travel, Long Branch
    • West Side Brokerage, Jersey City, NJ

    Anyone seeking immigration services can use the following services to find a legitimate provider at or call the USCIS at 800-375-5283.

    And consumers can see a list of New Jersey-based organizations recognized by the DOJ that offer non-attorney staff members or volunteers here.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find on Facebook.

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    Elios Arias-Aguilar worked at a school in Perth Amboy

    Authorities have charged a middle school security guard with sexually assaulting a child and sending nude photos to a pair of minors.

    Elios Arias-Aguilar.jpgElios Arias-Aguilar (Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office)

    Elios Arias-Aguilar, 25, of Perth Amboy, who worked at McGinnis Middle School in his hometown, allegedly had sex with a minor "who was known to him" at his home, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

    Investigators also believe Arias-Aguilar sent nude photos via social media to two minors who were also known to him.

    Officials did not specify if the youths were students at the school where he worked for two years.

    Arias-Aguilar was charged with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, criminal sexual contact, and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

    He was placed in the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center pending a detention hearing.

    Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact Perth Amboy Police Detective Riscardo Rosado at 732-324-3872, or prosecutor's office Detective Ryan Tighe at 732-745-3287.

    Matt Gray may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us:

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