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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    Check out who leads the list. The answer might surprise you.


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    Find out which college has the most NJ alums on its roster.


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    Members of a group called "Bible Believers" tried to spread their message of intolerance to the TCNJ's campus. The student body gave them a less-than-warm welcome.


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    The cause of the fire remains under investigation

    A multi-alarm fire ripped through a home on Arrowhead Way in Millstone where the homeowner had an electric car in the garage, officials said.

    Nobody was injured in the Wednesday night fire that started at about 8:50 p.m, which started in the garage area and later spread to the rest of the home, police and fire officials said.

    Assistant Monmouth County Fire Marshal Chris Pujat said Thursday the fire's origin was in the garage, but the cause remained undetermined pending more investigation.

    The home is owned by John Lafergola and Yun Xia Liu, property records show.

     

    Lafergola was home and reported the fire, the state police said.

    Lafergola was released from federal custody in December 2017, federal records show, after serving a 28-month prison sentence for illegally possessing multiple machine guns at his home.

    He was charged with possessing the weapons in December 2015, over a year after police were called to his home - in October 2014 - on a report he pointed a gun at  another member of his household, authorities have said.

    He consented to a search of his home, and investigators found 72 firearms - 36 which were illegal machine guns. 

    Attorney Evan Nappen, whose office defended Lafergola in the firearms case, said Thursday he had not heard from Lafergola about the fire.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on TwitterNJ.com on Facebook.

     


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    It's the now 38-year-old's second prison term for drug dealing in a decade

    Bobby Williams, a convicted drug dealer well known to Trenton-area gang and narcotics investigators, drew a 92-month federal prison sentence Thursday for conspiring to deal cocaine.

    Bobby Williams[1] copy.jpgBobby Williams 

    It's the now 38-year-old's second prison term for drug dealing in a decade.

    Williams pleaded guilty late last year in federal court in Trenton to the conspiracy charge from an investigation that wrapped in early 2016 accusing him and three colleagues of running a cocaine importing business in Trenton dating to 2013.

    In late 2008, Williams was sentenced to 12 years in prison in state court for racketeering, a charge that encompassed his drug dealing and gang affiliation.

    In that case, Williams and several others - including his drug lieutenants in this case - were arrested and charged in a joint, federal and state probe that targeted gang-led dealing.

    When he was paroled from the state prison system in September 2012, authorities said in 2016, he went right back to drug dealing, setting up a similar network and operation, and three of his managers were also arrested.

    Authorities said the current Williams-led effort that had strong gang ties and supplied drugs - it was a pipeline - to other central New Jersey markets, as well as towns in the Pocono region of Pa.

    It operated from two Trenton residences, and controlled a drug turf on Southard Street in the city.

    Williams has always been a leader, authorities have said several times.

    Investigators have described him as a "hybrid" cocaine dealer who had connections with other gangs and was skilled at moving large shipments of cocaine.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on TwitterNJ.com on Facebook.


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    The goal of a march on April 14, 2018, through the streets of Trenton is to encourage policymakers at all levels to make informed decisions based on proven scientific data, rather than on the needs of money-hungry corporations.

    State Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D-16th) is dead right when he says science knows no political party.

    Republicans, Democrats and everyone else on the political spectrum deserve access to breathable air, drinkable water and all the other necessities of life that define a society that appreciates - and acts on - the expertise scientists provide us.

    It's no secret that the White House has declared an unofficial war on that very branch of knowledge, seeking to undermine years of effort and generations of progress.

    That's the unifying theme behind a march this Saturday through the streets of Trenton: to encourage policymakers at all levels to make informed decisions based on proven scientific data, rather than on the needs of money-hungry corporations.

    "I still believe that the American people respect and support science, but we all need to make that clear to the people elected to lead us," said Matthew Buckley, a physics professor at Rutgers University and a founder of last year's march in Trenton.

    The local event, which kicks off at 10 a.m. on the steps of the War Memorial at 1 Memorial Drive, echoes similar rallies across the nation - and the world.

    More than 1 million people gathered across the globe for the first March for Science last April, including about 6,000 here in the Garden State. They were protesting the erosion of scientific inquiry into such matters as climate change, medicine, public safety and education.

    Protestors getting ready to march to fight the 'war on science'

    Since that time, march organizers say, things have only gotten worse.

    The past year has seen crippling rollbacks in environmental protection, sharp decreases in funding for basic research, and restrictions on the free movement and expression of our nation's scientists.

    Zwicker, for one, has seen enough - as an assemblyman and as a physicist.

    A speaker at last year's march and a member of the steering committee for this year's event, the Democratic lawmaker says his activism is driven by the urgent need "to protect our children and grandchildren from political decision that will have an impact for generations."

    As if to echo his words, the Environmental Protection Agency this week made headlines for considering a major change in the way it assesses scientific work, a move seen as severely limiting the research available to its staffers when they go about crafting environmental regulations.

    The new policy, which will affect nearly every aspect of debate the agency conducts, is a boon to the fossil fuel industry, whose titans have long sought to dispute the link between polluted air and premature deaths - a link established 25 years ago in a definitive Harvard University study.

    The weather forecast for Saturday in Trenton is mostly sunny, with a high in the 70s. The outlook for science in the coming year should only be as rosy.

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


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    One team makes its debut in the NJ.com Boys Top 20 while teams continue to jockey for position atop the rankings.


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    The corrections officer has been accused of smuggling drugs for inmates and accepting bribes.

    A corrections officer has been accused of smuggling drugs to prisoners at Federal Correctional Institution Fort Dix and later using the cash he made to gamble in Atlantic City.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office announced today that Paul Anton Wright, 32, of Berlin, has been charged with accepting bribes.

    In 2015, the guard smuggled synthetic marijuana and suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, to prisoners, according to a complaint. He allegedly received the drugs and cash bribes from two people outside of the army base, including $2,500 from a relative of one of the prisoners in early 2015.

    Bank records showed that Wright not only deposited the cash payments, but also used them as buy-ins at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, prosecutors said.

    In late 2015, he exchanged thousands of dollars for drugs from a relative of an inmate's girlfriend after meeting with them in New York City, the feds said. He later allegedly delivered the drugs to the inmate.

    Wright is facing a maximum of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He had his court appearance Thursday and was released on a $100,000 bond.

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

     

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    From hit-by-pitch leaders, searing sluggers, hot teams, on-a-tear players: Baseball's best for Week 2.


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    The Mega Millions jackpot of $533 million was the fourth largest in the history of the game and the 10th largest in lottery history Watch video

    New Jersey lottery officials revealed the winner of the $533 million Mega Millions jackpot on Friday as Richard Wahl, of Vernon.

    "It's not only life-changing money for me, it's life changing money for others," Wahl said. "We're going to try to do good things with it."

    Wahl, 47, said he just moved to New Jersey from Michigan in July for his job. When he first checked the tickets, he misread the number and didn't realize he won. Then he looked them over again and realized he won the jackpot, he said.

    "It was truly amazing. Some of my family members were sleeping so I didn't go and scream," Wahl said. "I just went and told my wife 'we get to go on vacation.' She said 'Don't be an idiot.' I said no, we won. We won the lottery."

    He said his family has been working on plans for the money with financial advisors. Wahl declined to discuss his family and whether he has kids, citing safety concerns given the huge winnings. He appeared alone to claim the prize.

    "It's going to help my family and friends who struggle every day," Wahl said, specifically noting his mother, a senior citizen who lives on a fixed income.  "It'll be good for me to be able to give back to them."

    The $533 million jackpot is the single largest lottery win claimed in New Jersey.

    Wahl said his family stayed home throughout Easter weekend to keep the ticket safe. They didn't tell anyone about the win, even his mother, until he had time to consult with advisors.

    "My mom called and said 'I head someone from NJ won the lottery, was it you?' and I said 'Absolutely not," Wahl said.

    He said he plans to retire and travel, but is helping his employer with the transition. Wahl works as a production manager for AAK Food Service in Hillside. He planned to board a plane Friday night for the first of his trips, he said. Wahl said his wife is from Mexico.

    "We're just humbled by the fact of everything that has happened," Wahl said. "My wife and I don't believe in luck. We believe this was God's plan for us. And he has a plan for us to do a lot of good things with the money."

    Wahl bought the lucky ticket for the March 30 drawing at the Lukoil station on Route 23 in Riverdale and will walk away with $324 million before taxes are deducted because the ticket was bought with the cash option.

    Wahl purchased 10 tickets for the historic drawing and allowed them to be randomly picked.

    "I had $22 left in my pocket," Wahl said. "I bought 10 easy pick tickets and a Diet Coke."

    When asked if he had any big purchases in mind, Wahl said he's always had the dream of restoring a 1963 Corvette.

    The winning ticket overcame 302,575,350-to-1 odds to capture the 10th-largest jackpot in U.S. lottery history and the fourth-biggest Mega Millions prize.

    In the days after the drawing, station owner Ameer Krass said he knew the winner was a regular but planned to keep the person's identity a secret

    Krass received a $30,000 bonus check from the lottery.

    Wahl said he actually visited the store on the day the media was assembled to talk about the winning ticket, but he didn't reveal himself.

    "I stopped in there for gas and I saw the news cameras," Wahl said. "I didn't want to go in, but I needed to use the ATM. The clerk did hesitate a little when he saw me. But if they knew who I was, they would have said it. I'm not a regular customer, I've only been in that store maybe four or five times."

    The jackpot was initially expected to hit $521 million but got bumped an additional $12 million due to brisk ticket sales nationally.

    Before Wahl's lucky day, no one had captured the Mega Millions jackpot since Jan. 5. That's when Shane Missler, 20, of Port Richey, Florida, won the $451 million prize.

    The winning numbers for the March 30 drawing were 11, 28, 31, 46, and 59. The Mega Ball was 1.

    New Jersey has had several other large jackpot winners in recent years.

    In May 2016, the Smith family of Trenton bought the only jackpot winning ticket for a $429 million drawing. Before last month's ticket was sold in Riverdale, that was the single-largest lottery win in New Jersey.

    In August 2013, two of three winning tickets for a $448 million Powerball jackpot were sold in New Jersey. One was bought by the "Ocean's 16" --  a group of co-workers from the Ocean County vehicle maintenance garage. Mario Scarnici of the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick purchased the other winning New Jersey ticket

    Mega Millions is played in 44 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Drawings are held on Tuesday and Friday.

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

     
     

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    A deep dive into each conference this week in N.J. girls lacrosse.


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    The two also own an arena football franchise that plays in Trenton

    A retired New Jersey State police trooper and a current Plainfield firefighter who together own an arena football team in Trenton fleeced the government for years while working as tax preparers, federal authorities alleged Friday.

    Jersey-Flight-owners.jpgSamuel Davis Jr. and Kyna Felder-Ruiz. (Jersey Flight photo)

    Samuel Davis Jr., 52, and Kyna Felder-Ruiz, 35, were indicted Wednesday on multiple charges accusing them of filing dozens of fraudulent tax returns that inflated their clients refunds, dating to 2012.

    Davis owns Get Organized Tax & Accounting, of Plainfield, where they both live. Felder-Ruiz works for him as a tax preparer, authorities said. 

    Last year, the duo announced they were bringing arena football back to Trenton, with a team called the Jersey Flight, playing in the National Arena League.

    The team opened their inaugural season in late March, and played their home opener April 6 at the CURE Insurance arena in Trenton, dropping the Maryland Warriors 71-12. They are currently 1-1.

    Court documents and the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey say the two fraudulently filed over 70 returns by making up deductions for clients, like charitable contributions, unreimbursed employee business expenses and education or residential energy credits.

    The returns - for the tax years 2011 to 2016 - caused the federal government to pay their clients $232,009 in bogus refunds, the feds say.

    Arena football returning to Trenton

    The feds say Davis and Felder-Ruiz filed the inflated returns to generate more business for Get Organized, and thus enrich themselves.

    Davis is also charged with filing false individual income tax returns from 2012 through 2014 by falsely reporting the gross business income to Got Organized, that alone defrauded the IRS of tens of thousands of dollars in taxes.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office did not identify Davis and Felder-Ruiz's football business.

    The government identified him as a retired as a detective sergeant from the State Police who retired in 2016 after 28 years on the force, and Felder-Ruiz as a former State Police public safety dispatcher who now works as a Plainfield city firefighter.

    On the Jersey Flight website, and in news stories, Davis describes himself as a former athlete and sports agent, and Felder-Ruiz as a former licensed securities professional and the second female firefighter to serve Plainfield.

    Their attorney, Thomas Ashley, of Newark, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

    The IRS said anyone who believes they may have been a victim of Davis and Feldman-Ruiz can contact the office's criminal investigators at 732-761-6439.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on TwitterNJ.com on Facebook.


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    Alicia Nieves of CBS 3 Eyewitness News will moderate the event

    Seven13 Films and Rider University have teamed up for a youth symposium and Trenton mayoral candidates discussion next week.

    The April 19 event at the university will feature film screenings and will be moderated by CBS-3 Eyewitness News reporter Alicia Nieves.

    Alicia Nieves.jpgAlicia Nieves 

    The symposium will feature today's youth from local schools and organizations, who will get the opportunity to query a panel of mayoral candidates in a town hall setting.

    Prior to that, Seven13 Films will be screening an episode of their documentary film, "Generation Change - If I Were Mayor.." and Rider University students will be screening their featurette, "Generation Change: It Starts with Us."

    "It is amazing to see the film we have created has brought together the world of politics and education all in one place," says Lee Kolinsky, co-owner of Seven13 Films.  

    "With CBS-3 and Alicia Nieves participating in the event, it's the right step for great things to come.," he said

    Seven13's "Generation Change," was directed and produced by Joseph A. Halsey and written and produced by Kolinsky with a mission to increase social awareness about issues affecting our local youth. The film features Good Morning America's Adrienne Bankert and youth from the local organization PEI Kids.

    "We created this episode of Generation Change to find out what Trenton youth would do in their community if they were mayor," says Halsey, co-owner of seven13 Films. "Now, these kids will get a chance to ask the mayoral candidates what they would change if they were elected," Halsey adds. "Our film was designed to inspire a conversation and promote positive change in the community." 

    Trenton mayoral candidates scheduled to attend the event include Darren Green, Reed Gusciora, Annette Horton-Lartigue, Paul Perez and Walker worthy. 

    The symposium is being planned and produced by Rider University students in the COM341 Publicity Methods course that is currently being taught by Adjunct Professor Kathy Magrino.

    Magrino's class has been working closely with Seven13 Films and media consultant Margaret Fontana of Margaret Fontana Media since January.

    "Producing and promoting this event has provided a great 'real-world' learning experience for everyone involved," says Magrino. "My students and I are very excited to be working with Joe and Margaret and the entire seven13 Films crew. We are so grateful to them for this opportunity and for all of their time and guidance."

    Anyone who would like to attend the symposium can do so here: http://bit.ly/RiderScreeningEvent. Kathy Magrino can be reached at  kmagrino@rider.edu.

    Follow NJ.com on Twitter @njdotcom. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    We think Mayor Dave Fried and the rest of Robbinsville are onto something good with their Pay It Forward-themed events.

    What if you turned an otherwise perfunctory annual address into a fund-raiser, collecting dollars for a worthy cause and at the same time having a little fun?

    The Township of Robbinsville has done exactly that since 2015, and the initiative has paid off superbly - to the tune of $150,000, to be exact.

    While doling out the usual (dull) data that residents need in order to be informed citizens - budgets, infrastructure and the like - last year's State of Robbinsville Address also amassed more than $50,000 to help a beloved teacher at the township's Sharon Elementary School.

    Deborah Dauber battled the degenerative condition ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, before she died on April 4.

    The money went towards making her home more wheelchair friendly - undoubtedly a blessing for the educator who was named Sharon School Teacher of the Year in 2011-12, and for her family as well.

    This year, acknowledging that opioid addiction is an equal-opportunity scourge, Mayor Dave Fried has announced that the beneficiary of the township's 2018 "Pay It Forward" campaign is the Community Addiction Recovery Effort.

    Robbinsville continues to 'Pay it Forward'

    Township police have adopted C.A.R.E. as a tool since January 2016 as a way of offering resources, access to treatment and guidance from trained addiction professionals. The program is geared to arrestees who have no current warrants against them.

    According to police records, of 430 individuals arrested by Robbinsville police since 2015, almost two-thirds were involved with opioids or opiates.

    The township recognizes addiction as a disease, Fried said in a statement.

    "We are committed to providing every possible resource during the short window of opportunity when the arrested addict is at his/her most receptive moment," the mayor said.

    The choice of this year's Pay It Forward campaign seems particularly meaningful for Fried, who also serves as the township's director of public safety. The role makes him all too familiar with the toll addiction exacts on his community's residents.

    "We can't save everyone, but we can save one," he says. "That alone will make it worthwhile."

    The majority of Mercer County municipalities have implemented C.A.R.E. programs, according to Fried. The money collected at the annual address will go toward partial scholarships, travel expenses for someone getting into recovery, lodging expenses and other essentials.

    We think Fried and the rest of Robbinsville are onto something good with their Pay It Forward-themed events. Any other mayors interested in following their lead?

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

     

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    Trenton dealer coerced addicts to buy him guns in Pennsylvania. Four of those guns are still missing.

    He was selling heroin, but he needed guns.

    So Munir Gonzales, already a convicted felon, had his drug-addicted customers go through the firearms purchasing process at Bucks County, Pa. sun shops - and it worked several times.

    munir_gonzales2 copy.jpgMunir Gonzales 

    For those crimes, 22 gun purchasing felonies in all, the 28-year-old Trenton dealer is headed to prison for five to 10 years. He was convicted at trial in December.

    "You live and you learn," Gonzales told a Bucks County judge last week during his sentencing, according to the Bucks County District Attorney's Office. "I hope I don't receive a harsh punishment, but even if I do, I've got to be patient with it."

    "You seem to be committed to pursuing a different sort of lifestyle," the judge, C. Theodore Fritsch Jr., told Gonzales, "and I certainly hope that is the case."

    Before the sentence, though, Deputy District Attorney Matthew S. Lannetti told the judge it was a case of coercion and pressure. 

    Gonzales turned his customers into what's known as "straw" purchasers, and law breakers, too. (Bucks authorities charged the buyers, too.)

    If they bought him guns, he'd give them drugs, or forgive their debts. "He took advantage of them," Lannetti said.

    2 dozen firearms trafficked into N.J. and most are missing

    The district attorney's office said four heroin users told investigators they went with Gonzales to gun shops in Tullytown, Bristol Township and Southampton and bought guns while he waited outside.

    One was a single mother of a young child who told police she owed Gonzales money because of her 14-bag per day heroin habit. "He said don't make me come to your house and... if I wanted my daughter to be safe I should do it," the woman told investigators, the office reported.

    The case involved eight guns, but only four have been recovered. Lannetti asked the judge to keep that in mind and that nobody knows how the four missing guns may have been used.

    "This case is the reason statutes like this exist," he said.

    The case sprouted from a Mercer County Narcotics Task Force investigation of Gonzales, and his brother Ramon Gonzales, in Trenton in 2014.

    The task force busted them with the weapons and a load of cash and drugs - heroin, cocaine, prescription pills and marijuana - at two locations, Gonzales' Heil Avenue home and a room at the Budget Inn on New York Avenue. 

    Police found empty firearms sales containers at the locations, which had been bought in Bucks County, where a Bucks detectives picked up the trail, which led to Munir Gonzales.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on TwitterNJ.com on Facebook.


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    Anna Rezk of Bayonne is a senior at Hudson County Hi Tech High School whose father died when she was 13. Watch video

    When Anna Rezk was just 13 years old, her family suffered a tragedy, the severe illness and death of her father.

    The Bayonne teenager not only filled the family void of her father's death by helping to raise her two brothers, she also channeled her grief over her dad's fatal bout with pancreatic cancer into a determination to fight the disease. She wrote about the experience in a spectacularly successful college admissions essay.

    "I think seeing him in the hospital atmosphere, seeing the strongest person I had ever known get smaller physically, it was a hard experience, it was really traumatizing on different levels," said Rezk, now an 18-year-old senior at Hudson County High Tech High School in North Bergen. "But I think that in itself, it kind of invoked this feeling in me that I had a responsibility to other people's dads, that if I had the ability to change the way that other people's lives could be affected then I should take advantage of that."

    "I'm kind of honoring my dad in that way," she added.

    Anna's father, Rezk Wanis Rezk, died at age 55.

    The essay, along with other signs of Rezk's drive and intelligence that included stellar grades with a schedule of virtually all advanced-placement and honors classes, helped win her a distinction unmatched in the memory of High Tech High guidance officials: She was accepted into all eight Ivy League colleges.

    Moreover, every single one of them  — Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale — all offered her a full scholarship.

    Anna hasn't decided just where she'll enroll in September, though she is leaning toward New Jersey's own Princeton University, in Mercer County, to stay relatively close to her mother, Mervat Andrawes, or Brown University in Providence, R.I., which offers an accelerated medical degree program. News 12 first reported on Anna's multiple acceptances.

    And Anna didn't do a bad job helping raise her brothers: Peter, 20, is now a sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh; while her twin and Hi Tech classmate, John, is headed to Princeton, where he was also offered a full scholarship and will study engineering.

    "I'm kind of the bossy one," she said, adding that her responsibilities included making sure her brothers had dinner. "So I would tell them what to do."

    It was John, the more outgoing of the twins, who spread the word around school that his sister was in such high academic demand. 

    "I'm not bragging!" John said, beaming with pride at his sister's smarts during an interview in the office of Assistant Principal Allyson Krone. "I just wanted to let people know."

    The school's longtime senior guidance counselor, Vincent Nardiello, said he could not recall a student ever having been accepted to all eight Ivies, as well as to the dozen "safety" schools where she also applied.

    This is also a special year not only for Anna and John, but for High Tech, which had a total of five students accepted to Princeton among 272 graduating seniors, an unheard-of number for a single school, Nardiello said. The other three are Mousy Lo of Jersey City, Erica De Lacerda of North Bergen, and Muhammad Umar, another Class of '22 Ivy Leaguer from Bayonne.

    High Tech High, which will move into a new building in September, is a career-oriented magnet school whose 1,121 students are drawn from all over Hudson County. Despite the traditional conception — or misconception — of technical schools, Krone said High Tech prides itself on its rigorous academics. Each student is enrolled in an "academy," akin to a college major, which Krone and Nardiello said may give Hi Tech graduates an advantage over their counterparts.

    Anna and her bothers were born in Brooklyn after their parents immigrated to the United States from Egypt. The family soon moved to Jersey City, where they joined the city's large Coptic Christian community. Their father, an armored car driver, moved the family to Bayonne when Anna and John were in 3rd grade, where their intellect was evident even then.

    "They were, like, automatic superstars," said Ghenwa Hassan, 17, of Bayonne, a friend of Anna's since elementary school, who's now a classmate at High Tech High and will be headed to the Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in September. "They were the smartest kids in the class."

    Hassan and others said Anna was not all academics. She was a normal teen, with a social life, a social conscience, and likes away from school, including fiction writing, something Anna said she thought of pursuing before medicine.

    While her father's death did influence her decision on just what it was she wanted to pursue, Anna said it was her dad and mom, who, though not college grads, had instilled a joy of learning and a strong work ethic in her.

    "I guess I was always like that," said Anna, who laughs easily and takes herself less seriously than her studies. "It's hard to predict whether I might have been a slacker if he hadn't passed away."

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at sstrunsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    The nominations for the PFA Player of the Year, and PFA Young Player of the Year, were announced Saturday.

    MANCHESTER CITY CLINCH PREMIER LEAGUE TITLE

    With the Manchester United 1-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion Sunday, combined with the Manchester City 3-1 win over Tottenham Saturday, City is the 2017-18 Premier League champion.

    It is the third Premier League era title for City, all since 2011-12.

    BURNLEY DREAMING OF EUROPE, AFTER HUGE WIN OVER LEICESTER

    Two years ago, Burnley was getting ready to be promoted back to the Premier League, as champions of the Sky Bet Championship.

    Last season, the Clarets struggled, but ultimately finished 16th, to extend their stay in the top flight.

    Now, with five matches to go in the 2017-18 campaign, Burnley is ready to storm into Europe.

    The Clarets held off Leicester 2-1 Saturday, to open up a nine-point lead on the Foxes in seventh place. After Arsenal lost 2-1 to Newcastle Sunday (amazingly, Arsenal does not have an away point in 2018), Burnley is now just two points behind the Gunners for sixth.

    Why is that important? As long as Southampton does not win the F.A. Cup (the Saints would have to beat Chelsea next Sunday, then either Manchester United or Tottenham in the Final May 19), then the seventh spot in the Premier League table would enter the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round.

    If the Clarets can pass Arsenal and finish sixth, it would mean direct entry into the Europa League group stages.

    If Burnley do qualify, it could be an omen for fans of the English national team. The last time the Clarets participated in Europe was for the 1966-67 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, the season after England won its only World Cup.

    Will history repeat?

    PREMIER LEAGUE RESULTS

    Southampton 2-3 Chelsea

    Burnley 2-1 Leicester

    Crystal Palace 3-2 Brighton 

    Huddersfield 1-0 Watford

    Swansea 1-1 Everton

    Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth

    Tottenham 1-3 Man. City

    Newcastle 2-1 Arsenal

    Man. United 0-1 West Brom

    Monday

    West Ham vs. Stoke, 3 p.m. EDT (NBC Sports and Fubo.tv)

    Tuesday 

    Brighton vs. Tottenham, 2:45 p.m. EDT (NBC Sports and Fubo.tv)

    Wednesday

    Bournemouth vs. Man. United, 2:45 p.m. EDT (NBC Sports and Fubo.tv)

    Thursday

    Burnley vs. Chelsea, 2:45 p.m. EDT (NBC Sports and Fubo.tv)

    Leicester vs. Southampton, 2:45 p.m. EDT 

    Paul Pogba rains on Man. City parade, as Man. United takes derby

    PFA PLAYER OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED

    The nominations for the PFA Player of the Year, and PFA Young Player of the Year, were announced Saturday.

    Manchester City has three players up for the main award: Kevin de Bruyne, Leroy Sane, and David Silva. The other three players are David De Gea (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham), and Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).

    Salah looks to be the favorite, with his 30 league goals, but it is very close with de Bruyne.

    The two players may end up splitting the awards, given out by various organizations.

    The list for the Young Player of the Year includes Kane (who at 24 does not seem very young), Manchester City players Sane, Raheem Sterling, and Ederson Moraes, plus Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and Fulham's Ryan Sessegnon.

    Sessegnon is the first player outside of the top flight to be nominated for the award.

    WOLVERHAMPTON IS PROMOTED

    The Wolves will take one of the spots in the Premier League next season, after Fulham drew Saturday.

    Wolverhampton then went out Sunday and opened up a 12 point lead on Cardiff City, and can clinch the EFL Championship Saturday with a win over Bolton.

    This team, led by Ruben Neves and filled with talent all over the roster, should come up and immediately be competitive in the top flight.

    The battle for the second promotion spot looks likely to cmoe down to Cardiff City (83 points, 42 matches) and Fulham (82 points, 43 matches). Fulham has a 21-match unbeaten streak, but it may not be enough if Cardiff wins its game in hand.

    UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE, EUROPA MADNESS SET UP MASSIVE TIES

    Has there ever been a week of European football like we just witnessed?

    Liverpool finished off Manchester City Tuesday, with a 2-1 win, to advance into the UEFA Champions League semifinals. 

    Amazingly, Liverpool will take on Roma next (Tuesday, April 24 and Wednesday, May 2 FS1 and Fubo.tv). The Italian team came back from 4-1 down to stun Barcelona 3-0, with Kostas Manolas' goal in the 82nd minute sending the crowd inside the Stadio Olimpico into ecstasy.

    The other semifinal tie is a battle of heavyweights, with Real Madrid taking on Bayern Munich (Wednesday, April 25 and Tuesday, May 1 FS1 and Fubo.tv). Real Madrid, the two time defending champions, had to hold off Juventus with a 97th minute penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo. 

    In the Europa League, Arsenal will play Atletico Madrid in the semifinals (Thursday, April 26 and May 3), while Salzburg will take on Marseille. Salzburg came back from 4-2 down agaisnt Lazio, with a 4-1 win at home to win the tie 6-5.

    OMAZE OFFERS AMAZING FOOTBALL EXPERIENCES 

    Omaze is offering football fans a chance to see some of the biggest games left on the calendar for the 2017-18 campaign.

    The Clasico (Real Madrid at Barcelona Sunday, May 6), the F.A. Cup Final (Wembley, Saturday, May 19) and the UEFA Champions League Final (Kyiv, Saturday, May 26) are the three games that will be drawn.

    A $50 donation, which goes to the Charities Aid Foundation of America, gets you 500 entries to the drawings, and you can also fill out a single entry at the bottom of their page.

    The event closes April 23.

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean His weekly podcast, Box to Box Football, can be found on iTunes here https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/box-to-box-football/id1208561351?mt=2


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    Ed Forchion has filed a civil suit against Trenton City Clerk Dwayne Harris

    New Jersey marijuana activist Edward "NJ Weedman" Forchion is adding yet another legal battle to his list.

    Forchion has filed a civil suit against Trenton City Clerk Dwayne Harris, accusing the clerk of obstruction and bias, by preventing him from being able to collect ballot petition signatures for his campaign for mayor of Trenton.

    The election is May 8.

    The marijuana activist, who remains jailed pending trial, says he and the city clerk have been going back and forth for months on the issue of his being eligible to run for public office.

    After Forchion declared that he was running for office, he sent a letter to the city clerk asking for the proper paperwork. Harris did so and Forchion filled out the required materials, returned them to the clerk, the suit says.

    Harris then sent letter to Forchion on Jan. 11 citing a state statute statute that says those who are serving a sentence or are on parole or probation as a result of a conviction are ineligible to vote, and political candidates must be able to vote in order to run for office.

    Forchion, who was found not guilty of one count of witness tampering in November, noted he is not serving a sentence - he's being detained - and he's not on probation or on parole.

    The marijuana activist wrote back to the clerk explaining that he has not been convicted of a crime, and is currently waiting for his next trial on a witness tampering charge this spring.

    On Jan. 18 Harris agreed that Forchion was eligible to be a candidate for mayor in a phone to call to Forchion.

    N.J.'s cannabis crusader wins the right to sue, loses fight to get out of jail

    During the phone call, Harris told Forchion that "only approved 'blue' ballot signature forms distributed by his office were acceptable, no copies would be accepted or substitutions and then refused to mail or provide any "blue ballot signatures," to Forchion, the suit says.

    Forchion said his campaign manager was unable to get a copy of the petitions until Feb. 22 and then made it unable for him to get the required 390 signatures in order to get on the ballot.

    "I think Mr. Harris is wrong, just because I'm in jail doesn't mean I can't run for office," Forchion said in a phone interview from jail with NJ Advance Media.

    "He blocked me it's 100 percent his fault that we are here," the activist said.

    Forchion said he requested Harris email him copies of the petition booklets and if the clerk had done so they would not be going to court.

    A Trenton city spokesman declined to comment on the suit, as per policy not to comment on any pending litigation.

    Judge William Ankowitz held an emergency hearing on the matter April 5 and Forchion lost.

    The judge cited the late timing of this issue, the fact that it would cost approximately $100,000 to add Forchion's name to the ballots, and because Trenton is a Faulkner Act city - all of the campaign documents are available on the state's legislative website, Forchion said.

    Forchion says he plans on appealing the ruling in order to get his name on the ballot. He is still running for mayor of the city, but as a write-in candidate.

    Forchion also submitted an amended complaint of his civil suit against the city after getting approval from a distirct court judge

    He is scheduled to appear in court on tomorrow, Monday April 16, to discuss his upcoming witness tampering re-trial.

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook 


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    Trenton police are asking the public's help in finding the mother of a newborn baby left in a duffle bag on a porch Sunday afternoon.

    Trenton police are asking for the public's help in finding the mother of a newborn baby left in a duffle bag on a porch Sunday afternoon.

    The male infant, who is not more than 48 hours old, was found by residents in the western area of Trenton, Lt. David Cruz told NJ Advance Media Sunday evening.

    After residents notified authorities, the infant was taken to a local hospital where he seems to be in good health, Cruz said.

    Detectives identified the baby as being of black or Hispanic descent. 

    The baby will remain in the care of the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency as authorities continue to investigate.

    Trenton police are asking anyone with information that could help locate the child's family to call the department's tip hotline at 609-989-3663 or its detective's bureau at 609-989-4155.  

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

     

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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    Petfinder.com, where you can find nearly a quarter of a million adoptable pets listed by more than 12,000 adoption groups, offers these tips to pet owners now that spring is -- finally -- near:

    *  There will be plenty of sticks and branches on the ground after winter, and they can cause choking and severe mouth injuries to dogs. If your pet likes to chew and chase, make sure to use a tennis ball, Frisbee or other toy instead of branches.

    *  You might be doing some spring cleaning; if a pet ingests a household cleaner, don't call a human poison control center - they won't be able to help with animals. Call your vet or the ASPCA poison control hotline, 888-426-4435.

    *  Dogs can get seasonal allergies just like people ... but they manifest themselves in dogs more as skin conditions than sneezing. Check with your vet for treatment options.

    *  Flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats should be continued year-round, but even if you take a break during winter months, make sure to apply the preventatives before the weather warms up.


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