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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    Football is not coming home, after a heartbreaking ending to England's 2018 World Cup run. But for Croatia, the dream continues. After rallying from a goal down, the second smallest country to ever reach a World Cup Final will try to become just the ninth team to lift the trophy, after a third straight knockout stage extra time. RESULT...

    Football is not coming home, after a heartbreaking ending to England's 2018 World Cup run.

    But for Croatia, the dream continues. After rallying from a goal down, the second smallest country to ever reach a World Cup Final will try to become just the ninth team to lift the trophy, after a third straight knockout stage extra time.


    Croatia 2-1 England, added extra time


    Mario Mandzukic, Croatia

    After running his socks off for three straight 120-plus minute matches, the big striker came up with the biggest goal in Croatia's history. Mandzukic scored the winner in the 109th minute, and rated out at a 7.61 on

    Ivan Perisic, Croatia

    The Man of the Match with an 8.70 rating, his goal in the 68th minute turned the tide of the contest. He also hit the woodwork, and grew into the game with every minute.

    Kieran Trippier, England

    He gave England the lead with a beautifully taken free kick in the fifth minute, but his side could not make the lead hold. Rated at an 8.36 on, and left the pitch with a leg injury late.

    World Cup semifinals: Vive La France, as Les Bleus advance to final


    At this point in the 2018 World Cup, the Croatian team should be out of gas.

    Three straight extra time matches, including two that went to penalties, should have seen Croatia wear down with each minute that ticked off the clock against England.

    But as the match wore on, after a fifth minute strike gave England the lead, the Croatian midfield started to take over the contest. Perisic's goal, as he ghosted in front of Kyle Walker to find the back of the net, gave Croatia the foot hold it needed in the match.

    Both teams had chances, including Harry Kane's that bounced off the post from one yard, but it was Croatia that had double the chances of the English side, and Mandzukic finally won it.

    It is not often that the two best teams at the tournament make a final, but there is a strong argument to be made that France and Croatia are the top sides.

    Sunday, we will find out exactly where the home of the World Cup trophy will be for the next four years, until Qatar 2022.


    Belgium vs. England, 10 a.m. EDT Fox and


    Will either team care about the match, or will they both go through the motions?

    The third place match at the World Cup is usually one of the best to watch, because the pressure is off, and both teams just play.

    Both Belgium and  are filled with talent, so the contest could see some goals scored, which is usually the case.


    Belgium 3-1 England

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean His weekly podcast, Box to Box Football, can be found on iTunes here

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    The former minor league baseball player was charged for sending lewd messages to a 15-year-old, dating back to 2015, Pennsylvania police say

    A former baseball star from Burlington County faces five years of probation after he admitted to sexting a teenage girl in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, reports say.

    Ryan Doolittle(2).pngRyan Doolittle (police photo) 

    Ryan Doolittle, 30, who grew up in Tabernacle, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of corruption of minors and unlawful contact with a minor, the Bucks County Courier Times reported.

    Doolittle played in the Oakland Athletics minor league farm system for several years.

    In Bucks County court papers, the teen, when she was 15 years old and a freshman in high school, said Doolittle started texting her, starting both casual conversations and talking about sex.

    The criminal complaint in the case also states that he sent up to five explicit photos between May and September 2017. 

    The teenage girl's mother told police she became aware of the interactions because she came across a thread of messages between her daughter and Doolittle.

    Doolittle was living in Tempe, Arizona - where he'd played minor league baseball - when police were first made aware of the sexts through an anonymous tip. (The court documents show Doolittle now living in Southampton, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.) 

    In December 2017, a Tempe police detective alerted Upper Makefield, Pa. police about the tip, which alleged that Doolittle assaulted a minor.

    After receiving the anonymous tip, the Arizona detective interviewed Doolittle, who claimed he never physically touched the girl, but had made advances toward her dating back to 2015, the criminal complaint said.

    The girl said she felt betrayed, having described Doolittle as "one of my best friends."

    "It's really important to me he gets the medical help he needs, and all the proper restrictions are put on him to keep him from hurting anyone else," the girl wrote in an impact letter. 

    "I want Ryan to understand what he did is wrong and he needs to take full responsibility for it, so he can move on. The thing I care most about is that he never does this again to another kid."

    Doolittle said in court that he is "remorseful, regretful, embarrassed and ashamed" of what he did, and that the impact letter left him heartbroken, the Courier Times reported. He said he has been attending therapy and Bible study sessions, and working to stay sober from untreated sex and alcohol addictions.

    "Whenever I have these matters that involve sexting and sending pictures of genitalia, frankly, it makes me think of how I'm an old man, and how people are so stupid to think that's an acceptable way to communicate," Bucks County President Judge Jeffrey Finley said in court, according to the paper.

    Meanwhile, the girl said she hopes to move on from the situation.

    "I hope after today, I start the healing process and [get] closure to this terrible ordeal," she said.

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


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    This was the third time Leaford George Cameron was caught passing himself off as a lawyer

    Leaford George Cameron wasn't just a phony lawyer, he was a lousy phony lawyer, federal officials say.

    Cameron, 65, of Burlington, was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Wednesday following his latest conviction for running a fraudulent, multi-state law practice.

    This was the third time he was caught running the same scam, and Cameron, who has never been a licensed attorney, was still on probation following a 2014 conviction for the same crime when he was busted again.

    In the latest case, he defrauded more than 100 victims from several states and foreign countries and pocketed nearly $200,000 in attorney's fees.

    His clients/victims included many immigrants and low-income residents. One of his clients saw his home foreclosed upon and a National Honor Society student was wrongfully deported, the feds said.

    "The evidence presented at trial proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this defendant was not only a phony lawyer, but also an incompetent phony lawyer," said U.S. Attorney William McSwain, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. 

    "Lawyers take an oath to uphold and promote the rule of law, not subvert it. Far from a guardian of the law, Cameron is a crook whose fraud caused serious harm to his victims and the public's trust in our legal institutions," he said.

    Cameron went all out to fool the courts and his clients, calling his firm either  "The Law Offices of Cameron, Hamilton and Associates" or "The Law Offices of Bernstein, Cameron, Hamilton and Associates."

    He used fake law partner names, business cards, letterhead and stolen attorney identification numbers from real Pennsylvania lawyers when filing court documents. He covered his tracks when filing his taxes by referring to himself as a "consultant" or "litigation specialist," rather than using the term lawyer, authorities said.

    Cameron was convicted in February on one count of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.

    In addition to time behind bars, he will serve three years of supervised release once free.

    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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    Women deemed "high risk" of a child dying before age 1 are most often poor, lack health insurance, are victims of domestic violence, diagnosed with addiction and other mental health issues, or lack family support.

    A black infant born in New Jersey is three times more likely to die before age 1 than a white baby -- a "shameful" fact the Murphy administration said Wednesday it wants to change by investing $4.7 million in medical and community programs.

    Targeting "high-risk" communities and families across the state, six nonprofit organizations will share $4.3 million to implement programs working with pregnant and postpartum mothers, according to an announcement from First Lady Tammy Murphy and Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal.

    The nonprofits will deploy health workers to monitor high-risk families and connect them with local and county public health programs. The New Jersey Department of Children and Families, which promotes safe sleep education and provides home-visitation programs, will also collaborate, according to the announcement.

    Every year, approximately 60 infants die from unsafe sleeping conditions, including half of those who share a bed with an adult or another child, according to an NJ Advance Media investigation. 

    New Jersey's infant mortality rate is among the lowest in the nation, with 4.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to national rate of 5.9 death per 1,000 live births. But the disparity between white (3.0 per 1,000 births) and black infants (9.7 per 1,000 births) is "alarming," Murphy said.

    "Through the Healthy Women, Healthy Families Initiative, Dr. Elnahal and the Department of Health are working to help community-based programs improve services and provide quality access to perinatal care to reduce disparities in birth outcomes," Tammy Murphy said.

    "I find it shameful that race persists as a factor in maternal health and infant mortality rates in New Jersey. We must continue to address the need for greater access to quality healthcare and services for our expectant mothers, especially for women of color," the first lady's announcement said.

    Black infants in N.J. are dying at an alarming rate

    Women deemed "high risk" of a child dying before age 1 are most often poor, lack health insurance, are victims of domestic violence, diagnosed with addiction and other mental health issues, or lack family support. 

    Black women also are more than four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related complications as white women, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department. 

    The state awarded:

    • $1,241,389 to The Partnership for Maternal & Child Health of Northern New Jersey;
    • $684,904 to Central Jersey Family Health Consortium;
    • $770,517 to the Greater Newark Healthcare Coalition, Inc.;
    • $171,226 to Project Self-Sufficiency of Sussex County;
    • $1,112,969 to the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative;
    • $299,646 to The Children's Home Society of New Jersey;
    • $280,000 for Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (SPAN) to implement a doula pilot program in Newark;
    • $120,000 for the Trenton doula program by Children's Futures;
    • $50,000 to monitor the effectiveness of the doula program. 

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


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    Prayers have been answered for successful rescue of soccer team trapped in Thailand cave.

    Pray Meh is from Burma, Thailand's neighbor, and among more than two dozen Thai-Burmese congregation members at the First Baptist Church of Trenton (FBCT).

    She and others at the church say their prayers were answered earlier this week with the safe rescue of the Thai Wild Boars soccer team and their coach from the flooded Tham Luan Nang Non cave complex in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

    Many of the Thai-Burmese worshippers at FBCT say the team's saga affected them, and their fellow congregants, because of their Christian beliefs to show love to humanity and community.

    "They are very-loving people, and so when anything happens in their country they are affected because they are a family-oriented people," Rev. Nadir Powell said.

    So, while the Thai navy SEALS were preparing for their dramatic rescue efforts inside the cave, the congregation - like many around the world - prayed for a safe and timely rescue.

    They stayed upbeat with a trip to Six Flags' Great Adventures with Rev. Powell, who thought the trip would help them cope.

    "Of course when I found out that they found the boys I was really happy," said Christal Hla. "I was happy that everyone was alive. But one of the rescuers died in that cave, and that's sad. "

    The comments were nearly all similar. They were very prayerful and faithful even though they understood the rescue would be treacherous.

    Martha Hla also said she was worried about the situation, and was hoping they will make it out safely. She believed God would show a miracle.

    Kahmiya Win also praised the diver who died while trying to help the boys and their coach. "It's sad that one passed away. But he...gave his life helping others."

    Rev. Powell said some of the Thai and Burmese at the church have experienced religious persecution for being Christians in their homelands.

    "Most of them who come here are already a part of the body of Christ," said Rev. Powell. "So they come and want to serve, and they just want to do God's work. They are praying people."

    Follow on Twitter @njdotcom. Find on Facebook.

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    The 25-year-old is charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

    The Ewing High School teacher who was arrested after allegedly kissing and sending nude photographs to a male student has been fired by the district.

    Ewing Township School Superintendent Michael Nitti confirmed Wednesday that Chelsea Hahn, 25, is no longer employed by the district.

    She had been suspended and banned from school grounds since June 1, the day school officials notified Ewing Township police of allegations of child endangerment.

    Ewing police wrote in Hahn's criminal complaint that she kissed a 17-year-old boy on the lips in her classroom and sent him messages including nude photographs of herself and asking to have sex. 

    Hahn has been charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child by engaging in "sexual conduct which impaired or debauched the morals" of the student.

    She described herself in online profiles as a long-term substitute English teacher at the high school since April 2017.

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

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    Parks and other public spaces offer important quality-of-life experiences for people in cities like Trenton, where a patch of green space or a public pool or even just a bench can make a difference. Watch video

    From his perch 137 feet above the Trenton Battle Monument, George Washington can see the park below has lost some of its bloom.

    But that is about to change, thanks to a planned $200,000 overhaul project that former Mayor Eric Jackson says will "completely transform" the small strip of a park that is wedged between North Broad and North Warren streets at the Five Points section of the city.

    Architect Randy Baum has designed a plan that aims to combine the various historic, aesthetic and green space elements of the downtown community park.

    The initial phase of the project includes repairing fences, removing wilted plants and hedges that will be replaced with trees and evergreen shrubs, pruning and feeding of existing trees, and restoration and replacement of curbing.

    A second phase will expand the physical footprint of the park to the Delaware & Raritan Canal.

    But what is most noteworthy about the project is that it is being funded not with taxpayers' money but by the West Trenton-based NJM Insurance Group, which is donating the funds in memory of Caren Franzini, the former CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and a long-time champion of revitalizing urban centers such as downtown Trenton. Franzini died in January 2017.

    Trenton's Battle Monument park gets $200K cash infusion

    Parks and other public spaces offer important quality-of-life experiences for people in cities like Trenton, where a patch of green space or a public pool or even just a bench can make a difference.

    But keeping parks in good order involves constant maintenance and that is a big burden for the city.

    That's why it is so important for the city to have a cadre of volunteers and private financial supporters to offset the costs of keeping the city's parks and public spaces serviceable and inviting.

    Back in 2015, NJM joined other corporate, academic and philanthropic organizations in the formation of Greater Trenton, an independent nonprofit that seeks to leverage private funds to promote economic development and revitalization projects in Trenton's downtown.

    We have to salute groups like Greater Trenton and the Trenton Downtown Association and individual volunteers who give a boost to the heart of the city.

    Now, it would be nice to have a benefactor who can foot the bill to repair the long-broken elevator at the Battle Monument.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.


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    But it was Bernie Williams, the four-time world champion with the Yankees, that stole the pregame show. Watch video

    Everywhere you looked on Wednesday, there were stars on show at Arm & Hammer Park.

    For the third time in team history, the Trenton Thunder hosted an All-Star Game. After the 1996 Double A game, and the 2009 Eastern League showcase, the 2018 Eastern League All-Star Game returned to Trenton as part of the 25th anniversary season celebrations.

    It was not just the players and top prospects on the field, who were there to represent their respective teams, that lit up the stadium. There were ex-players of various sports (Vince Papale, of the Philadelphia Eagles and "Invincible" fame, threw out a first football), but most were from the baseball world. 

    Ken Griffey Sr. and Carlos Pena, of the 2008 American League champion Tampa Bay Rays, were honorary managers. But it was Bernie Williams, the four-time world champion with the Yankees, that stole the pregame show, along with Binghamton Rumble Ponies outfielder Tim Tebow.

    Expo preview

    Williams was in attendance to play the National Anthem before the contest, but also to help bring awareness to the rare lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which claimed the life of William's father Bernabe in 2001.

    After the game, the ninth largest crowd in franchise history helped set a new Guinness World Record for most people blowing a chewing gum bubble simultaneously, as part of the "Breathless Blowout" campaign.

    "I am involved in trying to raise awareness for the disease that took my dad's life away, IPF," Williams said. "A lot of my connection with this game has to do with that. We are going to honor all the people that are suffering with this disease by trying to break the Guinness World Record for most amount of people blowing a bubble at the same time.

    "Our website is, for all the people that think they have the disease, or have it, to give them some information about the disease."

    Williams got involved with music around the same time he found baseball, and he has continued his musical career long after his time with the Yankees ended.

    He has played the anthem at other games, but it is never something that is an easy thing for Williams.

    "It is always hard," Williams said."There is no opportunity to make it a second time. You have the first chance to make the impression. It has to be perfect, because it is such a recognizable tune.

    "Obviously the political, social, and cultural attachment that this important song has, you don't want to mess it up. You want to do it perfectly, and as good as your ability may allow you to."

    Thunder players ready for special 2018 Eastern League All-Star Game

    The game ended in a 4-4 tie, but the Western Division went down as the winner after a special home run derby. Altoona's Will Craig outscored Reading's Zach Green 305-275 to bring home the title for the Western All-Stars.

    Tebow spoke four-plus hours before the contest to a large group of media, about his season, which now includes a double in an All-Star Game. He never thought he would end up back in Trenton for the showcase event, but he deserved to be there: Tebow is hitting .270, and has seven multi-hit games since June 1, when his hot streak began.

    "No sir, not really," Tebow said. "That was never a thought process for me. I think for me, my thought process was just the things I have been working on, and really trying to be able to make some tweaks to really be able to lock in those fundamentals.

    "I am just trying to improve, and continue to stay focused on the process that I have since I started this endeavor. It is just little things at the plate: hand positions, relaxing, getting your front foot down, different things in the games. 

    "I think it was a great honor, and something that I really appreciated. I appreciate being here with all of these great players, and it is definitely something that I am thankful for, and it means a lot. I will take this in as a great honor." 

     Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean

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    Baseball standout, recording artist and humanitarian returns to Trenton with a mission/ Watch video

    You never know what you're going to get at the playing of the Star Spangled Banner at a sporting event these days.

    On Wednesday night, New York Yankee great Bernie Williams returned to Trenton, where he played a handful of games, to perform the National Anthem to kick off the Eastern League All-Star game at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, home of the host Trenton Thunder.

    He did so like's he's done during other appearances - on guitar

    Williams is a recording artist and Latin Grammy nominee.

    In a pregame interview, Williams said he wasn't planning to jazz up the anthem. "Well, I don't really wanna mess with that. There's a lot of things I mess with in my music career. The anthem will never be one of those."

    Expo preview

    True to his word, he delivered a soulful but straightforward interpretation punctuated by an occasional tasteful embellishment, ending with an inspired bluesy run on the last note.

    Earlier in the night, Williams also threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

    He was also in attendance in support of the Breathless campaign to raise awareness of IPF (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis) a rare lung disease that is often misdiagnosed and affects up to 132,000 Americans.

    The disease claimed the life of his father.

    As a member of four World Series championship teams, Williams holds the Major League record with 80 postseason runs batted in across 121 career playoff games.

    Thunder players ready for special 2018 Eastern League All-Star Game

    Michael Mancuso may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @michaelmancuso, Instagram @michaelmancuso and Facebook @michaelmancuso
    Follow on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

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    Baseball, softball, professional, amateur - the roots are strong in New Jersey.

    With Major League Baseball's All-Star Game approaching, here's a look at hitting the ball and touching 'em all in New Jersey.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    And here are some other vintage photo galleries you might like:

    Vintage photos of summer eats and treats in N.J.

    Vintage photos of amusement parks, circuses, fairs and rides in N.J.

    Vintage photos of famous folks spotted 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. Institute of Social Justice: Generational discord, trauma, and conflict have undermined the relationship between law enforcement and the community. This must change. Watch video

    By Andrea McChristian

    Fifty-one years ago today, the Newark Rebellion was sparked by police abuse of a black cab driver. At that time, the police force was overwhelmingly white in a city with a substantial black population. Newark residents took to the streets to protest law enforcement abuse and the oppressive conditions under which they had been forced to live. 

    Fifty-one years later, and on the second anniversary of the Newark Police Division Consent Decree, this story of policing is part of a broader national conversation. 

    In today's America, on any given day, there is another police-involved shooting. Another unarmed black person. Another failure to indict the officer responsible. The tragic shooting of black people, from city to city, has become our status quo.

    In the face of this endless wave of violence, numerous solutions have been advanced to stem the tide. More policies and practices! Better training! Increased oversight! Transparent accountability! 

    But underlying this discussion are two threshold questions: Who polices? And what does it mean to police?

    A constant refrain that I have heard time and time again in response to this second question is that "the police are a paramilitary force." 

    Instead of seeing New Jersey police departments as agencies that treat communities as enemy combatants in war, how do we instead build a relationship of trust between law enforcement and the communities it serves?  

    To that point, much has been made of the concept of community policing. According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, community policing is "a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime."

    Yet, to me, community policing is so much more. A true vision for community policing is one in which, far from being a paramilitary force, law enforcement joins together in partnership with the community; police officers are held accountable for their misconduct; and there is a recognition of the historic broken relationship between law enforcement and the community in building the way forward.

    In short, effective community policing must bring together law enforcement and the community to problem solve and strengthen understanding. And it would stand to reason that ensuring law enforcement represents the community it serves would be of paramount interest in carrying out these goals.

    New Jersey has significant work to do in this area. A 2015 Governing report found that New Jersey police departments are characterized by some of the greatest underrepresentation of people of color vis-a-vis communities served among the country's largest police departments. And a 2017 survey assessment of 1,050 Newark Police Division officers and 42 non-officers found that 37.9 precent identified as black in a city that is 50.2 percent black; even more stark, 40 percent of those surveyed identified as white, while just 24.4 percent of Newark is white.

    Importantly, the work to create a community policing model cannot be done until law enforcement agencies first grapple with the harsh reality that generational discord, trauma, and conflict have undermined the relationship between law enforcement and the community. Police must take a step back and listen to what the community wants and needs. What they need to police. Who they want to police. And why they should police.

    But what could such a community policing model look like in practice?

    First, law enforcement agencies should look to the community to put forth recommendations on potential recruits from their own neighborhoods. Since community members are the ones policed, they are in the ideal position to recommend which of their own members would do the job well. In addition to the selection of potential recruits, community members can also be asked their top priorities for policing in the neighborhood -- a dialogue that should ultimately frame policing strategy.

    In this way, community members have ownership over the policing of their communities, increasing police legitimacy and community-police relations. Law enforcement agencies should also commit themselves to funding and implementing these community recommendations.  

    And second, to supplement these community proposals, law enforcement agencies must do more to increase community recruitment, including by developing positive relationships with local schools to identify students who exhibit the necessary skills to become effective and respected officers, strengthening mentoring opportunities between current officers from the local community and potential recruits, and providing comprehensive support and resources to prepare local applicants for the civil service exam and any other requirements. 

    With this, we can eventually reach a point where the police are unequivocally and uniformly not a paramilitary force policing the community.  Instead, they will be the community. 

    Andrea McChristian is Associate Counsel at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. 

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.


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    Pork roll? Taylor ham? Whatever it is, it's iconic. Watch video

    Is it Taylor ham? Is it pork roll? Who knows. We do know it's delicious. And the tasty, tangy breakfast meat has been called the most iconic food from the great state of New Jersey.

    The Daily Meal recently released a list of the most iconic food from every state. And while New Jersey has countless amazing foods, it's hard to argue about the choice of Taylor ham/pork roll as the best representative of signature Jersey cuisine.

    "New Jersey is obsessed with the pork roll," the article notes. "Also known as Taylor ham, the pork roll was reportedly invented in 1856 by John Taylor and is made of salty minced pork meat. Somewhere between Canadian bacon and normal bacon, this crispy yet soft take on ham is most popularly eaten with egg and cheese on a bagel for breakfast."

    Someone needs to tell the Daily Meal that Taylor ham/pork roll is best enjoyed on a roll, not a bagel, but they get the gist of it. The fact that they referred to it as pork roll before acknowledging its formal name, Taylor ham? A little more problematic. But they got the food itself right, and that's what really counts.

    Other foods that made the list include chimichangas from Arizona, Rocky Mountain oysters from Colorado and Connecticut's New Haven pizza. Star Tavern in Orange is still better than the latter, but we'll give our neighbors to the north a little credit. At least we're not Delaware, which was represented by scrapple, or Hawaii, which made the list with Spam.

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find on Facebook.


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    Did the police have a right to be at the U.S. Army veteran's home?

    Leonard Cottrell Jr. fought on the front lines in the Iraq War. Now, he feels he's fighting the frontlines at home in New Jersey for the right to bear arms.

    Cottrell, 40, said he was working at Wawa on June 14 when he got a call from his wife around 9:30 p.m. that two police officers from the New Jersey State Police's Hamilton station were at the doorstep of his Millstone home.

    The troopers, who patrol this sprawling Monmouth County township, were there, he said, because his 13-year-old son had made a comment at school about the Millstone Middle School's security, and the officers wanted to confiscate Cottrell's firearms as part of an investigation.

    Cottrell, a disabled U.S. Army veteran who served three tours during "Operation Iraqi Freedom," owns a shotgun and a pistol. He has all the correct permits to own the firearms, he said, and predominately uses the shotgun to hunt.

    He said his wife allowed the officers to enter the home, and with her permission, they searched his son's room -- but they did not find any weapons, he said. The officers, he said, didn't have a warrant but still wanted to take his guns. Cottrell wouldn't let them.  

    "No one from the state was going to take my firearms without due process," he said Thursday.

    He said the attempted seizure resulted because of a new law Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law that makes it easier for police to confiscate guns when someone in the state poses a threat to themselves or others. The law is part of a broader statewide effort to make New Jersey's gun laws even tougher amid the national outcry for more gun control in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

    The U.S. Secret Service said Thursday that schools around the country should establish teams to evaluate potential threats and encourage students to report troubling behavior.

    "Snitching is informing on someone for personal gain," the Secret Service said. But students should come forward "when they are worried about a friend who is struggling or when they are trying to keep someone from getting hurt."

    Cottrell said the officers "danced around the issue" when he confronted them about the new law. 

    A New Jersey State Police spokesman declined to answer questions about whether this incident had anything to do with the new gun laws.

    In an email, Sgt. First Class Jeff Flynn said, "Troopers responded to Mr. Cottrell's residence in reference to the report of a possible school threat. Based on their investigation, it was determined that Mr. Cottrell's weapons did not need to be seized."

    Cottrell said he was able to work out a deal with the officers that he would remove the guns from his house and keep them outside until the investigation concluded.

    His son was not allowed to return to school and was barred from attending graduation, he said.

    Millstone school officials did not return a request for comment.

    "He's upset," Cottrell said of his son. "He didn't do anything wrong, and he doesn't understand why it happened - he was just having a conversation with nothing as far as threats. It shouldn't have blown up the way it did. But he understands it happened, there are consequences and there's fallout from his actions."

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

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    The players signed for hours, with lines that wrapped all the way around the concourse in both directions.

    If you have ever been to a Trenton Thunder game, you will have seen the people milling about the walk around Arm & Hammer Park both pre and post-game.

    Many of them have binders, filled with pictures or baseball cards. They are there to get the signatures of future major leaguers, before the players may or may not become big name stars known to all fans.

    While the 2018 All-Star Game was a fun time for the players involved, it was also a huge event for the so called "autograph hounds". There were many people that traveled from as far as the players, just for the chance to have the players sign some memorabilia.

    The Thunder also had tables set up on the dugouts Wednesday, and the players signed for hours, with lines that wrapped all the way around the concourse in both directions.

    Damien Quinones was one of the people that showed up many hours before the team buses pulled up Tuesday night. He came from Reading, which was one of the shorter trips fro the out of area fans.

    "We go pretty far," Quinones said. "We go to Harrisburg, we come up here to Trenton, we go to Scranton, we go to Lehigh. I take my son around. It is a nice little hobby for us.

    Quinones gets pictures, called edits, made up from someone, and brings them to the games.

    "We get pictures made up, called edits," Quinones said. "I know a guy, and he makes up some nice pictures for us. We go and get them autographed. The ones here are the Pirates (Altoona Curve). It is Cole Tucker, Ke'Bryan Hayes (son of ex-Yankees player Charlie Hayes), and Will Craig. Two out of the three are going to be in the All-Star Game this week.

    "This is the first time we have done the All-Star Game, but it is all the main guys from every team. With Reading, we will go to every game. But now, it is all the main guys all grouped together. It is a pretty big thing."

    Quinones and his son stayed for the Home Run Derby Tuesday, and it has become a way for him to get his son more involved in the sport.

    "I did autographing as a kid, and it gets you more involved in the game," Quinones said. "We started it three years ago. He got a foul ball, and got it autographed. It went from that, to a team set of cards, to getting pictures. It is a nice little father son hobby."

    Bernie Williams, Tim Tebow, and many prospects headline EL All-Star Game

    Griffin Guardala came up from Maryland with his father for the event.

    "We go to Bowie, and the Frederick Keys," Guardala said. "It is mostly my dad, because I am in school. I am a big baseball fan, so this is nice to see. My dad is a big Yankees' fan."

    For Megan Lamberson, the event was more of a celebration of the team she often watches. 

    The Bridgewater resident comes to see the Thunder play regularly with her father, and enjoys getting the players to sign for her.

    "It started when I was little," Lamberson said. "We always went to games. As I got older, it just got bigger. I am a Yankees' fan. We are here every weekend. 

    "It is good to see all the other people here today. When everyone is coming together like this, with all the best people from different teams, it is cool.

    "I come here to get the autographs, and to Reading as well, with the Phillies. My dad is a diehard baseball fan, so I have been doing this my whole life. Since I was born, it was baseball."

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean

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    The witness called police, who responded to the scene and administered Narcan to revive the victim.

    A man was indicted Thursday after a grand jury found he abandoned a man who had overdosed on heroin and needed help.

    A witness spotted Peter Baron Jr., 35, get out of his car on Bartram Road in Evesham around 11 a.m. on Oct. 17, 2017, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a statement.

    Baron allegedly carried the man who had overdosed to the foyer of a home before fleeing, without calling for medical attention.

    The witness contacted Evesham Township Police, whose officers showed up and revived the victim with multiple doses of Narcan, the opioid overdose remedy.

    "Remember this phrase: 'Don't run, call 911,'" Coffina said. "There is no acceptable reason for anyone who witnesses an overdose to fail to seek help for the person who is suffering. The victim in this case was extremely fortunate that police were alerted and effectively utilized their training to save his life." 

    Under the 2013 Overdose Prevention Act, also known as the Good Samaritan law, people who call 911 to report overdoses are immune from arrest and prosecution for drug possession or usage. The law also protects someone who calls about their own overdose.

    An arraignment was being scheduled for Baron in Burlington County Superior Court.

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

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    Garden State Equality, a leading LGBTQ advocacy organization, celebrated the passage of the laws, noting that they bring our state into line with others having similar laws in place. Watch video

    You probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about your birth certificate, the first legal recognition of you as an individual and the document you need when you're applying for a passport, a marriage license and often a job.

    But what if that piece of paper does not accurately reflect who you are?

    Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed a package of bills creating a welcome layer of protection and rights for the estimated 30,100 transgender people living in New Jersey.

    One of the measures allows people who have undergone a change in gender to obtain amended birth certificates without proof of surgery, in essence removing a 35-year-old law requiring a transgender person to submit medical records showing that reassignment surgery had taken place.

    The new law recognizes that some transgender persons opt for hormone therapy rather than surgery as they transition.

    "By enacting this legislation, we acknowledge nonsurgical transitioning, which usually includes physical, psychological, social and emotional changes," said Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex), a co-sponsor of the bill now known as the Babs Siperstein Law.

    Murphy signs laws protecting transgender rights 

    Siperstein, a tireless activist for LGBTQ rights and the first elected transgender member of the Democratic National Committee, is widely credited with advocating for the legislation.

    Twice a so-called "Birth Certificate Bill" came achingly close to reality, finding wide support among state legislators. Twice it was vetoed by former Gov. Chris Christie.

    Siperstein, political and legislative director for the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey, called the veto "arbitrary, capricious and designed to harm transgender people, who are the most vulnerable among LGBT New Jerseyans."

    The Edison resident doesn't use the term "vulnerable" lightly. The 1.4 million transgender people living in the United States live with the near-constant reality of discrimination and hatred.

    Last year, more than two dozen transgender Americans were killed as a result of that irrational hate. The Centers for Disease Control also reports that 41 percent of all transgender adults have attempted suicide at one point in their lives.

    In addition to requiring the state Registrar of Vital Statistics to issue amended birth certificates, one of the bills Murphy signed the week we celebrated the nation's independence allows someone planning a funeral for a transgender person to request that the death certificate reflect the person's identity.

    A third law establishes a transgender equality task force whose members - government officials, community leaders, and experts in law, medicine and police - will study issues that affect members of the transgender community here and elsewhere.

    Garden State Equality, a leading LGBTQ advocacy organization, celebrated the passage of the laws, noting that they bring our state into line with others having similar laws in place.

    They also fulfill a promise Murphy made during his campaign, giving transgender state residents the basic human right to control the information that informs their lives - and their deaths.

    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.

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    The dogs were recovered on Thursday and taken to EASEL Animal Rescue Shelter and Adoption Center. Watch video

    Twenty-five dogs have been rescued from a Ewing home, where it is believed they were being kept for over a year, officials said.

    The dogs were recovered on Thursday and taken to EASEL Animal Rescue Shelter and Adoption Center. All of the dogs have been given a health check by a veterinarian, and some are receiving further treatment.

    Some of the animals, who have been given clean bills of health, are now being fostered by local volunteers until they can be adopted. The rest of dogs will be under the care of EASEL, a no-kill shelter, until they can find their forever homes.

    The homeowner who originally had the dogs is currently being investigated by the Ewing Animal Control and the health department, officials said.

    If she cooperates with the investigation, the homeowner may be eligible to regain ownership of five dogs, said Ewing Business Administrator James P. McManimon, who had knowledge of the situation.

    The dogs are a variety of ages, and are all small in stature. At least one of the dogs rescued is pregnant.

    "EASEL does a great job...looking after in need in the area, and we are very fortunate to have a good working relationship with them," McManimon said. 

    This is at least the second instance of animal hoarding discovered in the Garden State this week. On Monday, at least 172 cats were rescued from a Wantage home and taken to St. Hubert's Animal Shelter. 

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find on Facebook

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    Devyn Bolasky continued his torrid campaign, after he missed the first two months on the DL.

    After hosting the 2018 Eastern League All-Star Game, the Thunder were right back on the field Thursday night, with four games against the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

    Trenton (50-39 coming into Friday) opened the series with a 2-1 win, buoyed by a walk-off wild pitch, and now sit at the top of the Eastern Division standings by a half game over New Hampshire.

    Sitting 6.5 games back are two teams, Binghamton and Hartford, who are both two games under .500 at 43-45.

    Once the four-game set with the Flying Squirrels wraps up Sunday, the Thunder will play their next 11 games, and 22 overall until the end of the campaign, against the three teams chasing them in the standings.

    Caleb Frare and James Reeves, two of Trenton's All-Star selections, know how important it is to jump quickly back into the regular season games, after a short three-day break that the players not involved in the All-Star festivities had.

    "I think you have to flip that switch pretty quickly," Reeves said. "I think we are a half game ahead of New Hampshire, so we are right there in the hunt. You don't want to be complacent coming off the break, so we need to come out and flip that switch."

    Frare, who went into the All-Star break as arguably the top reliever in the Eastern League, would rather have kept playing regular season games.

    "I don't really like the All-Star break, to be honest," Frare said. "I would rather keep playing. I don't like the three days off. I am actually very happy that I was selected an All-Star, because I got to play for two extra days.

    "I got to do stuff for two extra days, instead of sitting at my apartment, just hanging out. I got to come out here to this beautiful field, and shag."

    Eastern League All-Star Game draws autograph hounds from all over


    This is the third trip of the season to Arm & Hammer Park for Richmond, which is something that does not often occur. But with the unbalanced schedule throwing up different matchups each season, area Giants' fans get a chance to see their farm team much more than usual this year.

    Trenton had scored at least six runs in each of its last 10 victories before Thursday night's 2-1 win.

    After Sunday, the Thunder head to New Hampshire for four games, including a double header Tuesday that includes the resumption of a suspended game from April 29. They then head to Binghamton for four with Tim Tebow and the Rumble Ponies, to end the eight-game road trip.

    Trenton will return to Arm & Hammer Park for three with Hartford Monday July 23-Wednesday July 25, and will follow that up with four home games with Portland.

    That seven-game home stand is the longest remaining on the schedule. The Thunder play just nine games at home in August.

    Trenton will take on Altoona for three August 7-9, and will play three with New Hampshire and Hartford August 17-21. The final day of August brings Reading in to end the regular season, before a potential playoff series which would begin the first week of September.

    Devyn Bolasky continued his torrid campaign, after he missed the first two months on the DL.

    The outfielder is hitting .384 (38-for-99) with 14 runs scored, since his return June 10. In 26 games, he has 10 multi-hit games, and four games with three or more hits. Bolasky's return at the top of the lineup has coincided with the Trenton offensive explosion.

    Contact Sean Miller at Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean

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    David Peterson's penchant for thievery was feeding a drug habit

    David Peterson had a good summer of 2017 - as a thief.

    The Trenton resident seemed to have perfected hauling expensive power tools out of home improvement stores in lower Bucks County, Pa. without paying for them, and then getting them and himself into a waiting car before store security or arriving cops could catch him.

    Every few days, from May to September, Peterson struck. Chain saws, generators, leaf blowers and weed wackers - sometimes two at a time.

    David Peterson(2) copy.jpgDavid Peterson 

    He was so consistent, store loss prevention officers got to know him and his methods by sight. After a theft, when the rolled back security video footage, they knew within seconds it was him, court papers say.

    By September, he'd done over 30 heists, stolen over $20,000 in loot, and had a growing pile of warrants for his arrest from several police agencies.

    Now he's paying for it in prison time.

    Peterson, 36, admitted in Bucks County court Wednesday to his summer of shoplifting. A judge sentenced him to 18 months to 5 years in prison.

    Bucks Judge Jeffrey L. Finley wondered aloud how many times Peterson stole and didn't get caught, the Bucks County Courier Times reported.

    "You're a career criminal. It's what you do," Finley told Peterson, the paper reported. "You're a professional."

    The sentence will run consecutive to a five-year term he's already serving in New Jersey for a robbery in Delran in 2016, records show. (He was sentenced for that in December of last year.)

    Peterson told the judge he pawned the stolen goods, usually at a shop in Bordentown, which he said paid him about half the retail price if they were in their original packaging, the Courier Times reported. He said the shop has since closed.

    He needed the cash, Peterson said in court, to feed a Percocet addiction that spiraled out of control after his mother's death. "I never thought it would happen to me," the paper reported.

    When Peterson gets out of prison, he'll have to begin making payments of at least $100 a month toward the $20,518 in restitution he owes.

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


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    Don't feel bad about your low Twitter follower count -- these New Jersey celebrities may have had inflated totals because of bots. Now they're losing them.

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