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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    Dogs and cats at shelters await adoption.

    Holmdel volunteer wins international award in dog photography competition

    The Kennel Club in London recently announced the winners of its annual Dog Photographer of the Year competition with Sonya Kolb of Holmdel selected as the winner of the competition's "Rescue Dog" category.


    The award comes with a PS500 prize for the charity of the winner's choice. Kolb has chosen to donate the money to the Monmouth County SPCA, where she has been taking photos for seven years.

    The dog in Kolb's winning photograph is rescue dog Cooper, whose family adopted him after their first rescue dog tragically died before they had even brought him home.

    "I am extremely grateful to have won the Rescue category in the Dog Photographer of the Year competition," said Kolb. "I can remember every second of this photo shoot as if it were yesterday. This image reveals what is so important in life - our emotional connections with others. Dogs fulfill our deepest emotional needs, giving us so freely an abundance of love, comfort and joy. I love creating images that spread happiness and connect us heart to heart, hand to paw, with our most positive emotions."

    Monica van der Maden from the Netherlands was chosen overall winner of the competition with an image of Noa the Great Dane which placed first in the "Oldies" category. The other first place category winners were:

        Elinor Roizman, Israel, "Dogs at Play";
        Klaus Dyber, Germany, "Puppy";
        Carol Durrant, the UK, "Portrait";
        Tracy Kidd, the UK, "Dogs at Work";
        Joana Matos, Portugal, "Man's Best Friend";
        Dean Mortimer, the UK, "Assistance Dogs";
        Tamara Kedves, Hungary, "I Love Dogs Because...";
        Mariah Mobley (age 11), United States, "Young Pup Photographer"

    All of the winning images plus the photos that placed second and third for each category will be on display at the Kennel Club in London from through Oct. 5. To view all the winning images, go to

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

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    At this firearms buyback, you can even get cash if they do not fire

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    Here are the 30-best boys soccer games coming up this week.

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    The N.J. student who asked Rep. Chris Smith about gay adoptions isn't backing down.

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    Who still has an unbeaten streak alive in the state ? NJ Advance Media takes a look.

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    The district said students may have come in contact with the hepatitis A infection on campus.

    Parents at a Mercer County high school are being warned that students at Nottingham High School in Hamilton may have been exposed to hepatitis A.

    In a letter sent Friday to the families of Nottingham students and posted on the school's website, the Hamilton Township School District said that the department of health was "notified that your child may have been exposed to hepatitis A infection." 

    The letter is absent details as to how the infection came to the school, but Jeffrey Plunkett, the director of Hamilton's Department of Health, Recreation, Senior & Veterans Services, said two students were diagnosed with the virus.  

    They are out of school until a doctor confirms they have been symptom-free for 24 hours, he said. 

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    Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver, caused by the hepatitis A virus. Most people are vaccinated by their pediatricians, and are not at serious risk of contracting the virus, which is spread through close personal contact or by eating or drinking contaminated foods and liquids. 

    While hepatitis A does not cause permanent liver damage, it can result in serious illness lasting several months

    "It's a contained group," Plunkett said, explaining that the outbreak isn't as concerning as another the township saw in late 2014, when an employee and several customers at Rosa's Restaurant and Catering were diagnosed with hepatitis A

    "That was completely different because it's a public eating establishment where we had no idea who was in the restaurant," he said. That "turned that into a pretty major event."  

    One of the students attended summer camp in Medford, and the camp and attendees have been notified of the risk as well, Plunkett added. He declined to identify the camp. 

    The letter urges parents to contact their child's doctor to determine if they have been vaccinated, and to seek the vaccination if their children are not currently protected. 

    "Local and state health officials believe that the chance of your children becoming ill is small," the letter states. 

    Nottingham is one of three high schools in the Hamilton Township School District and has an enrollment of around 1,200 students.

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find on Facebook

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    He was unmasked and caught on the bank's security system

    Hamilton Township Police are asking for the public's help to identify an unmasked man they say robbed a bank Monday morning. 

    The man entered the Santander Bank on South Broad Street in Hamilton Township Monday at about 9 a.m., police said, and slid a note to a bank clerk demanding money. 

    The man threatened that he had a gun, the clerk told police, but did not show that he had one.

    He fled the bank on foot, and police did not disclose how much, if any, money he absconded with. 

    Police described the suspect as a white male in his late 20s or early 30s who had a short mustache and goatee.

    They also said he was wearing a black Nike hoodie and was carrying a blue and gray backpack. 

    Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Hamilton Detective Matthew Donovan at 609-689-5824 or the Hamilton Police Crime Tip Hotline at 609-581-4008.

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

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    Gary Taylor was honored with the Lifetime Service Award

    It didn't take long to honor Gary Taylor as one of the best.

    The recently retired head coach at Rider University was inducted into the New Jersey Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame during a banquet Sunday at The Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village in Plainsboro.

    He received a Lifetime Service Award, one of six men to be honored. 

    Taylor coached the Broncs 39 years, leading Rider to numerous top 20 national rankings while coaching 15 individuals to All-American status, 173 national qualifiers, 110 individual conference champions and 14 team conference championships. His 442 dual meet wins rank him among the top five in Division I.

    He became the seventh member with Mercer County ties to be inducted into the New Jersey chapter. Included are former Princeton University coach John Johnson, former Rider All-American Francis Dunn, former Rider head coach Barry Burtnett, former College of New Jersey head coach Dave Icenhower, former Rider wrestler Ken Bernabe, and former Rider and Princeton coach Chet Dalgewicz.

    Taylor's last season as head coach was 2016-17.

    "It's certainly humbling, and it's certainly exciting to be put into a category with the others being inducted,'' he said.

    However, as he was quoted a couple of years ago, "Trophies, I don't get too excited about any of that. Those young people are trophies. When you see how they've developed and matured, that means a lot to me.''

    Beginning with the first class in 2001, 120 people have been inducted into the state chapter. The voting committee represents different eras and every region in the state. Others voted in the Class of 2018 were: Jeff Buxton, long-time coach of national power Blair Academy; Jack Kinner, noted high school coach in Audubon and later administrator for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA); Dr. Joseph Nisivoccia, former state champ out of J.P. Stevens High, Rutgers wrestler and long-time coach at Belleville High.

    Two men were inducted posthumously: Robert Hogan, two-time NJSIAA champ out of Millville who also wrestled at Rutgers and then returned to coach at Millville; and Mark Whitford, a New York City firefighter active during the fall of the Twin Towers. He had a distinguished career at Seton Hall University, wrestling for Hall of Fame coach Al Reinoso.

    Bernabe, who also coached and officiated in New Jersey, has known Taylor more than 35 years. He will emcee the festivities, as he has the past several years.

    "Class. That's the number one thing I think of about Gary Taylor,'' Bernabe said. "He's a class act, all the way. What you see is what you get. Period. There's no cutting of corners, nothing in between. He made a strong commitment to his kids.''

    Skilled as a guitar player and a collector of the same, Taylor has spent some of his free time playing gigs and writing songs. Traveling the globe is not his thing.

    "Everybody thinks when you retire you travel the world. I have no interest in traveling whatsoever. I'm enjoying the music,'' he said, "but it's not like a full-time job. I make enough money for guitar strings.''

    He initially missed his full-time job, especially last year's seniors who concluded their careers with Taylor's long-time assistant John Hangey. "The first year was the hardest,'' Taylor said. "I was still attached to many of the kids. I think this will be a much easier year. The program is in very good hands. The whole idea of this is they would take it to the next level, and I believe that is what's going to happen.''

    Just as Taylor did.

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    Singer, who grew up in West Windsor, was fired from 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and has faced allegations of sexual assault.

    Director Bryan Singer is in talks to direct the movie "Red Sonja," according to The Hollywood Reporter, despite the fact that he was fired from a project last year in the wake of allegations of sexual assault.  

    The film is an adaptation of a "Conan the Barbarian" comic book spinoff from the 1970s.

    Singer, 53, who grew up in West Windsor, is known for directing the "X-Men" movies and "The Usual Suspects." The report says Ashley Miller, who wrote "X-Men: First Class," a film produced by Singer, is attached to write the screenplay.

    Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who played Conan the Barbarian, starred in a "Red Sonja" film in 1985.

    The production company behind the project, Millennium, is seeking to ignite a "Sonja" franchise along the lines of the highly successful "Wonder Woman" film, the report says, despite several failures to launch the movie stretching back a decade.

    In December, Singer was fired from the Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" -- starring Rami Malek ("Mr. Robot") as Freddie Mercury -- after he reportedly did not show up to set in London for an extended period of time, choosing to remain in the United States after a Thanksgiving break. (Though Singer was replaced by Dexter Fletcher, who completed the film, he is still credited as the director of the movie," which will be released on Nov. 2).

    Days later, Singer was accused of raping a 17-year-old boy in 2003 when a lawsuit was filed in Seattle by the alleged victim, who claimed Singer told him he could help him break into acting if he didn't tell anyone what happened. 

    The alleged victim said Singer told him that he could hire people who could ruin his reputation.

    Singer denied the allegations. He was later dropped by his talent agency, William Morris Endeavor. 

    As the #MeToo movement gained speed following the revelation of a series of allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, allegations against Singer received more attention. 


    Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.


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    The Iron Fireman in Trenton honors those brave firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty between 1883 and 2009. Watch video

    The Iron Fireman clutching a rescued baby is back on his pedestal outside Trenton City Hall and it is good to have the 126-year-old statue restored to its place of prominence.

    The statue honors those brave firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty between 1883 and 2009.

    Five years ago, a thoughtless act of vandalism left the statue in pieces after it was toppled from its stone base.

    The destruction was viewed as "a slap in the face" to all firefighters who regularly put their lives on the line for others, said then-fire union president Wayne Wolk.

    A suspect was arrested shortly after the vandalism and taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation, according to press reports at the time. It is hard to fathom why someone would willfully destroy a figure representing the best in human nature.

    Statue honoring fallen firefighters restored years later

    With great fanfare, Mayor Reed Gusciora earlier this month joined other city officials and family members of fallen firefighters to welcome back the newly restored statue.

    The monument depicts a firefighter with a prominent mustache dressed in a 19th century uniform and holding a baby wearing a nightdress in his left arm. The statue was a popular model made by the J.W. Fiske Iron Works of New York at the turn of the century.

    The company was able to make slight alternation to customize the basic statue for different customers. The Trenton statue, for example, has the initials V.F.D. on the firefighter's helmet to represent the Trenton Volunteer Fire Department.

    It cost the city about $1,500 to have the original statue made in 1892, a sum that would be equal to about $41,500 today. Trenton had to spend almost $50,000 to repair the vandalized statue.

    But it was money well spent.

    Our firefighters deserve to be recognized for the daily heroism they are called upon to perform.

    The rededication of the Iron Firefighter came at an appropriate time. That same week, the entire nation paid tribute to all those who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Among them were 343 courageous New York City firefighters.

    "The city put back a historic monument that future generations and future firemen can enjoy," Gusciora said at the rededication ceremony.

    If you chance to pass by the Iron Firefighter, keep in mind all those who selflessly made the ultimate sacrifice.

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

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    Check out which teams made the cut in the third Top 20 of the season.

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    The state still needs to approve the plan, which the town hopes to have in place on Jan. 1, 2019

    During the now three-year effort to consolidate Hamilton's eight autonomous fire districts into one unified fire service, the matter has been before the township council many times - usually for discussion or debate.

    Now, they have an ordinance, and a resolution.

    An ordinance to dissolve the districts and create a single municipal fire department - and a resolution for the state's Local Finance Board to bless the move - is on the Hamilton council's agenda.

    The measures will have their first readings at the council meeting Tuesday evening.

    The target date for the district dissolutions and new department is Jan. 1, 2019.

    If all is approved, and the state green lights it, the new Hamilton Fire Department will be led by a fire chief, employee about 130 firefighters and have a proposed budget of about $26 million.

    Some leaders see this as progress, and positive.

    "This ordinance marks an important step as we move closer to a municipal fire department, Council President Anthony Carabelli Jr. said. "I would like to thank the fire subcommittee members for their tireless work in this process and I look forward to hearing back from the Local Finance Board following their review of our fire consolidation blueprint."

    In a joint statement, the township's two firefighters' unions, locals of the Firefighters' Mutual Benevolent Association (FMBA), said: "Though we are still far from the finish line, we are confident that the change that our firefighters have fought for, and the residents we serve have overwhelming demanded, is coming."

    But the mayor's not so happy.

    "We were on the verge of giving the largest tax break ever to Hamilton residents," Mayor Kelly Yaede said in a statement Monday evening. "Unfortunately, this opportunity has been lost by the council."

    Yaede's sharp words have to do with the proposed $26 million budget, which would have been much lower in early 2017, if the council had acted earlier. A report she asked the state to conduct concluded that the town could have saved taxpayers $2.7 million, she said through Township Administrator Dave Kenny.

    Instead, the eight fire districts have added more staff and their budgets have gone up. Kenny said the original estimated budget for a combined fire service was a $22 million budget.

    After starting organically, the issue of consolidation has become as political as it gets.

    It began in the late summer of 2015 with one district's board of fire commissioners - District 9 - passing their own resolution calling for consolidation. 

    0904Hamfire_413334_08.JPGHamilton fire officials converse at a house fire in September 2014. (File photo) 

    Hamilton's fire service has been served by fire districts for about 100 years. They are independent, tax-levying bodies run by a five-person board of commissioners that hold public elections in February.

    For decades, the districts used volunteer firefighters to battle blazes, but in the past 30 to 40 years, they have added more career members as volunteerism in the fire service has steadily dropped.

    The town now has eight of them  - technically nine, but one is small and shared with Burlington County and not part of consolidation - all with a piece of the town to protect, with varying number of career firefighters and equipment, and different tax rates.

    Some of their firehouses are staffed 24/7, some are not.

    District 9's resolution in 2015 called for one fire service to streamline firefighting and equipment, avoid duplication and waste, have one tax rate and more accountability and safety.

    The argument was not new, it had been discussed for years, but more districts publicly backed the effort, and the two fire unions spent months visiting residents to sign petitions to get the matter before council. When that was successful, the council jumped on board.

    For a while, Yaede, the council (Kenny is a former councilman) were pretty much in agreement.

    Last year, though, when the unions thought the studies and bureaucracy were dragging on, they publicly backed a three-person Democratic slate - including Carabelli - who ran and won on a platform that included getting consolidation done.

    And the unions ripped Yaede as failing to act.

    Yaede could veto the current effort, but the council would need four votes to overturn.

    Earlier this year, though, the council voted 5-0 to create a municipal department at a council meeting as part of a non-binding matter to create committees to hammer out the particulars.

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

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    Here are the players and keepers of the week in every boys soccer conference.

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    Pockets of torrential downpours are hitting parts of New Jersey on Tuesday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning in several counties.

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    They were arrested when they traveled to a Toms River home where authorities say they thought they were meeting up with a teen boy or girl

    Twenty-four men were arrested for allegedly chatting with and attempting to lure minors into sex during a week-long sting this month, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office announced Tuesday.

    Among the group was 47-year old Richard Conte, a police sergeant with the Howell Township Police Department, who thought he was chatting with a 15-year-old girl. He has since been suspended, authorities said.

    Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said members of the state's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force maintained profiles as 14- and 15-year-old boys or girls and were approached by the suspects. 

    Some men chatted with the undercover officers for a day or two before arranging a meeting, others talked for up to a week.

    The men started conversations on various apps and internet messengers, and over a one-week period earlier this month, they traveled to a house in Toms River where they expected to meet up with the teen -- alone.

    Instead, they were met by dozens of law enforcement officers and promptly arrested -- some by the undercover officers they had been chatting with, Grewal said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

    The men were arrested upon arrival to the residence or just outside of when they arrived for their scheduled meet-ups between Sept. 5 and Sept. 9, Grewal said. 

    Authorities dubbed the week-long sting "Operation Open House."

    "Surprised would be a fair way to categorize (the suspects')" reactions, Grewal said of the arrests.

    Grewal told reporters that the men varied in age, occupation and location -- some traveled upwards of 90 miles to meet the fictitious teenager.

    All of the men are charged with second-degree luring, and many face additional charges like second-degree attempted sexual assault on a minor and third-degree attempted debauching the morals of a child.

    Five men face third-degree charges of attempted sharing obscene materials with a child after they allegedly sent photos of their genitals to the undercover detectives.

    Grewal called on families to help monitor children who have online profiles, saying interactions with predators can start in messaging apps, social media platforms and even through video games with chat features.

    "We want child predators to know that we are on social media too - and the child they target may be the undercover officer who puts them in handcuffs," he said.

    Division of Criminal Justice Director Veronica Allende said that more than 30 law enforcement agencies worked on this undercover operation.

    "I commend our partners on the ICAC Task Force, particularly the State Police and Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, who coordinated this operation with the Division of Criminal Justice," Allende said.

    The list of suspects charged. All of the men were charged with second-degree luring, and additional charges are listed:

    • Mina G. Beshay, 27, of Monroe Township Beshay is a security guard and is also charged with attempted debauching morals of a child and attempted showing obscene material to a minor. 
    • Christopher Vargas, 29, of Toms River Vargas is a registered nurse.
    • Joshua Rauter, 31, of Little Egg Harbor Township Rauter is a municipal public works employee and is also charged with attempted debauching morals of a child and attempted showing obscene material to a minor.
    • Joseph Martin, 35, of Seaside Heights Martin is unemployed and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Richard Hoffman, 23, of Mays Landing. Hoffman is a firefighter and a college student.
    • Volvi Lowinger, 23, of Lakewood. Lowinger is a college student and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor, attempted debauching morals of a child and attempted showing obscene material to a minor. 
    • Thomas Graciano, 28, of Brick. Graciano is a physical therapist in a retirement community.
    • Thomas Blumensteel, 47, of Manchester. Blumensteel is a hotel manager and a registered sex offender. He was sentenced to three years in state prison in New Jersey in 1997 for aggravated criminal sexual contact for sexually assaulting a boy, 13, whom he was supervising as a church counselor. He was also charged in this case with attempted sexual assault on a minor and has been detained pending his trial.
    • Richard Conte, 47, of Farmingdale. Conte is a police sergeant with the Howell Township Police Department. He has since been suspended from his job and was ordered to home detention. 
    • Thomas Fuller, 44, Toms River. Fuller is an assistant manager/sterilization technician and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    •  Zachary Vincent, 24, of Forked River. Vincent is a landscaper and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • William Singleton, 24, of Pemberton Township. Singleton is a restaurant worker and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Jonathan Vece, 22, of Turnersville.  Vece is a canvasser and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Lawrence Ivancic, 51, of Toms River. Ivancic is unemployed and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Robert Lisicki, 51, of Metuchen. Lisicki is a train conductor and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Dylan Daffron, 28, of Lacey Township. Daffron is a cashier at a retail store and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor, attempted debauching morals of a child and attempted showing obscene material to a minor.
    • Steven Portnoy, 27, of Egg Harbor Township. Pornoy is unemployed and also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • David Studnicky, 64, of Toms River. Studnicky is employed as a dry cleaner and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor, attempted debauching morals of a child, attempted showing obscene material to a minor.
    • Anthony Perfidio, 24, of Barnegat. Perfidio is a data entry clerk.
    • Brian Degnan, 33, of Toms River. Degnan is a data entry clerk.
    • Nabindranauth Nandalall, 24, of Bronx, N.Y. Nandalall is unemployed.
    • William D. Davis, 23, Bayville. Davis is a consultant.
    • Charles Schlottfeld, 26, of Bayville. Schlottfeld is a mechanic and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Douglass Walton, 54, of Hillsborough. Walton is employed in produce and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.

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

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    Mark D'Amico and girlfriend Kate McClure have been accused of plundering the GoFundMe money they raised for Johnny Bobbitt Jr.

    Mark D'Amico, the Burlington County man under investigation over more than $400,000 raised online for homeless good Samaritan Johnny Bobbitt Jr. said Tuesday answers are coming in the confusing case.

    He appeared in Burlington City municipal court on unrelated traffic charges and mostly declined to address the headline-grabbing GoFundMe case, but when a reporter asked if everything would become clear, D'Amico responded, "Crystal clear."

    His attorney, Ernest Badway, declined to comment further.

    It's the latest development in a one-time feel-good story that has turned into a clash over money -- and now involves a criminal probe into D'Amico and his girlfriend Katelyn McClure.

    A homeless vet, a charitable N.J. couple and $400K. What you might not know about them

    The Burlington County prosecutor is investigating D'Amico and McClure over a GoFundMe page they set up for Bobbitt, the homeless man who helped McClure get gas with his last $20 when she became stranded on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia last year.

    To thank him, she set up the fundraising page, which brought in more than $400,000 and landed them on national TV. The relationship soured though and Bobbitt brought a suit against the couple, and prosecutors began investigating.

    It's not exactly clear what happened with the money, though Bobbitt's attorney has said it's all gone.

    Badway, the couple's attorney, said in court this month that Bobbitt got about $200,000, but his lawyer said it was only $75,000. Badway has said he thinks it's likely that the couple would be indicted.

    The couple earlier denied wrongdoing. Their rural New Jersey home about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Philadelphia was raided by investigators executing a search warrant. Among other items, authorities hauled away a new BMW on a flatbed truck.

    Bobbitt's attorney said earlier that Bobbitt was about to enter a residential treatment program to address drug addiction.

    The civil case is on hold until December. The couple has not been criminally charged.

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    Messi led Barcelona to an easy 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven, and has the Spanish side as the favorite to lift the trophy on June 1 at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madri

    The greatest club competition in the world returned to center stage Tuesday, as the UEFA Champions League group stage got underway.

    Match day one saw the debut of the new early kickoff slot (12:55 p.m. EDT), which was punctuated with a Lionel Messi hat-trick, as well as Tottenham finding a way to lose at the San Siro. 

    Messi led Barcelona to an easy 4-0 win over PSV Eindhoven, and has the Spanish side as the favorite to lift the trophy on June 1 at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid.

    The six late matches (3:00 p.m.) saw the match of the day, Liverpool vs. PSG, and also had the defending champions of the other two UEFA competitions Atletico Madrid begin its attempt to get back to its third Champions League final in five years. 

    With eight more matches Wednesday, plus 24 Europa League matches Thursday, the midweek football fiesta is back.


    Group A

    Club Brugge 0-1 Borussia Dortmund

    AS Monaco 1-2 Atletico Madrid

    Group B

    Barcelona 4-0 PSV Eindhoven

    Internazionale 2-1 Tottenham

    Group C

    FK Crvena Zvezda 0-0 Napoli

    Liverpool 3-2 Paris Saint Germain

    Group D

    Galatasaray 3-0 Lokomotiv Moscow

    Schalke 04 1-1 Porto


    Lionel Messi, Barcelona

    A perfect 10 performance from Messi, who had a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over PSV. He was the Man of the Match with a 10 rating, and had Barcelona primed to compete for the title.

    Fernando, Galatasaray

    The midfielder controlled the match for the Turkish side, which rolled to a big 3-0 win. He was the Man of the Match with an 8.55 rating.

    Christian Pulisic, Borussia Dortmund

    A game-winning goal for the American has Dortmund in a good spot. He rated out at a 7.39 on

    West Ham gets first Premier League win, while Burnley slide continues


    Tottenham started off the 2018-19 campaign with three straight wins. The Spurs have now lost three straight, after a stoppage time winner from an unmarked Matias Vecino for Inter stunned the Spurs. Tottenham had taken the lead in the 53rd minute through a deflected goal from Christian Eriksen. But Mauro Icardi's wonder strike in the 86th minute drew the hosts even, setting the stage for the winner from Vecino.

    Tottenham will host Barcelona on match day two (October 3), while Inter will visit PSV the same day. A loss for the Spurs could see them fall six points behind the two winners from Tuesday, and make the two games with PSV must win games.

    Liverpool took out the French champions in stoppage time with a Roberto Firmino goal, after Kylian Mbappe drew PSG even in the 83rd minute. This group may come down to the wire, with the return match November 28 key to the top spot in Group C.

    In Group A, Christian Pulisic sunk Club Brugge with an 85th minute winner for Borussia Dortmund. The American winger pounced on a mistake by the defense and buried his chance, to give the German side all three points.


    Atletico Madrid, the reigning UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup champions, got its campaign underway with a 2-1 win in Group A action. Jose Gimenez's goal on the stroke of halftime proved to be the winner. 

    In Group D, dubbed the "Group of Life", Galatasaray took the lead at the top with a 2-0 win. Garry Rodrigues and Eren Derdiyok had the goals for the Turkish side.

    Schalke 04 and Porto had to settle for a point apiece in Group D The Portuguese side had the chance to take an early lead, but Alex Telles missed his spot kick in the 13th minute. Breel Embolo made the visitors pay with his 64th minute goal, but a second penalty was dispatched by Otavio in the 75th minute, to knot it at 1-1.

    Red Star Belgrade and Napoli played out the lone scoreless draw of the day.


    All times 3:00 p.m. EDT unless noted (

    Group E

    Ajax vs. AEK Athens, 12:55 p.m.

    Benfica vs. Bayern Munich

    Group F

    Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Hoffenheim, 12:55 p.m.

    Manchester City vs. Lyon 

    Group G

    Real Madrid vs. Roma

    Viktoria Plzen vs. CSKA Moscow

    Group H

    Valencia vs. Juventus

    Young Boys vs. Manchester United 

    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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    All priest sex abuse victims are free to call New Jersey's new hotline to report allegations, even if they have a legal agreement forbidding them from speaking, church officials said.

    Victims of priest sexual abuse who signed confidentiality agreements with Catholic dioceses in New Jersey are free to ignore those deals and speak publicly about their experiences, church officials said in a statement Tuesday.

    The announcement means all victims who reached financial settlements with the Catholic Church in New Jersey can call a new hotline established by the state Attorney General's office earlier this month to speak to investigators gathering evidence of clergy sexual abuse in the church.

    "Cardinal Joseph Tobin and the other Catholic bishops of New Jersey have no issue if someone who had signed a settlement agreement prior to 2002 speaks publicly about his or her ordeal. In fact, we tell survivors who come forward that we will inform law enforcement of their allegations, and we encourage them to do the same," said Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference.

    N.J. Catholic dioceses detail sex abuse settlements

    "Again, we do not object, and would not take any action, if a victim chose to speak out, even if there is a confidentiality provision in the settlement agreement," Brannigan added.

    Under a 2002 policy established by the U.S. Catholic bishops, American dioceses were forbidden from requiring victims to enter into confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements when they reached a financial settlement with the church, unless the victims requested confidentiality.

    However, the confidentiality agreements remain in an unknown number of settlements reached with victims before 2002. That has stopped some victims from publicly speaking about their abuse allegations or phoning the new hotline established by the attorney general.

    The announcement by the New Jersey dioceses came a few hours after Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, called for the Catholic Church to release victims from their legal agreements and allow them to call the attorney general's hotline.

    "As victims have been reaching out, several have asked if they are able to report their abuse if they have signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement with the church and their abuser," Vitale said. "Technically the answer would be no."

    New Jersey's Catholic dioceses have paid out at least $50 million in financial settlements to alleged abuse victims, the dioceses said. It is unclear how many of those settlements had non-disclosure agreements.

    The state Attorney General's office established a toll-free number, (855) 363-6548, earlier this month to allow victims to speak with investigators.

    State officials plan to use the information gathered by the hotline to present evidence to a grand jury similar to the one in Pennsylvania that found more than 300 priests had been accused of sexual abuse in that state over several decades while some church officials covered up their crimes.

    The New Jersey hotline has been overwhelmed by the number of calls in its first few weeks and additional staff was assigned to speak to alleged victims, said Peter Aseltine, a spokesman for the Division of Criminal Justice.

    Aseltine did not disclose how many calls the hotline has received, but some alleged victims said they initially had trouble getting through.

    When he announced the hotline, Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal urged victims to call to report abuse so the state could investigate whether the abuse and cover-up in New Jersey was similar to what the grand jury uncovered in Pennsylvania.

    Former acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino was appointed to head a task force that which will have subpoena power through a grand jury to compel testimony and demand the production of documents.

    "We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here," Grewal said. "If it did, we will take action against those responsible." 

    Kelly Heyboer may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporter on Facebook.


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    A lower court was incorrect in ruling against a state administrative body, the high court said

    A state fire inspector called his female boss the c-word to other employees in 2013 and paid for it with his job.

    But William R. Hendrickson, Jr., fought his termination in the state's administrative system, and eventually got the punishment reduced to a six-month suspension. A state Appellate Division court, though, later overturned that decision and essentially re-fired him.

    On Tuesday, the New Jersey Supreme Court said the Appellate court was wrong, and reinstated the suspension.

    Hendrickson, a retired police officer from Sussex County, will be going back to the New Jersey Division of Fire Safety, in the state Department of Community Affairs, his lawyer Arnold Shep Cohen said.

    "The Supreme Court was correct," Cohen said.

    The decision notes that Hendrickson uttered the phrase, and does not excuse his conduct, and his employer was right to discipline him. It was, quoting a lower court, "disrespectful, sexist, discriminatory, unprofessional, in bad taste, improper, and extremely offensive."

    But the case was about rules and procedure.

    Hendrickson started working for the state as a fire safety inspector in August 2012. His LinkedIn page shows he retired from the Bloomingdale Police Department in 2003, and later worked for Vernon Township's fire prevention bureau and is a volunteer firefighter.

    He made the remark about his boss on Dec. 1, 2013, out of her presence, but two colleagues heard it. After a hearing in his department, in September 2014, the state fired him.

    Hendrickson appealed to the state Civil Service Commission (CSC), and they sent it to the state's Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for a hearing.

    The OAL judge agreed that the state had a case to punish Hendrickson, he was wrong to use such language, and was even troubled by Hendrickson's failure to acknowledge his wrongdoing.

    However, his firing was "too harsh." He'd had no disciplinary record in the 15 months before and nine months after the incident, and the OAL judge decided to impose the suspension.

    The OAL sent the decision back to the CSC.

    The CSC has 45 days to "adopt, reject or modify" the OAL's decision, and must do so with a quorum of three out of five commissioners. The CSC did not have enough appointed commissioners at the time, and could not get a quorum - so the OAL decision was "deemed adopted" as the final decision.

    That's when the state went to the Appellate Division, and argued against the "deemed adopted" rule.

    The appellate court used the OAL's evidence, but did their own "de novo" or new review, and decided the discipline handed out was a matter of law, since the commission could not get a quorum.

    And the appellate court ruled that the doctrine known as "progressive discipline" should be tossed aside for Hendrickson, and he should be fired because the remark "violated the State's anti-discrimination policy and societal norms." 

    Not so, the Supreme Court found. 

    The appellate court erred in their own review of a disciplinary sanction imposed by the OAL judge and their wading into the matter was not different from a traditional appellate review of a state agency's decision.

    They overstepped, and the six-month suspension from the OAL was valid, the Supreme Court said.

    The high court summed it up this way: "A belittling gender insult uttered in the workplace by a state employee is a violation of New Jersey's policy against discrimination and Hendrickson's conduct was unbecoming a public employee."

    The OAL, though, strongly rebuked Hendrickson's language and set the appropriate discipline after finding it amounted to, "an isolated incident and warranted a lesser penalty than the extreme sanction of termination."

    "The Court cannot conclude that the (OAL's) decision is shocking to one's sense of fairness."

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


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    The corrections officer allegedly used some of the cash he was paid to gamble in Atlantic City.

    A former corrections officer who allegedly smuggled drugs to inmates at a federal prison and used some of the cash he was paid to gamble in Atlantic City has been indicted on bribery charges and other counts.

    Federal prosecutors say Paul Wright allegedly received the drugs and cash in 2015 from two people outside the prison who had ties to separate inmates. The 32-year-old Berlin man allegedly smuggled in tobacco, synthetic marijuana and suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction.

    The indictment handed up Tuesday charges Wright with two counts each of agreeing to accept and accepting bribes. He also faces two counts of violating the travel act and one count of providing contraband to an inmate.

    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.

    It wasn't known Tuesday if Wright has retained an attorney.


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