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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    The teams from Mercer and Burlington counties squared off this past weekend

    Editor's Note: The videos of this incident have since been removed from YouTube by the user.

    A video posted online shows the brawling among coaches and parents during a youth football game in Lawrence this past Saturday.

    Lawrence police said Monday they are investigating the Saturday, Oct. 20 incident during a game between teams from Lawrence and Florence as a possible assault. 

    Police said they were summoned to the field at about 3:25 p.m. by a 911 call reporting an assault and people fighting, and witnesses said the incident started with a hard hit from a player.

    No charges have been announced by Lawrence police, who could not immediately be reached late Thursday to inquire about any updates to the case. The department said they were looking for video of the incident to help them investigate.

    A video posted on Oct. 20 by a Michael Houston, and titled, "Lawrenceville Jr. Cardinals 115's 10/20/18," is filmed from the Lawrence side of the field. The Lawrence Jr. Cardinals have a 115-pound team.

    Following a play, players start pushing and shoving, and coaches and others eventually flood the field. The person filming says "Stay, go back, go back," to the players as he moves toward the fighting.

    And while a Florence player is down on the field, a man, apparently from the Florence team, is heard screaming, "Serious?"

    Someone responds, "Yeah serious."

    At one point, a man cocks his arm to thrown a punch, but does not, as several skirmishes break out as referees constantly blow their whistles and some continue the altercation, while others try to quell it.

    Lawrence Jr. Cardinals' Bryan Carter, director of operations and coach of the 115 squad, declined to comment on the incident when reached Thursday.

    A representative from the Florence team was not immediately available Thursday.

    A second video, from the same YouTube account, records Lawrence coaches addressing their team afterwards, which addresses the incident.

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

     

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    The suspect - a firefighter - also gave his victims access to a a loaded handgun, prosecutors say

    A college security officer and volunteer fire captain already charged with internet sex crimes now has new charges that he sexually assaulted teenage boys.

    Alan Berman, 58, was charged with three counts of sexual assault, seven counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and one count of showing obscenity to a minor, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a news statement.

    alan-berman.jpgAlan J. Berman 

    Authorities investigating Berman dug up information about what happened at Berman's home with boys who are currently between 12 and 15 years old.

    Three boys accused Berman of assaulting them and two reported the man gave them marijuana. Another boy said Berman showed him pornography.

    Five boys were given "unrestricted access" to a handgun and ammunition, and one of the boys is said to have pointed a loaded firearm at another, Coffina said. 

    The victims and their families knew Berman, the news release says. He allegedly threatened one of the boys to not report the abuse, saying no one would believe an allegation against him because of his rank in the fire company.

    Berman is on administrative leave from his security officer job at Rider University, where he was hired in August 2017 and passed a background check.

    Berman was arrested at his home in Bordentown City on Friday and is in the Burlington County Jail. 

    It's the second round of charges against him, after he was arrested last month and accused of posing as a teenage girl online in order to solicit nude pictures and videos from a teenage boy.

    The mother of that boy, from Arkansas, reached out to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which passed the information along to the prosecutor's office. He faces four counts of endangering the welfare of a child related to that.

    Assistant Prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw has the case and will present it to a grand jury, which could indict Berman.

    Anyone with information about Berman can call the Prosecutor's Office at 609-265-5035 and ask to speak with a detective in the High-Tech Crimes Unit.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ

    Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    He's playing various positions at Rutgers

    Like his team, Brian Hawkins' soccer season has been more successful than it appears. As Rutgers takes a 4-12-1 record into this weekend's Big 10 Tournament, Hawkins brings a personal stat line of one goal and two assists.

    That's a long way from his high school days at Notre Dame in Lawrence, when he was New Jersey's Gatorade Player of the Year.

    #10 Brian Hawkins2.JPGHawkins 

    And it's a long way from freshman year at Rutgers. In 2015 Rutgers competed in the NCAA Tournament, along the way knocking off perennial power Indiana; a game in which Hawkins had his first collegiate assist.

    He would be a unanimous selection to the Big 10 All-Freshmen Team, living up to his scholastic accolades where he scored 76 goals (25 game-winners) and had 35 assists.

    Two years ago he tore an ACL and missed the 2016 season. He played in all 18 games last season, but this past spring suffered a bad ankle sprain that has flared up throughout this season and cost him some playing time.

    Despite playing various positions throughout this season (mostly as a mid), Hawkins said he is pretty happy with his performance.

    "I think I expected to generate a few more points," he said, "but to be honest I feel I've been playing very well.''

    So has Rutgers, playing its best soccer over the past couple of weeks, and which has lost all 12 games by no more than two goals. Even the tie came in double overtime. The most recent loss was at Penn State Sunday, 2-0. Earlier in October Rutgers defeated Lafayette and Northwestern, then fell 2-1 at Columbia and 1-0 to second-ranked Indiana.

    "The season isn't going the way we wanted it to, or expected it to go,'' Hawkins said. "Hopefully we can make a run in the Big Ten tournament. In the game against Columbia (last week) we played some of the best soccer since I've been here.''

    Rutgers opens Big 10 Tournament play Sunday in the quarterfinals at No. 2 seed Wisconsin.

    Despite frustrations from injuries and his team's struggles, his collegiate journey is far from a disaster.

    "Certainly I'm a little disappointed, but I try and look past that and step on the field and play the best I can, and try and make myself and my teammates better in practice. I'm disappointed with our results, but I can definitely say that since I've been here I've developed a lot as a player.

    "My first season,'' he said, "I loved it. We had a great run and it was awesome. Now we're on the other side of things. It's not as enjoyable, but, it is what it is and I try and make the best of it.''

    He has enjoyed being a teammate of his brother, Chris, a sophomore. Although their parents did not play the sport - their father played football and basketball at Marist College - their great grandfather played professional soccer in Scotland.

    Hawkins would love to follow those footsteps; the European Premier League for example. "That's my overall goal,'' he said about playing professionally.

    He's actually played internationally, having made two summer trips to Italy with a U.S. Olympic Developmental Program.

    Academically he has developed an interest in law. "My parents always told me I'd be a good lawyer,'' he said, "because I always used to argue with them when I was younger and I always thought I was right.''

    He has come to learn that things don't always go as planned, that every kick doesn't hit the net. Injuries happen. Frustration and disappointment litter the road.

    "Stay with it,'' is his advice. "A lot of all-star players come out of high school expecting to absolutely kill it,'' he said. "It's a wake-up call. Just stay on the path.''

    Sometimes it's not as bad as it seems.


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    U.S. News and World Report looked at colleges in 75 countries to select the best research universities on the planet.


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    There will always be kids who go out Trick or Treating on All Hallows Eve, as they have done for generations. Watch video

    Police Officer Cornell Huff draped his arm around 3-year-old Zyona Moore, who was decked out as a miniature cop, complete with realistic-looking blue uniform, black cap and gold shield. Both were grinning.

    Captain America, known in his other life as New Jersey State Police Capt. Stan Field, fist-bumped a fur-clad youngster in pink, while Angelo Onofri, who spends his days overseeing the prosecution of criminals, handed out snacks and goodies to a hungry crowd.

    It was far from an ordinary Thursday at the Trenton Police Department as city residents - young and old - gathered last week to mark the fifth year of "Trunk or Treat," the department's highly anticipated, highly appreciated Halloween gift to the community.

    The concept wasn't a new one back in 2014, when the local tradition debuted; many communities around the country were already organizing such block parties to keep their youngest residents safe while satisfying their sugar cravings.

    Basing the event at a police department was unique, however, and added the extra dimension of fostering community spirit while encouraging area businesses, social service agencies and city officials to come together in a spirit of good, clean fun.

    What is the best place to trick or treat in N.J.?

    Trenton Police Sgt. Alexis Durlacher, who plans Trunk or Treat every year, deserves thanks for bringing together the dozens of organizations and private and public citizens such as Mercer County Prosecutor Onofri, who help make the evening special for the small guests.

    A special shout-out also goes to local businesses such as Hank's Towing, which this year transformed a school bus into a haunted spook show, and to the congregants of Fellowship Capital City Church, who erected a Christmas tree in to delight participants in advance of the holiday season.

    Of course, there will always be kids who go out Trick or Treating on All Hallows Eve, as they have done for generations. For them and their parents, the non-profit Safe Kids Worldwide has some common-sense reminders.

    Make sure children under the age of 12 are accompanied by an adult. Older children should stick to familiar areas that are well lighted, and do their candy-seeking in groups.

    Costumes and bags should be decorated with reflective tape and stickers - and made with light-color fabrics, if possible.

    Face paint and makeup are safer than masks, which can obstruct a youngster's vision. Glow sticks or flashlights can help light the way, and also alert drivers to a child's presence.

    Teach kids to cross only at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Remind them to look left, right and then left again when they cross.

    And for motorists: Slow down and be particularly alert in residential areas, where tiny ghosts and diminutive goblins can dart out unexpectedly.

    Have a sweet and joyful Halloween, everyone, and stay safe.

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

     

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    I am really, really grateful that I am getting this opportunity. I have been a part of this game, and it has stayed close to my heart

    For Tom "Flash" Gordon, 2018 brings back special memories.

    It is the 10th anniversary of the Philadelphia Phillies World Series title, and although Gordon was injured by the time the Phillies beat Tampa Bay, he was a pivotal part of the team for three years.

    This year has also seen Gordon take on a new role in baseball: Director of Community Relations and Special Advisor to the President, Jerry Ford, for Perfect Game USA.

    So while the Major League Baseball season ended Sunday night with Boston's fourth World Series title in 14 years, Gordon and Perfect Game are just ramping up their showcase tournaments in the South, where the weather is warmer than areas of the North, including New Jersey and the surrounding Tri-State area.

    The weekend of November 3-4 will see five Perfect Game showcase events, with three in Texas and two in California. December 28-30 will see Fort Myers, Florida host three more, before two more dates in January.

    Gordon recently attended the 20th WWBA World Championship (held in Jupiter, Florida from October 18-22) in his new role, and was excited for the opportunity.

    "It is tremendous the way things have been ran," Gordon said. "Perfect Game is an innovator in baseball, sports, and technology. They are always trying to give back, and have places for the kids to play, in the nice weather so they can showcase themselves. 

    "This was a tournament that I have been to so many times. But going this year knowing that I was going to be given an opportunity to be part of the organization, and to be a part of something so grand, now I can look forward to trying to find ways to innovate in what I have been a port of, and the is the youth part of baseball. Giving these kids a chance to showcase their talent.

    "Jupiter is always a huge tournament. It is always a tournament of the stars to come, where you see such good talent on the field every single day showcasing themselves for hundreds of scouts and scouting directors, and guys that make decisions for their ball clubs."

    Leicester City tragedy overshadows Premier League Sunday

    Gordon has spent a lot of time around the Perfect Game tournaments in the past. He has one son in the majors already with the Seattle Mariners, Dee Gordon. Another, Nick Gordon, is the fourth ranked prospect in the Minnesota Twins system. Tom is also the guardian for a Juan Hillman, who is in the Cleveland system.

    Gordon will now work with Perfect Game to find and improve youth players, including ones in areas that may have been less served in the past. 

    "I think that is the way it should be, in a lot of ways," Gordon said. "When you are seeing kids now that are coming from all over to play baseball, it has been remarkable to see. We are living in that time where the internet does play a huge part in that. Sometimes it doesn't give you the chance to see that kid play live. My job will play a huge part in that.

    "I will get an opportunity to go into places that I have been looking forward to. Then, I can find some kids, give some feedback on where I think the next game or tournament should be played. That way, everybody gets an opportunity to get a few looks and show that there is talent everywhere.

    "When you look at Jupiter, California, and Texas, some of the bigger showcases we have, sometimes kids can't always make it. Travel for parents might hold them back. Sometimes it is the weather. Things take place that sometimes take away that opportunity to play.

    "But I think right now, they are giving me an opportunity. There are places that I can go. I am in my RV a lot, and I get a chance to reach out to the communities and see if there is a place we can play some games, and maybe showcase some talents and run some tournaments.

    "I am really, really grateful that I am getting this opportunity. I have been a part of this game, it is a game that I love, and it has stayed close to my heart. It gives me an opportunity to work with one of the innovators in the game, and it gives me an opportunity to find talent, when they don't think they will be seen."

    ***

    Gordon, who came up as a rookie with the Kansas City Royals in 1988 before breaking out in 1989 with a 17-9 record, also spoke about a current Royals' rookie that grew up in the Trenton area.

    Heath Fillmyer, who played for Florence High School, Bordentown Post 26, and Mercer County Community College, was 4-2 for Kansas City in 2018. He made his major league debut on June 24 against defending World Series champion Houston.

    "I have always been a guy that loved guys that threw hard, but are very aggressive," Gordon said. "What I saw with him this year is that I like his aggression. I thought he was very, very aggressive with the fastball in the zone.

    "For me, when you watch a guy like that, you have to decide is he willing to make an adjustment soon enough, and will he pitch inside aggressively. I thought he did a wonderful job on that."

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean


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    8 enforcement agencies were involved in the arrest of Mark E. Elbaum

    Authorities say they have arrested the man believed to be responsible for multiple bank robberies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania this month.

    elbaum-mug.jpgMark Elbaum. (North Brunswick police)

    Mark E. Elbaum, 52, of Hillsborough, was taken into custody around 6:30 p.m. Monday near his home, the West Windsor and North Brunswick police departments said.

    Hours earlier, around 10:14 a.m., he had attempted to rob a Santander bank branch in West Windsor, though he didn't get any cash from his efforts, West Windsor Lt. Robert Fow said.

    Around 10:50 a.m. the same day, Elbaum allegedly robbed the Valley National Bank on Route 27 in North Brunswick, police said.

    "North Brunswick was able to get a license plate," Fow said, adding that this was likely the big break in the case.

    The Somerset County Prosecutor's office said Elbaum was arrested in his hometown, and has been charged with two counts of second-degree robbery in their county, along with a first-degree robbery charge from North Brunswick. The other robberies are still being investigated.

    He is in the Somerset County Jail before a detention hearing.

    The FBI had created a wanted poster this month for Elbaum hoping to generate leads. At that point, he was thought to have struck at two banks on October 1: one in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, and another in Franklin Township, Somerset County.

    But then last week, the Peapack-Gladstone bank in Bridgewater was hit, along with a Northfield Bank branch in Flemington.

    And then on Thursday, he allegedly struck at the Unity Bank in Middlesex Borough, fleeing with an undisclosed amount of cash. He may have also struck in Trenton before the final spree Monday.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    Donald "Donny" Klein had also coached football and lacrosse at Manaquan High School and was a member of the school's Hall of Fame.

    An assistant football coach at The College of New Jersey was killed after his vehicle veered off Interstate 195 early Tuesday and hit a tree in Mercer County. 

    klein-tcnj.jpgDonny Klein (The College of New Jersey) 

    Donald Klein III, 37 of Tinton Falls, was driving a Jeep Wrangler westbound when the crash took place at 5:11 a.m. near milepost 3 in Hamilton, State Police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:40 a.m., Trooper Alejandro Goez said.

    There were no passengers in the Jeep and no other vehicles were involved.

    A member of the Manasquan High School Hall of Fame, Klein starred in football and lacrosse before graduating in 1999 and going on to play college football at Temple University. Klein later returned to Manasquan High School as a coach for both programs. 

    "I've known Donny since he played football for Manasquan - we talk about tradition at Manasquan, he was very much a part of that tradition as a player and a coach," board of education president Tom Pellegrino said Tuesday afternoon. "We are very proud of his accomplishments both on and off the field and as a person we all genuinely liked him."

    Klein left Manasquan two years ago to accept a position at TCNJ, where he was the team's offensive line coach as well as both the video and recruiting coordinator.

    "We are in shock at the news of Coach Klein's passing," TCNJ athletic director Amanda DeMartino said in a statement. "Donny was beloved by the team and his colleagues and his energy and upbeat personality were admired by all of us at TCNJ. He will be greatly missed by our campus community. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

    Klein is survived by his father Donald ll, mother Cindy Zanfini, son Dax and girlfriend Courtney Colford, according to a family member.

    The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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

     
     
     

     


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    Anthony Harris killed Ronald Walker in a fight in Florence in September 2016

    At the close of his second trial, a Burlington County jury has convicted a man of the shooting death of a Florence resident during a fight two years ago.

    A jury found Anthony Harris, 32, guilty of aggravated manslaughter and two weapons charges, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a news release.

    anthony-harris.jpgAnthony Harris 

    Harris went with a group from his hometown, Beverly City, to Zinc Street, an alley between Second and Third streets in Florence on Sept. 21, 2016. The group got in a fight with some residents there. 

    Harris pulled out a handgun and fired it, fatally striking Ronald Walker, 27.

    Coffina's office initially charged Harris with murder, but the jury in the first trial in June of this year was deadlocked on the murder charge. Superior Court Judge Charles Delehey declared a mistrial.

    But prosecutors brought the case to a grand jury again, this time on the lesser charge. And on September 25, they indicted Harris on aggravated manslaughter. 

    Delehey also heard the second trial and will sentence Harris on December 20. Assistant Prosecutor Douglas J. Bligh is handling the case.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    At least 7 people who attended the 24-hour event say the city and other entities are responsible for their injuries Watch video

    Seven people who say they attended Trenton's Art All Night festival say they will sue the city and host Artworks for injuries -- physical and emotional -- sustained in the shooting spree that killed one and night injured nearly 30 in June. 

    Documents obtained through a records request from the City of Trenton show the seven complainants identify the Trenton Police Department's actions as the main factor in their getting hurt.

    The documents - notices of tort claim, a precursor to filing suit against a public entity - allege Trenton police officers had directed attendees into a the main hall of the festival and opened fire on suspects in the middle of a crowded, enclosed space. 

    "This act of closing certain doors caused a stampede to the remaining available exits, causing injury to the named claimants," the document says. 

    One claimant, a minor, lists that he sustained three gunshot wounds: to the right clavicle (collarbone), right calf and left foot. 

    Two others said they were hit with a bullets in their thighs, and that fragments are still embedded in their bodies. A man alleges he was shot in the right hand, and a woman said she was hit in her right thigh. 

    Another woman claims she was trampled in the chaos and sprained both of her knees and has neck and back pain. 

    And two women who were married at the time of the shooting plan to sue saying that the incident caused the end of their relationship. 

    NJ Advance Media is not naming the attendees because they are victims of a crime.

    The notice lists multiple city and county entities they intend to sue, from the Trenton Police Department, Mercer County Prosecutor's Office, to the New Jersey Schools Development Authority, the state Department of Education and Artworks.

    "The response of deadly force was used by members of the Trenton Police Department in the crowded area of the Art All Night Gallery with no regard for the safety of the other patrons present," the notice claims. 

    Ravi Shah and Gerald H. Clark from Clark Law Firm, PC. are representing the claimants. 

    Spokespeople for Artworks, Trenton police and Trenton City Hall all said they do not comment on pending litigation.

    Authorities have charged two men with firearms related crimes in connection with the shooting. Both suspects also sustained gunshot wounds during the incident.

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


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    Victim Rufina Castro was 51 and worked at a local grocery store

    Carlos Ortiz, a Ewing man, convicted by a jury in August of strangling his girlfriend in their home two years ago, was sentenced to life in prison Friday, the Mercer County Prosecutor's office said.

    Ortiz, 53, killed Rufina Castro in August 2016 after they got into an argument at their Ewing home. He smashed a beer bottle over her head, strangled her with a phone cord, and then hid her body under laundry and blankets. She was 51 years old.

    carlos-ortiz-new.jpgCarlos Ortiz

    Ewing police  discovered Castro's body at her home on the 300 block of Ewingville Road while checking on her welfare. Following the murder, Ortiz had stopped by the Ewing Shop Rite where Castro worked and told her supervisor she wouldn't be coming in because she was sick, according to prosecutors and court testimony.

    He then fled to Belleville, where he checked into a motel. When police arrested him, he had Castro's credit and debit cards, some of her jewelry and a load of cocaine for personal use.

    Ortiz went to trial, where he took the witness stand and admitted to the strangling, saying it was self defense in a fight Castro started by throwing the bottle at him and trying to strangle him first. 

    The jury deliberated for less than an hour before convicting him of murder and six other crimes.

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


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    Some of the money went to a Ewing High School parents booster club, where the suspect had also stolen money

    A Hamilton woman who served as campaign treasurer for Trenton North Ward Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson has been charged with stealing more than $400,000 from her employer in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

    Authorities say Yolanda M. Torres, 43, used the money to pay a variety of personal bills, from rent and utilities, to her son's college tuition.

    But she also "donated" money to Caldwell-Wilson's campaign, the councilwoman's animal charity - the Lady Margaret Animal Foundation - as well as the Friends of Ewing Football organization.

    yolanda_torres.jpgYolanda Torres 

    Those sums, though, were to cover money she had already stolen from those organizations, where she also had access to their bank accounts as a treasurer or board member, the Bucks County District Attorney's Office alleged in court papers and statements.

    She was arraigned Tuesday morning on 10 felony theft and related counts in Bucks County. Detectives from Bucks and Mercer counties started investigating her in July.

    In a detailed multi-page affidavit in the case, Bucks detectives say the case began with a single complaint from Torres' employer, Shu Dental Laboratory Inc. in Morrisville, a maker of dental implants and supplies. She'd been hired there in July 2016 as a bookkeeper.

    The initial complaint was from a Shu client, who reported an unauthorized $1,316 charge on his business credit card, which Torres transacted. The company's owner questioned her about it, and she resigned shortly afterward.

    But detectives and the company investigated further, since Torres had full access and control of all company finances.

    They found she had changed the passwords on the company's financial software and started stealing almost from the day she started, the affidavit said. She also gave herself three pay raises on her own.

    Bucks detectives wrote that they've found Torres issued 188 unauthorized checks, each fraudulently stamped with the signature of the company's owner, and other unauthorized transactions from Shu Dental's business line of credit.

    All total, they add up to $439,637.19.

    Some checks she made out to herself and her son, who had a joint bank account in New Jersey, and others were made to entities.

    The affidavit says Torres issued four checks to Caldwell-Wilson's campaign totaling $21,009 from April 2017 to July 2018.

    Detectives talked to Caldwell-Wilson, in September, who told them Torres was her former campaign treasurer, and that she found Torres had also dispersed money from the councilwoman's campaign accounts without her knowledge, and she'd reported it to the Mercer prosecutor's office.

    Two Shu Dental checks went to Friends of Ewing Football in 2016 and 2017 that totaled $5,553.

    In an interview, Torres admitted much of her schemes, Bucks detectives wrote, including writing Shu Dental checks to her son and forging his name.

    Bucks authorities say Caldwell-Wilson and her animal charity, and Friend of Ewing Football, a Ewing High School parent booster club, are considered victims in the case.

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

     

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    Cities like Irvington, Paterson and Plainfield boast a respectable number of historic properties, as does Trenton.

    Count State Sen. Shirley Turner (D-Mercer) among a group of lawmakers looking to the past to preserve New Jersey's future.

    Specifically, the legislators hope a proposed tax credit would impel homeowners and developers to spur new growth in tired areas by rehabbing the many historic buildings dotting the landscape of the Garden State.

    Under provisions of a bill approved unanimously by the Senate State Government, Waging and Historic Preservation Committee, renovators of certain buildings would qualify for credit worth up to 25 percent of their total project - an incentive that could save homeowners a hefty $25,000 over a 10-year span.

    The amount would not be subject to caps for developers, but a project would require at least $5,000 in rehabilitation expenses to qualify.

    The 23 N.J. towns with the most old homes, ranked

    To be eligible, properties would have to be listed or located in the National Register of Historic Places, or the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.

    Cities like Irvington, Paterson and Plainfield boast a respectable number of these properties, as does Trenton. Turner singled out the city as an example of how the planned credit could serve as a driver for economic growth.

    "This is indeed a way to preserve our history," she said. "We have so many of [these buildings] right here in our capital city."

    Earlier this year, NJ.com analyzed the latest Census data, ranking municipalities with the highest percentage of housing units built before World War II. Many were older cities or townships, particularly in the northern part of the state.

    Trenton came in at No. 5.

    The push for a historic-preservation tax credit has a murky history of its own, going back to 2011, when former Gov. Chris Christie vetoed it as part of a package of post-recession bills.

    Lawmakers persisted over the years, but no similar legislation has gained traction until now, when Gov. Phil Murphy has identified historic preservation as a key way to stimulate the economy.

    Earlier this month, the Democratic leader cited $2 billion in revenues other states have collected by tapping into this resource.

    More than 30 states already have enacted tax credits to prompt historic rehabilitation, advocates at last week's committee hearing testified. Of the 13 colonies that originally made up our young country, only New Hampshire and New Jersey are hold-outs.

    The measure's sponsors wisely included language requiring state historic-preservation officials to report on how many credits have been awarded, how they have been distributed geographically, and how effective they've been.

    We have no crystal ball, but based on what we've seen, the bill would create new building jobs, generate employment taxes and increase the value of properties already on the tax rolls. It deserves the support of the full Legislature as it moves forward.

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

     

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    Batteries not included.

    The Strong National Museum of Play is located in Rochester, New York. Every year, it inducts a select few iconic toys into its National Toy Hall of Fame. The selections range from brand-specific items like the Atari 2600 game system (2006) to board games like Candy Land (2005) and generic playthings such as bubbles, bicycles and cardboard boxes.

    This year's inductees will be announced on Nov. 8 and will be selected from the following nominees:

    702c30ca12b99606e1029af0b975dc0d.jpgWill the Magic 8 Ball make the Toy Hall of Fame? "Cannot predict now." 

    * American Girl dolls
    * Pinball
    * Chalk
    * Sled
    * Chutes and Ladders
    * Tic-Tac-Toe
    * Fisher-Price Corn Popper
    * Tickle Me Elmo
    * Magic 8 Ball
    * Tudor Electric Football
    * Masters of the Universe
    * Uno

    New Jerseyans should particularly pull for the sled and electric football nominees, as both were invented in the Garden State; read more about them here and here.

    The museum inducted three toys in 2017: the Wiffle ball, the paper airplane and Clue. It's going to be hard to choose from among those 12 strong contenders.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    What was your favorite toy growing up? Aside from a special stuffed animal or doll friend, we all had favorite things to play with. While many have stood up to the test of time, others have slipped from our memories.

    Here's a gallery of toys and games from the past you might instantly recognize and others you may have forgotten about. Some are still around, while others have gone away for a variety of reasons.

    And here are links to other galleries you might enjoy:

    Vintage photos of pastimes and games in N.J.

    Vintage photos of N.J. Americana

    Vintage photos of how things have changed in N.J.

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


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    They hit 3 stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 2016. Watch video

    A Trenton man who's admitted his role in a string of armed robberies of cell phone stores in 2016 was sentenced Thursday to more than eight years in federal prison.

    Rodney Day, 27, pleaded guilty last year to committing three armed robberies of Metro PCS stores in Willingboro, Lumberton and Levittown, Pennsylvania over a two-weeks period in the fall of 2016.

    In all three robberies, investigators say the Metro PCS stores' occupants were bound with duct tape and forced into a storage closet or bathroom, and the cash registers ransacked.

    Zeldrick Nance, 31, of Trenton, and Lisa Anderson, 35, of Griffithville, Arkansas have also pleaded guilty for the robberies and await sentencing. 

    In each robbery, Day brandished what appeared to be a firearm while Nance duct taped store occupants and placed them in a separate room. Meanwhile, Anderson stole money from the cash registers, the New Jersey U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

    The trio would also take cell phones, the statement said. Fingerprints on a cell phone box that was recovered from a getaway vehicle lead to the arrests, investigators said. 

    Day was sentenced to 100 months of prison time, three years of supervised release and an ordered to pay $26,307 in restitution.

    Nance and Anderson are expected to be sentenced later this month. 

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

     

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    U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman said she was "doing well" after her treatment.

    U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman had a cancerous tumor removed this summer and is now recovering, she said Thursday.

    Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist., discussed her recovery with reporters in New Brunswick following a press conference to release a report by House Oversight Committee Democrats warning of the threat posed to New Jerseyans with pre-existing conditions by by President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans who control Congress.

    The 73-year-old congresswoman said she was undergoing chemotherapy to prevent the cancer from returning.

    "I'm doing well," Watson Coleman said. "I've got two more treatments, and then I am done. I'm just plowing through the chemo now." 

    Watson Coleman is a member of the House Oversight Committee. The report said policies pursued by Trump and congressional Republicans, who have attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and then took steps to weaken it, could result in as many as 94,000 New Jerseyans with pre-existing conditions being unable to buy health insurance.

    Watson Coleman said her own experience showed how crucial the health care law was.

    "Had I not had sort of routine interactions with my doctors, this probably would not have been picked up this early and I would not have the prognosis I have, which is that I'm cancer free," she said.

    Watson Coleman, first elected to the House in 2014, is running for re-election Tuesday against Daryl Kipnis in a race that she is strongly favored to win by the two Washington-based publications that track congressional races, the Cook Political Report and Inside Elections.

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Jonathan D. Salant contributed to this report.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    After turning over the governor's office to Democrat Murphy in January, former Republican Gov. Chris Christie has kept an unusually quiet profile.

    Think about it: Chris Christie and Phil Murphy as a comedy team. They could rival such greats as Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Gleason and Carney in "The Honeymooners" or Felix Unger and Oscar Madison of "The Odd Couple."

    You only have to listen to their recent banter to appreciate the pithy political trash talk they have been hurling at each other.

    A case in point was the different styles they used to warn residents about approaching hurricanes.

    Christie said bluntly to "get the hell off the beach" when Hurricane Irene was barreling down on New Jersey in 2011. In contrast, Murphy urged residents to "pretty please" get off the beach as the remnants of Hurricane Florence approached the Jersey Shore.

    Murphy was obviously being super polite to counterbalance Christie's trademark gruffness.

    It appears Christie could no longer hold his tongue and let loose about his successor at a public event at Rowan University in Glassboro recently.

    In Jersey, Christie slams Murphy. In Germany, Murphy responds.

    "Do they want a governor who says 'get the hell off the beach' or do they want one who says 'pretty please, pretty please get off the beach'?" Christie asked.

    Upon hearing Christie's remarks, Murphy shot back: "My late mother and father up in heaven - I'm looking up, I want to make sure everyone knows that I'm looking up - I would hope that they would be proud that they raised a polite son, so I'm proud of that and I'm proud of their parenting."

    Ouch!

    After turning over the governor's office to Democrat Murphy in January, Republican Christie has kept an unusually quiet profile.

    "I've always felt that it was important for me to give my successor some space and to give him some room to set his own course, pick his own path and be able to lead the state in the direction he wants to lead it. He won the election in 2017, and he's earned the right to be able to do that," Christie told the university audience.

    But Murphy has been relentless in blaming Christie for a host of problems in New Jersey, prompting Christie to quip, "My successor can't stop talking about me. Other than Tammy (Murphy's wife), I'm the second most popular name that comes out of his mouth."

    In true comeback style, Murphy responded: "But I do want the governor to know this, he may be in second place in terms of how often his name is mentioned behind Tammy. But he has no chance of getting into second place behind Tammy on (good) night kisses."

    These two would make a natural comedy team for a slot on radio or even a TV or cable series. The only stumbling block might be deciding who will be the second banana.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

    Rutgers wrestle-off results

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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    Delbarton's Pat Glory was one of Princeton's top recruits ever and could spark the Tigers to greater heights.

    The 2018-2019 Princeton University wrestling season is the most anticipated for the program in recent memory, and if the Tigers reach their goals of being a perennial Top-10 team nationally this might be the year that goes down as the unofficial start of a special climb. 

    Backed by a stellar freshman class headlined by two-time NJ.com Wrestler of the Year and state champion Pat Glory, Princeton starts this year nationally ranked by several publications despite a 4-9 dual meet season against a challenging schedule a year ago. 

    Princeton is ranked No. 15 by FloWrestling and Intermat, No. 17 by WIN Magazine and No. 18 (tournament) by Openmat. 

    The Tigers finished the year with a. third-place finish in the EIWAs and saw sophomore Matt Kolodzik finish third in the country at 149 pounds. Kolodzik returns this year and is ranked No. 1 in the country by the four major ranking sites. 

    Kolodzik ranked No. 1

    "I think we have a young team," said Princeton coach Chris Ayres. "We have the 8th-ranked recruiting class in the country. Surprisingly you never know what that means until you see what they actually do on this level, but I've been impressed with this group. 

    "We're going to have about 3-4 freshmen starting. I don't think that's a bad thing. We're going to have some impact guys right away. Pat Glory at 125 was the highest ranked coming in. He's been really impressive and exceeded our expectations." 

    In addition to Glory at 125, Ayres said Marshall Keller (141) and Travis Stefanik (174) are likely starters and a fourth could be at 157. 

    Glory was the No. 1-ranked 126-pounder in the country a year ago when he capped his stellar four-year career at Delbarton. He then scored a dominating 16-3 win over Penn State commit Gavin Teasdale at the Beat the Streets event in Brooklyn last year. 

    Ayres referred to Glory as a wolf in sheep's clothing this past March and said his top recruit is living up to the billing. 

    "Pat looks unassuming, but he is tough in all positions, he's so good on top," said Ayres. "Coming into college, a lot of kids have trouble on top and bottom, so he's at such an advantage. Everyone should be on watch because he's special." 

    Glory is more than ready for the next chapter in his wrestling career. His goal is to be a national champion - not just down the road, but this year. 

    He says it's a goal that is shared by everyone in the Princeton program. 

    "Every single kid on this team is training to be a national champion," said Glory. "The coaches said the moment I stepped in the room your goal is to win a national title. Don't let anybody tell you any different. You see guys coming in doing extra lifts, doing the little things big-time Big Ten schools are doing. 

    "(Seeing Kolodzik) receive a No. 1 ranking makes everything real right now. I can do this. It's not that far-fetched. If Kolodzik can do it, why not me? I watch his technique, how much lifting he's doing. He's a person to see and relate himself to. He's at the top of the next level and it's great following his example." 

    Kolodzik, a two-time All-American, said the program goals and work ethic have never been higher.

    "Over the past couple years we've been on a steady climb upwards," said Kolodzik. "You can feel the electricity in the room. We have a whole bunch of guys ready to make big things happen, and it's been that way since the first practice." 

    Glory said when he looked at colleges he wanted the best combination of wrestling and academics as possible. He found it at Princeton, where one of his training partners and the likely starter at 133 pounds is another former Delbarton state champion in Ty Agaisse. 

    Glory's commitment set the wheels in motion for a 2018-2019 freshman class that could thrust Princeton into the national spotlight for years to come. 

    "I've always considered myself a leader and a role model, a guy people can follow," said Glory. "The coaches have talked about this year and years past. The class of 2022 is just phenomenal. There's so much depth, eight freshmen. ... It feels like a Top-10 room. To be able to help Princeton take these high steps, I'm blessed to be where I am." 

    Ayres said the goals for this season should be to win an EIWA title, place in the top 10 nationally and come home from the NCAA Championships with a national champion and multiple All-Americans. It appears those lofty hopes will be an annual occurrence. 

    "Up until about five years ago, I was selling a vision," said Ayres, who is entering his 13th year at Princeton. "It took some leaps of faith to commit to us. Matthew Kolodzik was really the first Top-10 recruit we had and he transitioned well. And now you have Pat, who was No. 1, looks at that and says I can do that there, and it snowballs.

    "Now the evidence is there, it makes sense that we will be a Top-10 program that produces national champions and All-Americans. This is shaping up to be the best Princeton wrestling team we've had."

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


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    Detectives say he got about $900 from one robbery

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

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

    elbaum-mug.jpgMark Elbaum, police photo 

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

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

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

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

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

    Elbaum remains in the Somerset County Jail.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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