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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    Lawmakers will begin to debate legislation. "This is long overdue," one said.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Are you interested in the N.J. cannabis industry? Subscribe here for exclusive insider information from NJ Cannabis Insider.

    The nearly year-long slog to have a multi-billion-dollar legal marijuana industry in the Garden State takes a major first step Monday.

    State lawmakers will begin to debate a recently unveiled bill that would pave the way to making New Jersey the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana.

    The measure has been debated privately in the Democrat-controlled state Legislature for years, but never stood a chance of becoming a reality under former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who stood in staunch opposition. 

    But with a change in leadership 10-months ago in Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who campaigned on legalizing cannabis, lawmakers are finally set to put the process in motion. 

    Public discussion on the 147-page "New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act" begins Monday, followed by legislative votes to push the measure to the next step in the process: a full vote on the floors of the state Senate and Assembly.

    In short, the legislation would legalize the possession and personal use of one ounce or less of marijuana for people at least 21 years old, and create, regulate and impose a 12 percent tax a commercial marijuana industry in the state. An extra 2 percent excise tax would be raised for towns which host cannabis businesses.

    It also creates a framework for an "expedited expungement" process for people who have prior arrests and convictions for possession or distributing up to an ounce of marijuana. Within six months of the law's enactment, the Administrative Office of the Courts must create an electronic filing system for expedited expungements.

    "This is what most of New Jersey has been waiting for," said Assemblyman Jamel Holley, D-Union, one of the bill's sponsors. "There's been a lot of dialogue from legislative leadership, lawmakers and those interested in the public policy, and now everyone is waiting for this next step. We have a great opportunity to hear everyone's legitimate concerns and from those who support it, what we can do better."

    "This is long overdue," he said.

    NJ Cannabis Insider

    The public will get just one opportunity to be heard -- at 10 a.m. Monday at the Statehouse in Trenton -- as state lawmakers from both houses of the Legislature will hold one hearing on the long-awaited legislation.

    The negotiations over the legalization bill have stalled in recent months between state Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Murphy, who have disagreed over the tax rate and whether a new commission should exercise control over the new industry.

    Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said he and the Democratic governor have not agreed on the bill. But he said he didn't want to wait any longer.

    The Senate and Assembly budget committees will meet to debate and vote on the legalization bill, (S2703), which would also permit cannabis delivery services and permit dispensaries to create "consumption" areas -- public lounges separate from the retail operation, where people could get high.

    Holley said he became involved to help shape the social justice aspects of the bill -- how people will be able to expunge offenses that will no longer be a crime in New Jersey, and how minorities, women and disabled veterans will be given opportunities to participate in what is expected to be a $2 billion economy.

    The social equity aspects of the bill "will be one of the best in the country," he said.

    In addition, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee is scheduled to meet at the same time down the hall to approve two bills, (S10) and (S2426) that promise to make the medicinal marijuana law more consumer-friendly and expand the economic reach of the medical market.

    The medicinal marijuana bills will be forwarded to the joint budget committees, which are expected to approve them on Monday, as well.

    Since March, when Murphy expanded the list of qualifying medical conditions and reduced the cost of patient registration, enrollment has doubled, from 18,500 patients to 37,500, according to the state health department. 

    But the new legislation would give doctors more freedom to recommend the program to a wider array of patients and help patients control costs by reducing the number of times they must see a doctor to maintain their eligibility, from four times a year to once a year. And entrepreneurs will be permitted to operate as for-profit entities, making it easier to attract investors.

    "The bill measurably increases patient access and lowers costs, and those are key elements for any patient who, under the current law, has to pay out-of-pocket," said state Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, chairman of the Senate's health committee.

    All legislation must be voted on by the full 80-member Assembly and 40-member Senate before it goes to the governor's desk.

    Susan K. Livio may be reached at slivio@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio.

    Matt Arco may be reached at marco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.


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    The man was found walking near milepost 73.4 on I-295 in Hopewell.

    Editor's Note: This story was updated with new information after the man was identified.

    Police have identified the man who had been found walking on I-295 in Mercer County on Saturday. 

    He is currently being treated at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton. 

    The New Jersey State Police had sought the public's assistance Saturday evening to help identify the man after they found him walking along I-295 near Hopewell Township on Saturday.

    He was walking near milepost 73.4 when cops found him, the State Police said on Facebook Saturday evening. 

    The man was confused and had trouble identifying himself, police said. The man told police his name might be Arthur, that he has a daughter in New York and he might have been born on May 25, 1936. 

    He was wearing black jeans, a gray jacket and a Minnesota Twins baseball hat when police found him.

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

     


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    Of course not: the Cityzens continued their unbeaten rampage through the Premier League with a 4-0 away win over West Ham.

    After the last international break of 2018, the teams at the top of the Premier League hit the ground running Saturday.

    But after 13 games, the number of unbeaten teams, which was a record three after 12 games, has been whittled down to two thanks to Tottenham.

    The Spurs moved ahead of formerly unbeaten Chelsea into third place, behind second place Liverpool and league leaders Manchester City. Tottenham beat the Blues in consecutive league matches for the first time in 30 years.

    Can Arsenal continue to pressure the top four sides Sunday? The Gunners look likely to be the only team left to challenge the top four, after a disappointing result from last season's runner-up Manchester United.

    SATURDAY RESULTS

    Brighton 1-1 Leicester City

    Everton 1-0 Cardiff City

    Fulham 3-2 Southampton

    Manchester United 0-0 Crystal Palace

    Watford 0-3 Liverpool

    West Ham United 0-4 Manchester City

    Tottenham 3-1 Chelsea

    SATURDAY'S THREE STARS

    Aleksandar Mitrovic, Fulham

    Two goals, including the second half winner, to help Fulham get off the bottom of the table. Mitrovic was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with a 9.22 rating.

    Leroy Sane, Manchester City

    The perfect 10s are piling up for unbeaten City, and this week it was from Sane. He had a brace, plus an assist, and was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with a 10 rating.

    Harry Kane, Tottenham

    Helped lead the rout of Chelsea with a 16th minute goal, which gave the hosts an early 2-0 lead. Kane was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with an 8.84 rating.

    Premier League recap: 42-pass goal gives Manchester City derby day win

    MANCHESTER CITY WEEKLY PREMIER LEAGUE UNBEATEN WATCH

    Did Manchester City lose this weekend?

    Of course not: the Cityzens continued their unbeaten rampage through the Premier League with a 4-0 away win over West Ham.

    Manchester City has a huge UEFA Champions League game Tuesday in Lyon, France, where a win can wrap up top spot in Group F. It then returns to Premier League action next Saturday at home against Bournemouth, and three days later away to Watford.

    FULHAM WIN IN RANIERI'S DEBUT; EVERTON UP TO SIXTH

    After one win from 12 to start the season, Claudio Ranieri took the reins at Fulham to right the ship.

    Mitrovic made sure that his debut brought home three points. The Cottagers held on for a 3-2 victory over Southampton, to move off the bottom of the table at least until Monday. Fulham has more than enough talent to make a move up the table, just like Crystal Palace did last season. Will that be the case?

    Everton made its move from mid-table into the UEFA Europa League spots, with a 1-0 win over Cardiff. Gylfi Sigurdsson's 59th minute winner has the Toffees moving the right direction heading into a tricky festive period. Everton all of the top three teams in the table in its next five matches, starting next week with the Liverpool derby on the road across Stanley Park.

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR SUNDAY

    Can Arsenal continue to play well, and hang in with the top four?

    The Gunners have played well, and have a chance to move within a point of London rival Chelsea with a win on the road over Bournemouth. Arsenal has two tough matches after this weekend: they Gunners host Tottenham next Sunday, and visit Manchester United Wednesday, December 5. 

    SUNDAY SCHEDULE

    Bournemouth vs. Arsenal, 8:30 a.m. EST (NBC Sports)

    Wolverhampton vs. Huddersfield Town, 11 a.m. EST  (NBC Sports)

    MONDAY SCHEDULE

    Burnley vs. Newcastle United, 3 p.m. EST  (NBC Sports)

    MIDWEEK UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SCHEDULE

    All times 3 p.m. EST unless noted

    Tuesday

    Group E

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

    Bayern Munich vs. Benfica

    Group F

    Hoffenheim vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

    Lyon vs. Manchester City

    Group G

    CSKA Moscow vs. Viktoria Plzen, 12:55 p.m. EST

    Roma vs. Real Madrid

    Group H

    Juventus vs. Valencia

    Manchester United vs. Young Boys

    Wednesday

    Group A

    Atletico Madrid vs. Monaco, 12:55 p.m. EDT

    Dortmund vs. Club Brugge

    Group B

    Tottenham vs. Internazionale 

    PSV Eindhoven vs. Barcelona

    Group C

    Napoli vs. Red Star Belgrade

    PSG vs. Liverpool

    Group D

    Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Galatasaray, 12:55 p.m. EDT

    Porto vs. Schalke 04

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


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    The towering blaze drew numerous fire departments for mutual aid. Watch video

    Firefighters from multiple towns converged on Trumball Avenue in Lawrence Township Saturday afternoon, where flames engulfed at least one building.

    Bystander video and photos showed a towering blaze and smoke billowing into the sky in the Mercer County community.

    Lawrence fire and police officials were unavailable for comment as they battled the blaze around 5 p.m., but firefighters in nearby Trenton and Plainsboro confirmed they sent trucks and crews to help fight the fire. They did not have any information about whether anyone was injured in the blaze.

    Scanner transmissions indicate the fire was first reported around 4:30 p.m. and placed under control around 5:30 p.m.

    A dispatcher at the Lawrence Township Police Department said the fire marshal was responding.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption from shelters and rescues.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We are now accepting dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com.

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


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    It is unconscionable that students in the Trenton school district were left without security protection because of a monumental lack of communication.

    It is unconscionable that thousands of students in the Trenton school district were left without security protection because of a monumental lack of communication.

    A simmering dispute involving competing private security companies resulted in personnel from one of those firms not showing up for work earlier this month because of concerns of not being paid.

    The security contract quarrel is something the district and the companies will have to settle through legal means, but what school officials should not have allowed is letting students come to school without adequate security in place.

    To underline the seriousness of the situation, police and school officials had to contend with a bomb threat at Trenton Central High School's visual and performing arts building while security guards were absent.

    In the end, the city had to step in and reassign police officers from their regular duties, where they are stretched thin, to the 21 schools in the district.

    Mayor Reed Gusciora said he was "disappointed" that he was not made aware sooner of problems with the school security guard contracts, and that his administration was not given the opportunity to work with the school board "to rectify the situation before it became problematic."

    New Trenton H.S. is starting to look like a school

    Even after police were assigned to take over school security roles, Gusciora said six elementary schools were left unguarded during the morning hours despite assurances from the district that they would be covered by security guards.

    After receiving calls from parents and school staff, the city dispatched police officers to the schools, Gusciora said.

    All this commotion comes at a time when parents have every reason to be fearful about the safety of their children at school. Sadly, there have been too many instances of mass shootings in schools around the country.

    In the immediate aftermath of the breakdown in security, there has been embarrassing silence from Superintendent Fred McDowell and school board chief Gene Bouie. We need assurances from our school leaders that something is being done to keep our kids safe.

    At a recent school board meeting, Trenton Education Association President Twanda Taylor called on McDowell and Bouie resign.

    It is evident that the school district's leaders need to communicate and coordinate better with city officials to avoid these unsafe situations. If that doesn't happen, then something must change.

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


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    Students had picked the fast casual restaurant as their No. 1 choice in a campus survey.

    A New Jersey college gave its students the chance to pick which new restaurant they wanted on campus -- so long as it wasn't Chick-fil-A. 

    After students at Rider University voted for the fast casual restaurant as their top choice in the spring, the private college sent another survey this fall and excluded the fast casual restaurant "based on the company's record widely perceived to be in opposition to the LGBTQ+ community," according to the university. 

    "Ultimately, we decided to lean in the direction of creating a welcoming environment where differences can be appreciated and where each individual can expect to experience dignity and respect," administrators wrote in a letter explaining the decision. "In many ways, this issue is one that goes beyond our decision and touches on a complex conversation taking place throughout the country." 

    The decision quickly sparked backlash, with one student telling the website Campus Reform, "they sell chicken, so as far as I am concerned that should be the focus." 

    Chick-fil-A's corporate values have stirred controversy since 2012, when its president spoke against same-sex marriage and news reports revealed the company donated to organizations opposed to same-sex marriage. 

    That prompted boycotts and kiss-ins from LGTBQ advocates and a rival "Chic-fil-A Appreciation Day" organized by conservative politician Mike Huckabee. 

    Rider's decision required a difficult assessment of competing interests, the university said. 

    "The choices in this situation, like in so many others, were imperfect," administrators wrote. "They challenged us to reflect on our values and consider what kind of community we want to provide for those who live and learn at Rider University. 

    The university has asked its Center for Diversity and Inclusion to organize a campus forum so that the voices of students, faculty, staff and others can continue to be heard. 

    "We fully acknowledge an organization's right to hold these beliefs, just as we acknowledge the right for individuals in our community and elsewhere to also personally hold the same beliefs," campus officials wrote. 

    Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind NJ.com on Facebook

     

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    Last year's Women's March on New Jersey attracted more than 15,000 people.

    The first Women's March on New Jersey attracted about 7,500 marchers to Trenton the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration.

    About 15,000 people packed Morristown Green in January for the 2018 Women's March on New Jersey.

    Now, organizers are planning to march for a third time.

    The 2019 Women's March on New Jersey will be held in Trenton on Jan. 19, organizers have announced.

    The 11 a.m. march will begin at the State House Annex on West State Street and conclude on the steps of the War Memorial around 1 p.m., the announcement said. More details, including speakers and the event's mission statement, will be announced later.

    "The organizers of the Women's March on New Jersey want women, here in our state, to rally together for something, not demonstrate against something," organizers said.

    The New Jersey march is expected to be one of dozens of similar women's marches held around the country Jan. 19.

    The largest event is expected to be the Women's March on Washington, which is being organized by the national women's march organization. Sister marches will be held in cities around the nation, including large marches in New York and Philadelphia.

    The women's march movement began in 2016 as a way to send a message about women's rights and other issues after the election of President Trump. The first Women's March on Washington in January 2017, along with its sister marches around the world, attracted surprisingly large crowds and became the largest mass-protest event in the nation's history.

    The marches spawned a national movement and non-profit fundraising group.

    The Women's March on New Jersey is not associated with the national Women's March, Inc. organization and is not accepting any financial help from the national group for the march in Trenton, organizers said.

    "We are coming together on the day of the national women's march, because we believe in the power of diverse, fierce, and compassionate women standing together in solidarity at the same time. We believe the women's march is not a brand, but, rather a powerful movement that should be inclusive, accepting and supportive of all women," the New Jersey organizers said.

    In January, Gov. Phil Murphy and first lady Tammy Murphy were among the speakers at the Women's March in Morristown. Tammy Murphy used her speech at the event to reveal she had been sexually assaulted in college.

    This year's New Jersey march is being organized by a steering committee with more than 50 members, organizers said.

    "Our members represent issues ranging from the environment, voting rights, immigration, and gun control to Black Lives Matter, healthcare, sexual assault, criminal justice reform, education, LGBTQ rights, and more," organizers said.

    Though the event is free and tickets are not required, there is an event page where marchers can register to attend and get more information.

    Kelly Heyboer may be reached at kheyboer@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporteron Facebook.


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    Mark D'Amico and Johnny Bobbitt both had court dates this week

    Two of the people accused of fabricating a story to generate hundreds of thousands in donations for a crowdfunding campaign had court dates this week.

    Mark D'Amico appeared in municipal court in Florence on Monday to address charges that he was trespassing by continuing to stay at a home in the township. The landlord at that home, Leslie DeAngelo, is the grandmother of Kate McClure, another person charged in the alleged GoFundMe fraud scheme.

    In the trespassing case, DeAngelo charged D'Amico with disobeying an Oct. 2 notice to leave the property. She wrote that he promised he would be out Nov. 1 and later changed the locks and stayed there.

    The Monday hearing was rescheduled to Dec. 17 to give D'Amico time to address the charges or come back to court, Philly.com reported.

    D'Amico's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

    Also on Tuesday, Johnny Bobbitt, the homeless man and purported benefactor of the money, but who prosecutors say helped out with the scheme, was scheduled for an extradition hearing in Philadelphia.

    That hearing was continued to Thursday, Pennsylvania court records show. Those also indicate that Bobbitt remains in Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia.

    A city prisons spokeswoman said Bobbitt would have to return Thursday because detainer orders keeping him in Philadelphia still needed to be addressed. After that, he could be sent to New Jersey.

    Messages left for the public defender who represented Bobbitt on Tuesday were not immediately returned.

    James Gerrow, the lawyer representing McClure, declined comment on the developments of her codefendants.

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

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    The killing is the city's second this month Watch video

    A woman was killed in the 800 block of Stuyvesant Avenue Tuesday afternoon, cut down in a shooting that has created a similar scene at this intersection: bullet casings scattered around and detectives working behind yellow crime scene tape.

    The woman, was not immediately identified by authorities. Officials said she was young, in her late teens or early 20s. She was taken to a city hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

    Trenton police responded to the scene at about 2:15 p.m., the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said. The office's Homicide Task Force is investigating.

    No arrests or charges were reported, and no other information was immediately available from authorities.

    The killing is the city's second this month.

    On Nov. 14, Quanmir Spears, of Ewing, was shot dead in the 300 block of Spring Street. No arrests or charges in his murder have been announced.

    Fatal shooting on Stuyvesant Avenue in TrentonPolice investigate a fatal shooting on Stuyvesant Avenue at the intersection of Hoffman Avenue on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. (Michael Mancuso | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

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


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    Marouane Fellaini scored the other (in the 91st minute), to send Manchester United through in Group H.

    UEFA Champions League match day five is usually when teams make their move to clinch a spot in the knockout stage.

    Tuesday, with Groups E, F, G, and H on tap, that is exactly what happened. Seven of the eight teams that will qualify for the round-of-16 draw December 17 in Nyon, Switerland have been identified. The lone match day six deciding contest will come in Ukraine on Wednesday, December 12, with Shakhtar Donetsk hosting Lyon. A win or draw for Lyon will see the French side advance, with a loss moving Shakhtar into the next round.

    Shakhtar Donetsk is still alive thanks to a 92nd minute goal from Taison (9:24 in), one of two games to be decided in stoppage time. Marouane Fellaini scored the other (in the 91st minute), to send Manchester United through in Group H.

    Real Madrid has clinched the top spot in Group G, with Roma second, while the other five teams will battle for placing.

    What drama will Wednesday bring?

    TUESDAY RESULTS

    (*Clinched qualification to round-of-16)

    Group E

    AEK Athens 0-2 Ajax*

    Bayern Munich* 5-1 Benfica

    Group F

    Hoffenheim 2-3 Shakhtar Donetsk

    Lyon 2-2 Manchester City*

    Group G

    CSKA Moscow 1-2 Viktoria Plzen, 12:55 p.m. EST

    Roma* 0-2 Real Madrid*

    Group H

    Juventus* 1-0 Valencia

    Manchester United* 1-0 Young Boys

    TUESDAY"S THREE STARS

    Maxwel Cornet, Lyon

    His two goals have the French side on the brink of qualification. Cornet was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with a 9.46 rating.

    Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich

    His brace, along with Arjen Robben's, has the German side through to the next round. Lewandowski was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with a 9.21 rating.

    Taison, Shakhtar Donetsk

    The forward dragged his side back into the Champions League. He had two goals, including the 91st minute winner, and added an assist. He was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with a 9.91 rating.

    Manchester City, Liverpool continue unbeaten Premier League starts

    SEVEN TEAMS QUALIFY FOR KNOCKOUT STAGE TUESDAY

    Ajax will host Bayern Munich in Group E on match day six, and an Ajax win will allow the Dutch side to top the group. A draw or loss will mean Bayern Munich finishes first.

    Manchester City will win Group F with a point, or if Lyon drops points.

    Real Madrid won Group G, with Roma second.

    Juventus will win Group H with a win, while a draw or loss plus a Manchester United win will mean the English side tops the group.

    WEDNESDAY SCHEDULE

    All times 3 p.m EST unless noted

    Group A

    Atletico Madrid vs. Monaco, 12:55 p.m. EDT (TNT and Fubo.tv)

    Dortmund vs. Club Brugge (Fubo.tv)

    Group B

    Tottenham vs. Internazionale (TNT and Fubo.tv)

    PSV Eindhoven vs. Barcelona (UniMas and Fubo.tv)

    Group C

    Napoli vs. Red Star Belgrade (Fubo.tv)

    PSG vs. Liverpool (Univision and Fubo.tv)

    Group D

    Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Galatasaray, 12:55 p.m. EDT (Galavision and Fubo.tv)

    Porto vs. Schalke 04 (Fubo.tv)

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR WEDNESDAY

    The two Manchester clubs are through to the knockout stage. Wednesday, Tottenham may get knocked out, while Liverpool could be in massive trouble with a loss.

    While Liverpool sits atop Group C heading into match day five, it could end the day in third place. The Reds (six points) have to visit PSG (five points), with the Parisian side needing a result to stay alive. Napoli (six points) can move to the top of the group with a win over Red Star Belgrade.

    For Tottenham, it is much simpler: the Hotspurs have to beat Inter at Wembley to stay alive. Any other result will not be enough to advance. 

    Will Tottenham step up in its biggest match of the season?

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


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    The sweep, dubbed "Operation Trading Post," focused on individuals accused of trafficking child pornography online.

    Editor's note: This story was updated to include a brief statement from a Princeton University spokesperson and a statement from an attorney representing Alexander Ecock.

    A Princeton University director, a former member of the Environmental Commission in Atlantic Highlands and a high-level manager at ING Financial Markets were among 15 people arrested in a massive child pornography sweep in Monmouth County, officials announced Wednesday.

    The sweep, dubbed "Operation Trading Post," operated between June and October, and focused on the trafficking of child pornography online.

    "It is incumbent on everyone, particularly those of us in law enforcement, to protect children from harm and exploitation. To that end, Operation Trading Post caught individuals who shamelessly viewed and shared depraved images of children being sexually abused," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement announcing the arrests.

    All 14 defendants were charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in state prison and parole supervision for life. Some of the defendants received second-degree endangering offenses and will face up to 10 years in prison.

    One defendant, William McMahon, 64, of Keansburg, made plans to meet what he believed was a 14-year-old boy online, authorities said. He was charged with luring, a second-degree offense, and one count of attempted sexual assault.

    McMahon's attorney, Brian Goldenfarb, declined to comment.

    Here are the names of the defendants who were arrested:

    • Jonathan Henry, 22, of Keyport. Officials say Henry was employed as a dishwasher at The Turning Point, a restaurant with multiple locations in the Jersey Shore area.
    • Rene Torres, 48, of Howell, a vice president of operations for ING Financial Markets.
    • Brian Foley, 60, of Atlantic Highlands. Foley is an information technology specialist with Cerner Corporation and a former member of the Environmental Commission in Atlantic Highlands, according to the prosecutor's statement.
    • Gregory Cantrell, 61, of Freehold. Cantrell is the associate director of Environmental Health and Safety at Princeton University. A university spokesman, Mike Hotchkiss, said, "We are aware of the charge and are cooperating with authorities. The employee has been placed on administrative leave." 
    • Joshua Valerio, 37, of Eatontown, a laborer at Love, Inc., a religious non-profit group.
    • Michael Balbosa, 34, of Neptune City. Balbosa is a courier with Federal Express, officials said.
    • Fady Elghazaly, 33, of Marlboro, a mechanic with United Airlines.
    • Ronald Paul, 56, of Freehold.
    • Ryan Marques, 18, of Howell.
    • David Wu, 32, of Hazlet.
    • Thiago Thebald-Simas, 24, of Long Branch.
    • Alexander Ecock, 22, of Freehold. An attorney for Ecock, Richard Incremona, said, "My client has been charged with a possessory offense. He's not a danger to anyone in the community. And he is pursuing his defense in the normal course where it should be done in a court room, not in a public arena."
    • A Holmdel juvenile whose name was not released.
    • Anthony Johnson, 38, of Neptune Township.

    Jonathan F. Marshall, an attorney representing Balbosa, Torres and Wu, said, "We're working diligently to defend the charges."

    Attorneys for the other defendants either declined to comment or were not immediately available for comment. 

    NJ Advance Media reporter Paige Gross contributed to this report.

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    The 19-year-old tried to run into a corner store in Trenton, but was struck by several bullets

    A corner shop's surveillance cameras captured the moments two gunmen opened fire on a 19-year-old woman in Trenton on Tuesday afternoon. 

    Shaela Johnson, 19, was shot multiple times and killed on the 800 block of Stuyvesant Avenue in the West Ward. 

    NBC10 posted an edited version of the footage, showing two gunmen getting out of a car, and Johnson trying to escape them by fleeing inside the store. 

    Johnson was rushed to a city hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said.

    Authorities on Tuesday night said they were looking for two gunmen who opened fire on Johnson.

    No arrests or charges were reported, and no other information was immediately available from authorities on Wednesday.

    Mayor Reed Gusciora issued a statement Wednesday, asking anyone with information about the shooting to call authorities at 609-989-3663 or send an anonymous and confidential text message to 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S).

    "We cannot end violence in our City through statements or inaction; and it cannot be done overnight," Gusciora said. "These destructive acts rise from the proliferation of guns in urban centers across this country and a lack of will to address the issue on the federal level."

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

     

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    The attacks cost victims more than $6 million in ransom payments and more than $30 million in damages, prosecutors said

    Two hackers in Iran were behind an international wave of ransomware attacks that shut down Newark's computer systems until the city paid $30,000 last year, federal and local officials said Wednesday.

    An indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Newark accuses Faramarz Shari Savandi and Morammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri of running what Assistant U.S. Attorney General Brian Benczkowski called "an extreme form of 21st century digital blackmail," using the SamSam ransomware to target vulnerable institutions across the U.S. and Canada.

    The ransomware, which encrypts the files of a target computer until the victim pays the hackers, was also used to attack the computer systems of the city of Atlanta, Georgia, the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada, and numerous hospitals, among other victims.

    Craig Carpenito, the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, told reporters at the Justice Department's Washington headquarters the hackers had looked for institutions "that could least afford to have downtime."

    Prosecutors said Savandi and Mansouri directed their victims to download the encrypted Tor internet browser and navigate to hidden web pages, where they were instructed to pay a designated ransom amount in Bitcoin, a so-called "cryptocurrency."

    The hackers used European-based servers to launch the attacks outside of their victims' regular business hours, scanning for vulnerabilities in the targeted computer systems, Carpenito said.

    The men allegedly targeted computers on Newark's city systems on April 25, 2017.

    "These attacks seriously compromised our networks and disrupted vital services that we provide to residents," Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement. 

    He said the city ultimately paid the hackers a bitcoin ransom worth about $30,000 as recommended by law enforcement "in order to prevent long term disruption."

    "Both the FBI and Department of Justice were extremely helpful in guiding us every step of the way and assisting in a situation we had never faced before," Baraka said. "The city of Newark has significantly strengthened its cyber defenses and learned a great deal from having gone through this experience."

    Newark SamSam ransomware messageThe ransom note displayed on Newark city computer systems hijacked in a 2017 attack using the SamSam ransomware. (U.S. Justice Department)

    The attacks ultimately cost the hackers' victims more than $6 million in ransom payments and more than $30 million in losses from lack of access to their data, according to the indictment.

    Savandi, 34, and Mansouri, 27, developed the ransomware in 2015 and first used it a year later against a business in Mercer County, according to the six-count indictment.

    The two men have been charged with conspiracy, intentionally damaging protected computers and demanding ransom in relation to the damage.

    Benczkowski told reporters that authorities were hopeful the two men could be arrested while they traveled or through other means.

    The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday also announced sanctions against two Iranian nationals accused of processing the bitcoin payments of SamSam victims, accusing them of providing material support to cyber criminals.

    Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan used two digital addresses to process more than 7,000 bitcoin transactions worth millions of U.S. dollars, officials said in a statement.

    The sanctions mark the first time specific digital currency addresses have been attributed to foreign individuals sanctioned by the Treasury Department, officials said.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on Facebook.

     


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    Trenton police found his motorcycle the night before and initially thought it was abandoned

    A Hamilton man found dead in the median of Route 29 in Trenton two years ago, a day after his motorcycle was found nearby, survived the crash but died when responding police failed to find him, a lawsuit charges.

    Paul Corelli was 45 years when he died in November 2016. 

    Trenton police found his motorcycle on a Tuesday evening, and initially thought it was abandoned.

    The next night, police said at the time, Corelli was found dead in the median of the highway, near the intersection with South Warren Street. They said they suspected he was thrown off the motorcycle, which was about 900 feet away along the highway.

    A recently-filed lawsuit says Corelli's friends found him while out searching for him because he had not returned home and was not answering his phone.

    It should have been Trenton police officers that found him, and they negligently failed in doing so the night before when he apparently crashed, the suit, filed by his daughter Amanda Corelli says.

    Paul Corelli's medical records show he survived the crash, but died "many hours later."

    At the time, an autopsy on Corelli found he died of multiple traumatic injuries and the manner of his death was listed as accidental, authorities said in 2016.

    The four-count suit says Trenton officers not only failed to search for him, but were negligent in their training of officers in such a situation. The lawsuit, filed in Mercer County Superior Court, names the Trenton police department and city as defendants.

    Trenton police do not comment on pending litigation.

    Corelli lived in the Trenton / Hamilton area his entire life, and was a 1989 graduate of Steinert High School in Hamilton. He was also survived by his parents, two sons and his companion, Tina Gallagher, his obituary said.

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


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    Liverpool fell into third place in Group C, and only a clear two-goal win over Napoli on match day six will see 2018's runner-up move on in the tournament.

    Wednesday's UEFA Champions League match day five contests saw mixed results for the English sides, with qualification to the knockout stage in the balance on the final day of games Tuesday, December 11.

    Liverpool fell into third place in Group C, and only a clear two-goal win over Napoli on match day six will see 2018's runner-up move on in the tournament.

    Tottenham struggled all match with Internazionale, but Christian Eriksen came through with an 80th minute winner to move the Spurs even on points with the Italian team.

    All Tottenham has to do now is go to Barcelona and better the result of Inter, which will host PSV Eindhoven. With the Blaugrana already confirmed as Group B winners, will they play a massively-weakened side against the Spurs?

    Yes they will: but can Tottenham get the result is needs, or will the Spurs pull a "Spurs"?

    WEDNESDAY RESULTS

    Group A

    Atletico Madrid 2-0 Monaco

    Dortmund 0-0 Club Brugge 

    Group B

    Tottenham 1-0 Internazionale 

    PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Barcelona 

    Group C

    Napoli 3-1 Red Star Belgrade 

    PSG 2-1 Liverpool 

    Group D

    Lokomotiv Moscow 2-0 Galatasaray

    Porto 3-1 Schalke 04 

    WEDNESDAY'S THREE STARS

    Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid 

    Goal and an assist for the Atletico ace, who has his side on the brink of a first place finish in Group A. He was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with an 8.19 rating.

    Marek Hamsik, Napoli

    A goal and an assist from Hamsik has the Italian side a point away from advancing to the knockout stage. He was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with an 8.51 rating.

    Eder Militao, Porto

    The center back scored in the 51st minute, to lead Porto to a Group D title. He was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with a 7.91 rating.

    Champions League: Fellaini hands Manchester United knockout berth

    PORTO, BARCELONA WIN THEIR GROUPS; FIVE TEAMS ADVANCE

    Group D was supposed to be the "Group of Life", but Porto had other thoughts. The Portuguese side has run roughshod through the group with 13 ppints, and locked up the top spot Wednesday with a 3-1 win over confirmed runner-up Schalke 04.

    Barcelona has 13 points as well from five matches, and has locked up Group B. Tottenham will advance with a win, while any other result opens the door for Inter.

    In Group A, Atletico Madrid will finish first with a win over Club Brugge next round, while Borussia Dortmund needs to beat Monaco, and hope for dropped points from the Spanish side. Both Atletico and Dortmund have advanced.

    All eyes December 11 will be on Group C, as PSG will travel to Belgrade, and Napoli will visit Liverpool. If Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and PSG can take care of business against Red Star (PSG won 6-1 on match day two), a Liverpool loss, draw, or win by a goal will see the Reds knocked out.

    Can Jurgen Klopp's side pull out some of the magic which saw Liverpool make a run to the 2018 final?

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


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    With apologies to the City of Trenton, "New Jersey Makes - The World Takes."

    It's called the Garden State, but more than fruits and vegetables have their seeds planted and nurtured in New Jersey.

    Innovative minds have always been some of the state's most valuable assets. And while we all know about Thomas Edison and his inventions, some people may not be aware of the host of other products and innovations that got their start in New Jersey.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    This list is incomplete; future galleries will cover even more of the wonderful things "Made in New Jersey."

    Be sure to right-click on the links that tell more of the story about many of these 'Made in New Jersey' entries.

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


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    Sticking with the patriotic theme, the PA squads will dawn blue uniforms, the NJ teams will wear red uniforms. All keepers will wear white.

    Rob Marino and Ben Chrnelich have both watched as the travel soccer scene has become more of a big business in the last decade.

    With tournaments up and down the East coast, parents have footed the bill for travel, lodging, and all manner of other expenses year-round.

    So Marino, a founder of Next Level Soccer Academy in Pennington, and Chrnelich, the vice president of travel soccer at Hopewell Valley Soccer Association, came up with an idea.

    Why not play a low-cost youth soccer tournament locally, so players will not have to spend exorbitant amounts of money on travel, lodging, and entrance fees?

    The duo approached Patriot FC and YMS in Bucks County, and Lawrence Hamnett Soccer Association in Mercer County with the idea. When the other teams bought in, and now with five clubs involved, the event became a reality.

    The Washington Crossing Cup, will begin this Saturday, December 1, and take place in four towns, two on either side of the Delaware River. Pennington and Lawrence will be host in New Jersey, while Newtown and Yardley will host the action in Pennsylvania.

    This weekend will see the culmination of all the hard work.

    "Ben and I were talking about my experience with my own kids," Marino said. "I shared how many hotels I've stayed at, how far I have driven and flown, and it dawned on us. Why not do something locally that showcases all of the local quality we have and let's make it affordable and logistically easy for the parents?"

    UEFA Champions League: Liverpool on the brink after loss to PSG

    Bucks County-based sides will play Mercer County-based teams. They will each play one game on either side of the river and then cross the Delaware River, just like George Washington and his troops did on Christmas Day almost 250 years ago. 

    Each team will be playing for its side of the river. Sticking with the patriotic theme, the Pennsylvania squads will dawn blue uniforms, the New Jersey teams will wear red uniforms, and all keepers will wear white.

    "Soccer and youth sports need to be more about sharing experiences, learning teamwork, having fun, and forming life-long friendships for both parents and players," Chrnelich said. "You don't need to drive 200 miles and stay in a hotel to do that."

    The tournament will also be donating some proceeds to the Mooch Soccer program, a Mercer County based organization that provides a positive life experience for underprivileged and underserved children through educational and athletic opportunities in the sport of soccer.

    Mooch Soccer, which was co-founded by current Rider University head coach Charlie Inverso, has been a significant part of Trenton soccer for a decade. It has seen numerous players move on to bigger opportunities in the game and off the field, including current Manchester United player Matthew Olosunde. Olosunde has also played for the US National team.

    "This is incredible and exactly what the sport is all about," Inverso said. "We are honored to be a part of this and very thankful as well," 

    To learn more about the Washington Crossing Cup, please visit https://washingtoncrossingcup.com/. The goal is to grow the event next year to include more local Clubs, and to make this an annual tradition.

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


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    Shaheed Brown was set free this week, but is being monitored by officials and has a new charge for his alleged role in a 2014 killing

    A Trenton man who has been through three mistrials on charges that he'd killed a 20-year-old man in 2014 was set free on Monday, but he's got another court date in his future, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office said Thursday. 

    Shaheed Brown, the alleged killer of 20-year-old Enrico Smalley Jr. in 2014, was tried on murder charges three separate times in October 2015, May 2016 and October 2018.

    All of the trials ended when the juries couldn't come to a consensus.

     PM.pngAlvie Vereen (left) and Shaheed Brown
    Brown, now 34, was released Monday with electronic monitoring, but also with a new indictment against him -- an accomplice to murder charge.

    Investigators have also identified another suspect, Alvie Vereen, who authorities allege was also involved in the Smalley's murder.

    Vereen, 27, was never charged in the murder until now, but has been in prison on unrelated weapons charges since April 2017. 

    Prosecutors didn't detail how they connected Vereen to Smalley's murder. 

    Brown's next court appearance has not yet been scheduled.

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


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    Even though the Cityzens have struggled with Lyon in the UEFA Champions League, that has had no bearing on their English games.

    Just how good is Arsenal right now?

    The Gunners look like the third best team in the Premier League at the moment, after their dominant second half performance in the North London derby Sunday.

    Arsenal jumped over Tottenham on goal difference into fourth spot in the table, one point behind once-beaten Chelsea, and six behind unbeaten Liverpool for second.

    If the Gunners can come though this early festive period in good shape, they have a run of fixtures over the next month that could see Unai Emery's squad put itself in contention for the title.

    That is, if Manchester City ever loses. 

    WEEKEND RESULTS

    Friday

    Cardiff City 2-1 Wolverhampton

    Saturday

    Crystal Palace 2-0 Burnley

    Huddersfield 1-2 Brighton

    Leicester City 2-0 Watford

    Manchester City 3-1 Bournemouth

    Newcastle United 0-3 West Ham United

    Southampton 2-2 Manchester United

    Sunday

    Chelsea 2-0 Fulham

    Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham

    Liverpool 1-0 Everton

    WEEKEND'S THREE STARS

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal

    Had two goals and an assist, as the Gunners roared back in the second half to beat their arch rivals. Aubameyang was the Whoscored,com Man of the Match with a 9.23 rating.

    Chicharito, West Ham United

    A brace for the former star might kick start his campaign. He rated out at an 8.03 on Whoscored.com 

    Ricardo Pereira, Leicester City

    The right back was flying up and down the wing for the Foxes, who came out with a 2-0 win. He was the Whoscored.com Man of the Match with an 8.77 rating.

    UEFA Champions League: Liverpool on the brink after loss to PSG

    MARK HUGHES SACKED AS SOUTHAMPTON MANAGER

    After just one win in 14 matches this season, following a dismal run to end the 2017-18 campaign, Mark Hughes was sacked as Southampton manager Monday.

    The Saints currently sit in 18th place, with nine points and a minus-14 goal differential.

    Former Watford manager Quique Sanchez Flores is the bookies' favorite to take over the helm.

    MANCHESTER CITY WEEKLY PREMIER LEAGUE UNBEATEN WATCH

    Did Manchester City lose this weekend?

    Nope. Another Premier League week, and another routine victory, 3-1 over Bournemouth. Even though the Cityzens have struggled with Lyon in the UEFA Champions League (2-2 draw midweek after a match day one 2-1 loss in the competition to the French side), that has had no bearing on their English games. 

    Raheem Sterling and Ilkay Gundogan scored second half goals to ensure another round at the top of the Premier League table.

    MIDWEEK SCHEDULE

    Tuesday

    Bournemouth vs. Huddersfield, 2:45 EST (NBC Sports Gold)

    Brighton vs. Crystal Palace, 2:45 EST (NBC Sports Gold)

    Wes Ham vs. Cardiff City, 2:45 p.m. EST (NBC Sports Gold)

    Watford vs. Manchester City, 3 p.m. EST (NBC Sports and Fubo.tv)

    Wednesday

    Burnley vs. Liverpool, 2:45 EST (NBC Sports Gold)

    Everton vs. Newcastle United, 2:45 EST (NBC Sports Gold)

    Fulham vs. Leicester City, 2:45 EST (NBC Sports Gold)

    Wolverhampton vs. Chelsea, 2:45 EST (NBC Sports Gold)

    Manchester United vs. Arsenal, 3 p.m. (NBC Sports and Fubo.tv)

    Tottenham vs. Southampton, 2:45 EST (NBC Sports Gold)

    WHAT TO WATCH FOR MIDWEEK

    Is Jose Mourinho a dead man walking at Manchester United?

    The Red Devils have regressed mightily this season, and payed terribly, other than a 25 minute stretch in the first half, Saturday night at Southampton. 

    With high-flying Arsenal in town Wednesday, would an ugly loss finally seal the manager's fate? With reports of unrest in the locker room, and post-game confrontations with Paul Pogba Saturday, it may be a matter of time before the situation becomes untenable.

    Can the two unbeaten sides continue their runs?

    Manchester City is cruising, while Liverpool seems to be on borrowed time before it finally loses in the league. The Citizens visit suddenly struggling Watford Tuesday (NBC Sports and Fubo.tv), while the Reds visit 19th place Burnley Wednesday. 

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


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