New Jersey Real-Time News
Nicholas Pratico may have traveled to Manhattan in New York City, police sayNick Pratico
The 18-year-old was last seen on the community college campus in West Windsor at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and his family reported him missing at 10 p.m. that night.
Hamilton police said Friday afternoon it's possible Pratico traveled to Times Square in New York City, or the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts on West 19th Street in Manhattan.
Hamilton police have alerted the New York Police Department about Pratico's disappearance and possible travel there, Hamilton police said.
Pratico's family created a Facebook page, Find Nick Pratico, and organized a search Thursday evening in areas around the college in West Windsor.
This past spring, Pratico graduated from Notre Dame High School in Lawrence.
"The Notre Dame Family offers prayers of hope for the safe return of Nicholas Practico," the school said in a statement.
Pratico is 6-feet 1-inches tall and weighs about 155 pounds and has brown eyes and black hair.
Anyone with any information on Pratico's whereabouts is asked to call Hamilton police at 609-581-4000 or Detective Frank Burger at 609-581-4010.
"I had lost my head for a moment," the man said in court
TRENTON -- A 42-year-old man who admitted to trying to grope an 11-year-old girl was sentenced Friday to three years of probation for child endangerment and neglect.
Sam Renoj, of Hamilton, was sentenced in accordance with plea agreement he made with prosecutors.
He had admitted to attempting to touch the genitals of an 11-year-old girl he was babysitting at the time, in October 2016. He also admitted to having had too much to drink at the time of the incident.
"He is very remorseful for what's happened here," his attorney, Kathleen Redpath-Perez said in court. "He vows to stop drinking so that this won't happen again."
When addressing the court, Renoj said he was very embarrassed about what had happened, and that: "I had lost my head for a moment."
Renoj was sentenced to time served and three years of probation, and is prohibited from having any contact with the victim, and the house she resides in.
He must also complete alcohol abuse treatment and pay regularly issued fines and penalties.
After his arrest, police discovered that Renoj, a Guatemalan native, was in the county illegally.
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) then placed a detainer on his release from local or state custody.
The Danone Nations Cup is the world's largest youth soccer tournament for children between the ages of 10 and 12.
Playing on the world stage is the dream of any young soccer player.
This weekend, children from across the globe will do just that when the Danone Nations Cup, an international youth soccer tournament, comes to New Jersey.
The world's largest youth soccer tournament for children ages 10 to 12 is organized and run by Groupe Danone, a French multinational food corporation. Every year, the tournament features more than 2 million children around the world playing in local, regional, and national Danone Nations Cup qualifying rounds. The winners from 32 countries then fly off to the World Final in the host location determined by Danone.
"It not only gives the participants an opportunity to participate in an unforgettable day, but also to build lasting relationships with other players from around the world," said Michael Neuwirth, senior director of external communications at Danone.
The 32 boys teams and six girls teams will compete in several qualification matches today and Saturday at the New York Red Bulls training facility in Whippany.
The teams that emerge from the qualification round will then move on to the World Final on Sunday at Red Bull Arena in Harrison. The final 20 ranking matches of the tournament will start at 10:30 a.m. The boys and girls championship games will start following a 4:40 p.m. performance by pop group DNCE.
Past locations for the World Final have included iconic soccer venues like Wembley Stadium in London, the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, and the Parc des Princes in Paris.
This year, however, Danone opted to hold the tournament's final competition somewhere in which interest in soccer has grown tremendously over the past few decades and continues to grow: The United States.
This will be the United States' first time hosting the tournament, and it will also include the introduction of the competitions' first ever all-girls tournament which will feature six girl teams.
"It's amazing timing, for U.S. Soccer and the women's game. You know, when you think of women's soccer you think of the U.S. Women's National Team, but when you go around the world you see how much the women's game has grown in popularity recently," said retired U.S. Women's Soccer National Team icon Abby Wambach, who now serves as a U.S. ambassador for the Danone Nations Cup.
"It just shows how important it is for companies like Danone to jump in, you know, not when it's cool to do so, not just to be a part of it, but because it's the right thing and the smart thing to do. From my experiences, I know that all you have to give girls is an environment to be successful, and they will be. People might not see it, but what Danone and other companies are doing, especially with tournaments like these, is truly incredible."
Wambach, who retired from soccer in 2015 as the U.S. National team's all-time leading scorer, has spent much of her post-soccer career promoting the women's game and hosting soccer camps for girls across the country.
Weston FC of Florida will represent the United States in the both the boys and girls tournaments this weekend.
The tournament began in 2000 after Danone sponsored the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. Danone Board Chairman Franck Riboud decided to create the Danone Nations Cup with the intentions of giving young soccer players a tournament that they could dream of being a part of, like the World Cup, Neuwirth added.
"When they came calling, I was absolutely for it and I jumped right on board," Wambach said.
"For Danone to create and have this tournament for kids to experience things, both on and off the soccer field, is absolutely vital. Having come up through the Olympic Development program, I traveled a lot as a soccer player growing up, and travel has developed me as a person tremendously. Now, these kids have those same opportunities, playing in the biggest tournament of their lives so far, and that'll be a huge bonus in all of their lives."
Tickets for the final are sold out but the event will be streamed live on abc7ny.com/danonenationscup/.
A rejuvenated shopping center will soon be joined by a four-building, 280-unit apartment complex on the Passaic River waterfront by Russo Development.
It may not be Washington Street in Hoboken or toney Downtown Jersey City, but Passaic Avenue in Kearny is certainly heating up.
A rejuvenated shopping center will soon be joined by a four-building, 280-unit apartment complex named Vermella West on the Passaic River waterfront being built by Russo Development.
The project, on the site of the former Franklin Plastics company, is Russo's second residential project in the city and third in West Hudson. Between Vermella West and Vermella Crossing in Kearny (230 units), and Vermella Harrison in Harrison (398 units), the company will account for more then 900 residential units when completed.
Russo also completed Saw Mill Park in Kearny, a 350,000-square-foot industrial project along Belleville Turnpike which is currently home to the Pepsico and HD Smith Wholesale Drug Company.
"What makes Kearny and Harrison so attractive is that both are strong communities," CEO Ed Russo said. "Location is the key. In Harrison, there isthe proximity to the PATH station. Kearny is is convenient for commuter to Newark and to (Manhattan); and it's a very densely populated area."
Russo said there will be 60 studios, 164 one-bedroom units and 56 two-bedroom units spread among the four, 4-story buildings. There will also be a 9,000-square-foot clubhouse, a full club room, gym and outdoor hearthscape. The 7-acre property will also include a walkway along the Passaic River.
As for parking, there will be 72 garage parking spaces and a 300-vehicle surface lot, Russo said.
Russo said prices won't be set for the different units until it gets closer to the anticipated opening in late 2018.
Russo paid $5 million for the 113 Passaic Ave. property in May and received a 30-year tax abatement. Demolition and site work began in May and Russo was joined by Kearny officials for a ground-breaking ceremony on Sept. 13.
Russo said the key to fill hundreds of units is finding the right price point.
"If you are moderately priced you can be successful," Russo said. "This part of kearny has a lot of retail -- and in the past 24 months, some re-tenanting. ... We are heavily focused in towns where development is a priority, and the experience in Kearny has been good."
The project is located in the Passaic Avenue Redevelopment Area and is adjacent to several new retail projects, including a BJ's-anchored power center and other prominent retailers including Shop-Rite, LA Fitness, Sarku Japanese Restaurant and Carter's.
"Vermella West will advance the town's vision to bring continued development and vibrancy to the Passaic Avenue Redevelopment Area, which is along one of main corridors in our town" Kearny Mayor Al Santos said in a statement. "The site was formerly occupied for industrial use however it had been vacant for several years, and this project is the result of proactive steps taken by Kearny in collaboration with Russo Development to encourage redevelopment of this area."
The South Jersey physician faces up to 10 years in prison after signing 200 phony prescriptions for patients, many of whom he never saw
CAMDEN -- A New Jersey doctor faces up to 10 years in prison after admitting he helped bilk the state's health benefits programs and other insurers out of nearly $25 million by selling phony prescriptions.
John Gaffney, 55, of Linwood, pleaded guilty to one count of health care fraud before Judge Robert B. Kugler in a federal courtroom in Camden on Friday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey said in a statement.
Gaffney wrote prescriptions for unnecessary medications for patients, many of whom he never examined, authorities said. In all, about 200 fraudulent prescriptions were filled after Gaffney signed them.
After the prescriptions were filled by out-of-state pharmacies, New Jersey's pharmacy benefits administrator would then reimburse the claims, paying up to thousands of state dollars in each, authorities said.
In total, the state paid more than $50 million for compounded medications sent to people in New Jersey, about half of which was used in the wide-ranging scheme, according to federal authorities.
The scam ran from January 2015 to April 2016 after the conspirators learned that public employees such as teachers, government workers, police officers, firefighters and state troopers were covered for the expensive medications under their health plans.
Gaffney was paid thousands of dollars and received other benefits for helping the scam continue.
Five others, including two pharmaceutical sales representatives and a former Atlantic City firefighter who were part of the scheme pleaded guilty last month and await sentencing.
Gaffney, who had a medical practice in Margate, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 5, 2018.
Drugs from compounding pharmacies cost far more than regular drugs because they are mixed for individual patients. For example, a doctor could order a prescription from a compounding pharmacy if a patient is allergic to a component of an existing medication.
Among the pricey prescriptions being filled by the compounding pharmacy were various "libido creams" and other creams costing thousands for a months supply, as well as $10,000 in vitamins, officials said.
Eduardo Perez, 33, is accused of leaving the scene after his car struck a Newark man in Linden
ELIZABETH -- A grand jury has indicted an Elizabeth man accused of fatally striking a recent Rutgers University graduate with his car in Linden and fleeing the scene.
Eduardo Perez, 33, was indicted on one count of vehicular homicide and one count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident in the crash that left Mujahid "Mu" Henry, 23, dead, acting Union County Prosecutor Thomas K. Isenhour said Friday.
Perez was driving east on the 1200 block of East Linden Avenue at 12:30 a.m. on May 12 when his 2007 Ford Escape struck Henry, a pedestrian, authorities said. Henry, of Newark, was thrown into a parked car and pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
Perez then collided with several parked cars while he drove to the 700 block of Lidgerwood Avenue in Elizabeth, where he abandoned his Ford Escape.
Elizabeth police officers patrolling on nearby Kenneth Avenue arrested him shortly afterward.
Perez has three previous criminal convictions and was on probation for the second of two assault convictions when he struck Henry, court records show. Perez also served prison time for robbery, the records show.
Henry was set to walk at Rutgers-Newark's graduation five days after he was killed. He graduated with a degree in public affairs and administration in January.
His father, Darryl Henry, accepted his son's posthumous degree at the May 17 commencement ceremony.
Henry also worked as a legislative aide to Essex County Freeholder Leonard Luciano and campaigned for Phil Murphy in the Democratic gubernatorial primary race.
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A councilman tried to discuss Ernest Parrey Jr.'s employment Thursday night, but a city lawyer stopped him
TRENTON -- A councilman and a city lawyer had a contentious exchange Thursday night about the forum in which to discuss employment action against Police Director Ernest Parrey Jr.
Parrey was summoned before council Sept. 7 for a Rice hearing - a formal notice via letter informing an individual that a body or agency will be discussing possible discipline against them.
The police director chose to have that hearing in executive session - rather than in public before council. The results are confidential, but Parrey remains director, with Mayor Eric Jackson's support.
On Thursday night, as Councilman Alex Bethea appeared as if he was going to discuss Parrey in an open forum, acting Law Director Walter Denson interrupted him, saying it needed to be in executive session.
"If this is an attempt to silence my voice," Bethea said, before Denson jumped back in: "No sir, I am not political."
What followed was a back-and-forth in which Denson said he was giving legal advice, and Bethea questioning him about procedure.
Denson said an employee needs to be notified with a Rice letter each time the council wants to discuss their employment, at which Bethea bristled.
The councilman then said he would make such a notification for the next council meeting.
Bethea could not immediately be reached Friday for comment about his intentions.
Parrey, who was present at the meeting, declined comment afterwards.
The Rice notice Parrey was given for the Sept. 7 meeting was about his "hood rats" comment, Parrey said.
In April 2016, Parrey was first called before council for a Rice hearing after two council members complained about his behavior toward them. He opted to have that hearing in public, and remained director.
A family was left devastated after a hunter mistakenly shot and killed their Alaskan Shepherd Tonka.
READINGTON TWP. -- A Hunterdon County family was left devastated after a hunter mistook their beloved dog for a coyote and killed it with a crossbow arrow.
Elizabeth Mongno said she was walking her Alaskan Shepherd, Tonka, on Wednesday when the dog ran after deer in the woods adjacent to her property.
Mongno said Tonka often does this and quickly returns, but this time, the dog didn't make it back. Mongno said she heard a pop, a yelp and immediately knew something was wrong.
Mongno said she was calling for Tonka loudly enough for neighbors and the hunter to hear, and said she found her dog 10 minutes later, about 50 feet from her property line.
When she found her 1-year-old dog, she said she "let out a blood-curdling scream, yelling 'Someone killed my dog, who killed my dog?'"
Romeo Antonucci, of Kenilworth, told police he was hunting in the area, mistook the dog for a coyote chasing a deer and shot at him with a crossbow, authorities said. According to N.J. law, hunters are allowed to shoot coyote.
She said the hunter had left the four-acre property by the time she found Tonka. She disputes the fact that her dog was mistaken as a coyote, as he is white, bigger than a coyote and was wearing a collar.
His crossbow had a scope, so he had to be able to see it was a dog, she said.
"This guy isn't a hunter, he doesn't represent hunters. He represents bad decision making," Mongno said.
Readington police reported Antonucci was licensed to hunt and was the proper distance of 150 feet from a house, but Mongno thinks that rule should change.
"I don't think it's far enough. I don't think it needs to be a mile or thousands of feet, but in a residential area, I think 150 feet is pretty close," she said.
She emphasized she is not for banning hunting, as her husband is a hunter, but believes there should be more a buffer from residences. Her 9-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, who is deaf, often play in the area. When her dog was shot, she said her neighbor's kids were playing on tricycles.
"I should have the right to know who's in the woods around me or with my children," she said. "If I knew there was going to be someone from outside our neighborhood near here or out there with a weapon, I would've been more cautious."
Antonucci had permission from a neighbor to be in part of the wooded area, but police say he didn't have permission to be in the wooded area where Tonka was shot.
Mongno suggested a registry that allows neighbors to know when someone has permission to hunt on nearby property or when someone is in their woods.
On Friday, she said her son is still processing the fact that he lost his pup, and hasn't gone to school.
"We lost a part of our family. My son is a giant mess. This dog went on vacation with us," she said.
Antonucci, 40, is expected to appear in court on Nov. 2 to face charges of careless discharge, damage to property - in this case, the dog - and a deer tagging violation, according to a spokesman from the DEP.
If found guilty, he potentially faces a seven year loss of hunting licenses and $3,000 in fines and restitution.
However, all the Mongno family wants is some changes in legislation and an apology.
"He just killed my 9-year-old's dog and didn't apologize," she said. "My son, it scarred him. And I think that would make him feel a little better."
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The self-proclaimed maker of "World's Strongest Coffee" is recalling its Nitro Cold Brew cans
Death Wish Coffee Co. has issued a recall of its 11-ounce Death Wish Nitro Cold Brew cans over concerns that its packing process could create an environment to produce a potentially fatal toxin.
The company, which touts itself as maker of "World's Strongest Coffee," said the cans of Nitro Cold Brew could cause botulism, a dangerous form of food poisoning, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"Our customers' safety is of paramount importance and Death Wish Coffee is taking this significant, proactive step to ensure that the highest quality, safest, and of course, strongest Coffee products we produce are of industry-exceeding standards - thus we are taking this measure of recalling all Death Wish Nitro cans from shelves," founder/owner of Death Wish Coffee Co., Mike Brown said in a statement.
"We have also gone a step further, to make sure that everyone who purchased the product on deathwishcoffee.com will receive a full refund within 60 days," Brown said. "We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause our customers and our retail partners, but we believe this is the right precautionary measure to take."
Botulism symptoms include weakness, dizziness, double-vision and trouble with speaking or swallowing. Difficulty in breathing, weakness of other muscles, abdominal distention and constipation may also be common symptoms.
Death Wish stopped production of Nitro Cold Brew until the manufacturing process is changed. There have been no illnesses reported. People can return cans of Cold Brew Nitro for a full refund.
Newark cop arrested for 3rd time in 2 years after alleged domestic incident
A New Jersey man who won a $338 million Powerball jackpot four years ago has been charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a child.
A Newark police officer was arrested for the third time in two years -- this time on an aggravated assault charge stemming from an alleged domestic incident.
The two are among a group of people either charged with, indicted for, convicted of or sentenced in a wide array of crimes that made news across New Jersey in the past week.
Scroll through the gallery above to catch up on any law and order news you might have missed. Here's some of what's there:The 47-year-old Passaic County man who won the Powerball jackpot in 2013 is charged with sexually assaulting a girl between 11 and 14 over a three-year period. The 48-year-old Newark cop from Manalapan charged with aggravated assault has been suspended without pay. The incident happened in the victim's Newark home, police said. A 35-year-old Barnegat man was arrested after he offered an 11-year-old girl a wine cooler and candy to lift her shirt and let him touch her, police said. Two Linden men recorded by a friend jumping on cars in a movie theater parking lot have been arrested. A video posted to social media showed the boisterous pair laughing as they went from car to car, leaping and tumbling on vehicles parked at the AMC Aviation 12 theater. A Jersey City man with a history of swiping packages from outside homes has struck again, police said. The 48-year-old has been charged with nine counts of theft for stealing packages from different addresses in Bayonne over the past two weeks. A Clayton man who was allegedly driving drunk when he caused a fatal accident is back in jail after authorities say he violated terms of his pre-trial release. The 46-year-old visited several liquor stores, in violation of a home detention curfew, and failed to show proof that he was looking for a job, the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office said. A pair of 14-year-old girls tried to break into a house in Secaucus, police said. The girls, one from Lyndhurst and one from Secaucus, are charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief. Seven people have been arrested in a scheme to produce and deposit phony checks made to appear as if they were issued from a Bergen County payroll account, authorities said. More than $50,000 was stolen, the prosecutor's office said. All are charged with theft by deception and check fraud.
Harrison Fest, now in its 22nd year, will bring food, dancing, and plenty of celebrations to the small West Hudson Town.
HARRISON -- The town will host its annual streets festival and parade this weekend.
Harrison Fest, now in its 22nd year, will bring food, dancing, and plenty of celebrations to the small West Hudson Town.
The event will begin with an opening Mass today at Holy Cross Church at 7 p.m.
Then on Saturday and Sunday, a street festival will be held on Harrison Avenue between North Second Street and Davis Avenue.
A parade celebrating the multicultural Harrison community will step off from Supor Boulevard at noon on Saturday and make its way down Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard.
More information on street closures can be found here.
The U.S. Attorney told Mayor Carlos Rendo that the borough and its zoning board are under investigation.Mayor Carlos Rendo
In a June 16 letter, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey told Mayor Carlos Rendo that the borough and its zoning board are under investigation, according to Politico, which obtained the letter.
The Justice Department informed Rendo that it was opening a religious discrimination investigation into his town's practices, and specifically how it treated the organization Valley Chabad, according to the report.
The Jewish movement sued the town, arguing it was blocked from buying property there.
A campaign spokesman for Rendo's running mate, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, said Rendo isn't personally under investigation and is cooperating fully. The spokesman denies the allegations, according to reports.
The incident took place on a path off Fairview Avenue in the city Thursday night, police said.
BRIDGETON -- A man was held up at gunpoint Thursday night in the city and police are seeking a suspect, authorities say.
The victim was walking on a dirt path off Fairview Avenue toward the Burlington Manor Apartments around 9 p.m. when he was approached by a male holding a gun, police said.
The robber demanded money and the victim turned over $37. The suspect then fled, according to authorities.
Police said the robber was described as a thin, black male, about 5 feet, 9 inches tall, dressed in dark clothing.
The victim was not injured in the incident.
Anyone with any information on the robbery is encouraged to call the Bridgeton Police Department at 856-451-0033 or use the Tip411 system, where tips are completely anonymous.
Richard Masur is starring in the show "The Net Will Appear" at Mile Square Theatre until Oct. 8.
When it comes to regional theater, there may be a name that you know here or there, but how often do you have someone who has starred in more than 80 movies and shows?
Richard Masur, who has appeared in films "The Thing," "Risky Business" and My "Girl," as well as television series "Orange is the New Black," is starring in Mile Square Theatre's "The Net Will Appear" alongside local actress Matilda Lawler.
He got involved with this play after he was given the script by playwright Erin Mallon last year at a theater in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
"Erin brought me this script and asked me to do a reading," said Masur. "I did the reading with an adult reading the part of the young girl and it went pretty well."
After the reading was finished, Mallon went and made her corrections, and eventually brought the script back to Masur for another reading with an 11-year-old girl reading the other part.
Following that reading, there was a theater that wanted to produce the play.
"After the reading, Erin came back to me and told me that someone wanted to produce the play and they wanted me to star in it," said Masur. "I told them that if my schedule was clear, I would do it."
Once he looked at his schedule and saw it was clear, Masur agreed to doing the play and they began right away with producer and Mile Square Theatre artistic director, Chris O'Connor. The play opened last week and runs through next weekend.
Masur, 68, has enjoyed was watching the 10-year-old Lawler grow as an actress.
"This is the first time that Matilda has done anything like this and she has been extraordinary," said Masur. "It has been great watching her develop throughout this piece."
From this stage in Hoboken to movie sets in Los Angeles, the experiences cannot be compared, even when it comes to movies.
"It's all different and it's all the same. I have done good movies that I haven't been this happy doing and others that I was happy doing. Every job is different," said Masur.
One of his favorite experiences was working with Tom Hanks on Broadway in "The Lucky Guy."
Following the conclusion of "The Net Will Appear" in October, Masur will head to Atlanta to begin filming the TV show "Kevin (Probably) Saves the World."
A 22-year-old man allegedly stole from Christ Episcopal Church on Sept. 4.
TOMS RIVER -- Police in Toms River have arrested a 22-year-old man they say stole from a donation box at a church in town earlier this month.Vincent PassalacquaToms River police
Vincent Passalacqua was arrested Wednesday and charged with burglary and theft for allegedly swiping money from Christ Episcopal Church on Sept. 4.
The theft was captured on surveillance cameras at the church on Washington Street.
Passalacqua resides in at the Pine Rest Inn Motel on Route 37, according to police. He remains in the Ocean County jail as of Friday afternoon.