New Jersey Real-Time News

    Judge rules against ending program to protect Dreamers

    Judge rules against ending program to protect Dreamers


    A federal judge said the decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was "unlawful." A federal judge has ruled against the Trump administration's decision to end a program protecting some...

    A federal judge said the decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was "unlawful."

    A federal judge has ruled against the Trump administration's decision to end a program protecting some young immigrants from deportation.

    U.S. District Judge John D. Bates in Washington says the Department of Homeland Security's decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program "was unlawful and must be set aside."

    Bates is giving DHS 90 days to "better explain its view" that DACA is unlawful. After that, he says, DHS "must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications."

    DACA temporarily shielded from deportation so-called Dreamers -- immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children. President Donald Trump announced last year that he would end the program.

    Bates' ruling Tuesday night comes in a pair of cases whose lead plaintiffs are the NAACP and Princeton University.

    Who is N.J.'s favorite governor? Hint: It's not Chris Christie.

    Who is N.J.'s favorite governor? Hint: It's not Chris Christie.


    The Monmouth University Poll asked residents to rank the last 10 people to serve as New Jersey governor. New Jerseyans still love Tom Kean. And they're still not fond of Chris Christie.  So says the latest Monmouth...

    The Monmouth University Poll asked residents to rank the last 10 people to serve as New Jersey governor.

    New Jerseyans still love Tom Kean. And they're still not fond of Chris Christie

    So says the latest Monmouth University Poll which asked New Jersey residents to rank the 10 people who have been the Garden State's governor since 1974. 

    Kean, a Republican who served from 1982 to 1990, came in first, followed by the late Democrat Brendan Byrne. 

    Third was the state's current governor, Democrat Phil Murphy, who is only 99 days on the job. 

    At the bottom of the heap is Christie, the Republican who Murphy succeeded. 

    Phil Murphy's first job approval numbers

    Monmouth took a similar poll in 2006 and 2010. Kean was on top in both of those, as well. 

    In this survey, released Tuesday, Kean has a +33 net favorability rating. He is viewed favorably by 45 percent of residents and unfavorably by 12 percent, while 43 percent have no opinion.

    "Nearly 30 years after he left office, Tom Kean and New Jersey are still perfect together," Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, said -- a reference to the tourism ads Kean once starred in.

    Byrne, who served rom 1974 to 1980 and died in January at age 93, has a +18 favorability rating. He is viewed favorably by 28 percent and unfavorably by 10 percent, while 62 percent have no opinion.

    "Sadly, we lost Brendan Byrne early this year, but he is remembered like his successor, as someone admired by New Jerseyans across the entire political spectrum," Murray said.

    As for Christie? The brash former governor -- whose approval ratings were at record lows at the end of his term -- is at -49 favorability in the poll.

    Christie, who served from 2010 to 2017, is viewed favorably by 22 percent and unfavorably by 71 percent, while 7 percent have no opinion. 

    In the 2010 poll -- taken early in his first term -- Christie was in third place, with 31 percent favorable and 17 percent unfavorable ratings.

    "This marks a colossal fall from Christie's third place showing when he premiered on this list eight years ago," Murray said. "It also offers a sobering warning to Phil Murphy who is sitting in the same spot right now."

    Murray said "another interesting point is that Christie is -- by far -- the governor who most New Jerseyans are ready to express an opinion on.

    "This is probably fitting considering how readily he went off on his own constituents when he was in office," Murray said.

    Murphy, who took over for Christie in January, is at +16 favorability. He is viewed favorably by 42 percent and unfavorably by 26 percent, while 32 are undecided. 

    The rest of the list: 

    * Democrat Richard Codey (2004 to 2006), who still serves in the state senate, is at +12 favorability. He is viewed favorably by 25 percent and unfavorably by 13 percent, with 63 percent undecided.

    * Republican Christie Whitman (1994 to 2001) is at neutral favorability -- 35 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable, with 29 percent undecided.

    * Democrat Jim Florio (1990 to 1994) is at -3 favorability -- 26 percent favorable and 29 percent unfavorable, with 46 percent undecided.

    * Republican Donald DiFrancesca (2001 to 2002) is at -4 favorability -- 9 percent favorable and 13 percent unfavorable, with 78 percent undecided.

    * Democrat Jim McGreevey (2002 to 2004) is at -5 favorability -- 29 percent favorable and 34 percent unfavorable, with 37 percent undecided.

    * Democrat Jon Corzine (2005 to 2010) is at -9 favorability -- 32 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable, with 27 percent undecided.

    Those are slightly better numbers than both McGreevey and Corzine had after their terms, Monmouth said.

    The poll was conducted via phone from April 6-10 with 703 New Jersey adults. The margin of error was plus-or-minus 3.7 percentage points.

     
    Brent Johnson may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.
    Pine Barrens forest fire fully contained after burning over 800 acres

    Pine Barrens forest fire fully contained after burning over 800 acres


    A forest fire that has destroyed over 843 acres in the Pine Barrens since it started on Sunday is 100 percent contained. A forest fire in the Pine Barrens, which has been burning since Sunday, is now fully...

    A forest fire that has destroyed over 843 acres in the Pine Barrens since it started on Sunday is 100 percent contained.

    A forest fire in the Pine Barrens, which has been burning since Sunday, is now fully contained, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman confirmed on Tuesday.

    Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Hajna said the blaze could be declared "under control" by Wednesday.

    He said Tuesday evening's expected rainfall will aid in extinguishing any remaining flames. The fire burned over nearly 843 acres north of Oswego Lake in the Penn State Forest in Washington Township, Burlington County.

    "Crews are still out there doing mop-up work now," Hajna said.

    A fire that has consumed 843 acres north of the Oswego Lake section of Penn State Forest is 1-- percent contained as of Tuesday evening, officials said. (New Jersey Forest Fire Service)  

    No injuries, property damage or evacuations have been reported as of 5:30 p.m Tuesday, Hajna said. The closest structure to the fire was approximately 2 miles away, DEP spokeswoman Caryn Shinske said this week.

    Oswego Lake's recreation area was reopened on Monday and all local roads are open, Hajna said.

    The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

    Plumes of smoke were visible Sunday on weather radar and satellite images over the forest, according to Sarah Johnson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service forecast office in Mount Holly.

    Penn State Forest covers 3,366 acres with Lake Oswego encompassing an additional 90.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Get your spoons ready! This raw cookie dough shop is opening up 2 stores in N.J.

    Get your spoons ready! This raw cookie dough shop is opening up 2 stores in N.J.


    At Dough Life, it's OK to lick the spoon. The temptation has always been there. As mom whipped up a homemade batch of cookies, you couldn't resist dipping your finger into the bowl for a taste of the dough. Then,...

    At Dough Life, it's OK to lick the spoon.

    The temptation has always been there.

    As mom whipped up a homemade batch of cookies, you couldn't resist dipping your finger into the bowl for a taste of the dough.

    Then, when you became an adult, you'd buy a roll of pre-made raw cookie dough, take it home and dive in, never intending for any of it to make it into an oven.

    Now you can indulge your cravings in a store that specializes in serving up, well, raw cookie dough.

    Dough Life offers a range of raw cookie dough flavors served chilled in cups and in waffle cones, dipped out just like ice cream, crowned with a variety of toppings of your desire.

    Founded in upstate New York by Joseph Francabandeiro, the company expanded there and is heading south into New Jersey.

    A post shared by Dough Life (@edibledoughlife) on Apr 20, 2018 at 12:10pm PDT

    On May 5, Dough Life opens in the Freehold Raceway Mall on Route 9 in Freehold. The grand opening date is being dubbed "Cinco de My Dough," officials say.

    At the Detpford Mall on Deptford Center Road in Deptford Township, a sign outside a now-vacant store on the lower level near JC Penney says "Arriving Soon. Dough Life." No date for opening has been given for that store.

    Officials say other Dough Life locations are also planned in New Jersey, but those details are still being worked out.

    The menu, according to the Dough Life website, includes hand-dipped signature dough with mini chocolate morsels, mini M&Ms or Oreo cookies. How about dough with caramel, sea salt and dark chocolate or dough with expresso and Nutella whipped in or even peanut butter dough with graham crackers, Fluff and mini chocolate morsels?

    Seasonal offerings include pumpkin pie dough with chunks of homemade crust and red velvet dough with white chocolate morsels. And that's all in addition to daily specials and milkshakes and other drinks the stores offer.

    Prices for the dough range from $4.99 for a small to $9.99 for a large size. Owners say the dough stays fresh for two weeks.

    And what about all those worries about eating raw cookie dough? Forget about it. Dough Life uses no eggs in its dough and the flour is heat-treated to kill any microbes, owners say.

    So indulge.

    Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at [email protected]. Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

       
    Officer turns in badge, pleads guilty to trespassing and won't serve time

    Officer turns in badge, pleads guilty to trespassing and won't serve time


    The incident involving a Shrewsbury Borough police officer stemmed from unwarranted visits to the woman's home. A police officer in Shrewsbury has resigned from his job after pleading guilty to trespassing at a...

    The incident involving a Shrewsbury Borough police officer stemmed from unwarranted visits to the woman's home.

    A police officer in Shrewsbury has resigned from his job after pleading guilty to trespassing at a woman's home in January. 

    Ryan Cullinane, 27, admitted Tuesday that while off-duty he was trespassing when he was found at the home of an unidentified Shrewsbury woman, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office announced Tuesday.

    Cullinane pleaded guilty to fourth-degree trespassing, which could have landed him in jail for as much as 18 months, but the prosecutor's office said in a statement that he's expected to apply to the pre-trial intervention (PTI) program.

    As part of his plea deal, Cullinane will forfeit his weapons, as well as his firearms identification cards and is also barred from having contact with the victim and from returning to the scene of his crime.

    The day after the initial incident, the court complaint in the case said Cullinane also showed up to a restaurant where the woman was at the time. He then followed her home and "made unwanted contact and communication" with the victim.

    Cullinane was initially charged with harassment, trespassing and simple assault. 

    The prosecutor's office said the plea deal was made after consulting the victim.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharri[email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

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    2 charged with manslaughter after assault victim dies

    2 charged with manslaughter after assault victim dies


    The victim was found unresponsive after an assault earlier in the day. Jamar D. Johnson, 37, and Joseph T. Robinson, 24, both of Penns Grove. (Salem County Correctional Facility photos)  Two men originally charged...

    The victim was found unresponsive after an assault earlier in the day.

    Jamar D. Johnson, 37, and Joseph T. Robinson, 24, both of Penns Grove. (Salem County Correctional Facility photos) 

    Two men originally charged with assault saw their charges upgraded after their alleged victim died of his injuries.

    Penns Grove police and EMTs responded to a South Broad Street residence April 14 for a report of an unresponsive man.

    Dennis Prasch, 47, of Penns Grove, was apparently assaulted earlier that day, borough police said.

    As the victim received treatment, police arrested Jamar D. Johnson, 37, and Joseph T. Robinson, 24, both of Penns Grove, on aggravated assault charges.

    Prasch later died of his injuries and charges against Johnson and Robinson were upgraded to manslaughter, police said.

    Authorities have not said publicly what motivated the crime.

    Both remain jailed at Salem County Correctional Facility pending court appearances.

    Matt Gray may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us: nj.com/tips.

    Another inmate admits to sharing child porn at Fort Dix prison

    Another inmate admits to sharing child porn at Fort Dix prison


    Brian J. McKay, 47, of Brookhaven, Pennsylvania, like the other seven accused, was serving a lengthy sentence for a prior child porn offense. Another inmate at Federal Correctional Institution Fort Dix has pleaded...

    Brian J. McKay, 47, of Brookhaven, Pennsylvania, like the other seven accused, was serving a lengthy sentence for a prior child porn offense.

    Another inmate at Federal Correctional Institution Fort Dix has pleaded guilty to possessing and dolling out a slew of child pornography to fellow prisoners who were doing time at the federal prison for similar offenses, authorities said. 

    Brian J. McKay, 47, of Brookhaven, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography in federal court in Camden on Tuesday, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. 

    He was charged along with four other Fort Dix inmates in April of last year before another three accused of taking part in the scheme were charged in February of this year. An investigation found that the men used contraband cellphones and micro SD cards to go online and obtain, view and distribute child porn throughout the prison, authorities said.

    They allegedly downloaded these from the "dark web" and transported them in a cut-out Bible

    McKay admitted Tuesday that he had possessed the two cards, which together held around 593 images and 645 videos of child pornography, according to the release. The content included images of children, some as young as infants and toddlers, being sexually abused. Authorities described the content as "sadistic and masochistic." 

    McKay also acknowledged he played a role in distributing the pornography with the help of a fellow inmate, authorities said. He faces a mandatory prison term of 10 years at his Aug. 6 sentencing, and will undergo supervised release for the rest of his life, according to the release. 

    Three others - Erik M. Smith, 36, of Iron Mountain, Michigan; Anthony C. Jeffries, 32, of Orange, Virginia; and, Jordan T. Allen, 31, of Plain City, Ohio - have already pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and await sentencing.

    At the time of the initial arrests, authorities said Jeffries was the ring leader of the operation. He and McKay were caught after transferring the material to a government informant in the prison, according to the release. 

    Charges are still pending against Christopher D. Roffler, 30, of Virginia Beach, Virginia; Jacob S. Good, 26, of Fredericksburg, Virginia; William H. Noble, 52, of Lowell, Massachusetts; and,  Charles Wesley Bush, 38, of Knoxville, Tennessee.

     Amanda Hoover can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    Hell freezing over? Even in Trump age, some N.J. politicians are nice to the other party.

    Hell freezing over? Even in Trump age, some N.J. politicians are nice to the other party.


    A center run by former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar named two New Jersey lawmakers as among the most bipartisan in Congress. WASHINGTON -- With Republicans controlling Congress and President Donald Trump in the White...

    A center run by former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar named two New Jersey lawmakers as among the most bipartisan in Congress.

    WASHINGTON -- With Republicans controlling Congress and President Donald Trump in the White House, it sometimes feels as if no Democrats need apply.

    Nevertheless, some lawmakers are bucking the partisan divide and trying to reach out to the other side. And two do it more than most are from New Jersey.

    Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Leonard Lance, were listed as being among the most bipartisan lawmakers in Congress by the Lugar Center, a public policy group headed by former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and by Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy.

    Gottheimer ranked eighth and Lance 12th out of 435 House members in the report, which is based on how often individuals' legislation most frequently attracts co-sponsors from lawmakers of the other political party and which lawmakers who most often add their names to bills introduced by a member of the opposition.

    "I believe no one side owns all the best answers, so I'll continue fighting for New Jersey with a common sense approach to cutting taxes, investing in infrastructure, and eliminating bureaucratic red tape," said Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.

    How bipartisan are N.J. lawmakers?

    Gottheimer and Lance were among a bipartisan group of House members who offered proposals to fix the Affordable Care Act after Trump''s efforts to kill the law died in the Senate.

    Lance, R-7th Dist., saw his standing improve from 75th in 2016.

    "The most effective lawmakers know that good governance and good public policy must always come from the center-out," Lance said. "That is how durable policy must be crafted and that is how I have always conducted myself. Extreme partisanship may grab headlines but it is a disservice to thoughtful debate."

    Reps. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., and Chris Smith, R-4th Dist., who rated highest on the list last year among New Jersey lawmakers; and Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-3rd Dist., also were among the top 10 percent of bipartisan members.

    Bipartisanship was harder to attain last year as congressional Republican leaders disregarded traditional legislative norms and attempted to push through health care and tax legislation on party-line votes while excluding Democrats from any meaningful participation.

    The Republicans' health legislation that would increase the ranks of the uninsured by as many as 32 million Americans failed to get out of the Senate, though their tax plan that targeted high-tax, mostly Democratic-run states, including New Jersey, by curbing the federal deduction for state and local levies was signed into law by Trump.

    No surprise then that among the Democratic members of the New Jersey congressional delegation, only Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist., received a positive score. Pascrell was the highest-ranking Democrat a year earlier as well.

    Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., who as the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee led efforts to kill the Republican health care bill, was the least bipartisan member of the delegation, finishing 392nd.

    "My constituents sent me to Washington to fight for them on the issues that make a difference in their lives," said Pallone, D-6th Dist. "Whether it's opposing the GOP tax scam, fighting the repeal of the ACA, or preventing drilling off the Jersey Shore, I will continue to stand up to the Trump administration when it attacks working families in New Jersey."

    In the Senate, Robert Menendez ranked 74th and Cory Booker 83rd among the 100 members of that chamber. 

    Booker was ranked as more bipartisan than two other senators mentioned as potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and less than two others, Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

    Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.

     
    Cops collar church burglar, find 'precious' chalice swiped from priest

    Cops collar church burglar, find 'precious' chalice swiped from priest


    Police say he was unable to pawn the stolen goods The burglar who broke into St. Hedwig's church this month and stole a golden chalice belonging to a priest is the man Trenton police say they arrested Monday...

    Police say he was unable to pawn the stolen goods

    The burglar who broke into St. Hedwig's church this month and stole a golden chalice belonging to a priest is the man Trenton police say they arrested Monday morning after he busted into another city church.

    Alexander Correa

    Police caught Alexander Correa, 40, shortly after he tripped an alarm at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, the Diocese of Trenton's "mother" cathedral on North Warren Street just north of downtown. 

    Correa is charged with multiple crimes for a total of four burglaries at the cathedral and St. Hedwig's in North Trenton, for which he later confessed, Trenton Police spokesman Lt. Darren Zappley said Tuesday.

    Zappley said Correa entered the cathedral by breaking a side basement window, which set off an alarm while he was in a washroom. Startled, he ran and responding patrol officers nabbed him at Hanover and Broad streets.

    He confessed to four break-ins, two at each church this month.

    One was the April 13 crime at St. Hedwig's, in which he pocketed a gold chalice that Fr. Jacek Labinski told NJ Advance Media recently was one of his most cherished items, a gift he received in the 1980s when he was ordained a priest and an item he used almost every day when celebrating Mass.

    He'd hoped it would be recovered, Labinski said. The priest was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

    During his confession Correa also told police he was keeping the stolen goods in an abandoned house in East Trenton, and police went there and found it, as well as a goblet and bowl stolen during burglaries, Zappley said.

    They were stashed in a burgundy felt bag, in a lower kitchen cabinet and Correa admitted to trying to sell the stolen items at a local pawn shop, but the shop refused to take them, Zappley said.

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook 

     
    Boy died after being struck by a truck in Garfield

    Boy died after being struck by a truck in Garfield


    An boy died after being hit by a truck on April 24, 2018, while riding his bicycle along a Garfield street. A boy was struck and killed by a truck Tuesday while riding his bicycle in Garfield, Mayor Richard...

    An boy died after being hit by a truck on April 24, 2018, while riding his bicycle along a Garfield street.

    A boy was struck and killed by a truck Tuesday while riding his bicycle in Garfield, Mayor Richard Rigoglioso said.

    The mayor said he heard about the accident around 2:30 p.m. and said it occurred in the area of Lanza and Pleasant avenues near Garfield Middle School and James Madison School 10.

    Rigoglioso, who is also principal of Garfield Middle School, said the boy, who appeared to be between the ages of 10-12, was not wearing a school uniform. He does not know if the child is a student in the Garfield School District or is even a city resident.

    Garfield Police Chief Raymond Kovach said the school district will have grief counselors on hand tomorrow morning. He said he could release the name of the child that was killed as authorities are working to notify the boy's next of kin.

    Kovach did not release any further details in a press release Tuesday night.

    Kovach asked anyone with information on the accident to contact Garfield Police Lt. Michael Marsh at 973-478-8500 ext. 4154.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     
    Woman pleads guilty to driving drunk in crash that killed friend

    Woman pleads guilty to driving drunk in crash that killed friend


    Prosecutors will ask a judge to sentence Ashley Gergits to 8 years in prison A woman accused of driving drunk and causing a crash that killed her passenger in Highland Park has pleaded guilty. Ashley Gergits, 20,...

    Prosecutors will ask a judge to sentence Ashley Gergits to 8 years in prison

    A woman accused of driving drunk and causing a crash that killed her passenger in Highland Park has pleaded guilty.

    Ashley Gergits, 20, of Edison, pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide, two counts of fourth-degree assault by auto, and driving while intoxicated in the February 16 crash, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said Tuesday.

    Gergits was driving a Honda CR-V near the intersection of the Albany Street Bridge and River Road when she struck part of the bridge, not far from the Rutgers New Brunswick Campus. The CR-V bounced off and hit a Subaru Legacy driven by a 31-year-old man from Central Valley, New York.

    Front-seat passenger and Edison resident Jenna Adamousky, 21, died from the crash. The other two passengers in the CR-V, 20- and 21-year-old men from Highland Park, were hospitalized, along with the driver of the Subaru.

    Prosecutors will ask Superior Court Judge Michael Toto to sentence Gergits to eight years in prison, a term subject to the No Early Release Act -- meaning Gergits would have to serve 85 percent of the term before being eligible for parole. She will also lose her driver's license for 15 years.

    Sentencing is currently scheduled for September 4 in New Brunswick.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    Meek Mill released from prison: Will he ring the bell at Sixers-Heat Game 5? Fans are going nuts on Twitter


    Rapper Meek Mill had been in prison for violating probation. His music served as inspiration for the Eagles during their run to Super Bowl LII (52). The Sixers are hoping Mill can help them as well, with the Miami Heat visiting the Wells Fargo...

    Rapper Meek Mill had been in prison for violating probation. His music served as inspiration for the Eagles during their run to Super Bowl LII (52). The Sixers are hoping Mill can help them as well, with the Miami Heat visiting the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. on Tuesday, April 24, 2018 (4/24/18) for Game 5 of their first-round playoff series. The Sixers lead the series, 3-1, and can advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a win.

    Fire tears through vacant homes in Jersey City

    Fire tears through vacant homes in Jersey City


    A two-alarm fire caused heavy damage to a pair of vacant homes on Grant Avenue late Monday night. JERSEY CITY -- A two-alarm fire caused heavy damage to a pair of vacant homes on Grant Avenue late Monday night.  No...

    A two-alarm fire caused heavy damage to a pair of vacant homes on Grant Avenue late Monday night.

    JERSEY CITY -- A two-alarm fire caused heavy damage to a pair of vacant homes on Grant Avenue late Monday night. 

    No one was injured when the blaze tore through the two buildings near Bergen Avenue. Firefighters extinguished the blaze in a defensive operation, meaning crews stayed outside of the buildings, officials said. 

    Jersey City working fire https://t.co/Q19jbphoC2

    — Puck Stopper Photo (@PSPhoto1) April 24, 2018

    The fire broke out about 24 hours after a four-alarm fire destroyed two buildings about a half mile up the road at 444 and 446 Bergen Ave. A third home suffered water damage and more than 40 residents were displaced. 

    Firefighters were briefly called back to the scene of that fire when debris began smoldering during the demolition of 444 Bergen Ave. 

    The American Red Cross is assisting residents who lost their homes. 

     

    Caitlin Mota may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @caitlin_mota. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.

    Judge to rule on charges against North Jersey councilman, teacher

    Judge to rule on charges against North Jersey councilman, teacher


    The judge is expected to review documents submitted by the attorneys before releasing his written decision. Watch video KEARNY – The attorney representing a Secaucus councilman and an elementary...

    The judge is expected to review documents submitted by the attorneys before releasing his written decision. Watch video

    KEARNY – The attorney representing a Secaucus councilman and an elementary school teacher accused of lying to police about a September crash argued before a judge that the charges should be dropped.

    Robert Costantino and Dawn Leon were charged with hindering for allegedly telling authorities Leon was behind the wheel of an SUV when a work truck clipped the vehicle. Police say Costantino, a councilman representing the town's First Ward, was actually driving and do not believe Leon was even in the SUV.

    Sean Pena, of Weiner Law Group, argued before Kearny Municipal Court Judge Thomas McKeon that Costantino and Leon could not be charged with hindering because police did not suspect either had committed a crime.

    The state represented by Theresa McGuire said she and Pena disagree on the interpretation of the law and police would have to open an investigation to determine if a crime was committed.

    At around 10 a.m. on Sept. 23, a white SUV was struck by a truck pouring cement near Third Street in Secaucus. Witnesses told police Costantino was behind the wheel of the vehicle, yelled at the workers, and then drove down the block, according to investigative records.

    Costantino and Leon both said she was driving and was so shaken up that she jumped from the driver's seat after the impact. Police obtained surveillance from a nearby home that appeared to show Costantino driving, and issued summonses to the two about a week later. Witnesses have recanted their statements they initially made to police.

    The case is being heard in Kearny because of a conflict of interest. McKeon is expected to review documents submitted by the attorneys to decide if Pena’s dismissal motion will be granted.

    Caitlin Mota may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @caitlin_mota. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.