New Jersey Real-Time News

    Every Seaside Heights beach will be closed to swimmers Thursday for the first time in over 20 years

    Every Seaside Heights beach will be closed to swimmers Thursday for the first time in over 20 years


    There will be no swimming at any ocean beach in Seaside Heights Thursday, an occurrence that has not happened in over 20 years, the borough's mayor announced Wednesday evening. There will be no swimming at any ocean...

    There will be no swimming at any ocean beach in Seaside Heights Thursday, an occurrence that has not happened in over 20 years, the borough's mayor announced Wednesday evening.

    There will be no swimming at any ocean beach in Seaside Heights Thursday, an occurrence that has not happened in over 20 years, the borough's mayor announced Wednesday evening.

    The swimming ban will be in effect at all of the borough's ocean beaches, but not its bay beaches, due to "negative water quality tests," Mayor Anthony Vaz said on the borough's official Facebook page.

    "This is the first time any of us can remember in more than 20 years that we have had to suspend ocean bathing due to water quality," Vaz said in the post. "Perplexingly, the ocean waters have been great the past few years right up to now, so this is a very unusual event that we expect to pass quickly."

    The mayor said he believes the poor water quality is due to either the heavy rains that battered the Jersey Shore on Monday or the water "drawing a lot of bait fish to the beach, followed by enormous numbers of seagulls."

    The closures are not a result of the DEP's weekly water quality tests as those results, which were released Wednesday, showed that only the Sheridan Avenue and Lincoln Avenue beaches were closed to swimmers. The Hancock Avenue bay beach was under a swimming advisory Tuesday, but that was lifted Wednesday.

    The DEP stops swimming at beaches until a water quality sample shows less than 104 colony forming units (cfu) of Enterococci bacteria per 100 milliliters of water. The bacteria is commonly found in animal or human waste and can make people sick if they ingest it.

    As a result of the swimming ban, admission to all Seaside Heights beaches will be free Thursday and any beachgoer will also be given a coupon for free beach admission that they can use this summer.

    Vaz said he expects the beaches to be reopened to bathers by Friday.

    "The health people are further analyzing the results and will keep us informed," the mayor said.

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

    Think your enemy is the press? So does every tyrant and corrupt politician | Editorial

    Think your enemy is the press? So does every tyrant and corrupt politician | Editorial


    Today, the Star-Ledger editorial board joins more than 200 newspapers to respond to the president's mantra of "fake news." President Trump has branded the "fake news" media the enemy of the people. Nearly a third of...

    Today, the Star-Ledger editorial board joins more than 200 newspapers to respond to the president's mantra of "fake news."

    President Trump has branded the "fake news" media the enemy of the people. Nearly a third of Americans agree, as do most Republicans, two alarming new polls found.
     
    Today, the Star-Ledger editorial board joins more than 300 newspapers across the nation to respond.
     
    Freedom of the press is not a God-given right. It is being degraded all over the globe, as autocrats use the power of the state to tightly muzzle independent journalists.

    Times publisher, Trump meet to discuss anti-media rhetoric
     
    At least 21 reporters in six countries have been jailed for "fake news," vaguely defined as any news the government considers a threat.

    To justify these crackdowns, despots can now parrot the "leader of the free world."
     
    Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte banned critical reporters from his events because he was tired of their "fake news." A Myanmar official dismissed the ongoing massacre of the Rohingya Muslim minority the same way: "There is no such thing as Rohingya," he said. "It is fake news."
     
    This phrase once meant exactly what it sounds like: false stories, deliberately posing as news, spread by Twitter bots. Now it's any news that the great leader doesn't like.
     
    Even many Americans support a Stalinesque use of government power to single out political opponents or stifle criticism. Almost a third believe the news media is "the enemy of the people," according to a new Ipsos poll - a phrase most widely used by Stalin.
     
    A majority of Republicans think the press is the "enemy of the people," rather than "an important part of democracy," as our founding fathers believed, a Quinnipiac poll found. And nearly half of conservatives think the president should be able to shut down the press, they told Ipsos.
     
    No doubt about it: If Trump could shut down his critics, he would. He's mused about loosening libel laws and suspending NBC's license. "It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write," he said.
     
    Yet imagine, for a moment, if they couldn't. What if we knew nothing about the conclusion of intelligence experts that Russia meddled in our election, and heard only that it was some guy from Jersey?
     
    Here in our state, who would call out the double-dippers gaming our pension system, or a guy like David Samson, who extorted United Airlines for the "chairman's flight"? Who would wonder why a bridge got shut down in Fort Lee?

    A police chief could retire with an obscene payout for unused sick days, with nary a peep. Think property taxes are out of control now? Consider what they'd be like if the press weren't watching.

    In his famous opinion vindicating the decision to publish the Pentagon papers, Justice Hugo Black wrote, "The press was to serve the governed, not the governors."

    But would Trump have wanted them published?

    Fox News, the most-watched cable network, belies the notion that mainstream media doesn't include conservatives. Much of the hostility of the right toward the press actually originates elsewhere: Stories in which the press reports what someone says about Trump, and he blames the media.
     
    After his debacle in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin, Trump got pummeled by his own party. But he made it sound like it was the press that was attacking him, simply by reporting what his critics said.
     
    His fans are happy to blame the messenger. Incredibly, 39 percent of conservatives say negative news stories about politicians are always "fake news," even if they are accurate, a poll by the Knight Foundation and Gallup found. What are we to make of this?
     
    Like Putin, or Stalin, Trump knows he doesn't need to convince his base that everything he says is true; just that everybody else is a liar, including the press that fact-checks him. Because when people believe that the real truth is unknowable, they grow cynical, and prefer to tune out and believe no one.
     
    And so we have "the enemy of the people," a phrase straight out of George Orwell's dark imagination. But the real enemy of the people is never a free press, which holds the powerful accountable. It is a government that wants to be the sole arbiter of truth.

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

    N.J. town denies illegally blocking Orthodox group's expansion

    N.J. town denies illegally blocking Orthodox group's expansion


    A northern New Jersey town denied in a court filing that for years it illegally blocked an Orthodox Jewish group seeking to expand its house of worship or buy property to build a new one. A northern New Jersey town...

    A northern New Jersey town denied in a court filing that for years it illegally blocked an Orthodox Jewish group seeking to expand its house of worship or buy property to build a new one.

    A northern New Jersey town denied in a court filing that for years it illegally blocked an Orthodox Jewish group seeking to expand its house of worship or buy property to build a new one.

    The U.S. attorney's office filed a federal lawsuit in June against Woodcliff Lake, which is about 20 miles northwest of New York City.

    The lawsuit alleges the town modified zoning laws to block Valley Chabad from buying property and improperly rejected the group's numerous requests for zoning modifications so it could expand its existing facility.

    In a court filing Tuesday, the town denied the charges and contended the Orthodox group's plans failed to meet zoning requirements governing houses of worship.

    These include "a minimum lot size of three acres, one parking space for every three seats, one space for each staff member, a 400-foot-wide lot as well as other requirements regarding building setbacks, building height and surface coverage."

    Variances sought by the group to modify its existing facility "departed from conditions required for houses of worship and proposed deviations from generally acceptable zoning ordinances," the town's attorneys wrote.

    The federal lawsuit claims Valley Chabad's predecessor entered into a contract to buy a 3.89-acre property in 2006 but canceled the contract after a town council member expressed interest in the town's buying the property through eminent domain.

    In Tuesday's response, the town claimed the group "punctured an oil tank and contaminated the property," precipitating a dispute before the contact was canceled. The town admitted buying the property three years later to use as open space.

    The Woodcliff Lake suit is far from the only recent court action involving religious groups in New Jersey.

    Last year, the town of Bernards agreed to pay $3.25 million to a group whose plan to build a mosque it had rejected over several years, and Bridgewater Township settled a lawsuit with an Islamic center for nearly $8 million after a four-year legal battle.

    The city of Bayonne approved a Muslim group's plans to build a mosque this year after a lawsuit charged the group was the target of hate-filled attacks.

    The U.S. attorney's office sued the town of Mahwah last year, alleging it used local ordinances to discriminate against Orthodox Jews from nearby New York state. A settlement conference in that lawsuit is scheduled for the end of August.

    Woodcliff Lake is just over the New Jersey border from Rockland County, New York, where towns such as Monsey and Airmont have concentrations of Orthodox Jews

    In the early 2000s, the Woodcliff Lake lawsuit alleges, Rabbi Dov Drizin was asked by a borough official for a letter "that would explain how Valley Chabad differed from the religious community in Monsey."

     
    Man dies after being shot and hit by vehicle in Newark

    Man dies after being shot and hit by vehicle in Newark


    The 43-year-old man was apparently trying to flee a gunman when he was struck by a vehicle A 43-year old Irvington man died after he was shot and run over by a vehicle Tuesday night in Newark, the Essex County...

    The 43-year-old man was apparently trying to flee a gunman when he was struck by a vehicle

    A 43-year old Irvington man died after he was shot and run over by a vehicle Tuesday night in Newark, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday. 

    Just before 9 p.m., prosecutors say, Rodney O'Neal was shot it the 300 block of Schley Street in the city's South Ward. 

    Authorities say O'Neal was struck by the vehicle while apparently attempting to flee the shooter. He was rushed to University Hospital in Newark, and pronounced dead at 11:05 p.m. 

    An autopsy is pending to determine the exact cause of O'Neal's death.

    Anyone with information about it is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office's Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tip line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.

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

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    The sun is shining and swimming is banned at N.J. beaches because of bacteria


    Swimming was not allowed at eight New Jersey beaches Wednesday afternoon after the water sampled at each continued to show high levels of bacteria found in animal or human...

    Swimming was not allowed at eight New Jersey beaches Wednesday afternoon after the water sampled at each continued to show high levels of bacteria found in animal or human waste.

    Feud? Nah, Murphy says as he exerts power over board with close ties to Senate president

    Feud? Nah, Murphy says as he exerts power over board with close ties to Senate president


    New Jersey's governor has the authority to veto minutes of any of the state's hundreds of boards and authorities. Gov. Phil Murphy used a powerful tool in his gubernatorial arsenal this week to exert his authority...

    New Jersey's governor has the authority to veto minutes of any of the state's hundreds of boards and authorities.

    Gov. Phil Murphy used a powerful tool in his gubernatorial arsenal this week to exert his authority over a South Jersey board that has close ties to Senate President Stephen Sweeney.

    Murphy vetoed meeting minutes of the South Jersey Port Corporation, a move that effectively rebuffs any action the board took during its most recent meeting last month. New Jersey's governor has the authority to veto minutes of any of the state's hundreds of boards and authorities.

    The agency -- the first to have its minutes vetoed by the governor since he took office a little more than six months ago -- operates marine shipping terminals across seven counties.

    The South Jersey Port Corporation is mostly comprised of allies of Sweeney, with whom  Murphy continues to lock horns even though both men say in public that they get along fine.

    But the governor insisted Wednesday it wasn't a power move against Sweeney.

    Sweeney and Murphy continue to clash

    "The letter we submitted speaks for itself. It has nothing to do with the Senate president. Period. Full stop," Murphy said at a public event.

    "We have a say and we had raised our hands and said, 'You know what, we don't like the procedure, the process that you are pursuing here, and you should know that.' And we gave them ample opportunity to change that process," Murphy said.

    He added: "They chose not to and we had told them right up front that if that's the path you take then, 'You've got to do what you've got to do. We've got to do what we've got to do.'"

    Murphy's move was first reported by the website PoliticoNJ, which, citing anonymous sources familiar with the issue, said Murphy was mostly irked by agency's decision to renew a contract with its general counsel, Raymond Zane.

    Zane is a Sweeney ally despite the nasty campaign between the two when Sweeney ousted Zane from his state Senate seat in 2001.

    "I never thought it had anything to do with me and I appreciate the governor clarifying that," Sweeney told NJ Advance Media following Murphy's comments.

    Murphy told the group's acting executive director he vetoed the meeting minutes because, among other things, the members showed "absolutely no evidence that the corporation conducted a fair and objective procurement process" when they voted on "various professional services contracts."

    The PoliticoNJ report cited the governor's grievance with the board's decision to reappoint Zane as general counsel as the driving force behind Murphy's veto.

    Murphy's comments came at a bill-signing ceremony in North Brunswick, where he gave final approval to a bill that establishes a state innovation commission.

    The measure gave the New Jersey Commission on Science, Innovation and Technology a $1 million budget to help spur entrepreneurship in the state.

    The 17-member panel is the successor to a commission established under former Republican Gov. Tom Kean. But the commission has been non-operational since 2010, Murphy said.

    Matt Arco may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.

    Masked bank robber who talked about cops during holdups admits to 4 heists

    Masked bank robber who talked about cops during holdups admits to 4 heists


    Federal agents followed the suspect from New York City to New Jersey A New York City man who drove a red Mitsubishi missing a hubcap and handed tellers notes that mentioned police officers admitted Wednesday to...

    Federal agents followed the suspect from New York City to New Jersey

    A New York City man who drove a red Mitsubishi missing a hubcap and handed tellers notes that mentioned police officers admitted Wednesday to robbing three New Jersey banks.

    Eddy Cruz was arrested outside a fourth bank last year, in Englewood, moments after he put on latex gloves, sunglasses and pulled a tight-fitting mask over his face as he sat in the Mitsubishi. For that, he was charged with attempted bank burglary.

    The 42-year-old from Manhattan pleaded guilty in Trenton federal court Wednesday to the three robberies, two last year and one in 2013, plus the attempted burglary, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey announced.

    Federal authorities go onto Cruz following the Feb. 13, 2017 holdup of a TD Bank in Fort Lee, courts documents show.

    The robber wore a tight-fitting mask, hat, and sunglasses, and handed a teller a note that said: "I am being recorded by the police. Give me $100's, $50's, $20's. No Dye Packs, No GPS."

    The letter handed over about $2,500, and the man fled.

    Investigators found video surveillance footage that showed the robber had driven to and from the bank in a red 2017 Mitsubishi with a missing hubcap on the front driver-side tire. They also got the license plate, and tracked it to an address in the Bronx, New York.

    Five days later, on Feb. 18, the robber struck again at a TD Bank in Hasbrouck Heights, wearing the same, tight-fitting mask, documents show.

    That note said: "I am listening to police radio. Give me $100's and $50's." A teller handed him approximately $4,203 in cash.

    By Feb. 24, 2017, investigators had identified Cruz as a suspect and were watching him. That morning, they saw the Red Mitsubishi parked on St. Nicholas Place in Upper Manhattan and watched as Cruz got behind the wheel.

    They tailed him over the George Washington Bridge to Englewood, where he parked outside a TD Bank branch. He then circled the bank for 45 minutes.

    He then parked in a lot adjacent to the bank, and officers watched as he changed into a new jacket and had put on the gloves, sunglasses, a hat, and the tight-fitting mask. The moved in and arrested Cruz.

    In the car, the found a note he intended to use. It said, "I Am Listening to Police Radio - No Alarm or I Start Shooting- Give me all 100's, 50's, 20's, 10's - No Dye No GPS!"

    Cruz later confessed to the two prior robberies, and that he was going to rob the TD in Englewood.

    Federal authorities later linked him to the Dec. 24, 2013 robbery of a PNC Bank branch in Jackson, where he got away with $3,424.

    When he was arrested last year, Cruz was a suspect in a TD Bank robbery in Westchester County, New York, where he pleaded guilty to another TD holdup in 2013, lohud.com reported.

    Cruz faces up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced in November.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     
    Judge denies motion to combine separate harassment lawsuits against Bayonne

    Judge denies motion to combine separate harassment lawsuits against Bayonne


    Both lawsuits seek compensatory damages. BAYONNE -- A Hudson County judge has denied the city's motion to combine two similar harassment lawsuits brought against it, court document show. The city, which is the...

    Both lawsuits seek compensatory damages.

    BAYONNE -- A Hudson County judge has denied the city's motion to combine two similar harassment lawsuits brought against it, court document show.

    The city, which is the defendant in two lawsuits brought by former employee Stacie Percella -- one in U.S. District Court and another in Hudson County Superior Court --  moved to combine the suits into one case under U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares.

    The first complaint, filed in federal court in June 2014, alleged sexual harassment and discrimination based on Percella's gender against Bayonne's former director of municipal services and a former health official. 

    The second complaint, filed in January of this year, stemmed from a "sexting" scandal that embroiled 54-year-old Mayor Jimmy Davis during his bid for reelection. The suit alleges Percella was discriminated against and was sexually harassed by the mayor before being illegally terminated.

    Both lawsuits seek compensatory damages.

    City attorneys cited the Entire Controversy Doctrine and argued that the claims brought forth in both instances should be adjudicated together, rather than in piecemeal litigation, since they are related claims from the same party.

    But that motion was denied late last month. Hudson County Superior Court Judge Martha D. Lynes said the two claims "are not against the same parties and are not the same claims, although there may be similar legal issues," court documents indicate.

    The city declined to comment, citing its policy of not discussing pending litigation.

    The case against Davis will now proceed and enter its discovery period. The federal case, meanwhile, remains stayed.

    Percella was employed as a "deputy register/keyboard clerk" from 2001 until her termination in December 2016. She filed her first suit under the legal representation of Peter J. Cresci, a former business administrator with the city.

    Linares in December 2016 ordered a stay in seven lawsuits filed by Cresci's firm -- Percella's 2014 harassment suit among them -- because they were associated with Cresci, who was suspended from practicing law in November 2016.

    Christine Finnegan, who is now representing Percella in the federal case, applied to lift the stay after changing the firm's name to the "Finnegan Firm."

    But the judge in June denied that motion and reaffirmed the stay on the seven cases, saying in a court opinion that "Finnegan continues to use as her registered email address with the Court [email protected]," documents read.

    Finnegan, additionally has "failed to provide sufficient proof that Mr. Cresci maintains no ownership interest" in the firm, documents read.

    Neither Percella, nor her legal representation, could be reached for comment.

    Corey W. McDonald may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @coreymacc. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.  
    North Jersey fire displaces 6 families, sends 3 firefighters to hospital

    North Jersey fire displaces 6 families, sends 3 firefighters to hospital


    At least six families were displaced by a 3-alarm Jersey City Heights fire that sent three firefighters to the hospital this afternoon in a battle against the flames hampered by the maze of wires crisscrossing utility poles at the...

    At least six families were displaced by a 3-alarm Jersey City Heights fire that sent three firefighters to the hospital this afternoon in a battle against the flames hampered by the maze of wires crisscrossing utility poles at the site.

    JERSEY CITY -- At least six families were displaced by a three-alarm Jersey City Heights fire that sent three firefighters to the hospital Wednesday afternoon in a battle against the flames hampered by the maze of wires crisscrossing utility poles at the site.

    No residents of the Lincoln Street building were injured, officials said.

    Firefighters arriving at the three-story building,  between Kennedy Boulevard and Milton Avenue, just after 2 p.m. were unable to use the aerial ladder of a fire truck due to the tangle of wires above. Instead, they were forced to use ground ladders to reach the second-floor windows, Jersey City Fire Chief Steven McGill said from the scene.

    A 50-foot ladder had to be brought to the scene to allow firefighters to reach the third-floor windows, McGill said.

    Fighting the fire was also hindered because firefighters were not able to get onto the roof to ventilate the building by cutting holes in the roofing, McGill said.

    The fire was placed under control at 3:19 p.m. but not before the rear of the building on the second and third floors suffered heavy fire damage and flames burned through the roof, McGill said, adding that the first floor sustained water damage.

    Anita Valentin, a resident of the second floor, sat on a front stoop across from the building rocking her cat Hunter, whom she held in her arms wrapped in a blanket while firefighters fought the fire.

    "I was watching TV and I smelled smoke and my nephew came in and said come out, there's a fire," said Valentin. "I'm shaken up. I have six more cats in there. They said they are alright but I just want to get back in there."

    Carlos Quinones, who lives in the front apartment on the third floor with his mother, arrived home from work to find his building ablaze.

    "I'm at a loss for words," Quinones said. "They said our cat ran out. I still don't know if our apartment was damaged."

    Utilities to the building have been cut and residents will not be able to return Wednesday night, although they will be allowed to gather belongings if safety allows. The Red Cross was responding to help those displaced by the fire, McGill said.

    The chief said the fire appears to have started at the rear of the building on the second or third floor but the cause remains under investigation. 

    A battalion chief, captain and firefighter had difficulty breathing and were taken to the Jersey City Medical Center for treatment, McGill said. 

    The chief said firefighters fought the flames aggressively from inside the building and were about to be pulled out due to the danger when they began to get the upper hand on the fire. 

    Lincoln Street was closed at Kennedy Boulevard and Milton Avenue while firefighters were at the scene. The chief said there were at least six apartments in the building. 

    Cat euthanized after man throws it inside Jersey City animal shelter

    Cat euthanized after man throws it inside Jersey City animal shelter


    The man has not been identified as of Aug. 15. Police said an arrest has not been made. JERSEY CITY— The sickly cat left at Liberty Humane Society by a man who smashed the shelter's glass door this week has been...

    The man has not been identified as of Aug. 15. Police said an arrest has not been made.

    JERSEY CITY— The sickly cat left at Liberty Humane Society by a man who smashed the shelter's glass door this week has been euthanized, an official with the organization said.

    Staff at Liberty Humane Society were rattled when a mysterious man shattered their glass front door Monday afternoon with a rock and threw a box containing the animal at a staff member before running off.

    "It's a really bizarre situation," Liberty Humane Society Executive Director Irene Borngraeber said. "The cat was obviously very ill."

    A shelter staff member rushed the animal to a veterinarian who diagnosed it with liver failure, Borngraeber said. The cat was euthanized following the veterinarian's examination.

    "There [was] no hope for recovery," Borngraeber said, adding that the animal was "severely underweight" and likely suffered from a disease. 

    The man who allegedly smashed the front glass door of Liberty Humane Society on Monday. Courtesy of LHS 

    "We're not suspecting [the man] injured the cat. Based on the medical history, we believe that the cat was suffering from an illness for a very long time," she said.

    According to Borngraeber, the veterinarian advised that euthanizing the cat was the only humane option at that point.

    Borngraeber said that staff members locked the door upon the man's arrival to the shelter when they observed that his mental status seemed compromised. The shelter staff now hopes to determine if the cat belonged to the man and whether the man has interactions with other animals, Borngraeber said.

    "We need to make sure that there are no other animals that are suffering."

    Borngraeber added that she's hoping police will make a positive identification of the man and arrest him. A spokeswoman for Jersey City said no arrest had been made as of Wednesday morning. 

    "...Potentially that would enable the man to receive some mental health counseling or other potential assistance."

    Moving forward, the shelter is working on upgrading its surveillance system and installing a metal roll-down gate.

    "We don't want to be a prison... but I think we have to just because of the eventuality of situations like this," Borngraeber said.

    Liberty Humane Society is accepting donations online or in-person to help support repair costs. 

    Man who ran Kik chat rooms where users discussed child pornography admits guilt in federal court

    Man who ran Kik chat rooms where users discussed child pornography admits guilt in federal court


    The FBI say the 44-year-old man went by the name Candice on Kik and sent dozens of images to another user An Ocean County man admitted distributing child pornography on the social media app Kik in a federal court...

    The FBI say the 44-year-old man went by the name Candice on Kik and sent dozens of images to another user

    An Ocean County man admitted distributing child pornography on the social media app Kik in a federal court Wednesday, the U.S. District Attorney's Office announced.

    On Kik, he went by the user name "candicesloan1995," but the man behind the screen was actually 44-year-old David Nelson, of Toms River, an FBI investigation found.

    He pleaded guilty to a child pornography distribution crime in federal court in Trenton, and admitted he sent at least 26 images of child pornography to another Kik user over a span of three days in October 2017.

    The FBI investigation also found that he was the administrator of multiple chat rooms where child pornography was shared and discussed.

    Authorities tracked down Nelson in April after arresting a man who allegedly offered to broadcast the sexual abuse of his 4-year-old daughter over Kik Messenger to an undercover officer. That investigation originated in Louisville, Kentucky.

    The child pornography charge carries a minimum of five years in prison and $250,000 fine.

    Nelson's sentencing is scheduled in November.

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     
    Council OKs renaming of Jersey City library branch in memory of Jersey Journal columnist Earl Morgan

    Council OKs renaming of Jersey City library branch in memory of Jersey Journal columnist Earl Morgan


    His career spanned the terms of at least seven Jersey City mayors. JERSEY CITY -- Applause rang out Wednesday morning when the City Council voted to approve the renaming of the Greenville branch of the city library...

    His career spanned the terms of at least seven Jersey City mayors.

    JERSEY CITY -- Applause rang out Wednesday morning when the City Council voted to approve the renaming of the Greenville branch of the city library in honor of Jersey Journal columnist Earl Morgan, who died in June at the age of 75 after decades advocating for residents and chronicling the times. 

    "It's a wonderful day," Morgan's wife, Barbara, said inside the council chamber where the ordinance was approved to officially name the Earl Morgan Branch Library. "Earl wasn't' big on things like this, but I'm glad that they're doing it."

    Prior to passage of the ordinance, former Jersey Journal Editor Judy Locorriere said it was appropriate to name a place of learning after Morgan.

    "We all know how strongly he believed in truth and justice for all," she said. 

    Locorriere called Morgan an advocate for youth in "his beloved city," credited him with being a mentor to young reporters at the newspaper, and said he was among those who made "Jersey City great over the years."

    Locorriere said she started at The Jersey Journal on the same day as Morgan but she "never felt like his boss because I was always learning from him."  

    Morgan's friend of more than 50 years, Daoud-David Williams was among the more than a dozen people who lauded Morgan at the hearing. He called Morgan an "astute, tenacious and dedicated practitioner of the First Amendment."

    "We commend you for honoring the life of this one-of-a-kind person," Williams told the council members. "We love you Earl Morgan. May your memory and work live on in the city you loved and eloquently wrote about."

    Fellow Astor Place resident Mario Moni said Morgan was one of his mentors and praised him as being someone who told the truth no matter who he was writing about. To illustrate the point, Moni, a member of the NAACP, said Morgan wrote a column about the organization once and "threw us under the bus and drove the bus on us.''

    A lifelong Jersey City resident, Morgan attended Lincoln High School, where he was a talented fencer. He was a civil rights activist — one of his roles was spokesman for the United Black Front of Jersey City in the 1970s — and longtime community activist before writing at the now-closed Hudson Dispatch before coming to The Jersey Journal.

    Morgan covered government corruption, the rise of charter schools, and the struggles of residents fighting crime and poverty. His career spanned the terms of at least seven Jersey City mayors.

    Jersey Journal Editor Margaret Schmidt, who attended the hearing, said afterward that "we at the paper have always been so proud to call Earl a colleague and friend and are deeply touched by the outpouring of support for the naming of the Greenville branch in his honor and memory."

    "I was especially buoyed at today's meeting by Council President Lavarro's promise when he cast his vote to follow up on the Croson disparity study and fight for the residents of the south side of the city," Schmidt added. 

    Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley called it fitting to name the library after Morgan not only because he was a journalist, but also because it is home to the Afro-American Historical Society Museum. Morgan, she said, "fought for so many of the concerns of the residents of Greenville."

    "This place, this town, this atmosphere, is his home and I say 'is' because he is still here," Morgan's son, Kyle, said. "I am so happy and honored that you are even considering putting his name on the library.

    "If anybody deserves to have a library, that kind of place named after him, it is my dad."

    Brick residents return to flood-ravaged homes and sift through ruined memories

    Brick residents return to flood-ravaged homes and sift through ruined memories


    About 100 residents were evacuated from their homes after downpours caused massive flooding. Nearly 8 inches of rain - normally two month's worth - fell in less than three hours. Watch video Linda...

    About 100 residents were evacuated from their homes after downpours caused massive flooding. Nearly 8 inches of rain - normally two month's worth - fell in less than three hours. Watch video

    Linda Russo stood outside her Brick home on Wednesday as volunteers carried out antiques and precious family photos, one by one, dripping with water, asking her what to do with each. 

    "Throw that out," she said to a Brick football player who reluctantly carried out a mirror with extensive water damage, knowing it would upset her. "That was my mother's."

    Russo moved into the Greenbriar I adult community with her husband Sal more than 20 years ago. They've been staying in a local motel since Monday, when six inches of water entered their home during a flash flood. 

    It's been three days since she had a good night of sleep.

    Linda Russo watches volunteers remove items from her home that was destroyed by flooding. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

    The pair are two of the more than 100 residents who were evacuated from their homes after downpours caused massive flooding in the community. Nearly 8 inches of rain - normally two month's worth - fell in less than three hours on Monday.

    Most of the homes on Markham Road had significant flood damage, Greenbriar Association President Donna Curtis said. And none of the affected residents, who are all above age 55, have flood insurance, since Brick is not a flood zone. 

    She believes construction on the Garden State Parkway and a pump that was turned off are partially to blame for the unexpected flooding, she said in the community's clubhouse on Wednesday, where some residents have been sleeping.

    "It's heartbreaking. There's nothing you can do," she said. "I'm concerned about the long-term. I'm concerned about the ability to rebuild."

    On Wednesday, Senator Jim Holzapfel, Assemblyman Dave Wolfe and Assemblyman Greg McGuckin called on the Department of Transportation to investigate if the flooding is related to the recently completed Exit 91 construction, the Ocean County representatives said in a statement. 

    "It's a little suspicious that Greenbriar can go five decades without this kind of flooding, including during Superstorm Sandy, but it's suddenly underwater a year after the adjacent Exit 91 project was completed," Wolfe said. 

    The New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which runs the Parkway, did not immediately respond to request for comment. 

    Linda Russo, left, looks through family photos removed from her home that was destroyed by flooding. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

    "How do we know this isn't going to happen again?" she said. "We'd love to get some answers. We'd love to get some help." 

    Despite the lack of assistance she expects from FEMA, Curtis said volunteers from the Coast Guard and Red Cross, and food and water donations from Lowe's, Wawa and Home Depot are helping the community cope with their losses. And a GoFundMe has raised more than $2,000. 

    But the mood in the senior citizen community was still tense, as volunteers dragged out garbage bags of debris and damaged furniture from homes and residents looked on, some crying, others wondering what their next moves would be.

    "This is my home now," Chris Hagy exclaimed to her neighbor, pointing to the pile of wooden furniture on her lawn that once occupied her living room. "Now I've got to start from scratch."

    Greenbriar I residents clean-up after their homes were flooded with approximately 3 feet of water during heavy rainfall. (Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)Patti Sapone | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 

    She was in the kitchen when water breeched her home, and within an hour, it was up to her thigh. Hagy and her 69-year-old husband were rescued from the home they lived in for eight years when emergency personnel came with a boat. 

    While Hagy said she's glad her neighbors are safe and said everything can be replaced, her biggest concern now is where she's going to go next. 

    "I don't have $100,000 to redo the house. I don't have flood insurance," she said. "Where am I going to live?"

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at [email protected]. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    Measles cases confirmed in N.J., 20 other states, officials say

    Measles cases confirmed in N.J., 20 other states, officials say


    New Jersey is among a nationwide measles outbreak. Federal health officials are continuing to monitor New Jersey and 20 others states in an ongoing measles outbreak that has infected more than 100 people, according...

    New Jersey is among a nationwide measles outbreak.

    Federal health officials are continuing to monitor New Jersey and 20 others states in an ongoing measles outbreak that has infected more than 100 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Of the 107 nationwide cases, which occurred between January and July 14, three were confirmed in New Jersey, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. The N.J. cases were linked to international travelers.

    While the state Department of Health is not currently investigating any new cases federal health officials are still continuing to monitor New Jersey and the other states.

    Those other states included are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

    The state Department of Health announced in May that people may have been exposed to measles Bergen and Warren counties and Newark International Airport. The department again issued another warning in a separate incident in late June that people have been exposed in areas in Burlington and Camden counties.

    For more information on what to do if you've been exposed to measles click here.

    For more information about measles, contact your health care provider, or visit the New Jersey Department of Health's website at www.state.nj.us/health.

    Spencer Kent may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerMKent. Find the Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    Chick-fil-A customer suing after he claims he found cow poop in his salad

    Chick-fil-A customer suing after he claims he found cow poop in his salad


    He recently filed a lawsuit over the 2017 incident at a South Jersey location The salad Edwin Molina ordered at a Chick-fil-A in South Jersey left a bad taste in his mouth.  That's because it contained manure, he...

    He recently filed a lawsuit over the 2017 incident at a South Jersey location

    The salad Edwin Molina ordered at a Chick-fil-A in South Jersey left a bad taste in his mouth. 

    That's because it contained manure, he claims in a lawsuit.

    The Blackwood resident says he ordered his salad at a location on Clements Bridge Road in Deptford Township on Jan. 10, 2017.

    Molina had consumed "a good portion" of the salad before noticing what looked like clumps of dirt among the greens, according to the lawsuit.

    Then, he took a closer look and a whiff. "... it was clear that the clumps were actually manure in the salad," the suit states.

    Molina names Chick-fil-A, as well as Doug Clark, restaurant operator for the Deptford location, and Taylor Farms New Jersey Inc. as defendants in the state Superior Court filing.

    Molina says the defendants were negligent in inspection, preparation and serving of its food and "failed to provide proper, safe and clean food and food services for persons allowed and invited to use their property."

    Restaurant operators are looking into the claim.

    "Food safety and quality are our top priorities," Clark said in a statement. "We are aware of the complaint and are currently investigating."

    A message left with Taylor Farms was not returned. Efforts to reach Molina and his attorney were also unsuccessful.

    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.