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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Both women also seek damages from the state child welfare agency because it lacked mandatory anti-sexual harassment training programs and policies, according to the complaints.

    Terrified that her boss would not stop making sexually suggestive comments and stalking her, a state child welfare employee asked her supervisor to intervene, according to a lawsuit.

    Instead, Evelyn Nieves-Lalama said her supervisor refused to help and told her to "pray," according to the employee's lawsuit against the state.

    Reinaldo Gibbs, 60, of Matawan, a former manager at the Paterson office for the Division of Child Protection and Permanency, is the target of two sexual harassment lawsuits which are expected to go to trial separately in late February or March, attorneys said. 

    But Nieves-Lalama of Clifton and Latrece Hagans of Paterson also are suing supervisors and other managers they claim did nothing to stop Gibbs predatory behavior, and at times covered it up, the lawsuits filed in state Superior Court in Passaic County said.

    Gibbs' Attorney Cedric Ashley predicted that his client would be exonerated.

    "When these two complaints are fully vetted, they will be deemed meritless," Ashley said. "The facts will bear out neither situation was anything remotely related to discrimination or harassment."

    The state hired Gibbs in 2013 and terminated him in 2015, according to Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Leida Arce said. Ashley declined to disclose the circumstances of Gibbs' dismissal. 

    Gibbs is an adjunct professor in the Social Science Department at Middlesex County College in Edison, a college official confirmed. He previously worked for the New York City Administration for Children's Services, according to his LinkedIn profile page.  He is also an elder at New Brunswick Seventh Day Adventist Church, according to its website.

    Gibbs did not return calls seeking comment and no one answered the door at his house on two occasions.

    Tell us your experiences with sexual harassment in N.J.

    Evelyn Nieves-Lalama, a family service specialist and a state child welfare employee since 1999, has been on unpaid medical leave since 2016 related to her anxiety over the harassment, her attorney Stephen Bosin told NJ Advance Media. 

    "She made repeated requests for help from her supervisor and no action was taken. She was told to pray," Bosin said. "It created more of a sense of dread and helplessness."

    Nieves-LaLama worked with Gibbs from June 2013 to April 2014 when she was forced to take another job in the Paramus office, the complaint said.

    During that time, Gibbs repeatedly touched Nieves-Lalama's face, arms and buttocks, made inappropriate comments, such as "You smell delicious" and "I want you," and fondled his penis outside of his clothes when others were not looking, according to the complaint.

    Nieves-Lalama took her concerns to her direct supervisor, Kim Drayton, who never documented or investigated the complaints, the lawsuit said. Drayton recommended staying away from Gibbs and "to pray." When Nieves-Lalama said she did not feel comfortable around him. Drayton replied: "Pray hard," the lawsuit said.

    Gibbs later allegedly retaliated by accusing Nieves-Lalama of kissing him and touching him. Paul Pintella, the division's Equal Opportunity Office official named in the lawsuit, interviewed her in response to his complaint. She explained how he had inappropriately touched her, and made crude gestures and remarks.

    Shortly after their meeting, she saw Gibbs and Pintella having lunch together -- providing evidence Pintella would not take her concerns seriously, the lawsuit said.

    At about the same time Nieves-Lalama alleged Gibbs was harassing her, Hagans was also a target of Gibbs unwanted attention, according to the lawsuit.

    In August 2013, Gibbs began making sexually suggestive comments and texting photos of his penis and lewd messages. The following month, according to the lawsuit, Gibbs asked for a hug after a private meeting. When she got up to leave the room, he grabbed her breasts, lifted up her skirt and exposed his penis as she tried to fight him off. A janitor entered the room, and she left, the lawsuit said.

    Gibbs "threatened" Hagans "not to mention any of the sexual advances," the complaint said. She was fired on Feb. 10, 2015, the lawsuit said.

    Hagans and Nieves-Lalama also seek damages from the state child welfare agency because it lacked mandatory anti-sexual harassment training programs and policies, according to the complaints.

    The state Attorney General's Office is providing legal representation for the supervisors and managers named in the complaints, but not for Gibbs, who is no longer a state employee, office spokesman Leland Moore said. Moore declined to comment on the cases.

    In court records, the state denied the allegations. In a response to Hagans' lawsuit, the Attorney General's Office noted: "(The) plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of available preventative or corrective opportunities" and the state agency "is not liable for the willful misconduct of their employees." 

    Ashley, Gibbs attorney, noted that Hagans "never made a claim about anything until after she was terminated." 

    Correction: An earlier version of this story said Hagans also sued her supervisors, Kim Drayton and Bertha Carthins, but they were dropped from the case Thursday, according to court records.

    NJ Advance Media researcher Vinessa Erminio contributed to this report.

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

     

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    The house, which also boasts eight baths and sits on two-and-a-half acres, is available for $2.3 million in Bitcoin and a little less, $2.1 million, in good old fashioned cash.

    A spacious 5-bedroom Monmouth County home recently went on the market for more than $2 million.

    That's not an unheard-of price in upscale Middletown. What's different about this sale, however, is that the owner is also willing to accept payment in Bitcoin, the virtual cryptocurrency popular with civil libertarians and cyber-criminals alike.  

    What happens to a convicted criminal's Bitcoin stash? 

    The Portland Road house, which also boasts eight baths and sits on two-and-a-half acres, is available for $2.3 million in Bitcoin and a little less, $2.1 million, in good old fashioned cash.  

    The first known real estate sale using Bitcoin occurred last December, when a Miami condo was sold for just under 18 units of the currency, Business Insider reported. At a spot price of more than $15,000 per Bitcoin, that came to about $275,000.

    But Bitcoin prices also fluctuate wildly, and as of Thursday that Bitcoin stash was worth just under $160,000. On Friday, the currency's value dropped to below $8,000 for the first time since late November, CNBC reported.

    Paul Milo may be reached at pmilo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@PaulMilo2. Find NJ.com on Facebook.  

     

     

     


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    The judge's actions deprived Monmouth County of more than $500,000 in fines

    A municipal court judge who worked in nine Monmouth County towns admitted to falsifying about 4,000 court records to redirect fines from county to municipal coffers.

    Richard Thompson, 62, of Middletown, pleaded guilty Friday before Presiding Criminal Court Judge David F. Bauman to a single fourth-degree count of falsifying records in connection with his public office as a municipal judge, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said.

    Thompson could face up to 18 months in prison, but his plea agreement calls for non-custodial probation and entitles him to apply to the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, an alternative for first time offenders that could remove the charge from their record if they meet all the requirements of the program.

    Thompson admitted that between January 2010 and October 2015 he suspended fines for motor vehicle tickets and converted the charge to contempt of court so that the money would be paid to the municipalities for which he worked, depriving Monmouth County of more than $500,000 that it would be entitled to under state law. 

    Motor-vehicle fines are supposed to be split 50/50 between the county and municipality where they occurred. Contempt of court fines, though, go entirely to the town.

    The plea deal Thompson took boiled the offenses into one count because "it was not necessary to take a plea to repeated counts of falsifying records when the conduct can legally be charged in one count by accusation," Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Christopher Swendeman said.

    "Even if we did charge multiple counts for each citation ... they all would have been merged for sentencing," he said. 

    "Thompson's conduct was likely to curry favor with the municipalities that continued to employ him as a judge, allowing him to retain his seat on the various municipal courts for many years," according to a press statement from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

    The investigation did not find that Thompson was "personally enriched from the scheme," Swendeman said.

    Thompson was suspended without pay Oct. 23, 2015 from his duties as judge in Bradley Beach, Colts Neck, Eatontown, Middletown, Neptune City, Oceanport, Rumson, Tinton Falls and Union Beach, by Monmouth County Assignment Judge Lisa P. Thornton.

    "It's been a very difficult two years and three months for Mr. Thompson," defense attorney Charles J. Uliano said, "and he would like to thank his many friends in the legal community for their emotional support."

    "It is regrettable that such a distinguished career should end in this way," Uliano said.

    The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office's Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit investigated Thompson for two years, and found he converted fines from motor vehicle citations to contempt of court sanctions when there was no legal basis to do so.

    To conceal what he was doing, Thompson would make the change after the citizens and in some cases the attorneys had left the courtroom, the prosecutor said.

    Contempt of court charges can be levied if a person fails to appear in court or disrupts proceedings. But the law requires that before someone may be held in contempt, they are given the opportunity to be heard.

    Also per his plea deal, Thompson is forever disqualified from being a municipal court judge or holding any public employment. 

    Allison Pries may be reached at apries@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonPries. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

        


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    Three men were struck by vehicles while on foot in separate incidents on one day last month

    On one calendar day last month - Jan. 11 - three pedestrians were stuck by cars in separate crashes on Trenton streets.

    All three have since died, Trenton police said Friday.

    In one, the first of the day, police detectives are trying to locate the red car that may have struck the pedestrian, Elvin Rivera, 37.

    Police on Friday made public a picture of the vehicle, believed to be a red Ford Focus hatchback, somewhere in the 2000 to 2005 year range.

    A car struck Rivera at about 3:30 am, in the first block of Morris Avenue in Chambersburg. Police officers arrived and found him unconscious in the street. No vehicle had stopped, police spokesman Lt. Stephen Varn said.

    Officers performed CPR on Rivera and am ambulance took him to nearby St. Francis Medical Center, where he died shortly after 5 a.m.

    Rivera lived in the Trenton area for most of his years, and pent some time in Puerto Rico, his obituary said. He had a passion for art and drawing and worked as a tattoo artist.

    elvin.pngThe vehicle that may have struck Elvin Rivera on Jan. 11, 2018 on Morris Avenue in Trenton. 

    At 11:30 p.m., a vehicle hit Shawn Hurley on Route 29 north at South Warren Street and kept driving, Varn said.

    An ambulance took the 47-year-old to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in the city, and he passed away from those injuries this past Sunday, Jan. 28. Hurley's death is under active investigation by police, Varn said.

    Hurley was born in Rahway and lived in Keansburg, in Monmouth County, before moving to Trenton, his obituary said. He liked to fish and help people, and "loved to look good before he went out."

    "Once you were his friend, you were a friend for life," Hurley's obit said. A family member set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for his funeral expenses, saying he was not married and did not have life insurance.

    hurley.jpgShawn Hurley, Facebook photo 

    The other man who was killed Jan. 11 was Mark Zachary, a 59-year-old city man who was struck crossing Southard Street at Escher Street at about 5:30 p.m. He died a few hours later at a city hospital.

    Zachary's funeral was held last week in Burlington City.

    Police had already publicized the Zachary crash, saying that driver stopped, but was later issued a ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian. Police did not identify the driver.

    Detective Craig Kirk is investigating the Rivera and Hurley crashes. 

    Anyone with information about them, or the red car that may have struck Rivera, is asked to call Kirk at 609-989-4167 or any Trenton detective at 609-989-4155. Information can also be left on the Trenton police confidential tip line at 609-989-3663.

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


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    Dane M. Fante of Moorestown died after the car in which he was the passenger hit a tree.

    A 20-year-old Moorestown man died Saturday after a car veered off the road in Monmouth County and crashed into a tree in the early morning, authorities said.

    The accident occurred around 2:39 a.m. when Jose R. Rivera, 21, of Lyndhurst, drove his 2006 Audi AA8 off the road in Ocean Township near the 200 block South Lincoln Avenue, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said in a release.

    Dane M. Fante, who was a passenger in the car, was taken to Monmouth Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 3:24 a.m., the release said. 

    Rivera, the driver, was transported to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune Township where he is being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

    Both Fante and Rivera were students at Monmouth University.

    The crash remains under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, Monmouth County Serious Collision Analysis Response Team (SCART), and Ocean Township Police Department.

    Authorities ask anyone who witnessed the accident or has information on the accident to call Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office Detective Kristian DeVito at 800-533-7443 or Ocean Township Police Sergeant Todd Gregory at 732-531-1800.

     

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    The 2016 U.S. Olympian and Manalapan H.S. graduate is competing in the Millrose Games

    U.S. Olympic runner Robby Andrews is among the big names competing Sunday at the Millrose Games in New York City.

    Andrews is one of 11 Olympians -- six men and five women -- taking part in the Wannamaker Mile, the signature event of the 111th annual indoor track and field meet.

    His fastest time in the mile is three minutes and 53 seconds, and Andrews said he needs to finish in under 3:55 to qualify for the U.S. indoor championships in Albuquerque.

    But Andrews, contacted Thursday by phone, said he is more focused on going for a win Saturday than his finishing time.

    "I'd be happier if I win the race in four minutes, than if I finish in 3:50 and lose it," said Andrews, a 2009 graduate of Manalapan High School and current resident of Lawrenceville.

    Andrews, 26, achieved a high point in his storied career last June when he won the U.S. 1,500-meter championship, finishing in 3 minutes and 43 seconds. 

    It was a redemption of sorts for Andrews, who a year earlier was competing in a semifinal round in the 1,500 meters at the Olympics when he took a step off the track near the finish line, after some apparent contact with another runner, and was disqualified.

    "It was just one big learning experience. I've been able to put my emotions aside," said Andrews, who is seeking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics and again compete in the 1,500-meter race.

    Andrews has been an assistant track and field coach since 2013 at Princeton University.

    Princeton cross-country coach Jason Vigilante said Andrews has "remained a humble Jersey guy and is a real credit to our sport."

    The Wannamaker Mile has taken place annually on the men's side since 1926 and for women since 1976, according to New York Road Runners, title sponsor of the Millrose Games.

    Andrews will have some tough competition. The men's race includes two-time Olympic medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand, whose personal best in 3:49 -- four seconds ahead of Andrews.

    Underway since the early 1900s, the Millrose Games experienced a surge in popularity after moving in 2012 from Madison Square Garden to a converted U.S. Armory that hosts more than 100 meets annually and is the home of the National Track and Field Hall of Fame.

    "It's kind of taken on almost a second life, in terms of attracting people," said Andrews, who has run in more than a half-dozen Millrose Games.

    For the mile race, the women's and men's will start at 5:27 p.m. and 5:50 p.m., respectively.

    Rob Jennings may be reached at rjennings@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobJenningsNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook  


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    Rumson's senior night was highlighted by an inspirational moment.

    Senior night at Rumson-Fair Haven was approaching and 4-foot-2 senior Jack Velcamp started to wonder if he'd be able to suit up for the Bulldogs' boys basketball team when it hosted Holmdel last Thursday.

    Velcamp, who is living with dwarfism and has been Rumson's team-manager the last eight years, picked up the phone and called head coach Chris Champeau. 

    “I asked if I could dress because it was senior night," Velcamp said. "Champ was just like ‘yeah dude you’re starting.’ I had to get my tailor and fix up my jersey to make it fit.”

    The whole night was about Velcamp.

    Champeau's pregame speech praised the senior for his toughness and perseverance, Rumson's "Dawgpound" went wild when Velcamp's name was announced and midway through the first quarter, he got his moment when he put home a layup for his first high school basket.

    “I wanted a three, but it wouldn’t fall,” Velcamp said with a laugh. “Finally I just ran through and hit a lay up. I turned around and the whole team was coming at me. I was just like, ‘Oh man don’t hurt me.’ It was insane.”

    The basket wasn't the only time that Champeau has seen Velcamp score during a game. When Velcamp was in fourth grade, Champeau brought his Rumson team to watch him play in his first recreation game. Velcamp scored his first basket that day.

    It only seems fitting that the team, which would have an enormous impact on his life, were there to witness his first-ever basket.

    From there, Velcamp joined a Rumson program on the rise. 

    While plenty of excellent players have come and gone including 2001 grad Kevin Alter, who went on to play at Navy, 2016 grad Brendan Barry, who left RFH as the school's all-time leading scorer and currently plays for Dartmouth, and now a team led by Jackson McCarthy, Elijah McAllister, Ian O'Connor, Jack Solano, Teddy Sourlis and Phillip Wheeler, there have only been two constants in Champeau and Velcamp.

    "It’s been awesome," Champeau said. "I have two daughters. I don’t have a son. If I did, he’d be a warrior just like Jack. He’s been phenomenal. He’s like a son to me. I love him.”

    While his varsity basket was an unforgettable moment, it was a dunk from Wheeler, a sophomore forward, that will stand out in Velcamp's mind as graduation approaches.

    "A little bit towards the end of the game, Wheels hit a dunk. He came rushing towards me and gave me a hug," Velcamp said. "That's the kind of stuff I'm going to miss. It's going to be rough when we have to go and it's all said and done."

    Richard Greco may be reached at rgreco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Richard_V_GrecoLike NJ.com HS sports on Facebook.


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    Where is your team in the power points report?


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    Take a look at the girls basketball power points as of the cutoff date.


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    A Holmdel athlete and his wife sought middle ground in what's known as transitional styling for the 105-square-foot bathroom in the Colonial-style home they've owned for five years.

    N.J. home makeover is a regular feature on NJ.com. To submit your renovation for consideration, email home@starledger.com with your full name, email address, phone number and town/city. Attach "before" and "after" photos of what you renovated.


    How do you handle a master bathroom update when you live in a traditional home but your taste runs more contemporary?

    A Holmdel athlete and his wife sought middle ground in what's known as transitional styling for the 105-square-foot bathroom in the Colonial-style home they've owned for five years.

    The 3,500-square-foot house was built in 2001 with five bedrooms and four bathrooms. The owners wanted to restyle the master bathroom with the mood and features of an in-home spa. In the bathroom's original footprint, one corner was dominated by a bulky angular tub, fashionable in the 1990s.

    The challenge faced by their contractor, Anthony Cotugno of Richmond Tile & Bath in Staten Island, was to not only mesh the owners' tastes with the style of their home, but to soften the color palette they selected so the bath would still be welcoming.

    "We added glamour accents to the gray-and-white bath as well as soft lines to what is normally a masculine spa look," said Cotugno.

    To marry the clean lines of the updated bathroom with the style of the house, Cotugno incorporated classic accents and details including a traditional tile floor, recessed lighting, prominent crown molding and trim.

    "We wanted the bathroom to fit this New Jersey house," he said. "We're not in Malibu."

    Cotugno will be one of the 200 exhibitors at the New Jersey Home Show, which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday at the New Jersey Convention Center. He is also among the show's lineup of speakers, where he'll share ideas with homeowners on the trends he is seeing in home renovation.

    In presentations at 4 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday, his insights will include how to blend materials like porcelain and wood, how flooring choice can create seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor rooms, and ways homeowners are using darker tones in kitchens as an alternative to white.

    In the Holmdel bathroom renovation, his clients chose a porcelain tile with the look of Statuario marble. It's used in 30-inch squares on the floor and 24-by-48-inch rectangles on the walls of a custom-built shower. "Statuario achieves a contemporary look," Cotugna said. "The size of a tile dictates the look of a space: the bigger, the more contemporary; the smaller, the more rustic."

    Black is rising as a choice for bathrooms, and it is used in this renovation as a complementary accent. The freestanding BainUltra tub is enhanced by a custom black edge. The crown molding has a painted black stripe detail, and the wall behind the tub features three-dimentional black porcelain tiles. The textured 2-inch squares are adhered to a flat base of 12-inch tiles, bringing a sense of movement with their shimmering effect.

    For those who'd imagine the associated cleaning challenges, Cotugno says: "The best way to maintain these tiles, which also work well around a fireplace, is to dust and vacuum them with a brush tip."

    An ebony stain brings black to the bathrooms nine-foot double vanity, framed in walnut with mercury glass panes set in the drawer fronts. The custom vanity was designed in a floating style that gives the bathroom a clean, spacious look. The vanity mirror hangs from a wall covered in large panels of matte gray porcelain tile.

    It's not surprising that a bathroom designed by a tile firm showcases the range of uses for that material. Only the ceilings, doors, crown molding and other trim are painted in this bathroom.

    The owners consider the custom steam shower their splurge feature in the update. The 10-by-5-foot shower has multiple shower heads, with body and handheld sprays.

    Cotugno says his company can customize the plumbing of luxury showers to accommodate a client's desired experience.

    "We learn whether they like water-spray on their backs or ankles, the heights of family members, and whether they want to walk into a shower set at 101 or 87 degrees so these elements are installed perfectly," he said.

    He described the shower as "a multi-sensory experience that infuses scent, sound, light, visualization and steam."

    The radiant heat beneath the tile flooring comes from an electric system that can be programmed to the desired temperature of each user.

    "As you complete your steam experience you step out onto a tempered floor that's customized to your liking," Cotugno said. "The in-floor heating allows the steam experience to continue after you leave the shower, allowing for a smooth transition into regular temperatures."

    What they renovated

    Master bathroom

    Who did the work?

    Richmond Tile & Bath of Staten Island, with associated trades.

    How long it took

    6 months from product selection to installation

    What they spent

    $25,000

    Where they splurged

    Custom shower

    How they saved

    They installed radiant heat beneath the tile floors and a steam unit, which they expect will reduce their heating-related energy costs in the long-run.

    What they like most

    The bathroom's new layout and how the assortment of tiles work together

    What they'd have done differently

    Absolutely nothing

    IF YOU GO

    What: 29th Annual NJ Home Show

    Where: New Jersey Convention Center, 97 Sunfield Avenue, Edison, NJ 08837

    When: Friday, Feb. 9 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 10 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    How much: $10 for anyone 16 and older; free for those under 16. Visit NewJerseyHomeShow.com for more information and to buy tickets that come with a complimentary magazine subscription to Better Homes and Gardens, Every Day with Rachel Ray, Family Circle or Shape.


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    Woody's Roadside Tavern in Farmingdale is continuing its months-long boycott of the NFL and won't be showing Sunday's Super Bowl on its screens.

    The Farmingdale bar that began an NFL blackout in November to honor veterans is continuing its boycott and won't be showing Sunday's Super Bowl game. 

    Woody's Roadside Tavern announced it would close Sunday at 4 p.m. before the game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. 

    "We hope that next season the players find a better way to bring light to issues and stand and respect our flag and anthem," the bar wrote on its Faceboook page. 

    The bar has refused to show any NFL games on its 20 TV screens since Veterans Day. 

    Rob Johnson, one of the owners of the bar, previously told NJ Advance Media the idea for the blackout came from a Vietnam veteran and regular customer who felt disrespected by NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality. 

    During its first boycott of the NFL on Veterans Day, Woody's held a fundraiser for veterans instead of showing the games. More than $8,000 was raised for two veterans groups.

    Karen Yi may be reached at kyi@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

     

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    Pets all over New Jersey wait patiently for adoption.

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

    We are now accepting dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at ghatala@starledger.com or call 973-836-4922.

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


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    Who landed in NJ.com's most recent rankings?


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    The two conferences will see who is best in the first 'Mountains vs. Seas' event in Sept.

    Two of the best conferences in the state will go head to head this fall as the Shore Conference and the Skyland Conference will meet in the inaugural "The Mountains vs. The Seas" girls soccer event in September.

    There will be seven cross-conference matchups on Sunday, Sept. 23, at Pingry and all 14 teams will be fundraising to support Go4theGoal, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping kids with cancer and their families across the country. The idea for the showcase came about a few weeks after this past season ended and once the wheels started spinning, coaches jumped aboard and booked a spot in the first-year event.

    “The idea for the event came about from years and years of debate regarding which conference was stronger in girls soccer," said Watchung Hills coach Brian Figueiredo. "When my thought process began, it coincided with the beginning of the college basketball season, and all of those conference challenges were getting started and I thought this would be a great idea for us to try in girls soccer. When I pitched the idea to all the coaches, the response was incredible."

    Bridgewater-Raritan, Hunterdon Central, Mount St. Mary, Pingry, Ridge, Somerville and Watchung Hills signed up to represent the Skyland Conference in the showcase. Freehold Township, Jackson Memorial, Middletown South, St. John Vianney, Shore, Red Bank Catholic and Toms River North all answered the call for the Shore Conference.

    The Shore Conference is coming off a season in which it took home three state titles and had finalists in all four public group finals. Freehold Township and Ridge met in the Group 4 final, playing to a scoreless draw for the second time in three years, and both teams will have a chance to show if their up for the task again in 2018.

    Five of the teams that signed up for the cross-conference event ended last season ranked inside the NJ.com Top 20. Shore and Middletown South finished just outside the Top 20 and both played in a group final in 2017.

    "We feel a lot of pride in the soccer product that we put out in the Shore Conference and there are a lot of talented players in our conference," said Freehold Township coach Dave Patterson. "Years ago we used to have a challenge against the Greater Middlesex Conference and for whatever reason that kind of fell apart. We're happy to have the chance to challenge ourselves again though against one of the other really strong conferences in the state. The Skyland Conference has represented itself well and we're really excited about the opportunity."

    Admission to the event is going to be free, but each team and their friends and families will have the opportunity to donate to the cause through a webpage. The coaches and administrators who helped bring the event together see it as the premiere high school girls soccer event of the 2018 season.

    The ability to display some of the state's top talent in one location on the same day is not lost on anyone involved in the event. And with Academy soccer now in place on the women's side of the U.S. National program, the coaches and administrators believe a high-profile event like this will be able to draw positive attention to the high school game. 

    "The second component of this was to give the high school game a showcase day," said Figueiredo. "For the last couple years, the high school game has been criticized and put in a secondary role to the club and academy level. This event gives all the tremendously talented players - who feel it’s extremely important to represent not only their school, but their communities - a day to shine and show everyone what high school soccer is all about.

    "We plan on raising a ton of money for the (Go4theGoal fund), and it’s going to show that not only are these players unbelievable student-athletes, but they are well-rounded individuals who care about being not only great players and great students, but great citizens as well."

    The Skyland Conference participants will serve as the home teams this season and the Shore Conference teams will be home squads in 2019. Check out the full schedule below and see who matches up against who in the event:

    EVENT SCHEDULE

    Babbit Field
    Shore vs. Mount St. Mary, 10 a.m.
    Middletown South vs. Watchung Hills, 12 p.m.
    Toms River North vs Ridge, 2 p.m.

    Parsons Field
    St. John Vianney vs. Somerville, 10 a.m.
    Freehold Township vs. Hunterdon Central, 12 p.m.
    Jackson Memorial vs Bridgewater-Raritan, 2 p.m.

    Miller A Bugliari '52 World Cup Field
    Red Bank Catholic vs. Pingry, 12 p.m.

    Brandon Gould may be reached at bgould@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonGouldHSLike NJ.com HS sports on Facebook.


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    Jason Roebuck, 47, previously served as the city's public safety director since 2013.

    A familiar face was sworn in as police chief of Long Branch on Friday.

    Jason Roebuck previously served as the public safety director from 2013 until 2017.

    But, in June, the city council voted by a 3-2 margin to create the position of police chief to run the day-to-day operations of the city's 92-officer police force.

    Mayor Adam Schneider said in a previous interview that the city decided to create the position after it was clear the chain of command in the police department was "muddled."

    The public safety director position is a civilian position and Roebuck had to take a leave of absence before being appointed, Schneider said. 

    Roebuck, 47, has been a member of the police department since 1995. The Ocean Township resident climbed the ranks, becoming a captain in April 2012 before taking over as public safety director. Roebuck also served as a captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.

    Six new police officers were also sworn in during the ceremony: Conor Mullan, Shane Carroll, Christopher Remedios, Julian Morgan, Evan Morrell and Daniel Cunha.

    Roebuck earns a salary of $198,000, according to state records. 

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

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    The biggest questions in N.J. girls basketball as postseason play hits the court.


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    The 32-year-old British man, Lauri Love, is alleged to have stolen massive quantities of sensitive data from computers across the country.

    A 32-year-old British hacker facing federal charges in New Jersey in connection with a scheme to allegedly steal massive quantities of sensitive data from computers across the country will not be returned to the United States to face trial.

    The High Court in London on Monday blocked the extradition of Lauri Love, but said he still might face prosecution in England.

    "The British justice system has taken the stance that we should deal with the matter ourselves, rather than accept the U.S. government's demands," said the court.

    Attorneys for Love said he suffers from Asperger's syndrome and depression, and argued it would be "unjust and oppressive" to send him to the U.S.

    Love, who was charged in New Jersey, New York and Virginia, allegedly hacked into the networks of the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and other government computers between 2012 and 2013.

    "I am greatly relieved that I am no longer facing the prospect of being locked up for potentially the rest of my life in a country I have never visited," Love said following Monday's ruling.

    He criticized prosecutors for suggesting his mental issues were fabricated, saying that such intimations only served to stigmatize people with similar problems.

    Nicole Oxman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said, "We are reviewing the judgment of the High Court and have no further comment."

    The U.S. has 14 days to lodge their grounds for appealing the decision to Britain's Supreme Court, said Love's lawyers.

    According to the criminal complaint filed in New Jersey, Love and other unnamed co-conspirators hacked into a number of government and military computer systems, where they placed hidden "back doors" within the networks, allowing them to steal confidential data. Prosecutors said the stolen data included the personal information on thousands of individuals, including military personnel at Fort Monmouth.

    The indictment, though, did not specify plans for the data, such as selling it to identity theft rings. Prosecutors said only that the object was to steal large quantities of non-public data, and to "disrupt the operations and infrastructure of the United States government."

    During the cyber attack, investigators said Love would chat online with his co-conspirators.

    "you have no idea how much we can [expletive] with the us government if we wanted to," he allegedly wrote on July 31 to an unnamed conspirator living in or near Australia, according to an exchange quoted in a federal indictment, using the moniker "peace." He allegedly sent out a follow-up message, reading, "this ... stuff is really sensitive."

    "Ooh nice," his alleged co-conspirator responded.

    Love allegedly responded: "it's basically every piece of information you'd need to do full identity theft on any employee or contractor for the [government agency]."

    One of the attacks was launched from a computer server in or around Romania, which prosecutors said was leased by Love.

    According to the indictment, unsealed in 2013 by the U.S. Attorney's office in New Jersey, the attack also targeted with Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, and Army database in Mississippi where the email addresses of military personnel were stolen. Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland was also breached, where defense department budgeting data was illegally accessed, an Army research and development center in Morris County, as well as the Strategic Studies Institute.

    Lawyers for Love at an extradition hearing in November said there was a high risk he would kill himself if he was sent to the United States for prosecution.

    In the ruling on Monday, the judges said the Crown Prosecution Service "must now bend its endeavors to his prosecution, with the assistance to be expected from the authorities in the United States, recognizing the gravity of the allegations in this case, and the harm done to the victims."

    The Associated Press contributed to this report

    Ted Sherman may be reached at tsherman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL. Facebook: @TedSherman.reporter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Where does your favorite private school land in the latest Niche.com rankings? Click here to see the best of the best when it comes to private school sports programs in the state.


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    The 26-year-old behaved inappropriately toward one of his students last year, authorities say

    A tennis instructor has been indicted on charges of having sexual contact with a 13-year-old student as well as possession of child pornography.

    Terry Y. Kuo, 26, of Colts Neck, faces a 15-county indictment, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement. 

    A student told authorities Kuo, who is also known as Victor Lee, engaged in acts of sexual misconduct in the summer and fall of last year. Investigators also said they found child pornography Kuo's electronic devices and learned he behaved improperly with other children.

    Trenton man charged with sexual assault of child, prosecutor says

    Besides the child porn and sexual contact charges, other charges include attempted sexual assault, stalking, lewdness, endangering the welfare of a child and obscenity.

    Kuo is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 20.

    Marlboro police assisted the prosecutor's office in the investigation. 

    Investigators are seeking additional information about Kuo's activities and looking to identify other possible victims.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact either Marlboro Det. Edward Ungrady at (732) 536-0100 ext. 1099 or Det. Shawn Murphy of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at (732) 431-7160 ext. 7032.

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

     

     

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    The playoff push began on Monday night with the sectional quarterfinals.


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