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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Which teams are early favorites for the hardware?


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    Municipal court judge Richard Thompson will instead enter the pretrial intervention program after charges that he falsified records.

    A former municipal judge who admitted he changed 4,000 traffic tickets to give municipalities that employed him $500,000 won't be heading to jail.

    Instead, at the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office request, Richard Thompson of Middletown will be allowed to enter the state's Pre-Trial Intervention Program, which allows first-time offenders to have their charges removed from their record if they meet the program's requirements.

    Thompson's attorney, Charles Uliano of West Long Branch, confirmed that his client was admitted into the program Thursday before Judge David Bauman.

    An investigation by the Prosecutor's Office found that between January 2010 and October 2015, Thompson, while working as a municipal court judge in nine towns, converted fines for those 4,000 motor vehicle citations into contempt of court fines.

    Motor vehicle fines are usually split 50/50 between the county and the town where the offense occurred, but a municipality gets 100 percent of a contempt of court fine. The county missed out on $500,000 due to the redirection of the fines, the prosecutor's office 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 is held in contempt, they are given the opportunity to be heard.

    To conceal what he was doing, Thompson made the changes after the citizens, and in some cases the attorneys, had left the courtroom.

    The prosecutor's investigation, however, did not find that Thompson "was personally enriched from the scheme."

    Thompson, 62, served in Bradley Beach, Colts Neck, Eatontown, Middletown, Neptune City, Oceanport, Rumson, Tinton Falls and Union Beach.

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

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

     

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    The former friend charged with killing Sarah Stern could go to trial for her murder as soon as this September. Watch video

    A 20-year-old man charged in the strangulation death of his friend, Sarah Stern, will stand for her murder this September unless he accepts a plea deal, a Superior Court judge said Monday.

    Liam McAtasney appeared before Judge Richard W. English in a Freehold courtroom where English read an order into the record his ruling Friday that allows a recording of an alleged confession to be used at trial.

    Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 7.12.15 PM.jpgLiam McAtasney confers with his attorney Carlos Diaz-Cobo 

    In a chilling video, filmed on Jan. 31, 2017, by a friend of McAtasney, identified as A.C., McAtasney allegedly told A.C. that he strangled Stern with such force he lifted her off the ground. Then watched the clock for 30 minutes while she died. 

    McAtasney and Preston Taylor, who both grew up with Stern in the close-knit seaside community of Neptune City, were charged two months after Stern's car was found abandoned on the Route 35 bridge in Belmar.

    Authorities say McAtasney planned for at least six months to steal $10,000 from Stern that she had inherited from her grandmother, then kill her. 

    Taylor pleaded guilty in April 2017 to helping to throw Stern's body off the Route 35 bridge into the Shark River and agreed to testify against McAtasney.

    Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 7.09.20 PM.jpgJudge Richard W. English 

    McAtasney sat stoically in the first row of the jury box as the judge scheduled his next court appearance for June 18, which be the cut off date for him to accept a plea deal from prosecutors.

    The current offer is for McArasney to plead guilty to murder and serve life without parole. 

    If he doesn't accept a plea deal, a trial date will be set at that hearing, English said, likely for the second week in September. 

    McAtasney's newly hired attorney, Carlos Diaz-Cobo, declined to comment after the proceeding.

    Screen Shot 2018-03-26 at 7.08.27 PM.jpgMichael Stern, 2nd from left, speaks with Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Meghan Doyle, left, and Stern family attorney Charles Stone, right. 

    Stern's father, Michael, said outside the courtroom Monday that he and about nine others gathered on the Route 35 bridge Saturday -- which would've been Stern's 21st birthday -- to say a prayer. They brought an assortment of balloons, including a purple one -- Stern's favorite color. 

    "It still hurts. That doesn't go away," Stern said. "We just don't want anybody to forget Sarah."

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


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    Which teams are set for big seasons?


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    According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $39,218.

    In this week's "On the market" property, we feature a home in Rumson with 5,459 square feet of living space.

    The home is listed for $2,875,000. According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $39,218.

    The home features 5 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.

    The median sale price for homes in the area is $765,000.

    Alexis Johnson may be reached at ajohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexisjreports. Find her on Facebook.

     

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    Softball preview - here are the toughest pitchers to face heading into the new season


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    The interactive experience based on 'The Price is Right' adds another show at Asbury Park's Paramount Theatre on Oct. 20. Those picked to play the game can try their hand at Plinko or spin the Big Wheel for real prizes. Watch video

    "The Price is Right Live!" may not be the real game show (no, you aren't going to be on TV), but the event is driving enough interest for Asbury Park's Paramount Theatre to add another show. 

    The stage show based on the popular CBS game show was already coming to Asbury Park on Oct. 20, but now there will be two shows instead of one.

    "The Price is Right Live!," which has been running for more than 14 years, is not televised but includes familiar features of the game show like Plinko, the Big Wheel, Cliffhangers and the Showcase. There are also prizes for players.

    The new show precedes the previous scheduled time at 4 p.m. on Oct. 20, while the other is at 8 p.m. Anyone 18 and older who is interested in playing the game can register in the lobby of the Paramount Theatre from 1 to 4 p.m. (there is no age restriction to watch the game). Doors open at 3 p.m.

    Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. March 30 and run from $47.50 to $148 for the "Spin the Big Wheel" package, which includes a ticket in the first 10 rows, the chance to spin the Big Wheel after the show, a photograph with the Big Wheel and expedited access to game registration; visit ticketmaster.com.

    The two Asbury Park shows aren't the only way to see "The Price is Right Live!" in New Jersey. The show is also coming to Morristown's Mayo Performing Arts Center on Oct. 11. On Oct. 14, it will be at Investors Bank Performing Arts Center in Sewell, and on Oct. 19, fans can catch all the game show action at Bergen PAC in Englewood.

     

    Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at akuperinsky@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.

     


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    Alex Thompson and Mike Basile are bidding to become the next Monmouth players in the NFL. Watch video

    Kevin Callahan can laugh about it now, the time not so long ago when his Monmouth University football program was anything but a destination for pro-football scouts in advance of the NFL Draft.

    While Miles Austin helped put Monmouth on the map when he became a standout wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys in the mid-2000s, Callahan has started producing NFL players in rapid succession over the last five years.

    "It's a yearly thing now,'' said Callahan, the only coach Monmouth has had since the football program started in 1993. "Miles Austin certainly opened the door for us and created that path to the NFL for all of our guys to follow. Back when Miles came out there was probably a sense of who's heard of Monmouth from the NFL scouts. Now it's a regular stop on everybody's travel in the spring and in the fall. I think we had all 32 teams in once or twice to our campus in the fall. So it's an indication I think of the caliber of players that are coming out of our program nowadays.''

    Since 2012, Monmouth has had five players appear on NFL rosters, a list that includes New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan, Jets tight end Neal Sterling, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Darnell Leslie, Detroit Lions tight end Hakeem Valles, former defensive back Jose Gumbs and former tight end John Nalbone.

    Mike Basile and Alex Thompson are hoping to follow in their footsteps. The recently departed Monmouth products were in the spotlight like never before Tuesday, as 22 scouts from 19 NFL teams attended the school's Pro Day at Compete Academy in Neptune.

    Basile is a 5-foot-11, 195-pound defensive back out of Brick Memorial High School who last fall became Monmouth's first four-time, first-team All-Conference selection in addition to earning the co-Big South Defensive Player of the Year award.

    "The scouts have been watching Mike for probably the last two or three years,'' Callahan said. "He's a tremendous football player, he has a high-level of intensity, a high motor. You watch a football game on video, you're going to see 21 players moving through a play and then you're going to see a streak coming through the screen and that streak is Mike Basile.''

    Thompson is a 6-3, 303-pound center from Haddon Heights who was an unbeaten NJSIAA wrestling champion at heavyweight in 2013. After initially wrestling at West Virginia, Thompson transferred to the West Long Branch-based FCS program and morphed into an All-American lineman for a Monmouth team that finished 9-3 last fall.

    "He's one of the most athletic offensive linemen that I've ever seen,'' Callahan said. "He's also got a really high football IQ. So anchoring our line from the center position was a natural for him. He's a very intelligent player, he's a physical player and he's athletic enough that you can do a lot of different things with him at the next level.''

    Both hope to hear their names called in the late stages of the NFL Draft next month. If not, they could go the undrafted free agent route after turning in impressive Pro Day performances.

    Thompson benched 225 pounds 26 times, stopped the watch at 5.14 seconds in the 40-yard dash, measured 8-4 in the broad jump and hit 27 inches in the vertical jump.

    "I think I could always do better but I did pretty well in most of the drills so I'm excited about that,'' Thompson said. "Today was a really important day for me. I wanted to show the scouts my work ethic and my drive to be successful. I want to be the hardest working guy on the field every time I practice or play and I think I showed that.''

    Basile timed 4.62 in the 40, lifted the 225-pound bar 13 times, measured 10-0 in the broad jump and hit 34 inches on his vertical. His 4.28 seconds run in the 20-yard shuttle would've put him among the top strong safeties at the NFL Combine last month.

    "The scouts were pretty impressed with the numbers I put up in those three-cone (shuttle) drills,'' he said. "Any time you can showcase yourself in front of scouts is important. You never have 15-plus scouts at a practice or a game so to come out and show what you can do is very important for a smaller school like us.''

    Keith Sargeant may be reached at ksargeant@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @KSargeantNJ. Find NJ.com Rutgers Football on Facebook.


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    The 33-year-old allegedly left the girl in the car for 30 minutes unattended while she shopped

    Police found a 2-year-old child wandering around a shopping center parking lot in Monmouth County after the mom left the girl sleeping in a car while she shopped Friday at a Burlington Coat Factory store, authorities said.

    After securing the toddler around 5:35 p.m., Ocean Township police located a car with a door slightly open nearby and ran the registration to determine the owner, police said.

    The mom's name was broadcast over the Burlington Coat Factory store's speakers to find her, police said. She had left the child unattended for 30 minutes while she shopped, police said.

    Mom abandoned baby in North Jersey library, police charge

    Humu Koroma, 33, of Neptune, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. She was given a summons and released.

    Police said the investigation determined Koroma "left her child unattended in the vehicle because the child had fallen asleep and Koroma needed to shop."

    The state Division of Child Protection and Permanency plans to investigate, police said. 

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

     

     

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    Take a look at the 46 players who are in the early All-State conversation.


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    The four-car crash in Union left another driver with minor injuries

    The driver killed Tuesday after her car struck a concrete barrier at a Garden State Parkway toll plaza in a crash involving four vehicles has been identified as a 83-year-old Neptune woman.

    Patricia Lavelle was pronounced dead after her car Civic struck the divider between northbound toll lanes at the Union toll plaza around 2:30 p.m., State Police said. 

    The driver of one of the other vehicles had minor injuries. Traffic was jammed for about four hours, authorities said. 

    State Police are still investigating the crash.  

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

     

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    Who are the top catchers in N.J.?


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    10 men and 10 women track & field athletes who dominated the NJSIAA and are doing the same in the NCAA.


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    Most of the "statements" we made with clothing and hair styles in the 1980s are best left unrepeated.

    "They seek him here, they seek him there; his clothes are loud, but never square." -- Ray Davies, the Kinks, "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" 1966

    Then came the 1970s. Ruth La Ferla, writing in the New York Times on March 18, 2015, quoted designer Betsey Johnson as saying about the decade: "Stylistically, it was a free-for-all."

    Image38.jpgClearly, even the scarecrow had better fashion sense than me. 

    If the '70s was considered a fashion free-for-all, the 1980s was nothing short of chaos. Think fanny packs, parachute pants, rat-tails, mullets, acid-washed jeans, neon ... and the list goes on and on.

    According to marieclaire.co.uk, "Clothes were used to define personalities and make big statements in the 1980s. Shoulders were padded right up to your ears, courtesy of Lady Diana and the cast of Dynasty. Meanwhile Boy George and the Blitz club crew were giving peacock punk a whirl. No doubt about it, it was a crazy era for all things a la mode - the later 1990s fashion was significantly calmer by comparison."

    Personally, I think most of the "statements" we made with clothing and hair styles in the 1980s are best left unrepeated.

    Here's a gallery of what people in New Jersey have worn through the years ... the '80s, the '70s, the '60s ... back more than a century. And scroll down for links to more galleries of folks and fashion.

    Vintage photos of what people wore in N.J.

    Vintage photos of fashions and styles in N.J.

    (hit a reload on this page ^ to view the gallery)

    Vintage photos of styles and fashions in N.J.

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


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    Some do it with an overpowering fastball, some with deceiving changes in speed. NJ.com looks at the top returning N.J. high school baseball pitchers in 2018


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    Who are state-title contenders in each Group?


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    2018 Baseball preview: A look at the state's Preseason Top 20


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    The Neptune Township store was evacuated Sunday afternoon while it was searched

    An 11-year-old boy phoned in a bomb threat to a Walmart in Monmouth County Sunday after watching a YouTube video that showed something similar, authorities said.

    The boy called the store on Route 66 in Neptune Township just after 1 p.m., informing an employee there was a bomb inside and that everyone should be evacuated, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said Thursday.

    Bomb-sniffing dogs searched the store but found nothing. The boy was located after an investigation and his case will be handled through the juvenile court system.

    Watchung Walmart evacuated after bomb threat reports

    "Prank phone calls about bomb threats or guns are not a laughing matter," county Prosecutor Christoper Gramiccioni said in a statement. "Resources are being deployed at a cost to taxpayers. Parents have a responsibility to monitor what their children do on the Internet where these ideas can be cultivated." 

    The Monmouth and Ocean sheriff's departments, New Jersey Transit police and Middletown police assisted Neptune Township police in the investigation. 

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

     

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    Who are the top outfielders in New Jersey?


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    Dominique Moore was expected to get 15 years for killing Daniel Graves in Asbury Park. A judge gave Moore a 12-year sentence.

    A man who admitted to gunning down another man after an argument at a pizza shop in Asbury Park in 2013 will serve 12 years in prison, a judge ruled Thursday.

    Dominique Moore, now 25, shot Daniel Graves, 23, near the corner of Bangs and DeWitt avenues on Jan. 10, 2013, prosecutors said.

    Moore got in an argument with Graves at a pizza shop before deciding with two other men to grab his 9mm handgun and "get the victim for being disrespectful," Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Meghan Doyle said at Moore's detention hearing. 

    He was arrested after the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office spent four years investigating the death of Graves -- a father and "peacemaker," relatives said.

    The last investigator to work on the case promised Graves' stepfather that an arrest would be made. Last year, prosecutors charged Moore after witnesses came forward and linked him to the shooting.

    Prosecutors argued for Moore to remain in jail between court proceedings because he told police he was in a gang.

    Moore eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter, and was expected to face 15 years in prison. But his own experiences with gun violence after shooting Graves helped teach him a lesson better than prison could, Superior Court Judge David Bauman said in court. Moore was shot about two years after shooting Graves, Bauman said, according to the Asbury Park Press.

    "He felt the same cold, hard ball of steel that ended the life of Mr. Graves, and I've got to believe that he learned something," Bauman said, according to the Press.

    The judge also credited Moore with sparing the family "the heartache of living through the trial," prosecutor's spokesman Chris Swendeman said. 

    Under the No Early Release Act, Moore must serve 85 percent of the sentence before he is eligible for parole, and will be on parole supervision for five years.

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

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