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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with New Jersey and will allow sports betting across the country. So now what? When can you begin betting? Where can you bet? How old do you have to be? Can you bet online? Answering as many questions as possible about sports betting in New Jersey.

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    High schools from New Jersey celebrate prom 2018.

    Photographers from NJ Advance Media are covering proms around the state. Check out the list below with our most recent prom photo galleries from the past week. 

    Be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at

    Lori M. Nichols may be reached at Follow her on Instagram @photog_lori and Twitter @photoglori. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.

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    Monmouth Park racetrack officials have a time frame for when sports betting will begin.

    New Jersey sports betting will begin in two weeks at Monmouth Park, unless lawmakers or Gov. Phil Murphy, want the park to hold off, race track officials announced Monday. 

    In an afternoon news conference Dennis Drazin, the CEO of Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth Park, picked that time frame, "unless someone stops" them so the state can set regulations. 

    Two weeks is May 28. When asked if that's the date, Drazin said: "We're trying."

    He said Murphy, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th Dist. and former state Sen. Ray Lesniak, D-Union, have all reached out to say they want to place the first bet.

    The announcement came just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision clearing the way for sports betting across the nation, giving New Jersey a victory in a long legal fight. 

    Sports betting coming to N.J.

    Right now, Monmouth Park is the only place in the state that has a sports betting parlor set up. It's run by British bookmaking company William Hill. 

    The track built the facility years ago while waiting for the courts to rule on New Jersey's case.

    As part of its U.S. Supreme Court argument to allow sports betting, New Jersey enacted a law that did not include state regulations. 

    Monmouth Park has set up its own independent regulatory committee to oversee betting.

    Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, has introduced a bill for the state to regulate it, and Gov. Phil Murphy a proponent of sports wagering, said he is looking forward to signing the legislation "in the very near future."

    Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    The New Jersey sports betting case was being watched across the nation. Watch video

    WASHINGTON -- New Jersey won its long battle for sports betting Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a federal ban that has lasted for more than a quarter century. 

    "The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make," Justice Samuel Alito, a New Jersey native, said in the opinion of the court. "Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own." 

    Gov. Phil Murphy, who replaced Gov. Chris Christie as the lead plaintiff when he became governor in January, welcomed the ruling.

    "I am thrilled to see the Supreme Court finally side with New Jersey and strike down the arbitrary ban on sports betting imposed by Congress decades ago," Murphy said. "I look forward to working with the Legislature to enact a law authorizing and regulating sports betting in the very near future."

    A Q&A on Monday's sports betting ruling

    State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said the state Legislature would move to enact the laws necessary to quickly bring sports betting to fruition. Sweeney told NJ Advance Media the hope is to have regulations in place by the end of June.

    "We can now seize the opportunity with a new sector of gaming that will help create jobs, generate economic growth and be an important boost to the casino industry and horse racing," Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said.

    Indeed, Sweeney and state Sens. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, and Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, introduced legislation Monday to allow sports betting at casinos and racetracks under Casino Control Commission and Division of Gaming Enforcement regulations. Bettors would have to be 21 years old and betting on any high school or collegiate sporting event in New Jersey. or any event involving a New Jersey college, would be banned.

    Joe Asher, chief executive of William Hill US, said the company was "going to get ready to open for business at Monmouth Park as soon as responsibly possible." The track said it could be ready to offer sports betting within two weeks.

    State officials have sought since 2011 to legalize sports betting, seeing it as a way to improve the fortunes of Atlantic City, which had seen several casinos close, as well as the state's struggling race tracks. The state has spent nearly $9 million in taxpayer money on the battle.

    "This will attract a younger generation of folks to go to Atlantic City and stay there," said former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, who led the fight in Trenton to legalize supports betting.

    He called the decision "a savior for casinos and racetracks."

    "Not just for hours to play the slots, but to watch the sporting events," Lesniak said. "Throughout the year. They'll dine there. They'll rent rooms there. Shop there. The same thing for the racetracks. It will bring activity and revenue to racetracks."

    U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd Dist., whose district includes Atlantic City, called the ruling "excellent news." He said the decision "will have a significant and positive impact on South Jersey, bringing tourism and tax revenue to the state and reinvigorating Atlantic City." 

    The state's attempt to enact sports betting was strongly opposed by President Donald Trump, as well as by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the four major professional sports leagues, even as some of the leagues partnered with daily fantasy sports operations.

    National Football League spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league would ask Congress to pass a federal sports betting law.

    "The NFL's long-standing and unwavering commitment to protecting the integrity of our game remains absolute," McCarthy said. "Congress has long recognized the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events.

    "Given that history, we intend to call on Congress again, this time to enact a core regulatory framework for legalized sports betting," McCarthy said. "We also will work closely with our clubs to ensure that any state efforts that move forward in the meantime protect our fans and the integrity of our game."

    The state, appealing a decision by the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, had argued that 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, designed to ban sports betting in 46 states, was an unconstitutional attempt by Washington to tell the states what to do.

    Alito agreed with the state, saying the law had the effect of putting state legislatures "under the direct control of Congress."

    "It is as if federal officers were installed in state legislative chambers and were armed with the authority to stop legislators from voting on any offending proposals," he wrote. "A more direct affront to state sovereignty is not easy to imagine."

    Under the law, only Nevada, Delaware, Montana and Oregon could offer sports betting. New Jersey had been given a year to legalize such wagering under the law but failed to do so.

    The Third Circuit had thrown out a 2014 state law attempting to get around the federal prohibition by allowing New Jersey's casinos and racetracks to offer betting without the state approving or regulating the activity.

    The Supreme Court then agreed to take the case, giving supporters of sports betting hope that their long quest neared success. 

    Alito's opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justices Neil Gorsuch, Elena Kagen, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Thomas also filed a concurring opinion. 

    Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented.

    "Congress permissibly exercised its authority to regulate commerce by instructing States and private parties to refrain from operating sports-gambling schemes," they wrote. "On no rational ground can it be concluded that Congress would have preferred no statute at all if it could not prohibit States from authorizing or licensing such schemes." 

    Justice Stephen Breyer joined the opinion of the court in part and the dissent in part.

    U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th Dist., who has introduced legislation to allow sports betting, called the decision "a win for New Jersey and the rest of the country."

    And Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive of the American Gaming Association, the trade group for the casino industry, said the ruling was "a victory for millions of Americans who want to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner.

    Of the estimated $150 billion bet on sports annually, all but $4.5 billion is wagered illegally, Freeman said.

    "It's now possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to create a sports betting market that will protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the games, empower law enforcement to fight illegal gambling, and generate new revenue for states, tribes, sporting bodies, broadcasters and many others," Freeman said.

    The cases are Murphy et al v. NCAA et al 16-476; and New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association v. NCAA et al 16-477.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01

    Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find Politics on Facebook. 


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    The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling allowing New Jersey and other states to offer sports betting could help two of the Garden State's struggling industries. Watch video

    Monday was a really good day for Atlantic City -- and an even better one for New Jersey's horse-racing industry. 

    New Jersey spent seven years -- and $9 million in taxpayer money -- on a court battle to legalize sports betting at its casinos and racetracks to help give a much-needed boost to both the casino and horse racing industries. 

    On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court finally handed New Jersey a victory, ruling that a 26-year-old federal ban on sports wagering is unconstitutional and paving the way for any state to legalize it.

    The decision was great news for Atlantic City, which has spent the last few years recovering from the closure of multiple casinos and climbing out of a financial hole that put the city on the brink of bankruptcy. 

    "For the casinos, this creates so much more opportunity to do business," state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, told NJ Advance Media on Monday. "If legalized sports gambling was in place when the Eagles won the Super Bowl, just think what Atlantic City would have looked like."

    A Q&A about Monday's sports betting ruling

    Meanwhile, the ruling was described as a life-saver for the state's racetracks, which have been nearing collapse in recent years. 

    "This has been a fight that has really been tantamount to the survival of the horse-racing industry in this state," said Dennis Drazin, the operator of Monmouth Park, the Oceanport track that plans to be the first site to offer sports betting in the state -- as soon as two weeks from now.

    Atlantic City -- which is celebrating its 40th year of casino gambling -- has been hurt the last decade by increasing competition from casinos in neighboring states. In 2014, four casinos closed and another shuttered in 2016. 

    Sports betting was meant to be a lifeline. After all, people have flocked to Las Vegas for years to bet on games because it's legal there. 

    The eight remaining casinos in Atlantic CityA view of Atlantic City. 

    But things have changed for the better in Atlantic City since 2011, when the state first tried to enact wagering on sports. 

    Former Gov. Chris Christie's administration launched a state takeover of the seaside gambling resort in 2016, which officials and experts say has helped stave off bankruptcy. 

    Two formerly closed casinos -- the Hard Rock (which replaced Trump Taj Mahal) and Ocean Resort (which replaced Revel) -- are set to reopen this summer. 

    And revenue from gaming, entertainment, and hotel bookings have increased, said Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton University. 

    Now, sports betting will provide "another new segment" to help the city, Pandit said.

    Former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak said it will attract a younger generation to the city who will stick around not just to play slots. 

    "They'll dine there, they'll rent rooms there, and shop there," the Union County Democrat said. 

    State Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a former casino executive, agreed. 

    "This will bring another level of traffic to Atlantic City," said Caputo, D-Essex.

    The only issue is that the Supreme Court's ruling will allow any other state to set up sports betting. New York and Pennsylvania may not be far behind New Jersey. 

    Daniel Wallach, a gaming and sports law attorney with Becker & Poliakoff in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said casinos in Atlantic City "have been a little slow moving" to get prepared for sports betting. 

    But Borgata, the city's most profitable casinos, is eyeing instituting it. So is Hard Rock. 

    "Will this save Atlantic City?" Wallach asked. "I don't know that Atlantic City needs saving. But it will provide a dramatic, positive economic impact on the state's casino industry."

    Horse racing has been struggling in New Jersey for years, even though the state is home to many horse farms and multiple racetracks. 

    The state ended its subsidies to the industry in 2011, and Christie offered sports betting as a way to help. 

    Now, Monmouth Park is poised to be ground zero for wagering. 

    "We kept persevering," Drazin said Monday. "Despite all those who felt it was almost like Don Quixote tilting at windmills, we have won. There does come a day where Goliath is defeated by David." 

    Drazin, the park's operator, notes that the industry is responsible for 13,000 jobs and a $4 billion economy in the state. 

    The ruling means the park can now better compete with surrounding states, provide more racing dates, and have the ability to schedule a longer season. 

    Drazin has said Monmouth Park -- which has already built a sports betting parlor run by British bookmaker William Hill -- could see $50 million in revenue annually from sports betting. That money would be split with William Hill. 

    And Wallach, the sports gaming experts, noted that the ruling comes at the perfect time: just before Memorial Day, the heart of its season.

    "It's a perfect storm for New Jersey," he said. "You couldn't ask for a better result than smack in the middle of May."

    Of course, the whole state could see a boost, from tax revenue to more jobs.

    Emily Raimes, a vice president at Wall Street ratings agency Moody's Investors Service, said state and local governments who legalize sports betting will "see minor benefits from the incremental tax revenues, although it will take time to implement."

    "States like New Jersey and Pennsylvania that planned ahead will see benefits first," Raimes said. "Cities like Atlantic City, NJ that have long desired sports gambling will see a positive impact depending on how states regulate it."

    According to the American Gaming Association, sports betting is a $150 billion business in the U.S., with all but $4.5 billion coming from illegal operations.

    Officials said New Jersey could see $10 billion a year in revenue. 

    "We're going to take a big piece of economy from the shadows of underground activity into the daylight," said Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    A Sayreville man has been charged with attempted murder for beating and running over a longtime Asbury Park Press freelance photographer, authorities said.

    A freelance photographer remains in critical condition after he the was victim of an alleged racially-motivated beating in the parking lot of his Freehold Township apartment complex.

    Jamil S. Hubbard, 25, of Sayreville, was arrested May 1 and charged with attempted murder after he sneaked up behind Jerry Wolkowitz, 55, punched him in the head and face, dragged him into the lot and ran him over with his car, according to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

    Hubbard then stole Wolkowitz's car, which was found abandoned later that day in Sayreville, authorities said. Hubbard was arrested at his home by the Sayreville police, authorities said.

    Hubbard faces charges of first-degree bias intimidation and a third-degree weapons charge.

    Wolkowitz has been a freelance photographer for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years, reported.

    Hubbard did not know or have any previous contact with Wolkowitz before the attack, authories said. It was not clear from the Asbury Park Press story whether Wolkowitz was on assignment for the publication.

    Authorities told that Hubbard targeted Wolkowitz because of his race. Hubbard is black and Wolkowitz is white, the report states.

    Hubbard remained jailed at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution on Monday night.

    The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office has filed a motion to keep Hubbard in jail until his trial, which is scheduled for July 10 in Monmouth County Superior Court.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find on Facebook.


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    From state lawmakers to taxpayers and the local Monmouth County economy, there are no shortage of winners as New Jersey won its fight to legalize sports betting after the Supreme Court's 6-3 ruling on Monday, May 14, 2018 (5/14/18) that a federal ban on state-sanctioned sports betting is unconstitutional.

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    Sports betting is on its way to being legal in New Jersey after a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

    New Jersey is winning!

    At least at its long battle for legal sports betting.

    The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday threw out a 26-year-old federal ban on sports betting.

    "I am thrilled to see the Supreme Court finally side with New Jersey and strike down the arbitrary ban on sports betting imposed by Congress decades ago," New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said. "I look forward to working with the Legislature to enact a law authorizing and regulating sports betting in the very near future."

    Since 2011, state officials have bee pushing to legalize sports betting, seeing it as a way to improve the fortunes of Atlantic City, which had seen several casinos close, as well as the state's struggling race tracks. 

    Following the ruling, the National Football League said it would ask Congress to pass a federal sports betting law, saying that Congress recognizes "the potential harms posed by sports betting to the integrity of sporting contests and the public confidence in these events."

    Of the estimated $150 billion bet on sports annually, all but $4.5 billion is wagered illegally, said Geoff Freeman, president and chief executive of the American Gaming Association.

    Former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who led the fight in Trenton to legalize sports betting, called the decision a "savior for casinos and racetracks."

    "Throughout the year. They'll dine there. They'll rent rooms there. Shop there. The same thing for the racetracks. It will bring activity and revenue to racetracks," he said.

    Monmouth Park hopes to start sports betting in two weeks. It is the only place in the state that has a sports betting parlor set up. Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford was waiting until the ruling to decide how to proceed.

    But don't place your bets quite yet! State legislation still needs to be passed.

    However, lawmakers seem eager to fast track the legislation.

    Murphy said he is looking forward to signing legislation "in the very near future."

    Will you partake in sports betting once it is fully legal in New Jersey?

    Vote in our informal and unscientific poll and tell us why in the comments.


    Bookmark Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find Opinion on Facebook.

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    According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $19,173.

    In this week's "On the market" property, we feature a home in Millstone Township with 5,218 square feet of living space.

    The home is listed for $1,099,950. According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $19,173.

    The home features 5 bedrooms, 4 full bathrooms and 1 partial bath.

    The median sale price for homes in the area is $540,000.

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

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    Monmouth Park is poised to start taking bets beginning on Memorial Day. Watch video

    Odds are, you'll be able to start legally betting on sports in New Jersey on Memorial Day. 

    Monmouth Park is ready to take wagers starting on May 28, Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the summer, the operator of the Oceanport racetrack told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday.

    "We do not believe that there's not any legal reason why we can't start taking bets immediately," Dennis Drazin said. "In the interim, we believe that we're free to go ahead and start taking wagers." 

    "We're planning on opening and we're probably going to be ready officially on the 28th," Drazin said.

    The U.S. Supreme Court opened the gates for sports betting by overturning a national ban on Monday. New Jersey law allows sports betting without regulations, but lawmakers and Gov. Phil Murphy say they will work fast to get them in place.

    There's a chance the governor and the state Legislature could step in and temporarily block it until regulations are set. But it looks unlikely.

    State Senate President Stephen Sweeney told NJ Advance Media on Monday he "wouldn't try to stop" Monmouth Park.

    A spokesperson for the governor didn't respond to request for comment on whether he wants to put a temporary hold on sports betting. The governor hailed the Supreme Court's ruling on Monday and gave no indication he would pump the brakes on New Jersey's years-long battle for sports betting.

    A spokesperson for state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin didn't immediately respond to a request for comments. 

    Will sports betting begin in 2 weeks?

    Drazin was more confident about a Memorial Day opening at Monmouth Park on Tuesday than he was within hours after the Supreme Court's ruling. On Monday, he told reporters they're "trying" to get it done by Memorial Day.

    Now, it sounds more like a sure thing.

    "We may even take some bets before that that are ceremonial," he said. 

    That could include lawmakers who played a pivotal role to expand sports betting -- including former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who filed the first lawsuit that challenged the federal ban nearly a decade ago -- placing "ceremonial" bets a few days ahead of the May 28 launch.

    Right now, Monmouth Park is the only place in the state that has a sports betting parlor set up, run by British bookmaking company William Hill. 

    William Hill has spent nearly $3 million since 2013 to set up the sports betting parlor at Monmouth Park while waiting for the courts to rule on New Jersey's case. 

    A federal judge granted an injunction to stop the state. But Drazin said Monday he believes that injunction doesn't affect the track. "From our perspective, we could start taking bets tomorrow," he said.

    Legislation that would regulate the industry could open sports betting to the state's other racetracks and casinos could come within weeks.

    The bill has to start in the Assembly because it's a revenue raiser.

    Sweeney told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday that time is of the essence because any state can now put sports betting in place. 

    "I think we have to get it done now," he said.

    Sweeney said he spoke with Coughlin and expects they'll come together on a bill "rather quickly."

    The hope is for the Assembly to have it passed on May 24 and the Senate on June 7. Lawmakers say the goal is to have this wrapped up by June 30.

    There is no timetable yet for when sports betting will begin at other tracks in the state or Atlantic City's casinos.

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Brent Johnson contributed to this report.

    Matt Arco may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.


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    Todd Ritter, 54, of Millstone (Monmouth County), who was facing charges of tampering with public records, falsifying and tampering with records and assault, will get non-custodial probation. Watch video

    A Piscataway cop who punched a handcuffed man in the back of his police cruiser earlier this year has cut a deal in to avoid prison and potentially still get his pension. 

    Todd Ritter, 54, of Millstone (Monmouth County), who was facing charges of tampering with public records, falsifying and tampering with records and assault, will get non-custodial probation, eliminating any possibility of jail time, after accepting a plea deal from the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

    IMG_1722.JPGPiscataway officer Todd Ritter, 54, of Millstone (Monmouth County) 

    Ritter pleaded guilty Tuesday to falsifying records and a reduced charge of simple assault before Superior Court Judge Joseph Rea and a courtroom filled with other of police officers, family and friends.

    The deal will also force Ritter to forfeit his position in the department after nearly 22 years on the job and bar him from holding any public positions in the future.

    In exchange for the deal, though, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office will not take a position when his pension review goes before the state board. 

    "(The state) will not petition the board to not give him his pension, but we will work with them to provide evidence," Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christine D'Elia said.

    As the room emptied in the afternoon following a brief hearing, one of the women called the event "a travesty of justice" but would not say who she was or how she knew Ritter. The group of people declined to comment. 

    The February encounter between Ritter and Isiah Benbow occurred after the 19-year-old was arrested on obstruction and resisting charges. Benbow was thrashing in the backseat of the cruiser kicking the glass between the front and back seats, yelling at and eventually threatening Ritter, according to the police video from the car. 

    "You think it's funny?" Benbow asks in the recording after telling the story of his arrest. "He got mad because I said something, and he gone and slammed me. ... I said I can't breathe, then he threatened and said he was going to f--- me up and everything."

    "I'm gonna break it," Benbow yells. "... Why you gotta lie? ... I'm gonna kill all you all (expletive), watch!"

    Ritter then gets out of the car, opens the back door and punches Benbow in the face.

    The officer, who had been suspended without pay after the incident, admitted Tuesday that he lied on his police report in which he said the man had kicked him in the groin. 

    In the video of the encounter, Ritter says to one of the other officers afterward "This a--hole just kicked me in the nuts."

    "He's lying! I swear to God, he's lying! He punched me in my face!" Benbow yells.

    "Shut up," Ritter responds as he wrestles the man out of the cruiser.

    Benbow was yelling that he'd been roughed up when he was arrested. A cell phone video obtained by NJ Advance Media corroborated some of his narrative in which he said that Ritter's partner, officer Christopher Mahaley, slammed him to the ground and threatened him. 

    The cell phone video also showing Ritter trying to pick the 19-year-old up by his hair, but dropped him when he's about halfway up. 

    Ritter, who had applied for pre-trial intervention, withdrew his application as part of the plea deal.

    His sentencing is set for July 6.

    Craig McCarthy may be reached at 732-372-2078 or at Follow him on Twitter @createcraig and on Facebook here. Find on Facebook.

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    The Bungalow Hotel on the Jersey Shore, considered chic and hip by travel writers, has been acquired by Jared Kushner's family.

    Kushner Companies, which has slowly been reinvesting in the state it appeared to walk away from more than a decade ago, has added another New Jersey property to its portfolio.

    The real estate development company--whose former chief executive officer, Jared Kushner, is the son-in-law of President Donald Trump--announced its acquisition Tuesday of the Bungalow Hotel, a boutique hotel located along the Jersey Shore in Long Branch.

    The 24-room property designed by HGTV's Cortney and Robert Novogratz, considered trendy and chic by travel writers, is located in Pier Village, a complex of shops, restaurants and apartments on the beach which is already part of Kushner Cos.

    Company officials did not disclose a purchase price.

    "Since it first opened its doors in 2009, Bungalow Hotel has attracted both tourists and local guests with a creative spirit," said Will Obeid, Head of Hospitality for Kushner in a statement.  "We were impressed by the hotel's spacious room layouts and vibrant design, which attracts an upscale clientele for both long-term and short-term stays." 

    Jared Kushner, who has sold some of his holdings in Kushner Cos. since joining the Trump Administration as an advisor to the president, still has an ownership stake in the company, including Pier Village.

    Kushner Cos. has been making a number of New Jersey deals in recent years, after selling off much of what it owned here.

    Once a major player in New Jersey's rental market, the company began shifting its focus to New York in 2006, when Kushner with his father, Charles Kushner, acquired 666 Fifth Avenue, a 41-story skyscraper, for $1.8 billion.

    To help pay for what was expected to be a trophy building, they sold off many of its New Jersey apartment properties and moved the company headquarters from New Jersey to Manhattan.

    The impact of that decision continues to be felt. Analysts say the company vastly overpaid for the Fifth Avenue tower and. Purchased at the height of the real estate boom, the building, which is not fully rented, has a $1.2 billion mortgage that comes due in February 2019.

    While the company has since backed out of some other New York projects, it has made a return to New Jersey over the past few years.

    Earlier this year, the company closed on Prospect Place, a 360-unit multi-family rental property in Hackensack--its fourth New Jersey apartment acquisition since 2012, which includes Quail Ridge in Plainsboro, a 1,032-unit complex in southern Middlesex County purchased for $190 million in 2017, and Chatham Hill, a 308-unit garden apartment complex on 23 acres in Chatham Township, purchased in 2015 for $123 million.

    The company earlier this year broke ground on another hotel in Piers Village, the Piers Village Hotel, as part of a build-out of the third and final phase of the beachfront development.

    According to The New York Times, the Kushners have been in private discussions to have President Trump's company manage at least one hotel at the center of the development.

    A company spokeswoman said the Trump Organization will not manage the Bungalow Hotel.

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

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    Of the 47 hospitals in New Jersey that deliver babies and submitted data for analysis, only 9 met Leapfrog's standard of an acceptable number of c-sections.

    New Jersey hospitals' longstanding problem of unnecessarily delivering babies by Cesarian-section got worse last year, a practice that puts mothers and their infants at a greater risk of complications, according to a new report released Tuesday.

    New Jersey, Florida, Kentucky, New York and Texas recorded the highest number of C-section deliveries in the nation, according to the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization that issues biannual report cards on hospital safety. 

    Of the 47 hospitals in New Jersey that deliver babies and submitted data for analysis, only nine met Leapfrog's standard of performing no more than 23.9 percent C-sections, according to the report. In last year's report, 11 hospitals met that standard.

    C-sections put mothers at risk of infection and blood clots, prolong the recovery process, create chronic pelvic pain and may cause problems in future pregnancies. For infants, C-sections put them at greater risk of developing breathing problems, such as asthma, and diabetes, according to the report.

    Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, a research and consumer advocacy group, said the report provides critical information the public needs to know when choosing a hospital.

    "At the Quality Institute, improving maternity care is an essential part of our over all mission. The Leapfrog findings show the absolute need for our work," Schwimmer said. 

    "New Jersey can and must do better to reduce C-section rates, which vary widely among hospitals. There are times when a C-section is needed. But, the hospital where an expectant mother delivers her baby should not be the determining factor of whether or not she has a surgical birth, Schwimmer said.

    "Now is the time for hospital leadership to prioritize maternal and child health throughout New Jersey."

    N.J. among the worst states for high numbers of C-sections

    The warnings about unnecessary C-section deliveries are not new. The medical community has been trying for years to reduce the frequency of the procedure if it is not medically recommended.

    The Leapfrog Group, a non-profit group that focuses on hospital safety has taken on the issue with health benefits consultant Castlight by issuing these periodic reports.

    "Childbirth is the number one reason for hospitalization among all populations and age groups," Castlight Chief Product Officer, Maeve O'Meara said in a statement.

    "That alone tells us how critical it is to provide this information not just to consumers but to employers as well, who have a high stake in the care their employees receive. Employers should understand how hospitals are performing and we're pleased to partner with Leapfrog to bring this information into the sunlight."

    The Leapfrog survey looked solely at births among first time mothers of single babies - not twins - that were in the conventional head-down position. The findings are based on data from calendar year or fiscal year 2017.

    Christ Hospital in Jersey City reported the lowest C-section rate, at 14 percent, according to the report. CentraState Medical Center in Freehold recorded the highest C-section rates, at 42.1 percent.

    "CentraState readily acknowledges our current C-section trends and we are working with our physicians and clinicians on improving processes to lower the number of c-sections performed at CentraState," Abbey Dardozzi, a hospital spokeswoman, said in an email. "We are also very proud of our low infant and maternal mortality rates."

    In addition to Christ Hospital, the other hospitals that met the safety standard were:

    Capital Health Medical Center, Hopewell;

    Hoboken University Medical Center;

    Cooper University Hospital, Camden;

    Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck;

    Inspira Medical Center, Elmer;

    Trinitas Regional Medical Center, Elizabeth;

    University Hospital, Newark;

    Virtua Voorhees Hospital.

    Atlantic Regional Medical Center in Atlantic City and Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, which recently changed its name to Hudson Regional Hospital, did not supply data and are not included in the findings.

    Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal praised Leapfrog for focusing attention on this important public health issue. 

    "A number of hospitals perform quite well," Elnahal said. "Our goal is to create a maternal care quality collaborative to spread the best practices that the highest performing hospitals are achieving and make sure that as many hospitals as possible can replicate them."

    The report also highlighted the need to cut down the number of early deliveries they perform, defined as delivering a baby before 39 weeks without medical necessity. Babies delivered too early are at risk of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, and in rare cases, death.

    Only two hospitals exceeded the 5 percent maximum: Hackensack University Medical Center, at 7.1 percent, and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, at 10.3 percent. 

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

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    As the state tournament approaches, a new team takes over the No. 1 spot.

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    She was crossing at the intersection with Laurel Avenue

    A 34-year-old woman crossing Route 36 in Hazlet was struck and killed by a car on Monday night, authorities said.

    Crystal Vernon, of Hazlet, was in a marked crosswalk when she was hit by a minivan at the intersection with Laurel Avenue around 9:22 p.m. and pronounced dead at the scene, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

    The driver of the van, a 67-year-old Middletown woman, stopped and has not been charged. An 85-year-old man who was a passenger in the van also was not hurt. 

    The crash is under investigation.

    Anyone with information is asked to to contact Agent Reginald Grant of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at 800-533-7443 or Hazlet police Det. Ryan McAndrews at 732-264-6565.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.



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    Highlight the favorites and contenders, plus predictions for all 20 sections.

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    Monmouth Park's bid to kick off N.J. sports betting on Memorial Day has it a wall, NJ Advance Media has learned. Watch video

    Hold onto your bets, sports fans.  

    Monmouth Park's plan to become the first place in New Jersey to offer legalized sports betting on May 28 -- Memorial Day -- has hit a wall, NJ Advance Media has learned. 

    The bill that state Senate President Stephen Sweeney introduced this week to regulate sports betting at the state's casinos and racetracks comes with this caveat: 

    Anyone who opens a sports betting operation before the state puts regulations in place will be barred from accepting future bets on games.

    That means Monmouth Park, the Oceanport racetrack that had announced plans to take bets by Memorial Day, will have to wait. 

    "We just got the decision," Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said Wednesday in a phone interview, referring to Monday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court siding with New Jersey and opening the door for legal sports betting across the country.

    "We're moving quickly with legislation. I'm hopeful we should be ready by early June. Everyone should respect the legislative process rather than jumping out." 

    "We fought for this for seven years," Sweeney added. "I'm anxious to get started just like everyone else."

    How long will N.J. sports betting monopoly on the East Coast last?

    Dennis Drazin, Monmouth Park's operator, told NJ Advance Media he wasn't aware of that provision in Sweeney's bill but that he will not challenge it.

    "I have not spoken to the Senate president yet," Drazin said. "But I have said all along and I have said to the Senate president that I would go along with the legislative process. So I would comply."

    Drazin has said a previous state law permitting New Jersey casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting without state regulation would allow Monmouth Park to begin accepting bets immediately.

    But Drazin added he would not move forward if Gov. Phil Murphy or state lawmakers told him to hold off. Sweeney initially said he wouldn't stop the track.

    The bill (S2602) he introduced Monday, though, says state regulators will not issue a licenses to operate a sports bool "to any person that operated a sports pool within one year prior to the enactment of this act."

    That would disqualify Monmouth Park if the track began accepting bets before the regulations become law.

    A spokesman for Murphy's office did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

    A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex -- the other leader of the state Legislature -- declined comment.

    Sweeney stressed the regulations could come soon.

    He said his goal is to have them passed by the Senate's June 7 voting session. The Assembly is set to vote again May 24. 

    Each house has its own bill to regulate sports betting, with a few differences between them. Lawmakers are currently discussing making the measures identical.

    The houses must agree on one bill before Murphy can sign it into law -- which he said he plan to do. 

    Sweeney said he does not see a "prolonged fight" over the matter. 

    "This is going to move quick," he said.

    Matt Arco may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01


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