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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Weather officials say water levels in Atlantic City quickly dropped and rose during the powerful thunderstorms. Was it a rare meteotsunami?

    First things first: We didn't have an earthquake in New Jersey. And we didn't have a landslide. 

    We did, however, have a small tsunami Tuesday night as an intense line of thunderstorms swept across the Garden State, pounding the Atlantic Ocean and causing water levels to rapidly rise and fall, according to the National Weather Service.

    This rare phenomenon is known as a "meteotsunami," with the first part of the word referring to meteorology. That's because this type of tsunami is generated by weather events, like powerful thunderstorms or long-lasting thunderstorm cells known as derechos.

    More rain, T-storms in dreary N.J. forecast

    Although weather experts from the national Storm Prediction Center haven't yet determined if Tuesday's massive storm system was indeed a derecho, it's clear that the thunderstorms that rocked New Jersey and neighboring states were powerful enough to trigger a small tsunami off the coast of Atlantic City, said Sarah Johnson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's regional office in Mount Holly.

    small-tsunami-atlantic-city-water-levels.jpgPreliminary data from the National Weather Service shows water levels in Atlantic City quickly dropped and rose because of a small tsunami during the severe thunderstorms on May 15. 

    What happened

    Along the oceanfront in Atlantic City, a weather service buoy showed noticeable drops and rises in the water level during a very short time span Tuesday night, Johnson said. 

    At 9:48 p.m., the water level along the oceanfront was observed at 5.12 feet. Just 12 minutes later, at 10 p.m., the water level dropped to 3.79 feet, Johnson said. Then 12 minutes after that, it rose to 4.59 feet.

    "If you think of water sloshing back and forth in a bathtub, you'll see these quick water increases and decreases," the meteorologist said.

    Although Tuesday's fluctuations were small, they were consistent with a weather-induced tsunami and serious enough for the National Weather Service to issue a special weather statement and special marine statement advising people and boaters of strong and dangerous currents.

    Johnson said small fluctuations in water levels were also detected in Barnegat Bay Tuesday night, but those might not have met the criteria of a meteotsunami. 

    nj-weather-rare-tsunami-stormA powerful line of thunderstorms swept through New Jersey on May 15, turning day to night and sparking a rare tsunami in Atlantic City. (Andrew Mills | Star-Ledger file photo)  

    Rare events

    While meteotsunamis are rare in New Jersey, they are not unheard of.

    "We've only had a handful of cases over the last five or ten years or so," Johnson noted. "They are not noticeable unless you're right at the Shore or on the Shore." 

    In June 2013, three people on a jetty in Barnegat Inlet were swept off their feet and injured when a small tsunami generated a 6-foot wave shortly after strong thunderstorms had hit the Jersey Shore.

    In June 2016, water levels in Cape May and Delaware dropped and rose during severe storms. Although the weather service initially called it a small meteotsunami, they later determined it was not.  

    How they form

    Meteotsunamis are similar to tsunamis that are triggered by earthquakes or landslides, but these are caused by "air pressure disturbances often associated with fast-moving weather systems, such as squall lines," according to a National Weather Service fact sheet. 

    "These disturbances can generate waves in the ocean that travel at the same speed as the overhead weather system," the fact sheet says. "Development of a meteotsunami depends on several factors, such as the intensity, direction and speed of the disturbance as it travels over a water body with a depth that enhances wave magnification."

    These types of tsunamis are most commonly seen along the East Coast, along the Gulf of Mexico and in the Great Lakes. 

    Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @LensReality or like him on Facebook. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    A look back at the top 50 performances from the first round of the girls lacrosse state tournament.


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    What evidence to police have against Thomas Tramaglini? Watch video

    A brief arrest report of the infamous superintendent accused of pooping daily near the Holmdel High School running track provides some insight into the evidence police have against him.

    Thomas TramagliniThomas Tramaglini

    Thomas Tramaglini, who was raking in nearly $150,000 as the superintendent of the Kenilworth School District, was charged earlier this month with defecating in the area of the Holmdel High School track and football field on a daily basis.

    NJ Advance Media filed a request under the state's Open Public Records Act for a copy of the police report and any surveillance video related to the incident.

    On Monday, the town released the report, not the footage.

    In a statement announcing Tramaglini's arrest, Holmdel police have said they "monitored" the area and were able to identify the Aberdeen resident as the person responsible for the daily defecation.

    The one-page of the arrest report given to NJ Advance Media reveals there are two DVDs with surveillance video footage. The township's reason for not releasing the footage cites it could compromise the school's "security measures and surveillance techniques."

    The report also shows that the school's athletic director, Shane Fallon, reported the incident to police. Fallon did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on Wednesday.

    Tramaglini, 42, is scheduled to appear in Holmdel Municipal Court on May 30 for charges of public urination/defecation, littering and lewdness. Those crimes are low-level offenses and it's likely Tramaglini won't do any jail time and just have to pay fines.

    He was placed on paid leave through June 30. 

    His attorney, Matthew Adams, has said Tramaglini "looks forward to his day in court when he can rebut some of the falsehoods that have been portrayed about him in the media." When pressed on what those falsehoods might be, Adams declined to elaborate.

    The mystery that remains -- and the report doesn't answer the question -- is why Tramaglini allegedly did what police allege.

    Police have said that Tramaglini was running at the track when he was arrested shortly before 6 a.m. on May 1.

    The track is located approximately 3 miles from Tramaglini's condo, the same one he was spotted entering with gym shorts and running shoes the day after his name made international headlines. 

    The incident became even more bizarre when NJ Advance Media published a follow-up article showing multiple portable outdoor toilets near the track. Presumably, they were open at the time Tramaglini was in the area, but the news agency couldn't confirm that.

    Tramaglini, who has a tattoo with Chinese writing on his arm, the report documents, was also given a suicide check per police protocol. 

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

     

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    Prosecutors said the former CEO used fraudulent funds to avoid foreclosure on his mansion and to buy luxury apartments.

    From his perch as chief executive officer of Constellation Healthcare Technologies, prosecutors say, Parmjit "Paul" Parmar was able to amass real estate holdings whose value reached into the tens of millions.

    In addition to a sprawling mansion in Colts Neck, the U.S. Attorney's Office said the 48-year-old was able to use company profits to purchase two luxury apartments in New York City with views of the Hudson, and a condo in the city's Financial District.

    On Wednesday, that all came crashing down as FBI agents arrested the former CEO on charges he and two other company officials fraudulently inflated Constellation's market value, bilking a private investment firm and other banks for more than $300 million as they sought to take the company private.

    Along with Parmar, who has been charged with securities fraud and conspiring to commit securities fraud, investigators have obtained warrants for the arrest of Sotirios "Sam" Zaharis, the company's former chief financial officer, and Ravi Chivukula, a former executive director at the company.

    Parmar was expected to appear before a federal magistrate in Newark on Wednesday afternoon. It was not immediately clear whether he had retained an attorney who could comment on the charges.

    Prosecutors said Zaharis, of Weehawken, and Chivukula, of Freehold, had not yet been arrested as of Wednesday afternoon.

    Constellation is identified in a criminal complaint only as Company A, but Parmar's troubled leadership of the company has been well-documented in the financial press. 

    Constellation and its affiliated companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March, with its new management writing in a bankruptcy court affidavit that forensic accountants had discovered many of Constellation's purported subsidiaries were fictional sham companies created by Parmar, Zaharis and Chivukula.

    All three men resigned or were fired from the company when the scheme was discovered in September 2017, according to federal authorities.

    Prosecutors said the fake companies were the targets of sham acquisitions pitched by the trio to potential investors, whose funds were then used both for purposes that had nothing to do with the acquisitions and to further the misrepresentation the companies had their own revenue.

    Government attorneys said that Parmar and his co-conspirators also had used millions in company funds to avoid foreclosure of his $27.3 million mortgage for the Colts Neck mansion, as well as to purchase the New York apartments.

    In addition to the criminal charges against the three men, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement that it was expecting to file a civil complaint today seeking forfeiture of all four properties.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriarty. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    New Jersey lawmakers are in a race to shape sports betting rules before anyone in the state can place a bet. They said no to Monmouth Park plan to begin it without rules on Memorial Day. Watch video

    There will be no legal sports betting in New Jersey by the end of the month. But state lawmakers are laying odds you won't have to wait very long after that.  

    After slamming the brakes Wednesday on Monmouth Park's plans to kick off New Jersey sports betting without state regulations on Memorial Day, the state's leaders are now scrambling to pass a law setting up how to regulate and tax such wagering as soon as they can. 

    Just days after after the U.S. Supreme Court opened the gates to such wagering across the country, some legislators are saying Garden State casinos and racetracks could start accepting bets as soon as early June.

    But it's not a done deal because they haven't agreed on all the details of the legislation setting up such betting.

    Despite the hurdles, officials insist they're optimistic New Jersey will have a leg up on other states that are rushing to cash-in on legalized gambling.

    N.J. can forget immediate legal sports betting

    "There will be no prolonged fight," state Senate President Stephen Sweeney told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday. "This is going to move quick."

    Sweeney, D-Gloucester, said lawmakers are looking at "early June."

    State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin also told NJ Advance Media that squaring away a new sports betting law is a top priority.

    "We are going to move on this legislation as quickly as possible," Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said.

    Time is of the essence.

    New Jersey spent seven years -- and $9 million -- in court fighting for legal sports betting, and the Supreme Court ruled in its favor. But because the court overturned a 1992 federal ban on sports betting, any other state can now institute it.

    Twenty other states have either passed or considering sports betting laws. That means New Jersey has a small window for an East Coast monopoly.

    The problem is: State lawmakers hadn't set up a bill on how to regulate and tax such wagering by Monday's ruling.

    That led to some awkwardness this week. Monmouth Park, a racetrack in Oceanport, had been planning to become to become the first place in New Jersey to offer legalized sports betting on May 28 -- Memorial Day.

    Dennis Drazin, the park's operator, said a state law already on the books, allowing sports betting without state regulation, made it possible for them to begin accepting bets. The track had spent millions upgrading its facilities to include a sports betting parlor in a gamble that the Supreme Court would side with New Jersey.

    That plan, however, hit a wall after NJ Advance Media reported that a bill Sweeney introduced Monday says any site that opens a sportsbook before the new law is in place would be banned from taking future sports bets. Thus, Monmouth Park will have to wait.

    Some Atlantic City casinos -- like the Borgatam Caesars, and the new Hard Rock -- have also been prepping sports betting operations. But they are waiting for the new law before launching. 

    MGM Resorts International -- which owns Borgata -- said it looks forward to "working with legislators and policy makers to achieve a regulatory outcome that benefits states and consumers alike while ensuring the integrity of sports."

    Mark Fissora, president of Caesars Entertainment, said the company expects to "provide safe, exciting sports wagering experiences to consumers across the country, as we do today in Nevada."

    "We plan to announce our specific approach to this business as we better understand the opportunities and regulations which evolve from (the) Supreme Court decision," Fissora added.

    Sweeney said he hopes to have the state Senate vote on a regulations bill June 7. But the Assembly has to go first because the bill is a revenue raiser. 

    The Assembly's next voting session in May 24 -- next Thursday.

    The question is: Which bill will they decide on?

    Officials say sports betting generates $150 billion a year in the U.S., mostly from illegal channels. 

    Dennis Drazin, the operator of Monmouth Park, says New Jersey could see $10 billion a year from it. State officials have not released a figure yet.

    Both the state Senate and Assembly version of the bills would impose an 8 percent tax on the revenue that casinos and tracks pull in from sports betting and a 12.5 percent tax on online bets.

    But there are some differences. The Assembly's proposal puts the revenue in the state budget, where it can be used for any type of spending. 

    The Senate, meanwhile, wants to send the revenue to schools and programs for seniors and disabled people. That would mirror the dedicated spending in the 1978 law that allowed casino gambling in Atlantic City.

    There's also a question of whether the final bill would give any money to professional sports leagues. Though the leagues fought New Jersey in court for years to prevent legal sports betting, they are now seeking an "integrity" fee from the state's revenue to prevent cheating and game-fixing.

    Top lawmakers have scoffed at that idea. Assemblyman Burzichelli, D-Gloucester -- a sponsor of the Assembly measure -- said the legislation will likely not include money for the leagues. 

    "That's gonna stay that way," Burzichelli said.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01

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

     

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    "In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this." -- Terry Pratchett

    Over the years, New Jersey has been home to quite a few famous animals -- Elsie the Cow, MGM's Leo the Lion, Tarzan's original Cheetah the Chimp and Petey the Dog from the Our Gang series.

    un0129historyOn March 4, 1929, Rin Tin Tin and his owner, Leo Duncan, had this photo taken with Elizabeth Mayor John Kenah and local children Charles Coriel and Jane Seymour. 

    But the most famous animals in New Jersey were and are those that become a part of our lives.

    They're pets, ranging from dogs, cats, rabbits and horses to more exotic species like snakes, toucans and insects. And they're animals that were and are part of the Garden State's agricultural history - draft horses, sheep, cattle, chickens and even bees.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    I've heard a lot of quotes, statements and opinions about animals over the years, but the one that sums them up best, at least for me, came from scientist Irene Pepperberg, who has performed extensive studies on animal cognition: "Clearly, animals know more than we think, and think a great deal more than we know."

    Here's a vintage photo gallery of pets and animals from New Jersey, as well as links to other galleries you may enjoy.

    Vintage photos of pets and their people in N.J.

    Vintage photos of horses and horse racing in N.J.

    Vintage photos of why N.J. is the Garden State

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


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    Lesniak led charge from the start to beat federal government and NFL

    The story of New Jersey's long and successful fight for sports betting began on a stool in a Union City bar 10 years ago.

    There, Rudy Garcia, a former Union City mayor and state assemblyman, sat with a few friends, telling them he was about to drive to Monmouth County to see a bookie and bet on some games.

    "He was going to his bookie's place," said Ray Lesniak, the former state senator who was the architect of New Jersey's battle to legalize sports betting.

    "Some of the guys there asked him to place some bets for them," Lesniak said. "So, he took their money and went down. He had no idea what he was walking into."

    What Garcia walked into was a major bust of a sports betting ring that had made $35 million in the six months it was under police surveillance. Thirty-seven people were taken down, but Garcia was the biggest name in the bunch.

    "He was in our law firm (Weiner Lesniak) at the time," Lesniak said. "He was cleared by a grand jury but I felt horrible for the guy. He had his name all over the papers. He was embarrassed."

    And so when Ray Lesniak began his nine-year war for sports gambling in New Jersey, it wasn't because of tax revenue, or saving the casino or horse racing industries. That all came later.

    It was because he felt bad for Rudy Garcia.

    "I thought, why should a guy get arrested and have his reputation ruined for doing something in New Jersey that is legal in Nevada," he said. "It was unfair. If he had gotten on a plane and flew to Vegas ..."

    Garcia's arrest hit home. 

    When Lesniak was a kid growing up in Elizabeth, he would carry bets for his father to the local corner store.

    "The kind we don't have anymore," he said. "It was on the corner of Summer Street and South Broad Street."

    There, he would hand slips of paper and cash to the man behind the counter and, on some days, get winnings in return.

    "My father also played the numbers - this is before the lottery, of course," Lesniak said. "And the way they picked the number was that it was the last three numbers of the handle at Aqueduct."

    This went on until Lesniak joined the Army in 1967.

    "Then my father had to carry his own bets."

    Horse playing was part of the Lesniak family legacy.

    He remembers taking the train to Monmouth Park with his father.

    "He took $40 to bet. He'd bet $20 on a horse to win the first race, then another $20 on the daily double (the winners of the first two races)," Lesniak said. "If he won, he was golden. If he lost, he went back and sat on the train."

    Lesniak learned at a young age, the skill of handicapping.

    "I was really good at it," he said. "I still am.

    Asked about the best bet he ever made, Lesniak doesn't hesitate.

    "Stage Door Johnny," he said. "I told all my friends to bet Stage Door Johnny in the (1968) Belmont to upset Forward Pass, who was going for the Triple Crown. They all did, and I was a hero."

    And that's what he is again today for all the people who want to gamble on sports, and to New Jersey's casino and horse racing operations.

    "Dennis Drazin (the Monmouth Park boss) told me to come to place the first ceremonial bet," Lesniak said.

    Officially, what the Supreme Court did three days ago was declare the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) unconstitutional. Lesniak, interviewed yesterday at the Suburban Golf Club in Union, said he never had a doubt.

    "It's very complicated stuff," he said, "but the 10th Amendment of the Constitution has an 'anti-commandeering' clause, which basically says the federal government can't force a state to use its resources to enforce federal mandates.

    "If the federal government had outlawed sports gambling, that would have been the end of it," he said. "But they didn't. They allowed it in four states."

    In its unsuccessful first round of eight losing court battles, the New Jersey  sued the federal government to permit sports betting.

    "We lost that one, the judge said, because we didn't have a law approving sports betting," Lesniak said.

    So, he wrote the law but only after pushing for a referendum question on the subject in 2011 elections. Voters approved sports betting by a 2-to-1 margin.

    Four months later, in February 2012, Lesniak drafted the New Jersey Sports Betting Act, which was first vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie, who then signed it a year later. That bill stipulates wagers on sporting events can be done only at racetracks and casinos.

    "That's when the leagues sued us to stop it," he said.

    Led by the National Football League, the other major sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association piled on, saying sports betting would jeopardize "the integrity of their games."

    "Meanwhile," Lesniak said, "the NFL is playing games over in England (to expand their market) and people are betting right there in Wembley Stadium. It's hypocritical."

    The NCAA punished New Jersey by withdrawing all its tournament play from the state, killing off things such as the Div. III men's volleyball championship at Steven's Tech in 2012, and the women's Div. II and III lacrosse championships at 2013 at Montclair State.

    For that pettiness alone, Lesniak said, he's happy the Supreme Court came down on New Jersey's side and opened the door for all states to allow sports betting.

    "I guess now the only state they can hold championships in will be Utah," he said.


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    Which newcomers made the list? And where did everyone else land?


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    Asbury Park is THE foodie destination at the Jersey Shore. Here's your complete guide for summer 2018.


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    New Jersey's viral public pooper was tame compared to this woman

    And we thought public pooping problems were limited to the Garden State.

    Weeks after Kenilworth school superintendent Thomas Tramaglini was arrested for defecating on the Holmdel High School football field, video of a woman angrily pooping at a Tim Horton's coffee shop in Canada on Monday has taken the internet by storm.

    But the women wasn't just furious enough to poop on the floor. She dropped trow, pooped, picked it up and threw it at an employee, wiped herself with napkins and threw those, too.

    The craziest part of the video might not just be that this woman pooped on the floor, but the fact that she looked like she knew what she was doing. She grabbed napkins to wipe and leaned up against a wall to brace herself while pooping. Bottom line, it looks like this isn't her first pooping in public rodeo.

    We're not going to post the video here because, well, it's kind of crappy, but you can find it here if you so desire.

    Tramaglini, 42, is scheduled to appear in Holmdel Municipal Court on May 30 for charges of public urination/defecation, littering and lewdness. Those crimes are low-level offenses and it's likely Tramaglini won't do any jail time and just have to pay fines.

    He was placed on paid leave through June 30.

    And while the Canadian coffee shop crapper video is especially intense, this is far from a new phenomenon.

    There was the "bowel movement bandit" in 2015, a man who in Akron, Ohio, pooped on at least 19 parked cars in three years. Then in 2017, there was the infamous "mad pooper," a woman who repeatedly pooped in public during her morning jogs in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Later that year, there was the culprit who repeatedly pooped in washing machines at dorms at Southern Illinois University.

    "The fact that it's repeated means that it's intentional," clinical psychologist Dr. Thomas Hollenbach told NJ Advance Media in an interview recently. "The person is weaponizing the emotion of disgust and using it to upset people."

    No word on if this was a repeat offense for the Canadian pooper, but it certainly was weaponized and disgusting.

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at jschneider@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    From MLB All-Stars to rookie-ball newbies, N.J. alums are all over pro ball


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    Lawmakers are trying to get N.J. sports betting rules in place as soon as they can. Watch video

    If you're eager for legal sports betting to begin in New Jersey, circle June 7 on your calendar. 

    That's the date both the state Senate and state Assembly are planning to hold votes on new legislation setting the rules for how New Jersey would regulate and tax sports wagering at its casinos and racetracks, lawmakers confirmed to NJ Advance Media on Thursday.

    "We're moving quickly," state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said in a phone interview.

    Sweeney, D-Gloucester, added that he expects Gov. Phil Murphy to "sign this right away."

    "I can't see him sitting on this," Sweeney said.

    Lawmakers are scrambling to get the legislation in place after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed New Jersey a victory and opened the door for states across the country to legalize betting on sports games. 

    Once the bill is passed, Murphy's signature becomes the final hurdle before sports betting could begin in the state.

    Lawmakers said Thursday casinos and tracks would not be subject to a customary waiting period -- which usually lasts at least a month -- for final regulations to be established to begin accepting bets. 

    "There's no need for that," Sweeney said. "If the governor signs this, it's law, and we're moving." 

    Murphy spokesman Dan Bryan declined to say Thursday how quickly the governor would sign the bill should it pass June 7. But Murphy has pledged to sign the measure into law "in the very near future."

    N.J. can forget immediate sports betting

    Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, a sponsor of the bill, said the goal is to get this done as soon as possible before other states can institute sports betting.

    "Sports betting is taking place as you and I are having this conversation," Burzichelli said, noting that billions of dollars in sports bets are placed each year through illegal channels. "We'd prefer it to take place in a legal environment."

    Officials at Monmouth Park say the Oceanport racetrack is ready to begin taking bets immediately. Several Atlantic City casinos said they are prepped but are waiting for a new regulatory law to proceed.

    The Supreme Court on Monday overturned a 26-year-old federal ban on sports wagering, handing New Jersey a victory in its seven-year case to legalize such betting.

    But in doing so, the court also opened sports betting up to any state that wants it. 

    Thus, New Jersey leaders are in a rush to pass a regulatory bill as soon as possible to give the state a head start on the 20 other states that are considering legalizing sports betting. 

    There are still some hurdles before June 7. Most notably, lawmakers have yet to settle on a final bill, though they are meeting this week to fix that. The chambers have to agree on one bill for Murphy to sign. 

    The legislation would also need hearings before Senate and Assembly committees prior to full house votes on June 7. Sweeney said the Senate hearing is set for June 4.

    Monmouth Park had planned to begin accepting sports bets on May 28 -- Memorial Day. Dennis Drazin, the park's operator, said state law allows sports betting at casinos and tracks without state regulation made that possible. 

    But the regulatory bill sponsored by Sweeney is stopping the park. The measure says anyone who opens a sportsbook before the law is enacted will be barred from obtaining a license from the state to accept future sports bets.

    Former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the lawmaker who led the legal fight for sports betting for years, said he was "hugely disappointed by that provision. 

    "It's hard to fathom," Lesniak, D-Union, told NJ Advance Media on Thursday. "It would have been a great day for New Jersey, with national media attention. There would have been 30,000 fans at Monmouth Park that day. We're missing a huge opportunity to promote New Jersey nationwide." 

    Sweeney said he respects Lesniak and understands his position.

    "But we need to have the rules in place," Sweeney added. "We're working to get a bill ready. I don't think it will be long."

    Drazin said he has no problem waiting. 

    "The Senate president just asked for a little cooperation," Drazin said. "Why wouldn't I? Sweeney just wants to get it right."

    Drazin said the park will still have a celebration on May 28, with top officials placing ceremonial bets for charity. He said Lesniak has expressed interest in placing a bet and that he will invite Murphy, Sweeney, state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, and former Gov. Chris Christie, who was key to the state's legal fight. 

    The officials would be able to post a bet on a future event like the Super Bowl, Drazin said.

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

     

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    The body was discovered in the road around 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.

    Authorities in Monmouth County are treating the body of a female found Thursday morning wrapped in a tarp on the road in Wall Township as a suspicious death investigation. 

    The body was discovered around 10:30 a.m. on Brighton Avenue in between Frances Drive and Route 18, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office spokesman Chris Swendeman. 

    The neighborhood is known as Glendola.

    Detectives with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office remained on scene as of 3:40 p.m. 

    No additional information was immediately available. 

    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 cause of the crash remains under investigation.

    A person died Thursday after crashing into a utility pole in Middletown Township, according to police. 

    The crash took place just before noon on Route 36 when a single vehicle traveling north near Royal Court struck a pole, according to Middletown Township Police. 

    The driver, who was the vehicle's lone occupant, died as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, police said. 

    The driver's identity was not available as of Thursday evening. 

    The crash remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact police at 732-615-2049.

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amandahoovernj. Find NJ.com on Facebook

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    These luxury homes include amenities such as indoor pools, 4,000-bottle wine cellars and banquet-sized dining halls.


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    David James Nixon, aka Young King Dave of Middletown, was an aspiring rapper whose smoking videos were a hit on Instagram.


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    The body was found wrapped in a tarp with "no visible injuries," authorities said.

    Authorities identified the body found Thursday morning in Wall Township as 35-year-old Jami Leis.

    Leis, of Toms River, was found on the road in the area of Brighton Avenue and Rockefeller Drive at 10:29 a.m.

    Her body was discovered wrapped in a tarp with "no visible injuries," Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement.

    An autopsy will be performed to determine the cause and manner of death, Gramiccioni said.

    Police shut down several roads in the area for the investigation. Police reopened the roads just before 3:30 p.m.

    No additional information was available on Friday afternoon.

    Authorities asked anyone with information to call Detective Kevin Condon of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at 800-533-7443 or Wall police Detective Anthony Lacher at 732-449-4500 ext. 1186.

    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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    Authorities say David Baubeng works as a home healthcare aide

    A Freehold Township man lured a 14-year-old girl into his vehicle at a convenience store before driving her to an apartment where he sexually assaulted and photographed her, authorities said.

    Baubeng_cropped.jpgDavid Baubeng

    David Buabeng, 55, was charged with child luring, aggravated sexual assault, multiple counts of endangering the welfare of a child, including manufacturing child pornography, following the incident on Monday night.

    Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement that Baubeng lured the girl into his vehicle at a convenience store in Freehold Borough just after 5 p.m.

    He then drove her to an apartment in Freehold Township where he sexually assaulted her and photographed her during the incident, Gramiccioni said.

    Baubeng dropped her off near her home the next morning. That night, he was arrested at an apartment in Freehold Township where he works as a home healthcare aide for an elderly resident, according to Gramiccioni.

    It's unclear if the victim was known to Baubeng, and a spokesman for the prosecutor did not return phone calls and an email seeking that information.

    Baubeng is facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

    Authorities are asking anyone with information about this case or any incidents involving Baubeng to contact Detective Kayla Santiago of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at 800-533-7443 or Freehold Borough police Detective Rich Schwerthoffer at 732-462-1234.

    Information can also be relayed to authorities through the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers program, which accepts anonymous tips. 

    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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    Jason Grabert's family had been looking for him since 2010. Then they gave NJ State Police a DNA sample.

    It wasn't the answer they were hoping for, but at least it was an answer.

    Jason Grabert's family hadn't heard from him since January 2010. He was 37 years old and recently diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he went missing, but his disappearance didn't raise the alarm at first because he was known to wander. 

    jason_grabert.jpgJason Grabert 

    His sister, Tammy Csaszar, said the former Howell resident would often go on "walkabouts" where he would hitchhike or hop a train across the country.

    But this time it was different. 

    Csaszar told NJ Advance Media that Grabert became convinced the government was targeting him, and she last heard her brother's voice after he tried to go "off the grid" in Mexico, later turning up at an airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

    "We just landed," she recalled him telling her in a voicemail. "I want you to take care of yourself. I love you."

    She never saw spoke to him again, but she eventually brought him home. 

    Grabert's body was identified six months after New Jersey State Police hosted their first "Missing in New Jersey" event at Rutgers University last year. Authorities say the case showed how new technology and public awareness can bring closure to families who have gone years -- or even decades -- without answers.

    "If we identify one person, it was a success," Det. Sgt. Joseph Trella of the State Police missing persons unit told NJ Advance Media in an interview. 

    Csaszar said she spent years combing websites and online communities devoted to missing persons cases, "just looking for any trace of him." Last year, she came across an advertisement for the State Police's first annual missing persons event

    By this point, she was willing to try anything. She and her mother, Christina Generoso, arrived hoping to find someone who could connect the dots. 

    The annual event, now in its second year, is scheduled for Saturday, May 19 at Rowan University in Glassboro. Trella said Grabert's family was among the relatives of 18 missing persons who gave DNA samples at last year. 

    Trella said the event is unique because it streamlines the process for building a missing person's case that may have slipped through the cracks.

    Missing in New Jersey

    Family members are first interviewed by detectives who gather the facts of the case, then speak with a representative from the National Unidentified Persons Data System, known as NamUs. Finally, they give a DNA sample that is cross-referenced with a national database of unidentified bodies. 

    Trella said there are hurdles to overcome. For one, family members might be hesitant to give up DNA for a variety of reasons. They might have their own unrelated criminal histories, they could be undocumented, or they could just be distrustful of the government, he said. 

    "Most missing persons cases, the families are very willing to cooperate," Trella said. "But sometimes, they're a little suspicious of the intent of the DNA." 

    In Grabert's case, his mother and sister gave DNA cheek swabs, which were sent to the Center for Human Identification at the University of North Texas, which serves as a clearinghouse for missing persons cases. 

    Six months later, authorities connected it to an unidentified body that was discovered in Florida shortly after Grabert had gone missing. Csaszar said he was found in an abandoned house just two miles from the airport, where he took his own life. 

    She said it was bad news she had long expected. 

    "I had a sixth sense," Csaszar said. "I knew he wasn't alive, so it wasn't that much of a shock to me. I was a little broken at the time because I wasn't expecting it, but I always knew, even though I didn't give up hope."

    Each year, there are about 1,000 unsolved missing persons cases in New Jersey, and authorities currently have more than 300 unidentified bodies.

    The family members who arrive at the State Police missing persons event hold out hope that their loved ones are somewhere safe, but in the end, they are really seeking answers. 

    "We brought him home," Csaszar said of her brother. "I had him cremated, but we brought him home. He's with his family. There's no more looking. There's always gonna be wondering why he did it, but there's no more wondering what happened to him."

    S.P. Sullivan may be reached at ssullivan@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    New Jersey is rushing to be the first place on the East Coast with full-scare legal sports betting. So is Delaware.

    New Jersey now has a clear opponent in the race to be the first place on the East Coast with full-scale legal sports betting: the state directly below us on the map.

    Delaware officials said this week they believe they have the laws and infrastructure in place that allow them to be the first state outside of Nevada to offer Las Vegas-style betting on football, basketball, baseball, and more. 

    The Delaware News-Journal reported sources saying the state's sportsbooks could launch the first week of June. Another report said by the end of that month. 

    State officials said they will start training employees next week and begin testing software. 

    That puts the heat on New Jersey, where lawmakers are rushing to put rules in place after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sided with the Garden State and overturned a federal ban on sports betting, clearing the way for states across the country to set up sportsbooks.

    Initially, Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport planned to begin taking bets on May 28 -- Memorial Day. 

    But state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, called on the track to hold off as lawmakers prepare legislation setting up how the state will regulate and tax sports betting at its casinos and racetracks.

    Sweeney said both houses of the state Legislature plan to vote June 7 on a bill and he believes Gov. Phil Murphy will quickly sign it. 

    Looks like this date will be the big one for N.J. sports betting

    But that still might give Delaware a small window, if the state can get its operations up sooner than later.

    Former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak said Friday the situation is troubling because New Jersey fronted the seven-year, $9 million case that led to the Supreme Court's ruling.

    "It's somewhat annoying they could beat us to be the first when we deserve it," Lesniak, D-Union, said. "We're missing a big opportunity to have 30,000 people at Monmouth Park (on Memorial Day), with national media attention for the first bet."

    But Sweeney is sticking by stopping Monmouth Park from opening. 

    "Our goal is to get this done," Sweeney, D-Gloucester, told NJ Advance Media on Friday. "I see what Delaware's doing. But they're not going Memorial Day weekend either."

    "I really do believe we have to have some rules," he added.

    It helps that Delaware already has limited sports betting. The state was one of four excluded from the federal ban 26 years ago.

    The state has allowed only bets on multiple pro football games -- known as parlay betting -- since 2009. But now, the wagering now would be full-scale, and officials say it wouldn't take much to upgrade.

    Lesniak said New Jersey asked Delaware to join its lawsuit to overturn the federal ban but the state "wanted to keep exclusivity." Now, he said, it's "disheartening" that they might beat New Jersey to the punch.

    Will Sweeney be disappointed if Delaware goes first?

    "They've already got legalized gambling," he said. "I'm not concerned about it. I want to make sure we get the rules in place and we do it right."

    The state Senate and Assembly in New Jersey both have their own bills right not to regulate and tax sports betting. They are working to agree to one. 

    The houses must pass the same bill for Murphy to sign it into law.

    "Hopefully, we can get ourselves together so we can be on time with this," said Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, a former casinos executive who has long sponsored sports betting legislation, including the new regulations bill. 

    A survey released Friday by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll shows half of all Americans favor legalizing sports betting across the country, while 37 percent say they're opposed. 

    The poll was conducted before the Supreme Court's ruling.

    In addition to Las Vegas, billions of dollars are currently spent on sports betting through illegal channels. 

    But state officials hope legalized sports betting will bring millions of dollars to the state in tax revenue, as well as boost business at New Jersey's struggling casinos and racetracks.

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


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