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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    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 Patti Sapone may be reached at Follow her on Instagram @psapo, Twitter @psapone. Follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

    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

    Patti Sapone may be reached at Follow her on Instagram @psapo, Twitter @psapone. Follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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    We answer the questions you may have after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law authorizing legal sports betting in New Jersey.

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    According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $17,712.

    In this week's "On the market" property, we feature a home in Colts Neck with 4,500 square feet of living space.

    The home is listed for $1,675,000. According to its Trulia listing, the taxes are estimated at about $17,712. 

    The home features 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. 

    The median sale price for homes in the area is $795,000.

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

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    The 10-passenger bus was hit by an SUV in November 2016 and burst into flames

    The family of a school bus driver killed in a fiery head-on crash in Middletown in 2016 settled their negligence lawsuit for $1.55 million.

    Lorraine Filozof, 62, of Woodbridge, was operating a 10-passenger bus when it was struck head-on by an SUV whose driver lost control while speeding around a curve on Phalanx Road in Middletown. The SUV struck the bus between the left front wheel and the driver's side door. 

    News of the settlement was first reported by the New Jersey Law Journal. The Middletown attorney for Filozof's estate, Michael J. Hanus, confirmed the settlement to NJ Advance Media. 

    The bus aide and a witness pulled Filozof from the bus as it caught fire following the collision. Filozof was conscious and in severe pain before she died, the suit alleged. 

    The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office declined to charge the SUV driver, who was injured in the Nov. 14, 2016 crash. A 61-year-old school bus aide and a student aboard the bus also were injured.

    The bus was owned by R. Helfrich & Son of Hazlet. 

    The suit, filed in Middlesex County, was settled April 26. Filozof's estate was paid June 4. Of the $1.55 million, $1.25 million will be covered from policies issued to the SUV driver by the American Automobile Association. The estate also received $250,000 from a separate auto policy issued to the driver by American Bankers Insurance Co. of Florida. The final $50,000 came from a USAA policy issued to the driver's daughter, the owner of the Durango.

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


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    Thomas Tramaglini arrested after police set up surveillance at Holmdel High School to catch the person responsible for feces that had been found daily Watch video

    UPDATE: Attorney asks for full video of superintendent allegedly pooping at high school

    The suspended Kenilworth school superintendent accused of defecating on the track at Holmdel High School is due in court Tuesday morning for the first time on municipal charges.

    Thomas Tramaglini's two previously scheduled court dates were pushed back, but his case is on the docket for 10 a.m. in Holmdel municipal court Tuesday.

    poopersuperjpg-ef6ae83aaaa60168.jpgThomas Tramaglini (Holmdel police) 

    Tramaglini, of Aberdeen, is on paid leave until June 30 from his $147,504 a year job. 

    Tramaglini was charged with public urination/defecation, littering and lewdness following his arrest on April 30. The charges are disorderly persons offenses and Tramaglini would likely face fines if found guilty.

    Police began monitoring the track, which is about three miles from Tramaglini's residence, after receiving reports of human feces being found daily, authorities said.

    Officials "monitored" the area and were able to identify Tramaglini as the person responsible for defecating on the track, according to Holmdel police.

    According to the arrest report, there are two DVDs with surveillance video footage. The township hasn't released the footage, saying it could compromise the school's "security measures and surveillance techniques."

    Tramaglini's attorney, Matthew S. Adams has said that there were "falsehoods" in media's reporting of the incident but he declined to say what those inaccuracies were. 

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



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    The final rankings of the 2018 girls lacrosse season.

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    Kenilworth Superintendent Thomas Tramaglini has been charged with defecating at the track for Holmdel High School, which is about three miles from his home Watch video

    The suspended Kenilworth school superintendent accused of defecating daily on a high school track near his Monmouth County home in April wants to see the entire surveillance video filmed by officials. 

    It's what police say led them to Thomas W. Tramaglini, who was charged with public urination/defecation, littering and lewdness after school officials discovered human feces near the Holmdel High School athletic track "on a daily basis." 

    But an attorney for Tramaglini, Matthew S. Adams, told a municipal court judge at his client's first court appearance on Tuesday that he has received only "snippets" of the surveillance video. 

    Adams had other issues with the evidence officials have provided to him, but those issues will be addressed in written letters.

    The prosecutor, Stephen Zebarsky, said he has given Adams the narrative report from police, an evidence property report, the surveillance video and Holmdel police dispatch audio. 

    Tramaglini, dressed in a gray suit and a light-blue tie, did not say a word during the brief court appearance. He and Adams didn't answer any questions from the horde of reporters that surrounded him as he walked to an all-black sport utility vehicle waiting for him outside the municipal building. 

    In an emailed statement to NJ Advance Media, Adams said Tramaglini is a "good man with an exceptional record of public service." 

    "Today was only the beginning of the constitutionally secured due process that Dr. Tramaglini is entitled to receive," the statement said. 

    On April 30, Tramaglini was arrested as he was running on the track just before 6 a.m.

    Police began monitoring the track at Holmdel High School, which is about three miles from Tramaglini's residence, after receiving reports of human feces being found daily, authorities said.

    Officials were soon able to identify Tramaglini as the person responsible for defecating on the track, according to Holmdel police. 

    According to the arrest report, there are two DVDs with surveillance video footage.

    The township declined to release the footage to NJ Advance Media, saying it could compromise the school's "security measures and surveillance techniques."

    Tramaglini is suspended with pay from his $147,505 a year job until June 30. 

    Adams, his attorney, previously chided the media for reporting "falsehoods" about his client, but wouldn't say what those falsehoods were. 

    Tramaglini will return to court at a later date. His charges are low-level offenses that typically don't require any jail time. 

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.




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    A new reporting project looks at New Jersey's economy through the lens of all the hustlers in the state. Watch video

    We want to hear how people in New Jersey are hustling to make ends meet.

    You could be in the circus. You could be selling jewelry on Etsy. You could be working five jobs. Whatever it is you're doing, we want to hear about it.

    Here's why we are launching this summer project: New Jersey is at the bottom of the list of states in terms of economic growth. For many people, jobs are hard to come by. For others, their paychecks don't cover the bills.

    In spite of this, people choose to stay and live in the Garden State, even though they have to hustle to make it work. We want to celebrate that.

    We want to highlight all of the hardworking people of the Garden State who are doing wonderful and unique things to get by.

    Through our reporting, we hope to understand better how New Jersey got to where it is today, how people have coped - or thrived - and what life might look like for people in the future.

    We can't do this without you.

    We want our project, "The Jersey Hustle," to be driven by you, the people of New Jersey. We're looking for people to tell us their stories or stories about others in their communities.

    If you're interested in speaking with us, please fill out the form below. If you want to provide information about someone other than yourself, there is a dedicated space for that in the form.

    We can't wait to get started, and we look forward to hearing from you!

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    If a second sample shows more Enterococci bacteria than permitted, the beaches will be closed to swimming and remain closed until the sample falls under the limit.

    The water off 47 of the state's beaches, including 16 in Atlantic County, showed higher levels of the bacteria that is usually found in animal or human waste on Monday, pushing those beaches closer to banning swimming.

    The water samples contained more than 104 colony forming units (cfu) of Enterococci bacteria per 100 milliliters of water. 

    When a sample shows more than 104 cfu, the beach is placed under a swimming advisory. If a second sample, in this case taken Tuesday, remains higher than 104 cfu, the beach is closed to swimming and remains closed until the sample falls under the limit.

    The results posted today show the following beaches tested higher than 104 cfu:

    Atlantic County:

    Atlantic City: Dover Avenue, Michigan Avenue, Texas Avenue, Chelsea Avenue, Missouri Avenue, Illinois Avenue, Bartram Avenue, Albany Avenue, Kentucky Avenue

    Maragate City: Clermont Avenue, Osborne Avenue, Gladstone Avenue

    Ventnor City: Dorset Avenue, Washington Avenue, Austin Avenue, New Haven Avenue

    Cape May County:

    Cape May: Grant Street, Philadelphia Avenue, Queen Street North

    Lower Township: Richmond Avenue

    Wildwood: Montgomery Avenue, Bennett Avenue

    Wildwood Crest: Jefferson Avenue, Miami Avenue, Orchid Road, Hollywood Avenue, Forget Me Not Road, Lavender Road

    Monmouth County:

    Deal: Hathaway Avenue, Phillips Avenue, Deal Casino,

    Loch Arbour: Village Beach Club

    Long Branch: Joline Avenue, Elberon Beach Club, South Bath Avenue, North Bath Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Ocean Beach Club,

    Neptune (Ocean Grove): Broadway

    Sea Girt: Neptune Place

    Spring Lake: Brown Avenue South, York Avenue

    Ocean County:

    Brick: Windward Beach (River),

    Pine Beach: East Beach Station Avenue (River)

    Point Pleasant Borough: Maryland Avenue

    Seaside Park: 5th Avenue (Bay)

    Toms River: Shelter Cove (Bay)

    DEP Spokesman Larry Hajna said the elevated numbers at the beaches under a swimming advisory are likely the result of the Sunday's rain and stormwater runoff that continued into Monday morning.

    Hajna said the water is tested near the stormwater outfalls and that it can result in higher numbers.

    Hajna said that when Tuesday's testing is performed, the area near the stormwater outfalls and either side of it will be tested as well to make ensure the testing is accurate.

    "In the ocean, everything dissipates quickly, but we want to make sure the water is clear," Hajna said.

    The DEP says contact with polluted water can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, respiratory symptoms like sore throat, cough, runny nose, and sneezing, eye and ear symptoms including irritation, earache, and itchiness, dermatological symptoms like skin rash and itching, and flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills.

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

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    The 'clinging jellyfish,' a tiny species native to the Pacific Ocean, does not inhabit sandy areas and should not be a concern to beachgoers, the DEP said.

    Swimmers and other users of Monmouth and Ocean county rivers should beware of a tiny species of jellyfish, whose painful sting can hospitalize victims and leave scars in the shape of their stringy tentacles, state officials warned on Tuesday. 

    The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection advised anyone who may go into Ocean County's Metedeconk River to use caution after the department confirmed the presence of the so-called clinging jellyfish, described as "a non-native species with a powerful sting."

    The DEP also urged users of the Shrewsbury and Manasquan rivers in Monmouth County to be on the lookout for the stinging jellyfish, which range from the size of a dime to a quarter and have a red, orange or violet cross on their middle.

    "The clinging jellyfish, a native to the Pacific Ocean, is small and very difficult to spot in the water," stated the DEP, which posts a clinging jellyfish PowerPoint presentation on its website. "A sting can produce severe pain and other localized symptoms and, in some cases, can result in hospitalization.

    "Anyone wading through these areas, especially near aquatic vegetation, should take precautions, such as wearing boots or waders to protect themselves."

    However, the DEP said the presence of the gelatinous invaders in rivers should not discourage people from flocking to New Jersey's beaches. 

    N.J. man recalls horror from rare, toxic jellyfish sting

    "The clinging jellyfish is not known to inhabit ocean beaches or other sandy areas but tends to attach itself to submerged aquatic vegetation and algae in back bays and estuaries, areas not heavily used for swimming," the DEP stated. "Swimming near lifeguarded beaches is always encouraged."

    If stung by a clinging jellyfish, the DEP advised:

    • Apply white vinegar to the affected area to immobilize any remaining stinging cells.
    • Rinse the area with salt water and remove any remaining tentacle materials using gloves or a thick towel.
    • A hot compress or cold pack can then be applied to alleviate pain.
    • If symptoms persist or pain increases instead of subsiding, seek prompt medical attention.

    The species was first confirmed in New Jersey in 2016, in the Manasquan River at the Point Pleasant Canal, the DEP said. Since then, the agency has worked with researchers at Montclair State University to determine the extent of the jellyfish invasion. 

    Those who spot a clinging jellyfish are urged not to try to capture it, but rather to take a photograph and email it to Dr. Paul Bologna of Montclair State at or to the DEP's Joseph Bilinski at along with location information.

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find on Facebook

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    How the N.J. superintendent might be defended following the crappy predicament Watch video

    While the superintendent accused of defecating on a high school track said nothing in his Tuesday court appearance, some lawyers from around the state have offered insight on what might come next for the man the internet has dubbed the "Pooperintendent."

    Thomas Tramaglini, 42, the superintendent of Kenilworth Public Schools, faces municipal court charges in Holmdel for public urination/defecation, littering and lewdness. Using security footage to identify the alleged mystery pooper, Holmdel police arrested Tramaglini around 6 a.m. on April 30 at Holmdel High School while he was running the track.

    Tramaglini is currently suspended with pay until June 30.

    "I can't see how he cannot be found guilty of lewdness, presuming the video shows him committing the act," said Phillipsburg attorney Gregory Gianforcaro, who has dealt with municipal court cases for nearly 30 years.

    "If I were the superintendent's attorney, I'd probably inquire what the prosecutor looks for by way of a plea," he added. "And if I were the prosecutor, I would expect the lawyer to reach out to me prior to the case going to trial to see what deal could be made."

    "I'd think under these circumstance, it's unlikely to go to trial -- unless there's a defense where they have the wrong person," he said.

    Gianforcaro also noted that a majority of municipal court cases in New Jersey don't go to trial.

    "I would venture to say 99 percent are plead out in some fashion or another."

    Joe Compitello, an attorney based in Tinton Falls, said this case may be difficult to defend, since authorities say the mystery poops occurred on multiple occasions. However, Tramaglini may have some hope in regard to the lewdness charge.

    The key when it comes to lewdness cases, is that the state criminal code's disorderly persons' statute specifically says a lewd or offense act is an incident in which "he knows or reasonably expects is likely to be observed by other nonconsenting persons," Compitello said.

    "It was before 6 a.m. at a high school track," he added. "The expectation that no one would be at the track at that hour and observe him is a reasonable one, and it could be a viable defense with respect to this count."

    Hamilton attorney Les Hartman shared a similar view.

    "It's not like hiking on the Appalachian trail, where it's not reasonable to expect someone will see you," Hartman said. "But with a track, it still might be something where he said, 'there's no one here, I didn't think anyone would observe me.'

    "Based on the fact he was going to the bathroom, it wasn't reasonable to expect being observed," Hartman added.

    As for the public urination and littering charges, Compitello said the only real defense is improper identification.

    "This is why his attorney is pressing the issue with respect to surveillance cameras and any potential witness identification," he said.

    In Tuesday's court appearance, Tramaglini's attorney Matthew Adams stressed that the footage officials released is not the entire surveillance video. He claimed that his client only received "snippets" of the surveillance.

    Tramaglini did not comment on his court appearance, and headed straight to a black SUV on his way out, ignoring a crowd of reporters along the way.

    Defense attorney and TV commentator Remi Spencer noted that challenging the authenticity of the surveillance video is "a sound defense."

    "Common sense says we should assume that's accurate, the law says the state should show more," Spencer said. "That can lead to proof problems."

    "Challenging the authenticity is a sound way to try and defend this case," she added. "I haven't seen (the video), but you may have a real issue with whether you can identify the individual. It could be someone else."

    Gianforcaro added, "I would also review the reports, the video surveillance, any pictures or statements, police investigation -- if there is any doubt that it was my client who did this, then that might be a reason why I'd take the case to trial. It's the burden of the state to prove superintendent committed the acts."

    But an important question still remains, and it has stumped lawyers as much as the rest of the public: why would the superintendent do it?


    Gianforcaro concluded, "If I were the judge, then when or if he were either to plea guilty or be found guilty, I would want to know why or for what reason he did this before I impose a fine."

    Spencer stressed two things: Tramaglini has not been proven guilty, and that the prosecutor should make sure the surveillance footage is authentic.

    "I think it's easy for people to rush to judgement," Spencer said. "Rules exist to protect the innocent. Until there's some proof this video is real, knowing how easy it is for anyone to create something, we should remain open-minded."

    "For now, he's an innocent man," she said.

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at gdelia@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find on Facebook.


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    Counting down from No. 50

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    Monmouth Park plans to start accepting the state's first bets Thursday morning. Now, an Atlantic City casino is planning to follow suit shortly thereafert. Watch video

    There will likely be two places in New Jersey -- not just one -- accepting legal sports bets starting Thursday, NJ Advance Media learned.

    The Borgata, Atlantic City's top-performing casino, is planning to open its sports wagering parlor Thursday morning, pending approval from the state, a spokeswoman for the gambling hall told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday.

    The casino would launch at about 11 a.m., spokeswoman Liza Constandino said.

    That's about a half hour after Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport, which plans to accept the first bets on sports games in Garden State history at 10:30 a.m.

    Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law Monday that finally authorizes legal sports betting in New Jersey after a nearly decade-long fight that ended with an historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling favoring the state.

    Murphy and other dignitaries will be on hand to place the first bets at Monmouth Park, which spent millions over the last seven years fighting and planning for this day.

    "I'm thrilled to be doing it," Murphy told sports-talk radio host Mike Francesa on Tuesday during an interview on WFAN 660-FM. "It's been a long time coming. Many, many years."

    All you need to know about N.J. sports betting

    There's technically one hurdle before either venue can begin offering betting.

    The New Jersey Racing Commission is meeting Wednesday to approve temporary regulations, and then Murphy must approve them to give Monmouth Park a waiver to start. 

    The state Division of Gaming Enforcement is expected to do the same for Borgata. The division did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

    The Borgata is renaming its horse-racing parlor The Race & Sports Book until it finishes a new sports-wagering facility.

    The casino is owned by MGM Resorts International, which has operated sports betting for years in Nevada.

    "Borgata is uniquely prepared to begin operations as the only Atlantic City casino with an existing race book," Borgata President Marcus Glover said last month.

    The state's other two racetracks -- Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford and Freehold Raceway -- also plan to offer sports betting, but they may not be ready for months. 

    Atlantic City's other seven casinos are also expected to have sports-wagering operations, but none are ready in time for Thursday. 

    The law also allows former tracks -- such as those in Atlantic City and Cherry Hill -- to accept bets.

    Monmouth Park and the Borgata are able to open under temporary state regulations. State agencies will eventually institute full regulations. 

    The new law allows people 21 and over to place bets on sports games, both online and in person at the state's casinos and tracks. 

    But online betting won't be available for the first 30 days -- something Francesa criticized Murphy for on his radio show Monday.

    Murphy said the reason is simple.

    "That's to make sure we get the online piece of this exactly right in working with the enforcement side of this," the governor told Francesa on Tuesday. 

    Murphy added that Monmouth Park and the Borgata invested money to be first in line.

    "They happen to be more ready to go than the other places," the governor said.

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

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    Phil Murphy has received his first audience with Mike Francesa. The New Jersey governor hopped on WFAN on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 (6/12/18) to talk sports betting, which begins on Thursday, June 14, 2018 (6/14/18) at 10:30 a.m. at Monmouth Park. Watch video

    Phil Murphy has received his first audience with Mike Francesa

    The New Jersey governor hopped on WFAN on Tuesday, hours after the big guy blasted him for his announcement he had signed legislation to officially bring legal sports betting to the Garden State, and ... well, let's just say Murphy didn't need his hard hat if he brought one.

    New Jersey's No. 1 (elected official) and New York's Numbah One had a breezy talk about all things sports wagering ahead of Monmouth Park (and other sites potentially) going live at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.

    Some highlights: 

    Behind enemy lines: Murphy, a Massachusetts native, confirmed to Francesa he grew up a Red Sox fan. "But I'm not looking to start any fights with fans of other great baseball teams," he added.

    Online betting: Francesa's big issue the other day was the fact New Jersey will have a 30-day wait before it has online sports betting:

    Wait a second. If you're New Jersey, why would you put out a release like this? ... What kind of way? If you're a government, you do business that way. If you're a private business, you would never - you would fire people if they did business that way. 'Here it is, our grand opening, and we're not open? You think Amazon does that? You think Apple does that? You think Apple says, 'Hey, come to the Apple Store, we're putting the phone on sale tomorrow, but we won't have any for 30 days?' That's why when you give bureaucrats or anyone in government a chance to do something, they'll screw it up.

    But Murphy seemed to have a good enough explanation for Francesa.

    "The bill I signed had in it that the online piece would come in 30 days after the actual bricks and mortar. That's to make sure we get the online piece of this exactly right in working with the enforcement side of this," Murphy said, adding Monmouth Park and the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, which may take bets Thursday, are on track to start taking bets sooner than other casinos and racetracks because they invested more in sports betting before the Supreme Court decision giving New Jersey its win.

    Cash flow: Murphy told Francesa he expects the actual tax revenue the state receives from sports betting to be "more modest" than he would have initially guessed, but he thinks the tracks and Atlantic City will recapture some overall entertainment revenue from Las Vegas. The tax revenues will go into the state's general fund to start, Murphy said. The state expects about $13 million in revenue for the first year.

    Federal regulation? Francesa asked Murphy if he thinks Congress could regulate sports betting nationally -- a right the high court made clear it has. "My gut tells me it stays state regulated," Murphy said. "There's some noise around federal action. But I've long given up my license to predict what comes out of Washington."

    World Cup: Murphy said it's not a coincidence betting will start right before the World Cup kicks off. "That's not by accident. I'm a big soccer fan," he said. "I wish the U.S. were in the darn cup. That's one thing I bemoan."

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

    James Kratch may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JamesKratch. Find Rutgers Football on Facebook.

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    Denzel Morgan-Hicks was found shot to death in the driver's seat of his car on Thanksgiving Eve.

    Authorities in Monmouth County arrested three men and charged them with fatally shooting a 27-year-old man in Asbury Park on Thanksgiving Eve.

    Steven Taylor, 36, Michael Taylor, 33, and Avery Hopes, 23, all of Asbury Park, were each charged with murder in the shooting death of Denzel Morgan-Hicks, a Barnegat resident.

    On Nov. 22, Asbury Park police officers responding to a report of gunshots found Morgan-Hicks dead in the driver's side of a 2017 Ford Expedition in the 100 block of Prospect Avenue. Morgan-Hicks suffered "multiple" gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

    Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni, speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, did not specify a motive in the killing but said to "stay tuned" as his office releases additional information in future court proceedings.

    However, Gramiccioni said Morgan-Hicks' death was connected to a fatal shooting in 2011 in which Edric Gordon was gunned down while riding a bicycle in the area of Dewitt and Springwood avenues.

    "This is all too common a tragic tale that is told over and over on the streets of Asbury Park," Gramiccioni said. "The names and the dates of the offenders and the victims, and the locations of the crimes may vary but it often comes back to petty score-settling, petty disputes, retribution - or something along the lines of these examples."

    Morgan-Hicks' death was the city's only homicide of 2017. So far in 2018, Asbury Park has had two homicides, most notably a 10-year-old boy who was gunned down in his Ridge Avenue home in February.

    The city's shootings are concentrated to the southwest corner near the border of Neptune Township.

    Acting Asbury Park Deputy Chief David Kelso said he has beefed up patrol in that area with the help of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and has also assigned Class II officers to walk those streets.

    West Side residents often feel neglected in favor of the East Side near the boardwalk, where luxury condominiums have replaced dilapidated buildings and construction is flourishing.

    Gramiccioni said his office wouldn't have worked this case "tirelessly" for the last several months if they didn't care.

    "We care about every single square block in this city," he said. "There's no discrimination based on West Side, East Side, south, or whatever."

    There are only two unsolved homicides in the past five years, Gramiccioni said.

    On Dec. 2, 2016, 32-year-old Asbury Park resident Dexter Dunston was fatally shot on the 700 block of 3rd Avenue. In 2013, Donte Kelly, 21, was found shot to death on the porch of his Asbury Park home on the 1500 block of Sewall Avenue.

    He urged anyone with information on these cases to contact the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers, where tips can be left anonymously and monetary rewards can be given to people who offer information that leads to an arrest.

    Hopes, Michael Taylor and Steven Taylor are due in court Wednesday afternoon for a first appearance in Monmouth County Superior Court.

    They are facing a maximum sentence of life in prison.

    Of the 16,000 full-time residents in the 1.6 square-mile city of Asbury Park, Gramiccioni said, there is a "very small population that is putting a blemish on an otherwise lovely, historic beachside city." 

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    The water at all but two of the state's beaches were safe for swimming Wednesday after tests showed levels of fecal bacteria had dissipated.

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    The home in Long Branch was blocked off by yellow police tape

    A well-known real estate agent and another person were found dead inside his Long Branch home Tuesday night in what appears to be a murder-suicide. 

    In a tweet Wednesday, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said it was investigating two people who were found dead in a home in Long Branch.

    Long Branch police said they responded to a residence on Ocean Boulevard to check on the well-being of a person. Officers found two people dead inside the home.

    "The parties were known to each other, and there is no danger to the community," read a post from Long Branch police on Facebook.

    Officials with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office could not offer any additional information about the investigation other than what's been said publicly. They said more information would be available once the medical examiner's report is concluded. 

    A law enforcement source told NJ Advance Media that the incident appears to be a murder-suicide. 

    On Wednesday, a quaint home a block away from the beach on Ocean Boulevard was blocked off by yellow police tape and two officers were standing on the sidewalk in front. The home had a for-sale sign out front.

    On social media, and in person, people were mourning Gerald "Jerry" Scarano, a real estate agent who was a regular at the city's council meetings. Property records show he owns the house. 

    A neighbor, who only wished to be identified by his first name, said Scarano was a "very nice guy."

    "He'd help you with anything," the neighbor, Bob, said. "If you needed something, he would give it to you -- a tool, wheelbarrow. He'd say, 'We're neighbors, let's help each other out.'"

    Another neighbor, who did not want to give a name, said Scarano was a "sweetheart."

    "He was a very well-liked man, well-known," she said, adding that Scarano gifted her a poinsettia during Christmas time.

    Other coworkers took to social media to express their sadness.

    "Jerry was the constant heartbeat of our office," one employee wrote. "One of the first people in and last person to leave."

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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    It all begins when Gov. Phil Murphy places the first bet at Monmouth Park. The Borgata will start accepting bets after that. Watch video

    Ready, set, bet!

    After years of legal battles that cost millions in taxpayer dollars, a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and a bit of legislative jockeying, legal sports betting will finally become a reality in New Jersey on Thursday morning.

    At 10:30 a.m., Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport is scheduled to be the first place in New Jersey history to accept legal wagers on sports games.

    It all starts when Gov. Phil Murphy places the first bet there. Other dignitaries -- including former state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, the retired lawmaker who spent years leading the state's charge for sports betting -- are also expected to be at the track. 

    "I'm thrilled to be doing it," Murphy told sports-talk radio host Mike Francesa on Tuesday during an interview on WFAN. "It's been a long time coming. Many, many years."

    All you need to know about sports betting in N.J.

    Then, at 11 a.m., the Borgata is slated to be the first Atlantic City casino to open a sports betting parlor. 

    New Jersey will be the second state to enact full-scale sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Garden State last month in its nearly decade-long push to legalize it. Delaware beat the state by about a week.

    New Jersey's law will allow people 21 and over to place bets on professional and college sports games, both online and in person at the state's casinos and tracks.

    But online betting won't be available for the first 30 days.

    Americans already spend billions of dollars placing sports bets through illegal bookies each year.

    New Jersey, however, spent seven years and $9 million -- mostly during the administration of then-Gov. Chris Christie -- on a court battle to legalize the practice. The goal was to boost the state's struggling casino and horse-racing industries, as well as provide the state with new tax revenue.

    The state's opponents were the nation's top pro and college sports teams, who said such betting would hurt the integrity of their sports and violate a 1992 federal ban on such wagering. 

    The Supreme Court, however, ruled the ban was unconstitutional, opening the door for states across the U.S. to begin accepting bets. Until then, only Nevada -- home to Las Vegas -- had full-scale legal sports wagering. 

    Murphy signed the law authorizing, regulating and taxing sports betting in New Jersey on Monday, four days after the state Legislature passed it.

    State officials estimate sports betting will bring in at least $13 million in tax revenue the first year -- though Murphy and some lawmakers say that could be lowballing it. 

    State agencies issued emergency regulations Wednesday to allow Monmouth Park and the Borgata to begin Thursday. Full regulations are expected down the road.

    Monmouth Park is getting to go first because the park spent millions getting ready for this day, both on the lawsuit and in partnering with British bookmaker William Hill years ago to set up its sport-betting parlor. 

    New Jersey's other two racetracks -- Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford and Freehold Raceway -- also plan to offer sports betting, but they may not be ready for months.

    Atlantic City's other seven casinos are also expected to accept bets, but none are ready in time for Thursday. 

    Murphy won't reveal what his first bet will be, though he may place two wagers. 

    "I think they'll both be in the $20 range," he added.

    Don't be surprised if it's soccer-related. Thursday marks the start of the World Cup, and Murphy is a major fan of the sport.

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



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    Americana? Something that makes you feel 'at home.'

    "Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet" - Chevrolet commercial first aired in 1974

    The term "Americana," which covers a diverse range of things, is often the result of the mixing of cultures that make up America. I say it's something that makes you feel "at home."

    As far as I can tell, even if something wasn't truly born in the U.S.A., but makes you think "homegrown," it qualifies as "Americana."

    For instance, it has now been pretty much conclusively established that Abner Doubleday did NOT invent baseball in Cooperstown in 1839; the game evolved from ball games played in England, France and Germany.

    Hot dogs are, of course, frankfurters named for the German city where they originated. Apple pie has been baked anywhere apples grow as long as there have been pies; according to, China outproduces U.S. growers, and supplies 40% of the world's apples.

    And since I'm on a roll, Louis-Joseph Chevrolet was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and developed his mechanical skills in France. Hot dogs WERE first put 'on a roll' in the U.S.; at least there's that.

    Americana? If it takes place in the country and makes people feel good, it can be almost anything at any time.

    In this gallery, we've touched on just a few of the countless ways 'Americana' could be illustrated. If you've got photos that you think would do the job, send them in -- Americana comes from everywhere.

    And here are some links to other galleries you might like.

    Vintage photos of N.J. Americana

    Vintage photos of how things have changed in N.J.

    Vintage candid photos from N.J.

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

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    Manasquan program teaches 'no lifeguards, no swimming'

    Elizabeth Perez stood with her sandals in the sand on a perfect beach day in Manasquan watching her three children play at the ocean's edge. They had buckets to collect shells and dig out sand crabs near the water. A few ventured in up to their ankles, but most were wet only from the splashing of their classmates and the waves.    

    The kids were part of a larger group of elementary school students from the Manasquan Elementary School who, unlike their classmates, were treated to a school day at the beach as part of a swimming safety program.

    The program has a simple slogan.

    No lifeguards, no swimming.

    Almost exactly one year ago, Emily Gonzalez-Perez, 12, and her cousin, Mitzi Hernandez Nicolas, 13, drowned off the Ninth Avenue beach in Belmar after lifeguards ended their work day.

    The deaths shocked several communities. The town, the deeply connected Hispanic community along the Monmouth County shoreline and the lifeguards who watch over those beaches and who take drownings personally, even when they happen off-hours in the unguarded ocean.

    "How many kids have to drown?" said Andy Mills, an EMT and lifeguard lieutenant in Manasquan. "We had to do something. We couldn't go into the season without doing something."

    Mills, a photographer for NJ Advance Media, and Christine Rice, who teaches English to immigrant students at Manasquan Elementary School, teamed up to  create a program to teach kids some very basic water safety skills. How to float. How to tread water. And, most important, when not to swim.

    "What did we learn?" Mills asked the group gathered under a canopy on the beach last week.

    "No lifeguards, no swimming," the kids responded in unison.

    MORE: Recent Mark Di Ionno columns 

    It was the second outing for the students, the first held at the Neptune Aquatic Center where they learned floating and treading techniques designed to prevent them from panicking in water.

    "This is very good," said Perez. "This is a great idea, especially for the Hispanic children because many times their parents are working, and they can only go to the beach after hours."

    Perez knew the girls who drowned in Belmar. "We weren't related, but our families were close," she said. "It was so sad ... that could have been my kids."

    Rice grew up in Manasquan back when there was a "kiddie beach" at a creek off the main beach.

    "They had swimming lessons for all the kids there," she said.

    But the creek banks are now overgrown and the town no longer offers kiddie beach lessons.

    Rice was also teaching kindergarten in 1993 when the first two Hispanic immigrant children enrolled at Manasquan Elementary School. That number has grown exponentially with the increase in demand for workers at restaurants and for landscaping and housekeeping jobs, especially during the busy summer months.

    "Their parents can't take them to the beach because they're working -- and they are out even more hours in the summer," Rice said. "And even if they could, they (parents) don't know how to swim."

    Another factor is expense. On the boardwalks at Spring Lake and Belmar, for example, families line up to enter the beach just as the lifeguards and badge checkers go off duty, as early as 5 p.m. in some towns.

    "It's expensive for these families to come during regular hours," said Candiee Flores, who attended the safety program with three students she called her "adopted grandchildren."

    The kids - Monse Martinez, 12, his brother Jesus, 11, and their sister, Joanna, 4 - rarely get to the beach despite living just blocks from it, she said.

    "Their mom cleans houses and their father works in the kitchen at the Spring Lake Golf Course," Flores said. "It's a shame they can't safely enjoy the beach."

    It's also deadly. After hours drownings were up last year and could have been worse. On the unseasonably warm weekend in late September last year, Jersey Shore off-duty lifeguards rushed to make 150 rescues on beaches that mostly closed for the season. Three people, all adults, died. So the children must be taught before they grow into adults who don't know "no lifeguards, no swimming."

    Mills said he has heard from several towns that are looking to duplicate the Manasquan program, because the high cost of New Jersey beaches invites the after-hours swimming danger. 

    "This is a problem especially in a place like New Jersey, where beaches aren't free," said Tom Gill of the United States Lifeguard Association from Huntington Beach, Cal. "We keep statistics on guarded vs. unguarded beaches and, predictably, there are many more drowning in unguarded areas."

    For many of the immigrant children, going to the beach after hours is all they know.

    "I ride my bike down," said third-grader Lizzet Cordero, 9, "after the beach is free. But now I'm not going to go in the water if there's no lifeguards."

    Eight-year-old buddies, Yahir Cortes and Alex Carrillo, said they also learned their lesson.

    "You can't go in the water without the lifeguard," Alex said. "And if the lifeguards are there, you go in near where they are."

    That's exactly what Mills wants to hear.

    "We want them to understand lifeguards are their friends," he said. "Being close to us is the best way to stay safe."

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at Follow The Star-Ledger on Twitter @StarLedger and find us on Facebook. 

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