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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    The iconic beach festival had an epic debut in September, and it's coming back to the shore again next year.

    Asbury Park's first Sea Hear Now festival was so successful, next year's dates for the beachside music, art and surf event have already been announced. 

    The two-day beach festival comprised a packed schedule of surf contests, beach yoga, art galleries and musical performances. It featured Blondie, Incubus, Jack Johnson, Brandi Carlile, The Front Bottoms and even a surprise Bruce Springsteen appearance during Social Distortion's set. 

    Springsteen showed up on the festival's second night to play three songs with California punk icons Social Distortion as thousands of his New Jersey fans chanted "BRUUUCE."

    The festival, organized by Springsteen photographer and Jersey Shore native Danny Clinch and promoter Tim Donnelly, is one of the only music festivals in New Jersey that started out in the state from the beginning.

    Amy Quinn, deputy mayor of Asbury Park, said the festival, which attracted more than 45,000 concertgoers, was "a great fit for what the city's looking for" and that the city is thrilled it will return next year.  

    sea-hear-now4033jpg-e191dac59d674b97.jpgThe scene during Sea.Hear.Now Festival on Sept. 30 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. 

    Quinn and the entire city council attended the festival, she said. 

    "To see Debbie Harry perform, that was iconic for me," Quinn told NJ Advance Media. "I had a crush on her for 20 years." 

    Sea Hear Now "did an amazing job bringing in locals," she added.

    Residents from the area were on the event staff and bartended, works from local artists were put on display, and the N.J. Coast Surfrider Foundation came to educate festival attendees about plastics, recycling and ocean pollution. 

    "I always like when you can tap the local community to make an event better," Quinn said. "That makes me feel good." 

    There's no word on how Sea Hear Now will outdo its debut, but Quinn said it will be "even bigger and better." 

    More information on next year's Sea Hear Now festival can be found here. 

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

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    The Division of Gaming Enforcement will reveal this afternoon how much was wagered in September

    New Jersey plans to reveal figures on the level of sports betting activity in September that its chief gambling regulator calls stunning.

    The state Division of Gaming Enforcement is scheduled to release statistics Friday afternoon on how well sports betting did last month.

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    Speaking at a gambling industry conference in Nevada this week, division Director David Rebuck called the numbers "stunning" and made clear he meant that in a positive way.

    New Jersey won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in May that cleared the way for all 50 states to offer sports betting should they choose.

    Since then, its activity has soared, starting at $16.4 million worth of bets in June, and rising to nearly $96 million in August.

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    Diane Maloney had flashed a knife outside her car window, police said. When police tried to pull her over, she sped away, eventually crashing into another car. She was eventually arrested by the Howell Township police chief.

    Apparently three years behind a desk hasn't slowed down Howell police Chief Andrew Kudrick.

    He chased down a knife-wielding woman Thursday morning to end a wild police chase on Route 9 in the township. 

    Diane Maloney, 51, of Freehold, was driving a Ford Focus when police say "for no apparent reason" she began break-checking - the act of driving in front of someone and pumping your breaks to slow them down - a 22-year-old woman and her family around 11:30 a.m. on Route 9.

    Maloney then flashed an 8-inch folding knife out of her window at the woman and her family, police said.

    The woman tried to drive around Maloney, but she continued to block them in, according to police.

    A Howell police officer spotted Maloney and attempted to stop her on Route 9 south near Georgia Tavern Road.

    Maloney did not stop. Police said she took off on Route 9 headed southbound and then busted an illegal U-turn around a concrete barrier near New Friendship Road.

    That's when Kudrick, who was on-duty in his unmarked police vehicle, spotted Maloney and saw her holding the knife, according to a statement from the Howell Police Department.

    Maloney refused to stop for the chief, instead continuing on Route 9 northbound, weaving in and out of traffic. Maloney approached a red traffic light at the intersection of Route 9 and Georgia Tavern Road. She drove around the stopped traffic, and then collided with a 2011 Toyota Rav 4, police said.

    She exited her vehicle and tried to run away, but Kudrick chased her down and made the arrest. Police said the knife was found in her vehicle.

    Maloney was charged with eluding, terroristic threats, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, unlawful possession of a weapon and assault by auto. Additional charges may be filed after Maloney's toxicology reports come back, police said.

    Maloney, who suffered minor injuries, was taken to the Monmouth County jail after she was treated at the hospital.

    This is not Maloney's first brush with law enforcement in Howell.

    It turns out she has two prior reports of road rage incidents in August and earlier this month.

    In one incident report, obtained through the state Open Public Records Act, Maloney reportedly randomly walked up to a woman sitting in her car in the Walgreens parking lot and yelled "f*** you" at her and then flashed the middle finger.  

    In August, a woman who was sitting in her car waiting for a friend to meet her at 7-Eleven was confronted by Maloney, a report from the incident said. Maloney, the report said, was parked next to the woman and got out of her vehicle and told the other woman, "F*** you, you mother f*****. I'm going to kill you." The woman tried to get back into her car to get away from Maloney, when Maloney kicked the door shut, according to the report.

    In both cases, the victims were able to get a license plate for Maloney's vehicle and report it to the police. 

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

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    The body, identified only as an adult male, was spotted between 1 and 1:30 p.m. at Beach D along the ocean side of the park

    Officials recovered a body from the waters off of a Sandy Hook beach Friday afternoon.

    The body, identified only as an adult male, was spotted between 1 and 1:30 p.m. at Beach D along the ocean side of the park, according to National Parks Service spokeswoman Daphne Yun.

    A park visitor spotted the body in the water and alerted NPS rangers, the spokeswoman said.

    Officials have not determined the circumstances surrounding the death.

    Middletown police Detective Lt. Paul Bailey confirmed the department was investigating along with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and State Police.

    "The investigation is concerning the discovery of a body at the shoreline," Bailey said.

    More information was not immediately released.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @noahycFind on Facebook.



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    Hugo Fleites now works as a fire instructor at two county fire academys

    A former Perth Amboy city firefighter who now works as a fire academy instructor was arrested Friday on charges he sexually assaulted a minor starting in 1998, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office announced.

    Hugo Fleites.jpgHugo Fleites 

    Hugo Fleites, 57, of Perth Amboy, is charged with one count of sexual assault for assaults that happened between 1998 and 2001 in Fleites' home while he was a Perth Amboy city firefighter.

    The prosecutor's office did not reveal the gender of the victim, but said the person was 13 to 16 years old at the time.

    Fleites currently works part time at the Middlesex and Monmouth county fire academies, the prosecutor's office said.

    The office did not elaborate on what led to Fleites being charged years after the alleged abuse.

    State records show Fleites retired in 2012 after serving as a firefighter for just over 25 years. He collects a pension that pays him $5,276 per month.

    Perth Amboy Police Detective Riscardo Rosado and prosecutor's Detective Deon McCall are investigating Fleites. Anyone with information for them can call Rosado at 732-324-3872 or McCall at 732-745-3652.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kevintshea. Find on Facebook.


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    After this weekend's Asbury Underground festival, owners will repossess a lot occupied by the day-glow sculpture gARTen

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    The median salary is below $60,000 in more than 100 districts.

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    Lots of horsepower behind this bill. And some horsehockey. It already passed the Senate.

    It isn't often that our lawmakers draft "consumer protection" bills that favor car dealers, particularly a dealer that has been slammed by penalties as high as $750,000 by the Attorney General for bait-and-switch treachery, at the same time that it is facing 72 complaints under review by the Division of Consumer Affairs.

    And if that dealer happens to be a donor to some of the biggest names in Trenton, you would hope that somebody pumps the brakes until it can be determined that everyone's motives are pure.

    But there is a bill that is making its way through the Legislature that calls for a cap on attorneys' fees in fraud cases against car dealers, while also making it harder for plaintiffs to win triple damages.

    This could have merit - the bill's backers like to use the example of a 2012 Middlesex County case in which trial court awarded $650 in plaintiff damages and $99,250 in legal fees. There is nothing wrong with cracking down on exorbitant attorneys' fees and frivolous lawsuits.

    But a investigation published Tuesday demonstrated that a key beneficiary from this bill is mega-dealer Charles Foulke Jr., whose Cherry Hill-based company operates six dealerships around the state. Foulke and his son - when they're not being sued, anyway - have donated hundreds of thousands to a PAC that supports Senate President Steve Sweeney and other powerful Democrats, but that didn't come up during the Senate debate that resulted in a 29-5 passage a few months back.

    "It may look salacious, but (Foulke) is not the only one - he's just targeted most often," Sweeney said. "This is slip-and-fall stuff, and it's a very common occurrence with a small group of attorneys. It's a worthwhile bill."

    The more relevant point, however, is that the bill helps a very narrow set of retailers with political connections.

    And even the lawmakers who voted for it have a problem with the details in the report.

    "If you're going to do legislation with a specific set of scenarios in mind, the obligation should be doubly transparent," said Sen. Declan O'Scanlon, R-Monmouth. "Just make the case, so it doesn't look like someone is getting away with something. If there's an injustice in a specific scenario, let us know in complete transparency."

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    Meanwhile, the Division of Consumer Affairs told that "the Division has serious concerns about how certain provisions of this bill would adversely impact consumers."

    The bill, which has yet to be introduced in the Assembly, has two components. The first requires dealers to notify buyers of recalls before the sale of a vehicle. Good idea.

    The second section also falls under the Consumer Fraud Act. It allows a court to award the plaintiff compensatory damages, including treble damages - or triple the compensation - if there is an egregious violation. But it does not define "egregious."

    It also stipulates that the attorney can be awarded a fee of $1,000 or "up to one-third of the amount of damages" in such an action. That's the thorny part. If the consequence of an egregious violation is death or life-altering injury, the compensation could be considerable. It could take expensive legal muscle to pursue such a case, and advocates say capping the fee would damage consumer protections, and it would be harder for poor victims to afford legal help.

    Auto retailer lobbyist Jim Appleton calls the bill "a good-faith attempt to balance competing interests between business owners and plaintiffs' lawyers."

    No doubt, if lawyers are exploiting the system, there should be a legislative remedy. But this bill is clearly a work in progress, and if better transparency in the Assembly exposes the bill's flaws, changes should be made.

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

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    Jeffrey Colmyer gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars meant to repair storm-damaged homes and purchased at $17,000 diamond ring

    A New Jersey couiple who used their home improvement companies to prey on more than 20 Hurricane Sandy victims have been sentenced for the $1.4 million scam.

    colmyer-cimino.jpgJeffrey Colmyer and Tiffany Cimino admitted stealing more than $1.4 million from Hurricane Sandy victims through two contracting firms.  

    Jeffrey Colmyer, 43, and his wife Tiffany Cimino, 35, of Little Egg Harbor, used money intended for Sandy relief to gamble and buy luxury items while the homes they were hired to fix remained in disrepair, authorities said.

    The case was one of the largest prosecutions of Hurricane Sandy scams involving a contractor, authorities said.

    Colmyer was sentenced to seven years in state prison during a hearing on Friday in Ocean County. Cimino received five years of probation.

    "Colmyer and Cimino callously stole from Sandy victims whose homes were destroyed, compounding the hardships and distress their victims faced as they strived to rebuild after this historic storm," state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said in a statement.

    Colmyer used hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen money to gamble at seven Atlantic City casinos. The couple also purchased a $17,000 diamond ring, authorities said.

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    The home repair and elevation jobs they were hired to complete were left abandoned or never started, authorities said.

    The couple pleaded guilty in May to theft charges and money laundering through their companies, Rayne Construction Management Services and Colmyer & Sons.

    Colmyer and Cimino must pay more than $1.4 million in restitution including $695,000 to the Hurricane Sandy victims and $655,000 to the state of New Jersey. The couple also owes a combined $112,000 in back taxes.  

    "We have prosecuted many cases of fraud and theft related to Superstorm Sandy, but this is perhaps the most egregious, given the amount stolen by this couple and the fact that they enriched themselves at the expense of victims who were hit hardest by this natural disaster," Division of Criminal Justice Director Veronica Allende, said in a statement.

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    The college has until March to address concerns.

    A New Jersey community college has been warned that its accreditation is in jeopardy, potentially putting financial aid for thousands of students at risk. 

    Brookdale Community College has shown "insufficient evidence" that its meets accreditation standards for ethics and integrity and educational effectiveness, according to a letter sent in June by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. 

    The agency, which did not specify what problems led to Brookdale's warning, gave the college until March 1 to prove it meets those standards. 

    In a statement, Brookdale said it is confident it will satisfy the commission's concerns before then. 

    "Our emphasis is on moving forward and ensuring that Brookdale continues its mission as a gateway for thousands to obtain a degree, acquire training for career advancement and lifelong learning opportunities," the college said. 

    All colleges must be accredited in order for students to receive federal financial aid. Colleges are sometimes warned of problems when their accreditation is up for renewal, but it is rare for a public college to actually lose its accreditation. 

    Essex County College recently sweated out fears that it could lose its accreditation, only to eventually win approval. Kean University previously faced a year-long battle to save its accreditation, culminating with a 10-year approval in 2012. 

    A warning is the first of a multi-step process that would occur before accreditation is revoked. 

    Adam Clark may be reached at Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind on Facebook.  


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    The body of the 62-year-old West Orange man was first spotted by a park visitor

    Authorities have identified the man found dead near the shoreline in Sandy Hook on Friday afternoon as a 62-year-old West Orange man.

    The death of Daniel Carroll is not considered suspicious, a State Police spokesman said Monday.  Officials found Carroll's car in a parking lot a short distance away. 

    A visitor saw the body in the water on the ocean side of Gateway National Recreation Area and alerted National Park Service rangers, who then notified State Police around 1:30 p.m. 

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



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    The full list of Sears and Kmart closures announced as part of the company's bankruptcy filing includes 142 locations across the country

    Two Sears stores and one Kmart in New Jersey are among 142 across the country slated to close in the coming weeks after the company declared bankruptcy, according to federal court documents.

    Sears locations on Route 35 in Middletown, Monmouth County, and at the Deptford Mall in Gloucester County will go out of business along with the Kmart location on Delsea Drive in Glassboro.

    Liquidation sales at the 142 Sears and Kmart stores slated for closure are expected to begin shortly. This is in addition to the previously announced closure of 46 unprofitable stores that is expected to be completed by November. That round includes the Sears store in the Hamilton Mall in Atlantic County.

    Retail collapse: The 57 biggest chains closing stores

    After the next round of closings, there will be 687 stores left. 

    The operator of Sears and Kmart stores joins a growing list of retailers that have filed for bankruptcy or liquidated in the last few years amid a fiercely competitive climate.

    Some like Payless ShoeSource have had success emerging from reorganization in bankruptcy court but plenty of others haven't, like Toys R Us and Bon-Ton Stores Inc. Both retailers were forced to shutter their operations this year soon after a Chapter 11 filing.

    Sears has seen declining sales and mounting debt in recent years. The store closure plan is intended to reduce the company's footprint and operating costs.

    Sears is currently burning $125 million a month to operated the business, according to the bankruptcy filing. Revenue has declined 54 percent in the last five years.

    The company has closed 72 percent of its stores since 2013 as it tried to offset the revenue losses, according to the bankruptcy filing.

    The full list of closures includes Sears or Kmart stores has been summarized by Business Insider.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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


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    Teresa Giudice posted a picture of a weeping Statue of Liberty as her daughters shared emotional tributes to their father, who is currently in prison.

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