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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Donald "Donny" Klein had also coached football and lacrosse at Manaquan High School and was a member of the school's Hall of Fame.

    An assistant football coach at The College of New Jersey was killed after his vehicle veered off Interstate 195 early Tuesday and hit a tree in Mercer County. 

    klein-tcnj.jpgDonny Klein (The College of New Jersey) 

    Donald Klein III, 37 of Tinton Falls, was driving a Jeep Wrangler westbound when the crash took place at 5:11 a.m. near milepost 3 in Hamilton, State Police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:40 a.m., Trooper Alejandro Goez said.

    There were no passengers in the Jeep and no other vehicles were involved.

    A member of the Manasquan High School Hall of Fame, Klein starred in football and lacrosse before graduating in 1999 and going on to play college football at Temple University. Klein later returned to Manasquan High School as a coach for both programs. 

    "I've known Donny since he played football for Manasquan - we talk about tradition at Manasquan, he was very much a part of that tradition as a player and a coach," board of education president Tom Pellegrino said Tuesday afternoon. "We are very proud of his accomplishments both on and off the field and as a person we all genuinely liked him."

    Klein left Manasquan two years ago to accept a position at TCNJ, where he was the team's offensive line coach as well as both the video and recruiting coordinator.

    "We are in shock at the news of Coach Klein's passing," TCNJ athletic director Amanda DeMartino said in a statement. "Donny was beloved by the team and his colleagues and his energy and upbeat personality were admired by all of us at TCNJ. He will be greatly missed by our campus community. Our thoughts are with his family and friends."

    Klein is survived by his father Donald ll, mother Cindy Zanfini, son Dax and girlfriend Courtney Colford, according to a family member.

    The cause of the crash is under investigation.

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

     
     
     

     


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    An Aberdeen man is offering cash for the return of his beloved pugs, who were taken in a double dog-napping from his car last week.

    An Aberdeen man is reeling a week after the double dog-napping of his beloved pugs, Joyce and Basil, who were stolen from his parked car.

    "I'm not doing too good," Joseph Savoca said in a phone call Tuesday. "Someone took my dogs. It's just horrible." 

    On Oct. 22, Savoca was parked at the Goodwill in the Cliffwood section of Aberdeen while waiting for his girlfriend, who was shopping. 

    After some time, he went into the store to look for her, and figured the dogs would be okay in the car on the 54 degree day, he said. 

    IMG_20181030_144830595.jpgBasil, a 7-year-old pug, was also taken from Joseph Savoca's car on Oct. 22. (Courtesy Joseph Savoca) 

    Within 15 minutes, he said, he returned to the car to find the pugs missing -- someone had stolen them. 

    "They're really good dogs," said Eddie Kohlhepp, a friend of Savoca who has been helping him through this tough time. "He's so tired, he's on edge, I'm on edge."

    Joyce is a 4-year-old cream-colored pug purchased from a breeder in Kansas for $1,200, and Basil is a 7-year-old pug Savoca bred, he said.

    Aberdeen police reviewed the store's surveillance footage, which showed a gray Nissan pulling up next to Savoca's unlocked car while he was in the store, a police report states. 

    The passenger exited the Nissan -- which appears to have an out-of-state plate on the back and no front plates -- and used a shopping cart to obstruct the view of the camera, the report said, before taking the pups. 

    Savoca and Kholhepp have been distributing fliers around the area, offering a cash reward and asking for the dogs to be returned, with no questions asked. 

    "We just want the dogs back," Kholhepp said, who noted Savoca had to put a dog down earlier this year. "To lose two more dogs, it's really devastating. 

    Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    "You can't arrest your way out of addiction," Lynn Regan said of a solution to the opiate epidemic.

    Daniel Regan, a recovering addict who was once a slave to heroin and crystal meth, knows the system all too well.

    He's been arrested and through several rehab facilities only to be back out on the street doing the same thing he always did -- get high.

    "He was dragged through the system like a freight train," his mother, Lynn, said.

    After his fourth stint at a treatment facility, Daniel and Lynn Regan decided to break the vicious cycle by creating their own facility that specializes in long-term treatment options. In 2012, they founded the CFC (Coming Full Circle) Loud N Clear Foundation in Farmingdale, which provides a number of recovery programs tailored to fit each individual addict's needs. Several years later, the group ran a pilot program with the Howell Police Department, which partners trained "recovery coaches" with those addicted to drugs who come face-to-face with law enforcement. 

    "You can't arrest your way out of addiction," Lynn Regan said in a recent phone interview.

    The top law enforcement officer in Monmouth County agrees.

    It's why the county's prosecutor, Christopher Gramiccioni, says he created the "Cuffs to Beds" initiative in 2017. The program provides people arrested with certain drug offenses a path that helps them avoid the justice system by getting treatment. 

    As the heroin and opioid epidemic continues to sweep through New Jersey, law enforcement agencies across the state are finding new ways to fight the problem. In Ocean County, for example, the county offers the "Blue Hart (Heroin Addiction Recovery Treatment) Program," which allows drug addicts to enter several police departments in the county and turn in their drugs in exchange for help. The West Orange Police Department in Essex County offers a similar program.

    And earlier this month, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced $1 million in federal grant funding to help expand his "Operation Helping Hand" program to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and recovery options for "individuals at risk for drug overdoses."

    Monmouth County has been one of the hardest hit in the Garden State when it comes to drug-related overdoses. In 2017, the county had 151 overdose deaths, nearly four times the number of highway fatalities. The county is likely to exceed that number in 2018.

    Under the Cuffs to Beds umbrella, Gramiccioni has signed on police chiefs in 10 of the 42 departments in the county, including the county's largest, Middletown.

    Each department is free to implement its own program, but they must work with an organization that provides recovery coaches, a recovering addict with at least one year of sobriety who is trained to voluntarily help another addict navigate the treatment system. 

    Gramiccioni said he provides the police chiefs with options and they pick the organization that fits their individual needs. Deputy First Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Michael Wojciechowski keeps tabs on all the cases with the individual departments.

    Ask Alexa

    Some departments, like Hazlet, will file charges right away and once the defendant completes treatment, will dismiss those charges. Other departments, such as Belmar, will shelve the charges and use them as an extra incentive to get those individuals successfully through treatment.   

    "These (police chiefs) all get credit for looking forward and not backward," Gramiccioni said.

    He said between 55 to 65 percent of those reached under the Cuffs to Beds initiative have accepted some form of treatment.

    "If you think of what we did before, these people would just get released or just leave a scene after being revived (from an overdose), maybe every once in a while they get taken to a hospital and then they're back out using with the same friends and having the same addiction problems that they were having before," he explained. "I'll take the double instead of the home run."

    The program is mainly for people addicted to drugs who have non-violent drug possession charges, Gramiccioni said. Some shoplifting cases, where it's clear the motive was to fuel a drug habit, can also qualify, he said.

    But those charged with second-degree offenses or cases where there are victims most likely won't get the opportunity, Gramiccioni explained.

    In Belmar, police Chief Andrew Huisman said his program has successfully gotten 57 people to complete treatment since he launched it in 2017.

    Belmar police chiefBelmar police Chief Andrew Huisman. (Alex Napoliello | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) 

    "We had no choice but to take some type of action," Huisman said. "Back in the fall of 2016, it was clear we weren't arresting our way out of anything. We were arresting the same people over and over again."

    The police chief in Howell, Andrew Kudrick, said he was being "hit left and right with overdoses" when he took over the department in 2015. The problem, he said, came to a head when one of his officers who was responding to an overdose call got into a car crash with another person who was under the influence. Soon afterward, he connected with CFC to enlist the help of recovery coaches.

    Now, Kudrick said, "whenever there is an overdose, police, fire and EMS get dispatched to it and a recovery specialist is dispatched to the scene. We want to capture them when they're at their most vulnerable."

    Law enforcement officials conceded that, while they are great at maintaining the law and public safety in their towns, they are not as effective as someone who's been through addiction and is trained to help another addict. 

    The proof is in the numbers, Regan said. Seventy-one percent of people referred to CFC by police since 2016 have agreed to seek treatment. 

    Once those with addictions are detoxed, Regan said, they are invited to continue to seek recovery with CFC's five-year program. Most of the individual's expenses are covered by insurance, and if the person doesn't have insurance, the recovery coach will help get them into a facility that accepts people who don't have insurance.

    The goal, she said, is to get those suffering from addiction into long-term treatment to break the cycle of addiction. 

    "You hit a lot of walls because of the traditional system," Regan said. "It's very difficult for police departments. There are so many regulations, certifications and laws that say you can't go outside of this little sandbox. ... It's very hard to break that mold." 

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

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    The Candle Light Tour and Seance at Paranormal Books & Curiosities in Asbury Park isn't for the faint of heart.


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    Even Smutz was found shot to death in his Keyport apartment on Aug. 9.

    A 19-year-old Middletown man was indicted on charges he fatally shot a 20-year-old man during a robbery at the man's Keyport apartment.

    The indictment, handed up Monday by a grand jury in Monmouth County, charged John Curtin with felony murder, armed robbery and weapons offenses in the death of Evan Smutz, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni announced in a statement.

    smutz.jpgEvan Smutz
     

    Keyport police found Smutz with a gunshot wound in his Center Street apartment just before 1 p.m. on Aug. 9. He was pronounced dead at 1:21 p.m., authorities said.

    The indictment said Curtin shot Smutz with a handgun during a robbery.

    Curtin left the apartment following the shooting, but gave himself up to the New York City Police Department hours later, according to authorities.

    He faces up life in prison, if found guilty.

    Smutz was a 2016 graduate of Keyport High School, where he played football and baseball. He went on to play for the New Jersey Warriors, a junior college football team for community college students.

    In 2015, Smutz made the NJ.com's All-Group 1 and All-Shore Conference teams as an outside linebacker for Keyport. 

    "With a smile that could light up any room, Evan was never short with a hand to lend or a voice of fun and laughter," his obituary states. "He will live on forever in the hearts of those who loved him." 

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

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    The victim was a 52-year-old woman.

    A 52-year-old woman died Sunday night after she was hit by a car in Marlboro, authorities said.

    Dawn Sheldrick, of Morganville, was walking near Texas Road and Millponds Way when she was hit by a 2003 Toyota Camry around 7:30 p.m., according to a statement from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

    That intersection is near an entrance to a condominium complex and a tennis court club area. 

    Sheldrick was pronounced dead at 8:16 p.m.

    The driver, an 18-year-old man also from Morganville, was not immediately charged, spokesman Christopher Swendeman said in an email.

    The deadly crash remains under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and the Marlboro Police Department.

    Authorities urged anyone who witnessed the crash or has any information to contact Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office Det. Kristian DeVito at 800-533-7443 or Marlboro police Officer David Stattel at 732-536-0100.

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

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    The shooting wounded 2 teenagers, one who is 15-year-old

    A 19-year-old Neptune man was arrested Tuesday and charged with shooting two other teenagers this month, one that remains paralyzed, authorities said.

    Marcus Paschal is facing two counts of attempted murder and weapons charges in connection with the shootings of Xavier Harbison, 18, and a 15-year-old male at an apartment complex in Asbury Park on Oct. 15, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement.

    Harbison was treated and released from the hospital for an injury to his left hand.

    The 15-year-old suffered a spinal-cord injury and remains paralyzed from the waist down, the prosecutor's statement said.

    Asbury Park police responded to the Asbury Park Gardens complex on Atlantic Avenue shortly after 9 p.m. after receiving a call about shots fired in that area.

    Officers located the 15-year-old who had suffered a gunshot wound to his side. He was taken to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune for treatment.

    Harbison walked into the same hospital seeking treatment for a gunshot wound to his hand.

    A joint investigation between the Monmouth County Prosecutor's office and the Asbury Park Police Department led detectives to identify Paschal as the shooter, authorities said.

    Paschal was arrested without incident and taken to the Monmouth County jail. He is scheduled to have a detention hearing on Nov. 5.

    Paschal faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each attempted murder offense.

    Authorities urged anyone with information to call Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office Detective Brian Weisbrot at 1-800-533-7443 or Detective Thomas Gogan of the Asbury Park Police Department at 732-774-1300.  

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

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    Noelle Boynton was charged with possessing a high-capacity magazine and drug possession.

    Noelle Boynton came to the Monmouth County courthouse on Wednesday as an accompanying guest.

    But she never made it to the elevator.

    Instead, Boynton, 35, was arrested after Monmouth County Sheriff's Officers found a loaded high-capacity magazine in her purse, according to a statement from the sheriff's department.

    Everyone who enters the courthouse has to walk through a metal detector and have their belongings put through an X-ray machine.

    Authorities said after officers found the magazine, they searched Boyton's vehicle and found 10 bags of heroin and an unspecified amount of OxyContin, a highly addictive prescription pain medication.

    The officers, however, did not find a gun in the car, authorities said.

    Boynton, of Neptune, was arrested and taken to the Monmouth County jail. She is charged with possession of a high-capacity magazine and possession of drugs.

    Authorities said she had numerous outstanding warrants from various municipalities and the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office.

    The investigation into what gun the magazine belonged to is ongoing, authorities said.

    "The measures taken to provide the utmost security for visitors and those who work at the Monmouth County Courthouse are top notch," Sheriff Shaun Golden said in a statement. "An arrest like this helps keep dangerous weapons and drugs out of the workplace and our communities. I commend the diligent and exceptional police work of all involved." 

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

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    Batteries not included.

    The Strong National Museum of Play is located in Rochester, New York. Every year, it inducts a select few iconic toys into its National Toy Hall of Fame. The selections range from brand-specific items like the Atari 2600 game system (2006) to board games like Candy Land (2005) and generic playthings such as bubbles, bicycles and cardboard boxes.

    This year's inductees will be announced on Nov. 8 and will be selected from the following nominees:

    702c30ca12b99606e1029af0b975dc0d.jpgWill the Magic 8 Ball make the Toy Hall of Fame? "Cannot predict now." 

    * American Girl dolls
    * Pinball
    * Chalk
    * Sled
    * Chutes and Ladders
    * Tic-Tac-Toe
    * Fisher-Price Corn Popper
    * Tickle Me Elmo
    * Magic 8 Ball
    * Tudor Electric Football
    * Masters of the Universe
    * Uno

    New Jerseyans should particularly pull for the sled and electric football nominees, as both were invented in the Garden State; read more about them here and here.

    The museum inducted three toys in 2017: the Wiffle ball, the paper airplane and Clue. It's going to be hard to choose from among those 12 strong contenders.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    What was your favorite toy growing up? Aside from a special stuffed animal or doll friend, we all had favorite things to play with. While many have stood up to the test of time, others have slipped from our memories.

    Here's a gallery of toys and games from the past you might instantly recognize and others you may have forgotten about. Some are still around, while others have gone away for a variety of reasons.

    And here are links to other galleries you might enjoy:

    Vintage photos of pastimes and games in N.J.

    Vintage photos of N.J. Americana

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

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


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    The 14-year-old was hit in the Lincroft section of Middletown just before 8 p.m. and suffered serious injuries, police said

    A 19-year-old man was charged with driving under the influence after striking and seriously injuring a 14-year-old boy in Middletown on Halloween night, authorities said.

    It is not known if boy was trick-or-treating when he was hit around 7:50 p.m. near the intersection of Everett Road and Yale Drive in the Lincroft section of town, Lt. Paul Bailey said Thursday.

    The teen was brought to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune with injuries that police said are serious but not considered life-threatening. 

    Nicholas Andrews, of Union Beach, was charged with assault with a motor vehicle while under the influence, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor/drugs and possession of a controlled dangerous substance in a motor vehicle.

    Andrews was also issued summonses for reckless driving, careless driving, failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to use headlamps.

    Police declined to say if Andrews was under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or a combination of the two.

    "Intoxicated can refer to being under the influence of alcohol or drugs," Bailey said. "We are not commenting on the nature of the intoxication."

    Anyone with information is asked to contact officer Michael Reuter at 732-615-2045.

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

     

     


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    The crash happened late Thursday morning in Jackson

    At least three people were hurt when a tanker truck slammed into a grocery and liquor store in Jackson on Thursday morning after a multi-vehicle crash that caused extensive damage and forced road closures in the area. 

    One person was seriously injured and flown to a hospital, while two others were also hurt, according to Ocean Sheriff Michael Mastronardy. Two other vehicles were involved in the initial crash. 

    Photos taken at Glory's Discount Market on Cedar Swamp Road show the front of the store heavily damaged with items strew across the inside of the deli area of the store. 

    The one-story business is located at the intersection of Cedar Swamp Road and East Commodore Boulevard. East Commodore Boulevard re-opened at about 1:45 p.m, police said in a brief statement. 

    jackson-crash.jpgAt least three people were hurt when a tanker truck crashed into Glory's Discount Market in Jackson on Thursday. (Ocean County Sheriff's Office) 

    Cedar Swamp Road between Commodore Boulevard and Jackson Mills Road remained shut at 2 p.m. as the investigation continued. 

    Earlier, the ramp to and from Interstate 195 at exit 21 was closed, according to 511nj.com, the state department of transportation's traffic website.

    Jackson police couldn't immediately be reached for more information. 

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

     


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    A 69-year-old shopper was flown to an area hospital for treatment, police said. A clerk, a 69-year-old woman, was initially trapped in the debris before being rescued.

    A 17-year-old driver turned into the path of an oncoming truck, touching off a crash that sent the cement truck slamming into a market and left four people injured Thursday in Jackson, authorities said.

    The teen was driving a Nissan Altima north on Cedar Swamp Road and turned left onto West Commodore Boulevard as the truck approached heading south on a green light, according to police. The vehicles collided at the intersection, and the impact knocked the sedan back into another car in the northbound lanes.

    Police said the force of the wreck sent the Mack Truck off the road and into Glory's Market around noon. Two people in the store - a customer and store clerk - were seriously hurt.

    jackson-crashjpg-42e5553cd59866d0.jpg 

    The 69-year-old shopper was flown to an area hospital for treatment, police said. The clerk, a 69-year-old woman, was initially trapped in the debris before being rescued and rushed to the hospital. The two suffered injuries that police said were serious, but not life-threatening.

    Photos from the scene showed a wall on the market ripped away and merchandise knocked around the interior. A fourth vehicle that was parked unoccupied at the shop was also damaged.

    "The building sustained serious damage and the structure had to be supported for the investigation and cleanup of a fuel spill from the tractor trailer had to be done," police Capt. Steven Laskiewicz said in a statement.

    Authorities said the trucker, a 54-year-old Toms River man, was released from the hospital. The Nissan driver was also taken for treatment.

    Fire and rescue crews from around Ocean and Monmouth counties rushed to the wreck scene. Authorities were continuing to investigate the crash. It was not immediately clear if any summonses were issued.

    Anyone with information was asked to call township police at 732-928-1111.


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    Glory's Discount Market remains closed until the business can be made structurally sound after the truck carrying cement plowed into the building

    As awful as Thursday's three-vehicle crash in Jackson was that injured four and heavily damage a township business, Mayor Michael Reina knows it could have been even worse. 

    "It's nothing short of a miracle that everyone survived," Reina said by phone Friday. "It was a horrific accident, but it's fortunate all the victims survived."

    A 69-year-old man shopping at Glory's Discount Market, a 61-year-old woman who worked there and a 17-year-old girl who was driving the car involved in the crash remained hospitalized Friday. The 54-year-old driver of the truck that smashed into the market was treated and released Thursday.

    Though police said the crash was caused by a 17-year-old driver who cut in front of the truck hauling cement, Reina said the intersection where Cedar Swamp Road and West Commodore Boulevard has long been a troubled spot on the 100 square-mile township. 

    "That intersection has a sad history of some loss of life and some serious accidents," the mayor said, noting he recalled two previous fatal accidents near that spot over the years. "We've had concerns over the amount of accidents and the level of injuries."

    Thursday's crash sent the cement truck careening into Glory's Discount Market, a deli, grocery and liquor store just a few hundred yards south of Interstate 195. The business is closed until the building can again be made structurally sound, according to the mayor.

    Though the intersection has had a traffic light for years, Reina said a developer and the county have been planning safety improvements for a couple of years. Both Cedar Swamp Road and West Commodore Boulevard are county roads.

    Ocean County Engineer John N. Ernst said all four approaches to the intersection will have turning lanes added. Curbs will also be added at the corners to define the edges of the road as well. Work is expected to begin in the spring and take from from six months to a year to complete, Ernst said. 

    The upgrades are a required part of developer Mitch Leigh's deal to build a series of townhouse and apartment complexes in town. Two of the complexes, both of which are less than a mile from the crash site, have already opened. Several more are planned across town.

    The intersection is not among the 100 in the county where the most crashed occurred from 2011-13, the most recent period for which county-wide data is available, the engineer noted. 

    Jackson police said the number of accidents at the intersection hasn't sharply increased of late. 

    "That intersection, like several others in the township, are fairly consistent with the amount of crashes that occur at it, even since the time I was a patrol officer on the road," Capt. Steve Laskiewicz said in an email. 

    Reina said he hopes the serious crash Thursday will increase the sense of urgency to upgrade the intersection. While the light was green when the teenage girl made a left from northbound Cedar Swamp road onto westbound West Commodore Boulevard, there is no green turning arrow.

    "It would be non-productive to not use this as a catalyst to improve the safety of this intersection," the mayor said. "This should make everything leap forward to get this going."

    Meanwhile, the investigation is ongoing and no determination about tickets or charges has been made.

    "Any summonses to be issued are pending as the investigation is still ongoing by the department's traffic safety officers as per the officer handling the investigation," Laskiewicz wrote. 

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

     


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    A New York man who brutally murdered a Connecticut man and then buried his body in a makeshift grave in Monmouth County was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder.

    A New York man who brutally murdered a Connecticut man and then buried his body in a makeshift grave in Monmouth County was found guilty Friday of second-degree murder and other charges, officials said. 

    James Rackover, 27, was also found guilty by a Manhattan jury of the 2016 murder of Joseph Comunale, 26, of Stamford, Connecticut, as well as hindering prosecution and concealment of a human corpse, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

    "Adored by his friends and family, Mr. Comunale had a promising future ahead of him when his life was so tragically cut short," Vance said in a release. "He was murdered in cold blood in a crime of unconscionable violence, his body mutilated, thrown from a fourth-story window, and abandoned behind a florist's shop in New Jersey."

    Comunale was stabbed 15 times on Nov. 13 at Rackover's East 59th Street apartment following a party also attended by Lawrence Dilione, 28, of Jersey City and Max Gemma, 30, of Oceanport, authorities said.

    Both men are also facing charges related to the incident, including a second-degree murder charge for Dilione.

    At about 9:45 p.m. that night, Rackover and Dilione drove Comunale's body, which had been burned, to a field behind a florist on Monmouth Boulevard in Oceanport and buried it, investigators have said. 

    A court motion filed on behalf of Gemma, who is the son of former Oceanport Mayor Gordon Gemma in January claimed Dilione, a former Oceanport resident, admitted to investigators that he knocked Comunale unconscious after an argument over cigarettes, the New York Post reported.

    Dilione told investigators that Rackover then viciously kicked and beat the defenseless Comunale. After realizing Comunale was severely injured and afraid of being arrested, the motion says, Rackover said: "We have to kill him," according to the report.

    Rackover is expected to be sentenced on Dec. 5, a release from the district attorney's office said.

    The charges against Dilione and Gemma were still pending Friday, Vance said.

    Dilione was charged with second-degree murder, hindering prosecution, tampering with physical evidence and three counts of concealment of a human corpse. 

    Gemma was charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence.

    Dilione was scheduled to stand trial on Jan. 14 and Gemma's court date was set for Feb. 25, the Asbury Park Press reported.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     


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    Fall has finally arrived in the Garden State, which means stunning hues of red, orange and yellow are taking over the trees.


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    The body was discovered in the area of Horseshoe Cove, state police said.

    Authorities are investigating how a man died after his body was found washed up on a Gateway National Recreation Area beach Saturday.

    New Jersey State Police Sgt. Jeffrey Flynn said the agency's Marine Services Bureau responded to the area of Horseshoe Cove on Sandy Hook in the afternoon to investigate the report of a body found on shore.

    The site in Monmouth County is one of New Jersey's most popular shore destinations in the summer months.

    Flynn said investigators were still working Saturday evening.

    No further details were immediately available.

    In mid-October another man's body was recovered on Sandy Hook.

    He was later identified as a West Orange resident.

    Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at bgallo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

     

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    Election Day 2018 will be the first in 36 years without court-ordered limits on Republican voter activities. Watch video

    WASHINGTON -- Tuesday's election will take place without restrictions on Republican National Committee voter activities for the first time since a New Jersey voter intimidation case set them in motion 36 years ago. 

    And that has Democrats worried. 

    U.S. District Court Judge John Michael Vazquez in January ended the court-sanctioned agreement, or consent decree,  limiting GOP efforts to target minority voters.

    That means there will no restrictions on Republican Party activity when New Jersey voters go the polls. GOP spokesman Michael Ahrens said there was no need to impose any rules on the party.

    "It's the RNC's job to get more people to vote, not less," Ahrens said. "Any concern over voting activities is baseless."

    Hugin vs. Menendez: Where they stand on big issues

    Vazquez's decision may not be the last word, however. The Democratic National Committee appealed the ruling to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

    "This has never been a more important time than now to protect New Jersey voters from voter suppression tactics of the Republican Party," said the Democrats' lawyer, Angelo Genova. "There is a reason the GOP was forced to enter into a consent order, and the protections of that order need to be resurrected."

    Should Republicans resurrect the banned practices, they could find themselves back in court with another decree, said Allegra Chapman, director of voting and elections for Common Cause.

    "The GOP, particularly in the past couple of elections, has appeared to clean up their act," Chapman said. "Their aim was to achieve this very result. The question is: Are they going to behave? Just because the consent decree isn't in place now doesn't mean a lawsuit wouldn't be filed if they return to those bad practices."

    A lot is stake on Tuesday. U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is in a surprisingly close race for re-election against former Celgene Corp. executive Bob Hugin, and as many as four Republican-held House seats could fall to Democratic challengers.

    What concerns Democrats is that President Donald Trump has resurrected claims of voter fraud, which studies have shown is virtually non-existent but could lead to efforts to keep people away from the polls. 

    Trump never retracted his false claim that millions of illegal voters backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, depriving him of a popular vote win. He set up a commission to investigate allegations of voter fraud, but later disbanded it following bipartisan opposition from states.

    Many Republican-led states have addressed concern about fraud by enacting voter identification laws that courts have found make it harder for minorities to cast ballots.

    In a recent Pew Research Center poll, 58 percent of Americans said it would be a major problem in a place with 1 million voters if one eligible voter was blocked from the polls, far more than the 41 percent who said the same about allowing one ineligible voter to cast a ballot.

    "Generations of Americans have sacrificed their blood, sweat, and in some cases, lives, for the right to vote," said U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who introduced legislation to kill Trump's commission before the president did it.

    "We must do everything we can to protect that right and make it more, not less, secure," Booker said. "Yes, I continue to have serious concerns about voter disenfranchisement and restrictions, and in a state like New Jersey, which has seen its fair share of close elections, the stakes could not be higher."

    The RNC had been under the court-imposed restrictions since after the 1981 New Jersey gubernatorial election, narrowly won by Tom Kean. 

    During that election, state GOP officials sent letters to residents of communities with large numbers of black or Hispanic voters, and then challenged anyone whose mail was returned as undeliverable, even though they were working off outdated registration lists.

    The consent decree had been extended many times since then, but Vazquez declined to extend it again. Democratic officials had argued that the GOP violated the order in 2016 when its presidential nominee asked supporters to "volunteer to be a Trump election observer" and "help me stop crooked Hillary from rigging this election."

    Former White House spokesman Sean Spicer testified that Republican Party officials were kept separate from the Trump campaign's vote-counting operations as not to violate the consent decree.

    Democratic officials said they weren't going to relax now that the order has been dismissed.

    "Democrats and their allies will be vigilant," Genova said. "Lawyers are prepared to respond under the law to the reprehensible tactics of the party of Trump here in New Jersey." 

    Poll watchers have been told to look out for intimidation tactics, said Jim Beach, chairman of the Camden County Democratic Committee. "We just want to make sure this doesn't happen here," he said.

    Ditto with congressional campaigns. Scott Salmon, a lawyer with former Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Tom Malinowski's congressional campaign, said he will be checking to see if people waiting on line to vote are being questioned.

    "Unless you're just saying hello to them, they get nervous as soon as they're being questioned," said Salmon, whose candidate is running against Rep. Leonard Lance, R-7th Dist. "It's going to increase the likelihood that some voters are being challenged."

    In Monmouth County, the Board of Elections was aware of the order's expiration, though did not change procedures in response, said secretary Allan Roth, a Democratic member.

    To guard against any problems, Attorney General Gurwir Grebal will station deputy attorneys general in all 21 counties, spokesman Leland Moore said.

    "Our commitment - in any circumstance - is to help ensure the integrity of the voting process, and to assist county election officials in resolving any voting-related legal issues that may arise," Moore said.

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

     

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    Dogs and cats await adoption at shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    Here is this week's collection of some of the dogs and cats in need of adoption in New Jersey.

    We accept dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey. If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on nj.com, please contact Greg Hatala at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com.

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


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    The 52-year-old Staten Island man was reportedly kite surfing

    Authorities have identified the kite surfer whose body washed up in Sandy Hook on Saturday as a 52-year-old Staten Island, New York resident.

    The death of Robert Trzaskoma is not considered suspicious, State Police said Monday.

    Listen to NJ.com on Alexa, or via a daily podcast

    Trzaskoma was found in Horseshoe Cove. His parked truck was located not far away, Sgt. Jeff Flynn said.

    The initial call about Trzaskoma came from someone reporting a kite surfer needing help at 5 p.m.

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

     

     

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    Many unsure of their vaccination status are flocking to a health center in Lakewood. There are now four confirmed cases and another four suspected

    Health officials in Ocean County are continuing to monitor a measles outbreak after four cases were confirmed in Lakewood and another four are suspected. 

    And those without the vaccine, or unsure of their status, are turning out in big numbers to seek it. 

    The first case involved a person who had traveled to Israel and contracted the disease. It was reported to the Ocean County Health Department Oct. 26. 

    Three additional cases have been confirmed, all of which followed exposure to the traveler

    Two more people had undergone testing Friday, but the results of those test were not yet available Monday, according to Brian Rumpf, the director of administration at the Ocean County Health Department.

    He said the department was aware of two additional suspected cases, and those individuals had been tested as well as of Monday afternoon. 

    CHEMED Health Center announced it would set up an outdoor triage area to examine anyone exhibiting measles symptoms, which include fever, coughing, pink eye and a rash which typically starts on the face and neck and spreads elsewhere. 

    "In accordance with the recommendations of the CDC and our physicians, patients exhibiting measles symptoms cannot enter our facilities until further notice, as they could potentially expose other CHEMED patients to the virus," CHEMED said in a statement released Friday. 

    CHEMED diagnosed the first case, Rumpf said. The health department has sent around five employees to assist the center with its vaccinations and testing, as concerned residents have flocked there upon hearing news of the outbreak. 

    Officials said the first person visited the following locations, and advised others there to remain cautious: 

    • Schul Satmar, 405 Forest Ave. from Oct. 13 to Oct. 21 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
    • Eat a Pita, 116 Clifton Ave. on Oct. 15 between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
    • CHEMED Health Center, 1771 Madison Ave. on Oct. 17 between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Oct. 18 between 10:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

    The vaccination is recommended for those born after 1957, and most people receive the two doses by the time they turn 4. Those shots are around 97 percent effective. 

    But in Lakewood, which has a population of just over 100,000, even a small percentage of unvaccinated people scrambling to get checked can put a strain on the health system. 

    "We believe [Lakewood's] vaccination rate is pretty high, but there are some who came here from abroad, or were otherwise unsure," Rumpf said. The number of people seeking vaccinations is "more than an uptick," he said, but hasn't overwhelmed caregivers, who are handling the influx well. 

    Measles can be spread through contact or even through the air, and remains contagious for up to two hours after exposure to an ill person. The virus particularly thrives in indoor areas. 

    Those who believe they have measles should call the office immediately and describe their symptoms. The CHEMED offices remain open to patients seeking other types of care. 

    Administrators with CHEMED could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon. 

    Anyone unsure of their vaccination status should call their doctor as well. Blood tests can be used to test for immunity. 

    Some local businesses have taken precautions to stop the spread by banning those without proof of immunization, including Snaps Kosher, a restaurant, and The Gym Lakewood

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

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