Abate gets 51 months in prison, Newark starts to heal, Booker criticized for hiring two white top cops, Newark slayings stir immigration debate, Rider president defends indicted officials.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
“A federal judge yesterday sentenced a former Monmouth County utilities official to 51 months in prison for accepting free architectural drawings for his home from contractors seeking favoritism.
Frank Abate, 60, the former executive director of the Western Monmouth Utilities Authority, was convicted by a jury in May of one count of obstruction and five counts of defrauding the public of honest services.
Abate faced between 41 and 51 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines and maintained his innocence before U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton in Newark yesterday.
In sentencing him to the top of the guideline range, Wigenton criticized Abate for failing to take responsibility for his actions………..
Abate allowed two builders to pay $4,800 for architectural plans for an addition to his home and a remodeling of his garage in 2002 and 2005. The builders, Bernard and Steven Meiterman, had sewer applications for multimillion-dollar residential construction projects pending before the utility at the time.
Abate also attempted to conceal those payments after an FBI investigation began, the jury concluded. ” (Whelan, Star-Ledger)
Wigenton also scolded Abate for his apparent lack of remorse when making his pitch for leniency.
"I was listening for some acknowledgment of responsibility," Wigenton said tersely of Abate's remarks. "But I didn't hear any."………….
Abate's attorney, Joseph Benedict, said he was "shocked" by the severity of the sentence.
Benedict said he planned to appeal the sentence immediately. He had said after the verdict that it would be appealed as well. (Cullinane, Asbury Park Press)
A SILVER LINING IN NEWARK
“NEWARK, Aug. 13 — An unexpected thing has happened to this crime-weary city since three young friends were shot to death in a school playground nine days ago.
Political rivals have promised to work together, young men in gang attire have signed pledges to put down their weapons, and a mayor who was facing criticism from even his most devoted allies has been buoyed by a wave of sympathy and support.
Last week, as investigators desperately scoured the city for the six men and teenagers believed responsible for the Mount Vernon School killings, mayoral aides met with local corporate leaders in search of $100,000 to buy gunshot-detection technology — 50 cameras that would swivel toward gunfire — for Newark’s most violent neighborhoods.
They walked away from the meeting — scheduled weeks beforehand — with $3.2 million pledged for a surveillance system that would be the most advanced in the nation, an effort scheduled to be announced here on Tuesday……………..
If disaster can be seen to have even a hint of silver lining, the homicides, which have drawn news coverage across the nation, have provoked a level of outrage, and commitment to change, not seen here since the riots of 40 years ago…………..
The killings have also become a defining moment for Mayor Cory A. Booker, who has been struggling to turn around this city since his election last year and who lately has found himself besieged by critics. The week before the killings, Mr. Booker had been grappling with the aftermath of a speech, captured on YouTube, that was intended as affectionate ribbing of a community leader who recently died, but instead provoked offense and fueled the sentiment that he is detached from his constituents.” (Jacobs, New York Times)
JUST AS THINGS WERE LOOKING UP
After taking more than a year to make up his mind, Newark Mayor Cory Booker said yesterday he will name acting Police Chief Anthony Campos to the permanent post today.
The decision marks a break from a decades-old tradition in which Newark mayors, mindful of the city's racially charged politics, have named a white person and a minority to the police department's top two posts. Both Campos and Booker's police director, Garry McCarthy, are white.
That pairing is already stirring protest among prominent African- Americans who hoped Booker would name a black chief in a city that is majority African-American.
Among the loudest critics is one of Booker's biggest supporters: council President Mildred Crump.
Crump, who was notified by Booker of the appointment, warned that the mayor's decision would "polarize" the police department and the community.” (Schuppe and Mays, Star-Ledger)
NEWARK KILLINGS STIR IMMIGRATION DEBATE
“Jose Carranza is no stranger to New Jersey courts.
He was indicted twice this year on 31 counts surrounding the alleged sexual assault of a child, and nine counts stemming from a barroom fight.
But he was a stranger to federal immigration officials who were never told about the illegal immigrant from Peru until Thursday — when he was charged in the execution-style shooting deaths of three Newark college students, horrifying New Jersey's largest city.
Immigration officials say Carranza may never have returned to the streets had local authorities contacted them after his first felony arrest in October 2006.
"We certainly would have been inclined to place him in a removal proceeding, how ever we came across him," said Marc Raimondi, spokesman for United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "Given that he is alleged to have committed a very serious offense against a child, that would have put him at the top of our list."
Instead, Carranza went free after posting $5,000 bail……………
As police continue searching for additional suspects in the killings, many have begun questioning how local law enforcement contact federal immigration officials about illegal immigrants suspected of committing a crime.
New Jersey is among the places where local authorities aren't required to check the immigration status of someone arrested, and some critics want that changed.” (AP)
Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello, who wants his town's police to be deputized as immigration agents, says the involvement of immigration officials after an arrest helps keep dangerous criminals off the streets.
Cresitello said that if the so-called 287G — the federal program that deputizes local and state police to enforce immigration matters — had been in place in Newark and Essex County, Carranza most likely would have remained in custody after previous arrests on assault and rape charges.
"With 287G, you get an immigration detainer placed against him, and he's not permitted out of the jail," Cresitello said. "I don't know why anyone would be against this program." (Llorente, Bergen Record)
RIDER PRESIDENT CHIMES IN
“The president of Rider University yesterday defended two school officials who have been charged with hazing in connection with the binge-drinking death of a freshman last spring.
Mordechai Rozanski said in a letter posted on the university's Web site that the university was "surprised by the charges" against two school officials.
Anthony Campbell, 51, Rider's dean of students, and Ada Badgley, 31, the university's director of Greek life, have been charged along with three students with aggravated hazing in relation to the death of Gary DeVercelly Jr., 18, of Long Beach, Calif.
Campbell last week pleaded not guilty; Badgley is expected to enter a plea when she appears in court this week……………
In the letter, Rozanski denied the two school officials had done any of the things they had been accused of.
"We know that neither Tony nor Ada was present at the fraternity house, nor did they engage in any of the activities" described by prosecutors in announcing the charges, Rozanski wrote.
Rozanski said Campbell and Badgley had asked the university for a leave of absence to prepare their defenses. The university president said the request had been granted, and both officials would be on paid leave for 30 days beginning yesterday.” (Santana, AP)
MCCULLOUGH’S MOUTH SURPRISINGLY FREE 0F FOOT
“State Sen. James “Sonny” McCullough continued to make Casino Reinvestment Development Authority funding a campaign issue Monday, saying the recent bridge collapse in Minnesota gives urgency to his call to keep more of the authority's dollars in Atlantic County.
In a campaign press release, McCullough and Assembly candidate running mates Vince Polistina and John Amodeo said the CRDA had “strayed from its initial mission” and “directed considerable sums of money elsewhere when the funds could more appropriately have been used here.”
“Events of the past week make it imperative that the agency re-order its priorities and re-direct its resources,” the statement read.
The CRDA, created by the state Legislature in 1984, requires casinos to reinvest 1.25 percent of their gaming revenue into economic development projects throughout the state. The law requires a specific percentage of funds be allocated to three separate pools: Atlantic City, southern New Jersey and northern New Jersey. The percentages change every five years, based on a formula created by the state Legislature.
For example, casinos in Atlantic City when the CRDA was created now invest 20 percent of their CRDA dollars in Atlantic City projects, 45 percent in southern New Jersey projects and 35 percent in northern New Jersey projects. Casinos less than 10 years old send no more than eight percent of their CRDA dollars to northern New Jersey.” (McAleer, Press of Atlantic City)
HERE COME THE LAWYERS
“Luisa Paster and Harriet Bernstein of Ocean Grove say they were not trying to start a federal case when they complained last month to the state's civil rights agency.
"All that we were trying to accomplish was to have our civil union in the boardwalk pavilion," a popular seaside setting for weddings in years past, Paster said yesterday.
But a federal lawsuit is just what Paster and Bernstein provoked. It was filed as a pre-emptive strike by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, the Methodist group that owns the boardwalk pavilion.
The Camp Meeting Association claims its constitutional rights would be violated if it were required to allow civil unions, which conflict with Methodist doctrine, to be performed at the pavilion, an open-sided structure it sometimes uses for religious worship.
"What's at stake is really the autonomy of a religious organization," said Brian Raum, senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, one of two conservative legal advocacy groups aiding the Camp Meeting Association. "The government can't force a private Christian organization to use its property in a way that would violate its own religious beliefs…………..
The lawsuit seeks a federal court order blocking J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the state director of civil rights, from enforcing state anti-discrimination law against the Camp Meeting Association. That law's protections were extended to civil union couples in February. (Schwaneberg, Star-Ledger)
JUST A LOVERS' SPAT
“Democratic candidates for Morris County freeholder see opportunity as their Republican opponents scrap over where their names should be on the November ballot.
But the Republican candidate who caused the dust-up, newcomer James Murray of Chester Township, said Monday Republican voters should see this an indication they have candidates who are willing to disagree on issues, rather than present a unified front.”
"It is healthy that candidates in the same party disagree," he said. "It is a sign that we are leaders, not followers."
Murray wants his name to be first on the ballot, with incumbents Jack Schrier and Douglas Cabana trailing.
Murray won the third Republican slot on the November ballot by defeating incumbent John Inglesino in the June primary.” (Daigle, Daily Record)
MORE FALLOUT FROM ATLANTIC COUNTY EXEC RACE
“These two candidates, running on the same ticket, have diametrically opposed views of the county's budget,” McDevitt said. “While McGettigan has criticized the budgets, claiming overspending and higher taxes, Kelly has been a consistent supporter of it.”
“The taxpayers of Atlantic County deserve to know which of the two speaks for their party. Is McGettigan right and Kelly wrong? Or is Kelly right and McGettigan wrong?”
McDevitt noted that at one point McGettigan said that Kelly had been hoodwinked into supporting the budget.”
McGettigan said he had “no comment” on what Joe McDevitt has to contribute to the conversation.
Kelly said he's “not getting into that.”
“I see Jim McGettigan every day,” Kelly said. “If we want to debate, I'll see him in person.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
AND WHO WOULD THOSE “ENTITIES” BE?
“The Atlantic County Board of Chosen Freeholders may vote today on a campaign finance reform measure whose validity might have to be determined in a courtroom.
The measure would ban wheeling — a process by which campaign contributions are funneled to candidates or their organizations via other candidates and organizations from outside the county — for officials holding elected county positions.
County Republicans in particular have called for a ban on wheeling, alleging Democrats are using the process to help build their campaign coffers, and that wheeling makes it difficult to determine the origin of the money. Republicans claim wheeling has helped Democrats in previous elections.
This is an especially volatile election year in the county, as Republicans try to fend off Democratic attempts to gain more freeholder and 2nd Legislative District seats, along with what some people consider the biggest political prize: The county executive seat.”…………
“The thought process is you won't have entities from outside the county being about to dump (money) into the race at the last minute to swing the race one way or another,” county Counsel James Ferguson said.
Republican County Executive Dennis Levinson, who is running for re-election against Jim McGettigan, the county's Democratic sheriff, said the ordinance is necessary “to ensure county government remains in the hands of the people, not political power brokers.” (Barlas, Press of Atlantic City)
JERSEY CITY – YOU VOTED FOR HIM
“The Jersey City Board of Education's top attorney apparently believes taxpayers are on the hook to pay $56,000 in legal and private investigator bills school board member Gerald McCann piled up defending his election to the board in April.
McCann demanded the board pay his expenses last month, arguing that as a board member, state law "indemnifies" him "in the course of the performance of his duties."
McCann was a sworn board member when School 28 parent Jenny Garcia challenged his 21-vote victory over her on the grounds he "coerced" nearly 300 "incompetent or otherwise elderly and ill" residents at four nursing homes to vote for him via absentee ballot. Garcia eventually dropped the case.
In his letter to the board, McCann cited a 1979 case in which the Jersey City board paid legal bills for two board members whose status as board members were successfully challenged.” (Thorbourne, Jersey Journal)
CHECK SANDRA BOLDEN CUNNINGHAM’S MYSPACE PAGE
“New Jersey has asked the operators of a dozen social networking Web sites to determine whether convicted sex offenders in the state are participating in online chats and meeting groups.
The request was issued in a letter last week from Attorney General Anne Milgram, who noted that one networking site, MySpace.com, had recently identified and erased 29,000 profiles that had been created by convicted sex offenders, including 269 from New Jersey.
“MySpace’s identification of such a large number of registered sex offenders on its site underscores the need for awareness and action by all social networking sites,” Ms. Milgram wrote.
Although New Jersey law does not prevent convicted sex offenders from visiting social networking sites, the State Parole Board can monitor the Internet activity of individuals.” (Jones, New York Times)
FINALLY, A STATE THAT NEW JERSEY CAN PUSH AROUND
“New Jersey hired a special counsel to argue the U.S. Supreme Court case against Delaware which will decide the fate of BP's proposal to build a $600 million liquefied natural gas facility in the state.
The ramped-up effort comes after a blow to New Jersey's case this spring. A court-appointed fact-finder ruled Delaware has the right to veto New Jersey projects that extend into its side of the Delaware River.
Oil giant BP wants to build a 1,900-foot pier extending mostly into the Delaware's waters, from a planned facility in Logan Township, Gloucester County. LNG — super-chilled natural gas — would be pumped into the facility from cargo ships docked at the pier, supplying gas to about 5 million regional customers a day.
New Jersey officials have said the case is important to ensure "exclusive jurisdiction" over construction extending from its shores. The case is expected to go before the high court this fall. ” (Graber, Express-Times)
STILL A MYSTERY
“Last week's surgery to stabilize state Sen. Bernard Kenny's injured right leg was successful, according to the politician's law partner, Ed Florio.
Doctors at New York University Medical Center's Hospital for Joint Diseases placed an "external fixator" on Kenny's right leg, Florio said. The device, which features metal circles that surround the leg and hold pins and rods in place, is designed to stabilize his leg.
Kenny, D-Hoboken, had told The Jersey Journal Friday before the operation that there was a chance his right leg would have to be amputated from the knee down if the surgery was unsuccessful.
Kenny was hospitalized on July 18 following an incident in Hoboken that left him with multiple fractures to his pelvis, a dislocated right shoulder, a fractured nose and right fibula, and several bruises.” (Renshaw, Jersey Journal)
“STAFFORD — MaBell is finally leaving the lagoon.
The battered 60-foot, wooden-hulled former lobster boat owned by former Mayor Wesley K. Bell will be removed this week from the residential lagoon in the Beach Haven West section, after Bell signed a contract Monday morning with Toms River-based Gary Lathrop's Demolition and Excavation for the dismantling of the boat, according to James Hill, the deputy attorney general prosecuting the case.
Bell had refused the same $7,500 contract in court Friday afternoon, claiming he could find a better, cheaper plan on his own.
State Superior Court Judge John A. Peterson, sitting in Toms River, objected and halted the hearing and ordered Bell arrested and put in jail with access to a telephone and fax machine, in hopes of forcing him to remove the last of four boats from the lagoon, which borders Route 72.
"A weekend in the county lock-up apparently changed Mr. Bell's perspective on the situation," said Hill.” (Mathur, Asbury Park Press)
FREE REPTILES IN THE PASSAIC
“An ancient ritual met with modern consequence Monday, as state environmental authorities said they were searching for a religious group that released hundreds of live reptiles into the Passaic River on Sunday as part of a Buddhist rite.
Members from a New York sect of Amitabha Buddhists — devout vegetarians who believe in the sanctity of all living creatures — said Sunday they had purchased the creatures in New York's Chinatown for the purpose of setting them free.
Ann Chin, a member of the group, said on Sunday they chose the Passaic River because it was the nearest body of freshwater to New York City, where the eels, frogs and turtles they let go had the best chance of surviving and realizing their full karmic potential.
State officials said Monday that the practice was illegal and that they were working with New York authorities to track down the group. Jim Cussen, a captain in the law enforcement arm of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish & Wildlife, said Monday there were no permits on file for the group and that the illegal stocking of fish or other species was a civil offense punishable by fines of up to $1,000.” (Henry, Herald News)
THIS AIN’T KASHMIR
The din at Shalimar Restaurant on Oak Tree Road in Woodbridge is a simmering blend of voices. Occasionally, a recognizable word or two will pop out of the murmur, but the languages are as varied as the dishes on the menu — English; Hindi, one of India's official languages; Urdu, the national language of Pakistan; and a mix of other South Indian languages as well.
The restaurant is owned and run by Pakistanis, but many of the dishes — as well as many of the patrons in the restaurant — are Indian…………..
“Despite the political fighting of their native countries, Indians and Pakistanis in the United States find few differences with each other once they reach America.
"India is still our country, but we're citizens of this country now and this is our first priority," said Meera Malik, 58, of Toms River, who emigrated from New Delhi more than 30 years ago.
Malik said the first friends she made when she arrived were a local doctor of Pakistani heritage and his wife, an American. Her social circle now includes friends of both heritages.
"We just don't get into politics," Malik said.” (Mathur, Asbury Park Press)
MERV GRIFFIN, THE MOUNTAIN MAN
“Viewers who pay careful attention to the closing credits on "Wheel of Fortune" will see the game show is produced by Califon Productions, a subtle nod from Merv Griffin, the program's creator, to the Hunterdon County community where he once owned a farm.
Griffin, whose six-decade career spanned the worlds of music, television and films, died Saturday at age 82. Although it has been decades since he frequented the area, longtime residents remember him as the owner of a farm on Teetertown Road in Lebanon Township, which has a Califon mailing address.
"He was quite a regular," said Barry Danziger, president of the Califon Historical Society. "He was a very easy guy to talk to. You wouldn't even know he was famous."
The California native who created the game shows "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune" also taped a late night talk show in Manhattan in the 1960s and 1970s and used the roughly 28-acre Lebanon Township farm as a retreat from the city.” (Holl, Star-Ledger)
“The Election Law Enforcement Commission has opened an investigation into allegations the Rahway Democratic Committee failed to submit legally required campaign finance reports for last year's municipal elections.
In an Aug. 2 letter, the commis sion said it has opened "a review for compliance with the provisions of the New Jersey Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Reporting Act."
The letter was addressed to Bryan DesRochers, who made the request in April. DesRochers is a Republican who lost his bid for Rahway City Council in 2006, and is running this year for state Assembly from the 22nd District.
Republicans say the Rahway Democratic Committee did not file the necessary election reports, which were due 29 days and 11 days before the November election. Post-election reports were also due 20 days later and a final report by the committee was supposed to be submitted in January, DesRochers said.
The reports identify the donors and dollar amounts contributed.
"Show us what you have," said Patrick Cassio, chairman of the city's Republican committee, which wants an accounting of the contributions as Rahway continues on a major redevelopment of its downtown. "Who pays to do work in Rahway and who's getting what kind of sweetheart deal?"”(Friedman, Star-Ledger)
“Education Commissioner Lucille Davy will rule next month whether to suspend Hillsborough school board member David Kanaby up to 90 days for ethics violations regarding an angry e-mail he sent former Superintendent Karen Lake in 2005.
The School Ethics Commission last month upheld a ruling by Administrative Law Judge Joseph Martone that found Kanaby, 37, violated ethics codes when he sent a scathing e-mail criticizing Lake's handling of a misunderstanding over his wife's personal leave time.
Christy Kanaby, a middle school teacher and vice president of the teachers union, requested paid leave to attend her daughter's cheerleading championship in Florida. The days were mistakenly noted as sick days by the attendance officer, sparking a hearing on charges she misrepresented the reason for her absence.
When David Kanaby heard of the hearing on Nov. 30, 2005, he was livid.
"This is outrageous and I take this personally," Kanaby wrote Lake. "I am totally furious at the way you conduct yourself with the attitude it's my way or nothing.
"Yes, when it comes to my wife, I will always defend her," Kanaby wrote, copying all board members, the business administrator and the assistant superintendent.” (Abdou, Star-Ledger)
“TRENTON — The city council's special investigative committee wants to hire an attorney to look at how criminal charges can be brought against the school district officials involved in the tampering of student records.
Committee members are considering filing criminal charges as taxpayers, against those officials involved, after city attorney Denise Lyles told them that the committee did not have the power to file criminal or civil charges…………..
The tampering took place during the 2004-05 school year at the Sherman Avenue annex, which at that time housed a ninth-grade repeater program. The matter was examined by the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office in 2005, but was forwarded to the state Department of Education for lack of criminal evidence against administrators.
The committee will prepare a report with recommendations based on interviews with school officials. ” (Loayza, Trenton Times)
“A Bergen County grand jury on Monday cleared retired Paramus Police Chief Fred Corrubia of sexual misconduct charges.
After hearing from 33 witnesses — including Corrubia and nearly two dozen other police officers — the panel found insufficient evidence that the former chief groped a female detective at a work party last year, said Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli.” (Markos, Bergen Record)
IN MIDDLE TOWNSHIP
“Local Republicans filed a petition Monday calling for a public vote to decide whether to enlarge the size of the three-member Township Committee. T
The petition, which requires 827 valid signatures of township residents to become a referendum, has 960 signatures, said Robert “Budd” Springer, the township's Republican leader…………
After an unsuccessful attempt last year, the township's Regular Republican Organization restarted the petition earlier this year to enlarge the three-member governing body to five members…………..
But some local Democrats said the effort is a politically motivated attempt by Republicans to get seats on a Township Committee, which has historically held a majority of Democrats.
Township Committee is currently composed of three Democrats.
“If it comes to be, it will go on the ballot,” Doughty said.” (Ianieri, Press of Atlantic City)
“An environmental group yesterday vowed to fight a plan to deposit dredge spoils in Palmyra Cove Nature Park, setting up a confrontation that could take place today.
"We will be in the park at sunrise to meet the bulldozers to prevent them from taking over the 20 acres," said Cove Action Network spokeswoman Courtney McLaughlin.
McLaughlin's comment came after local residents packed a conference room yesterday morning at the Burlington County Bridge Commission to question the dumping plan. About 125 people attended the information session held by the bridge commission, N.J. Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
DEP Commissioner Lisa Jackson used a poster-sized aerial photograph to show the area that will be used as a dump site for Delaware River-bottom dredge spoils. Site preparation for the emergency dredging project is scheduled to begin today.” (Dangremond, Philadelphia Inquirer)