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Breaking news & local stories from Camden City, Berlin, Laurel Springs and more

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    A breakdown of what $161 million from an increase of the state's gas tax funded.


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    Athletes to watch and medal predictions for all 24 races.


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    NJ.com's complete coverage from the quarterfinal round of the region wrestling tournament.

    2018 REGION WRESTLING QUARTERFINAL ROUND

    We are one step closer. The road to Atlantic City continues with the Region quarterfinals Friday night. Winners will advance to the semifinal round on Saturday morning. Wrestlers losing in the quarterfinal round still have a chance to make it to Atlantic City, battling through the wrestleback rounds on Saturday.   


    MORE: Wednesday night's coverage


    NJ.com will be your place to follow all of the action. We'll have live updates, results, stories, photos and more from around the state. Check back all night on Friday. 


    REGION HOMEPAGES
    R-1 | R-2 | R-3 | R-4
    R-5 | R-6 | R-7 | R-8


    NOTE: All brackets will be updated as results come in. Click on a weight within each region to see the brackets.

    Region 1
    •  Live updates
     Recap
     Quarterfinal results
     Semifinals pairings
      Continually updated R-1 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 2
    Live updates
     Recap
      Photo gallery
     Quarterfinal results
     Semifinals pairings
    •  Continually updated R-2 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285 


    RELATED: 'Most hated player in Jersey' still kneeling for anthem


    Region 3
    • Live updates
     Recap
     Quarterfinal results
     Semifinals pairings
    •  Continually updated R-3 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 4
    • Live updates
     Undefeated Zach DelVecchio of S. Plainfield withdraws
     Recap
      Photo gallery
     Quarterfinal results
     Semifinals pairings
    •  Continually updated R-4 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 5
    Live updates
     Recap
      Photo gallery
     Quarterfinal results
     Semifinals pairings
    •  Continually updated R-5 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 6
    Live updates 
     Recap
    •  WATCH: Top-seeded Koehler of CBA scored a 2nd-period fall 
    •  WATCH: Allentown's Lamparelli scored a pin in quarterfinals 
     Quarterfinal results
     Semifinals pairings
    •  Continually updated R-6 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 7
    Live updates
     Recap
      Photo gallery
     Quarterfinal results
     Semifinals pairings
    •  Continually updated R-7 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285

    Region 8
    Live updates
     Recap
      Photo gallery
     Quarterfinal results
     Semifinals pairings
    •  Continually updated R-8 brackets
    106 | 113 | 120 | 126 | 132 | 138 | 145
    152 | 160 | 170 | 182 | 195 | 220 | 285


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    Haddon Township has spent $202,745 in investigations and settlements in past year.

    The Haddon Township commission is pressing four ranking officers in the police department who allege Chief Mark Cavallo sexually harassed them with unwanted advancements -- including touching them on their thighs and spontaneous hugs -- to testify under oath about the allegations.

    All of the officers, including the chief, are men.

    Haddon Township and its joint insurance fund has spent $202,745 in the past year investigating and settling claims related to sexual harassment allegations against Cavallo, according to a public documents search, but the probe is still not complete.

    Attorney Liz Garcia delivered a report to township commissioners in January. The three-member commission, including Teague, James Milroy and Paul Dougherty, held a special meeting on Feb. 6 to discuss the report. After a 30-minute, closed-door executive session, the commissioners unanimously voted to continue the investigation with sworn testimony from the accusing officers and Cavallo.

    "After interviewing the entire department and looking at what everyone said, we thought there was more information that we needed, and we wanted to have the statements under oath and transcribed," Teague said.

    A fifth officer, Jason Dement who was fired in 2015 after 11 years on the force, settled a lawsuit with the township for $175,000 last year. DeMent's lawsuit claimed he had text messages, pictures and other inappropriate communications from Cavallo. DeMent agreed to a settlement that said he had no inappropriate communications from Cavallo and that he was never subjected to a hostile work environment.

    The township maintains DeMent was terminated because of a degenerative eye ailment that prevented him from performing his duties. The fee was paid by the township's insurance fund which advised a settlement, Mayor Randall Teague said.

    In addition to the $175,000 settlement, the township has paid $27,745 since March 2017 to an attorney from the firm of Parker McKay to investigate the sexual harassment allegations, according to a public records search.

    Captain Scott Bishop, Lieutenant Sean Gooley, Sergeant Thomas Whalen and Detective Sergeant Joseph D. Johnston, alleged that since 2008, Cavallo had made flirtatious, sometimes sexual comments and inappropriately touched them. 

    Teague said the allegations against Cavallo surfaced during discussions of promotions and new hires in the 26-officer department and he believes the disputes may be related.

    Jeffrey Caccese, an attorney for the officers, did not return a call and email requesting comment.

    Cavallo, 59, makes $135,499 and received a 2 percent raise in July. He has been a chief since 2009 and a member of the township police force for 34 years.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

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    The complete list of 2018 NJSIAA State Wrestling Championships qualifiers heading to Atlantic City


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    Survivors of the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla. met Sunday with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez to rally around gun control in New Jersey. Watch video

    They've taken buses to their state capitol, flights to meet with the president and now they've come to New Jersey.

    Student survivors of the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school brought their message of gun control to the Temple B'nai Abraham in Livingston on Sunday. 

    "This is an issue of lives," said David Hogg, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who has become a high-profile voice for survivors of the attack. "This is a non-partisan issue that we need to work together to solve," 

    The rally comes more than a week after a 19-year-old former student turned gunman mowed down 17 students and teachers at the campus on Valentine's Day. 

    Since the rampage, student survivors have mobilized to force a conversation and change around access to high-powered assault-style rifles, such as the AR-15 used in the massacre.

    Hogg said he was in his AP science class when he heard a pop that sounded like a gunshot. At first, students thought it was a drill but learned it was "life or death."

    "I'm here, I'm alive and and we have to change something about this," Hogg said.

    The students, as well as leaders from local religious and advocacy groups, met with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., as he led a rally for gun reform legislation.

    Officials at the temple where they rallied had to repeatedly fold back temporary walls to make the room bigger. Even still, it was standing room only and the rally started late to make sure all the people who were standing outside in the rain were able to come in.

    "How high must the body count climb before Congress puts the safety of our families ahead of the gun industry," Menendez remarked.

    The senator called for universal background checks to be completed before guns are sold. He spoke highly of the Parkland students, who sat behind him, saying they had turned their grief "into a movement." 

    Those students have made national news, appearing on nightly cable news shows, marching to Florida's state capital to demand change and posting online using the hashtag, "#neveragain."

    "They have seen the blood of their classmates and they are not standing still," said Rabbi Avi Friedman, of the Temple Ohr Shalom.

    The actions of the Parkland students have inspired their contemporaries across the country, including in New Jersey, as the shootings became a flashpoint in the nation's long-simmering gun control debate.

    Last week, hundreds of students walked out of school in solidarity with their Parkland peers.

    Expo preview

    Two New Jersey high school students were among those who came to Sunday's rally to be a part of the conversation. They said they are both planning walkouts at their schools as part of a larger, national walkout set for March 14. 

    "We want our government to see that we're more than just teenagers," said Darcy Schleifstein, a sophomore at Randolph High School. "We want change and we mean business."

    Schleifstein said she and other high school students have banded together in light of the shooting earlier this month, checking in to make sure everyone's ok and talking about what they can do to bring action.

    "It's been an enlightening process," said Samantha Levy, a sophomore at Columbia High School. "Some kids are kinda clueless about what's going on in the world. But, there's much-needed change."

    The Parkland students return to class on Wednesday, where they will be greeted by hand-painted hearts made by Newark students.

    Behind the microphone on Sunday, the students encouraged everyone in the room to stand up and join their efforts to continue the conversation about gun control and bring about change.

    "Stay woke and get out and vote," Hogg said.

    Sara Jerde may be reached at sjerde@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SaraJerde.


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    New Jersey's average property tax bill climbed $141 to $8,690 last year. See how much your county's average bill increased here.


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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey patiently await homes.

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

    We are now accepting 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 ghatala@starledger.com or call 973-836-4922.

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


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    State's top teams maintain their presence in this week's Top 20.


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    See the latest links in NJ.com girls basketball state tournament preview.

    Get your game face on. The tournament starts Monday.

    Here is our complete and extensive state tournament preview, with lots of serious basketball analysis and a little fun too.

    NJ.com will, of course have extensive round-by-round coverage of the tournament, from now through the T of C final on March 18.

    BRACKET-BY-BRACKET
    All the brackets 
    Favorites, dark horses, players to watch & more - every bracket
    Sites & times for the state tournament

    FEATURES
    NJ.com's predicts all 20 sectional champs
    Upset alerts: Our complete Round 1 picks

    X-Factors: Which players will excel in the state tournament?

    Players to watch in each section of 2018 state tourney
    • 17 lower-seeded teams that can make a run
    15 takeaways from the state tournament seeds 

    Brian Deakyne may be reached at bdeakyne@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrianDeakyne. Like NJ.com High School Sports on Facebook.


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    Complete guide to the 2018 state tournament.

    The boys basketball preview is essentially complete with the addition Thursday of the huge bracket-by-bracket breakdown. But be sure to keep coming back to this post - we have a piece or two to add before play starts on Monday - like Friday's addition of can't-miss Round 1 games.

    BRACKET-BY-BRACKET
    Every section's favorites, dark horses, players to watch & more
     All the brackets
     Sites and times for Group semis and finals

    FEATURES
    23 can't-miss Round 1 games
     Predicting all 20 section champs
     From Antoine to Zona: A-to-Z guide to the state tourney

     High seeds poised to be tourney spoilers

     NJ.com's superhero squad
     X-factors for the state tournament 
     Takeaways from the state tournament seeding meeting

    Richard Greco may be reached at rgreco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Richard_V_Greco. Mike Kinney may be reached at mkinney@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter @MikeKinneyHS. Kevin Minnick may be reached at kminnick@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter @kminnicksportsLike NJ.com HS sports on Facebook.


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    The prosecutor's office said its undercover detective's fake account caught two men trying to lure girls.

    A 31-year-old Oaklyn man who believed he was luring a 14-year-old girl for a sexual encounter found himself in jail after the online user turned out to be a cop, officials said.

    Heriberto Rivera Jr. sent sexually explicit messages to an account he believed was a teenage girl but was actually being used by an undercover detective from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office's High-Tech Crimes Unit, the office said Monday.

    Rivera thought the girl was going to meet him in Gloucester City on Friday so they could engage in some kind of sexual activity, the prosecutor's office said, but he was met instead by police.

    This is the prosecutor's office's second such arrest in a week. Officers arrested Charles Amer, an EMT from Warminster, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 16 when he came to Pennsauken thinking he would be picking up a 14-year-old girl he met online, who was also an undercover cop.

    Rivera faces charges of luring, attempted criminal sexual assault, attempt to endanger the welfare of a child and attempt to send obscene material to a minor, the office said. 

    Rivera works at a local Wal-Mart store, according to the prosecutor's office. 

    A Superior Court judge will decide Wednesday whether he should be held in jail or released on conditions pending his trial. Until then, he will remain in the jail in Camden.

    The prosecutor's office was assisted in the investigation by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations - Cherry Hill Division, the Camden County Sheriff's Emergency Response Team, and Gloucester City police.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    The man was a fugitive all day on Sunday

    A New Jersey man charged with shooting his girlfriend's ex-husband in the back at a lower Bucks County, Pa. fitness club Saturday evening surrendered to authorities Monday, police said.

    medina.jpgLuis Medina 

    Luis Medina, 33, turned himself in to Falls Township detectives at about 12:20 p.m. Monday to face aggravated assault and related charges for allegedly shooting a man inside a business in the 300 block of West Trenton Avenue at 6 p.m. Saturday, just outside Morrisville.

    Medina has ties to Maple Shade and Camden, in New Jersey, police said. He'd been a fugitive since early Sunday morning, police said.

    Levittownnow.com had reported that Medina allegedly shot the man following a confrontation at the Pennsbury Racquet and Athletic Club.

    Medina's girlfriend's son -- whose father is the victim -- was competing in a boxing match at the club, the site reported.

    An off-duty police officer told investigators he saw the confrontation and heard a gunshot, then saw Medina with a handgun and tried to chase after him as he ran toward Morrisville, the site reported.

    The club issued a statement saying they rented the club to an organization for a youth boxing fundraiser and cooperated fully with investigators. The club said police assured them the fitness club was safe and the incident was an "isolated, highly unusual circumstance."

    Medina was arraigned in front of a district judge Monday afternoon and sent to the Bucks County jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.

    Falls Detective Stephen Reeves is the lead investigator and can be reached at s.reeves@fallstwp.com.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    N.J. has produced outstanding big men over the past 30 years. Who are the elite of the elite?


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    The girl was in Massachusetts for a job training program, police said

    Four Massachusetts residents accused of tying up and torturing a 16-year-old from New Jersey have been indicted by a grand jury in their home state, MassLive.com reported.

    The four have been held in jail since Dec. 27, when Auburn, Massachusetts police say they rescued the girl from the basement of a home with no running water or heat.

    The girl told police she was tormented for hours and had her head shaved by four people who suspected she had orchestrated a home invasion at the house that day.

    Auburn Police Sgt. Scott Mills said the girl, who described herself as a runaway, hails from Sicklerville but was in Massachusetts for a job training program that is an alternative to traditional schooling.

    A Worcester Superior Court grand jury on Friday returned kidnapping indictments for each of her alleged captors, siblings Krystal Lugo, 23, and Christopher Lugo, 19, and friends Yariel Torres-Abee, 22, and Yuleny Ortiz, 19, according to the Telegram & Gazette.

    The newspaper reported Krystal Lugo was also indicted on charges of intimidation of a witness, assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault with a dangerous weapon and Torres-Abee was indicted on charges of assault and battery and assault with a dangerous weapon.

    auburn-invasion.jpgXabiel Feliciano, 22, left, and Ibrahim Burale, 24, both of Worcester, were arrested in connection with a home invasion Dec. 27, police said. (Auburn Police)

    According to authorities, the girl told police she was picked up in Leominster on Christmas Day by an acquaintance, Ibrahim "Ace" Burale, 24, and two of the defendants. Mills said she knew at least one of the defendants from her job training program.

    She reported that some of the defendants gave her Xanax and took turns sexually assaulting her that day, but none were indicted on sexual assault charges, according to Telegram.com.

    On Dec. 27, two people entered the house with a gun, pistol whipping Christopher Lugo, firing a shot and demanding marijuana and money, police said in court documents.

    Burale -- the girl's acquaintance -- and Xabiel Feliciano, 22, both of Worcester, were later charged with home invasion.

    Mills said in January that he was not aware of any evidence that the girl orchestrated the invasion, but Krystal Lugo was convinced she was behind it, police wrote in court documents.

    The girl told police Krystal Lugo dragged her outside barefoot and hit her, before taking her to the basement. There, she was duct taped to a chair, burned with cigarettes and a clothes iron, had her head shaved and was repeatedly threatened with a machine held to her throat if she did not give information about the home invasion, she told police.

    After receiving a tip that the girl was being held, police found her whimpering in the freezing basement, near a bag of her own hair and a pot of what turned out to be water for her to drink, according to court documents and reports by MassLive.

    MassLive.com reported that Auburn Police Department Officer George Vranos fought back tears when he testified in district court Jan. 3, describing the room as a "torture chamber."

    Attorneys for the defendants argued unsuccessfully that they should be released on bail and denied some parts of the girl's story, MassLive reported.

    The indictments mean the defendants' cases will move from Central District Court to Worcester Superior Court, where they will be arraigned again.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    Rutgers and other colleges won't rescind offers to students who are disciplined for joining walkouts or peaceful protests.

    A New Jersey school reportedly threatened to suspend students and revoke prom privileges over a school sit-in, on the same day several of the state's colleges said they won't hold it against high schoolers if they get in trouble for protesting. 

    Students at Cherry Hill High School East were warned during Monday morning's announcements that they would be suspended and banned from their senior trip and prom if they participated in a "planned disruption," according to PhillyVoice.com. 

    At the time, students were already taking part in a sit-in to support a teacher  who was suspended last week for raising conners about school security, according to the report. 

    The warning came a students across the state are already planning to join in a national walkout on March 14.

    Echoing colleges across the country, Rutgers University, The College of New Jersey and others weighed in on Monday, saying students disciplined for peaceful protests don't have to worry. 

    "We want to reassure students who have applied or have been admitted... that disciplinary actions associated with participation in peaceful protests will not jeopardize your admission," Rutgers University said in a tweet. 

    The assurances come as at least one local high school reportedly threatened to punish students who participated in a sit-in Monday. 

    High schoolers responses to the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida prompted questions from students, faculty, and alumni on how participation in peaceful protests might impact an applicants offer of admission, said Luke Sacks, a spokesman at The College of New Jersey.

    "So we felt it was important to communicate the college's position quickly and publicly," Sacks said.

    The university's stance is not just specific to Parkland but to peaceful, lawful protest in general, he added. 

    Rutgers' announcement is a reaffirmation of its an ongoing policy, spokeswoman Dory Devlin said. 

    Drew University and Monmouth University also posted statements on social media supporting students' right to peaceful protests. 

    Adam Clark may be reached at adam_clark@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind NJ.com on Facebook

     

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    The protest took place at Cherry Hill High School East. Watch video

    Zaiden Ascalon said he was proud of his classmates at Cherry Hill High School East on Monday after they protested in support of a teacher who was allegedly suspended for speaking out about security concerns. 

    "I'm proud of kids my age," said Zaiden, 15, a sophomore at East. "They have a cause and are fearful, yet angry, in a very constructive manner."

    Students were reacting to news that a popular teacher had been suspended last week after he allegedly questioned how sound school security was in the wake of a deadly school shooting in Florida earlier this month.

    Efforts to reach the teacher, Timothy Locke, on Monday by phone and social media were not successful. A parent who spoke to Locke on Monday said he was referring all questions to attorney Amy Gillette. Gillette did not immediately return a call for comment.

    Cherry Hill School District spokeswoman Barbara Wilson said the administration had no comment about Locke.

    "It's a personnel matter," Wilson said Monday.

    Locke allegedly has compared the high school to Columbine in the past and recently spoke about the lack of armed cops in the school according to Philly.com

    "The bottom line is that I was very concerned about the security at my school," Locke told Philly.com on Monday. "I was adamantly concerned with the welfare of my students."

    Locke was "placed on administrative leave and ordered to undergo a physical and psychiatric evaluation," according to Philly.com

    Students like Zaiden saw it differently and they had plenty to say.

    "We were yelling 'Free Mr. Locke' and 'Bring him back,' Zaiden said.

    Administrators tried to break up the impromptu demonstration by warning the students they could face a suspension if they didn't disburse to the auditorium, according to students there, some of whom posted photos and video on social media immediately afterward.

    Before the demonstration, Principal Dennis Perry warned if they participated in the protest they would forfeit their chance to go on the senior class trip and prom, according to students who heard the morning announcement and a recording of it on PhillyVoice.com.

    Zaiden's father, Eric, said Locke had taught his son and daughter when she was a student at East. Eric Ascalon said he reached out with a phone call of support Monday to Locke, 59, who he said was "very upset."

    Locke, 59, an Iraq war veteran shares his colorful past with students in his history class

    "He fought for us, our country, and now it's time for us to fight for him," said Ben Shore, a senior at East.

    "There's a difference between him and normal teachers," Zaiden said. "Many of them teach from the book. He teaches from experience."

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips

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    Check out NJ.com's interactive, printable brackets for this year's tournament.


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    Camden County's lawsuit against a pain pill marketer is not like all of the others.

    The family members whose company makes OxyContin as "racketeers"? 

    It's a unique twist in Camden County's otherwise "me-too" lawsuit hoping to recover damages from the financial and human costs relating to opioid addiction. 

    In the spate of litigation that has been filed against pharmaceutical companies, this wrinkle could stand out. Maybe it will work, although the bar for proof for getting personal with executives of Purdue Pharma might be significantly higher than in other lawsuits that states, cities and counties have filed against producers, wholesalers and pharmacies that supply the addictive, but legal, painkillers.

    In announcing the lawsuit last week, Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr., left no doubt about who he thinks Public Enemy No. 1 is, when it comes to the opioid crisis.

    Members of the Sackler family, which founded Purdue,"are the lowest form of humans you can possibly imagine," Cappelli said at a press conference. 

    Other excerpts from the 177-page lawsuit say that that Richard, Mortimer and Raymond Sackler and their family "executed an epic scheme to deceive doctors (and the public at large) into believing that opioids can be prescribed for long periods of time with little to no risk of addiction; a blatantly false premise."

    Articles with titles like "Meet the Sacklers: The Family That's Killing Millions" already abound on the internet. 

    Indeed, Purdue Pharma paid a $600 million government fine in 2007 over allegedly misleading marketing for their "new" opioid, introduced in 1995. Its sales reps and paid "experts" claimed it could be prescribed for pain without patients becoming hooked.

    Camden County's suit -- as well as most of the others -- doesn't target Purdue alone. 

    The suit's big-name drug company defendants, who marketed pain pills of the same generation, include Janssen (a Johnson & Johnson division) Teva and Abbott Laboratories. Two major medicine wholesalers, along with the Costco, Walgreens and Rite Aid retail chains are also named.

    However, all of the above are publicly traded companies. If nothing else, going after Purdue, a privately-held company and its allied family fortune, is an attention-getter. Recently, possibly in response to all of the litigation, Perdue announced that it would stop marketing OxyContin actively to physicians.

    The crisp narrative of the Camden County lawsuit stands out, too: "In the hour that it takes to read this complaint, six Americans will fatally overdose from opioids, two opioid-dependent babies will be born and a significant number if former opioid addicts will turn to heroin," the introduction states.

    The suit also makes the case that the Camden County Police Department, which patrols Camden City exclusively, spent 1,740 hours in 2016 and 2017 alone responding to 941 overdose cases, often administering the opioid reversal drug, Narcan.

    At some point, judges are likely to consolidate some of these 300-plus lawsuits filed against these painkiller defendants. Surely, the plaintiffs and their lawyers hope that a judgment or settlement will result in the kind of landmark, $200 billion anti-smoking fund that tobacco companies were forced to set up in the 1990s.

    "With us, it's personal," was an ad slogan used recently by one of the the retail pharmacy chains that Camden County is suing.

    If this is suit is personal, and the Sacklers are made to fund the bulk of the relief, Camden County will have done a service to the nation. 

    Send a letter to the editor of South Jersey Times at sjletters@njadvancemedia.com

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.


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    The teacher expresses concerns about security following the school shooting in Florida earlier this month. Watch video

    Hundreds of students walked out of Cherry Hill High School East on Tuesday morning in support of a teacher suspended for voicing concerns about school security.

    The students were walking around the track that circles the school's football field and along the sidewalks at the entrance of the school as of 9 a.m, defying Principal Dennis Perry, who threatened to suspend anyone who took part. 

    The teacher, Timothy Locke, allegedly has compared the high school to Columbine in the past and recently spoke about the lack of armed cops in the school, according to Philly.com.

    Locke told Philly.com on Monday that he was concerned with the welfare of his students. Locke's comments followed a school shooting in Parkland, Florida earlier this month that killed 17. 

    "We were appalled by the suspension of our favorite teacher Mr. Locke,"  Tim Welsch, a student at Cherry Hill East said Tuesday. "Mr. Locke was the only teacher in the school who was willing to discuss the Parkland shooting with his students. He also talked about how our school security is super weak. He was immediately suspended for those necessary comments and it is an absolutely horrible decision."

    Welsch said he was in class with Locke when the comments were made about Parkland and the security at Cherry Hill.

    "The administration assumed what Locke was saying was a threat, but that could not further from the truth. He just showed tremendous concern for the safety of his students," Welsch said.

    During the walkout, which students said was organized on Snapchat and Instagram, students shouted "Free Locke!" and walked around the Camden County campus. 

    The administration then brought them into the auditorium and were discussing their concerns, however some students said they were frustrated by the administration's unwillingness to take them seriously. 

     "(The) administration isn't really helping at all," said Brynn Sheeler, a freshman. "They're not doing anything except giving us mics and then cutting us off when we actually start to speak. They won't take us seriously. We don't believe that our school is very secure. We want to be able to come to school and feel safe, and we want the teachers to do something about that."

    Sumaiyya Asim, the President of the Muslim Student Association, said she became involved to help raise awareness about security issues and promote peace and she personally is concerned about the lack of safety at her school. 

    "For example, just yesterday while on my way to class, the doors I was passing by (that lead outside) were left unlocked with multiple people being able to walk in and out of the school," she said. "This is an everyday occurrence at CHE, so much so, that no one bats an eye at anyone entering or leaving school."

    Jake Martin, who is also a student of Locke's, said he wasn't in class when the comments were made but believes the teacher "wasn't trying to scare us; he wanted us to be aware."

    "We all mourn for the Parkland students and want all schools across America to be safer and Locke felt the same way," Martin said. "He was punished for voicing that opinion and the student body as a whole sees that as an injustice."

    Before the demonstration, Perry warned if they participated in the protest they would forfeit their chance to go on the senior class trip and prom, according to students who heard the morning announcement. 

    District officials have not commented. Locke's attorney didn't return a message seeking comment. 

    Colleges such as Rutgers University and the College of New Jersey said Monday students who take part in peaceful protests needn't worry about it affecting their admission. 

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

     

     


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