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

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    Police, in arresting an alleged pot dealer, said they did not want to be left out on this nationwide 'holiday'

    Winslow Township police had a cheeky message for any pot smokers who were expecting to celebrate 4/20 with herb from a now-arrested alleged dealer: "Sorry, but you will have to make other arrangements."

    In a press statement poking fun at the day many cannabis connoisseurs use as a chance to celebrate all things pot, Lt. Christopher Dubler said detectives "did not want to be left out on this nationwide 'holiday.'

    The cops celebrated by executing a search warrant, arresting resident Ralph Depalma, and seizing pounds of pot and thousands of dollars, Dubler said.

    Dubler ended his press release with a hash-tag (no pun intended): #sorrynotsorryforruiningyour04/20.

    The arrest was no joke, though.

    Dubler said detectives have been investigating Depalma, 44, for about two months and it was just a coincidence that they got the warrant and were ready to conduct the search on April 20.

    Everything to know about 'Weed Day'

    The department's narcotics detectives, assisted by the Camden County Special Emergency Response Team, seized about five pounds of pot, over three ounces of marijuana wax "shatter," 182 THC vape pens, and $21,069 in cash, Dubler said.

    They found the evidence at Depalma's home at Wiltseys Mill Road in the Hammonton section of the township, where they said he had been running his operation, and from at a storage unit he rented, Dubler said.

    In an unrelated and non-4/20-themed arrest, the same narcotics detectives also picked up Charles Turlington, 47, of the Sicklerville part of town, on charges related to selling crack cocaine. They seized 64 baggies of crack cocaine and $197 with that search warrant, the release said.

    So happy 4/20, from the Winslow Township Police Department.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find on Facebook.

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    Rafael Martinez Jr. was sentenced to five years probation

    Rafael Martinez Jr., the now-former Camden County cop who had a sexual relationship and fathered a child with a girl when she was 15, was quiet at his sentencing Friday.

    Judge Edward McBride accepted a negotiated plea to sentence Martinez to five years probation. As part of the agreement, Martinez pleaded to endangering the welfare of a child.

    In mid-August 2017, the teen gave birth at Cooper University Hospital in Camden and was interviewed by a social worker there, according to court documents.

    The girl told the social worker that Martinez, 33, was the father, which was later confirmed with DNA evidence.

    Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Grace MacAulay revealed that Martinez claimed he did not know the girl was underage, and that she told him she was 18.

    "Saying the child told me she was 18, that is inexcusable and unacceptable for any person in our society, but especially for a law enforcement officer," MacAulay said. "They are held to a higher standard."

    copincourt.JPGDeputy First Assistant Prosecutor Grace MacAulay and defense attorney Dan Rybeck at Martinez's sentencing. (Joe Warner | For NJ Advance Media) 

    Dan Rybeck said his client Martinez would like to be admitted to the County Supplemental Labor Service Program on weekends. According to the county website, offenders in this program report to the county correctional facility and receive an assignment that usually involves cleaning county parks or roads.

    In sentencing Martinez, McBride noted that "his conduct is the result of circumstances that are unlikely to recur" and that the cop had no prior contact with the criminal justice system (besides being part of it). 

    Martinez was previously suspended without pay until the adjudication of his case, a police department spokesman said. He was required to forfeit his present employment on Friday.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find on Facebook.

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    Who are the top seniors in the Garden State?

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    Yahmire Boardley kept 31 pounds of fentanyl in a few caches around Camden.

    Through shipments mailed from China, Yahmire Boardley accumulated enough fentanyl to kill more than half the population of New Jersey.

    When authorities seized Boardley's supply of the opioid from the caches he kept around Camden last year, they found a total of 31 pounds of the drug. 

    Yahmire-BoardleyA.JPGYahmire Boardley, 23. 

    That amount, according to the state Office of the Attorney General, would be enough for about 5 million people to fatally overdose. Fentanyl, often cited as the biggest contributor to an increase in overdose deaths, is so potent that a dose as small as two or three milligrams could be fatal. In New Jersey, it was responsible for 417 overdose deaths in 2015 and more than 800 in 2016.

    Boardley, 23, who pleaded guilty to second-degree possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute in January as part of plea deal, was sentenced to seven years in state prison on Friday. Judge John T. Kelley handed down the sentence in his courtroom in Camden. 

    "As fentanyl-related deaths have skyrocketed in New Jersey, we've redoubled our efforts to lock up those responsible for the illicit supply of this deadly opioid, which in this case was coming through the mail from China," Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said.

    The State Police, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Camden County Police set a state record at the time for the largest fentanyl seizure in state history when they found Boardley's supply. That record was later eclipsed when authorities seized 100 pounds of fentanyl after witnessing some of it being loaded into a Mercedes Benz parked in North Bergen.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find on Facebook.

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    The doc said high school students from Baltimore had to flee the bus while on their way home from seeing a show on Broadway in New York City

    Who says there's never a doctor around when you need one?

    High school students fleeing flames on their passenger bus on the southbound shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike in Camden County on Sunday morning not only got a doctor who rushed to their rescue, but a celebrity doctor, no less.

    Dr. Mehmet Oz, who rode to fame as one of the favorite purveyors of health and wellness to Oprah Winfrey and other stars, just happened to be passing by moments after the bus erupted in flames, near Barrington, according to his Facebook page.

    "Earlier today I happened upon this bus fire on the New Jersey Turnpike," a message on Oz's Facebook page said.

    "The passengers were students from a high school in Baltimore who were on their way home after seeing the musical 'Wicked' in New York City. Luckily no one was hurt, and the students were able to save their instruments -- some even braving the danger to protect these prized possessions. As the courageous driver, Anthony Townes, explained, the wheel of the bus caught on fire. I'm just so thankful everyone made it out safe and sound."

    State police said the incident was reported at 11:30 a.m. in the southbound lanes of the turnpike. All southbound lanes were closed from 11:40 until left lanes were reopened about an hour later.

    No injuries were reported and a replacement vehicle arrived less than 30 minutes after the students fled the flaming bus, state police Sgt. Lawrence Peele said.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find on FacebookHave a tip? Tell us.

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    Rescues and shelters throughout New Jersey have pets available for adoption.

    This information on dog safety was compiled by members of the Dog Bite Prevention Coalition -- the U.S. Postal Service, American Veterinary Medical Association, American Humane Society, Insurance Information Institute and State Farm Insurance.

    *  If a carrier delivers mail or packages to your front door, place your dog into a separate room and close the door before opening the front door. Parents should also remind their children not to take mail directly from letter carriers in the presence of the family pet as the dog may see handing mail to a child as a threatening gesture.

    *  People often assume that a dog with a wagging tail is a friendly dog, but this is far from the truth. Dogs wag their tails for numerous reasons, including when they're feeling aggressive. A tail that is held high and moves stiffly is a sign that the dog is feeling dominant, aggressive, or angry.

    *  Dogs, even ones you know have good days and bad days. You should never pet a dog without asking the owner first and especially if it is through a window or fence. For a dog, this makes them feel like you are intruding on their space and could result in the dog biting you.

    *  ALL DOGS are capable of biting. There's no one breed or type of dog that's more likely to bite than others. Biting has more to do with circumstances, behavior, and training.

    *  Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and their intentions to others around them. Although dogs do use sounds and signals, much of the information that they send is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures. You can tell how a dog is feeling (sad, tired, happy, angry, scared) by looking at the position of a dogs' ears, mouth, eyes, and tail.

    *  Dogs are social animals who crave human companionship. That's why they thrive and behave better when living indoors with their pack -- their human family members. Dogs that are tied up or chained outside are frustrated and can become aggressive because they are unhappy. They can also become very afraid because when they are tied or chained up, they can't escape from things that scare them.

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    Where are the top games this week?

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    The biggest games on the schedule for the week of April 23.

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    Hundreds of cheerleaders compete for titles at N.J. competition.

    Approximately 30 cheer squads competed in the Beast of the East cheerleading championships in Wildwood Sunday.

    Hundreds of cheerleaders -- mostly from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, -- competed in recreation, prep, all-star and dance divisions on a 54- by 42-foot spring floor.

    The event, hosted by Spirit Brands, was one of two cheerleading competitions held at the Wildwoods Convention Center over the weekend.

    Spirit Brands is hosting a Spring Festival competition at the Collins Arena in Lincroft on Sunday, April 29, and the North American Spirit Tournament in Atlantic City on Saturday, May 5, and Sunday, May 6.

    The convention center is home to hundreds of events throughout the year, including the "War at the Shore" youth wrestling championships, USAIGC New Jersey Regional Gymnastics Championships, the Wildwood Polar Bear Plunge, and Wildwoods International Kite Festival, among others.

    For more information on events in Wildwood, visit

    Lori M. Nichols may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @photoglori. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.

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    For the last 20 years, the building has been the home to the city's school district offices.

    On the seventh floor is where Frank Sinatra signed his first contract with Victor studios, and one floor above was where legendary musicians often recorded their music. 

    "It's probably the most historic place for recorded music in the world," Chris Perks, president of the Camden County Historical Society, told last month

    But for the last 20 years at the executive building of RCA Victor's World Headquarters in Camden, it has not been that same hub of innovation, just the city's school district offices.

    However, with the city school district recently downsizing to a new office, the building is now empty, and Procida Funding announced a $5.5 million loan last week to Millennial Place, LLC for the acquisition, marketing, light rehabilitation and lease-up of the building located at 201 N. Front St., which was built in 1916.

    "The property is appealing for its historic value as headquarters for the company that revolutionized the radio and television industry, as well as its location in Camden, a city that is on the cusp of a major renaissance," William 'Billy' Procida, president and CEO of Procida Funding said in a press release. "We're excited to support a project that will transform the former epicenter of the music industry into its next generational use."

    According to the release, Millennial Places' renovation plans for the building include leasing class A office space with the "potential for ground floor retail in the future."

    Millennial Places is a partnership between Hagen Construction and Millennial Partners, who is one of the leading real estate developers in Camden.

    Procida said in a brief phone interview last week they will be signing up tenants for the 120,000-square-foot building this summer.

    Procida noted in the release that state incentives have recently brought other building projects to Camden, including MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and the Philadelphia 76ers new 125,000-square-foot training complex, making it an exciting time to invest in the city.

    "This is a perfect storm for real estate success, and this project has the capacity to support the changing landscape and endless economic trajectory of the city," he said in the release.

    Camden is the poorest city in New Jersey with just under 40 percent of its residents living below the poverty line. But with a slew of projects underway -- headlined by the $1 billion waterfront project developed by Liberty Property Trust that will be an urban center with office space, housing units, commercial space and parks on a 26-acre site -- local officials and investors are optimistic about the future.

    "Camden's resurgence has been catapulted by projects such as this one, our focus on enhancing public safety and our efforts to improve educational outcomes for our youth," Mayor Dana Redd said in 2016 when construction began on the waterfront project.

    "Camden is on fire right now," Procida said. "In a good way."

    Joe Atmonavage may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jatmonavageNJFind on Facebook

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    There's plenty of good softball games and events on this week's schedule.

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    Fewer New Jersey hospitlals earned an A for safety in the latest Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades report. Check out how your local hospital fared.

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    Removing man-made debris on our beaches, especially our remote ones, is a continuing-care operation, but generating less waste in the first place can help.

    Barbie was there, it was on a beach, but Barbie's Beach House was never supposed to looked like this.

    AsburyBeachBarbie.JPGA Barbie doll was found on the beach in Asbury Park on Saturday during "beach sweeps" organized by the New Jersey-based environmental group Clean Ocean Action. The weekend-long cleanups occur twice a year in about 70 locations across the state. 4/21/18 (Courtesy of Clean Ocean Action) 

    It was more like Barbie's Nightmare House when a volunteer crew went walking along the Asbury Park beach to perform an Earth Day weekend cleanup. The 5,000 people who did the same at beaches and miles of shoreline across the state discovered Mattel's favorite 11.5-inch tall moneymaker, along with tons of other debris. 

    Clear across the state at Palmyra Nature Cove along the Delaware River in Burlington County, the volunteers who fanned out filled dozens of trash bags with items that were anything but Malibu-pretty.

    It's a matter of natural tides that spots like Palmyra require seasonal cleanups; they're not actively patrolled against litter the way our state's beloved Atlantic Ocean beaches, used daily by bathers and sun-worshipers, are. At the more remote beaches, most of the trash is not the residue of lunches from careless "shoobies." Instead, it ought to remind us of how casually we toss away refuse miles away.

    A plastic bottle dropped into a city sewer outlet, a snack-food bag left to blow into the wind, get dumped into or swept into the water, to emerge like shipwreck victims on the closest strip of land. The Professor, Mary Ann and Gilligan's bucket hat were not spotted during the local cleanups, but lots of other items like tires and furniture were.

    Barbie can adapt (she has far more career options than in 1959), but it's not so easy for delicate plants or barely surviving animal species to do the same. Trash, no matter how it arrived at their habitats, threatens their lives.

    Much of the litter haul statewide consisted of the villain du jour this Earth Day, "disposable" plastic. A relatively new question in fast-food joints and ice cream shops alike is: "Do you really need that plastic straw?" Maybe, when you're sharing a milkshake. Otherwise, not so much. 

    It adds up. Clean Ocean Action, which sponsored many of the weekend cleanups, reported collecting 3,693 straws at Sandy Hook alone.

    Plastic is relatively benign to anyone who stumbles across it, but there was more scary stuff. At Palmyra Cove, there were bottles of pills. Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer detailed how a cache of used syringes, presumably left by opioid abusers, surprised members of a bass fishing club at a favorite Salem County spot, the Department of Defense ponds near the river.

    These items could seriously injure or sicken a child, and remind us of when unscrupulous health care providers seeking to avoid proper-disposal costs regularly left medical waste at the shore. Now we need to be concerned that another side effect of the addiction crisis is spoiling our recreation and fishing venues.

    Meanwhile, we're seeing new victories in the effort to reclaim natural tidelands, such as the ongoing effort to return Petty's Island -- just south of Palmyra Cove in Pennsauken -- to its natural state. The island, which holds a 300-acre abandoned oil-tank farm, was targeted for intense urban redevelopment a decade ago. By 2022, it's expected to reopen as a park and a preserve.

    So, cheers to everyone who cleaned the beaches over the weekend, but especially at those out-of-sight, out-of-mind places. Trash collection there is a matter of perpetual care, but it can be aided by everyone who makes smarter choices at the convenience store, or sees to it that their plastic bits do not become homewreckers for birds.

    Send a letter to the editor of South Jersey Times at

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

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    Here is a look at 25 players having a big impact at the Division I level for college softball.

    0 0 breaks down the 28 high school events for the 2018 Penn Relays.

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    See the April 24th edition of the girls lacrosse Top 20.

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    The top hitters and pitchers around the state for April 16-22.

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    Check out the second set of conference players of the week.

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    Here is a look at 25 players having a big impact at the Division I level for college baseball this week.

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    At Dough Life, it's OK to lick the spoon.

    The temptation has always been there.

    As mom whipped up a homemade batch of cookies, you couldn't resist dipping your finger into the bowl for a taste of the dough.

    Then, when you became an adult, you'd buy a roll of pre-made raw cookie dough, take it home and dive in, never intending for any of it to make it into an oven.

    Now you can indulge your cravings in a store that specializes in serving up, well, raw cookie dough.

    Dough Life offers a range of raw cookie dough flavors served chilled in cups and in waffle cones, dipped out just like ice cream, crowned with a variety of toppings of your desire.

    Founded in upstate New York by Joseph Francabandeiro, the company expanded there and is heading south into New Jersey.

    A post shared by Dough Life (@edibledoughlife) on

    On May 5, Dough Life opens in the Freehold Raceway Mall on Route 9 in Freehold. The grand opening date is being dubbed "Cinco de My Dough," officials say.

    At the Detpford Mall on Deptford Center Road in Deptford Township, a sign outside a now-vacant store on the lower level near JC Penney says "Arriving Soon. Dough Life." No date for opening has been given for that store.

    Officials say other Dough Life locations are also planned in New Jersey in Menlo Park and Cherry Hill. Dates for those openings are still to be announced.

    The menu, according to the Dough Life website, includes hand-dipped signature dough with mini chocolate morsels, mini M&Ms or Oreo cookies. How about dough with caramel, sea salt and dark chocolate or dough with expresso and Nutella whipped in or even peanut butter dough with graham crackers, Fluff and mini chocolate morsels?

    Seasonal offerings include pumpkin pie dough with chunks of homemade crust and red velvet dough with white chocolate morsels. And that's all in addition to daily specials and milkshakes and other drinks the stores offer.

    Prices for the dough range from $4.99 for a small to $9.99 for a large size. Owners say the dough stays fresh for two weeks.

    And what about all those worries about eating raw cookie dough? Forget about it. Dough Life uses no eggs in its dough and the flour is heat-treated to kill any microbes, owners say.

    So indulge.

    Editor's note: This story initially reported the opening of two locations, however Dough Life confirmed on Wednesday that there are four locations coming to New Jersey in the coming weeks. 

    Bill Gallo Jr. may be reached at Follow Bill Gallo Jr. on Twitter @bgallojr. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.


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