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

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    See the boys soccer players and keepers that stood out in Week 5.


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    A look at the fab frosh throughout the Garden State.


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    "Sea Monsters HERE" is on view until Nov. 16 at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia.


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    NJ.com identifies these 36 games as can't-miss affairs for Week 6


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    Federal authorizes tapped the phones of arguably New Jersey's most formidable non-elected official in 2016, according to a published report.

    Federal investigators wiretapped the phones of south Jersey Democratic power-broker George Norcross III, arguably New Jersey's most formidable non-elected official, in 2016, records show.

    Numerous documents from authorities, first reported by Politico New Jersey, do not reveal why Norcross's calls were monitored. 

    An unidentified source told Politico that authorities had been looking into tax-break legislation signed by then-Gov. Chris Christie in 2013 to promote development in Camden, Norcross's hometown. Norcross's insurance company, Conner Strong & Buckelew benefited from millions in tax incentives thanks to the legislation.

    But Michael Critchley, an attorney for Norcross, insists his client is not under investigation. No charges have been filed.

    Critchley said in a statement that he and Norcross learned last month that some of Norcross's calls were monitored "for a brief period of time over two years ago."

    "The reviews ended quickly after it became clear that neither he nor the people with whom he works or associates did anything wrong or untoward," Critchley added.

    that some of Norcross' calls were monitored but added that the wiretapping "ended quickly after it became clear that neither (Norcross) nor the people with whom he works or associates did anything wrong or untoward."

    This is as high as top lawmaker will go on weed tax rate

    Critchley also provided a letter sent in September by First Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig of the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey that said an investigation by that office has been closed. 

    "You have inquired about your client George Norcross's status in connection with an investigation conducted in the District of New Jersey pertaining to the procurement of tax credits," Honig wrote in the letter. "Based on a review of the applicable law and evidence obtained during the investigation, we have concluded that no further action is warranted. Accordingly, this matter has been closed."

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    Critchley said Norcross did not meet with investigators because it was "neither needed nor requested."

    "It is an unfortunate fact of life that people can draw scrutiny based on unknown allegations," Norcross' attorney added. "Mr. Norcross thanks the government for letting him know that neither he nor anyone with whom he works did anything wrong and that its' work ended quickly and without any finding of impropriety. As he has for years, Mr. Norcross will remain focused on the renaissance of Camden and helping the city build a brighter future."

    Norcross, a wealthy health insurance executive, has considerable influence in New Jersey politics. He's a deep-pocketed fundraiser for the Democratic Party, he has sway over a large voting bloc of south Jersey lawmakers in the state Legislature, and his insurance company has millions of dollars is contracts throughout the state.

    Norcross, 62, is also lifelong friends with state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and the brother of U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist. And he forged a political mutually beneficial alliance with Christie when the Republican was governor from 2010 until January of this year.

    The wiretaps were pursued not in New Jersey but in Pennsylvania.

    A court filing shows a federal judge in Philadelphia approved wiretapping for Norcross' cell phone and landline at his insurance company from July 28 to Nov. 16 of 2016, according to a report by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News that confirmed Politico's story.

    A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania did not immediately return a message from NJ Advance Media seeking comment early Wednesday morning.

    This isn't the first time Norcross has faced scrutiny from authorities. He was investigated by New Jersey's attorney general in the early 2000s on allegations of corruption.

    The case was referred to Christie, then New Jersey's U.S. attorney. But in a rare move, Christie accused the state of mishandling the case and said he could not bring charges. 

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Matt Arco contributed to this report.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    A fresh batch of group and conference rankings for NJ football is out. Where is your team ranked?


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    A look at some of the top sophomores around the state so far in 2018.


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    Who are the most deserving players, teams and coaches of our eight midseason awards? NJ Advance Media takes a look.


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    An employee told them he hadn't been embalmed and had been stored in a garage without refrigeration, the suit alleges

    A Camden County woman is suing a funeral home that she says let her brother's body "decompose" in their facility before the funeral was set to take place.

    Ashkeya Pratt-Williams filed suit Wednesday against Carl Miller Funeral Home in Camden and its employees for allowing the body of her recently deceased brother, John Ross Pratt, to decompose in a garage.

    pratt-full.jpgJohn Pratt (Bell-Hennessy Funeral Home) 

    She alleges the funeral home failed to timely embalm him after his death, court documents say.

    Pratt died in his home of natural causes on Sept. 17, and that day Pratt-Williams contracted Carl Miller Funeral Home to handle his services. Also on that day, the suit alleges, Pratt-Williams signed off on embalming Pratt's body in order to have an open casket service. 

    But three days later, she was told by funeral home manager Pamela Miller Dabney that there was a "problem" with her brother's body.

    The suit says Dabney told Pratt-Williams that Pratt's body had been "stored" in a garage, had not been embalmed and "that the body was decomposing and had an odor."

    She then recommended that Pratt be cremated, and the family could still hold a closed casket ceremony since "no one would know if anything was inside," the suit alleges.

    When members of the family learned this information, cousin Jeri McBride recorded a Facebook live to air her frustration. 

     

    "When your loved one goes on, that's a pivotal moment for you to be able to say goodbye," she said. "They robbed her of that."

    Pratt-Williams and her family held a service for Pratt on Sept. 29 at Bell-Hennessy Funeral Home in Williamstown instead.

    Pratt-Williams, represented by lawyer Conrad J. Benedetto, alleges in the suit that the funeral home was negligent in their actions and inflicted emotional distress on her and her family. It also lists counts of consumer fraud and breach of contract. 

    "As we allege in this complaint, through its wrongful actions, the Carl Miller Funeral Home took away the Pratt Family's one last chance to say 'goodbye' to John," Benedetto said in a statement Wednesday. 

    When reached by phone Wednesday, an employee at Carl Miller Funeral home said they wouldn't be commenting on the suit. 

    Paige Gross may be reached at pgross@njadvancemedia.comFollow her on Twitter @By_paigegross.

     
     

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    Republican Seth Grossman and Democrat Jeff Van Drew met face-to-face at Stockton University Wednesday.


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    Can you remember life before Gritty, the Philadelphia Flyers mascot? Neither can we.


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    Look at the top sophomores in the state and cast your vote for the best of the best.


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    The Glow in Philadelphia is a 1/3 mile family-friendly trail to visit.


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    NJ.com football writers make 27 bold predictions for Week 6


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    It's the second restaurant in the chain to close in N.J. in past two months

    Pei Wei, the budget fast Asian food restaurant, has more than 200 locations nationwide but is now down to only one in New Jersey.

    The Pei Wei at the Marketplace at Garden State Park in Cherry Hill closed over the weekend. It's the second sudden closing over of a Pei Wei in this area over the past two months.

    "After close evaluation of the market, we've made the difficult decision to close our Cherry Hill location," said Brandon Solano a company executive said Thursday. "We thank our loyal guests for their support."

    A location at the Moorestown Mall, less than five miles from the Cherry Hill location, closed in August. The only location in the state is in Princeton. Other locations in Maryland and Florida have also closed recently.

    With menu items like gluten-free Asian chopped chicken salad and a target price point of $5, the chain had gained a following.

    It was spun off from the P.F. Chang restaurant group in 2000 with a mission of creating "Asian-inspired dishes without compromising freshness for speed of service."

    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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    See the players and teams that have stood out in the first half of the season.


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    Find out which freshmen stood out in each conference this week.


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    The child was about 30 inches long, the county prosecutor's office said

    The human remains found in a Camden alley on Thursday are those of a baby, authorities said Friday.

    Police in the city received a report of skeletal remains in an alley off the 800 block of Mount Ephraim Avenue around 1:30 p.m., the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said in a news release. 

    Those remains were sent to the Gloucester County Medical Examiner for testing Thursday.

    The prosecutor's office says the child was likely between 13-19 months old and about 30 inches long.

    It wasn't clear how the child died. The New Jersey State Police will perform further tests.

    Anyone with information can contact prosecutor's office Detective Matthew Barber at 856-225-5166 or Camden County Police Detective Sean Miller at 856-757-7420.

    Tips can also be emailed to ccpotips@ccprosecutor.org

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ

    Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips 

     

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    The officers attempted to snare and then tase the dogs before shooting them, officials said.

    Camden Police officers shot and killed two pit bulls that attacked and bit a man and child Friday night at a playground.

    The pair, who were not identified by police, were at a playground near the intersection of 9th and Morgan Streets around 7 p.m. when they were attacked, Camden County Spokesman Dan Keashen said.

    When the officers arrived, they tried to "snare" the dogs and when that did not work, they tried to "use a taser to disable" them, but that also failed, Keashen said.

    The officers then shot and killed the dogs.

    The man and the child were treated on the scene for bite wounds and were not taken to the hospital, Keashen said. 

    Keashen said police know who owns the dogs, but he did not release the owner's name Friday night.

    He also said he did not what the relationship was between the man and the child.

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

     

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    Big moments from Week 6 of the high school football season.


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