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

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    Video of the incident sparked outrage. Watch video

    The criminal case against a Gloucester Township police officer who struck a 13-year-old girl will go forward after a judge rejected his motion to dismiss three indictments.

    John Flinn, 27, of Sicklerville was called to a "disturbance" in Gloucester Township March 8, where he struck a girl twice on the side of her face and pushed her head down while trying to handcuff her, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said. She was never charged.

    The prosecutor's office said she was complying and allowing him to cuff her when he struck her. Body camera footage that was released in April sparked outrage.

    Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle suspended Flinn after the incident and notified the prosecutor's office, which charged him with simple assault in April 6. On Aug. 18 a grand jury indicted him on charges of endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of official misconduct.

    Flinn's attorney, Louis Barbone, argued in Superior Court in Camden Friday that the indictments should be dismissed because the grand jury was misled.

    john-flinn-court.jpgGloucester Township Officer John Flinn, right, stands in Superior Court in Camden with his attorney, Louis Barbone, left, Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. 

    He said the assistant prosecutor presenting the case to the grand jury read selective parts of the Attorney General's use of force policy in the hopes that grand jurors would not pick up on the fact that it allows an officer to use the force that he or she believes is reasonably necessary to make an arrest. But Judge Edward McBride ruled that the jurors were well instructed in the statute that governs use of force.

    McBride also rejected Barbone's argument that the jury might have been confused by a detective who testified before the grand jury that the girl was cuffed before Flinn struck her. The video shows that he is in the middle of cuffing her.

    Chief Assistant Prosecutor Angela M. Seixas told McBride that the grand jurors watched the video repeatedly because it was the key piece of evidence.

    "This was one of those times when you bring it into the grand jury and press play," she said.

    Flinn, who has been on the force since 2015, will be in court Dec. 10 for a final case disposition conference. Barbone declined to comment after the hearing.

    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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    All five New Jersey dioceses will review their files and release the names of priests accused of abuse early next year, Cardinal Joseph Tobin announced.

    The names of every priest and deacon "credibly accused" of sexually abusing a child will be made public by New Jersey's five Catholic dioceses early next year, church officials announced Monday.

    The dioceses -- Newark, Camden, Paterson, Metuchen and Trenton -- are also establishing a victim compensation fund and counseling program for victims of sexual abuse by clergy and other church employees, said Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the head of the Archdiocese of Newark.

    "The dioceses will undertake this action in coordination with the attorney general of New Jersey's ongoing task force examining the issue of clergy sexual abuse. It is hoped that these steps will aid in the process of healing for victims, who are deserving of our support and prayers," Tobin said in a statement.

    Tobin did not give a date for the release of the names or indicate how many priests and deacons may be on the list.

    The announcement comes as the Catholic Church has been under increasing pressure in New Jersey and worldwide to be more transparent about its efforts to address clergy sexual abuse.

    Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced in September that a state task force will investigate how the Catholic Church in New Jersey handled sexual abuse claims. The grand jury investigation is modeled on a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation that found more than 300 priests sexually abused more than 1,000 children over several decades as many church leaders covered up the problem.

    The New Jersey task force's hotline-- (855) 363-6548 -- set up in September was immediately flooded with calls from victims. The Archdiocese of Newark has also received what is expected to be one of multiple subpoenas to Catholic dioceses to turn over records of abuse allegations to state investigators.

    New Jersey's five dioceses will review decades of records before releasing the names of the accused priests and deacons next year, Tobin said.

    The details of the new compensation fund for victims will be released when they are finalized, the archdiocese's statement said.

    "This program will provide the resources to compensate those victims of child sexual abuse by clergy and employees of the dioceses in New Jersey whose financial claims are legally barred by New Jersey's statute of limitations," Tobin said. "This will give victims a formal voice and allow them to be heard by an independent panel."

    The new fund will expand the church's current compensation program, which has already paid about $50 million to victims who filed lawsuits or complaints in the five New Jersey dioceses, church officials said.

    "The program also will be a resource to provide permanent funding for necessary counseling to those who have been victimized. Such counseling so often is needed to help in the healing of those who have been harmed," Tobin's statement said.

    The statement did not say how the Catholic Church will pay for the new fund for New Jersey victims.

    Much of the money for the $50 million already paid out to victims in New Jersey came from the dioceses' insurance policies and self-funded insurance reserves, church officials said.

    In a separate statement, the Diocese of Metuchen said it will pay for its share of the new compensation fund with self-funded insurance reserves.

    At least 19 Catholic dioceses nationwide have filed for bankruptcy to help cover the cost of sexual abuse settlements. But none of New Jersey's dioceses have run out of money.

    In New Jersey, there is no statute of limitations in rape cases, meaning victims can go to police at any time to try to pursue criminal charges.

    However, victims who want to file civil lawsuits have just two years to come forward under New Jersey's laws. Some lawmakers are trying to remove that statute of limitations.

    New Jersey's dioceses signed an agreement in 2002 to report any allegations of clergy sexual abuse to law enforcement. The dioceses were not required to publicly name accused priests.

    New Jersey is one of several states, including New York, where officials have recently launched statewide investigations into how the Catholic Church handled sexual abuse allegations.

    In the Archdiocese of Newark, Tobin promised reforms after the resignation of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick earlier this year.

    McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Newark and Bishop of Metuchen, was accused of sexual abuse and harassment of a string of altar boys, seminarians and fellow priests. He is awaiting a church trial.

    Kelly Heyboer may be reached at kheyboer@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporter on Facebook.

     

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    The victim was killed at Princess and Euclid avenues in Camden last week

    Authorities said Tuesday they are searching for a 15-year-old who they believe shot and killed another 15-year-old last week in Camden.

    The suspect is charged with first-degree murder and weapons charges on Thursday, Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo said in a news statement.

    The prosecutor's office named the suspect, and issued a photo of him. NJ Advance Media does not name felony suspects until they are waived to adult court.

    The teen suspect was charged as a juvenile, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said Tuesday.

    The office said their suspect was the gunman who killed a 15-year-old on Nov. 13 at Princess and Euclid avenues in Camden around 3:30 p.m.

    That victim was not identified by the prosecutor's office Tuesday but 6ABC previously reported his name as Javonne Davis.

    Davis died at Cooper University Hospital about an hour after arriving there.

    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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    Holiday shopping never used to start so early.

    It's an unfortunate fact that many of the traditions of Christmas shopping are fading away.

    For decades, the holiday selling season began with decorations and lights ... but it wasn't usually until after Thanksgiving. It's not considered unusual anymore for holiday decorations and items to begin appearing in stores in October.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Window shopping was once a magical time for children, strolling past stores with intricate displays of the season's new toys. And there were always the Sears and Montgomery Ward Christmas catalogs to set children dreaming of what might be under the tree Christmas morning.

    There simply aren't as many retailers as there once were, and online shopping takes a bigger bite from them each year. Here's a look at stores -- large and small -- where New Jerseyans shopped in years past.

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


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    Police found the teenager with multiple gunshot wounds Tuesday evening

    An 18-year-old Gloucester Township man was fatally shot Tuesday evening in Camden, authorities said.

    Police responding to the 1000 block of Carl Miller Boulevard around 4:30 p.m. found Thomas Reyes, 18, lying on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds, according to a statement from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

    He was rushed to Cooper University Hospital and pronounced dead later that evening, the prosecutor's office said.

    The shooting is still under investigation and no arrests have been made.

    Authorities have asked anyone with information to contact Detective Jim Brining at 856-225-8439.

    Gianluca D'Elia may be reached at gdelia@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @gianluca_delia. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    The teen was charged with murder in the death of Javonne Davis in Camden.

    A 15-year-old Camden boy has been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of another teenager outside of Camden High School last week, authorities said.

    The teen was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday at his home, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office confirmed in a statement.

    Authorities had been searching for the teen since Javonne Davis, 15, was gunned down on Nov. 13 outside of the high school at the corner of Princess and Euclid avenues.

    On social media, friends and classmates remembered Davis as a sweet, funny, and always respectful. They recalled how he played football and wanted to make something of himself, always helping out by carrying items into church and other gestures.

    "Our District is in shock and mourning following the tragic passing of one of our beloved students," school district officials said in a statement last week.

    "Grief counseling is available to students at Camden High and other schools where students have been impacted by his passing, and the violence that led to it. We remain steadfast in our duty of care to our students, and to the young man's family, and will provide as much comfort and support as we can."

    In addition to murder, the teen has been charged with unlawfully possessing a weapon and possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose, the prosecutor's office said.

    Davis's sister told a local television reporter she had no idea why someone would shoot her brother. His sister, Raven Utley, told the station Davis had just been accepted into Rutgers Future Scholars.

    The program aims to help mentor teens in cities like Camden through their high school years and provide them with full-ride scholarships to the university if they succeed in the program.

    Staff writer Rebecca Everett contributed to this report.

    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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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption from shelters and rescues.

    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 greghatalagalleries@gmail.com.

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


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    Eagles Cheerleaders perform at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. on Sunday, November 25, 2018 (11/25/18) during a 25-22 win over the New York Giants.

    PHILADELPHIA -- It was Sept. 23 when the Eagles Cheerleaders and fans celebrated an Eagles win against the Colts at the friendly confines of Lincoln Financial Field. 

    Who knew it would take nine more weeks for another celebration at the Linc to ensue? 

    The Eagles (5-6) erased a 16-point second-quarter deficit for a 25-22 victory over the Giants (3-7) Sunday afternoon to keep their postseason hopes alive. 

    On the winning drive, with the score tied at 22, quarterback Carson Wentz and the offense faced a fourth-and-1 with 2 minutes and 39 seconds to play. It was no surprise that Doug Pederson made the season-saving decision to go for it. Wentz then hit Nelson Agholor for 12 yards and a first down. 

    Kicker Jake Elliott won the game with a 43-yard field goal with 25 seconds left on the clock.

    OPEN THE PHOTO GALLERY HERE to see the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders on Sunday

    The much maligned Eagles defense held New York to only three second-half points and sacked quarterback Eli Manning twice. 

    Former Penn State star Saquon Barkley had 101 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also caught a 13-yard touchdown pass.  

    Wentz finished the game completing 20-of-28 passes for 236 passing yards and a touchdown while running back Josh Adams led the way with 22 carries for 84 yards. 

    Zach Ertz finished the day with seven catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.

    The Eagles host the 6-5 Washington Redskins Monday at 8:15 p.m. 

    Click here to see photos of the Eagles win over the Giants. 

    Tim Hawk may be reached at thawk@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Instagram @photog_hawk and Twitter @photogthawk. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.


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    The exact number of deaths at N.J.jails are difficult to count. An examination of public records found wide disparities in the statistics that counties maintain.

    By Matt Katz and Audrey Quinn

    David Acosta was at home on a Sunday morning in January when he got the call from a friend, a corrections officer at the Hudson County Correctional Facility, who told him that something bad had happened to his sister.

    "I said, 'I know, she's locked up,' " Acosta remembered. "He said, 'No, it's a little worse.' "

    Guards found Cynthia Acosta, 34, hanging from torn bedsheets tied to an overturned bunk. She was the third of six deaths that occurred at the Kearny facility between June 2017 and March 2018, and one of dozens of suicides that occurred over the last several years at the state's county jails.

    The exact number of deaths at New Jersey jails are difficult to count. An examination of public records found wide disparities in the statistics that counties maintain and what they provide to the state and federal governments. In some counties, the month-by-month death numbers listed in annual state inspection reports do not add up to the yearly totals in those very same reports.

    There are jails in 20 of New Jersey's 21 counties. They operate with little oversight from the state Department of Corrections, which has a patchwork system of rules and no consistent system for investigating deaths. In Hudson County, 17 deaths were recorded at the jail since 2013, but officials could only locate incident reports on six.

    What is clear is that, according to the latest figures available from the U.S. Department of Justice, New Jersey jails have the highest per-capita death rate among the 30 states with the largest jail populations. And suicides committed by those suffering from untreated drug addiction and mental illness are a big driver of that number.

    The rate of suicide in New Jersey jails rose an average of fifty-five percent each year between 2012 and 2016, according to documents provided by officials in the 15 counties who responded to our records request, out of the state's 21 counties.

    Suicides make up as much as a third of all jail deaths. But with the exception of Hudson County, where officials recently increased spending on mental health and stepped up screenings as part of the intake process for prisoners, these deaths have garnered little governmental attention.

    Cynthia Acosta had a history of drug abuse, but in the weeks leading up to her arrest and suicide she was getting help. She admitted herself to an inpatient mental health program at Christ Hospital in Jersey City, where she was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A prescription for psychiatric medication helped to stabilize her.

    "I noticed her changing throughout those days when she was taking the medication," said David Acosta, who was putting his sister up at his home at the time.

    At this point she was feeling ready to find her own place, but to qualify for housing assistance she needed a copy of her identification records. So she drove to a government office in Hoboken, despite having a suspended driver's license. North Bergen police officers pulled her over and arrested her for past traffic violations. She was booked at the Hudson County Correctional Facility and housed in the women's combined medical and mental health unit -- a small, windowless, triangle-shaped room bordered by three cells, a shower and a nurses' station.

    David Acosta said his sister's new medication was left in her vehicle when she was arrested. Three days later, she was dead.

    cynthia11[1].jpgCynthia Acosta with her brother David. (Courtesy of David Acosta) 

    Cynthia Acosta was the youngest of five. "She just brought life to everybody," her brother said. "That's who she was."

    He blames his sister's death on poor monitoring in the Hudson County jail medical unit. "This could have been prevented," he said.

    'Those six deaths, they all have my name attached'
    Hudson County Correctional Facility Director Ronald Edwards, the third director of the jail in two years, acknowledged that the jail's nurses didn't have enough training and resources to deal with mental health issues. But he said inmates were appropriately monitored.

    "Those six deaths, they all have my name attached. That's a heavy weight," he said. "It was my facility and my community and these people's relatives that had brought this crisis to the forefront. "

    After the string of deaths, cells at the jails were reconfigured to prevent hangings. Hudson County is also building new multimillion-dollar health units with one of the most progressive medical and mental health programs in the state.

     

    Seventy-two percent of the people in the Hudson County jail are dealing with mental illness, drug addiction or, like Acosta, both, according to jail officials. New Jersey, like most other states, spent decades moving mentally ill people out of decrepit institutions. But, also like most other states, New Jersey never replaced them with other service options. So jails became the de facto mental health care providers.

    While incomplete and inconsistent record keeping makes it hard to pinpoint the causes behind all of the jail deaths, experts point to problems with jail healthcare as a common denominator. Of the 10 jails with the highest death rates in New Jersey, eight contract out their medical services to one for-profit provider, CFG Health Systems, based in Burlington County.

    CFG doesn't release information on specific cases. A company spokeswoman said it consistently gives inmates a high level of care.

    But a nurse practitioner who used to work in New Jersey jails and is familiar with CFG's practices said the system rewards companies that provide less care. Since the medical contractor gets a flat rate per jail, she said, increased services means the less profit for the company.

    "The more patients I saw, then the more orders for medications there were, the more referrals to psychology there were. So it's more work for everybody," said the nurse, who asked not to be identified because she still works in the corrections field and feared retribution. She said she flagged one prisoner who later committed suicide for mental health problems, but her colleagues failed to follow up.

    The contracts for healthcare at jails are awarded by the elected county officials. Since 2001, CFG and its executives have given more than $400,000 to New Jersey politicians. About $100,000 of that went to party organizations and officials in Camden County, where CFG operates a medical unit at the local jail.

    Daniel Valdez, who struggled with addiction, was 33 when he killed himself there in 2016. He was one of 11 people who died under authority of the Camden County Department of Corrections that year. Two died in the jail, and nine people under parole supervision.

    'Oh well, they can't do nothing about it'
    Valdez's friend, Mike Sorrentino, also struggled with addiction. He was actually at the jail on a possession charge the night Valdez came in for the last time, and he shared a cell in the intake area with his friend.

    Over the next four days, Sorrentino said he kept watch as Valdez went through the withdrawal routine: Visits to the nurse's station at the start and end of each day. On the first morning, Valdez took a regimen of withdrawal meds -- vitamins, and librium to calm him down. But he vomited the pills.

    "[The nurse] said 'Oh well, that would have helped him.' Oh well, they can't do nothing about it," Sorrentino said. "Now at this point he looked like a good wind could have picked him up and took him away."

    DanielIMG3316.jpgDaniel Valdez, right, with his brother, John Valdez Jr. (Courtesy of the Valdez family.) 

    On the third morning, Valdez fainted and knocked his head against a brick wall. Sorrentino said the nurse alleged that Valdez was faking his injury. On the fourth day, Valdez fainted again while the nurse took his blood pressure.

    "She looked me right in the eye and said 'If he's not bleeding or he's not dead, there's nothing we can do for him,'" Sorrentino said. Later that night, Sorrentino went to Valdez's cell to give him a Snickers bar. He found Valdez hanging from a bedsheet tied to the upper bunk.

    A Camden County spokesman, Dan Keashen, said nurses did do their job, and that Valdez got the right medication and monitoring. He said an internal investigation found that Valdez's other cellmate didn't corroborate Sorrentino's allegations. Keashen also said the county contracts with a monitor who oversees CFG's performance.

    Fed investigate Cumberland County Jail

    But Jeanne LoCicero, the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which is seeking documents from jails to try to hold officials accountable, said there's little incentive for stricter monitoring of CFG's performance. She points to online photo galleries of CFG executives throwing fundraisers for the New Jersey County Jails Wardens Association.

    "Once the counties enter these contracts, we don't know if they're auditing the contracts and making sure that they're getting what they asked the provider to do," she said. "When different places have different numbers of something so critical and so certain as a death, it seems that we know we have a broken oversight system."

    'The state inspections are a joke'
    Camden County jail director David Owens said his jail administrators regularly meet with CFG Health Systems to discuss standards of care. About 60 percent of his jail's population have drug and alcohol problems, he said.

    "I'm sensitive to the complaints," he said. "We are responsive as we possibly can be to them. And we are concerned that the individuals committed to this facility have the best medical care possible."

    The state Department of Corrections conducts annual inspections at the jails, checking off about 800 different standards. Over the last five years, 80 to 90 percent of the jails were listed as being in full compliance, records show -- even if they failed to accurately report death totals.

    "The state inspections are a joke," said Robert Murie, who spent 28 years as a corrections officer at the Atlantic County Jail before he retired last year.

    Murie said jail officials have ways of getting around state rules like the requirement that each inmate gets "25 square feet of unencumbered floor space." In 2014, a state inspector marked Atlantic County as noncompliant for squeezing three inmates into two-person cells. So the next year, Murie said, the warden moved the overflow into a mental health holding area before state inspectors visited.

    "State came," Murie said. "They saw that the counts were correct. They left." And right away, jail officials moved the inmates back to the crowded cells, he alleged.

    Murie also said that jail officials fudged death totals by discharging inmates at risk of death to a hospital, so they wouldn't be on the jail's record.

    Atlantic County officials denied all of Murie's allegations.

    But in Camden County, records show how a sick inmate was released just before he died, and another dying inmate received his discharge papers at the hospital. Those cases were not counted as jail deaths.

    The state of New Jersey doesn't publish summary statistics on county jail deaths. But a WNYC analysis of 80 recent death reports, obtained from the seven deadliest jails through public records requests, found that half of all inmate deaths, regardless of cause, happened within the first two weeks of admission. Female inmates were overrepresented in cases of suicide.

    Marcus Hicks, the acting Commissioner of the state Department of Corrections, refused numerous requests for an interview. An agency spokeswoman said county jail deaths are a county issue. "Our role is to establish the standards," said the spokeswoman, Alexandra Altman. "And it's the role of the county to meet those standards."

    In contrast to New Jersey, New York's Commission on Corrections is an independent body that investigates every death in local jails, with the power to interview employees, inmates and family members.

    At the end of 2017, the New Jersey Department of Corrections announced it will keep more formal records of all jail deaths. But so far this year, the state has records on less than two-thirds of confirmed deaths in county jails.

    Matt Katz and Audrey Quinn are reporters for WNYC News, which produced this report


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    The Camden resident has been missing since Nov. 18

    Police are seeking help locating an 18-year-old Camden woman who has been missing for nine days and may be in danger, authorities said Tuesday.

    sierra-camden.jpgSelena Sierra (Photo: Camden County Prosecutor's Office) 

    Selena Sierra, of the East Camden section of the city, was reported missing Nov. 18 from the 2800 block of Carman Street, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement. 

    Known to spend time in Cramer Hill and East Camden, Sierra was wearing gray pants, a gray jacket and carrying a pink duffel bag when she went missing.  Sierra is 5-foot-6, 135 pounds and has brown hair and brown eyes.

    Anyone with information is asked to call Camden County Prosecutor's Office Det. Alex Burckhardt at 856-225-5048 or thetip line at 856-757-7042.

    Information may also be emailed to ccpotips@ccprosecutor.org

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

     


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    Former commissioner Paul Dougherty admitted guilt for not reporting accident.

    A former Haddon Township commissioner pleaded guilty Monday to charges against him for the second time in as many months.

    Paul Dougherty was in an Atlantic County courtroom Monday facing charges that he left the scene of a car accident and was driving with an expired license. He pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge of failure to report an accident and failure to exhibit a license, a court administrator said.

    Last month, Dougherty, 48, pleaded guilty for accepting a $7,000 referral fee from a law firm after steering a disgruntled employee to a lawyer who successfully sued his own municipal government. In exchange for his guilty plea and resignation from his elected position -- a non-partisan three-person commission -- in Haddon Township, the state attorney general agreed to recommend probation instead of jail time.

    Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 2.23.54 PM.pngPaul Dougherty
     

    Dougherty is also an attorney and former municipal prosecutor in Cherry Hill, Clementon, Gloucester City, and Medford. The traffic violation, which occurred in Haddon Township, Camden County, was moved to Estell Manor, Atlantic County, a town of 1,700 residents in the Pine Barrens, to avoid potential conflict of interests in the counties in which Dougherty worked as a prosecutor.

    His jobs as a prosecutor, all of which ended over the last three months, would likely have included prosecuting traffic violations, such as the ones he pleaded guilty to Monday.

    Dougherty had served as a township commissioner since 2007, for which he was paid $21,000 annually.

    A Haddon Township police report said Dougherty left the scene of an accident on the evening of July 19. He is accused of rear-ending another car at an intersection.

    Dougherty placed a cellphone call to police Chief Mark Cavallo 20 minutes after the accident was reported, according to police records obtained through a public records request. The police document said Dougherty told the chief his wife was involved in an accident and fled the scene after becoming nervous. He also said he called him because he did not trust a sergeant he believed was on duty that night. The accident report was taken by a patrolwoman at Dougherty's house that evening.

    The officer Dougherty said he didn't trust was Sgt. Thomas Whalen. He was not working that night.

    Whalen is one of four senior police officers who sued the chief and township commissioners, including Dougherty, over alleged sexual harassment by Cavallo. All of the officers and Cavallo are men. The claim against Cavallo was dismissed in June after a judge ruled the it was filed after a statute of limitations had passed.

    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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    Police are searching for the gunman.

    Police are trying to find the person responsible for shooting and killing a 39-year-old man in broad daylight on a Camden street Tuesday.

    elijah-jackson.jpgElijah Jackson (Facebook) 

    Camden County police received reports of an unconscious man at 7th and State streets just after 10:30 a.m., according to a release from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

    They found Elijah Jackson, 39, of the Sicklerville section of Winslow Township, on the ground with a single gunshot wound.

    They rushed him to Cooper University Hospital but he died there at 11:14 a.m., the prosecutor's office said.

    On social media Tuesday and Wednesday, friends mourned Jackson, referring to him by his nickname, Leek.

    Police haven't made any arrests, and they're hoping the public will help them by coming forward with any information about the crime. 

    Anyone with information is asked to contact Camden County Prosecutor's Office Detective Andy McNeil at (856) 225-8407 or Camden County Police Detective Sean Miller at (856) 757-7420.

    Tips can be emailed to ccpotips@ccprosecutor.org.

    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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    19 people were charged with drug trafficking conspiracy by federal authorities

    The two plainclothes police detectives who were shot in their car this summer were investigating a drug ring that authorities are now busting open.

    And one of the men accused of shooting them was involved in the drug operation, federal prosecutors say.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey on Wednesday announced charges against 19 people who they say dealt crack, powder cocaine and heroin, and used violence in their operation not far from the waterfront in South Camden.

    Among those charged is Juan "Puto" Figueroa, the man in state custody on charges that he fired at two Camden County police plainclothes detectives in their unmarked car.

    Those detectives, who were wounded Aug. 7 at Broadway and Mount Vernon streets, had conducted surveillance on the drug operation earlier in the day, FBI Special Agent Michael Bowman attested in a lengthy affidavit made public Wednesday.

    The 21-year-old Camden man was also accused of involvement in the Bloods gang based on what authorities saw in photos on his social media accounts.

    Robin Lord, Figueroa's attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

    The drug operation was also blamed for a shooting that killed a 49-year-old man and wounded another in April 2017.

    They burned through cell phones quickly. And when they spoke, it was often in code words that investigators cracked, federal authorities say.

    Heroin was "blue." Crack cocaine was "purple" and powder cocaine was "red."

    And a quarter ounce of crack, roughly equivalent to 7 grams, was called a "Vick," referring to the jersey number of former Eagles (and Jets) quarterback Michael Vick

    The group's alleged leaders previously served prison time for running a Camden cocaine operation in 2001. Ronnie Lopez served more than nine years on a conviction for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base. Lopez's half-brother, Nelson Salcedo, served 10 years on drug charges.

    The Pine Street blocks where authorities witnessed drug deals are one and a half miles from where Lopez and Salcedo were accused of storing drugs in the city in 2001.

    "[Lopez] and [Salcedo] now are working together again," FBI Special Agent Michael Bowman wrote in an affidavit.

    Investigators gathered evidence on the drug operation through cellphone records, recorded phone calls, intercepted text messages, confidential sources and 39 controlled drug buys.

    Bowman noted in the affidavit that in the first few controlled buys of heroin, investigators would field test the drugs. But they started sending them to a lab for analysis after detecting fentanyl in the drug packages.

    Eight of the defendants are still at large. The remaining were scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Joel Schneider.

    If convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison with a maximum of life, and a fine up to $10 million.

    Charged were: 

    (The suspects are from Camden unless otherwise noted. Bolded names are still at large.)

    • Nelson Salcedo, 48
    • Ronnie Lopez, 40, Pennsauken
    • Paul Salcedo, 28
    • Carlos Perez, 45, Collingswood
    • Juan Figueroa, 21
    • Jose Diaz, 26
    • Christopher Vazquez, 28
    • Ramon Velez, 43
    • David Velez, 30
    • Waldemar Garcia, 33
    • Naeem Sadler, 18
    • Kaliel Johnson, 26
    • Jasmin Velez, 25
    • Elisa Rivera, 28
    • Meylin Troncoso, 31
    • Dwight Williams, 27, Mount Holly
    • William Carrillo, 44
    • Jose Agron, 25
    • Jameel Byng, 25

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

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    With apologies to the City of Trenton, "New Jersey Makes - The World Takes."

    It's called the Garden State, but more than fruits and vegetables have their seeds planted and nurtured in New Jersey.

    Innovative minds have always been some of the state's most valuable assets. And while we all know about Thomas Edison and his inventions, some people may not be aware of the host of other products and innovations that got their start in New Jersey.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    This list is incomplete; future galleries will cover even more of the wonderful things "Made in New Jersey."

    Be sure to right-click on the links that tell more of the story about many of these 'Made in New Jersey' entries.

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


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    A tiny sampling of the thousands of pets awaiting adoption in New Jersey.

    It's that time of year again, when we spend enormous sums on pets that can't tell us they hate what we got them.

    Here's just a sampling of some of the good, the bad and ... the other gifts available for your pets in 2018.

    Untitled-1.jpg 

    A 'medium dog bowl' from one company costs $32 plus shipping; it must be a water bowl because there's a molded bone sticking up in the middle of it around which the dog would otherwise have to eat. My dog enjoys her water just fine out of a 32-cent Tupperware bowl.

    Another company is selling a 'Riviera Dog Bed' for only $398. The picture shows a dog that can't weigh more than 20 pounds taking up most of it. Meanwhile, a name-brand queen size mattress sells for $239, and your dog would prefer to be on a human mattress anyway, as you well know.

    There's a pillow that has 'Santa, I've Been a Good Cat' stitched into it and selling for $68. No cat I've ever owned slept on a pillow and the last time I checked, they can't read anyway.

    That doesn't mean all pet gifts are ... curious. I also found a beautiful embroidered pet Christmas stocking that comes with the pet's name for $29. And in the spirit of the season, there's a bag of rawhide bones that look exactly like candy canes for $15.99.

    And before you picture a doting senior like me as the purchaser of such things, take note: according to a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and reported on mercurynews.com, "people in the 17- to 21-year-old age group -- which PwC calls "mature Generation Z" -- will spend an average of $71 on their pets this holiday season."

    "Urban dwellers in large cities will spend about the same," the article goes on to note, "followed by fathers between the ages of 22 and 35, who will spend $70 on their pets."

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


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    The bleeding won't stop there. Two public entities will pony up another $15M total to redevelop the land.

    Add another $16 million to the money pit formerly known as Campbell's Field on the Camden Waterfront that will soon be demolished.

    The Camden County Improvement Authority approved a nearly $1 million contract this month to tear down the 17-year-old former "Field of Dreams." It was built with $21 million in public dollars thrown after a fad of independent minor league baseball stadiums as a draw for foot traffic and economic development.

    After the demolition, Rutgers-Camden and Camden city are expected to pony up $15 million, $7.5 million apiece, to develop the area into a complex of sports fields for the university's Division III sports teams and the city recreation department. Another $155,000 is also included to the $939,300 demolition contract awarded to the R. E. Pierson construction company to dig up irrigation and drainage lines at the former 6,400-seat ballpark.

    riversharksjpg-b42f9fe3ed1f9e38.jpgThe former Campbell's Field minor league baseball park is scheduled to be torn down. 

    The demolition work is scheduled to begin this month and take about three months to complete. Items such as some seats and other pieces of the ballpark will be salvaged, a county spokesman said. The Ewing Cole firm has been chosen to design the new athletic fields.

    "There is no doubt in my mind that it will be sad to see the stadium go, but the redevelopment of those acres will create an amenity and asset open to all for perpetuity," Louis Cappelli, Camden County freeholder director said in a statement. "...This will be the single best investment for Camden's youth athletic infrastructure in the modern era."

    The goal in 2001 was to make the Camden waterfront a destination and help fuel the resurgence of a once proud, blue-collar cousin of Philadelphia, the home of the Campbell Soup Company for nearly 150 years.

    At a groundbreaking in 1999, Gov. Christie Whitman said the "partners" behind the investment "have heard the message from the movie Field of Dreams: 'If you build it, they will come.'"

    Public records show about $21 million was spent through a combination of direct loans and bonds floated through a private bank to build the stadium.

    The downward spiral of a $21M baseball stadium built on taxpayers' backs, explained

    The state Economic Development Authority issued a $7 million bond through Santander Bank, which was known then as Sovereign Bank, along with a direct loan of $2 million. That was added to $6.5 million loan from the Delaware River Port Authority, $2 million from Rutgers, the state university, and $3.7 million in equity financing obtained by the builder.

    The EDA kicked in an additional $1.2 million for upkeep of the already debt-strapped stadium in 2004, just three years after it opened. In 2015 the Camden Riversharks independent minor-league baseball team, the major tenant of the stadium, folded under a pile of debt.

    Camden County stepped in to purchase the property in 2015 to save it from foreclosure and settled the litigation by paying $3.5 million to pay off the outstanding debt. The EDA and DRPA had negotiated a ticket surcharge with the Riversharks that would span 15 years to get back a fraction of the money they were owed. But four months later the team folded after just one payment.

    "We received one surcharge payment; they were only obligated to pay the surcharge if they sold tickets to games and 2015 was their last season," said Erin Gold, an EDA spokeswoman.

    DRPA borrowing for projects around the Philadelphia region, including Campbell's Field, led to a $1 toll increase at the bridges and still makes up about 10 percent of the agency's debt, the Associated Press reported in 2016. The DRPA no longer finances economic development projects.

    lmn-8598jpg-75a8cad31dda37ba.jpgA Camden Riversharks game in the former Campbell's Field, now scheduled to be demolished. 

    Despite promises that no taxpayer funds would be used to pay down the debt, the Camden County Improvement Authority has been subsidizing a $300,000 annual debt payment through its budget.

    "Unfortunately, the state, in its lack of wisdom, built a baseball stadium for an unaffiliated, independent league (team) that folded and $35 million disappeared," South Jersey political powerbroker George Norcross III said last year.

    A hotel and headquarters for the American Water Company are part of more than $1 billion in current development projects on Camden's waterfront and are part of nearly $3 billion of development in its downtown, local officials said.

    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 food shopping experience hasn't changed a lot over the years.

    We already have drones delivering online purchases in some parts of the country. You have to admit - you probably didn't think you'd live to see the day.

    Yet it's interesting that supermarkets are remarkably similar today to the experience a succession of generations have had over the years.

    Think about it. The manual cash register (and its almost musical sound) has been replaced by bar code scanners ... but the process of your purchases passing along a conveyor as you move through the thin checkout line is hardly different.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Items are still arranged in rows of shelves that we push shopping carts up and down. The carts themselves may be made of plastic instead of metal but the design has barely been altered.

    Fruits and vegetables are still open to be chosen individually; meats and fish are neatly arranged in refrigerated displays. It's an experience we had as children that our own children -- and likely their children - have been and will be able to share.

    Here's a gallery of vintage photos of supermarkets in New Jersey. And here are links to more vintage photo galleries of supermarkets and food stores in the Garden State.

    Vintage N.J. photos of supermarkets

    Vintage photos of supermarkets and food stores in N.J.

    Vintage photos of neighborhood food stores in N.J.

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


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    It's yet another chance for the former Echelon Mall, as Voorhees Township and a private partner attempt a last-minute rescue.

    South Jersey will soon find out if its declining indoor shopping malls, those climate-controlled relics of the '60s, '70s and '80s, have more lives than a cat trapped in a food court ceiling rafter. 

    A change in Voorhees Township may prove to be a textbook example of how to save a dying mall -- or just another reason for bulldozing it and walking away.

    The Voorhees Township Council's preferred redeveloper for Echelon Mall, known recently as Voorhees Town Center, has agreed to purchase the distressed mall from its current owners. This was clearly a forced sale; the township threatened using eminent domain acquisition if the mall's current, shadowy owners, Namdar Realty Group, hadn't agreed to sell to the chosen private developer. The new developer, Brandywine Financial Services Corp. (not the  better-known Brandywine Realty Trust), says it will turn the site into housing, plus the usual mix of "destination" entertainment and retail venues designed to be the remedy for struggling malls.

    The upshot is that township taxpayers won't be stuck immediately with buying the mall, which Namdar purchased for only $13.4 million three years ago. That's after the former owners, large-scale mall developer PREIT (Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust) spent nearly $150 million remaking outlying sections of the mall structure with housing, plus the usual mix of "destination" entertainment and retail venues designed to be the remedy for struggling malls. 

    The upcoming Brandywine project ought to be watched closely throughout New Jersey. First of all, no indoor mall in South Jersey has ever been demolished to the extent that Voorhees Town Center is going to be. All that is expected to remain  will be the separately owned, still-thriving Boscov's department store, the recently added "restaurant row" and the adjacent mall corner that houses township offices.

    For all the hand-wringing that's been done over the fate of New Jersey malls, a Wikipedia page listing 114 effectively demolished malls nationwide does not include one in the Garden State. Go no farther than Maryland and you'll find five demolished malls in the Baltimore and Washington suburbs.

    There are other New Jersey candidates for complete erasure, especially the virtually abandoned Burlington Center Mall. But the Voorhees site is likely to be the first one in the state to undergo serious amputation in an attempt to save the patient.

    Taxpayers and community planners need to watch how several factors about the deal play out:

    • What kind of tax breaks, if any, will Brandywine get for taking on this parcel "in need of redevelopment"? The mall is currently the township's largest taxpayer at about $900,000 a year. 
    • What public services impact will adding "150 townhomes and an additional component of senior housing" cause? It'll be substantial if the non-senior homes require the township to build or expand a school. Township Economic Development Director Mario DiNatale said two other prospective redevelopers that Brandywine beat out actually proposed more housing units.
    • What assures the success of Brandywine's entertainment-and-dining venues? While DiNatale described the plans as "super sexy, super cool," it takes a lot to knock people's socks off these days. There's lots of competition for this discretionary (and recession-susceptible) dollar. Existing brew pubs and sports bars are numerous. New competitors in Atlantic City can also take sports bets.

    If it all works out, officials from several other New Jersey municipalities with on-the-edge indoor malls will flock to Voorhees for advice. If it doesn't, the sad truth may be that the private-sector wrecking ball, wielded without government intervention, is sometimes the proper choice.

    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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    Robert Sachs points out one amendment to a list of demolished shopping malls that didn't include New Jersey sites.

    The Dec. 6 editorial "For N.J. mall, a makeover or Wreck-it Ralph moment," about the Echelon Mall in Voorhees Township, stated that a Wikipedia page about demolished shopping malls in the United States did not list a single New Jersey location. 

    That information is incorrect, since I visited on a couple of occasions earlier in my life a New Jersey mall that I consider to have since been demolished. It was the Seaview Square Mall, located near state Routes 35 and 66, at the northern end of Neptune Boulevard in Ocean Township.

    I've even edited the Wikipedia page about the mall, as anyone who has created an account on Wikipedia can do.

    A new shopping center also known as "Seaview Square" replaced the enclosed mall, and is currently anchored by such stores as Target and Big Lots. To date, I have only been in the Target store, yet I imagine I eventually will stop into some of the other stores there. 

    Robert Sachs, Bayonne

    Editors' note: The Wikipedia page apparently is not the ultimate authority on "demolished" malls, although Seaview Square's individual Wikipedia page classifies it as "repurposed." The same may be true of Wayne Town Center and Mill Creek Mall in Secaucus, which online commenters also say were demolished. 

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


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    Welcome a more aggressive state stance against polluters who foul high-poverty areas, but remember that removing the bad stuff is the bottom line.

    The old slogan about real estate value and "location, location, location" means that when choosing a home or retail business spot, the most desirable address is the one with the nicest houses, the highest family incomes and the most robust traffic patterns.

    But, one group of real-estate buyers actively rejects the best neighborhoods they can afford, avoiding the most costly houses, the most mobile populations and the richest residents. It's that small group of polluting industries that know that low-income communities won't complain effectively about fouled air and water, and can't afford the pricey lawyers needed to fight planning/zoning approval of their operations.

    State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is going after outlaw companies that allegedly produce environmental injustice as frequently as they produce chemicals, scrap metal or the residues of household trash and human waste.

    It's about time.

    It's also significant that Grewal came to Camden on Thursday to announce eight lawsuits against companies statewide that the state says made messes in lower-income neighborhoods and never cleaned them up. The locations include two in Camden City, and one each in the nearby towns of Pennsauken and Palmyra.

    That half of the lawsuits involve sites within a 10-mile radius of Camden may be no accident. This Delaware River corridor has long been called out by community activists as a repository for the most undesirable operations. To tell the truth, it's government as much as the private sector that fostered the dumping-ground image. In the 1980s, Camden County and Gloucester County located waste-to-energy trash incinerators within four miles of each other, in South Camden and in a West Deptford Township corner that borders lower-income Westville.

    Over the years, Camden was also picked for a now-defunct state prison, as well as the county's regional sewage treatment plant. At the time, the public officials' mantra seemed to be, "Enjoy the few jobs we've created for your desperate neighbors, but don't try to breathe too often."

    Some of the targets of the the AG's new lawsuits are already qualified federal Superfund sites, subject to federal action on remediation and recovery of cleanup costs. One such site is the Purchase Welllfield in Camden, a former plating facility that is alleged to have fouled underground drinking water with 9,000 gallons of heavy-metal waste, including nickel and cadmium. It's been on the Superfund list since 1998.

    The state's lawsuits apparently differ from Superfund actions since they ask for natural resource damage payments in addition to any cleanup costs. This is a clear signal that Grewal and Gov. Phil Murphy want to do things differently from former Gov. Chris Christie. Christie's administration infamously settled for pennies on the dollar -- $225 million -- after calculating natural resource damages of $8.9 billion in a longstanding, multi-site lawsuit against ExxonMobil Corp.

    The more aggressive stance is a positive development. That said, we have to wonder if some of the new lawsuits will be seen by the courts as piling on, especially at sites whose cleanups are already being managed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    After all, to the people who live near these hazards, removing the dangerous waste, the offensive odors, the asthma-triggering air and the potential water quality degradation all take priority over proving again a point about how the poor must eat pollution more often than the rich. We already know this, even though we'd like to think that government entities in particular, if they had the chance to do it over, would make some different siting choices today.

    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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