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Breaking news & local stories from Camden City, Berlin, Laurel Springs and more
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    A Gloucester Township man was being delivered a package containing carfentanil, authorities say

    A man was arrested on Halloween after federal authorities intercepted a shipment of a powerful opioid that's best used to anesthetize elephants.

    Theodore Pierce, 46, was arrested at his home in Gloucester Township on Tuesday, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said.

    According to the affidavit of probable cause in his case, authorities began investigating Pierce after members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security intercepted a package addressed to him that had been shipped from overseas.

    The package, seized at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, contained a white powder that tested positive for carfentanil, the court document said.

    Carfentanil is an opioid 100 times stronger than fentanyl, which itself is at least 50 times stronger than heroin, according to the federal Open Chemistry Database.

    It's not clear how much carfentanil constitutes a lethal dose, but as little as two milligrams of fentanyl could kill someone, depending on how it's administered, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA warned law enforcement and the public about carfentanil in September 2016.

    "We see it on the streets, often disguised as heroin," former DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg wrote at the time. "It is crazy dangerous."

    After the package was seized from JFK on Oct. 25, members of the prosecutor's office, Homeland Security, Gloucester Township police and the county sheriff's department got a warrant and staged a delivery at Pierce's home.

    Once Pierce accepted the package, the authorities acted on the warrant and arrested him.

    He faces a third-degree possession charge for less than a half ounce of the drug.

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

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    The man suffered a concussion and a fractured wrist, his attorney said. Watch video

    A federal grand jury has indicted a Camden County police officer who was caught on video punching a man 12 times in the head after stopping him on a Camden street in February.

    The U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday that a grand jury found evidence that Officer Nicholas Romantino, 25, of Egg Harbor Township, violated Edward Minguela's civil rights by repeatedly punching him in the head and then falsified a police report to cover up the assault.

    The indictment against Romantino comes more than six months after the Camden County Prosecutor's Office announced he would not be charged with a crime because body camera videos showed Minguela was resisting arrest by pulling away from officers.

    The office has also ignored calls from a civil rights lawyer to drop the obstruction and resisting arrest charges against Minguela, 32, of Camden.

    The police department called the surveillance video of the incident "extremely disturbing" and suspended Romantino without pay pending an internal affairs investigation.

    On Friday, police spokesman Dan Keashen said only, "We're standing by our previous comments regarding this incident."

    The Feb. 22 incident was sparked by a 911 call reporting a man matching Minguela's description had a gun. What happened next was captured on surveillance video, which Minguela obtained and distributed to the media when he called for an investigation into what happened to him.

    Numerous police officers stopped Minguela at gunpoint and he put his hands up, at which point Romantino tried to pull his hands behind his back. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office release, the move "startled" Minguela and he pulled away, causing Romantino to throw him on the ground.

    Then Romantino, "without provocation," punched Minguela 12 times in the head while other officers moved to hold his arms and legs, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

    Romantino, in a police report, wrote that Minguela was resisting by putting his left hand under his chest and trying to lift himself off the ground, and added that he could not see Minguela's right hand.

    But that report, which tried to justify the use of force, was false, the indictment alleges. Romantino actually held Minguela's left hand while punching the back of his head. Another officer held the man's right arm, the office said.

    Romantino can be seen on body camera footage obtained by NJ Advance Media using his right hand to punch Minguela. The officer was later treated at Virtua Hospital for injuries to his right hand.

    That same body camera footage showed that Romantino joked about the incident with officers.

    While showing his swollen knuckles, a fellow officer says of Minguela, "That guy. He's always giving us a hard time, that guy."

    "Not anymore," Romantino quipped, eliciting a few chuckles from his colleagues.

    Romantino has been on the force for two years and is paid an annual salary of $38,864, according to records. 

    Minguela's attorney said he suffered a concussion and a fractured wrist as a result of the encounter.

    Minguela also claims that when police took him to the hospital, they bargained with him that if he declined medical treatment, they would not tack on a charge of assault and battery of a police officer, too.

    He agreed, he's said.

    The charges against Minguela are still active in municipal court, but his attorney, Devon Jacob of Pennsylvania, said the videos show there is no reasonable cause to support them.

    The violation of civil rights count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. The false records count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. The maximum fine for each of the charges is $250,000, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

    The office said that special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael T. Harpster of the Philadelphia Division, led the investigation with help from the Internal Affairs Unit of the Camden County Police Department and investigators assigned to the Special Prosecution Unit of the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

    Court records show Minguela has been charged with crimes in Superior Court 11 times over the last 13 years, but most charges were transferred to municipal or family court, records show. He was convicted of resisting arrest in 2017 and of charges related to drug distribution in 2013 and 2005.

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

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

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    A bill would establish an annual grant program to recognize public colleges and universities that offer a wide variety of programs and services to veterans.

    What do we owe the military women and men who sacrifice so much to keep us safe at home - besides our most profound thanks?

    At the very least, we owe them the chance to find jobs that are satisfying and rewarding, not just monetarily but emotionally as well.

    And we owe them access to New Jersey's institutions of higher learning, so they can qualify for those jobs.

    A bill working its way through the state Legislature would establish an annual grant program to recognize our public colleges and universities that offer a wide variety of programs and services to veterans.

    Working through the "Troops to College Grant Program" established in 2009, the initiative would target up to three such institutions to receive grants of $150,000 each to step up their efforts, in essence taking their services to the next level.

    Sponsored by Senators Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D-Camden and Gloucester) and Troy Singleton (D-Burlington), the measure would allow veterans to chose a school that offers a culture friendly to vets and an academic program most likely to allow them to excel in their chosen fields.

    Vintage photos of N.J. veterans

    The bill instructs the state's Secretary of Higher Education, working with the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, to select schools based on a variety of criteria.

    Among other things, these would include the number of scholarships offered to veterans, the graduation rates of vets, the amount of funds dedicated to supporting vets, and the institution's policy regarding waiving application fees to veterans.

    To their great credit, the state's colleges and universities have made strides in these areas over the past decade or so.

    The College of New Jersey and Rutgers University regularly win high grades in this arena, as do Stockton and Monmouth universities.

    To get the most out of the higher education experience, veterans look for faculty and staff members who recognize their needs. They look for affordability; mental and physical health services; clubs or activities geared specifically to them, and the flexibility provided by online courses or short-term certification programs.

    The Singleton-Cruz-Perez bill passed the Senate unanimously earlier this year and is now before the Assembly Military Affairs Committee. It aims to make the transition from military duty to a civilian environment as seamless as possible.

    "Because they have given so much of themselves, I believe it is ... our obligation to offer them a bridge across the waters they cross once they re-enter civilian life," Singleton wrote in a newsletter to constituents.

    This Veterans Day, let's pledge not only to thank our veterans for their service, but also to redouble our efforts to assure them and their families a better future.

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

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    Animal shelters continue to be the leading source of pets.

    Facts on animal shelters from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA):

    * Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. The number is evenly split between dogs and cats. A positive note is that the number of dogs and cats entering U.S. shelters annually has declined from approximately 7.2 million in 2011.

    * Approximately 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted each year, again with an even split between cats and dogs.

    * About 710,000 animals who enter shelters as strays are returned to their owners. In this, we don't find so even a split; 620,000 of the returned animals are dogs and only 90,000 are cats.

    * Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). The number of dogs and cats euthanized in U.S. shelters annually has declined from approximately 2.6 million in 2011. This decline can be partially explained by an increase in the percentage of animals adopted and an increase in the number of stray animals successfully returned to their owners.

    These are the most common sources from which primary methods cats and dogs are obtained as pets (this information was based on a multiple response question, which results in the total percentage exceeding 100% individually for cats and dogs. In addition, the 'other' category includes all source categories that were reported by less than 10% of both dog and cat owners):

    Animal Shelter/Humane Society

    Dogs      23%   Cats     31%


    Dogs     20%   Cats     28%


    Dogs     34%   Cats     3%


    Dogs     6%   Cats     27%

    Private Party

    Dogs     12%   Cats     6%


    Dogs     32%   Cats     39%

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

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    The Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders were all smiles despite the 27-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, November 11, 2018 (11/11/18) at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa.

    PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders took the field for their opening routine approximately 20 minutes before Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz took the first snap of the game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field. 

    Unfortunately for the Eagles and their fans, it was all downhill from there. 

    The reigning Super Bowl champs dropped their third straight home game, a 27-20 loss to the hated Cowboys. 

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

    Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ran wild, rushing for 151 yards and a touchdown. He also had six catches for 36 yards and another touchdown.  

    Once again, the Eagles offense started the game slowly going three-and-out on the first series, and quickly took a seat on the bench again after Wentz threw an interception on the first play of the second drive. They finished the first half scoring just three points. 

    Wentz finished 32 for 44 for 360 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. 

    Newly acquired Golden Tate was not so golden in his Eagles debut catching two passes for 19 yards. 

    Tight end Zach Etrz continued his strong play catching 14 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns. 

    Next Sunday the Eagles travel to New Orleans for a 4:25 p.m. game against the 8-1 Saints.

    Click here to see the photos of the Eagles' loss to the Cowboys.

    Tim Hawk may be reached at Follow him on Instagram @photog_hawk and Twitter @photogthawk. Lori M. Nichols may be reached at Follow her on Instagram @photog_lori and Twitter @photoglori. Find on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us.

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    The company known for the Fralinger's, James' and Bayard taffy and candy brands has filed for bankruptcy.

    VIDEO STILL FOR TEASERA file photo of James' salt water taffy. The maker of James', Fralinger's and Bayard's confections, the James Candy Co., has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (File Photo)

    For generations, a visit to the Jersey Shore wasn't complete without grabbing a box of salt water taffy or fudge to take back home. And the folks who didn't get to go waited for you to bring them back a taste of the Boardwalk from your visit.

    But a company which for so many years contributed to those memories -- and made the gooey taffy packaged in boxes emblazoned with vintage seashore scenes -- has filed for bankruptcy.

    The James Candy Co., based in Atlantic City, and maker of the famous Fralinger's and James' salt water taffy and confections and Bayard Chocolates, filed on Nov. 7 for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

    The move will allow the company to reorganize and pay off creditors and keep operating.

    The goodies so coveted by Jersey Shore visitors remain available in its stores and online.

    "The combination of reduced Atlantic City visitors and Boardwalk foot traffic since 2006, the underperformance of 2018 summer sales along the New Jersey seashore and the continuing increased cost of business operations has impacted our efforts to remain a profitable business," said Frank J. Glaser, James Candy Co. president and CEO.

    "Over the last several years we have worked very hard to transform our business and cut costs. While these efforts made great strides, the plan was not able to deliver the results the company needed."

    The company, which was founded in 1880, produces a wide range of treats including its famous salt water taffy, fudge, macaroons and other treats.

    Its 11 stores are located in Atlantic City, Ocean City, Wildwood, Cape May, Cherry Hill and Cinnaminson.

    Sales for the company have declined over the past year and a half by about 23 percent, according to spokeswoman Lisa Glaser Whitley.

    A number of factors have played into that, Whitely said. They include the weather along with foot traffic and the type of visitors who come to Atlantic City, where most of the company's stores are located.

    Besides the financial restructuring, there are "no changes of who we are and how we are operating," according to Whitley.

    The company employs between 50 and 150 workers, depending on the season, and candy production is continuing on schedule. The taffy is being pulled, cut and wrapped and fudge and other candy treats are in production.

    The company "has stood the taste of time and continues to bring nostalgic, quality confections to its customers," it says.

    "Customers should not expect any changes in operations and product fulfillment during the 2018 holiday season and thereafter. The company plans to continue payment of employee wages, benefits, vendors and suppliers in the ordinary course for all goods and services provided on or after the filing date."

    So anyone hankering for a tastes of the Shore at Christmas time, may still find some familiar salt water taffy or fudge under their tree or in their mailbox.

    "The message is we're here and were doing the same things we have been doing for a combined 138 years," Whitley said.

    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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    Authorities on Tuesday asked for the public's help to identify two vehicles involved in a hit-and-run that killed a woman as she crossed I-676 in Camden with her son.

    Authorities on Tuesday asked for the public's help to identify two vehicles involved in a hit-and-run that killed a woman as she crossed I-676 in Camden with her son.

    Crystal Kelley was driving a GMC Terrain north on the highway around 4:45 a.m. Monday when she got into an accident that left her SUV disabled in the left lane against the concrete median, according to New Jersey State Police.

    Following the crash, Kelley and her 13-year-old son climbed over the highway barrier and were walking across the northbound lanes when the 46-year-old Princeton mom was struck by three vehicles, according to authorities.

    "The second vehicle remained at the scene after the crash, but the first and third vehicles continued traveling northbound on I-676," police said in a statement.

    Kelley died at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, police said. Her son was not hit, but suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the initial vehicle crash.

    Police described the first car that hit Kelley as dark-colored. The third vehicle was possibly a dark-colored 2009-2015 Nissan Maxima.

    Anyone with information was urged to call troopers at the Bellmawr Station at 856-933-0662. Callers can remain anonymous.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @noahycFind on Facebook.


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    Cooper University Health Care is the first hospital system to raise its minimum wage to $15.

    New Jersey's Cooper University Health Care says it will begin paying a $15 minimum wage at the start of next year.

    George Norcross, the Camden-based health system's chairman, said in a statement Tuesday the change would affect roughly 10 percent of the organization's 7,500 employees.

    The decision comes as Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy and the Democrat-controlled Legislature are considering a statewide minimum wage hike to $15 an hour.

    Murphy on Tuesday praised Cooper's decision in a statement.

    New Jersey's $8.60 minimum wage will go up by 25 cents in January under a requirement that it track with inflation.

    Murphy says Cooper is the first hospital system to raise its minimum wage to $15.

    Cooper operates a hospital, cancer center and children's hospital. It's a major employer in southern New Jersey.


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    He was part of a scholarship program that would have given him a free-ride at Rutgers-Camden when he was old enough.

    A 15-year-old boy who had dreams of attending college was gunned down while walking home from Camden High School Tuesday.

    He was shot in the area of Princess and Euclid avenues, just a few blocks from the school at 3:36 p.m., according to a statement from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

    He was rushed to Cooper University Hospital but died an hour later. No arrests have been made, the prosecutor's office said.

    The family of Javonne Davis, identified him as the victim to 6ABC.

    They told the station they have no idea why someone would have shot at him or the friend he was walking with, and they pleaded with anyone who knows what happened to come forward.

    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 gives them a full-ride scholarship to the university if they succeed in the program.

    On social media, people remembered Davis as a sweet, funny, and always respectful. They recalled how he played football, wanted to make something of himself, and how he would always help out, such as carrying items into church.

    Anyone with information about what happened is asked to contact Camden County Prosecutor's Office Detective Elvin Nunez at 856-614-8007 or Camden County Police Detective Edward Gonzalez at 856-757-7420.

    Information may also be emailed to

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

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    Photos of dozens of signings plus sport-by-sport lists

    (Please refresh for updated photos over the few days)

    The time is here for high school athletes to make it official.

    The stars of so many sports from New Jersey high schools go from recruits to signees on Wednesday, National Signing Day for the fall's early signing period.

    The fall signing period runs through Nov. 21 for Division 1 boys and girls basketball and to Aug. 1 of 2019 for other Division 1 and 2 sports. This is for all sports with the exception of football, which has its early signing period from Dec. 19 to Dec. 21.

    Athletes who have made verbal commitments to a university can officially accept a scholarship by signing with their chosen school during these periods.

    We plan to bring you stories, photos and videos from around the state of Signing Day ceremonies. As such, we invite all athletes, administrators, parents and other supporters of the high school programs and athletes to send us anything you would like to see included in our coverage by filling out this form.

    SEND SIGNINGS: will post signings and Signing Day photos

    A breakdown of the state's student-athletes who are expected to sign, starting Wednesday.

    Please refresh throughout the day for updates on signings, photos and videos.





















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    Don Bosco vs. Bergen Catholic and more football; 8 soccer state finals, live & on-demand

    What a weekend for watching N.J. championships on via NJ High School Sports Live.

    We have N.J.'s biggest football rivalry - playoff style - as No. 7 Don Bosco Prep visits No. 1 Bergen Catholic in a Non-Public, Group 4 semifinal, as well as the other N-P, G4 semifinal and a public sectional final, all part of the NJSIAA/Rothman Orthopaedics football championships.

    And we have all eight soccer state championship games - four boys finals on Saturday and four girls finals on Sunday, live from Kean University.

    All of these games are available live or on-demand on any device.  The full schedule is below, with links to the broadcasts.

    Plus, make an important note: NJ High School Sports Live will also be broadcasting all 13 of the upcoming NJSIAA/Rothman Orthopaedics football bowl and championship games at MetLife Stadium the following two weeks. 

    Links to this weekend's broadcasts:


    Don Bosco at Bergen Catholic, 1 p.m.
    St. Peter's Prep at St. Joseph (Mont.), 1 p.m. 

    SUNDAY, NOV. 18
    Ramapo at River Dell, 1 p.m. (rescheduled from Friday)


    SATURDAY, NOV. 17 at Kean University
    Boys Group finals

    Group 1 final: New Providence vs. Glassboro, 12:30 p.m.
    Group 2 final: Glen Rock vs. Holmdel, 3 p.m.
    Group 3 final: Millburn vs. Ocean Twp., 5:30 p.m.
    Group 4 final: Morris Knolls vs. Washington Twp., 8 p.m.

    SUNDAY, NOV. 18 at Kean University
    Girls Group finals

    Group 4 final: Bridgewater-Raritan vs. Eastern, 10 a.m.
    Group 1 final: Glen Ridge vs. Audubon, 12:30 p.m.
    Group 2 final: Ramsey vs. Gov. Livingston, 3 p.m.
    Group 3 final: Northern Highlands vs. Moorestown, 5:30 p.m.

    Andrew Koob can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @AndrewKoobHS. Like High School Sports on Facebook

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    The photo of guns and ammunition was used to link James Harris to a 2011 double murder in Lindenwold

    A panel of appellate judges last week overturned a man's conviction and 75-year sentence for a double murder in Camden County.

    The appeals court, in a published decision, found that a cellphone photo used as evidence in his trial was improperly obtained, and that a motion for a new trial should have been granted upon discovery of a new defense witness who could have undermined the credibility of the state's case.

    James M. Harris, 28, was convicted in 2015 on charges that he shot and killed 24-year-olds Kevin Gould and Daquan Hines inside a car in Lindenwold on Dec. 9, 2011.

    A jury had convicted him of the double murder after deadlocking three times in a six-week trial.

    According to the state's key witness in the trial, Donnell Ancrum, the shooting was a drug deal gone bad. He said Gould had called him that morning and offered to sell some marijuana, the appeals decision says.

    That night, Hines was in the driver's seat of a 1995 Toyota Camry and Gould was riding shotgun. Ancrum said he was sitting in the back when a man approached the car, and he got out of the car to let the man in.

    Ancrum said he walked around the front of the car when he heard gunshots from inside it, and ran off to call Harris. 

    "Ancrum 'thought' that (Harris) was the gunman, but was not completely certain. Ancrum did not clarify why he would call defendant for a ride if he knew defendant had just entered the car and shot two people," the appellate judges wrote.

    Harris stayed with Ancrum for three nights after the murders.

    The state had requested from Sprint, Harris' cell service provider, all text and call records and the contents of the messages sent between Dec. 1 and Dec. 16. But Sprint sent over all photographs from the phone's Picture Mail, not just those that fell between those dates.

    A Sprint subpoena compliance employee said that it was protocol at the time to send all photos, regardless of date, in response to a warrant for cell data.

    A photo from October, in a folder labeled "20111029" (the phone's way of indicating Oct. 29, 2011) showed two handguns and three boxes of ammunition, including the same Tulammo .380-caliber bullets used in the killings. 

    The detective who reviewed the warrant response from Sprint testified that he did not know those numbers meant the photo was from outside the date range specified in the warrant, the decision says.

    The photo was used in court.

    At a new trial, that photo cannot be admitted as evidence, the appellate judges wrote.

    The judges also mention the eleventh-hour defense witness, who was prepared to say he saw Ancrum run from the scene carrying a bag of drugs.

    The trial judge said at the time that the defense witness' statements could possibly support Ancrum's involvement in the crime, but not negate Harris' guilt. The appellate court chose not to weigh this claim, saying any evidence from that witness would have to come out at the new trial.

    The Camden County Prosecutor's Office did not respond to a request for comment on whether they will retry Harris.

    He is serving his New Jersey sentence at an out-of-state facility, a state prison database shows. Before the decision, his parole eligibility date was in 2079.

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

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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey need homes.

    Thanksgiving is coming. And as with any holiday - and the celebrations that go along with a holiday - the festivities and pets may not necessarily mix.

    Here are some reminders to help keep your pet from becoming a medical emergency:

    * It's not unusual for emergency veterinarians to treat dogs for a chicken or turkey bone they have swallowed. Dogs getting a hold of bones can lead to major problems. Make sure to keep them and finished plates where pets can't reach them.

    * Dogs are naturally going to want to participate in the vittles at a gathering and some folks give them as treats, but be aware of things a pet can't eat. Foods that can sicken dogs include: avocados, apple seeds, caffeinated beverages or alcohol, onions, potatoes, grapes, tomatoes and chocolate.

    * Comings and goings are a natural part of parties, whether its guests arriving or perhaps people stepping outside for a smoke. Pets that live indoors may be excited by all the company ... and bolt out an open door. If your pet isn't supposed to go out, make sure you and your guests don't leave doors open for very long.

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

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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 Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find on Facebook.

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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 Follow her on Twitter @KellyHeyboer. Find her at KellyHeyboerReporter on Facebook.