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    We took years of satellite data from summers across New Jersey and filtered it to only show green vegetation. When we say green, we mean it.

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  • 05/25/18--05:05: Dog is short but strong
  • Shortie is playful but strong for his size.


    NEWARK -- Shortie is a young male pit bull/basset hound mix at the Associated Humane Society Shelter in Newark.

    Shelter workers say he is playful but strong for his size. Shortie still needs a bit of work with walking on a leash, but he takes treats gently.

    A home without small children would be best for Shortie, who has been neutered and is up-to-date on shots.

    To meet Shortie and other adoptable pets, visit the Associated Humane Society at 124 Evergreen Ave. The shelter is open Monday through Friday from noon to 5:30 p.m. and weekends from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 973-824-7080 or go to

    Shelters interested in placing a pet in the Paw Print adoption column or submitting news should call 973-836-4922 or email

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

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    NJ Advance Media previews all 12 of this weekend's games.

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    Linda Jumah, a political consultant sentenced for tax evasion, was charged for allegedly violating the terms of her home detention.

    The political consultant and close friend of Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who is on home confinement for lying on her taxes, was allegedly attending social events -- like banquets where alcohol was served -- for her job as a legislative aide without always getting approval from her probation officer, court records show. 

    Linda Jumah was accused of violating the terms of her supervision in April, a month after she was sentenced to three years probation for cheating the government of nearly $40,000 in taxes by underreporting how much money she earned through her political consulting business, Elite Strategies LLC.  

    Under probation, Jumah was sentenced to eight months of home confinement, only allowed to leave her house for approved purposes, such as church or work. 

    Jumah works as an aide to Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-28th Dist.) whose son, Kiburi Tucker, was Jumah's business partner and will serve three years in prison on tax evasion and wire fraud charges.

    Robert Stahl, Jumah's attorney, told NJ Advance Media her alleged breaking of the probation rules was all a misunderstanding, and the discrepancies had been fixed. 

    "It's all been cleared up and there have been no issues going forward," he said. "It simply was trying to get adjusted to the early periods of what was required."

    During a court appearance in April, Stahl told U.S. District Court Judge Jose Linares that Jumah's job required she "attend certain functions at night."

    "We are not talking about these parties where she's out until one or two o'clock in the morning and she's drinking," Stahl said, according to a transcript of the proceeding. "She is there working."

    Linares will decide in July if Jumah violated her probation. 

    Court records filed by her probation officer allege Jumah's pay stubs did not match the hours she claimed she worked as an aide for Assemblywoman Tucker. Jumah also allegedly did not provide adequate documentation for approved leaves like buying new work clothes or fixing her computer at the Apple store. 

    "This is not honest misunderstandings," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jihee Suh said at the April court proceeding, adding that there were repeat instances of Jumah coming home late and leaving without permission.

    She accused Jumah of violating the terms of her probation in four different ways. A fifth charge, alleging Jumah had not made her monthly restitution payment, was resolved and withdrawn after she paid, Suh said. 

    "Home detention is not something that the defendant gets to fashion the conditions of," Suh said. There is a "history of shifting stories" when Jumah "wants to attend a certain social event, or when it seems that the stories get tailored to justify that," Suh later added. 

    Jessica Alberts, Jumah's probation officer, told the judge she understands Jumah's job as an aide means working unconventional hours, but a copy of an Outlook calendar is not enough to prove her work schedule and the need to attend after-hours events.

    "There is a learning curve for anyone," Stahl said in court. He said Jumah was responsible for accompanying the assemblywoman to Newark events, and doing so would allow her to work full-time. Jumah previously worked for Tucker before she was charged with tax evasion. 

    "There has been some honest misunderstandings and some difficulty with the schedule of somebody that has a different type of schedule," Stahl said in April. Event invitations are sent months in advance and sometimes are thrown out, he added. And when Jumah fixed her computer at the Apple store, she wasn't given a receipt. 

    The probation officer also cited an instance when Jumah was allowed to go shopping for work pants to cover her ankle monitor, but arrived home 36 minutes late and submitted a Nordstrom receipt with the time and date redacted. When asked for more information, she told her probation officer she was embarrassed to ask the person who had purchased those things for her and later sent in a receipt with mostly men's clothing on it.

    Alberts said Jumah submitted pay stubs for five hours a week but requested 30 or 40 hours of work, and appeared to be consulting again. 

    Stahl said Jumah planned to return to political consulting but not through Elite Strategies, which he said was being dissolved. Jumah was president of Elite Strategies, which did work for the city, Baraka's campaign and the Newark Community Economic Development Corp

    A message left for the U.S. Probation Office in Newark was not returned.

    Linares will decide if the probation issues have been resolved during a July 25 hearing. Penalties for probation violations include a revocation of probation and up to five years in prison. 

    Staff writer Thomas Moriarty contributed to this report. 

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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    WEST CALDWELL -- Decorated bicycles were part of the 1962 West Caldwell Memorial Day Parade. MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey The tradition continues in 2018; the township's Memorial Day parade will step off at Forest and Bloomfield avenues at 9:30 a.m. on May 28 and conclude at Crane Park, where ceremonies will be held. For more information, go to...

    WEST CALDWELL -- Decorated bicycles were part of the 1962 West Caldwell Memorial Day Parade.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    The tradition continues in 2018; the township's Memorial Day parade will step off at Forest and Bloomfield avenues at 9:30 a.m. on May 28 and conclude at Crane Park, where ceremonies will be held. For more information, go to

    If you would like to share a photo that provides a glimpse of history in your community, please call 973-836-4922 or send an email to And, check out more glimpses of history in our online galleries on

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

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    Highlights of the second round of states.

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    Authorities say a "sovereign citizen" filed phony liens after cops, a prosecutor and a judge after a 2015 traffic stop.

    State homeland security authorities arrested an Essex County man this week on charges he filed more than $1.5 million in phony tax liens in a targeted campaign against local officials.

    Authorities say Courtney Alexander, 39, is a self-identified member of the "sovereign citizen" movement. The group rejects the legitimacy of most state and federal laws and its members renounce U.S. citizenship, claiming immunity.

    According to the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, Alexander was pulled over in his home town of Irvington in July 2015 and issued traffic tickets by two local police officers.

    courtney_alexander.jpgCourtney Alexander. 

    After a court appearance, he began submitting bogus financial filings against the officers, as well as the local prosecutor and municipal judge who handled the case, "in retaliation for their official actions," authorities said.

    He drew the attention of the state's homeland security office in April 2016 after submitting two legal filings targeting the four public officials, authorities said, though a spokesman for the office declined to comment further.  

    Homeland security officials say such "paper terrorism" is a common tactic among sovereign citizens. Public officials and others who cross their paths can end up the target of a lien -- which is a claim on a property to resolve a debt -- and find themselves mired in an expensive legal fight.

    N.J. terror experts are worried about these groups in 2018

    In 2015, lawmakers passed legislation in New Jersey making such false claims a crime, and authorities now say Alexander is the first person charged under the law.

    Alexander was arrested Wednesday by homeland security detectives on two counts of second-degree fraudulent filings and one count of third-degree retaliation against a witness. A spokesman for the state Division of Criminal Justice, which is prosecuting the case, could not be reached.

    Authorities said Alexander had been detained pending a court hearing, and it was not immediately clear whether he retained an attorney.

    The tactics Alexander is accused of are increasingly common across the country, experts say. In New Jersey's annual terrorism assessment, the group is listed as a "moderate" threat. 

    In the Garden State, sovereign citizens "mostly engage in nonviolent activities, such as self-identifying in court paperwork and traffic-stop encounters and filing liens against law enforcement and public officials," homeland security officials wrote

    While stiffer penalties for filing such phony paperwork were enacted in 2016, homeland security officials said, "criminal penalties are unlikely to deter sovereign citizen extremists because they are adopting new methods to circumvent laws."

    S.P. Sullivan may be reached at Follow him on Twitter. Find on Facebook.


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    The public was not alerted to the escape which occurred on May 3 in Bordentown Township.

    Three men who escaped from a state juvenile facility in Burlington County earlier this month were arrested in Newark this week.

    Newark residents Lonell Carruthers, 22, Almuqtadir Padgett, 20, and Dyshawn Williams, 22, were wanted for a May 3 escape from the Juvenile Medium Security Facility in Bordentown. The facility is run by the state's Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC).

    No public alert was made about the escape.

    A spokesperson for the state Office of the Attorney General, which oversees the JJC facilities, said the escape remains under investigation and declined to comment further.

    Carruthers and Williams were also wanted for a carjacking, according to a news release from Newark Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose.

    Newark's Fugitive Apprehension Team, New Jersey State Police and Juvenile Justice investigators arrested Carruthers Thursday morning on the 800 block of Clinton Avenue, in the Clinton Hill area of the city. 

    That same group of law enforcement then went to the 300 block of West Runyon Street and arrested Williams and Padgett.

    The fugitive busts on Thursday also snared Narik Feaster, 23, of Orange, and Newark resident Jahaan Allen. Both were wanted on federal warrants for weapons offenses unrelated to the May 3 escape.

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

    Have a tip? Tell us. 

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    Despite an uproar from residents, officials say the shelter was always temporary.

    A plan to close a winter shelter for the homeless in Newark is riling residents who are asking: Where will the city's most vulnerable go?

    Mayor Ras Baraka told NJ Advance Media on Thursday that the shelter on 224 Sussex Ave. was always temporary, and originally slated to close in March. He said the city was able to find additional dollars to keep the shelter open for a few more weeks, but that it would close in June. 

    A final date is still being determined. 

    "We're not walking away from dealing with the homeless issue," he said. "The shelter was never intended to be open all year."

    Baraka said the long winter forced the city to keep the shelter open a few more months. "We couldn't close it so we've been running it week to week," he said. 

    The four-story shelter in the Central Ward opened to much fanfare in December, four days before Christmas, with city officials touting its services offering housing, employment, health and counseling referrals, as well as dining, shower and laundry facilities.

    NewarkShelter 2.jpgThe City of Newark opened a wintertime shelter for homeless men, women and families through March. Dr. Mark Wade, director of the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, led a ribbon cutting on Thursday, with Mayor Ras Baraka to his left, and Vicki Donaldson, the department's manager of homeless and social services to his right, with an unidentified department staffer to her right. (Courtesy: City of Newark)  

    Dr. Mark J. Wade, a pediatrician who directs the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness, said 269 people have stayed at the shelter over the last five months. On average, about 135 people stayed at the shelter last month, he said. A few nights ago, that number was 181. 

    "This was to help, this was to be in addition" to existing sheltering services in the city, Wade said. "This shelter was opened to address the unsheltered homeless."

    Wade said the shelter was meant for those who had challenges being accepted into other programs in the county. The shelter's staff worked with those individuals to provide services like mental health or drug treatment programs that will help them find more permanent sheltering, he said. 

    The shelter principally targets the homeless population around Newark Penn Station, the Public Library, Military Park and Francisco Park, all in the city's downtown section. 

    On Thursday, a group of protestors and shelter residents gathered on the steps of City Hall demanding more information from officials and lamenting the closure of the shelter.

    "We just want some answers," one of the shelter residents said, according to a video of the protest.

    Baraka said he planned to re-open the winter shelter when temperatures drop again, but it hasn't been decided whether it will open in the same location or elsewhere.

    He added, though, there were no plans to open a year-round shelter that is solely run by the city.

    "The city is not a management agency, we're not a landlord," he said. "Going forward, we need to work on this collectively, there has to be a cooperative strategy in dealing with homelessness in our city."

    Emergency Housing Services, Inc. was hired to operate the winter shelter. Wade said the city spent more than $500,000 to operate the shelter using federal housing money and funding from the city's health department. 

    During Wednesday night's City Council meeting, the council was upset it was not notified of the plans to halt the shelter's operations. 

    "Why would we have commercials running on TV on channel 78, about touring the facility and it's getting ready to close next week?" West Ward Councilman Joseph McCallum asked. 

    "Some of those residents have timed out or maxed out for eligibility for welfare benefits so some of these shelters around the county are not going to take them," North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos said Wednesday night. "This is going to take some planning. At minimum, this council should have been notified."

    Wade acknowledged he "dropped the ball" in informing the council, but said he was meeting daily with stakeholders to figure out how to best transition shelter residents to other facilities.

    "It takes time to do it together and not singularly," he said. "It takes discussion and commitment, it's a process."

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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    Robert Max, of Summit, spent three months as a slave laborer under the Nazis during World War II.

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    Pets throughout New Jersey await adoption., where you can find nearly a quarter of a million adoptable pets listed by more than 12,000 adoption groups, offers these seasonal tips to pet owners:

    * There will be plenty of sticks and branches on the ground after winter, and they can cause choking and severe mouth injuries to dogs. If your pet likes to chew and chase, make sure to use a tennis ball, Frisbee or other toy instead of branches.

    * You might be doing some spring cleaning; if a pet ingests a household cleaner, don't call a human poison control center - they won't be able to help with animals. Call your vet or the ASPCA poison control hotline, 888-426-4435.

    * Dogs can get seasonal allergies just like people ... but they manifest themselves in dogs more as skin conditions than sneezing. Check with your vet for treatment options.

    * Flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats should be continued year-round, but even if you take a break during winter months, make sure to apply the preventatives before the weather warms up.

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

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    The state rankings have a brand-new look after last weekend's finals.

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    Newark homeless plead with city to keep temporary shelter open.

    Kevin Williams spent 17 years of his life in prison. What he can't handle is the possibility, come the end of June, of living on the streets when the city of Newark closes the temporary shelter where he's been staying for the past two months.

    "What am I going to do?" he said after hearing the news last week.

    He's 58, and recently lost his job on a garbage truck in Jersey City. With no income, he had to leave the Newark apartment he was sharing with a friend. The shelter, he said, offered stability at night while he hunted for a job during the day.

    "I don't know how to live on these streets as far as having nothing," he said.

    MORE: Recent Barry Carter columns  

    Williams served time for robbery and drug charges but said he hasn't been in trouble since his release in 2001.

    "I don't want to go back to that life," he said. "If I go back to that life, I'll probably never come back home."

    Instead, he stood on the steps of Newark City Hall on Thursday, with a small group of homeless brothers and sisters from the shelter, hoping someone would hear their 5 p.m. plea and reconsider the closure.

    The facility at 224 Sussex Ave., however, was never meant to be permanent when the city opened it in December to bring the homeless out of the cold during the winter months. To answer community concerns that it would be open longer, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, in a May 24 letter to agencies serving the homeless, explained that the temporary shelter program was  intended to operate only until March 31.

    "Surprisingly, days with extremely cold temperatures continued and the city scrambled once again to secure funding to keep the facility open for an additional two months, and now even a few weeks more," he said.

    The few more weeks would have kept it open until this Thursday.

    But Baraka said the projected closing date is now June 30, even though the city continues to look for funds to keep it open.

    In the meantime, he said the city is committed to the principle of helping those in need, and to working with organizations to find money for a year-round emergency shelter.

    Over the past six months, 22,000 people have stayed at the 400-person shelter, which has been open 24 hours, seven days a week. It has offered meals, employment, housing and health services and counseling referrals.

    The homeless protesters at City Hall said the shelter was a blessing, but they said they need more time to get on their feet.

    David Jones, 51, took advantage of a temporary job assignment at the sanitation department, hoping the employment eventually becomes permanent. Displaced by a fire in October, Jones has been at the shelter since it opened. He's never been late to work, walking the 2.5 miles from Sussex Avenue to Frelinghuysen Avenue to be on time at 5:30 a.m.

    It's a 45-minute trek, but he's doesn't mind.

    "I'm used to it,'' he said.

    After his shift, which ends around 1 or 2 p.m., Jones said, he looks for work to stay busy until it's time for him to return to the shelter in the evening. It's tough, he said, to weather the job rejections, but he keeps pushing.

    "(The city) has got to do something," he said.

    Ashley Sievers, 31, needs the shelter, too. But she's on probation and has to have an address.

    "If I don't have an address, that's a probation violation," noted Sievers, who said she has been clean a year from drug use. "As long as I have somewhere to go, I have nothing to worry about."

    MORE: Finally, a viable plan to save Newark's castle on the hill | Carter

    Having a place to lay their heads has eased the stress of life for these homeless residents.

    Robert Brown, 56, came here from Atlantic City after losing his job two years ago at a casino. Family gave him a place to stay, but that didn't last long

    The shelter, he said, came at a time when he had nowhere to go.

    "When I was done walking the streets from looking for a job, I knew I could get a meal here," he said.

    The residents appreciate the shelter and have shown their gratitude by cleaning up the place, volunteering to do laundry and making sure those who are there don't disrespect the staff or anyone else.

    They're scared of facing the streets again. Some worry they might be forced to resort to crime for survival.

    A lot of them do not have anyone they can rely upon for help. This shelter is their refuge.

    "I don't want to see myself out there, because I know how I am, man," said Joe Parker, 49. "I don't know what I'd do."

    Williams doesn't want to be that person either -- someone who slips up and does something wrong.

    "I'm asking you," he implores the city of Newark, "to please, please keep the shelter open for as long as possible."

    Barry Carter: (973) 836-4925 or or or follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL

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    Photographers from NJ Advance Media are covering proms around the state. Check out the list below with our most recent prom photo galleries from the past week. Be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at SHARE YOUR PROM PHOTOS ON SOCIAL MEDIA Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @njdotcom and on Instagram @njdotcom. Then tag your photos #njprom. We'll retweet and repost the...

    Photographers from NJ Advance Media are covering proms around the state. Check out the list below with our most recent prom photo galleries from the past week.

    Be sure to check out our complete prom coverage at


    Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @njdotcom and on Instagram @njdotcom. Then tag your photos #njprom. We'll retweet and repost the best pics! 


    Are you one of the people pictured at this prom? Want to buy the photo and keep it forever? Look for the blue link "buy photo" below the photographer's credit to purchase the picture. You'll have the ability to order prints in a variety of sizes, or products like magnets, keychains, coffee mugs and more.

    Aristide Economopoulos can be reached at and you can follow him on Twitter at @AristideNJAM and Instagram at @aeconomopoulos  Find on Facebook

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    The Irvington man was gunned down on the 300 block of Park Avenue

    A 23-year-old man was shot and killed in Orange on Tuesday morning, authorities said. 

    Neil Myer, of Irvington, was struck by gunfire around midnight and found outside on the 300 block of Park Avenue, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said. Myer was brought to University Hospital in Newark, where he was pronounced dead at 12:55 a.m. 

    Additional information about the circumstances that led to the shooting were not immediately available. No arrests have been made. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.



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    A spate of lawsuits filed in New Jersey illustrates how drastically uneven power dynamics and a lack of other job opportunities often make restaurants flash points for sexual harassment.

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    About 15 percent of freshmen at New Jersey's four-year colleges don't come back for their sophomore year, according to state data.

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    NJ Advance Media takes a crack at predicting who makes the sectional finals.

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    Just because desegregation is controversial doesn't mean it won't happen.

    The statistics are undeniable. Across New Jersey, hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic students attend schools that are almost entirely non-white

    The question is whether the state should step in to do something about it. 

    A lawsuit filed earlier this month accuses the state of being complicit in allowing one of the most segregated school systems in America and calls for a comprehensive desegregation plan

    The legal challenge, filed by a coalition of civil rights groups, has spurred questions about what segregation really means and what changes could be in store for students if the lawsuit succeeds. 

    Here's what parents should know about the case: 

    The legal definition of segregation might not be what you think. 

    Segregation is often thought of as the mandatory separation of whites and non-whites, like white and black bathrooms or lunch counters. 

    But New Jersey's Supreme Court has taken a different position, ruling in prior cases schools can be considered segregated even if it's "de facto segregation," the plaintiffs argue. 

    In other words, socioeconomics and race often go hand-in-hand in New Jersey. So, if black and Hispanic families would like to send their kids to a school with white children but can't afford to live in such a school district, they're effectively being segregated into a district such as Irvington, Plainfield or New Brunswick -- all places where fewer than 1 percent of students are white. 

    Based on legal precedent in New Jersey, that kind of segregation violates the state constitution, the suit claims. 

    White suburban kids likely wouldn't be forced to go to urban districts. 

    That's not the goal of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said. The focus is to establish more choices for low-income minority students who are trapped in their home district -- or attending a similarly segregated charter school -- because of their ZIP code. 

    The suit aims to strike down the requirement that students must attend schools where they live and force the state to come up with solutions for getting black and Hispanic kids into integrated schools. 

    "It would not blow up the whole system," said Gary Stein, a former state Supreme Court justice who spearheaded the lawsuit. "It would simply knock down a fence that is a barrier to diversity." 

    The 25 districts with the fewest white students

    Integration could come in many ways, all likely controversial. 

    The civil rights groups don't say exactly how the state should integrate schools and instead call on the state education commissioner to make those decisions on a case-by-case basis. 

    But the lawsuit does float ideas for how to get white and non-white students under the same roof. 

    One suggestion is to follow what happened in Hartford, Connecticut, after a legal fight over desegregation in the 1990s. 

    A series of themed magnet schools were created within the city and nearby suburbs. That drew white students into new schools in Hartford and minority students to specialized schools in the suburbs, Stein said. 

    Another option is a voluntary transfer program in which suburban districts would agree to allow a certain number of students from city districts into their schools, possibly with a financial incentive to do so.

    Students from urban districts would have the opportunity to attend those schools but would not be forced. 

    The lawsuit also mentions the possibility of district consolidations, such as the forced merger of Morristown and Morris Township school districts in the 1970s after a state Supreme Court ruling. 

    That decision brought together students from largely white Morris Township and the predominantly black Morristown, a doughnut-hole city surrounded on all sides by the suburban township.

    But any of these changes would come with major questions, like how students would be bused to their new schools, who would pay for it and how much backlash will follow integration efforts. 

    This puts some major political pressure on Gov. Phil Murphy.

    Murphy, a Democrat, considers himself a champion of civil rights and often touts that he's assembled the most diverse Cabinet in state history. 

    Does he really want to be the governor who fights against school integration? 

    His administration didn't comment on the lawsuit directly, but a spokesman said Murphy "believes strongly that we must combat the deeply rooted problem of segregation."  

    The governor is sure to face political pressures from both sides, said Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University. 

    Sweeping changes would be expensive and politically unpopular in some circles, which complicates any potential solution to the problem, she said. 

    State Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union, has already criticized Murphy for not saying whether he will fight the lawsuit. 

    "There's only so many seats in a school system such as Westfield or Bernards  Township," Bramnick said. "Are you going to give priority to students in that hometown to go to neighborhood schools? Are you going to make sure that's a priority?"

    Just because desegregation is controversial doesn't mean it won't happen. 

    The civil rights groups behind the lawsuit have "about as good a chance as anyone could have" to win their case, said Derek Black, a professor of law at the University of South Carolina and expert in school desegregation cases. 

    "They have got an incredible set of facts, they have an incredible set of prior cases and they all point toward the fact they ought to be able to get a remedy here," Black said. "I can't imagine a better set of circumstances than in New Jersey." 

    Still, Black suspects the state will fight the lawsuit because of the enormous political pushback that would come with changing the status quo, he said. 

    He wouldn't be surprised by a settlement agreement, though, especially if Murphy feels the law and facts are against the state. 

    "If the state wants to get off easy, maybe the smart thing it could do is not fight tooth and nail but rather agree to some smaller baby steps that would be enough for the plaintiffs to say, 'We will take that,'" Black said.  

    NJ Advance Media staff writer Brent Johnson contributed to this report.

    Adam Clark may be reached at Follow him on twitter at @realAdamClarkFind on Facebook.


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    He's the third person affiliated with one of the mayor's past election campaigns to plead guilty following federal investigations.

    The former treasurer for Newark Mayor Ras Baraka's election campaign admitted in federal court Tuesday that he embezzled $220,000 in campaign funds by forging the signatures and endorsements of campaign consultants for work they never performed.

    In addition, Frederick Murphy Jr. admitted underreporting $199,000 in fraudulently obtained funds on his personal income tax returns, cheating the government of about $54,000. 

    Murphy, 56, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose Linares to bank fraud, wire fraud and tax evasion charges that expose him to a potential 30-year prison term.

    "Is your decision to plead guilty here today something you want to do of your own free will," Linares asked Murphy, who wiped his forehead with a handkerchief as he stood before the court in a light gray plaid suit. 

    "Yes, sir," Murphy responded.

    Murphy -- who was treasurer for both Baraka's own campaign in 2014 and his affiliated slate of council candidates -- also worked for Covenant House and as a city employee heading the re-entry program that helps the formerly incarcerated find jobs and support services.

    An employee at Covenant House who did not want to be named said Murphy has not worked at the organization for more than two years. Murphy received about $46,000 in income from the nonprofit that serves homeless youth, court records show. The Gateway Foundation also gave Murphy $22,000. 

    Murphy received between $31,000 - $65,000 as a city worker, prosecutors said. 

    Murphy, who was represented in court by defense attorney Alan Bowman, declined to comment after entering the guilty pleas.

    Leany Pichardo, a campaign spokesperson for Team Baraka, said in a statement that Murphy "betrayed the confidence of those who trusted him to perform his duties honestly and stole from the campaign."

    "When Murphy's misconduct was discovered months ago, he was fired from the campaign and an accounting firm was retained to ascertain the extent of the theft," Pichardo said. "Murphy's misconduct was in no way connected to any work he performed for the city of Newark. The victim is the Baraka campaign and all those who placed their trust in Mr. Murphy."

    Federal prosecutors on Tuesday did not specifically identify the campaign in question as Baraka's, but Murphy's role as treasurer has previously been reported.

    The state Election Law Enforcement Commission filed a 28-count complaint against Murphy and Baraka in November for violating campaign finance rules in the 2014 race involving $361,168 in contributions and $34,348 in expenses. 

    Between Jan. 2014 and March 2017 Murphy obtained $223,000 from the two campaign accounts, by issuing fraudulently endorsed checks with the names of consultants and vendors for work that was never done. The consultants were not aware of these payments, court records show. 

    Murphy, of Bloomfield, is the third person affiliated with one of Baraka's prior campaigns to plead guilty in federal court to financial crimes following investigations by the Special Prosecutions Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark.

    Political consultants Kiburi Tucker and Linda Jumah, whose firm Elite Strategies provided services to Baraka's campaign, were sentenced to more than three years in prison and to probation, respectively.

    Linares scheduled Murphy's sentencing for Sept. 11. He was released on a $50,000 bond. 

    Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook


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