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    Belleville paid to settle a suit claiming the officers beat a man at his home.

    A dispute on getting his daughter's boyfriend out of his house turned violent for Nicholas Quartuccio Sr.

    It was the night of Sept. 2, 2010 when police were called to his home in Belleville Township. He told the officers he wanted the boyfriend out of the house, but his daughter and granddaughter could stay.

    But what followed was an alleged beating and a lawsuit that the township paid $90,000 to settle last year. Records of the settlement were posted on a blog run by John Paff, an open records advocate.

    Quartuccio, then 61, died in a house fire in 2015, so the settlement was paid to his estate, the records show. 

    At the house, officers asked more questions, and according to a lawsuit, kept saying "wrong answer" when Quartuccio insisted that the situation was under control.

    The officers then "hit [Quartuccio] on the back of his head and slammed him to the ground," the suit says. The suit also says they kicked, punched and were "jumping and pummeling him and hitting him in the head."

    Quartuccio later pleaded guilty to simple assault and a disorderly persons offense after spending a week in jail. He brought the suit against the township, its police department, the police chief and Officers Matthew Dox, John Andino, Anthony Abate, Joseph Werner, Charles Mollineux, William Knoth and Franchino Pigantaro.

    As a condition of the settlement, the parties are barred from speaking publicly about the case.

    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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    Newark police officer Joseph Macchia was off-duty and at a Union Township bar when he got into a fight, drew his service weapon and shot a man to death two years ago.

    Newark police officer Joseph Macchia was off-duty and at a Union Township bar when he got into a fight, drew his service weapon and shot a man to death two years ago.

    On Tuesday, court officers led him to jail after a Union County jury convicted the 36-year-old of reckless manslaughter in the shooting death of Michael Gaffney.

    "He went out in cuffs, just like he should have," said Gaffney's mother, Judy Valdes, shortly after the verdict. "He's behind bars where he belongs. ... Justice has prevailed."

    gaffney-selfie.jpgMichael Gaffney, 37, of Piscataway, was shot to death May 13, 2016. 

    Gaffney, 37, of Piscataway, died on May 13, 2016 after being shot by Macchia outside Paddy's Place bar in Union. He was the father of a 13-year-old girl.

    Gaffney and Macchia were acquaintances and got into a verbal altercation in the bar.

    Outside the bar, the verbal dispute turned physical and ended after several minutes, authorities said at the time. But moments later, the fight started up again and Macchia pulled out his gun and fatally shot Gaffney. A 911 caller reported hearing five shots.

    Macchia, an 11-year veteran of the police department, was not arrested. He was indicted on a manslaughter charge the following November, and was released on bail. He has been on unpaid leave since his indictment.

    "As much as it hurt, I'm glad we went through this and he'll never be a cop again," Valdes said after the verdict. "He's a criminal."

    She said Gaffney's daughter, who is now 16, wept in court after hearing the guilty verdict. The trial and the waiting has been hard on the family and friends who lost Gaffney, she said.

    "It sucked the life out of me for five weeks," she said.

    Now that the trial is over, Valdes said she can focus their fight on creating legislation to make it a crime for a police officer to drink and carry a firearm. 

    An online petition in support of "Gaffney's Law" said it should be illegal for officers to carry a gun into a bar or anywhere they plan to drink. It was signed by nearly 6,000 people, but no legislator has drafted the bill.

    "Alcohol and guns don't mix. If you cannot drive under the influence, it only makes sense you shouldn't carry under the influence," the petition said. "Michael Gaffney was not armed, he had no weapons. The officer involved knew Michael, they had been to parties and BBQ's together. Yes, they were both drinking, yes, a fight ensued, but never should an intoxicated officer with a gun solve drunken anger with his service weapon."

    After having his bail revoked, Macchia will remain in jail until his sentencing July 27, according to the prosecutor's office. Second-degree crimes including manslaughter carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    The top high school baseball players in New Jersey this season.


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    As prom season winds down, NJ.com compiled a collection of some of the best dressed prom attendees from 2018.

    As prom season winds down, NJ.com compiled a collection of some of the best dressed prom attendees from 2018.

    BUY THESE PHOTOS

    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.

    Be sure to check out the complete prom coverage at nj.com/prom.

    Ed Murray may be reached at emurray@njadvancemedia.com. Follow Ed on Twitter at @EdMurrayphoto. Find NJ.COM on Facebook.


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    Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Newark and Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., has been removed from public ministry.

    Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Newark and Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., has been removed from public ministry in the wake of allegations that he abused a teen 50 years ago while serving as a priest in the New York Archdiocese. 

    In a statement, McCarrick said he accepted his removal.

    "While I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people," he said.


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    This is the time of year this time of year, when the party in power takes advantage of the frenetic pace of budget season and tries to push through controversial measures that may not fly at quieter times of the year.

    With tense budget negotiations consuming most of the political oxygen inside the Statehouse, the state Assembly budget committee Monday approved a bill that would beef up the annual pension for a few elected officials who lost money under under a reform measure enacted more than a decade ago. 

    The measure, if signed into law, would allow elected officials to add as many as three years to their pension balance, Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, said Tuesday.

    McKeon said Democrats leaders in the Assembly asked him to sponsor the bill. He said he personally will derive no benefit from it.

    The request is not unusual this time of year, when the party in power takes advantage of the frenetic pace of budget season and tries to push through controversial measures that may not fly at quieter times of the year. 

    News of the bill's introduction was first reported by Politico New Jersey.

    McKeon said the bill "cleans up" an unintended consequence of a 2007 law that required newly elected officials to join a 401k plan instead of getting a pension through the underfunded Public Employees Retirement System, or PERS.

    Gov. Chris Christie signed a law before his departure in January, however, which allowed some politicians to re-enroll in the state's Public Employees' Retirement System after being kicked out because they had changed elective offices. This law also benefitted relatively few officials, but most prominently it gave then-Camden Mayor Dana Redd a big boost.

    Christie signs bill giving ex-Camden mayor, other politicians bigger pensions

    McKeon's bill wouldl allow elected officials who were switched out of the public pension system to rejoin it, receive credit for the time they lost, as well as a retroactive payment for the money they lost, according to the bill, (A4176).

    The Office of Legislative Services, a nonpartisan adviser to state lawmakers, told McKeon it is likely benefit only a couple of elected officials. He's asked OLS for a breakdown on how much the bill is likely to cost.

    Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, D-Essex, said he is aware that he's a beneficiary if the bill passes. But he said he didn't ask Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex or other party leaders to introduce the bill. And he won't vote on it.

    "I'm not getting involved. Ethically, I can't do it," said Caputo, a former Essex County Freeholder.

    Sen. James Beach, D-Camden, a former Camden County Freeholder and county clerk, would also benefit, according to Politico. Beach could not be reached for comment.

    The bill was among a massive list of items the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee approved by a 9-4 vote during a marathon hearing Tuesday. There is no Senate sponsor yet for the bill.

    Susan K. Livio may be reached at slivio@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.


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    Staff changes at Essex County College's Public Safety Academy has prompted the Police Training Commission to restrict what classes they offer until concerns are addressed.

    The state agency that regulates police officer training has temporarily restricted course offerings at Essex County's only public safety academy, raising concerns among the law enforcement community over the future of the academy. 

    After a new class of 70 police recruits begins its six-month training in July, Essex County College's Public Safety Academy will not be allowed to offer additional certified police courses, according to state officials.

    The New Jersey Police Training Commission limited the academy's classes last week after the college slashed an administrative position without a viable plan to transition those duties to someone else, records show. 

    The college must submit an acceptable plan by Wednesday or risk losing the academy's certification, according to a letter from the commission obtained by NJ Advance Media. 

    "I'm down to bare bones here," Rocco Miscia, director of Essex County College's Public Safety Academy, told NJ Advance Media. "I went from the highest county academy, as far as enrollment, and now I'm limited to one class."

    ECC Public Safety AcademyEssex County College's Public Safety Academy in Cedar Grove. (Google maps)
     

    Faced with financial pressure, Essex County College eliminated the academy's associate director position earlier this year, along with more than 30 other positions across the college, saving $2.75 milion. The college was under close watch by its accrediting agency for its strained finances.

    College president Anthony Munroe said he wanted to "ensure efficient operations" at the institution and would respond appropriately to any questions by the commission. He said the academy remained certified and would offer its basic police training course through the end of December. He declined to comment further.

    In a letter to the commission in May, Munroe said the college was losing $1 million a year to support the academy and has, in the past, been able to operate without an associate director. 

    The Cedar Grove academy graduates about 300 recruits a year, training corrections officers, school resource officers and new police recruits, among others. 

    "This is critical for law enforcement in Essex County," said Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna, who also represents the Association of Chiefs of Police of Essex County on the academy's advisory board. He said the academy will not be able to offer courses already planned later this year for school resource officers, corrections officers and community policing.

    "We are in a holding pattern," Miscia said. "Passaic and Ocean (counties) wanted to send correction recruits here, I had to tell them those classes are suspended." 

    On June 12, the Police Training Commission's administrator, John Cunningham, wrote to the college that its administrative oversight plan in light of staff changes was concerning and "does not demonstrate consistent leadership in the absence of the director."

    Paul Costello, the academy's former associate director, was the only other full-time administrator, along with the director, Miscia said. That means there's no one properly trained to oversee the academy when Miscia is unavailable, he said.

    Costello, who worked as the associate director for six years, said the academy and its advisory board were never consulted them about the planned layoffs.

    "There was no consultation, no heads up, no input from (Miscia) or anyone else that I know of and what the consequences and downside would be," he said. 

    The commission has banned the academy from advertising future courses and capped enrollment for the six-month class that begins July 13 at 112 recruits. Active courses, however, can continue.

    A spokesman for the commission said the academy's certification and plan would be discussed at the Aug. 1 meeting.  

    If the commission revokes the academy's certification, it won't be able to offer basic police training. 

    Karen Yi may be reached at kyi@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

     
     

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    The officer, Romulo Meneses-Alvarez, pleaded guilty to third-degree vehicular homicide earlier this month in the death of Jairo Alexander Lozano.

    The mother of a 29-year-old motorcyclist who died following a Halloween night crash is suing the former-Elizabeth police officer who caused the accident and the bar where the officer had a drink.

    Maria Lizarazo of Elizabeth claims in the civil suit that under the state's Wrongful Death Act the off-duty officer, Romulo Meneses-Alvarez, and the owners of the Central Park bar in Roselle are responsible for funeral expenses and other damages caused by her son's death.

    Lizarazo also says the defendants are responsible for all medical costs for Lozano, his total estimated future earnings from the time of his death to the end of his natural life expectancy, loss of retirement, social security income and damages related to the loss of enjoyment of life. 

    Staff at the bar, owned by Amikle Restaurant Inc., knew the officer was drunk, yet continued to serve him drinks, the suit claims. By doing so, the bar and its employees "grossly regarded the duties of Tavern Keepers for the safety of the decedent and the general public," according to the suit.

    Meneses-Alvarez admitted he was under the influence of alcohol when his Jeep Wrangler turned left in front of Lozano's motorcycle on Elmora Avenue in Elizabeth, causing the collision. 

    He pleaded guilty to third-degree strict liability vehicular homicide, fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence, and driving while intoxicated in the death of Lozano.

    Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Keith Abrams, who prosecuted the case due to an undisclosed conflict of interest with the Union County Prosecutor's Office, has recommend that Meneses-Alvarez serve 364 days in county jail, the maximum sentence for a third-degree felony.

    The ex-officer is scheduled to be sentenced July 13.

    Many details of the Halloween crash and the investigation remain unclear, but according to police documents and indictments Meneses-Alvarez left the scene after the crash and hindered the investigation by preventing police from checking out his vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler.

    Joshua McMahon, an attorney for the Lozano's family, said a witness and body camera footage revealed that another Elizabeth police officer told Meneses-Alvarez to leave. NJ Advance Media was unable to confirm this because an open public records request for the video footage was denied.

    Lizarazo's civil complaint was filed May 11, but according to McMahon, the defendants have yet to answer to the complaint in court officially. 

    A manager on duty at Central Park declined to comment about the lawsuit Wednesday morning. 

    Central Park was one of two bars where former Linden cop Pedro Abad was drinking in 2015 before he drove the wrong way on a highway leading to a head-on crash that killed two fellow officers. He was sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison a year ago.

    Tuesday, former Newark officer Joseph Macchia was convicted of manslaughter after he got into a fight at a Union Township bar, drew his service weapon and shot a man to death two years ago.

    The families of the two men who died after the intoxicated Linden cop turned the wrong way onto a Staten Island highway announced Wednesday they received $2,085,000.

    Former Linden officer, Pedro Abad, is now serving a sentence of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison after being found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

    Find NJ.com on Facebook  


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    The massive drug operation, authorities said, was selling at least 1 kilogram of cocaine and 10,000 bags of heroin on a weekly basis.

    Authorities dismantled a heroin and cocaine dealing ring operating in two counties that was netting a quarter of a million dollars in profits on a weekly basis, officials announced Wednesday.

    The major drug bust, dubbed "Operation Undertow," seized on June 8 nearly 3 kilograms of cocaine, approximately 6,250 bags of heroin, a stolen .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun from North Carolina, two cars and more than $35,000 cash in narcotics sales proceeds, said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.

    The street value of all the drugs seized, Gramiccioni said, was well over $300,000. The organization was selling at least 1 kilogram of cocaine and 10,000 bags of heroin on a weekly basis, Gramiccioni said.

    "This was a big hit for us," he said.

    Two of the alleged dealers, Kurrian Grasty, 38, and Marlo Taylor, 41, were based out of Neptune Township. They were arrested on June 7. 

    Terrence Wright, 47, of Orange, was also taken into custody on June 12.

    Taylor and Wright were ordered by a Monmouth County Superior Court judge to remain behind bars pending trial. A detention hearing for Grasty is scheduled for Friday. 

    Timothy Guest, who lived in Swedesboro and Irvington, was also charged as a result of the investigation but remains a fugitive. 

    All four defendants were charged with distributing cocaine and heroin and possession of narcotics. Graspy was also charged with weapons offenses and receiving stolen property.

    Gramiccioni credited the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office and the more than 20 local law enforcement agencies that assisted with the five-month investigation.

    Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Best is asked to contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at 732-431-7160. Anonymous tips can also be left with the Monmouth County Crime Stoppers program, which offers monetary rewards for information leading to an arrest. 

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    A vow of silence? The church offers little detail over Cardinal McCarrick abuse settlements in New Jersey.


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    If you can't find something good to eat in New Jersey, you aren't hungry.

    As if we needed to be told ... 50states.com tells us that "New Jersey has the most diners in the world and is sometimes referred to as the diner capital of the world." According to nj.com's own Pete Genovese, we have more than 600 diners to choose from.

    The Cornelius Low House Museum in Piscataway hosted an exhibit on diners in 2015, and Mark Nonestied, the museum's division head of historic sites and history services, cited Michael Gabriele's 2013 book, "The History of Diners in New Jersey," to explain why New Jersey rules when it comes to diners.

    636312477998277301-diner3.jpgThis classic diner table scene was part of the Low House exhibit on diners.

    "Gabriele pointed out that New Jersey had a very early, highly developed transportation system. When people drove, they needed to stop and eat," he said. "Diners filled that need -- and our location between New York and Philadelphia along with this road network through New Jersey becomes part of the reason why there were so many."

    The book also noted that the diner's success in New Jersey also had to do with people who lived in the state. That is, "Initially, when diners became popular, they were places where working class communities could get a good, cheap meal to eat at any time of the day. And New Jersey had a very diverse working-class population--and diners became that go-to place to get a good meal."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    As for the future of the diner, Nonestied remains optimistic: "I think there will always be a need for them. Diners reinvent themselves as society changes, and each time, they seem to find a way to keep up with the new pace of things--and flourish."

    Just like the residents of the state that they call home.

    Here's a gallery of vintage photos diners and eateries around New Jersey; if you don't see one of your favorites, check the links below to earlier galleries. And if you still don't see it ... send in a photo for our next gallery!

    Vintage photos of N.J. diners

    Vintage photos of diners in N.J.

    Vintage photos of diners and eateries in NJ

    Vintage photos of eclectic eats in N.J.

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


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    South Orange is inviting its citizens and any other interested volunteers to paint its six lampposts in Spiotta Park rainbow in celebration of LGBT pride.

    Following in the footsteps of the permanent rainbow crosswalks painted in neighboring Maplewood earlier this month, South Orange is getting in on the Pride Month action. The village will host a public painting of its lampposts Thursday in a celebration of diversity and inclusion in the town.

    South Orange is a sister community to Maplewood as well as a sanctuary city with the motto "everybody belongs here" hanging on a banner in the downtown area. 

    Resident Scott Greenstone said he wanted to create a symbol similar to the rainbow crosswalks in Maplewood, but he wanted it to happen quickly without requiring outside agency approval. He then suggested painting the gas lamps. 

    Spiotta Park was chosen as the home of the statement because it already had six gas lamps, one for every color of the pride flag, as well as being a popular public space with concerts every Friday and Saturday night in the summer, he said.

    "South Orange prides itself on being diverse, celebrating diversity and sending signs of acceptance to its citizens and other towns on how to be inclusive," said Sheena Collum, Village President. 

    "We want to promote pride in a place that's used by the public," she said. "It's great for people who are driving by as South Orange Avenue is a county road with lots of traffic. It's a visual representation that everybody is always welcome here."

    Starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, community members are invited to decorate the posts -- paint and supplies will be provided and all are encouraged to participate. Greenstone said he is rallying volunteers from the town and anywhere else.

    "I think everyone should be treated equally," said Greenstone. "Hopefully, this should be a stepping stone to something more permanent one day."

    Delaney Dryfoos may be reached at ddryfoos@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @delaneydryfoos. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Highlighting the state's top players after a busy spring full of softball action.


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    Where is the best place to see fireworks in New Jersey? What time does fireworks start? Fourth of July 2018 fireworks events and displays near you. This complete listing includes all 21 counties.


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    Someone in Oregon hit the $151 million jackpot Watch video

    There won't be a second consecutive Powerball jackpot winning ticket sold in New Jersey as someone in Oregon captured Wednesday night's $151 million top prize. 

    The good news is that three lucky ticket buyers in the Garden State matched four numbers and the Powerball, meaning those tickets are worth $50,000. 

    The third-prize tickets were sold at the following locations in New Jersey, state lottery officials said Thursday.

    • Grove Convenience on Grove Street in Montclair
    • Speedway on Smith Street in Perth Amboy
    • QuickChek on Jackson Avenue in the Pompton Plains section of Pequannock

    Wednesday's winning numbers were: 4, 14, 23, 27 and 56. The Power Ball was 13 and with a multiplier of 2x.

    The jackpot grew above the $150 million mark in the month since Tayeb Souami captured the $315.3 million jackpot after matching all the winning numbers for the May 19 drawing. The Little Ferry man bought the ticket at ShopRite in Hackensack. 

    The jackpot for the next drawing on Saturday will be $40 million with a cash option of $24 million. Friday's Mega Millions jackpot is worth $192 million with a cash option of $115 million. 

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

     

     


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    West Orange High School held its commencement ceremony on Thursday at the Richard J. Cody Arena in West Orange. The ceremony started at 7:30 pm and featured speeches by valedictorian Aishwarya Kanagala and salutatorian, Aion Ashby. Graduation season is here, and NJ.com is capturing the moments for many New Jersey high schools. Check back at nj.com/essex for other local high school graduation coverage. Be...

    West Orange High School held its commencement ceremony on Thursday at the Richard J. Cody Arena in West Orange.

    The ceremony started at 7:30 pm and featured speeches by valedictorian Aishwarya Kanagala and salutatorian, Aion Ashby.

    Graduation season is here, and NJ.com is capturing the moments for many New Jersey high schools. Check back at nj.com/essex for other local high school graduation coverage. Be sure to check out our complete graduation coverage at nj.com/graduation.

    Best 2018 West Orange graduation caps (PHOTOS)

    BUY THESE PHOTOS

    Are you one of the people pictured at this graduation? Want to buy the photo and keep it forever? Look for a blue buy image link below the photo.  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 aeconomopoulos@njadvancemedia.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @AristideNJAM and Instagram at @aeconomopoulos  Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    Only quarterback Eli Manning has been with Giants longer than Zak DeOssie and Mark Herzlich, who see changes from head coach Pat Shurmur. Both also have been active with the Newark Mentoring Movement.


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    With thousands of students graduating from New Jersey high schools this month, there are bound to be plenty of graduation caps that are being decorated.  When graduating seniors are allowed to decorate their caps, their personalities really shine through. Some look back at their past while others look to their future and students show off their funny side or artistic abilities or make statements.  Look...

    With thousands of students graduating from New Jersey high schools this month, there are bound to be plenty of graduation caps that are being decorated. 

    When graduating seniors are allowed to decorate their caps, their personalities really shine through. Some look back at their past while others look to their future and students show off their funny side or artistic abilities or make statements. 

    Look at some photos from the West Orange class of 2018 graduation (PHOTOS) 

    Graduation season is here, and NJ.com is capturing the moments for many New Jersey high schools. Check back at nj.com/essex for other local high school graduation coverage. Be sure to check out our complete graduation coverage at nj.com/graduation.

    BUY THESE PHOTOS

    Are you one of the people pictured at this graduation? Want to buy the photo and keep it forever? Look for a blue buy image link below the photo.  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 aeconomopoulos@njadvancemedia.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @AristideNJAM and Instagram at @aeconomopoulos  Find NJ.com on Facebook


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    John Clayborne is accused of stealing $3,125 when he was municipal court administrator in Carlstadt, authorities said.

    An East Orange man has been charged with stealing $3,125 that went missing when he was the administrator for Carlstadt Municipal Court, authorities said.

    clayborne.jpgJohn Clayborne 

    John Clayborne, 33, who no longer works for the borough, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of theft, according to acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo.

    The prosecutor's office had received an anonymous letter alleging Clayborne "misappropriated funds associated with that court," Calo said in a statement.

    "The investigation revealed that from November 2015 through March 2016, (Clayborne) had misappropriated at least $3,125 of funds," Calo said.

    Clayborne's LinkedIn page does include his work in Carlstadt.

    But he states that his experience includes work "as the lead administrator overseeing all court administrative functions."

    "At this position I learned and grew to understand customer service, as well of handling the municipal court's six financial accounts and preparing their annual budget," Clayborne states on his LinkedIn.

    Clayborne was arrested in East Orange and charged with one count of third-degree theft in an amount greater than $500, Calo said.

    A court date was set for July 11 in Hackensack.

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Natasha Hemmings, the new chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts Hearts of New Jersey, is the first African-American to hold the post and she is ready to prepare girls for a life time of leadership.

    Natasha Hemmings was never a Girl Scout, but the core values of her Caribbean upbringing say otherwise.

    Raised by parents who emigrated from Barbados, Hemmings grew up in Plainfield to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate, caring and courageous.

    Those ideals are unmistakable Girl Scout traits. Now add Hemmings' 18 years of experience in marketing and communication, strategic planning and nonprofit programming. Then hang everything on this quote that she lives by every day: "Be the change you want to see."

    Guess what happened next?

    MORE: Recent Barry Carter columns 

    Hemmings, a Piscataway resident, landed her dream job this year to prepare young girls for a lifetime of leadership.

    She is the chief executive officer of the Girls Scouts Heart of New Jersey, which serves 17,000 Girl Scouts and 10,000 adult volunteers in Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset, Union and Warren counties. She is the first African-American to hold the post.

    "I can't believe I'm here," she said. "This is what I'm meant to be doing."

    Hemmings is the G.I.R.L in Girl Scouts: A Go Getter, Innovator, Risk Taker and Leader.  After a nationwide search, the Girl Scout Council's board of directors thought so, too. It selected Hemmings to lead the organization in March, but she's been familiar with the group over the past 18 years. In southern and central Jersey, she increased membership and opportunities for Girl Scouts as its chief marketing and communications officer, and has held strategic and managerial responsibilities in retail operations.

    In her new position, which she started in April, Hemmings is leading one of the largest Girl Scout Councils in the state. She's on a mission to expand its influence by increasing membership in urban communities such as Newark, Elizabeth and Jersey City.

    There's no shortage of girls to recruit, particularly in Newark, where there are 26,000 girls in grades K-12, according to Census data that Hemmings has researched.  In Newark, there are 233 registered Girl Scouts, of which 150 are active in 15 troops. By the end of the year, Hemmings wants to have 400 girls active. In Jersey City there are 293 Girl Scouts; Elizabeth, 85; and Irvington, 87.

    "Those are girls who can benefit from the Girl Scout leadership experience," she said.

    When she was a troop leader in Plainfield 10 years ago, Hemmings said the membership increased from six to 32 girls. Her daughters, now 15 and 11 years old, are still members. Her husband is a co-leader of the troop, too. In Barbados, her mother and aunt were members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, before settling in the United States.

    Girl Scouts have been a family affair, an experience Hemmings will bring to homeless shelters where girls and their parents reside. There's also a program for girls whose mothers are incarcerated at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility in Clinton. It's called Girls Scouts Beyond Bars, and the goal is to re-establish mother-daughter relationship through Scouting.

    The organization, however, has to work on recruiting adult volunteers in urban areas and explain that the opportunity to be involved with a troop is not as daunting as they may think. It could mean that a troop is led by several adults, instead of the traditional model of one or two people. 

    In case you're interested, Hemmings said, volunteers don't have to have a child in the troop, either.  The adults -- after necessary background checks -- can be men or women who want to be involved in some aspect.

    "We've got a lot of girls who want to join," Hemmings said. "It's finding adults who are willing to mentor. Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Girl Scout movement."

    Hopefully, the following anecdote might help to move the needle.

    Erin Sweeney, a Newark resident raised in Sussex County, thought she'd volunteer for about 10 weeks at Chancellor Avenue School, where Troop 20134 started two years ago as an after-school program with girls from sixth to 10th grade.

    "I said, 'I'll just do a few more months,' and the next thing you know, it's a full-blown troop," said Sweeney, the troop leader. "Once you get to know the kids, you can't stop. I got hooked."

    Did that tug at some hearts out there to sign up?

    If not, check the impact she's had with dedicated parents like Pam McNeil, who says the girls need a community village to show them that hard work pays off.

    The troop, which has nine members, is on its way to Paris from next Friday to July 5. They sold a lot of cookies for airfare; other baked goods, too. A big lift, though, came from private and public donations to raise $15,000 that helped make the trip possible.

    They will be staying with a Paris-based troop of American Girl Scouts living abroad with their parents. Aside from seeing the sites, like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, the girls will participate in Independence Day ceremonies and programs to celebrate the achievements of African-American expatriates who live in Paris.

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    The troop's itinerary is packed, and it started on Wednesday when the Newark City Council gave each girl a proclamation praising their fundraising efforts. The council kicked in, too.

    The girls are psyched about the trip, even though the seven-hour plane ride makes about half of them nervous.  It will be their first time flying.

    But it's worth the jitters. Gloria Colon, 14, said Girl Scouts builds character and has taught her to be respectful. 

    "We're all sisters," said Kymora Howell, 12. "They're my family no matter what."

    Colon agreed. She hugged her Girl Scout sister in the City Council chamber.

    Still, the mission continues to create troops for girls and to get volunteers to buy in. Hemmings knows it can be done.

    Hemmings is the living change she wants to see in the world, and she left a good-paying sales job 18 years ago to find that purpose.

    It's one word with four letters. They're tall, made of wood and sit on the windowsill in her office to spell G.I.R.L.

    "I know what the Girl Scouts can do," Hemmings said.

    The girls who will receive the gift of leadership know it, too.

    Barry Carter: (973) 836-4925 or bcarter@starledger.com or

    nj.com/carter or follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL

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