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    He was moonlighting in an armed security position for another employer who believed he was licensed to carry a gun.

    Ignacio PimentelIgnacio Pimentel (Essex County Prosecutor's Office)

    As a security guard employed by the Essex County Sheriff's Office, county prosecutors said, Ignacio Pimentel held a trusted position of perceived authority.

    He did not, however, have license to carry a gun. On Monday, the 43-year-old East Orange resident was sentenced to five years in prison for doing it anyway.

    In addition to sworn sheriff's officers who are issued firearms, the sheriff's office employs non-sworn security guards at the Essex County courthouse complex in Newark.

    In a statement, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said Pimentel had been moonlighting as a security guard in Newark for an employer who believed -- at Pimentel's suggestion -- he was licensed to carry a gun.

    Detectives arrested Pimentel in September 2017 after visiting his work site on a tip and finding him carrying a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber handgun and wearing a bulletproof vest, the prosecutor's office said.

    Pimentel pleaded guilty in May to a second-degree charge of unlawfully possessing a handgun.

    Additional charges alleging cocaine and heroin possession, as well as the carrying of hollow-point ammunition, were dismissed as part of his plea agreement, records show.

    Pimentel will have to serve at least a year of the sentence before he's eligible for parole, according to Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Walter J. Dirkin, who handled the case.

    Note: This story has been updated to correct the day of Pimentel's sentencing

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind on Facebook.

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    Comedian Artie Lange has started his probation sentence for heroin possession by trying to make senior citizens laugh. But the chance to avoid jail isn't one he can take lightly. 'I don't know how much longer my body's going to take those risks,' says Lange, who admits that risk is the very engine that drives him.

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    Shipt, a same-day delivery service from Target, will begin in New Jersey on Thursday, July 26. Watch video

    Starting Thursday, Target will roll out a same-day delivery service of more than 55,000 store products - including groceries - to New Jersey residents with its new online service "Shipt."

    Target customers from around the state can enroll in Shipt, which promises to give more than 2.6 million households across the state access to products delivered in one hour, the company said in a statement.

    Target said it's offering a special membership rate of $49, compared to the regular rate of $99. The Shipt customers who pay for the membership get free, unlimited delivery on all orders of more than $35. The service will rival Amazon Prime, which costs $119 per year.

    The service will operate much like ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft, with Target hiring more than 400 shoppers across the state who will be paid to go to their local Target stores and deliver the items, the company said.

    The service will be available from stores in Atlantic City, East Brunswick, Mercer County, Monmouth County, Tom's River and Vineland, the company said.

    Hackettstown, Morristown, Edison, Jersey City and Newark Target stores will begin delivery on Aug. 2. The company has more than 40 stores in New Jersey.

    Shipt customers will also be able to order from Morton Williams Supermarket beginning on Aug. 9.

    "Both Morton Williams Supermarket and Target provide families with the essential products that power their lives, and Shipt is making those trips to the store easier than ever before as we continue to expand throughout the East Coast," said Bill Smith, founder and chief executive officer of Shipt.

    Ask Alexa

    The company announced the service will be available in New York City on Aug. 9.

    "Through our app, our members have access to everything they need, when they need it, right at their fingertips," Smith said.

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


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    The shooting occurred at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday in the city's North Ward.

    Prosecutors have opened another homicide investigation in Newark after a shooting shortly before midnight Tuesday left one teen dead and another in critical condition.

    The 17-year-old boy who was killed was Jabari Montplaisir of Newark according to Essex County Prosecutor's Office. 

    Montplaisir was shot along with an 18-year-old man near Broadway and Grafton Avenue, a few blocks away from McCarter Highway in the city's North Ward. 

    The 18-year-old, whose name is not being released, is in critical condition according to police. 

    Prosecutors say they have not arrested anyone as of Wednesday morning. 

    Anyone with information should contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432.


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    The Caldwell Borough attorney called the latest complaint 'meritless' and the comments attributed to him 'fabricated fantasy.'

    An already embattled chief of police in Essex County is now fending off additional accusations that he made lewd sexual remarks about the only two women on the force. 

    300834_352633198144778_1682816249_n.jpgPolice Chief James Bongiorno (Caldwell police) 

    The latest suit -- brought by Officer Jessica Luszcz and the third legal complaint filed against Caldwell's top cop over a two-year span --  alleges Police Chief James Bongiorno had made inappropriate comments about the female officer, alienated her from the rest of the department and promoted her male counterparts over her during her 13-year tenure. 

    The borough attorney, Gregory Mascera, called the complaint "meritless" and said the comments attributed to the chief are "fabricated fantasy."

    This week's lawsuit adds to the accusations against the chief -- who was named in two separate suits last year by Officer Candice Marinaro and Lt. Michael Geary -- for creating a toxic culture among the ranks in the small borough with 22 officers who patrol a town of 1.2 square miles.

    Over the years, according to the suit, Luszcz had been told of a number of crude sexual cracks the chief had made about her to other superior officers, including allegedly saying:

    • "She has great boobs," speculating that they were fake;
    • "She has daddy issues;"
    • "I would love to do dirty things to her;"
    • "She has to be a freak in bed," and
    • "Look at her hands and nails, I wonder what she can do with those hands."

    In 2014, the chief made what the lawsuit characterized as a sexual comment about the officer's lips while discussing a union issue. He said, the suit says, her "lips looked full" and asked whether she "had them done."

    "They just look great, they just look very full like you had them done," the chief replied when she asked about his comment, according to the suit. 

    Have you been harassed?

    The female officer was also told the chief had said, "she has no business being a cop because she is a female."

    Bongiorno, according to the suit, told other officers to "be careful of her" and "she is a rat" after she crossed paths with the top cop when he dropped the word "c***" in front of Luszcz earlier this year. 

    In addition, Mayor Ann Dassing, who is mentioned in the suit but not named as a defendant, is accused of pushing a tattoo policy that targeted Luszcz as one of the only two female cops on the force. 

    Dassing is accused of saying to the chief "female look inappropriate with tattoos" and that Caldwell "was not an urban area so officers should not have them."

    Ask Alexa

    Emails to Dassing and Bongiorno were not immediately returned. 

    "The complaining officer has never expressed any concerns to anyone at the Borough about the alleged actions despite police department policy that seeks such information in writing semi-annually," Mascera said in an emailed statement.  "Anyone who knows Chief Jim Bongiorno knows that the comments attributed to him can be only fabricated fantasy."

    Mascera previously described the other female officer's lawsuit as a taxpayer "shakedown."

    Craig McCarthy may be reached at 732-372-2078 or at Follow him on Twitter @createcraig and on Facebook here. Find on Facebook.

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    Shorter, a jazz saxophonist and composer from Newark, will join Cher, Reba McEntire, composer and pianist Philip Glass and the creators of 'Hamilton' at the Kennedy Center Honors in December. He also announced a forthcoming triple album, 'Emanon,' and accompanying graphic novel. Watch video

    Wayne Shorter, the jazz saxophonist and composer from Newark, has been named a 2018 Kennedy Center honoree

    Shorter, 84, who has won 10 Grammys in his career, will be recognized at the 41st Kennedy Center Honors on Dec. 2 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington D.C.

    The other honorees this year are Cher, the composer and pianist Philip Glass and country music star Reba McEntire.

    In a first for the honors, "Hamilton" co-creators Lin-Manuel Miranda, choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler and music director Alex Lacamoire will also be recognized "as trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category." The gala will be broadcast on CBS at 8 p.m. on Dec. 26. 

    In 2013, Shorter performed at the Kennedy Center Honors to celebrate Herbie Hancock.

    "I had no idea that they would reach that far away from the popular, well-known-artist box," Shorter told The New York Times, reacting to news of his honor.

    Shorter, who was in Newark for NJPAC's Wayne Shorter Weekend in April of 2017, also announced his latest project, "Emanon," on Wednesday, a multiverse-inspired triple album that will be released by Blue Note Records on August 24.

    The album will be accompanied by a a graphic novel written by Shorter, a longtime fan of comic books and sci-fi, and co-writer Monica Sly. NPR reports that the hero Emanon ("no-name" backwards), named after a Dizzy Gillespie work from the bebop era of the '40s, is the protagonist of the graphic novel.

    "I want to do music that expresses eternity," Shorter told The Star-Ledger in 2008. "I want to do music that celebrates everybody who has had anything to do with expressing themselves -- as musicians, novelists, in dance, maybe even in politics."

    When The New York Times asked Shorter if he would attend if President Donald Trump decided to come, he said he would be there either way. Last year, Trump and the first lady did not attend the event "to allow the honorees to celebrate without any political distraction."

    wayne-shorter-newark.jpgWayne Shorter in the Arts High School yearbook in 1951.

    The decision came in the wake of Trump's controversial comments about the white supremacist marches in Charlottesville, Virginia and after some honorees spoke out against the Trump administration and said they would not attend a related gala at the White House. The gala was ultimately canceled. 

    Shorter, a tenor and soprano saxophonist, graduated from Arts High School and grew up in Newark's Ironbound neighborhood, engrossed by the sounds of bebop. 

    "Only a few of the guys from Newark were into modern jazz -- most were listening to Stravinsky (and) Beethoven," he told The Star-Ledger in 2011.

    Shorter's first band, the Group, was inspired by Gillespie's famous Big Band. He would go on to perform with Miles Davis, Herbie Hanckock, Weather Report and the Wayne Shorter Quartet.


    Amy Kuperinsky may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AmyKup or on Facebook.


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    DNA re-testing of remains recovered at the World Trade Center led New York officials to identify its 1,642nd victim of the terror attacks.

    A 26-year-old securities analyst who grew up in Montclair was definitively identified Wednesday as one of the 2,753 people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York City.

    124061port.jpegScott Michael Johnson (Star-Ledger obituary) 

    Scott Michael Johnson's identification was confirmed by DNA re-testing of remains recovered at the World Trade Center site nearly 17 years ago, according to officials.

    Johnson became the 1,642nd person to be identified from the terror attacks on lower Manhattan and is the first victim positively identified since August 2017.

    "In 2001, we made a commitment to the families of victims that we would do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to identify their loved ones," said New York City Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson. "This identification is the result of the tireless dedication of our staff to this ongoing mission."

    Johnson worked at investment banking company Keefe, Bruyette, & Woods on the 89th floor of the World Trade Center south tower.

    Born at Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, the 1993 Montclair Kimberley Academy graduate was remembered as kind and devoted to his friends, and family.

    A fund was established at the Montclair school in his honor for a senior who "in the same spirit as Scott, best demonstrated a spirit of warmth, generosity and goodwill toward others."

    A memorial service was held in 2001 at St. Cassian Church in Montclair, where Johnson's parents, Ann and Thomas, lived.

    "He was one of the kindest people that anyone around him had ever known," Johnson's father, Thomas Johnson, a board member with the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, told the New York Times. "The pain of losing someone like that was tremendous."

    "He was cherished for his quiet, firm sense of what was important: family, friends, knowledge and adventure," his obituary stated.

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


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    So many things taste that much better with summer in front of them.


    A couple of years ago, I wrote in a caption to this photo that was a part of this gallery about how my friends and I would hold little naval battles in the stream behind the Dairy Queen in Vineland with the boat-shaped plastic dishes banana splits came in.

    Some people expressed a level of disbelief; you actually did that, Greg? Of course we did.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Frozen custard on a hot summer evening; a boat-shaped container holding the tasty treat; a convenient stream a few feet away that boats would float in; and a trash can to put them all in after the 'battle' was over.

    If that doesn't define 'serendipitous,' nothing does.

    Here's a gallery of vintage photos of summer eats and treats from around New Jersey and links to other galleries you'll enjoy.

    Vintage photos of summer eats and treats in N.J.

    Vintage photos of ice cream and candy stores in N.J.

    Vintage photos of ice cream parlors in N.J.

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

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    The $30,000 tickets were both sold in South Jersey

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    NY medical examiner continues work to identify remains of 1,111 killed at WTC

    When Tom and Ann Johnson returned from a vacation in Europe, the doorman at their Upper East Side apartment told them an NYPD detective had stopped by to see them.

    The same detective left messages on their answering machines.

    "We had no idea what it was about," Ann Johnson said. "But then I got a feeling."

    When they called the detective, he gave them the number of a forensic anthropologist at the New York medical examiner's office.

    Then they knew.

    "The medical examiner made a promise that they would keep going until they identified every victim," Johnson said.

    That promise was kept for the Johnsons earlier this week.

    For the past 17 years, scientists have been trying to identify remains of the 2,753 people who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, matching what fragments they have to DNA samples of the deceased and their families.

    This week, Scott Michael Johnson of Montclair was identified. He is the 1,642nd person matched to remains by DNA testing. That leaves 1,111 families without, as Ann Johnson said, "the final final."

    Scott Johnson, 26, worked on the 89th floor of the south tower when the second plane crashed into the building. When the first plane hit, he left a message on his parents' answering machine.

    "He said everyone was safe and they didn't need to evacuate," Ann Johnson said. "Then he spoke to his dad and said he was OK."

    Ann Johnson recalled how the summer of 2001 was filled with family celebrations and a content serenity that came over her and her husband.

    Their son Tom was married in May of that year. Their daughter, Margaret, graduated from Northwestern University in early June.

    Ask Alexa

    "I thought, 'There, we've done it,'" she said. "They were all successful and happy. We had raised our family."

    When the first plane hit, Ann Johnson was on the Upper East Side, electioneering to get out the vote.

    "I heard people talking that something had happened, and then my husband and daughter pulled up in the car," she said.

    After the second tower collapse, the Johnsons' next hours were filled with the alternating hope and despair all the families of victims experienced. They waited for the call that never came, to hear the words never spoken: "I'm OK."

    Scott Johnson.jpgScott Michael Johnson  

    Several weeks later, Scott's wallet was found among the millions of tons of rubble and returned to the family.

    After the attacks, Tom and Ann Johnson immersed themselves in the recovery of Lower Manhattan.

    Tom Johnson, a New York banking leader, brought his business acumen to the board of Lower Manhattan Development Commission, which was formed after the terror attacks to plan and redevelop the area.

    He remains on the board, which has had oversight of the 9/11 Memorial, museum, and the construction of new buildings and transit hubs, including the Oculus and Freedom Tower.

    Ann Johnson was a member of the LMDC Family Advisory Council, the body that made sure everything done on the site met a criterium of respect and dignity.

    Seventeen years and all that involvement has not lessoned the pain. From their home in Upper Montclair, where Scott spent his high school years, the New York City skyline dominated the horizon, clear as postcard on sunny, cloudless days. In the years since Scott's death, they have seen the empty space where the towers stood, and a new giant edifice rise in their place.

    Their family grew to include five grandchildren, all joys, of course, but also reminders of the life Scott never had.

    "You can't dwell on the 'What ifs," Ann Johnson said. "What if he had just gone down for a cup of coffee ... what if the plane had hit higher up ... what if things were different. But they aren't."

    In the months after the attacks, the Johnsons went to the medical examiner's office with things that belonged to Scott to be swabbed for DNA. They also gave saliva samples.

    Seventeen years went by. As technology increased, the medical examiner's office was able to make 1,642 matches from the 22,000 pieces of remains. Scott Michael Johnson is the most recent. The identification before his came one year ago, evidence of how painstaking the work is.

    "They keep going. They made that promise," Ann Johnson said. "I feel badly for the families who don't know."

    She said a little part of her always held out a sliver of hope that it was all a mistake.

    "I thought maybe someday he'd walk through that door," she said. "When I saw a tall, thin, good-looking man like him ..."

    Her voice trailed off, as it did many times during this interview, as many times as her eyes filled with tears.

    "When the medical examiner told me they matched the DNA, I didn't ask questions," she said. "I didn't want to know what they found. ... I was in shock. I thought how could this be?"

    While her grief has never lessened, the discovery made it raw again. It laid bare the depth of it.

    "I went through the five stages of grief, from shock to acceptance, many times," she said. "Now I have to start over again. This is really final, again. What's been final is final again.

    "And it doesn't bring 'closure,'" she said. "There is no closure. Closure suggests you're going on with your life. But your life is different. It's not what you wanted it to be. It's not what you dreamed it would be."

    Johnson bench.jpgThe bench plaque for Scott Michael Johnson at Montclair's Presby iris gardens  

    There is a scholarship named for him at Montclair Academy and his name is on the memorials in New York City and Essex County, on the same Watchung Mountains ridge as his parents' home with the same view of the city where he died.

    There is also an iris variation named after him at Montclair's famed Presby Memorial Gardens. And in the gardens is a weathered bench with a bronze plaque dedicated to him.

    It says simply, "Remember Me, Scott M. Johnson, World Trade Center 9-11-01."

    Read More from Mark Di Ionno

    A field of dreams for the blind boys of summer

     How the Watchung Mountains won the Revolution | Di Ionno

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@njadvancemedia.comFollow him on Twitter @MarkDiIonno. Find on Facebook.

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    Civil liberties group calls for halt on authorities using facial recognition after test mistakenly links lawmakers to people who have been arrested.

    Amazon's facial recognition system falsely matched two New Jersey congressmen with criminal mugshots, according to a report Thursday from the American Civil Liberties Union that raised alarms over the technology. 

    Republicans Frank LoBiondo and Leonard Lance were among a bipartisan group of 28 members of congress incorrectly identified by company's "Rekognition" software, according to the ACLU, which found the errors disproportionately occurred with African-American and Latino lawmakers in the group's test of the product.

    In the test, the ACLU said it used the tool to compare public pictures of lawmakers in the House and Senate with 25,000 publicly-accessible arrest photos.

    The errors underscore the risks of law enforcement using facial recognition software, according to the ACLU. About 40 percent of Amazon's false returns in the test were people of color despite the fact that they account for 20 percent of Congress. 

    "If law enforcement is using Amazon Rekognition, it's not hard to imagine a police officer getting a 'match' indicating that a person has a previous concealed-weapon arrest, biasing the officer before an encounter even begins," the civil liberties group said in a statement.

    For their part, LoBiondo and Lance have not commented in detail on the mistaken identities.

    The congressman declined comment when reached by Slate. A spokesman for Lance could not be immediately reached.

    Representatives for Amazon did not immediately return messages seeking comment. In a statement to the New York Times, a company spokeswoman pointed to the benefits of the facial match tool, including finding missing children and thwarting human trafficking.

    "It is worth noting that in real world scenarios, Amazon Rekognition is almost exclusively used to help narrow the field and allow humans to expeditiously review and consider options using their judgment," Amazon Web Services spokeswoman Nina Lindsay said, according to the newspaper.

    In a blog post last month, an Amazon official wrote "there has been no reported law enforcement abuse," of the company's Rekognition tool.

    "There have always been and will always be risks with new technology capabilities. Each organization choosing to employ technology must act responsibly or risk legal penalties and public condemnation," said Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at Amazon Web Services.

    "AWS takes its responsibilities seriously. But we believe it is the wrong approach to impose a ban on promising new technologies because they might be used by bad actors for nefarious purposes in the future," Wood said in the post.

    The ACLU has argued Amazon is marketing the facial recognition system to law enforcement agencies, claiming it can identify a 100 faces in a single picture and be used to scan body camera footage.

    "Congress must take these threats seriously, hit the brakes, and enact a moratorium on law enforcement use of face recognition," the ACLU said. "This technology shouldn't be used until the harms are fully considered and all necessary steps are taken to prevent them from harming vulnerable communities."

    In New Jersey, state authorities used facial recognition scans to weed out fraudulent driver's licenses.

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


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    The plane returned about 30 minutes after take off from Newark airport Thursday night, according to officials.

    A United Airlines flight was forced to return to Newark Liberty International Airport shortly after takeoff Thursday after the crew declared an emergency over a flight control problem, officials said.

    United flight 1990, a Boeing 737, landed safely around 7:25 p.m., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The aircraft was bound for Minneapolis when the problem was reported.

    In a statement, United Airlines said a "maintenance issue" prompted the crew to return to Newark airport. There were 154 passengers and six crew members on the plane.

    "The flight landed safely and we are providing a different aircraft to get customers to Minneapolis later this evening," the airline said.

    The plane took off from Newark airport around 7 p.m., according to data posted by

    The FAA said it would investigate the incident.

    A Port Authority spokesman said the plane landed without incident. There were no reported injuries.


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    NJ 101.5 radio hosts didn't care that they were offensive.


    They have since apologized, but they had to know "Turban Man'' was offensive.


    The question many are asking a day after a scandal exploded during the "Dennis and Judi" show on NJ 101.5 -- did the shock jock radio hosts know why the term they used was so offensive?

    Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco disrespected New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, calling him "turban man" -- a reference to the headwear that is a representation of his Sikh faith.

    Malloy said it three times when he was discussing the attorney general's decision to not have municipal prosecutors charge people for marijuana possession. He claimed he didn't remember Grewal's name.

    "I'm just gonna say the guy with the turban," Mallloy said. 


    Franco stretched out the syllables -- tur-ban-man -- as if he was some kind of superhero character in a comic book.

    The discussion created a firestorm that saw the pair suspended from the airwaves.

    Why? There are a whole bunch of reasons.

    First, he's the state attorney general.

    "It's his title, damn it,'' said CJ Singh, treasurer of the Garden State Sikh Association.

    He's right. They could have called Grewal by his title, like when other media outlets or shows have referred to officials as, say, "governor," without saying the name.

    Their comments also turned the turban into a bad thing. For Sikhs, it's the opposite. The turban is much more than a piece of clothing.

    Singh said the turban is a way to represent his community and faith, so people can identify them.

    "They (the public) know they can trust someone who wears a turban. It's mark of respect, a mark of identity.''

    And, while Singh said most people in New Jersey are understanding and respectful of the Sikh community -- which is estimated to be about 20,000 people -- he was surprised to see narrow-mindedness surface in radio personalities who have a large listening audience.

    "It's irresponsible,'' Singh said.

    Ask Alexa

    On the air, Malloy's solution for his thoughtless comment was to have Grewal strip away his faith, which dates back to the early 1400s.

    "Listen, and if that offends you then don't wear the turban and maybe I'll remember your name," he said.

    It seems that since making the comments, Malloy and Franco learned why they offended so many. They were slapped with a suspension, and issued an apology:

    "We offer our sincerest apologies to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal as well as the Sikh and Asian communities for a series of insensitive comments we made on our show," the statement said.

    "For 21 years, the Dennis and Judi show has been unscripted and free form. We use humor and sarcasm to make a point and add color to the broadcast; in this instance, we were off the mark. It was a mistake we both deeply regret. We respect all cultures and beliefs and are deeply sorry for the pain caused to the Sikh community, our co-workers and our beloved listeners."

    The hosts seem to say they didn't know they were being offensive. At least one expert agrees.

    William FitzGerald, an expert on rhetoric and political and popular thought, argued the radio hosts just didn't know that joking about someone's religion is off limits.

    "I don't think they go out of their way to be offensive,'' said FitzGerald, who is also an associate professor of English at Rutgers University-Camden. "They don't know where the lines are. They're just not thinking.''

    If they had been, FitzGerald said the pair would have realized that "turban man'' is today's version of other derogatory terms, like "Towel Head" and "Rag Head.''

    "Somehow they thought 'turban man' would fly in a way that the others wouldn't,'' he said.

    It didn't.

    It seems Malloy and Franco learned that the hard way. They'll be back on the air Aug. 6, hopefully a little more informed than they were before.

    Barry Carter may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BarryCarterSL. Find on Facebook. 


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    Saturday is National Water Park Day, so grab your bathing suits and sunblock and head to one of New Jersey's wet and wild water parks.

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    This is the fourth of five trip reports in our search for N.J.'s best hot dog joint.

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    Former Newark police officer Joseph Macchia drew his service weapon and shot to death a Middlesex County man during a bar fight. Watch video

    Former Newark police officer Joseph Macchia, who drew his service weapon and shot a man to death two years ago while he was off-duty and drinking at a Union Township bar, was sentenced Friday to six years in prison.

    Macchia Pic.jpgoseph Macchia, 37, a former Newark cop who fatally shot man outside of a bar in 2016. 

    Macchia, an 11-year veteran of the police department, was convicted last month of of reckless manslaughter in the shooting death of Michael Gaffney, 37, of Piscataway.

    "As a police officer he should have not drank in excess having six beers and two Jack Daniels in the time he was at the bar; and certainly should have not while he was armed," Judge John M. Deitch said.

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

    "He should have not brushed his pregnant wife aside as she was begging him to leave and physically trying to drag him away. He should not have ignored the pleas of literally the entire bar who were telling him to go."

    Before sentencing, Gaffney's mother and daughter asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence, which would have been 10 years on his second-degree manslaughter charge.

    "My dad was my protector," his teen daughter Alexia Gaffney told the judge. "He took that protection, love and happiness from my heart."

    "Macchia makes a good cop look bad," Gaffney's mother Judy Valdes said outside Union County Superior Court.

    The judge said during sentencing that Macchia has had a lack of remorse for killing Gaffney since the beginning of the trial, and that he was only sorry the event happened to him.

    Deitch also called Macchia's testimony inconsistent, and said the defense went out of its way to blame the victim.

    James Stewart Jr., president of Newark Fraternal Order of Police, also weighed in on the sentencing. 

    "Although disappointed in the verdict by the jury, we respect their conclusion and hope that it brings a measure of closure to the Gaffney family," Stewart said. 

     "Joe will pay a steep price for his actions that night, but we appreciate that Judge Deitch took into account Joe's prior history and service to the community when he handed down the sentence." 

    CopSentenced.jpgFormer Newark police Officer Joseph Macchia is led away after he's sentenced to 6 years in prison for shooting to death a Piscataway man. (Taylor Tiamoyo Harris | NJ Advance Media for 

    Gaffney and Macchia, 36, were acquaintances and got into an argument in the bar. Their fight turned physical for a few minutes. It ended, but flared back up again outside the bar.

    During the fight, Macchia pulled out his gun and fatally shot Gaffney. A 911 caller reported hearing five shots, but Union County Prosecutor's Office investigation determined there we're four shots. Three of those four shots hit Gaffney. 

    Macchia, was not arrested after the shooting, and he was not identified by the Newark Police Department. His blood-alcohol level was tested, however, and he was found to be have .13, above the .08 legal limit for driving.

    He was indicted on a manslaughter charge the following November, and was released on bail. He was on unpaid leave since his indictment.

    Gaffney's mother has been urging lawmakers to create and pass legislation making 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 more than 6,100 people, but no legislator has drafted the bill.

    Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyoFind on Facebook. 


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    West Orange town hall employees have been drinking bottled water and washing their hands with sanitizer, officials said.

    Employees at West Orange town hall were drinking bottled water and washing their hands with hand sanitizer after a colleague was diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease, and water at the public building tested positive for the bacteria that causes the disease.

    The longtime employee was hospitalized two weeks ago, West Orange officials confirmed Friday. Results of testing at town hall revealed Thursday that five of 10 samples of water contained elevated levels of the bacteria that causes Legionnaires' -- a severe and potentially deadly form of pneumonia.

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    The employee has since recovered, town officials said. The water at town hall was disconnected Thursday, and water at all other municipal buildings is being tested, officials said. Test results take two weeks.

    Thursday night, filters were installed on all public water sources at the municipal building, officials said, the first of several remediation efforts being taken.

    "We have been assured by outside consultants and experts that by shutting down the potable water supply, installing filters ... replacing the hot water heater which has already been disconnected and making plumbing repairs that the conditions will be remedied and safe," West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi said in a statement.

    "The township is giving this health issue the importance and attention it demands."

    Legionnaires' is not contagious from person to person, or caught by drinking or touching contaminated water. It is contracted by inhaling contaminated water mist, health officials say.

    The town has had just this one case of the disease, and is not recommending town-wide testing of the water supply, a township spokeswoman said, adding that "it's up to individuals to test their homes, as in the event of any environmental matter." 

    Jessica Mazzola may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JessMazzola. Find on Facebook.


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    Some storms are packing 60 mph wind gusts, small hail and cloud-to-ground lightning in New Jersey, according to the National Weather Service

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    Failing grade in latest safety report and bond downgrades are among the problems at University Hospital, the governor said.

    Citing recent troubling financial and safety reports and a questionable management decision, Gov. Phil Murphy Friday announced an independent monitor will oversee operations at University Hospital in Newark.

    Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal appointed veteran health care executive Judith M. Persichilli, the former CEO of a national Catholic hospital chain and St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton, to serve as the monitor.

    University Hospital CEO John Kastanis pledged to work with Persichilli and the state.

     "In the last several years, University Hospital has taken a variety of steps to address financial challenges while providing access to high-quality care for all patients," Kastanis said in a statement. "The hospital has made changes to its administrative and clinical leadership, and diligently implemented new programs focused on patient safety and quality of care. We recognize there is much work left to be done and look forward to working collaboratively with Ms. Persichilli, as well as our state and local elected officials and regulatory agencies, to accelerate progress at University Hospital."

    Murphy took the action by issuing an executive order.

    "Given the scope of the problems found at University Hospital, these immediate actions are necessary to ensure the facility can continue providing the highest level of care to the community while it gets its fiscal house in order and improves its health care quality,'' Murphy said in a statement.

    The public hospital that wanted to cut pediatrics? That plan has changed.

    The governor's announcement cited three pressing problems that required outside invention:

    * The hospital began phasing-out pediatric inpatient services without the permission of the state Department of Health.

    * Fitch Ratings downgraded the hospital's bond rating citing the pension liability, "weak leverage profile," and "thin operating performance." 

    In Fiscal Year 2018, the hospital's operating budget is $666.5 million, running at a loss of approximately $36 million. 

    * University Hospital received an F in the latest Leapfrog Safety Score report in April. A hospital spokesman at the time said the grade does not reflect the most recent strategies the hospital has adopted to improve patient care and safety.

    On Monday, University Hospital told NJ Advance Media the plan to outsource its inpatient services for children to another Newark hospital is off the table for now. 

    The hospital said it had submitted an application to the Department of Health to reduce its pediatric services but has since withdrawn it after an outcry from physicians and the hospital workers union. Hospital CEO John Kastanis previously said that the move was necessary because of the low volume of child patients. 

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    Kastanis said the intensive care unit for pediatrics was often closed and only three to four children required inpatient services a day. 

    But some worried reducing inpatient pediatric care would risk the hospital's Level 1 trauma designation. Others worried about how it could affect the level of care at the state's only public hospital. 

    Ann Twomey, president of the union, Health Professionals and Allied Employees, said the monitor is a welcome addition.

    "Nurses and health professionals at University Hospital have witnessed the erosion of funding for our state's only public Level 1 Trauma Center. We are pleased with Gov. Murphy's swift action to appoint a monitor to scrutinize the hospital. Yet the priority of a monitor must be to provide a course for the hospital to be a viable public institution that will continue to meet the needs of the most disenfranchised and neediest in our communities served by the hospital," Twomey said.

    University Hospital is the only public acute-care hospital in the state. The 467-bed institution relocated 40 years ago to city-donated land with a mission: to help Newark recover from the 1967 riots by meeting the city's public health needs. 

    Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, in a joint statement with Murphy, said he approved of the governor's decision.

    "I have been very concerned about the quality of care at the hospital, their failure to live up to the Newark Agreement negotiated when the hospital was created, their attempt to reduce the number of pediatric beds without consulting myself or the Governor, and the failing grade they received on their level of care from the Leapfrog group," Baraka said. "The appointment of a monitor will assure that University Hospital gets its house in order."

    Sen. Joseph Vitale, chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, praised the governor's action.

    "I commend the governor for stepping in. As one of only three Level 1 trauma hospitals, it provides unique and critical care services to a large swath of our residents, in addition to being an important regional health care employer," Vitale said. "I look forward to working with the administration, hospital and monitor to improve upon what can be a great health care institution.

    NJ Advance Media Staff Writer Karen Yi contributed to this report.

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


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    Pope Francis has accepted U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick's offer to resign from the College of Cardinals

    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis has accepted U.S. prelate Theodore McCarrick's offer to resign from the College of Cardinals following allegations of sexual abuse, including one involving an 11-year-old boy, and ordered him to conduct a "life of prayer and penance" in a home to be designated by the pontiff until a church trial is held, the Vatican said Saturday.

    Francis acted swiftly after receiving McCarrick's letter of resignation Friday evening, after recent weeks have brought a spate of allegations that the 88-year-old prelate in the course of his distinguished clerical career had sexually abused both boys and adult seminarians. The revelations posed a test of the pontiff's recently declared resolve to battle what he called a "culture of cover-up" of similar abuse in the Catholic's church's hierarchy.

    McCarrick had been already removed from public ministry since June 20, pending a full investigation into allegations he fondled a teenager over 40 years ago in New York City. A man, who was 11 at the time of the first alleged instance of abuse, says a sexually abusive relationship continued for two more decades. McCarrick has denied the initial allegation.

    The prelate rose steadily up the U.S. Church's ranks, from auxiliary bishop in New York City, to bishop in Metuchen, New Jersey, to archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and then to Archbishop of Washington, D.C., the nation's capital, the city where the papal ambassador to the United States is based.

    While most of the scandals involving pedophile clergy have involved rank-and-file priests, some cases involved bishops, and there are a few involving cardinals, including a current case in Australia of one of Pope Francis' closest advisers, Cardinal George Pell, who now faces a criminal trial in his homeland.

    In the case of Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien, accused by former seminarians in 2013 of sexual misconduct, Francis only accepted his resignation after the Vatican's top abuse prosecutor conducted a full investigation, two years after the first revelations came out.

    But the Holy See's announcement about McCarrick said that Francis was taking action, by isolating McCarrick and ordering penance even before "accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial." In addition, Francis, "ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry," indicating he was approving the measure already in effect since last month.

    A Catholic University canon law expert, Kurt Martens, noted that this was the first time an order of penance and prayer had been issued before a church trial could take place.

    Since he is over 80, McCarrick was already no longer eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a pope. But being a "prince of the church," as cardinals are sometimes called, is a top honor of the church, and those elevated to that rank are called upon to advise the pope.

    Bishops have been implicated in the sexual abuse scandals that have stained the Catholic church's reputation worldwide for decades now, but often for their roles in covering up for pedophile priests by shuffling them from parish to parish and keeping the faithful in the dark about the allegations about clergy whose pastoral duties often bring them into contact with minors.

    Earlier this month, an Australia bishop became the most senior Roman Catholic cleric to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse. Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson was sentenced to 12 months in detention by an Australian court in a landmark case welcomed by some abuse survivors as a strong warning to institutions that fail to protect children.

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