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    The victim was shot multiple times in the face and neck outside a Newark nightclub.

    An Essex County jury on Monday convicted three reputed Bloods street gang members of orchestrating the ambush-style execution of a rival last year in Newark, county prosecutors said.

    The jury, seated before Superior Court Judge James Donohue in Newark, found Rashan Jackson, Naim Jones and Hakeem Maloney each guilty of murder conspiracy and weapons charges in the April 27, 2017, slaying of William Porter IV.

    The jury found Jackson guilty of murdering Porter, the prosecutor's office said.

    Porter, a 23-year-old member of the Grape Street Crips who was associated with a so-called "hybrid gang," was shot eight times in a Mulberry Street parking lot after leaving The Boulevard nightclub around 2:30 a.m., Assistant Prosecutor Adam Wells told jurors last month.

    Wells said surveillance video from a nearby business had earlier captured Jackson, Jones and Maloney meeting in the parking lot and then entering the club before the shooting.

    The same surveillance video, Wells said, also captured Jackson, 31, later ambushing Porter after he left the club, firing numerous rounds into his face, head and neck.

    The prosecutor's office also charged Jones, 42, and Maloney, 38, with promoting organized street crime, alleging they directed gang activities as high-ranking members of various Bloods factions.

    Authorities specifically identified Jones as the purported "godfather" of the Red Breed Gorillas, a Bloods faction that in recent years was said to control drug distribution in the area of Stratford Place and the Grace West Manor Townhomes on Irvine Turner Boulevard.

    The jury, however, was unable to reach a verdict on the gang leadership charges.

    In court last month, attorneys for the three defendants argued the state's video evidence was one-sided and the claims of gang activity overblown.

    "Never was a case made, such as ours, that didn't also have two sides," defense attorney Michael Robbins said, urging jurors to give Jackson the benefit of the doubt.

    While acknowledging Jackson had obtained a handgun prior to Porter's killing, Robbins said his client did so only after the broad-daylight fatal shooting of his own brother in October 2016.

    "It's not like (Jackson) could call Newark police" for protection, he said.

    Jones' lawyer, Thomas R. Ashley, said the prosecution's evidence made for "a very weak case as it pertains to Naim Jones."

    The video evidence, Ashley said, did not show anything had transpired between Jackson and Jones, except that Jones was at the scene. The link between Porter's killing and gang activity was similarly weak, he said, arguing his client's tattoos didn't prove anything.

    "When you dislike what someone stands for, it's easier to convict" them, Ashley said.

    Both Jones and Maloney are on parole, according to the prosecutor's office -- Jones for aggravated manslaughter and conspiracy convictions in a 2004 double homicide, and Maloney from a 2014 conviction for conspiring to commit robbery.

    All three men face up to life in prison, prosecutors said.

    Jones and Maloney are scheduled to be sentenced by Donohue on Jan. 4, 2019. Jackson's sentencing has yet to be scheduled, according to the prosecutor's office.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on Facebook

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    Unofficial results for races in Essex County's Nov. 6 general election.


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    The winner of the race succeeds retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen.


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    Mikie Sherrill is heading to Congress after taking away a seat held by Republicans since 1985.


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    Democrat Tom Malinowski unseated Republican U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, who has held this U.S. House seat since 2009.


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    The 15-year-old Mountain Lakes boy left his home on Oct. 30 and boarded a train to New York City

    The father of a New Jersey teen missing for more than a week said Wednesday that his son is safe somewhere on the East Coast, but will not return home.

    Nicolai Kolding shared that update about his 15-year-old son Thomas Kolding in a Facebook post he made public, but declined to say how he learned that or reveal a more specific location. 

    Thomas Kolding, of Mountain Lakes, left his home on Oct. 30 and traveled by train from Denville to New York Penn Station after transferring at Broad Street Station in Newark, authorities said. 

    Kolding took $1,000 in cash with him but left his cell phone and laptop behind, his father told CBS-2.

    The 5-foot-3, 120 pound Kolding was last seen wearing a camouflage jacket, gray winter skullcap and carrying a blue backpack.

    Now his father suspects Thomas is wearing "grey/black sneakers (with white soles), athletic pants (sweats or soccer/Adidas warm-ups), a sweatshirt/hoodie (often Under Armour) in base colors (blue, orange), possibly his blue windbreaker (or that camo winter coat he first had on), sometimes a grey winter cap," he wrote on the social media site. 

    N.J. man mysterious goes missing while on vacation in Germany

    His parents previously told police their son had a strong interest in traveling to California, possible the Bay Area. 

    "If anyone sees him (especially those unfamiliar to him), think of him and talk to him like a 25 year-old not a 15 year-old. Just please tell Thomas that his mom, his dad, his brothers, his friends and extended family, and more people than he can possibly imagine love and admire him," Nicolai Kolding wrote Wednesday. 

    A spokesman for the Morris County Prosecutor's Office declined to answer questions about the search for the teen. 

    "It is still an active search for Kolding in partnership with multiple other law enforcement agencies," Peter DiGennaro said in a email Wednesday morning. 

    Nicolai Kolding couldn't immediately be reached by NJ Advance Media. 

    Anyone with information about Thomas Kolding is asked to contact the Morris County Prosecutor's Office Missing Persons Unit at 973-285-2900, or email Detective/Supervisor Leah Atterbury at latterbury@co.morris.nj.us. Tipster can also Mountain Lakes police at 973-334-1413 and ask for Det. John Hukowski.

    The New Jersey State Police's Missing Persons Unit is also involved in the investigation. 

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

     

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    James Ray III, 55, was booked in the Essex County Correctional Facility Tuesday, records show

    A Montclair lawyer accused of killing his girlfriend has been arrested on murder charges after a lengthy manhunt.

    James Ray III, 55, was booked in the Essex County Correctional Facility Tuesday on a charge of murder, jail records show.

    James R. Ray III

    The Essex County Prosecutor's Office has scheduled a press conference for 2 p.m. to release further information about the case.

    Ray, the prime suspect in the death of Angela Bledsoe, has been at large since last month.

    Bledsoe, 44, was found shot to death Oct. 23 at a home on North Mountain Avenue in Montclair she shared with Ray.

    Ray was not present at the home when police arrived. Prosecutors announced shortly after the crime that he was at large and should be considered armed and dangerous.

    The couple had a child together who was in the care of family members.

    NJ Advance Media reported after the incident that Ray was previously sued by a paralegal he allegedly pressured to become his third wife.

    A civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court in 2013 said Ray subjected the paralegal to numerous unwanted conversations about polygamy and pornography while she worked for him in 2012.

    The woman was eventually fired by Ray after she rebuffed his advances, the complaint said.

    The lawsuit was settled out of court, records show.

    Ray was also made headlines in 2017 when he was a witness in the child rape trial of Jelani Maraj, the brother of rapper Nicki Minaj. Newsday reported Ray previously had been hired by the 11-year-old victim's mother to seek damages from Maraj, who was convicted in November.

    A graduate of Florida A&M in 1997, Bledsoe served as the parliamentarian of the school's national alumni association.  

    The association's president, Col. Gregory Clark, told the Tallahassee Democrat that Bledsoe was a "fantastic person."

    "(She was) so loving and caring and was one of my principal advisers," he told the news organization. "She loved FAMU dearly and will be truly missed."

    After college, Bledsoe worked as an analyst with Chase Manhattan Bank and later as an associate with JPMorgan Chase, People Magazine reported.

    She also volunteered with her daughter's Girl Scouts of America group.

    Ray was a practicing attorney in New York City.

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

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    Voters in Newark, Camden and Paterson decided between a mayor-appointed school board or one chosen by residents.

    The state ended its takeover of the Newark and Paterson school districts this year, leaving residents to decide the key question of how they want their schools to be run: by an elected school board or one appointed by the mayor. 

    On Tuesday, residents in both cities -- as well as in Camden where the state still maintains control of the district -- overwhelmingly voted for locally-elected boards and the power to hold those board members accountable at the ballot box. 

    With 90 percent of precincts reporting in Newark, 75 percent of 19,600 voters selected a Type II, or elected school board, compared to 25 percent who voted for a Type I school board appointed by the mayor. 

    In Paterson, 18 percent of 8,400 voters picked a Type I compared to 81 percent who opted for Type II, according to preliminary results. 

    In Camden, 4,854 voters were against a board where the mayor appoints the members and 2,935 were for it, according to unofficial results.

    Newark Mayor Ras Baraka had urged residents to vote for an elected school board 

    "As a teacher, a principal, and a councilman, I have said time and time again that the people should have the power to choose our school leaders," Baraka wrote in a letter posted on the city's website

    "I do not want that power. I want the people to have that power. Parents know what's best for their children and their education. Residents have clear ideas, sometimes conflicting ideas, about what our schools should be like. I believe in Democracy, the more, the better," he said.

    Newark was under state control for 22 years until the local school board officially assumed governance of its 36,000 students in February. While the board was previously elected, it had no real authority. A revolving door of state-appointed superintendents always had veto power over the board's decisions and the board could not hire or fire its own superintendent. 

    That changed in May, when the board chose its first schools superintendent, Roger Leon

    In Paterson, Mayor Andre Sayegh also advocated for a locally-elected board, according to media reports.  

    Sayegh's transition report recommended the same.

    "After 27 years of state control, we believe the community does not want mayoral control and prefers to elect its education leaders," the report said. 

    Paterson was under state control for 27 years before the state Board of Education returned power to the local district in May. 

    In Camden, the state took control of the district in 2013 and its former Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, who resigned in June, said the district was still a long way from regaining control. Come 2019, however, residents will be able to elect their school board members, rather than have the mayor appoint them.

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

     

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    Tyshammie Cooper, who works as the mayor's chief of staff in Orange, ran unopposed on Tuesday and sailed to victory.

    Facing no challengers, a public official named in two FBI search warrants as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged fraud and money laundering in Orange was elected as the newest member of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. 

    Tyshammie.jpegTyshammie L. Cooper. 
     

    Tyshammie Cooper, who works as the mayor's chief of staff in Orange and is an elected councilwoman in East Orange, ran unopposed Tuesday and sailed to victory with more than 34,000 votes, according to preliminary results.

    She did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday night. 

    Cooper has not been charged with any crimes related to the ongoing investigation but was named in at least two FBI search warrants served in Orange over the past two years in a wide-ranging probe investigating alleged misuse of government funds, among other things. 

    She has denied any wrongdoing and said the investigations didn't involve her at all. 

    Cooper previously told NJ Advance Media that her "professionalism of my day-to-day work" in Orange made her an ideal candidate for the role.

    She will fill the position vacated by former Freeholder Britnee Timberlake, who took now-Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver's state assembly seat in January.

    It's not clear who will fill Copper's seat on the East Orange City Council. Copper represents East Orange's 4th Ward, her term expires in 2021. 

    Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. and Sheriff Armando Fontura, both Democrats, were re-elected on Tuesday. Alturrick Kenney was elected as County Surrogate. 

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

     

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    James R. Ray III had evaded authorities after allegedly fatally shooting Angela Bledsoe.

    A Montclair lawyer accused of killing his girlfriend -- the mother of their young child -- was arrested by FBI agents in Cuba, local and federal authorities announced Wednesday.

    James R. Ray III

    James R. Ray III, 55, was booked in the Essex County Correctional Facility Tuesday on a charge of murder, jail records show.

    Ray, whose offices are in New York City, was the prime suspect in the shooting death of Angela Bledsoe on Oct. 23. Bledsoe, 44, was found dead at the home the two shared on North Mountain Avenue.

    At a Wednesday press conference, officials said Ray left the couple's child with family members after the slaying, before heading to the Southwest and then Mexico. Once across the border, he took a plane to Cuba, officials said.

    FBI agents received word that Ray was in Cuba on Oct. 28. Cuban authorities then detained Ray after federal officials obtained a warrant in U.S. District Court that allowed for his arrest for "unlawful flight to avoid prosecution," FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Gregory Ehrie said.

    Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens declined to provide any information on a suspected motive or any evidence gathered by detectives. He said there have been no plea negotiations at this point.

    The FBI took custody of Ray in Cuba and returned him to New Jersey via a flight to Teterboro Airport. He was lodged in the Essex County Correctional Facility on Tuesday.

    Ray is scheduled to appear before Superior Court Judge Martin G. Cronin in Newark on Tuesday for a detention hearing, Stephens said.

    NJ Advance Media previously reported that Ray was sued by a paralegal he allegedly pressured to become his third wife in 2013. 

    A civil complaint filed in U.S. District Court said Ray subjected the paralegal to numerous unwanted conversations about polygamy and pornography while she worked for him in 2012.

    The woman was eventually fired by Ray after she rebuffed his advances, the complaint said.

    The lawsuit was settled out of court, records show.

    A graduate of Florida A&M in 1997, Bledsoe served as the parliamentarian of the school's national alumni association.  

    The association's president, Col. Gregory Clark, told the Tallahassee Democrat that Bledsoe was a "fantastic person."

    "(She was) so loving and caring and was one of my principal advisers," he told the news organization. "She loved FAMU dearly and will be truly missed."

    After college, Bledsoe worked as an analyst with Chase Manhattan Bank and later as an associate with JPMorgan Chase, People Magazine reported.

    She also volunteered with her daughter's Girl Scouts of America group.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on Facebook

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

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    The man's trial began Wednesday, more than two years after the three slayings.

    Over the course of one weekend in January 2016, East Orange resident Jeffrey Holland claimed the lives of two ex-girlfriends and the new boyfriend of one of the women during a "killing spree" through Newark, a prosecutor told jurors Wednesday.

    "Less than 24 hours," Essex County Assistant Prosecutor Justin Edwab told the jury, assembled in a sixth-floor courtroom at the Veterans Courthouse in Newark. "That's all it took for the defendant, Jeffrey Holland, to take the lives of these innocent young individuals."

    Opening arguments in Holland's triple murder trial began Wednesday morning before Superior Court Judge Ronald D. Wigler, the presiding judge of the court's criminal division in Newark.

    Holland's proverbial day in court came well over two years after detectives arrested him in the slayings of Tiniquah Rouse, 21Ashley Jones, 23, and Jarrell Marshall, 28 -- all killed between Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 of that year at two apartments in the city.

    Rouse was the first to die.

    Holland choked and drowned in her in a bathtub, before sexually assaulting her, Edwab said. The first officer at the scene, a Newark police detective, found her 5-month-old child in a closet of the Stratford Place apartment, covered with clothing but unharmed. 

    The next day, Edwab said, Holland kicked open the door of Jones' Clinton Place apartment and confronted her and Marshall in the bedroom with a gun. Marshall was shot numerous times, Edwab said, while Jones -- curled up in the fetal position -- was shot twice in the head.

    The prosecutor's office at the time said domestic violence appeared to be a factor in the killings, noting Jones had an active restraining order against Holland.

    First responders found Jones' two children and Marshall's child -- all under the age of five -- inside the home when they arrived, authorities said at the time. They were physically unharmed.

    Man accused of killing his exes has history of arrests for violence

    In addition to murder, Holland faces charges that include desecrating human remains and endangering the welfare of children.

    While the jury will see surveillance video and photos connecting Holland to the crime scenes, and hear expert testimony that Marshall and Jones were shot with the same gun, there won't be any DNA evidence or an alleged murder weapon for them to consider, the prosecutor said.

    Holland, who has remained jailed at the Essex County Correctional Facility since his arrest, appeared in court Wednesday wearing a white dress shirt and pinstriped gray dress pants. He showed little reaction as the prosecutor spoke to the jury.

    Defense attorney Sterling Kinsale, in his own opening remarks, argued the state's evidence wouldn't be nearly enough to prove Holland's guilt on the charges at hand.

    "The judge will tell you what murder is and what murder is not in this case," Kinsale said, referencing the instructions given to jurors before they begin their deliberations.

    While the state can provide evidence Holland had prior relationships with the women and visited their homes, he said, there were no eyewitness who could say they saw Holland take someone's life.

    "It's association by coincidence," Kinsale said, asking the jurors to keep an open mind.

    The jury Wednesday morning heard from both the Newark police detective who responded to Rouse's home, and a paramedic who examined her and her child.

    The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday afternoon.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on Facebook

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    "Veterans Day ... is a day for all of us to begin our journey of protecting our freedom and the freedom of many future generations."

    Special thanks to vfwauxiliary.org for this explanation of the importance of Veterans Day to military veterans and civilians alike.

    "On the 11th hour...of the 11th day...of the 11th month...the fighting of World War I ended in 1918.

    american-flag-unfurled.jpg 

    "Due to the conclusion of 'the War to end all Wars,' November 11th became a universally recognized day of celebration.

    "The day was originally declared 'Armistice Day' 8 years after the end of World War I and honored only veterans of that war. Then in 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, it was renamed 'Veterans' Day' to honor all veterans who served America in war and defended democracy.

    "So, today we honor all of our veterans ... who unselfishly placed their lives on the line for our freedom.

    "Those men and women were ordinary people... until they heard the call of duty and answered it. They left their families ... their homes ... and their lives ... not for recognition or fame or even the honor we bestow upon them today. They fought to protect our country ... to maintain our way of life.

    "As we honor our veterans and remember their great deeds, let us also salute those who are currently fighting for our freedom.

    "The War on Terrorism has helped us all realize how truly unique the American way of life is. The freedom we enjoy is extremely special, and that is why we must defend it.

    "So, now is the time to not only honor those have fought or are fighting for our freedom...it is also the time for each of us to take part in protecting it.

    "The defense of freedom is not just for those in the military; each of us shares that duty and that responsibility. We don't have to join the army or the navy or any other organization of defense to actively defend our way of life. We can protect our freedom simply by maintaining it here in America.

    "If we want to preserve our freedoms, we must put them into action - for example, by voting in elections or speaking out against injustices. We must also ensure that everyone feels the benefits of freedom. And we can do that by volunteering in our communities or teaching our children what it really means to be an American.

    "Veterans' Day isn't just a day for veterans - it's a day for all Americans. It's a day to remember why they were fighting and a day for all of us to begin our journey of protecting our freedom and the freedom of many future generations.

    "Thank you for honoring our veterans today. Let us walk toward tomorrow still honoring them...by living in the freedom they protected."

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    Here are links to other related galleries:

    Vintage photos of Medal of Honor recipients from N.J.

    Vintage photos of women and the war effort in N.J.

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


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    N.J. has the most top-rated rated hospitals for safety in the nation, according to The Leapfrog safety study.


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    Play our interactive game and guess what these Garden State sounds are.


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    St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison will take in Newark's animals after a dispute between the city and its shelter.

    A Madison animal shelter has agreed to house Newark's rescues and strays through the end of the year, after the city's former shelter announced it would no longer accept Newark animals starting Nov. 8.

    St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center will now take in animals picked up by Newark's animal control. Residents who want to surrender a pet or need help locating an animal can also call the shelter for help. 

    Newark was forced to find alternate animal sheltering after Associated Humane Societies accused the city of not paying its bills and ended its services. City officials fired back and said the shelter's former director, who was banned from the facility under a plea agreement involving animal cruelty charges, was obstructing contract negotiations. The shelter, the city said, reneged on previous agreements and wanted a 40 percent increase to its $675,000 annual fee. 

    "The residents of the city of Newark cannot be held hostage by AHS, and will not be held hostage," Business Administrator Eric Pennington previously said.

    Associated Humane Societies is the largest sheltering facility in the state but its Newark facility on Evergreen Avenue was skewered in multiple state and local health inspections last year when officials found bags of carcasses covered in flies, sick animals not receiving basic vet care and questionable protocols for euthanizing animals.

    Pennington said the facility continued to violate health standards for the first few months this year. 

    Under the city's new agreement, St. Hubert's will shelter animals through 2018 and Liberty Humane Society of Jersey City will take over those services next year until Newark develops its own animal shelter. 

    Heather Cammisa, St. Hubert's President and CEO, said the nonprofit would also launch its community outreach programs in Newark to help residents address pet care needs and offer vaccinations and sterilization of free-roaming community cats.

    "The city of Newark looks forward to starting a new chapter of animal control services with its new partners ... where commitment to animal preservation and delivery of state of the art animal care services is a reality for the citizens of Newark," Dr. Mark J. Wade, Newark's director of health and community wellness, said.

    Residents can call 973-733-4311 for city animal control services and 973-377-2295 to reach St. Hubert's. 

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


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    The Nutley man slammed into the other vehicle, sending it spinning and into a utility pole, police say.

    An Essex County man is facing homicide charges after a crash this summer that killed another driver.

    William Dunbar, 25, of Nutley, was charged Thursday with aggravated manslaughter and vehicular homicide, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a news statement. 

    William Dunbar.jpgWilliam Dunbar 

    He said on Aug. 19, Dunbar was traveling north on Route 73 in Mount Laurel at more than 100 mph when he crashed into the rear of another car, near the intersection with Church Road.

    The car that was hit spun, overturned and struck a utility pole before coming to rest. That vehicle's driver, Christopher Pappas, 34, of Howell, was pronounced dead at the scene.

    Pappas was a graduate of Monmouth University, where he majored in history and political science. He had worked in sales at Component Hardware in Lakewood for the past two years, according to his obituary.

    There were no passengers in either vehicle. 

    Dunbar surrendered to Mount Laurel police Thursday and was taken to the Burlington County Jail. He is awaiting a first appearance in Superior Court.

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

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    Res Baraka denied he downplayed the issue but said he didn't know it was widespread.

    As the city of Newark faces heightened national attention over elevated lead levels in its drinking water, Mayor Ras Baraka on Thursday defended the city's actions and messaging before a crush of media. 

    He said it was "BS" that he deliberately misled residents. 

    Responding to allegations that the city spent months downplaying the issue, Baraka said he didn't know it was a "widespread problem" until last month when outside experts found the city's water treatment wasn't working.

    City officials had initially blamed old pipes for the high lead levels but in October announced the water treatment at one of its reservoirs was ineffective, and began distributing 40,000 water filters to vulnerable residents. 

    Last month's city-commissioned study found Newark's corrosion control treatment was no longer creating a protective coating inside old pipes to prevent lead from leaching into the water. 

    Baraka said that's when he knew that "this was not an anomaly, that this was not 12, 14, 20 homes that are affected."

    "We began to go right into what we thought we should do the minute we found out it was a widespread problem," he said. 

    Newark has reported elevated levels of lead in its drinking water since 2017 but was catapulted into the national spotlight last week after The New York Times drew comparisons to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and said the city was negligent in telling residents the extent of the problem. 

    Baraka said Newarkers were informed -- as required by state law -- starting last summer when lead levels spiked.

    MORE: 'Newark is not Flint.' Mayor pushes back as water problems rise

    Referring to a robocall that went out to residents in April that called the water safe, Baraka said, "we weren't saying that the water coming out of your tap was safe ... it said the source water is fine. After that, we explained what the problem is. It's misleading to tell people that the water is contaminated."

    While city officials have never denied there were elevated levels of lead in its drinking water, a message posted to the city's website in April insisted "Newark's water is absolutely safe to drink." 

    That message has been deleted. 

    Lead testing

    Lead is measured in parts per billion. Although no amount of lead in water is safe, lead concentration should not exceed the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. 

    Since 2017, Newark has been required to test about 100 sample sites every six months; if more than 10 percent of the samples exceed the federal threshold, officials must inform residents of the violation.

    The last six-month period from January to June of this year shows 12 percent of samples contained lead over the accepted federal level. One July sample recorded lead levels at 250 parts per billion -- more than 16 times the federal action level, data show. 

    The Natural Resources Defense Council sued Newark in June, alleging the city wasn't doing enough to protect residents. Baraka on Thursday alleged that the NRDC took Newark to court only because the city refused to sign a memorandum of agreement that would have allowed the nonprofit to monitor its compliance. 

    An NRDC representative denied those claims calling them "mind-boggling" and said the nonprofit is not in the business of running municipal water systems.

    Planned fixes

    More than 270,000 Newark residents drink the city's water that comes from two sources, the Wanaque Water System and the Pequannock Water System. 

    The city is only changing its corrosion control at the Pequannock system that services every ward except the East Ward. The Wanaque water treatment plant, which serves the East Ward and parts of the North, Central and South wards, remains with an effective corrosion control. 

    map.jpgA map of the areas served by the Wanaque water treatment system in Newark. (Courtesy: City of Newark)
     

    City officials said East Ward residents are not affected.

    Kareem Adeem, the city's deputy director of water and sewer, accused a former, disgruntled employee of tampering with one of the water samples in the East Ward and causing a spike there. 

    Those with lead service lines, elevated levels of lead, pregnant women or families with children under the age of six can receive a free water filter. So far, 13,000 filters have been distributed. 

    A $75 million bond program will help replace between 15,000 and 18,000 lead service lines for residents, who will have to pay a maximum of $1,000 each to replace service lines on their property. 

    Dr. Mark Wade, director of the health department, said the city is continuing to offer lead contamination testing for children, who are among the most at-risk of being affected by elevated levels of lead.

    Wade said the largest source of increased lead contamination in children is lead-based paint chips, not water.

    Baraka also held a moment of silence Thursday for Andrea Hall Adebowale, director of water and sewer utilities, who died Wednesday. 

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


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    Don Bosco vs. Delbarton Friday night - watch live or on-demand on any device

    Playoff races are heating up with sectional final and semifinal berths on the line and you can watch some key games this week thanks to NJ High School Sports Live.

    NJ High School Sports Live will broadcast live from eight games this weekend - six playoff matchups and two consolation games. 


    MORE: Learn about NJ High School Sports Live


    If you couldn't make it to the games or want to watch an on-demand replay, NJ High School Sports Live was made for you. You can watch these games on your computer, phone or tablet - and you can watch live or on demand. Our season pass also gives you access to any in-network game. This week's schedule is listed below, click on the links to watch.

    NOTE: The list below reflects changes made due to expected bad weather Friday. That includes the elimination of the Mater Dei-DePaul game, which we will no longer be able to broadcast. It was postponed to Saturday at 4.

    FRIDAY, NOV. 9
    5-Delbarton at 4-Don Bosco Prep, 7

    SATURDAY, NOV. 10
    5-Pope John at 1-Red Bank Catholic, 6 (moved from Friday)
    3-Lyndhurst at 2-Verona, 7 (moved from Friday)
    8-Seton Hall Prep at 1-Bergen Catholic, 1
    7-St. Augustine at 2-St. Joseph (Mont.), 1
    5-North Bergen at 1-Montclair, 1
    Gloucester Catholic at Donovan Catholic, 1 -- Regional crossover game, link coming soon

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


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    The 55-year-old lawyer, accused in his girlfriend's killing, was brought back to New Jersey on Tuesday.

    Cuba's release of a Montclair homicide suspect to FBI agents Tuesday was the result of an Interpol notice and recent agreements with the United States, the Cuban government said.

    While the country has defended the political asylum granted to New Jersey fugitive Joanne Chesimard more than 20 years ago, Cuban officials in a statement Wednesday said the transfer of James Ray III -- whom they did not identify by name -- was surrendered in keeping with "Cuba's full compliance with its international legal obligations" and law enforcement agreements with the U.S.

    Ray, a 55-year-old lawyer charged with murder in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend Angela Bledsoe last month, was detained after he arrived in the country on Oct. 28. Investigators on Wednesday said Ray was arrested before he could go through Cuban customs.

    Joanne ChesimardJoanne Chesimard, now known as Assata Shakur. (New Jersey State Police)

    Cuba's cooperation in Ray's case stands in marked contrast to U.S. authorities' decades-long struggle to extradite Chesimard, now known as Assata Shakur, who was granted asylum in Cuba in 1984 after escaping from state prison in New Jersey.

    Shakur was convicted in connection with the killing of State Trooper Werner Foerster, who was shot to death on the Turnpike in 1973. Foerster was killed by Sundiata Acoli, who remains in New Jersey State Prison. Shakur, who was at the shooting scene, was also convicted of Foerster's killing and sentenced to life in prison.    

    She is now 71 and believed to still live in Cuba. She remains on the FBI's list of "most wanted terrorists," and there's a $2 million reward for her capture and return.

    Cuban officials have rebuffed repeated requests to extradite Shakur, a former member of the Black Liberation Army, maintaining she is a victim of political persecution and has a legitimate basis for an asylum claim. In the 1960s and 70s, Fidel Castro granted asylum to other African Americans as well, all considered to be freedom fighters who committed "political crimes." 

    Since the countries re-established diplomatic ties recently, Cuban authorities have handed over a number of fugitives to the U.S. under similar circumstances as the return of James Ray lll.

    "This is not the first time we've dealt with (the Cuban government) on this front," FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory Ehrie told reporters of Ray's arrest. "But this seems to be an easing, if you will, of the relationship."

    Lawyer charged in Montclair killing arrested in Cuba

    The U.S. and Cuba, in one of the Obama administration's last acts, signed a law enforcement agreement to cooperate in the prosecution of "serious crimes," the phrase Cuban officials used to describe the charges against Ray.

    Cuba has maintained since the signing that they would not reverse the asylum given to Shakur and others, and law enforcement leaders have criticized the agreement for not requiring Shakur's extradition.

    Officials Wednesday said the process of returning Ray to the U.S. began with federal prosecutors obtaining a warrant for his arrest on a charge of "unlawful flight to avoid prosecution."

    The federal statute, known as UFAP, allows federal law enforcement agencies to directly help local authorities track down fugitives.

    Ehrie, the FBI's top agent in Newark, said Interpol issued a "red notice" for Ray based on the warrant. The notices, transmitted to all 192 of Interpol's member countries, are sent to border officials as well as law enforcement agencies to alert them of a fugitive's wanted status.

    FBI agents brought Ray back to New Jersey Tuesday on a flight to Teterboro Airport, officials said. He was turned over to Essex County authorities and lodged in the county jail in Newark.

    Ray is scheduled to appear before Superior Court Judge Martin G. Cronin in Newark for a detention hearing, authorities said.

    It was unclear as of Thursday whether he had an attorney who could comment on the charges.

    Thomas Moriarty may be reached at tmoriarty@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThomasDMoriartyFind NJ.com on Facebook

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    The Backstreet Boys' largest tour in 18 years, the DNA World Tour, is coming to Newark's Center on Sept. 15, 2019 (9/15/2019) and tickets go on sale on Nov. 14, 2018 (11/14/2018).

    Backstreet's back? All right!

    Iconic boy band The Backstreet Boys announced Friday the group's largest arena tour in 18 years, coinciding with the release of its first studio album in six years.

    The DNA World Tour will take the band all over North America and Europe with 70 shows, including a stop at Newark's Prudential Center on Sept. 15, 2019 that promises to be larger than life.

    Tickets can be purchased starting Nov. 14 at noon at Ticketmaster.com and by calling 1-800-745-3000. And the Prudential Center box office will start selling tickets on Nov. 15. Every ticket will include a copy of "DNA," the band's 10th studio album, which will be released on Jan. 25.

    If you can't make it to the Newark show, the Backstreet Boys can show you the shape of their heart at Barclays Center in Brooklyn Aug. 15 and Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia Aug. 17.

    The Backstreet Boys released their latest single as part of the tour announcement, a song titled "Chances," written by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and Shawn Mendes.

    The Backstreet Boys' 14-month Las Vegas residency "Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life" ends April 27, 2019 before the tour launches on May 11 in Portugal.

    "Vegas has been amazing and these next set of dates are going to be a party," band member Howie D. said in a press release. "Then it's time for us to visit our fans all over the world."

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at jschneider@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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