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    Who's the best of the best?


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    N.J. athletes shined over a three-day stretch at nationals.


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    Kenneth Palmer, 21, of Randolph, is also charged with taking "upskirt" photos of a student and was arrested after allegedly masturbating in a ShopRite.

    morris courthouse.jpgThe Morris County Courthouse in Morristown. (Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger)

    A paraprofessional who worked with special-ed students at a Maplewood-South Orange elementary school is accused of masturbating in a ShopRite, exposing himself to students in the school hallways and taking "upskirt" photos of a student.

    The aide, 21-year-old Kenneth Palmer of Randolph, who worked at Jefferson Elementary School, was scheduled for a court appearance Monday morning but the hearing was adjourned until next month.

    Palmer's attorney, Sara Sencer McArdle, said the postponement was due to delays with the Essex County charges but did not comment further about the case.

    Palmer was first arrested Sept. 28, 2017, at the Succasunna ShopRite after a loss prevention associate twice saw him masturbating and trying to get the attention of young girls, one an 8-year-old and the other a toddler between the ages of 2 and 3, according to the police report.

    The report says Palmer "appeared to be attempting to get each juvenile to take note of what he was doing while at the same time attempting to avoid being observed by the juveniles' respective parents."

    A surveillance video also captured the incidents, the report says. It also says Palmer admitted to masturbating in the store. 

    When officers searched Palmer's cellphone after his arrest, they allegedly found upskirt pictures of females, including a student.

    "The defendant claimed his phone was broken and would just turn on and record by accident," the report says.

    The phone also contained videos and photos of Palmer masturbating in front of students as he walked through school hallways, it says. 

    One of the videos showed Palmer masturbating while lingering outside a bathroom door as two students, an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old, walked out of the bathroom past him, the report says.

    Another video showed Palmer masturbating and approaching a different 9-year-old student as he/she was facing a water fountain, it says. 

    "He asked if the fountain worked and (the victim) turned around facing (Palmer) and walked away," according to the report.

    Also, it claims Palmer surreptitiously took "upskirt" photos of the undergarment-clad genital area of another 9-year-old student, taken from under the student's desk.

    Palmer did not return to the school after his arrest, but parents were not notified of the charges until April, after he was also charged in Essex County for the photos and videos that were allegedly found on his phone.

    One parent said she felt the school was not forthcoming about the incident.

    Suzanne M. Turner, director of communications for the Maplewood-South Orange School District, said administrators were directed by law enforcement not to discuss the case at all before Palmer was charged in Essex County and could only provided limited information afterward.

    Palmer is facing multiple counts of sexual contact in Essex and Morris counties; he has been held in the Morris County Correctional Facility since his arrest.

    His next court date is scheduled for July 23.

    Jessica Remo may be reached at jremo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @JessicaRemoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Julian Terrell Turk, who worked for the Air Marshal field office in Newark, sent emails to a former marshal about his "plan to get them for what they've done to me," feds say.

    A retired federal air marshal was indicted Monday on charges that he threatened his former colleagues -- while showing interest in explosives and guns, and talking about a vendetta against people at his former workplace who had wronged him.

    Julian Terrell Turk, 47, of Levittown, Pennsylvania, was charged Monday with interstate communication of threats, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

    Turk, who worked for the Federal Air Marshal Service field office in Newark, sent a series of emails to a former marshal about his "plan to get them for what they've done to me." 

    "In the event that something happens to me, please make sure to look after my children," Turk wrote, according to federal prosecutors.

    "There comes a time in one's life that he has to take a stand against what's 'right' and not 'white' here, now, is my chance to do that," he allegedly wrote. "These (expletive) have gone out of their way to (expletive) with me in the worst way possible. ... What kind of man would I be if I didn't live up to my motto and creed of 'Being a Man for Others!' So I've come up with a plan to get them for what they've done to me."

    Turk allegedly reached out to a retired Navy SEAL, asking for information on how to craft and use explosives. He also told the ex-SEAL he wanted a list of books and other resources on long-range rifle shooting.

    In another email dated April 13, Turk wrote that he would "show them how to (expletive) with someone." 

    The maximum sentence for interstate communication of threats is five years in prison, with three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

    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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    Columbia High School's students turned out in style on Monday at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park for their senior prom.

    Columbia High School's students turned out in style on Monday at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park for their senior prom.

    Glamour and high style was the standard as prom-goers had fun and danced the night away.

    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.

    Check back at nj.com/essex for other local high school prom coverage. Also 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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    Long seen as a soft-spot by drug smuggling operations, the nation's seaports are becoming a favored pipeline, say security analysts.


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    NJ Advance Media has selected 36 players as All-State picks in 2018.


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    Newark community rallies around the HUBB, a community center for young people, after the center was damaged by water used to douse an apartment fire.

    Al-Tariq Best was riding high, planning for the summer program and other events at the HUBB, the Help Us Become Better Community Empowerment Center on Prince Street in Newark.

    Then Best heard sirens.

    "That sounds close," he recalls.

    The HUBB, which I profiled in The Star-Ledger on June 8, is in the basement of an apartment complex, where Newark's youth go after school for academic and enrichment programs started by the FP YouthOutcry Foundation Inc.

    About 10 young people were in the HUBB on the evening of June 11, some of them in the recording studio working on music.

    Best went outside and saw smoke from above, then ran back into the HUBB to alert the young people and get them out safely.

    By the time the Newark fire trucks left, the foundation's work to help Newark's young people the past 12 years had been damaged by water used to douse an apartment fire on the second floor of the Willie T. Wright complex

    MORE: Recent Barry Carter columns 

    Videography and photography equipment was destroyed. The sound and security system, too. Ten laptops bit the dust as well. Some furniture was left waterlogged.

    Fluorescent lights flickered, then burst. Some turned orange. Fire officials still on the scene shut off the power.

    The water pouring into four rooms looked and sounded like rain to Best, founder and chief executive officer of FP YouthOutcry Foundation Inc.

    He wasn't thinking about the loss, though. He was thinking about the family that had just lost everything. Best put out calls for help. His network responded.

    After 90 minutes, Best and his volunteer staff returned to the cascading water falling from the ceiling, drenching the floor. They used buckets, garbage cans and storage bins to catch the water, then mops and a Shop-Vac.

    Some of the kids didn't want Best to help, telling him that he does enough for them already.

    "That was one of the best parts about the whole thing,'' said Kimberly Green, one of the volunteers.

    Alyath Herrera didn't mind sopping up the deluge after Newark fire trucks left.

    He didn't mind getting dirty, either.

    "Had to make sure everything was good,'' said Herrera, 15, of Newark. "The HUBB is a sanctuary to us, we have to clean it up.''

    Then something happened that Best didn't see coming. The community turned its attention to the HUBB. Word traveled on Facebook quickly. His phone didn't stop ringing.

    Representatives of community organizations -- Newark Anti-Violence Coalition and the Newark Community Street Team -- came to the HUBB and they met outside, sitting in foldup chairs and a card table.

    "It really made feel me like we weren't alone," Best said.

    He's been down this road before, having lost electronic equipment to a flood in his home when a cable provider struck a water pipe. It happened again.

    He's been through a fire growing up, too, when he lived in a rooming house with his mother.

    "I'm kind of like in my own sense traumatized because I lost everything twice,'' he said.

    MORE CARTER: Greater Newark Fresh Air Fund needs you to send city kids to camp | Carter  

    The community, however, is lifting him up. A Paypal account has been set up for donations. Fundraisers are being planned.

    Justice Rountree, host of 360 Poetry Night, spread the word Friday to let the audience know what happened.

    "Whatever I have, any influence I may have with the popularity of my show, anything I can use to aid in restoration of the HUBB is what I'm down with,'' Rountree said.

    Victoria Manning, host of the Jersey Poetry Movement, said the HUBB can't be out of commission for long.

    "Kids are excited to come here," she said. "They love the HUBB. It's like their second home."

    They do homework, learn  all the facets of the recording industry and discuss issues that impact their lives. It's about education, entertainment and empowerment in a space where young people are not judged.

    FP YouthOutcry has  struggled financially, getting by through donations and whatever Best has scraped together to steer kids toward positive activities and outcomes.

    The organization, though, finally gained some traction with funding. It recently received a $250,000 grant from the state to hire therapists and a victim advocate for a proposed trauma center program to help children and families dealing with emotional pain.

    The fire's aftermath wasn't the only disappointment in store for Best.  When he returned to the site on the morning of June 12, a lock on the door had been damaged.

    "Can you believe that?" he said.

    But the community support and phone calls that followed was enough for Best to let it go and refocus. Management at the complex was doing its part with repairing damaged walls and ceilings.

    "We've been there for everybody, and we're in a situation and people are stepping up for us," Best said.

    "That felt really damn good."

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

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


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    Jordan won best villain at the MTV Movie & TV Awards for playing Erik Killmonger in 'Black Panther.' The hit Marvel movie was a big winner at the awards show.

    Michael B. Jordan scooped up a golden popcorn award for best villain at the MTV Movie & TV Awards on Monday. He received the honor for playing Erik Killmonger in the hit Marvel film "Black Panther." 

    But Jordan, 31, who grew up in the Weequahic neighborhood of Newark, started his acceptance speech with a crack about another celebrity. 

    "I'm shocked that I won this award for best villain," he said. "I thought for sure Roseanne had that in the bag, you know?" 

    Jordan, who once played basketball at Arts High and recently starred in HBO's "Fahrenheit 451," was of course referring to Roseanne Barr. 

    In May, Barr, 65, caused ABC to drop its successful "Roseanne" revival series after she tweeted a racist comment about Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. (In trying to explain her actions, Barr said she had been on Ambien when she posted the message, but Sanofi, the New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company that makes the drug, tweeted that "racism is not a known side effect" of the medication.)

    Director Ryan Coogler's "Black Panther," which won best movie at the Los Angeles awards show, received the most nominations of the night. Jordan's co-star, Chadwick Boseman, who played the Black Panther, T'Challa, won for best performance in a movie. He also won for best hero, and handed that award over to James Shaw Jr., the man who disarmed a gunman who opened fire at a Tennessee Waffle House in April. 

    In the opening of the MTV awards show, Newark's own Queen Latifah guest-starred alongside the show's host, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith, her "Girls Trip" co-stars, in a "Black Panther" parody. (Haddish won for best comedic performance.)

    Jordan, a favorite flirting target of Haddish, will star in the upcoming "Rocky" movie "Creed II," the sequel to the 2015 Coogler film "Creed." In March, Jordan pledged that he would adopt inclusion riders for all projects that come out of his production company, Outlier Society. An inclusion rider is a stipulation in an actor's or producer's contract that a cast and crew be diverse.

     

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

     


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    NJ.com highlights the best players in N.J. from the 2018 season.


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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.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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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.