Winner of Neptune City council race changes after recount

In Neptune City, a borough of almost 5,000 people that borders Neptune Township and Avon-by-the-Sea, Democrat Michael Skudera is now ahead of Republican incumbent Richard Pryor in the election for Borough Council.

N.J. votes in general electionFour elections in Monmouth County went to a recount. (File photo by Robert Sciarrino | NJ Advance Media for

NEPTUNE CITY — Four elections in Monmouth County went to a recount, but the winner only changed in one of those races.

In Neptune City, a borough of almost 5,000 people that borders Neptune Township and Avon-by-the-Sea, Democrat Michael Skudera is now ahead of Republican incumbent Richard Pryor in the election for Borough Council. 

Skudera and Pryor were vying for the second full-term council seat. Andrew Wardell, a Republican, won the first full-term seat.

A spokeswoman for Monmouth County, Laura Kirkpatrick, said the race had been back and forth, with both candidates being in the lead at one point. But Skudera prevailed in a recount on Tuesday by a one-vote margin over Pryor, 602 to 601.

The race in Neptune City was one of the elections the chairman of the Monmouth County Democrats, Vin Gopal, was calling for a recount in. Gopal took issue with what he referred to as a “problematic” election process in the county.

On election night, a representative with Dominion Voting Systems, the county’s election software vendor, deleted the vote-by-mail results from the tally for an unknown reason. Additionally, 15 provisional ballots previously voided were accepted after the Board of Elections consulted with the state attorney general’s office.

In a recount, the vote-by-mail ballots and provisionals are hand-counted because the machine does not always account for all the votes. For example, if someone puts an “X” instead of where they were supposed to place a check mark, the computer may not register the vote properly.

Vote totals shifted in council elections in Red Bank and Spring Lake Heights, and the Asbury Park Board of Education race, but the winners stayed the same, Kirkpatrick said.

An automatic recount occurred in the Rumson-Fairhaven Regional High School Board of Education race because there were no candidates on the ballot — only two write-in names who each earned five votes. There will be a special election in that race, but details were not immediately available.

Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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Recount fails to change election results in Morris Township, Morristown

The margin between the four candidates in Morris Township shrunk from 74 votes to 73

grayzell.jpgJeff Grayzel is giving up his challenge in this year’s election. (Courtesy of Jeff Grayzel)

MORRIS COUNTY — A recount on Tuesday failed to change the results of the elections in Morris Township and Morristown.

Democrats had sought the recount after losing extremely close contests in both communities.

In the Morris Township recount, just three paper ballots from mail-in votes and votes at the county clerk’s office had to be added to the totals, and the margin of 74 between the first- and fourth-place finishers vying for two seats narrowed from 74 to 73 between Republican incumbent Matheu Nunn and Democrat Cathy Wilson, officials reported.

Former Democratic Morris Township Committeeman and third-place finisher Jeff Grayzel continued to trail Republican Bruce Sisler by 23 votes following the recount. Grayzel and Wilson had filed the challenge.

Meanwhile, in Morristown, a margin of eight votes remained in the Ward 4 race between Republican incumbent Allison Deeb and Democratic challenger Justin Davis.

Grayzel, who had led the effort to challenge the result, said he will be dropping it.

Although the counting of the ballots went smoothly on Tuesday, both Grayel and the Democrats’ attorney, Richard Dunne, said there were “other irregularities” in Morris Township and they will be more vigilant in looking out for those in the next election cycle.

Even with those irregularities, Grayzel said, “The gap of 23 votes will still be too large to overcome” so he won’t be pursuing another challenge this year.

Three “extra” paper ballots showed “little abuse” and compared with 36 last year, Grayzel said.

Grayzel and Wilson had requested a recount after totals posted for the district initially showed Grayzel finishing first, by a margin of one vote.

But after a final tally later in the evening, Grayzel placed third.

County Clerk Ann Grossi attributed the last-minute results change to a “glitch” in which mail-in ballots were inadvertently erased from the cartridge for District 1 and when they were added, Grayzel fell to third.

In discussing the “irregularities,” both Dunne and Grayzel cited incidents at the Convent Station polling place in Morris Township, where at least one poll worker incorrectly directed voters to voting machines based on their party affiliations.

Elections board officials said they told the poll worker to stop doing that as soon as they learned of the early-morning problem.

“Each year, there’s some controversy in Morris Township,” Dunne said. 

Next year, he vowed, “We will have active, vibrant challengers at each polling place” to make sure “the voting proceeds as it should.”

Election board member John Sette, who is also the Morris Republican chairman, said he would welcome more vigorous challengers at the polling places.

“We send all the candidates letters explaining they can have challengers,” Sette said, noting the letters also go to all the members of the Democratic and Republican county committees.

Ben Horowitz may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @HorowitzBen. Find on Facebook.

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Officer shot, killed charging pitbull-mix, Union police say

According to police, the dog's owner at the home on Shetland Drive had received multiple previous summonses for the dog getting loose.

police lights2.jpg 

UNION — A Union police officer shot and killed a loose pitbull-mix Tuesday after it charged at him and attacked an animal control officer, police said.

According to police, the dog’s owner at the home on Shetland Drive had received multiple previous summonses for the dog getting loose.

The dog was aggressive and chased a local resident and an animal control officer who then called police, Union Police Director Daniel Zieser said.

He said the dog owner was not home when the dog got loose and that other family members were attempting to catch the dog but were unsuccessful.

MORE: Parole officer shot at charging pitbull, Linden police say

Zieser said the dog then charged at one of three officers who arrived on the scene and he fired one shot, which struck the dog in the head.

The dog was taken to a veterinarian but ultimately passed away, Zieser said.


Jessica Remo may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JessicaRemoNJ. Find on Facebook.

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Central Avenue goes green for the holidays with reusable bag campaign

One Jersey City group is going green for the holiday season, but it doesn't involve garlands or trees or mistletoe. Actually, the Central Avenue Special Improvement District has teamed up with 30 local businesses to launch a reusable bag campaign. Just request a green or burgundy bag from a participating business to receive one on Nov. 28, which also…

One Jersey City group is going green for the holiday season, but it doesn’t involve garlands or trees or mistletoe.

Actually, the Central Avenue Special Improvement District has teamed up with 30 local businesses to launch a reusable bag campaign.

Just request a green or burgundy bag from a participating business to receive one on Nov. 28, which also falls on Small Business Saturday.

“Jersey City is becoming very conscientious of the environment and more businesses are listening to their customers and following in their footsteps,” said Sanford Fishman, CASID President and pharmacist at Bond Drugs in a statement.

Pick up a stylish tote in the Heights for you holiday shopping.

Each bag will list the campaign sponsors by business name, address and phone number. Visit the CASID website for a full list of participating businesses. 

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Police make sex assault arrest after tracking 911 call in Saddle River, authorities say

A 25-year-old man was arrested on sexual assault and drug charges after police tracked an emergency call to his Saddle River home, authorities said Wednesday.

Blake TannenBlake Tannen, 25 (Photo: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office) 

HACKENSACK — A 25-year-old man was arrested on sexual assault and drug charges after police tracked an emergency call to his Saddle River home, authorities said Wednesday.

Allendale police received an abandoned 911 call from a cell phone early Sunday and traced the phone to the home of Blake G. Tannen, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said in news release. The caller was not identified and officers responded to investigate. 

Saddle River police spotted Tannen driving away from his residence with a woman in the vehicle and pulled it over, Molinelli added.

The woman was “visibly upset” and told officers that Tannen had sexually assaulted her, the prosecutor said. County Special Victims Unit investigators were alerted to the allegations.

Detectives conducted interviews and arrested Tannen on charges of aggravated sexual assault and possession of marijuana under 50 grams, according to authorities.

Tannen first met the woman the night before the attack, Molinelli said. He was ordered held at the Bergen County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail, with no 10 percent option.

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

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Wait a minute, Mr. Farmer! 9 arguments in defense of Trump’s 9/11 claims

New Jersey's former Attorney General John Farmer Jr. said if there were actual dancing the streets of New Jersey in celebration of the Twin Towers terrorist attacks, he would mobilized the State Police and National Guard to avoid riots. It never happened, he said. But some Donald Trump supporters aren't buying it.

Were there thousands of people dancing in the streets and the rooftops of Jersey City as the Twin Towers collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001? 

If you still had any doubt after the fact checkers and new organizations that discredited Donald Trump’s insistence that he saw these scenes on TV, New Jersey’s attorney general on that horrific day offered his recollections of what he saw. After responding to rumors of celebrations taking place in Jersey City and Paterson, John Farmer Jr. made it clear these were false reports. “Never happened,” he said.

Well, wait a minute, say some Trump supporters. Numbers aren’t everything. 

Here’s the best nine comments in defense of Trump’s claims from the 1,600 posted on Farmer’s piece. Some posts have been edited for clarity. If you think you have even better comments to defend the Republican presidential frontrunner, post it below. 

joet says Farmer can’t be trusted because he wasn’t, ehem, there. 

Mr. Farmer – your article was quite clear in that you relied solely upon  Intelligence Reports rather than actually witnessing these sick individuals who were in fact celebrating the attacks on NYC that day. Next time think before you write an article such as this.

cjred685 agrees: Wasn’t there, can’t be trusted.

As for him being there I question that – He was the NJ attorney general and NOT in Jersey City when the towers fell. He was in Trenton. The fact is everyone is saying it never happened BUT IT DID – THERE WERE MUSLIMS CELEBRATING ON 9/11. Did Trump embellish the amount of people celebrating yes – but then again EVERY politician does.  

Were Muslims celebrating in N.J. on 9/11? Here’s what one professor found

For InterstellarAxeman it’s not enough to dismiss Farmer’s credentials, he questions Farmer’s own memory, then accuses him of covering up any of the celebrations, which may or many not have occurred in Jersey City — but certainly happened somewhere:

I guess nothing any mere layman on the street personally witnessed would qualify as substantiating Trumps exaggerated claim,…but surely more  fact than claim,…and even less exaggeration.
Embellishing is every mans brush to dabble a few blotches of detail into a recollection with Mr. Farmer. Just like the fact that you’re doing it now proves. 
The equal and opposite effect can be said for leaving details OUT sir.
Maybe its the magnitude of a mans memory that amplifies the volume of its colorful details sir,…where the borderline of emotion and desire to impart a sense caring about something so difficult to recall, yet they are willing to step up to the need of doing something about a crisis allowed to flourish where others,Mr Farmer,…have MISERABLY FAILED. 
Others besides Trump saw with their own eyes,..mine included, that very type of celebratory behavior in areas beyond Jersey City. 
Totals of how many statewide may never be known,..but thousands when one considers everywhere it went on would be a low number as to the real amount. 
When something happens under your nose,.and you’re unaware any of it happened,..not only are you wrong, you’re in denial and in your former capacity Mr. Farmer, are likely downplaying it all with a thin veil of guilty conscience.

StraightR is willing to forgive Trump for fudging the numbers in America because it’s probably true that “thousands and thousands” celebrated in other countries.

Trump is correct except he exaggerated the numbers. The Wash Post has the story 9/12, and many thousands of Muslims celebrated world wide that evening as I remember. That Dems can’t take this is obvious and their political point Trump is a racist is null. But they still try. These past few days has only helped him. 

JJZ was the only one — the only commenter among hundreds and hundreds — who posted links to support Trump’s claim.

 Not sure if this fact checker would share info, but there are quite a few people on this page that saw things too–some being huge Trump haters Many on this site as well that you could contact via FB.  Trump haters here as well that said they saw it.

 For Mr Knickerbocker, the number is irrelevant because everyone seems to be missing the bigger picture: America’s “true enemies.”  

Whether it was a thousand, a hundred, or ten, the fact is it was reported by the mainstream media.  But now everyone is coming out of the woodwork (everyone who is a Democrat and a member of the Republican Establishment) to try and prove a negative. 
It’s curious, however, that no one is talking about a similar and, perhaps, bigger demonstration (or block party, or get-together) that did happen in Paterson at the same time.
Those who are making this an issue are trying to discount that there are TRUE enemies of America right in our midst, and the next attack will not be so easily shrugged off as “lone wolves” or “copy cats,” as the call goes out for more body bags. 

And Opinion Facebook Kevin Reed commenter offers more proof: 

It wasn’t “thousands and thousands” but maybe dozens. It happened. Ask people who lived in JC at that time. First responders, teachers saw it.

mike91163pt2 took a stand to defend Trump. He too saw thousands, er, maybe 10 people cheering on TV on Sept. 11, 2001.

I was standing on the roof of my employer’s building in Rahway that morning, and saw BOTH buildings fall with my own eyes, not on a TV screen…
And that evening, I saw the footage of Muslims in Hudson County cheering that morning…again, 10 or 10,000, it’s irrelevant…it happened.

And for Frank in North Bergen, proof is that thousands cheered in Jersey City is the fact that no one is willing to come forward because it would be too dangerous for them to come forward. Just believe: 

And I say I have a few witnesses to have been seen cheering in Hudson County to the attacks on our landmarks. Am I willing to put them in front of cameras to prove to the naysayers?….nooooo! I believe it and these witnesses believe it…many other US citizens believe it as well….that is good enough for me. These terrorists are professional and know what they are doing. They just will not attack when the country is at high alert. Even though they could be calculating suicide bombers (which are difficult to stop), they will wait for the right time. Be vigilant, be not afraid, go on with your lives. They are here and there. We just do not know where and how many.

Enrique Lavin may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @enriquelavin or on Facebook. Find Opinion on Facebook.

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Christie pardons Philly man 4 decades after drug-related conviction

Gov. Chris Christie has pardoned a Philadelphia man, John Berry, who "has reclaimed his life from addiction," as the governor put it in a Tweet that preceded his remarks.

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday announced that he has pardoned a Philadelphia man on conviction related to his drug use more than four decades ago, saying he has “reclaimed his life from addiction.” 

Christie, a presidential candidate, has made ending the stigma of addiction a campaign plank. At a Statehouse news conference, the governor said the pariah status of addicts in society means leaves them “unwilling to confront it, and as a result they can’t get help.”

Christie took the action for John Berry, 61, who was born and raised in Philadelphia. Berry was convicted of robbery and possession of stolen property in 1972. Then only 18 years old and under the influence of drugs and alcohol, he had shoplifted some toy guns and held up an Atlantic County store with them.

PLUS: Syrian refugees in N.J. will stay secret to Christie so he can’t punish them, aid groups say

But today, a married father of three, Berry is now a case manager for the Philadelphia courts substance abuse treatment unit.

Berry proudly told the gaggle of assembled reporters that he’d been sober for 28 years, one month and seven days.

Shortly before signing Berry’s pardon, Christie explained that his recovery from addiction was “a symbol of a life that’s been redeemed,” and the pardon sent “a broader message” about the example Berry sets for society, saying it “would help him touch even more lives than he’s touched already.”

Berry, for his part, said he agreed to appear with Christie in the hope that it could help those “bit by the same dog.”

While thanking the governor, Berry credited his faith with having carried him through recovery after his first seven-day rehab in 1987.

“It’s a miracle and all the credit belongs to God,” said Berry, adding, “It’s been like peaches and cream ever since.”

Berry served approximately one year at a youth correction facility in New Jersey and four years of parole while residing in Pennsylvania. 

As he is not longer incarcerated or on parole, the pardon restores his ability to vote and gives him the ability tell any employer that asks that he has no felony convictions.

In 2012  Berry received a pardon from then- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett for prior offenses in that state occurring during the time of his addiction. 

Wednesday action marks Christie’s the fourth pardon of an out-of-state citizen in two months.

In October, the governor had granted “full and free” pardons to three people who’d run afoul of New Jersey’s gun laws: Todd Doering,  of Pennsylvania, Brian Lee Fletcher of North Carolina, and Elizabeth Jane Griffith of Florida.

Claude Brodesser-Akner may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ClaudeBrodesser. Find Politics on Facebook.

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Fort Lee man sexually assaulted underage girl multiple times, prosecutor says

Leosandro P. Dilag, 40, was held on $300,000 bail charged with sex assault, authorities said Wednesday.

leo.jpgLeosandro P. Dilag, 40, was held on $300,000 bail charged with sex assault, authorities said Wednesday. (Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office) 

FORT LEE – A 40-year-old borough man has been arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a juvenile female multiple times, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said Wednesday.

Leosandro P. Dilag, who was described as a married male acquaintance of the victim, was charged with six counts of aggravated sexual assault and related crimes, the prosecutor said.

A family member of the victim reported the crimes to Fort Lee police on Sunday, according to a news release.

The Fort Lee Police contacted the New Jersey Division of Child Protection and Permanency and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victim’s Unit and a cooperative investigation ensued. The suspect was arrested Monday, the prosecutor said.

In addition to the aggravated sexual assault charges, Dilag is charged with one count of sexual assault by sexual contact; one count of aggravated criminal sexual contact; and one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

He was held on $300,000 bail with no 10 percent option.

An arraignment is set for next Monday.

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

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Was it right to overturn N.J. man’s murder conviction?

The New Jersey Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Tuesday in the case of Saladin Thompson, whose conviction was vacated last year in connection with his claims of racial discrimination during jury selection at his trial

NEWARK — The New Jersey Supreme Court is reviewing whether a murder conviction was correctly overturned last year for a man in connection with his claims of racial discrimination during jury selection at his trial.

The state’s highest court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Tuesday in the case of Saladin Thompson, whose 2007 conviction was vacated by a state appeals court in September 2014.

The case centers on Thompson’s claims in his appeal that prosecutors improperly excused African-Americans from serving on the jury at his trial. After the matter was remanded, a Superior Court judge in 2011 rejected Thompson’s claims and upheld his conviction.

But the appellate panel overturned Thompson’s conviction after finding that the judge did not conduct the requisite analysis to determine whether prosecutors had committed “impermissible discrimination.”

Without that analysis, the appeals court said the record was “too deficient” for the panel to evaluate whether such discrimination had occurred.

“We conclude the record of the remand hearing was too deficient to enable meaningful appellate review and a further remand would serve no useful purpose,” according to the appellate decision.

The Supreme Court, however, will determine whether the appellate panel made the right call in vacating Thompson’s conviction.

The issue before the Supreme Court is: “Following remand proceedings ordered by the Appellate Division, did the appellate panel correctly vacate defendant’s conviction upon determining that the remand record was “too deficient” to enable appellate review?,” according to the judiciary website.

MORE: Exclusion of African-American jurors leads court to overturn murder conviction

The charges against Thompson, 34, formerly of Irvington, are based on what prosecutors said were a pair of random shootings in the township on July 8, 2005 that left one man dead and injured two others.

For no apparent reason, Thompson and a co-defendant, Erik Gordon, shot Tony Andrews at about 10:30 p.m. as he was sitting on a porch on 21st Street, prosecutors said.

Thompson and Gordon then fled to a Chinese restaurant on 16th Avenue, and, for no apparent reason, they shot Nibal Green as he was waiting for take-out food, prosecutors said.

The gunshots exited Green’s body and struck a cook in the leg, prosecutors said. Green later died from his injuries.

Gordon pleaded guilty to charges related to the case and was later sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Saladin ThompsonSaladin Thompson 

During jury selection in Thompson’s trial, prosecutors used seven of their nine peremptory challenges to excuse African-American jurors, court documents state. The final jury included five African-Americans and nine jurors who were not African-Americans, court documents state.

Thompson was ultimately convicted in January 2007 of murder, attempted murder and related charges. He was later sentenced to 67 years in state prison.

In his appeal, Thompson, who is African-American, sought to overturn his conviction based on the exclusion of the seven African-American jurors.

An appellate panel in 2010 remanded the matter for a hearing to allow the prosecution to articulate its reasons for excusing the jurors and for the judge to analyze whether the state had engaged in impermissible discrimination.

At the hearing, a prosecutor explained how the seven jurors were excused based on their “situation-specific responses” to questions during jury selection, according to the 2014 appellate decision.

The judge “credited the prosecutor’s explanation wholesale,” and found no basis to overturn Thompson’s conviction and order a new trial, the decision states.

But the appeals court said the judge failed to evaluate Thompson’s claim of impermissible bias against the prosecution’s rebuttal evidence of situation-specific bias in order to determine whether the prosecutor’s actions represented impermissible discrimination.

Bill Wichert may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @BillWichertNJ. Find on Facebook.

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1 man charged, 1 wanted in Franklinville home invasion, assault

A Philadelphia man is in custody for allegedly pistol-whipping a man in his Franklin Township home in early November, but another suspect is still on the loose.

FRANKLIN TWP. — One man has been charged for the home invasion and brutal assault of a Franklinville resident, but authorities say his partner is still on the lam.

jeremybarcliff.pngJeremy Barcliff (Franklin Township police).

Police say 24-year-old Jeremy Barcliff of Philadelphia was one of two men who attacked a resident standing outside of his Dutch Mill Road home on the evening of Nov. 8. The pair forced the victim inside and pistol-whipped him repeatedly before leaving him bound with duct tape. He suffered numerous lacerations to his head and hands, later undergoing surgery for his wounds.

Officers found a baseball cap, along with a Ruger handgun and a roll of camouflage-print duct tape, left behind at the scene. On Nov. 18, Franklin Township issued warrants for the two suspects, and Barcliff was arrested Tuesday by Philadelphia police officers. The Darby and Chester police departments in Pennsylvania assisted with the investigation.

Barcliff is now awaiting extradition in a Philly jail and is held on $400,000 bail for first-degree robbery and offenses related to the assault.

ALSO: Woodbury robber pistol-whips victim, steals wallet

williamwalls.pngWilliam Walls (Franklin Township police).

Investigators are still looking for the other suspect. William Walls, 29, of Clayton, is wanted for numerous offenses, including first-degree robbery. Walls is described as a black man of medium build, standing 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing about 190 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. 

Anyone with information on Walls is asked contact Franklin Township police by calling either Det. Sgt. Kenneth Gonzalez at (856) 694-1414 ext. 132 or Det. Nicholas Pasculli at ext. 274.

Andy Polhamus may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @ajpolhamus. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.

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