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CHRISTIE-TRAFFIC JAMS

Chris Christie, prosecutor appear at same event

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - It could have been an awkward moment for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The governor was a speaker Thursday at a conference also attended by the federal prosecutor who is investigating the traffic jam scandal that has ensnared Christie's administration.

But U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman left the conference before the governor arrived.

A federal grand jury is investigating the politically orchestrated plot to create huge traffic jams in September at the George Washington Bridge.

One of the governor's top aides and other associates were caught up in the scandal. But Christie, who is considering a 2016 run for president, has denied knowing about the scheme.

Speaking separately, Christie and Fishman agreed on the need for more programs to help convicts re-enter society after leaving prison, the topic of the conference.

CHRISTIE-TRAFFIC JAMS-REFORMS

Christie names ombudsman, announces other reforms

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Gov. Chris Christie is following through on some of the recommendations contained in a recent report on the George Washington Bridge scandal.

Christie announced Thursday that he has created an office of the ombudsman for the office of the governor, and he named Patrick Hobbs, dean of the Seton Hall University School of Law, to the post.

Christie also announced he would eliminate the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs and replace it with an office that will focus primarily on responding to the public's needs.

He also has proposed new rules that would require government officials to report official misconduct or face prosecution.

The measures were among recommendations in the report by law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher that exonerated Christie from wrongdoing in the bridge lane-closure scandal.

PRISONER RE-ENTRY-CHRISTIE

Ex-NBA player: Re-entry tougher than serving time

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - Former NBA player Jayson Williams says trying to re-enter society after serving time for shooting a limousine driver was more difficult than being in prison.

Williams was an all-star professional basketball player who later achieved notoriety for mishandling a shotgun while showing it to friends inside his New Jersey home, killing the driver he'd hired for the night.

The 46-year-old says people who paid a lot of money to watch him play did not want him living next to them after he was released in 2012.

He has now devoted his life to helping others.

Williams shared his experiences during a prisoner re-entry conference Thursday.

The event organized by former Gov. Jim McGreevey is exploring post-prison services that reduce recidivism.

Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman also attended.

HOMELESS MAN-DEADLY BEATING

NJ authorities search for family of homeless man

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Authorities in northern New Jersey are asking for the public's help in finding the family of a homeless man who was beaten to death on a northern New Jersey street.

The Essex County prosecutor's office says 46-year-old William Crews was fatally beaten April 2 on Western Parkway in Irvington.

Authorities say Crews was born on Jan. 17, 1968, and his last known address was in Newark. Authorities believe Crew may have family in New York City, but police in New York and New Jersey have been unable to locate his next of kin.

Crews died at University Hospital in Newark following the beating.

Thirty-seven-year-old Jamel Arrington of Newark has been charged with Crews' murder. Arrington is being held on $750,000 bail. It's not immediately known if he has a lawyer.

MISSING MOTHER

NJ man sentenced in estranged wife's death

(Information in the following story is from: The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger, http://www.nj.com )

FREEHOLD, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey man has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for killing his estranged wife and burying her body in a shallow cement grave near the Garden State Parkway.

Oscar Prior-Ramirez of Eatontown was sentenced on Thursday in the killing of Viridiana Beltran-Gomez.

The 34-year-old Prior-Ramirez pleaded guilty in November to aggravated manslaughter in the death of the 26-year-old Beltran-Gomez of Red Bank. Her body was found buried near the parkway in Aberdeen about six weeks after her family reported her missing in May 2011.

Prior-Ramirez admitted that he strangled Beltran-Gomez during an argument.

The Star-Ledger reports that days after the killing, Prior-Ramirez became paralyzed after jumping out a window in a suicide attempt.

The couple was married for three years and had two sons.

CHILD PORN-ARRESTS

4 New Jersey men arrested on child porn charges

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Four men have been arrested on child pornography charges following a long-running investigation by authorities in southern New Jersey.

The Ocean County prosecutor's office announced Thursday the arrests over the past month or so of 39-year-old Antonio Hidrogo of Lakewood, 32-year-old Dennis R. Hubert of Brick, 24-year-old Anthony Racanelli of Toms River and 25-year-old Michael Garon of Manchester.

All the men face child pornography possession charges. Hidrogo, whose bail has been set at $100,000 also faces pornography distribution charges. Hubert, whose bail is set at $75,000, faces additional charges of child pornography distribution and marijuana possession. Garon, whose bail is set at $75,000, is facing weapons charges in addition to child pornography charges. Racanelli has been released on a summons.

It's not immediately known if any of them have lawyers.

REAL ESTATE FRAUD

NJ man sentenced for $200M fraud faces new charges

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey man who was sentenced less than two months ago for running a Ponzi-style real estate scheme has been indicted on new charges.

New Jersey's U.S. attorney said Thursday that Eliyahu Weinstein has been indicted on counts of wire fraud and transacting in criminal proceeds while on pretrial release.

Federal prosecutors allege the 38-year-old Lakewood resident and two co-defendants stole more than $6.5 million from an investor by claiming they had special access to Facebook shares before the company went public. Weinstein is also charged with defrauding victims through alleged real estate schemes in Florida.

Weinstein was sentenced in February to 22 years in prison for running a scheme in which he bilked investors out of $200 million.

A message left for his attorney was not immediately returned.

PROPERTY OWNER-BRIBE

NJ property owner charged with bribing official

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey man has been charged with trying to bribe an official with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority in an effort to get a higher price for his Atlantic City property.

The state attorney general's office says 69-year-old Anthony J. Christaldi of Cape May Court House was indicted Thursday on bribery charges. It's not immediately known if he has a lawyer.

Prosecutors say an official who handles real estate purchases for the CRDA reported Christaldi allegedly paying her a $10,000 bribe.

Prosecutors say Christaldi contacted the CRDA in January about his desire to sell an Atlantic City property to the agency for its redevelopment program.

When his proposed $157,500 purchase price was rejected, prosecutors say Christaldi allegedly offered the bribe in exchange for a better price and expedited paperwork.

WRESTLING-LYNCHING PHOTO

No charges for wrestlers in lynching photo

BELVIDERE, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey prosecutor says no charges will be filed against the members of a high school wrestling team who posed in a photograph that simulated a lynching.

The Warren County prosecutor's office said Thursday that its investigation with the Phillipsburg police found no criminal wrongdoing.

The photo, which surfaced online, showed seven white teens wearing Phillipsburg High wrestling attire posing with a black tackling dummy in a Paulsboro wrestling shirt and hanging from a noose. Two of the boys had the hoods on their sweatshirts fixed into points.

Paulsboro and Phillipsburg high schools are longtime wrestling powerhouses and rivals. Phillipsburg is about 85 percent white. More than one-third of Paulsboro's residents are black.

Prosecutor Richard T. Burke says his decision was cleared with the state attorney general's office.

POLICE-ACCIDENTAL DISCHARGE

NJ police officer accidentally shoots self

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Law enforcement officials are looking into how a police officer may have accidentally discharged his department-issued firearm.

The Hunterdon County prosecutor's office says a member of the Flemington Borough Police Department sustained a non-life threatening injury after his duty weapon discharged accidentally.

Investigators say the officer was sitting in a police vehicle that was parked in a lot in Raritan Township around 2:45 p.m. on Thursday when the firearm discharged.

The officer, who police have not named, was transported to a nearby hospital where he is in stable condition.

BODY IN RIVER

Police say body pulled from Hudson River is female

(Information in the following story is from: The Jersey Journal (Jersey City, N.J.), http://www.nj.com/jjournal )

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) - Authorities in northern New Jersey say a lifeless body pulled from the Hudson River on Thursday is a female believed to be in her late 40's or early 50's.

Hudson County Prosecutor's Office Spokesman Gene Rubino tells The Jersey Journal the woman was found floating near the Holland Tunnel vent building in Jersey City on Thursday morning.

The prosecutor's office is investigating.

David Garcia, who works as a concierge at Laguna, a luxury apartment building near where the body was discovered, says he called police after a guest at the Laguna spotted the body in the water near 14th Street and Newport Green Park in Jersey City on Thursday morning around 10:50 a.m.

FATAL OLD BRIDGE ACCIDENT

Trucker charged after fatal collision in NJ

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (AP) - Police have arrested a tractor-trailer driver who was allegedly on drugs when he rear-ended a woman's car on a New Jersey highway, killing her.

The Middlesex County prosecutor's office says 49-year-old Stephen Seidl has been charged with aggravated manslaughter and death by auto for allegedly causing the crash that killed 50-year-old Heidi Bennett of Freehold.

Seidl was arrested Thursday at his home in Robbinsville. The prosecutor's spokesman said they did not yet know if Seidl has an attorney. He's in custody on $300,000 bail.

The prosecutor's office says investigators determined Seidl was allegedly under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance at the time of the crash.

Prosecutors say on March 31 Seidl fatally struck Bennett's Hyundai, which was stopped at a red light on Route 9 in Old Bridge.

MERCK-RAGWEED ALLERGY TABLET

FDA OKs Merck tablet to reduce ragweed allergies

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (AP) - U.S. regulators have again approved a Merck & Co. tablet for gradually reducing seasonal allergies, this time for ragweed pollen.

Ragwitek tablets dissolve quickly under the tongue. Patients are to take one daily, from three months before ragweed season begins until it ends, for a few years. The Food and Drug Administration approved it for patients aged 18 through 65.

Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based Merck's tablet for spring grass allergies, Grastek, was approved Monday for patients aged 5 to 65.

Both offer an alternative to medicines that just temporarily relieve symptoms or years of uncomfortable allergy shots.

The shots and tablets work by gradually tamping down immune response to allergy-triggering substances and reducing sneezing, runny noses and itchy, watery eyes.

Ragwitek and Grastek should be available in pharmacies by April 30.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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