New Jersey's First News, hosted by Eric Scott, written and produced by Matthew White and Patrick Lavery. Full podcast available below. Digital support, with additional links, by Dan Alexander.

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Victor Bennett (Monmouth County Prosector's Office)

Ex-Con Assault Teen - We now know a man arrested for sexually assaulting a 15-year old girl down the shore had just gotten out of prison. Released in May, 20-year old Victor Bennett is charged with attacking the girl near the Keansburg beach. The girl was very shaken up when she got home last week and her parents contacted police. Officers quickly located Bennett. He had been in jail since he was 17 on weapons offenses. There was a warrant out for aggravated assault. He remains jailed this morning. The girl is doing as well as could be expected.

Snake in the lake - Its the stuff of legends, even Hollywood movies, and now we learn that's no boa constrictor swimming in Lake Hopatcong, it's an Anaconda. A reptile specialist claims he was originally told to keep quiet about it but Jerry Andrejcak says people deserve to know the truth. The question remains: how did a 16-foot Green Anaconda get in the lake? The hunt for it continues this morning.

Minimum Wage Increase Brings Growth - A new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows employment growth is stronger in states that raised their minimum wage this year than in those that did not. Supporters and opponents of New Jersey's law that hiked the minimum wage by a dollar are responding today.

Death Toll Rises - Gaza health officials say the Palestinian death toll from the Israeli offensive is more than 500. Rescue workers pulled 20 bodies from a home flattened in an Israeli air strike. In an emergency session last night, The U.N Security Council expressed "serious concern" about Gaza's rising civilian death toll and demanded an immediate end to the fighting.



The Dutch flag flys at half mast at Schiphol Airport in memory of Malaysia Flight MH17 (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

More Bodies Located - Local rescue workers today have found another 21 bodies in eastern Ukraine where Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was downed last week. Meanwhile: a pro-Russia rebel leader is denying that rebels are trying to tamper with evidence from the crash site. A team of international investigators are near but won’t go to the site due to concerns about safety. All evidence points to Russian supported rebels shooting down that plane.

Sandy Recovery Continues - Encouraging news for some jersey shore towns still recovering from sandy almost two years ago.

Swimmer Recovered - The body of a man visiting from France has been found off the waters of Island Beach State Park. He was swimming with friends on Friday when he disappeared. A fisherman found the body a few hours after the Coast Guard called off the search.

Boater Missing Near AC - A pontoon boat crashed into the jetty in Longport last night. Two men were thrown into the water. Only one made it safely to shore. The other remains missing.

Degree Adds Value - You have a college degree, but how much does that matter in the workplace? A new survey finds most employees believe actual skills are more valuable, and that's what employers look for the most.

Waldwick police officer Christopher Goodell (AP Photo/Waldwick Police Department)

Honoring a Fallen Officer - Flags will be flown at half staff at all state buildings Tuesday in honor of the police officer who was killed in an accident in north Jersey last week. Waldwick officer Christopher Goodell was on radar duty on Route 17 when his cruiser was hit by a truck.


Officer Hurt at DWI Checkpoint- A police officer working a DWI checkpoint was hurt Sunday in Elmwood Park when he was hit by a drunk driver. The officer was in in cruiser when he was rammed from behind. He will be okay. The dunk wasn't hurt but is facing several charges.

Bridgegate Panel - Now that the Bridgegate committee is out of business indefinitely it's time to take a look back and see if the legislative panel actually accomplished anything. Not everyone agrees, but committee  co-chair Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville) says the work was a resounding success.

Lessons of AC - The downward spiral of Atlantic City could hit other area towns that have embraced casino gambling. The problem is simple: too many casinos and too few gamblers. Some experts are warning that Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Mississippi could face similar economic perils as AC.

Bad News for Online Poker - The news keeps getting worse for New Jersey casinos. Online poker revenue is down for the 3rd month in a row and a Wall Street credit rating firm has cut its online profit projection almost in half for internet poker this year.


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