- Associated Press - Thursday, May 19, 2016

EDISON, N.J. (AP) - A judge says he will not force a former janitor to pay restitution for smoking inside a New Jersey school and tossing a cigarette into a trash can, igniting a blaze that gutted the 50-year-old building.

The Home News Tribune reports (https://mycj.co/1OAYUBZ ) Judge Gary Price on Tuesday said he’s honoring an Edison Board of Education request not to pursue restitution.

Jerome Higgins retired several months after the March 2014 incident at James Monroe Elementary School. He was later fined $200 after admitting to smoking in public.

Higgins maintains he “didn’t do it,” apparently referring to the fire. His attorney, Lawrence Bitterman, says the judge did the right thing.

District officials say the insurance company brought the matter to court.

A rebuilt James Monroe plans to open in August.

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Information from: Home News Tribune (East Brunswick, N.J.) , https://www.mycentraljersey.com


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