Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

They're Famous, Honestly

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

They're Famous, Honestly

Article excerpt

WAYNE -- Four college football players who became media sensations this week for their honest act - paying for a couple of items at a store when no employees were around - said they're thrilled with the attention and hope their example will inspire change.

The four players, Jelani Bruce, Anthony Biondi, Kell'E Gallimore and Thomas James, want their good deed, which was caught on camera, to send a message that society shouldn't judge people by their appearance.

"This is a great opportunity to further our dreams," said Bruce, 21, of East Orange. "We don't want to be judged by the color of our skin or by our hairstyle or by how young we are."

The four men, all freshmen at William Paterson University in Wayne, entered Buddy's Small Lots on Route 23 Sunday evening during a two-hour break between preseason practice sessions to pick up a few items.

The store was closed, but the lock malfunctioned and the lights were on, making it appear open. They picked out batteries for a game remote and an auxiliary cord costing a total of $5 and searched the store calling out for a clerk.

Gallimore, 20, of Plainfield, and James, 18, of East Orange, were then seen on camera depositing cash on the counter, one waving bills in the direction of a camera. Another even mouthed the word, "tax" to the camera as he left the funds along with an extra 80 cents.

James said they then walked to a Rite Aid store next door and told an employee what they'd done.

Their act came to light when store managers received a call from police notifying them of a break-in, said Marci Lederman, director of store operations. Workers in neighboring stores saw people going in and out of the closed store, she said.

Employees reviewed store cameras and discovered what the players had done.

"I thought, 'Wow, really, do kids do this?' " Lederman said. "I thought it was an awesome thing and I wanted to recognize them and thank them. …

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