BASS RIVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — Three men have been arrested and charged in connection to a burning cross spotted off the side of a highway in southern New Jersey.

State Police spokesman Stephen Jones says three men were seen near the 8-by-4-foot wooden cross, which was set ablaze off Route 9 around 8 p.m. Wednesday night.

Jones says troopers patrolling the area stopped the men to question them.

Jones says Nicholas Comis, 22, of Tuckerton appeared to have gas stains on his pants and was arrested Wednesday night. The other two men, Daniel Enders, 22, of New Gretna, and Christopher Hurrll, 21, were arrested Thursday.

All three are charged with bias intimidation and conspiracy to commit arson. The charges carry a three- to five-year sentence upon conviction.

Investigators say an African-American family lives near the area where the cross was found.

It was unclear Thursday if the men had attorneys.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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