Bail reform saga of the week

KEARNY – As any journalist can tell you, the most difficult part of a story to write is the lede so when I find a perfect one from someone else, why not use it? This comes from the April 10 Kearny Police Department Facebook page:

If you just saw a flurry of police activity near the corner of Stewart Ave. and Argyle Place, fear not. Officers saw a car burglar in the act and chased him into a backyard where they quickly arrested him. The lone suspect is in custody. Other than a scraped-up detective and a sergeant with a ripped pair of suit pants, all is calm now.

On a side note, we arrested the same man on Friday for the same types of offenses, but the bail reform court had to release him over the weekend. Hopefully, this time he stays in jail longer than the sergeant’s pants stay at the tailor.”

The story: On Friday, April 7, Officer John Donovan was taking reports on a series of (at least five) overnight car burglaries in the area of Hoyt and Tappan Sts. below Davis Ave. The majority of the vehicles had been left unlocked, but the perp did have to smash the window of one and apparently cut himself in the process.

Detectives were detailed to the area to recover evidence, including the blood spatter on the broken window, and security videos from homes and businesses. By the end of the day, police said, they had enough to develop a suspect Jeremy Postel, 20, of East Newark.

A team of investigators was sent to locate him and patrol units were also alerted. At 5:30 p.m., Det. Lt. Paul Bershefski and Det. John Fabula spotted Postel walking in the area of Grant and Central Aves. in East Newark and took him into custody, noting he had a laceration on his hand, police said. 

While being booked at KPD headquarters, Postel reportedly was seen attempting to discard a plastic bag containing suspected marijuana. He was charged with drug possession and three of the car burglaries and was remanded that night to the Hudson County Jail.

Twenty-four hours later, KPD Chief John Dowie told The Observer, I was given the disheartening news that he had been released pursuant to bail reform.”

Fast forward to Monday, April 10: Shortly before noon, Det. Michael Andrews saw Postel, carrying a black duffle bag, alight from a N.J. Transit bus near Kearny and Seeley Aves. Andrews followed him onto Rutherford Place and then to Stewart Ave. There, police said, Postel entered a parked and unlocked 2002 Honda and emerged with a wallet in his hand.

As Andrews approached him on foot, Postel reportedly threw the wallet and the duffle bag on the ground and started running west on Stewart and then through the backyards, ignoring commands to stop. With both Andrews and Det. Sgt. Michael Gonzalez in pursuit, police said, the suspect ran behind a garage and hopped a fence.

Police said Andrews located him in a backyard on the 100 block of Argyle Place, where Postel became combative and had to be tackled to the ground. Postel reportedly continued his efforts to escape, shoving Andrews several times before being restrained and taken into custody as other KPD units arrived.

Both the wallet and the duffle bag were recovered. The owner of the former, and of the car from which it was stolen, was contacted. In Postel’s bag, police said, Gonzalez found a glass jar containing approximately 56 grams of suspected marijuana.

Postel was charged with: burglary, theft, resisting arrest, aggressive assault on a police officer, possession of pot over 50 grams, possession over 50 grams with intent to distribute, intent to distribute in a school zone and within 500 feet of a playground and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was then returned to the Hudson County Jail. [We do not know if he is still there.]

Police said Andrews sustained hand and hip injuries in his struggle with the suspect. The torn pants were Gonzalez’s.

Sources told The Observer that this was Postel’s 16th arrest.

[Editor’s note:  Due to recent restrictions by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, publishing mugshots of arrestees has become problematic. The photo accompanying this story dates from November 2015 when Postel was arrested in Kearny on three outstanding warrants.]

Karen Zautyk | Observer Correspondent