KPD:  Son of a ditch!


A Newark man was arrested last week after he managed to navigate his car into a ditch in South Kearny, but according to police, lousy driving was not his only offense.

At 6:20 a.m. on Thursday, June 15, Officers Alan Stickno and Kyle Plaugic responded to a report of a motor vehicle accident in a parking lot off Hackensack Ave. and there discovered, stuck in the ditch, a 2014  Honda operated by 50-year-old Nicholas D’Andrea, police said. Also arriving to assist with the situation was Officer Richard Poplaski Jr., who had been on off-duty detail in the area.

Police said D’Andrea was found to have a suspended license and, in a search incident to arrest for that violation, was additionally found to be in possession of a pillowcase.  Ordinarily, that should not have been a problem, but this pillowcase allegedly held a baggie containing suspected methamphetamine and two plastic bottles of suspected GHB — gamma-hydroxybutyric acid.

[Readers who, like your correspondent, may be unfamiliar with this drug can Google it for details on its medicinal and “recreational” uses.] 

Following the administration of field sobriety tests, D’Andrea was taken to headquarters, examined by KPD drug-recognition expert Officer Ben Wuelfing and charged criminally with possession of CDS and driving while under the influence of same (apparently the meth), and with the license-suspension violation. He also got a careless-driving summons.


Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

June 9

At 11:30 a.m., police said, Vice officers observed Kearnyites Anthony Phagoo, 20, and Exzavier Horne, 19, apparently sharing puffs on a marijuana cigar while strolling down Kearny Ave. near Midland Ave.  As the cops approached, Phagoo reportedly ditched the stogie, but it was recovered. Police said Horne was found to have a prescription bottle containing five small Ziplocs of suspected weed. Both were charged with possession of pot and drug paraphernalia and use of the drug.

June 11

At 3:33 a.m., Officers David Bush and Jonathan Dowie pulled over a 2009 Nissan they reportedly observed crossing the double-yellow line at least three times as it headed east on the Belleville Pike. While driver Prajal Patel, 22, of Kearny, was obtaining his credentials, the officers detected the odor of marijuana and saw a hand-rolled cigar in the passenger area, police said. Patel was charged with possession of pot and paraphernalia, possession of a CDS in a MV and careless driving.

June 13

Officer Phil Finch, investigating an accident that had occurred earlier in the day on the 400 block of Chestnut St., had occasion to interview Robert Cestari, 22, of Kearny, ran a warrant check and arrested him on two: a Kearny no-bail, contempt warrant and a $300 MV warrant out of Old Bridge. After processing at HQ, Cestari was held for transfer to the Hudson County Jail.


At 4:15 p.m., on the 100 block of Magnolia Ave., Vice saw what they believed to be a hand-to-hand drug transaction between Tony Rodriguez, 46, and Brian Merwin, 58, both of Kearny. Police said Merwin left the area in a 2010 Toyota, which the officers stopped on Linden Ave., finding its driver to be in possession of a bag of marijuana.  The detectives then returned to Magnolia, confronted Rodriguez and reportedly recovered a large plastic bag of the drug, plus a digital scale.

Both men were charged with possession of pot and paraphernalia. Rodriguez was also charged with distribution; Merwin, with operating a MV while in possession of a CDS and on a $300 contempt warrant from Newark.

June 14

Shortly before 9 p.m., while on an unrelated CDS investigation, Vice observed Robert Simone, 46, of Kearny, returning to town from Newark and stopped him for questioning at Johnston and Grant Aves.  [For readers seeking probable cause, it should be noted that police said they were familiar with this individual, who was wearing an ankle bracelet stemming from a prior theft case in Kearny.]

Police said Simone gave conflicting accounts of where he had been but eventually admitted he was in possession of crack cocaine, three vials of which were recovered from him. He was arrested for possession of crack and drug paraphernalia and Hudson County authorities were to be notified that he, and his ankle bracelet, were again in custody.

June 15

At 4:20 p.m., HQ received a call from a concerned citizen that a bicyclist, riding south on Elm St. near Stuyvesant Ave., appeared to be “casing the area” — specifically, looking down alleyways. Near Columbia Ave., Det. Sgt. Michael Gonzalez, Det. John Fabula and Officer Daniel Esteves located, and recognized, 39-year-old Danny Morales, of Newark, conducted a field inquiry and found him to be in possession of a pair of bolt cutters, police said.

Morales was arrested for possession of burglar tools and was to be taken to the county jail.


Officer Dowie, on patrol at Schuyler and Laurel Aves. at 8:15 p.m., stopped a 2003 Honda operated by Raul Rios, 29, of Jersey City, whom he believed to have a suspended license. Police said Dowie confirmed both that and a no-bail NCIC/Hudson County Sheriff’s contempt warrant. Rios was arrested and the HCSO was advised to come to KPD HQ and pick him up.

 —  Karen Zautyk

Karen Zautyk | Observer Correspondent