KPD: With ‘friends’ like these: Jeepers!

KEARNY At 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16, KPD Officer Philip Finch responded to the report of a two-vehicle, hit-run accident in the area of Schuyler Ave. and Devon Terrace. Police said the victim, a 40-year-old Harrison woman, said she had been driving south on Schuyler when her 2006 Honda was cut off and rammed by a Jeep that then fled west on Devon toward Davis Ave.

The woman apparently was not injured — but she was pregnant, so Kearny EMS was summoned to the scene. Despite the trauma, police said, she was able to get the Jeep’s plate number, and the 2001 vehicle came back as being owned by a 26-year-old Kearny female. Problem: At the time of the crash, it was being driven by a male.

Finch located the owner, who reportedly said that a male friend, or rather acquaintance, had had access to her Jeep. Police said she was not sure of his full identity. She knew him as Freddy. And she reportedly pointed out a Davis Ave. building where she believed he lived.

Attempts to locate him that day proved futile, but at 3:30 p.m. on the 17th, Finch and Officer Jack Grimm contacted the building owner, who allowed them access. “Freddy” — who turned out to be Jose Blanco, 52, of Kearny — was found in a second-floor apartment, questioned and ultimately arrested.

Police said he had three contempt-of court warrants, from Kearny, Union City and Passaic. Additionally, he was charged with: Assault by auto; driving while suspended; leaving the scene of an accident; failure to report an accident; reckless driving, and failure to yield the right of way at an intersection.

No charges were filed against the owner of the Jeep since failure to provide evidence of a valid IQ is not yet a criminal offense.

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

Aug. 10

Officers Alan Stickno and Patrick Becker responded to an 8 a.m. accident on Pennsylvania Ave. in South Kearny, where a 2012 Kia had rear-ended a tractor-trailer. The Kia, which (of course) had suffered heavy front-end damage, was found to be operated by Vincent Vitiello, 28, of Fairfield, who reportedly was still asleep at the wheel. 

Awakened and asked for his credentials, he responded, “Okay,” and promptly went back to sleep, police said. Reawakened, he was asked to step from the vehicle but reportedly had difficulty maintaining his balance. Following field sobriety tests and an examination at headquarters by Officer Ben Wuelfing, the KPD’s Drug Recognition Expert, Vitiello was ultimately charged with DUI and careless driving. Police said he refused medical attention.

Aug. 14

At 11 p.m., Officer Michael Gontarczuk stopped a 2000 Toyota for a rear-lighting violation at Hickory and Spruce Sts., detected the odor of burning marijuana and saw remnants of the drug scattered about the car’s interior, police said. A search of driver Raini Hernandez, 23, of Newark, reportedly produced a plastic bag of suspected pot. He was charged with possession of pot/paraphernalia and got a summons for the lighting offense.

Aug. 16

At noon, Officer Damon Pein responded to Walmart, where security had detained a suspected shoplifter, Andre Williams, 46, of Newark. Police said the store did not want to press charges but did want him put on notice that he was not welcome on the premises. Unfortunately for Williams, he ended up on the premises of the Hudson County Jail when, police said, a warrant inquiry by Pein revealed he had two, $300 and $100 full bail, both for contempt and both from Kearny — dating to 2011.


Vice officers, traveling in an unmarked car in the area of Maple and Liberty Sts. at 2 p.m., encountered a double-parked 1997 Honda. The detectives intended to just navigate around it, police said, but as they did so they were reportedly subjected to “a tirade of obscenities” from its driver, Jonathan Villegas, 20, of Kearny. This caused them to stop — and identify themselves as police officers. And when they stopped, police said, they detected a certain scent and recovered an eight-ounce baggie of suspected weed from the loquacious Villegas. He was arrested and booked at HQ for possession of pot/paraphernalia. 

Karen Zautyk

Karen Zautyk | Observer Correspondent