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Fifty years of soccer memories in Kearny

Photo by Jim Hague/ Hugh O’Neill stands outside the Kearny Recreation soccer field house at Gunnell Oval, where a plaque is mounted to honor his father for his efforts in starting the league in 1961. The organization will celebrate its 50th anniversary Saturday at 12:30 p.m.


By Jim Hague

It was the fall of 1961. Roger Maris was chasing Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. Sean Hannity, Meg Ryan and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers were all born. Ty Cobb and Ernest Hemingway died. “Stand By Me,” by Ben E. King, graced the top of the Billboard record charts. “West Side Story” swept the Oscars, including Best Picture.
And a dedicated Kearny man who had the game of soccer flowing through his veins decided to do something about teaching the kids of the area about the sport he loved.
Hugh O’Neill, Sr. noticed that a ton of Kearny youngsters were playing soccer, but without any guidance or supervision.
So with the help of the Recreation Director at the time, Sam Hagen, and a young man who had recently graduated from LaSalle University as a basketball All-American named Bill Raftery, decided to start a Kearny Recreation soccer league.
Raftery, who would go on to later become the head basketball coach at Seton Hall University and is now known for his work as a basketball analyst on television, had made a deal at the time with then-Kearny Mayor Joseph Healey while he was pursuing a career in pro basketball.
“When I graduated from LaSalle, I was made a supervisor in Kearny Recreation,” said Raftery, who was a three-sport (soccer, basketball and baseball) standout at the now-defunct St. Cecelia’s High School in Kearny. “I was at training camp with the (New York) Knicks, trying to make the team and I was able to keep both jobs. But if I got cut by the Knicks, I would turn my attention to recreation.”
So one of the first things Raftery did in his official business with his hometown was to help start this soccer league, with guys like Pete Carson and Hugh O’Neill Sr.
“We knew that the kids could play,” Raftery said. “Hughie was a special guy who loved the game, loved kids and knew the game. We all got together and started the league. We knew that the kids would be great. We just needed to give them the opportunity and the place to play.”
The elder O’Neill’s son, also named Hugh, remembered that his father named the first teams in the new Kearny Recreation soccer league after the all-time legends of the game that came from Kearny.
“There were teams named after Archie Clark, Bill Sheppell, Seamus O’Brien, Jim Hanna, Eddie Brown, John Kurziewicz,” the younger O’Neill recalled. “They all played on the United States national teams in the early World Cups and they were all from Kearny.”
The younger O’Neill recalled that the fledgling league had over 100 kids in its inception, but he wasn’t one of them.
“My dad wouldn’t let me play,” O’Neill said. “I was only seven years old and you had to be at least eight to play. My dad told me that I could hand out shirts and chase after the balls. It really made me hungry to play the game early on.”
Eventually, the local businesses came forward and helped to provide sponsorship for the league, as it continued to grow, prosper and flourish.
“If you didn’t play soccer at that time, you were not considered an athlete in Kearny,” Raftery said. “You had to play soccer. You had no choice.”
The younger O’Neill went on to have a great soccer career of his own, once he got a chance to play. He was one of the first American-born players to play professionally in the top divisions in Scotland, earning a spot with the famed Rangers. He also played for the North American Soccer League, the American Soccer League and the Major Indoor Soccer League. In 1981, O’Neill scored the game-winning goal as the Carolina Lightnin’ won the ASL title, defeating the New York United.
O’Neill was one of the famed alumni that came out of the Kearny Recreation soccer league. It was the first place where people like John Harkes and Tony Meola played, but also David D’Errico, Santiago Formoso, Eddie Austin, Gerry McKeown and Jim Harrison.
“We had some great coaches and league presidents,” O’Neill said. “Guys like Mike Gray, Tom Mara, Jose Torres, (the late) Pete McIntyre, Peter Miller and Rob Logan. We had thousands of kids gain college scholarships from out of that league.”
“There were so many kids who got a college education after playing in the league and they continued to play soccer right into adulthood,” Raftery said. “We just took advantage of what we had. It was a lot of resourcefulness in those days. Kearny was such a great place to grow up and how we all kept going was sports. Soccer was the main connection. I can’t remember many kids from Kearny who didn’t play soccer back then.”
O’Neill pointed out that the Kearny Recreation soccer league was formed long before the current staple of youth soccer, the Thistle program, was ever thought of.
“The Kearny Rec league started in 1961,” O’Neill said. “Thistle started in 1977. This was the breeding ground, where it all began.”
The Kearny Recreation league led to the formation of the Kearny United travel team in 1966, which was basically an All-Star team from the recreation league.
On Saturday afternoon, at 12:30 p.m., there will be a special presentation honoring the 50th anniversary of the Kearny Recreation soccer league.
O’Neill is asking anyone who was ever involved with the league to head back to the Gunnell Oval field house and take part in the festivities and reminiscence. Everyone is welcome to attend the presentations.
“Anyone who was a volunteer, a coach, someone who worked the field house, the directors, we want them all to come back,” O’Neill said. “We’re going to rededicate the field house and recognize the 50th anniversary.”
Raftery will take a break in his hectic schedule to be in attendance.
“It’s always nice to remember, but it’s even nicer to be remembered,” Raftery said. “I appreciated the fact that we had kids who already knew how to play, how to handle the ball, how to play the right way. They just had to be nurtured a little. I also applaud the efforts of the parents who knew what the game was about and supported us.”
Of all the integral people who were involved in the infant stages, one will be sorely missed. Hugh O’Neill Sr., one of the founding fathers of the league, died in 1982, a year after his son led Carolina to the ASL championship.
A plaque remains on the field house wall in memory of Hugh O’Neill Sr. His son will reflect on the efforts of his father on the 50th anniversary on Saturday.

QP’s Johnson glad he had a chance to come back home to New Jersey

Photo by Jim Hague/ Queen of Peace senior running back Torre Johnson.



By Jim Hague

Torre Johnson had spent his freshman and sophomore years of high school far away from his childhood home in East Orange.
Johnson attended Cairo High School in Georgia and played football there as a linebacker and wide receiver. But deep in Johnson’s heart, he knew he was a running back.
“I wasn’t happy there,” Johnson said. “Most of my family and friends were in New Jersey. I wasn’t getting the ball at all in Georgia. It wasn’t fun.”
But when Johnson’s mother decided that she was taking the family back to the Garden State, Torre wasn’t upset at all.
“I was kind of happy, because I knew I would go to a school where I could play,” Johnson said.
One of Johnson’s childhood friends, Malzim Lawrence, recommended Queen of Peace, where Lawrence was already a running back.
It was a perfect scenario for Johnson. Queen of Peace represented a good school with a chance to play football and a close friend along side.
Johnson underwent some growing pains when he first enrolled at QP.
“He was new to the school and the program,” QP head coach Steve Romano said. “It took him a little while for him to understand what we were about.”
So a year ago, Johnson was part of a Golden Griffins’ backfield with his friend, Lawrence.
However, before the 2011 season began, Johnson did what he had to do to become a full-time top-flight running back.
“He bought into the weight room and put on 25 pounds of muscle,” Romano said. “He improved his speed in the 40 (yard dash). He put in a lot of work and I just knew that the hard work was going to be the difference.”
“It was my senior year and I only had one shot,” Johnson said. “I wanted to step up and be a better player. Because I was new to the team last year, I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. But this year, it was my chance to get the ball more. Last year, I was more of a defensive player. This year, I worked hard to get the ball.”
Even if it meant leapfrogging over his friend Lawrence in the process.
“I hated to do it that way, but I had to do what I did,” Johnson said.
So when the 2011 season began, Torre Johnson was the Golden Griffins’ main go-to running back. He didn’t fail in his debut, collecting 243 yards and four touchdowns in the Griffins’ season opener against Park Ridge. He also had another game where he collected 157 yards, but it was nothing compared to what he produced last week in a 32-18 win over Weehawken.
In that contest, Johnson motored for an astounding 352 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns.
Johnson’s impressive performance set a new single-game rushing record at Queen of Peace.
For his efforts, Johnson has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.
Johnson’s heroics have enabled the Golden Griffins to bounce back after an 0-3 start. They now own a 3-3 record and have put themselves into contention for a possible NJSIAA Non-Public Group 2 playoff berth. The Griffins need a win over either Mastery Charter of Pennsylvania this weekend or Elmwood Park next week to secure the playoff bid.
Johnson, who is ranked among the top 10 in rushing yardage in the entire state, is a major reason why the Griffins are now in the state playoff picture.
“He has the unique ability to see the hole and feels the presence of the hole,” Romano said. “He also has great breakaway speed. He sees the hole, hits the hole and he’s gone. And no doubt about it, he wants the ball and you have to like that.”
Johnson started the season as a two-way player, but since he’s shown so much talent on the offensive end, Johnson has been relieved from his duties with the defense.
“We need him solid in the backfield,” Romano said. “That’s why he’s only on one side now. When he’s healthy and able, he’s pretty darn good. He’s been a pleasant surprise. We hoped he could get 100 yards per game, but he’s done even better than that. I still think his best days are ahead of him. He’s one of the top kids I’ve ever coached. It’s nice to have a running back who can make big plays. Everyone loves a running back.”
Johnson is confident about the way he’s been playing.
“I feel I can score a touchdown every time I touch the ball,” said Johnson, who has scored 10 touchdowns this season. “That’s what I try to do.”
Johnson said he didn’t know how much yardage he compiled last week.
“I was told after the game and I was amazed it was that much,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know it was a school record. I just enjoy the privilege of owning the record. For me, it’s all about the competition. I want to compete. It’s kind of unbelievable that it was that much. The offensive line did a great job blocking.”
Johnson hopes that this is just a start for him.
“I hope I have bigger and better games in the future,” Johnson said.
He also hopes to be playing on the college level next year and believes that his school-record performance can lead to a chance to play in college.
“I’d be surprised if it didn’t,” Johnson said. “I’m not really surprised with how well I’ve done. I’ve been playing football since I was a little kid. It’s just my time, my chance. I take the ball and do what I do best.”
There is one thing Johnson is happy about. He’s glad to be away from the peaches, the pecans and the lush golf fairways in Georgia.
“I’m glad to be back up here,” Johnson said. “I’m back with my family and childhood friends. Everything is good now.”

Maximizing a ‘4’ plan


By Randy Neumann

Are you maximizing your 401(k)?
If not, why not?  Let’s begin by putting things in perspective. The national debt is $14 trillion.  The quote, “A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you’re talking real money” is commonly attributed to Sen. Everett Dirksen from Illinois in the 1960s.  But some research reveals that the phrase was used as early as 1917.  And the Jan. 10, 1938, New York Times reported: “Well, now, about this new budget. It’s a billion here and a billion there, and by and by it begins to mount up into money.”
Trillions and billions are one thing, but millions are another.  Today, $1 million is not all that much money in terms of retirement savings.  In this “new normal” economy, a $1 million portfolio is expected to generate $50,000 annually in retirement income.  That’s for this year.  Using an inflation factor of 3%, next year’s income will be $48,500.  The following year will be $47,045, and so on.
Do you have $1 million in your retirement portfolio?  Will you need $1 million in your retirement portfolio?  You will if your retirement expenses are about $50,000, so how do you get there?
The hard way is to earn $100, pay the tax on it and put what’s left into a bank account.  If you are in the 30% tax bracket, you will pay the government $30 in tax, and you will invest $70 in an account that pays less than 2%.    Additionally, you will have to pay a tax on the earnings, so let’s say that you earn 1% net after taxes.  Your $100 is worth $70.70 at year-end.  If you apply a 3% inflation factor, your net amount is $67.90.
The easier way is to put $100 into your 401(k), 403(b) or 457 plans (hereafter referred to as “4” plans.)  The $100 goes in pre-tax, i.e., you pay no income tax on it.  The money grows tax deferred as long as it stays in the account and can, in most cases, be invested in a diverse menu of investment options so that you can manage the risk in the account.
Back to the question at hand.  Are you maximizing your “4” plan?  When something is good for the government, there is no limit.  When something is good for us (the taxpayer), there are limits.  This year’s limit to “4” plans is $16,500.  If you are over age 50, you can make an additional “catch-up” contribution of $5,500.
Let’s look at a plan in motion.
As mentioned above, “4” plans provide tax-deferred growth and compounding, so the money in your 401(k) compounds year after year without tax penalties.  The earlier you start, the more compounding you get.  Assume that you put $2,400 annually into a 401(k) starting at age 30, and for the sake of example, let’s assume you get an 8% annual return.  How much money would you have at 65?  You would have a retirement nest egg of $437,148 from putting in $200 per month.
Interestingly, if you started putting in the same $200 a month five years later, you would have only $285,588.  Time is money.
But you may not have to do all of the heavy lifting yourself.  According to some research done by Money magazine in 2010, big companies will often match employee 401(k) contribution.  Usually, this match is 50 cents for each dollar up to 6% of salary.
And, there’s also a new wrinkle in the “4” plans—the Roth element.  Contributions to a Roth “4” plan are not tax-deductible, the magic happens on the other end.  With these plans, you receive tax-free compounding and tax-free withdrawals (provided the withdrawals are considered qualified).
Let’s finish with the beginning concept of this column: trillions, billions and millions.  Assuming an 8% annual return, to retire with $1 million all you need to do at age 30 is put $6,000 per year ($230.76 per biweekly paycheck) into a “4” plan until you are age 65 at which time you will have $1,000,033.90 in your “4” plan.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual.  Randy Neumann CFP® is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial.  Member FINRA/SIPC.  He can be reached at 12 Route 17N, Suite 115, Paramus, 201-291-9000.


Mary Ann Cawley
Mary Ann Cawley (Roth), 67, passed away on Friday, Oct. 7, in the Southern Ocean
County Hospital, Manahawkin.
Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive,
Kearny. The funeral service was held in the funeral home. Cremation was private. Condolences and memories may be shared at www.thiele-reid.com.
Mrs. Cawley was born in Kearny and lived in Harrison and then West Milford for 25
years before moving to Manahawkin nine years ago.
She is survived by her husband Howard Cawley Jr.; her four sons Howard W. (Debby), Joseph T. (Kathleen), John M. (Terrance) and Michael A. (Christiane); two sisters,
Gloria D’Agostiono and Susan Ross.
She also leaves behind 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Debbie Farrell
Debbie Farrell (nee Policastro), 53, suddenly on Tuesday, Oct. 11, of North Arlington, formerly of Kearny and Harrison.
She worked as a dental assistant for Dr. Mark Spierer in Kearny for the last 25 years.
Arrangements were by the
Mulligan Funeral Home, Harrison. Private cremation was held. For information, directions or to send condolences please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.
Debbie is survived by her mother Sophie Policastro (nee Dietrich); her husband Walter Farrell Sr.; her children Lauri Chavez (nee Farrell) and her husband Carlos, Linda Farrell, Walter Farrell Jr., Jessica Boland (nee Dunn) and her husband John, and Nichole Farrell and Renaldo Rodrigues.
She is also survived by her grandchildren Alyssa, Amber, Kyle, Jennifer, Andrew,
Briana, Matthew, Ethan, and Charles; her sisters Madeline, Susan, Ruthann, Francine; her brothers Ronaldo, Rocco, and Joseph; many extended family. She was predeceased by her father Joseph Policastro.

Angelina Nigro
Angelina Nigro, 80, died on Oct. 13 at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville. She was born and raised in Newark before moving to Kearny in her teenage years. Before retiring, she was a keypunch operator for Goode Industries in South Kearny.
She is survived by her husband Carmine Nigro; her daughters Catherine Ravert,
and Laurie Speer (Bob); also her sister Mary Postal; along with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She is predeceased by her siblings Millie, Frank, and Larry.
Arrangements were by Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held in the funeral home. Entombment was at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Recipe contest for Nutley youngsters

Nutley Mayor Joanne Cocchiola, the township Board of Education and Chartwells, the district’s hot-lunch food service provider, are sponsoring a Nutley Healthy School Lunch Recipe Contest, designed to give school-aged children the chance to express their creativity while learning hands-on about the principles of healthy eating and good nutrition.

Registration for the recipe contest is open now and will end Nov. 30.

Registration info is available at www.nutleynj.org/fit-kids-recipe, as well as the Board of Education website, with hard copies at the Department of Public Affairs, 149 Chestnut St.  Detailed contest logistic information is also available in the comprehensive participation guide online.

Nutley children, grades K through 12, can participate as individuals or in teams of five within appropriate grade levels: Grades K-2; 3-6; 6-8; and 9-12.  Teams with participants in different grade levels will be judged at their team’s highest grade level.  All recipes must follow nutrition guidelines that are included in the packet.

Winners will be announced in February, and the grand prize winner’s recipe will be incorporated in the Nutley school lunch menu for the 2012-2013 year.  Three other recipes will be featured for a limited time on the menus of select local restaurants.  All qualifying participants will be featured in and receive a copy of the Nutley School Lunch Recipe Contest Cookbook.

The contest is part of the Nutley Fit Kids program, an initiative to engage children and teens in activities to promote a healthy mind, body and spirit.  For more information, contact the mayor’s office at 973-284-4972, or visit www.nutleynj.org.



BREAKING NEWS: Lyndhurst School District gives tours of facilities.

As the Lyndhurst School District and Community prepares for the December 13, 2011 Referendum, we would like to give the members of our community the opportunity to tour the school facilities. During these tours, you will be able to see each school building, as well as the proposed facility plans and upgrades. The tour dates are as follows:

October 13, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm or 7:00pm-8:00pm Roosevelt School
October 18, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm or 7:00pm-8:00pm Lyndhurst High School
October 19, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm or 7:00pm-8:00pm Washington School
October 20, 2011 6:00pm-7:00pm or 7:00pm-8:00pm Jefferson School

Marsh madness over taxes

Photos by Ernie Fragetta


By Ron Leir

The EnCap bankruptcy and subsequent demise of plans to turn part of the Meadowlands into a recreation/entertainment mecca have spawned a Swamp War over tax dollars between Lyndhurst and the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC).
Lyndhurst took its case public at an Oct. 3 press conference to zap the NJMC for failing to pay taxes on 13 township parcels that sit in the Meadowlands district and that are now part of the NJMC’s Kingsland Redevelopment Plan.
In a letter sent Aug. 22 to Gov. Chris Christie, Lyndhurst Mayor Richard DiLascio said that EnCap, which the NJMC designated to develop those parcels, ran up “a sizable delinquency” on property taxes owed for that land.
That tax obligation, DiLascio said, “was assumed by the NJMC” which, he added, “has not paid the delinquent taxes . . . .”
In April 2011, the NJMC filed an appeal with the New Jersey State Tax Board, claiming it was exempt from any tax obligations.
In May, Lyndhurst proposed a settlement of the matter but has gotten no counter offer from the NJMC, DiLascio said. “As part of our settlement proposal,” the mayor noted, “we have offered to forgo interest on the (tax) lien and tax balances.”
In the absence of any formal response, DiLascio said Lyndhurst is appealing to the governor for help.
“We are prepared to meet in Trenton, or any other place, at any date and time so as to finally resolve this issue,” he concluded.
At stake, according to Lyndhurst fiscal experts, is a 6-year tax bill for an estimated $9 million and climbing.
In response, Lori Grifa, state Community Affairs commissioner and NJMC chairwoman issued a statement reading: “The assessed value of the taxes associated with these 13 properties (and the obligations related to them) has been in dispute for quite some time.
“The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission was awarded title by court order to these properties in March 2011. A tax appeal was promptly filed. There is now also litigation pending.
“We regret that the Township of Lyndhurst has chosen to mediate this dispute in public. The Commission and Department of Community Affairs has consistently said it is willing to negotiate, but it must be under a system that is fair to all parties.”
DiLascio declined to provide specifics about the township’s settlement proposal but did say that Lyndhurst “has talked about PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) – we don’t have any objections to it.”
And, in his letter to the governor, DiLascio says that the NJMC “has sufficient resources to pay the settlement proposed by the Township and structure a fair and final resolution.” He says an auditor found that NJMC “has $7,429,051 in unreserved surplus . . . out of a total surplus of $20,978,635. This surplus has been created out of the wallets of the Lyndhurst taxpayers and should be paid to the Lyndhurst treasury.”
Until last week, Lyndhurst was refusing to pay the second installment of its NJMC tax-sharing pool contribution to six “receiving” districts, including Kearny and North Arlington, which was due Aug. 15.
Kearny filed a claim against Lyndhurst in Hudson County Superior Court to collect the $175,000 it is owed from the tax-sharing pool account.
“We feel that Lyndhurst’s issue with the NJMC is unrelated to the tax-sharing issue,” Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said.
Santos said that Lyndhurst came across with its payment last Thursday.
Robert Benecke, Lyndhurst’s financial consultant, placed the assessed value of the disputed 13 meadows parcels at $122,347,500 which, he said, would have translated to $2,261,881 in real estate taxes for 2010.
In its appeal, the NJMC simply claimed that, as a state agency, it was tax exempt, and listed no assessed values for the disputed properties. It listed eight, including several landfills that are being remediated, as vacant land and the rest as industrial sites.
In a deal transacted in September 2004, Lyndhurst was “promised over $500 million in new revenues over 35 years (from the EnCap venture),” DiLascio said.
Now, the mayor said, “the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission owes us millions as we battle for survival . . . . What was dubbed ‘the Miracle of the Meadowlands’ has become the ‘Disaster in the Dumps’. ’’
When asked why Lyndhurst doesn’t take the NJMC to court, Benecke replied: “We can do things at a higher level (but) we don’t want to do that. We could end up in litigation for years. We just want them to come to the table.”

Tragic end to river search

Georgie Pena


By Karen Zautyk

A four-day search for a Kearny man who disappeared in the Passaic River ended early last Tuesday, Oct. 4, when the body of 21-year-old Georgie Pena was found in the water behind the Pathmark on Passaic Ave.
The tragic discovery was made at 7:15 a.m. by Kearny Police Sgt. Rick Poplaski and Officer Jack Corbett, who had just launched a police boat to continue the hunt.
Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said the body was on the east side of the river about three to four feet from the shore.
Pena’s body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s office, where it was identified. The case has been handed over to the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.
Pena had gone into the water shortly after 12:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 30, as he was reportedly fleeing police who had seen him running across Passaic Ave. at the foot of Magnolia Ave. When officers reached the riverbank, Pena was already near midstream “being carried south by the river’s current,” police said.
Authorities said officers had been on the lookout for him after he was nearly hit by a car while walking in the middle of Passaic near North Midland Ave. a short time before. Dowie stated that Pena was not wanted by police and was not being chased, but that he ran from the cops.
Kearny police and firefighters and rescue boats from Lyndhurst and Wallington launched an immediate search, which ended after several hours with negative results, authorities said. It was resumed at daybreak and continued from dawn to dusk that Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The Tuesday search was just starting when the body was found.
State Police helicopters and boats, K-9 units and first responders, including several scuba teams, from more than a half-dozen jurisdictions took part in the exhaustive hunt, which extended from Kearny’s northern border all the way to Newark Bay.
The day after Pena disappeared, The Observer spoke briefly with his stricken mother, Daisy Pena of Kearny, who had gone to the KPD search command center at Passaic Ave. and the Belleville Pike with several family members.
At that time, she was still clinging to hope that her son might be found alive.
“I’m supposed to die before he does,” she said through her tears. “Parents are supposed to die before their kids do.”

Burglary suspects nabbed

Police were able to solve four daytime break-ins and attempted break-ins when they apprehended the alleged burglar and his female lookout after a botched entry on Brighton Ave. last Thursday, authorities reported.
At 12:45 p.m., a man living on Brighton near Afton St. was working in his basement when he saw a pair of feet coming through the window. Realizing the home was occupied, the burglar fled, and the resident called the cops.
Police said the responding officer, P.O. Tom Bannon, spotted a man and a woman walking on Patterson St. and detained the male. The woman, who had continued on towards Kearny Ave., was stopped by other officers and was returned to the scene, where the homeowner reportedly identified both.
According to police, the pair, a 34-year-old Kearny man and his 32-year-old lookout from Florham Park, were also linked to another attempted burglary on Brighton, a break-in on the same street and a burglary and theft on Maple St., all that morning.
Police reportedly recovered a stolen laptop in a backpack (also stolen) that the man was carrying. They said the computer, along with jewelry found in the suspect’s pockets, came from the Maple St. residence.
The couple were arrested on multiple charges including burglary, conspiracy and theft.
The man was remanded to the Hudson County Jail on $50,000 bail; his companion, on $10,000.
— Karen Zautyk

Cops thwart cycle theft; grab 1, hunt 2

Photo courtesy Nutley Police Department/ Crane lifts suspects’ van out of resident’s driveway.


By Karen Zautyk

Two sharp-eyed officers patrolling River Road in the wee hours last Thursday spotted something that did not look quite right.
Turned out, it wasn’t. And it led to a  chase, the  arrest of one man and a hunt for his two accomplices.
Police said  Officers John Mecka and Ted Durand were on patrol at 3:12 a.m. Oct. 6 when, while passing a driveway near E. Centre St., something caught their eye: a white van surrounded by three men who appeared to be intent on stealing a motorcycle.
“What happened next,” said Det. Anthony Montanari, “was textbook police work.”
The cops made a u-turn, one of the guys in the driveway yelled, “Police!” and the trio piled into the van, heading west on Centre.
Mecka and Durand pursued the white Ford Econoline – reported stolen out of Paterson – up Centre and then north on Washington Ave.  At the corner of Washington and Satterthwaite Aves., as it was attempting to make a turn at a high rate of speed, the van went out of control and slammed into a house, demolishing one corner of the structure.
It also managed to land on top of the homeowner’s 2008 Chevy Impala parked in the driveway
The Econoline’s three occupants jumped from the vehicle and fled on foot through the backyards.  Several houses away, police found one of the alleged culprits, 18-year-old Anthony Olivo of Paterson, hiding in  a shed.
The hunt for the other suspects continued with the aid of the Essex County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Unit, but the dogs lost the scent near the intersection of Park and Washington Aves.  Authorities believe the men had been picked up by a vehicle at the location.
The suspects were described as Hispanics: a lighter-skinned man, approximately 26 years old,  having a goatee and standing approximately 5’-5”, and a darker-skinned male, about 19 years old, with a round face, approximately 5’-7” and wearing a Chicago Bulls cap.
Detectives took possession of the van – after it was lifted off the homeowner’s car via crane –  and were processing blood and other evidence that was left behind.
Olivo was charged with receiving stolen property, attempted theft of the motorcycle, eluding police and hindering apprehension. He was remanded to the Essex County Jail in lieu of $75,000 bail.
Police said the trio had visited the area earlier, observed two motorcycles at the River Road address and returned in an effort to steal them.
Olivo reportedly told detectives he and his friends had been there no more than a few minutes when the Nutley officers spotted them.
“The people in Nutley should feel safe knowing that their patrol division is so vigilant,” Montanari said.
The hunt for the escapees continues, and Chief John Holland said, “It’s only a matter of time before the two that temporarily got away are apprehended.”
Police Director Alphonse Petracco also commended the two officers for an outstanding job.