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New spin on house party


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


A house-party host got a bit more than he bargained for when he hired a disc jockey for the festivities and an “associate” robbed him at knifepoint, Kearny police reported. Thanks to some determined detective work, the alleged assailant was tracked (pun intended) down and arrested last week.

Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said the incident occurred in late July at a party in a home on the 500 block of Devon St. During the bash, the 20-year-old host reportedly was confronted by a man who said he had supplied the speakers for the music and demanded money above and beyond the agreed-to DJ’s fee.

When the self-proclaimed “associate” was advised that no such separate payment had been arranged, he pulled a knife, police said. After the host still refused to pay, the man allegedly began slashing the air, nearly cutting a female partygoer across the face.

“To appease the assailant, the victim gave him his cell phone, and the assailant fled,” Dowie said. The party broke up shortly afterwards.

The crime was not immediately reported, police said, but when it was a couple of days later, Det. Ray Lopez interviewed the victim, got the suspect’s description and gathered basic information about the DJ who had been hired.

Lopez then conducted a foot canvas of the area, noting the location of private security cameras. He requested and received permission to view the videotapes and saw images of the alleged robber walking down the street, Dowie reported.

Presuming that the party might have engendered some noise complaints, Lopez checked the records (no pun intended) at headquarters and discovered there had indeed been such calls to the KPD that night. The detective contacted the responding officer, P.O. Ben Wuelfing, who, as luck and good police work would have it, had noted the descriptions of vehicles in the area. Lopez then identified the one the robber might have used.

The detective developed a suspect, drew up complaints and on Aug. 12 took into custody 20-year-old Springfield resident Tarik Gourdine.

Gourdine has been charged with conspiracy, robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.

He was released on $30,000 bail, which had a 10% option.

Cops nab suspects in stabbing, theft



The Lyndhurst Police Department last week announced the capture of suspects wanted in connection with a stabbing at a local entertainment spot and with a residential theft.

On Monday, Aug. 11, at about 2 a.m., police were called to the Riva Blue night club, 525 Riverside Ave., on a report of a fight with injuries. Inside, on the second level, officers found Eric Burrell, 21, of South Orange, on the floor covered with blood.

Police said Burrell appeared to have sustained laceration type wounds to his chest and side. Lyndhurst EMS stabilized Burrell and transported him to UMDNJ Hospital, Newark, where he was treated for three stab wounds and a collapsed lung.

Burrell is expected to recover, police said. Police said Det. Sgt. John Mazure, Det. Sgt. John Kerner and Det. Vincent Auteri, all assigned to investigate the incident, learned the identification of the suspected attacker – listed as Malik Taylor, 21, of East Orange – after interviewing several witnesses and reviewing the club’s surveillance video.

No weapon was found at the scene but police believe a box cutter was used in the assault.

According to Det. Capt. John Valente, the victim and alleged attacker had known each other and “there was bad blood” between them.

Once the suspect’s ID was known, detectives went to Taylor’s place of employment in Union and to his home in East Orange but the suspect wasn’t at either location, but was alerted to the fact that police were looking for him.

Taylor subsequently turned himself in to Lyndhurst PD detectives on Aug. 12, police said.

Taylor was booked on charges of criminal attempted homicide, aggravated assault with significant bodily injury, aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and possession of a weapon and taken to Bergen County Jail after failing to post $250,000 bail set by Bergen County Superior Court Judge Lisa Perez-Fricia.

In the other incident, shortly after 1 p.m. on Aug. 12, police responded to the 600 block of Third Ave. on a report that someone had just taken a package from the front steps of a residence and fled on foot, east on Third towards Orient Way.

Police said a witness who spotted the would-be thief provided officers with a description and the suspect, identified as Flavio Arandi, 56, of Paterson, was stopped by Sgt. Richard Jarvis in the 700 block of Third Ave. and Officer Chris Cuneo, just arriving at that location, placed Arandi under arrest.

Police said the package, which was delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, was found in a recycling bin next to a home in the 600 block of Third Ave. It had been opened but the contents – a pair of shoes – were still inside, police said.

Police surmise that the suspect ditched the package after realizing he’d been seen in the act of allegedly stealing it. Arandi was charged with theft and destruction of evidence.

A follow-up investigation disclosed that Arandi had an outstanding warrant for $1,256 from Clifton and he was later turned over to Clifton PD on that warrant, police said.

– Ron Leir 

Charge upgraded to murder


The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has upgraded charges against a Belleville man to murder in an alleged assault on his roommate.

Authorities say that the accused, Edwin Andujar, 49, got into a dispute with Thomas Parent, 59, on Aug. 7 and allegedly stabbed Parent in the stomach.

A report in northjersey.com referenced a Belleville police incident report on the matter saying that officers responded to a disturbance at a Wallace St. residence where they found Andujar in a wheelchair with multiple stab wounds to his stomach and back. He was taken to UMDNJ in Newark.

Andujar was then charged with attempted murder.

“Parent died from his injuries on Aug. 12. On Aug. 13, we upgraded the charges to murder and weapons offenses,” said Essex County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Katherine Carter.

Andujar is being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility on $1 million bail, Carter said.

No trial date has been announced.

-Ron Leir 

Kearny fireboat rises to the occasion


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


On its maiden fire response, Kearny Fire Department’s fireboat – Marine 3 – performed up to par as its seven-man crew was first on the scene to help battle a smoky blaze under the Pulaski Skyway last Friday, Dep. Fire Chief Joseph Viscuso said.

But it took 51 minutes from the time the KFD got the alarm of fire to get its boat to the scene, department logs show, largely because the boat was dispatched from the Midland Ave.

It took about an hour for the Kearny boat, working in tandem with a Newark Fire Department vessel and the N.J. State Police Zodiak boat, to extinguish the flames attacking a wood fender that protects the base of the Skyway’s huge support columns from impacts of passing boats and other objects.

Viscuso, who was serving as the KFD’s acting chief on Friday, said it appears that the fire – reported at 1:05 p.m. – was ignited by sparks from welding activity on the bridge deck above.

Interestingly, at almost the same time on Aug. 8, a brush fire was reported under the Skyway on the riverbank, just 200 feet from the site of Friday’s incident, which was also believed to have been triggered by sparks from a welder’s tool, but, at the time, Marine 3 was undergoing some adjustments so the Secaucus Volunteer Fire Department sent its boat, Viscuso said.

At Friday’s fire, aside from the fire boats pumping out sprays of water onto the burning timbers, Viscuso said that several of the Kearny crew also climbed onto another nearby section of fender and used firefighting tools to “cut a lot of holes into the creosote planking” to vent the fire and then used hand lines to squirt water behind the holes. The wood fencing rises about six feet above the water line, Viscuso said.

There was only “moderate damage” to the fender structure, Viscuso said, while, the Skyway superstructure appeared to be unharmed.

The 25 1/2-foot-long Kearny vessel, acquired in May 2013 with a $345,000 FEMA grant (that paid for the boat and a trailer for it), is designed to shoot 1,250 gallons of water per minute and its crew kept it pumping until the fire was declared under control.

Aboard the boat were Capt. Dave Kealy, Capt. James Mullins, Capt. Tom McDermott (the driver) and Firefighters Nelson DaSilva, Michael Janeczko and Tom Grieb, along with Probationary Firefighter James Burgos, all of whom had received trainning on it.

“It was the first time we used the boat to fight a fire and they rose to the challenge,” Viscuso said.

After being alerted to the fire through a 911 call routed to Kearny, at 1:05 p.m., the KFD deployed members of the seven-man team and hauled Marine 3 on its trailer, from the Midland firehouse, to the Passaic River Yacht Club on Scout Ave. from where it was launched into the Hackensack River, enroute upstream to the fire.

Viscuso said the boat was in the water by 1:51 p.m. and got to the scene five minutes later. It was the first of the three vessels to arrive, he added.

Jersey City Fire Department also dispatched a boat but it was directed to return, he added. Admitting that he was a little skeptical, initially, about whether Kearny really needed a fireboat, Viscuso said last week he’s absolutely convinced that the vessel is essential.

“The only way we could’ve fought this fire [on Friday] was from the water,” he said. “You couldn’t do it from the land.”

Marine 3 has been previously deployed but its prior mission was not fire-related, Viscuso said.

“On Aug. 12, at 12:43 p.m., we got a call from the bridge tender at the Amtrak portal bridge that he’d spotted a canoe drifting upside down in the river so we deployed our boat on a search and we located it along the shore,” he recalled. No one was clinging to it or near it and firefighters landed to search the area but saw nobody, he said. The KFD learned later that the canoe had been reported missing by a canoe rental place in Secaucus a month prior.

Thoughts and Views: Robin Williams: A final act


The ability of someone to make us laugh, to make us forget the stress we have to deal with every day, is, I believe, highly enviable and enriching. Especially when the individual prompting our amusement can convey that humor in an inventive way, to make us see that so much in the world we perceive on the surface can be mined for infinite “readings.”

Among the more contemporary male practitioners of this art of improvisation are Mel Brooks, John Cleese, John Lithgow (when he’s not doing “King Lear”), Steve Martin, Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone, Ricky Gervais … and Robin Williams.

Yes, that extraordinary actor who, at the drop of a hat, it seemed, could take us on a voyage of imagination capable of propelling us through a comic wormhole forever evolving into an as yet unknown realm.

Recall his “object transformation” exercise – prompted by his lifting a shawl from an audience member on a segment of “Inside the Actors Studio” with James Lipton – where he created, on the spot, multiple, distinct characters, using the shawl as a takeoff point.

(Disclosure: As a sometimes actor-in-learning, I find it hard to accept that this son of a Detroit auto executive had laser-like to the world of imagination – or powers of human observation – that he used to enhance the craft he so preciously embraced.)

But then many question whether Shakespeare – given his apparently humble background – had the special gift to write the Elizabethan verse ascribed to him.

Let us simply appreciate Williams for what he chose to share with us – and not just his amply endowed comic persona – but also the dark shadings he dredged out of his soul: There is the mysterious crime novelist in “Insomnia” and the lonely photo technician in “One Hour Photo” to explore.

Or have a look at his quiet, serious, humanitarian side as the dedicated but fragile neurologist in “Awakenings” and the spirited, generous teacher in “Dead Poets Society.”

Williams was only 63 when, according to authorities, he decided to ring down the curtain forever by hanging himself with a belt.

None of us can know the inner pain he must have been feeling that drove him to this sad end. He had struggled with addiction issues, depression and was reportedly showing early signs of Parkinson’s disease.

As such a keen observer of the world around him and so tuned in to the nuances of the human condition which he could play back for us at any time, Williams may have felt like one of Oliver Sacks’ unfortunate patients, doomed to an irreversible mental slide.

I have striking memories of how a now-deceased favorite aunt, who was a talented pianist and singer and who loved to perform at family functions, quickly declined and I can think of nothing more heart-rending than to see someone who has spent much of their life bringing joy to others being robbed of that gift, because of some type of chemical imbalance.

Perhaps Robin Williams, anticipating such a fate, chose an early exit out of a sense of hopelessness.

This time, though, he used a belt for another type of “object transformation”.

And now there will be no encore.

 – Ron Leir

Hamilton St. back to normal now



At first, residents of Harrison Gardens probably thought they were seeing a mirage: As of Aug. 8, their stretch of Hamilton St., between Schuyler and Franklin Aves., was open.

No longer clogged with barricades, dirt, above-ground pipes, construction crews, the block was clear and they could actually park their cars on both sides of the street. It meant that, at long last, the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC) had completed the relining of more than 1,500 feet of the 42-inch concrete Kearny- Harrison-Newark branch interceptor sewer line dating from 1924 and repairs to five manholes.

When the contractor was hired to do the work, the PVSC agreed to pay about $900,000 and figured the job would be done within six months.

It ended up costing $3.9 million with the time stretching over two years, based on figures provided by the commission’s chief engineer, according to PVSC spokeswoman Hollie Gilroy.

Gilroy said the original scope of work included the relining of 1,200 feet of sewer and the rehabilitation of four manholes; the revised scope included the replacement and relining of an additional 380 feet of sewer and an additional manhole,” Gilroy said.

Asked what complicated the job, Gilroy said that, “Significant ground water issues were encountered as part of the excavation required for the sewer and manhole replacement work. Ground water issues were the main cause of the schedule delays and cost overruns.”

Despite all the travails that accompanied the job – including having to provide a substitute water service for the Gardens for four days – Harrison Public Works Superintendent Robert Van Riper said it could’ve been a lot worse, given the magnitude of the job and a horrid winter. Plus, during the job, PSE&G had to relocate its power lines to the other side of Hamilton St. so the contractor would have room to work, Van Riper said.

“I want to give a shout to the PVSC for staying with it,” Van Riper said. “They did everything they said they’d do. It went as smoothly as it could possibly have gone. Everything was like synergy.”

Van Riper said the PVSC interceptor line had collapsed and the contractor had to dig down some 30 feet to lay in a new section of pipe with a liner.

“Every time it rained, they’d have to put in a sewer bypass line and we’re talking about a big trunk line on the south side of Hamilton that runs from Kearny to the Passaic Valley plant in Newark,” he said.

And Harrison Gardens received a new six-inch water service line, valve-to-valve, on the north side of Hamilton, replacing a line that had persistent leaks, he said. “Now, the leaks have been resolved.”

 – Ron Leir 

Rivera: ‘I’m political victim’

Belleville BOE President John Rivera is fighting to keep his job as a $48,000 a year township public works laborer.

Suspended without pay in February on charges of “creating a hostile work environment,” Rivera said that the township has yet to schedule a hearing. The municipal governing body only recently authorized hiring a special counsel to deal with the matter. Township Attorney Tom Murphy said last week, “We’re waiting to get some dates from the hearing officer.”

“I’m totally innocent,” Rivera told The Observer. “It’s political – I backed the wrong horse [in the May municipal contest].” Now he’s collecting unemployment. He was hired in April 2013 as a property maintenance inspector but later transferred to various other slots. The township doesn’t discuss pending legal matters.

Another school figure who may be in transition is Superintendent Helene Feldman who, Rivera told a member of the audience at the Aug. 11 BOE meeting, is currently on leave. Feldman has two years to run on her contract.

Because she may be away for an extended time, due to a serious health issue involving her husband, Tom Egan, the state monitor assigned to Belleville BOE, appointed Ray Jacobus, the BOE secretary/ school business administrator, as acting superintendent at the Aug. 11 BOE meeting. Egan said that Jacobus holds a New Jersey school superintendent’s certificate.

Egan said that a possible additional stipend for Jacobus for taking on the extra duties would likely be discussed at a special meeting called for Aug. 25. Egan also expects, at that time, to “finalize changes for the 2014-2015 school budget” and to nail down the calculations for the amount of additional state aid the district will be seeking “so that the 2014-15 school year won’t be in deficit.” Auditors have reckoned that the district ended 2013-2014 more than $4 million in the red.

At the Aug. 11 BOE session, Egan exercised his veto power as monitor to overturn several votes by a narrow board majority: He overruled a 3-2 vote to deny $90,000 in compensation to two resource (safety) officers, one at the high school and one at the middle school, and he overturned a 3-2 vote to table a proposed termination of a contract with Clarity Technologies Group LLC for outsourcing the district’s Internet Technologies Department. Egan said he felt the $20,000-a-month contract was “too expensive.” He also vetoed a vote to table the reappointment of eight non-tenured staff for the upcoming year, allowing six to go through for now, with the other two to be considered at the special meeting, along with a tabled appointment of Michael Vargas as district special education supervisor.

– Ron Leir 

30-day suspension for union head

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


An arbitrator has dismissed 12 of 13 tenure charges filed March 21 by the Belleville Board of Education against a middle school math teacher who doubles as the head of the teachers’ union so Michael Mignone’s job is safe – at least for now.

In his July 28 decision, arbitrator Joel Weisblatt nixed the BOE’s effort to fire Mignone on the basis of “conduct unbecoming” and “manifesting unfitness to serve as a teaching professional and role model to youth.”

The BOE focused its charges on three episodes:

*A classroom conversation on Oct. 16, 2013, that touched on students’ wearing electronic security tags deployed by the district.

*A Dec. 20, 2013, conference call involving Mignone, the parent of one of his students, a guidance counselor and a BEA representative.

*A confrontation between Mignone and Superintendent Helene Feldman on Feb. 4, 2014, in the BOE office.

In the first incident, the BOE said Mignone deviated from the curriculum by entertaining a discussion of the district security system, raised the spectre of kids contracting cancer from wearing the tags, warned students their privacy would be invaded because the devices allowed them to be “tracked” outside school, and invited them to get their parents to complain publicly that the BOE was wasting its money on a questionable security system.

Weisblatt said that while Mignone probably “showed poor judgment” in spending 20 minutes of class time on something unrelated to math, the evidence from the testimony of students didn’t support the BOE’s allegations and that it was a student who raised the subject, not Mignone. He noted that after Mignone received a letter of reprimand from a supervisor for an “inappropriate use” of classroom time, that there were no further such incidents.

In the second incident, the BOE said the parent on the call – who had previously griped at a BOE meeting that a teacher hadn’t returned her phone call about her child not being allowed to make up a class assignment – “felt threatened” by Mignone’s alleged efforts to “disrupt her child’s special needs education” by having him removed from his class, by suggesting she write to the superintendent that their conflict stemmed from a communication snafu and that Mignone violated her child’s privacy by allowing a union representative to listen in on the call and take notes.

In this case, Weisblatt noted that the issue initially raised by the parent was resolved in a follow-up call from Mignone, that testimony by the counselor indicated that in the subsequent conference call, “no threat was implied,” that Mignone asked the parent if she wanted to have her son switch classes as a matter of good faith, and that the letter to the superintendent could help to resolve a misunderstanding so the charges seemed unsupported by the evidence. However, Weisblatt said he felt the BOE made its case that Mignone “improperly involved” a union representative in the conference call “without any disclosure to the parent,” adding that, “It is at the very least an ethical breach … and further, it compromised the privacy of the student and the parent.” That behavior, Weisblatt concluded, warranted a 30-day suspension without pay for Mignone.

In the third incident, the BOE said Mignone defied a “directive” from the superintendent – about a week after the teacher had been suspended with pay – forbidding him from appearing on BOE property, except for unionrelated activities, which had to be conducted in the superintendent’s office, by entering the high school to use an office designated for union work on Feb. 4, 2014, and by causing a “disruption” to school business by arguing with a staff member. (The suspension was later withdrawn and refiled a bit later.)

Weisblatt said that he found “no written evidence of a directive” from the superintendent, adding that Mignone “accessed a ‘board employees only’ stairwell in the high school,” thereby minimizing possible contact with students. He said testimony by school staff disproved any “disruption” of administrative work. Weisblatt ruled that Mignone should be “reinstated and made whole for any loss of compensation” beyond the 30-day loss of pay meted out for the privacy compromise incident.

Kearny band ‘A Midnight Tragedy’ has its eyes set on big goals


By Kevin Canessa Jr.

 Observer Correspondent 


You’d almost think that a kid who grew up in Brooklyn would have a lot more opportunities with music and the arts scene there than in West Hudson. And yet, the truth is, Dallas Sanchez, who moved to Kearny in 1994, says the chances he got here musically and artistically far outweigh what was available to him 20 years ago as a boy in the city’s most populous borough.

“Not even close,” he said. “When my family moved here from Brooklyn, the music and art opportunities here in Kearny were tremendous — and they helped shape me into who I am today.”

And today, Sanchez is the lead vocalist and guitar player in a band he formed back in 2005 called A Midnight Tragedy. The 31-year-old, who still calls Kearny home is a self-taught guitarist.

“Never took a lesson — and I don’t read music,” Sanchez said. “I don’t know what any of those notes mean. I just have the ability to take what is going on inside my head and to play it on the guitar.”

A Midnight Tragedy isn’t the first band he was in, but it’s certainly the one he’s been involved with the longest. When he formed it nearly a decade ago, he did so with one of his dearest friends — now his brother-in-law — Dan Mennella, also of Kearny.


Photos courtesy of A Midnight Tragedy


Mennella is the band’s drummer. 

Over the years, there have been a few changes in members, but now, the pair are joined by John Leonti, the bassist, and Esteban Pastor, who also plays guitar.

Sanchez says one of the greatest aspects of A Midnight Tragedy is that there really isn’t another band out there — in the mainstream or otherwise — that he could say is reminiscent of his. Their style, instead, is one-of-a-kind — and it shows.

“And yet, our new album has 17 tracks, and the concept is that it’s a musical,” Sanchez said. “We’ve done it all ourselves, too. In the tracks, you’ll hear theme like you would in Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall,’ or pieces you might hear in ‘Rent,’ or ‘Phantom of the Opera.’ And there’s a lot about having faith … not necessarily religiously, but having faith in anything. But it all has our own unique sound, and I am very proud of that.

” That album will be released in less than a week — on Aug. 26. It’ll be their third.

And with all of this success, Sanchez says there’s one thing, above a lot else, that he’s most proud of.

“And that is that we’re from Kearny,” he said. “When you see us performing, mostly you’ll see red and black, the colors of Kearny High School. The Kearny pride is amazing. And what I hope happens is that when younger kids see us — whether it’s driving along Kearny Ave. in our tour bus, or at a show … wherever … that they see us and say, ‘Well, if they can do it, we can do it, too.’ There is a lot of musical talent in this town.

“We even filmed a video for one of the new songs in Kearny just the other day.”

Now while Sanchez says he hopes one day the band and touring can be a full-time career, he and his band mates have other careers, too. But Sanchez says he’s quite fortunate because his other job is also music-related.

He works for a company that provides buses for musicians on tour. And, he says it’s been a blessing to have such a job.

“It’s incredible,” he said. “Having this job has opened up so many other opportunities — and I’ve been able to meet so many great people in the business. None of that hurts, at all.”



Meanwhile, Sanchez does all of this with a family of his own. He and his wife, Jessica, have two children: a 10-yearold son and a 2-year-old daughter. And he gets a lot of support from them.

“My wife has been to a lot of our shows, and last year our daughter was at a show, also,” he said. “My wife has been very supportive over the years. It’s not always easy, like in any marriage, but she’s been just great.”

A Midnight Tragedy will perform two shows later this week. They’ll be at Mexicali Live, Teaneck, on Aug. 23 at 8 p.m. and at the Trash Bar, Brooklyn, on Aug. 24 at 11 p.m. The new album will be available for sale at the two gigs for an introductory price of $7. Once it’s officially released on Aug. 26, it’ll cost $7.99 and can be downloaded from iTunes.

To find out more about A Midnight Tragedy, to listen to their music, to buy the new album, for tour dates and more, visit www.amidnighttragedy.com.

Feds tie area druggist to illegal OC scheme


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


A Belleville pharmacist and 15 others have been charged as alleged conspirators in a scheme to fraudulently obtain and distribute oxycodone, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said. Oxycodone, a semi-synthetic narcotic analgesic, is a widely prescribed painkiller marketed under the brand name OxyContin and is regulated by the federal Controlled Substances Act. It’s known in street parlance as “hillbilly heroin,” “kicker,” “OC,” “Perc” and “Roxy.”

A press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s office on Wednesday, Aug. 13, identified Vincent Cozzarelli, 77, of Belleville, the owner of Rossmore Pharmacy, 338 Washington Ave., Belleville, as the accused druggist.

As of last week, the pharmacy was open but a sign posted in the front window advised patrons that by order of state Consumer Affairs Director Steve Lee, the sale of controlled substances is not permitted.

All the defendants are charged with one count of “conspiring to possess and distribute oxycodone, a Schedule 2 controlled substance.”

All but two of those charged were arrested by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Tactical Diversion Squad last Wednesday last Tuesday while the others remain at large. Those in custody appeared Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Mark Falk in Newark Federal Court.

The federal complaint alleges that between February 2014 and Aug. 13, 2014, the conspirators “secured prescriptions for oxycodone and other controlled substances from various doctors in New Jersey, filled them at pharmacies in Belleville and elsewhere, and sold the drugs for a profit.”

The feds identified defendant Victoria Horvath, 42, of Elizabeth, as a “senior member” of what they characterized as a “drug trafficking organization (DTO)” who “obtained and filled prescriptions for controlled substances and then distributed them.”

They said that Cozzarelli “supplied … Horvath (also known as “Gypsy”) and the [alleged DTO] with oxycodone and other controlled substances even though he knew the prescriptions were fraudulently obtained and that the [organization] would illegally distribute the controlled substances.”

Among the defendants, from The Observer’s coverage area, are Luis Rivera (“Tupac”), 23, and Robert O’Brien, 57, both of Bloomfield.

The other suspects were listed as: Daniel Horvath, 25, Monica Horvath (“Becky”), 20, and Johnny Horvath, 45, all of Rutherford; Rhonda Musallam, 38, of Jersey City; Brian Perez (“B”), 21, Matthew Policarpio (“Papi”), 26, and Justin Farraj (“Blaze”), 23, all of Newark; Alexis Horvath (“Tima”), 26, Rickie Horvath (“Yoggi”), 53, Steven Horvath (“Chi-Chi”), 43, and Tony Marco, 45, all of Elizabeth; and Sabrina Vajda, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

According to the feds, Musallam and Perez remained at large, as of last week.

Federal agents declined to say how much profit the organization made from sales of the drugs.

The release said that the federal investigation made use of “confidential sources, physical surveillance and judicially-authorized electronic surveillance” to document the criminal charges.

According to the federal complaint, Victoria, Alexis and Rickie Horvath distributed oxycodone and other drugs “in the Belleville area.” It added that, “These three individuals worked together and with others to obtain controlled substances and prescriptions [from doctors not named in the complaint] for controlled substances for distribution.”

The complaint said that Steven, Daniel and Monica Horvath, Marco and Vajda obtained and filled prescriptions for drugs from various doctors and distributed the drugs, that Johnny Horvath assisted with distribution activities, that Musallam was a supplier of drugs, and that Farraj, O’Brien, Perez, Policarpio and Rivera were local distributors and customers.

According to the complaint, “on or about June 2, 2014,” after a phone conversation between Victoria Horvath and Cozzarelli, Victoria and Steven Horvath met with a DTO customer (not named) and traveled to Cozzarelli’s house where Victoria Horvath “… met with Cozzarelli and obtained 120 30mg oxycodone pills and 120 Percocet (10mg oxycodone) pills from him. The customer of the DTO was later arrested by local law enforcement and found to be in possession of 120 Percocet pills and 23 30mg oxycodone pills.”

Also, the complaint says, “On or about June 15, 2014, in a series of calls, V. Horvath arranged to obtain 120 30mg oxycodone pills, 120 Percocet (10mg oxycodone) pills and 120 units of another controlled substance from Cozzarelli….”

A conviction on the conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.