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Dorothy A. Bailey 

Mrs. Dorothy A. Bailey, of Kearny, died on Saturday, Nov. 22. She was 79.

Relatives and friends may call at the Condon Funeral Home, 684 Kearny Ave., Kearny (condonfuneralhome.com) on Tuesday, Nov. 25, from 4 to 8 p.m. The funeral Mass will be celebrated by her nephew, the Rev. Stephen Carey, on Wednesday, Nov. 26, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny. Interment will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery.

Dorothy Bailey was on among the first residents of the Kearny Senior Residence where she was active socially in all events.

Dorothy was a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother as well as a loving sister. Surviving are two brothers. She was predeceased by seven other siblings. Also surviving are numerous nieces and nephews.

Carl J. Battista 

Carl J. Battista, 86, passed away peacefully on Nov. 18.

Born in Kearny, to Angelo and Michelina Battista, he was a resident of Kearny for 75 years before moving to Canal Walk in Somerset 11 years ago.

He was a proud 1946 graduate of Kearny High School. Carl was employed for 46 years as a partnership owner with his brother, Joe, of A. Battista & Sons Inc., a wholesale banana dealership in the Newark Farmers Market before retiring in 1992.

After retiring, he was a learned attendant for the Board of Elections in Kearny and Somerset for 25 years. He loved visiting Monmouth Park Racetrack during the summer months with his son, Carl. At Canal Walk he was an avid bocce player and also enjoyed playing in the Texas Hold ’em tournaments. He cherished time spent with his family and friends.

Mr. Battista was predeceased by his parents and his brothers, Rocco and Joseph. He leaves behind his beloved wife of 56 years, Dorothy, of Somerset; his children, Dr. Carl J. Battista and his wife, Bettianne, of Hillsdale; Donna Niro, and her husband, Nicholas, of Hillsborough; and Doris Ann Battista of Washington Township; his three grandchildren, Carl John III, Michael Owen, and Marisa Elizabeth Niro; his 95-year-old brother, Lewis T. Battista of Kearny, and many loving nieces and nephews.

Arrangements were by Hagan-Chamberlain Funeral Home, Bound Brook. A funeral Mass was held at St. Cecilia Church, Kearny, followed by entombment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in his name to St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital: www.stjude.org

Blandina Iglesias Hermida 

Blandina Iglesias Hermida (Blandina Fernandez) died Nov. 18. She was 83.

Born in Spain, she lived in Kearny for many years.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The burial will take place in Spain.

Blandina is survived by her husband Andres Fernandez Sr. She was the mother of Manuel, Jose, Rosa and Andres (Jr.) Fernandez. Sister of Pepe Iglesias, she is also survived by her grandchildren Andres III, Kelsie, Nicholas, Joell, Jose Jr., Andrew, Allison and Alexis Fernandez and one great-grandchild, CJ.

Her loving family wanted to share a beautiful poem about her:

“God saw her getting tired and a cure was not to be. So He put his arms around her and whispered, “Come to Me.”

“With tearful eyes we watched her slowly fade away. Although we loved her dearly, we could not make her stay.

“A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands at rest.

“God broke our hearts to prove to us he only takes the best.

You will always be in our hearts.”

In lieu of flowers, please consider Vitas Hospice, 70 S. Orange Ave., Suite 210, Livingston, N.J. 07039 or call 973- 994-4738.

Eileen A. Waropay 

Eileen A. Waropay, 71, of Quakertown, Pa., formerly of Kearny, died Nov. 15 in St. Luke’s Hospice House, Bethlehem, Pa.

Born in Jersey City, she was the daughter of the late Newton and Frances “Edna” (Edwards) Hook. Eileen was known for her quick wit and great sense of humor. She enjoyed reading, loved music, and was a member of the Sunshine Singers. She was an active member of the Analomink Methodist Church in Analomink, Pa., before moving to Quakertown.

In addition to her soul mate Francis F. Caputo Sr., she is survived by two sons, Kevin (Theresa), of Shamong, and Drew (Sharon) of Abington, Pa.; four grandchildren, Meredith, Mikayla, Catherine and Clare; sister Phyllis Bruce (Bob) of Dover, Del.; and a sister-in-law, Marie Rhein of Kearny. She is predeceased by two brothers, Dr. Robert Hook and Detective Kenneth Rhein.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 1, at the Quakertown United Methodist Church, 1875 Freier Road, Quakertown, Pa. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Luke’s Hospice Development Office, 801 Ostrum St., Bethlehem, Pa. 18015.

Blood appointed


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools.

The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School.

The vote was 6-0, with three members absent: John Leadbeater, John Plaugic and Dan Esteves.

Since January 2014, Blood served as acting superintendent while her predecessor Frank Ferraro was placed on an involuntary leave by the board majority which brought tenure charges against him but then dropped the matter after both sides agreed to a settlement deal with Ferraro resigning this month

The board approved a new five-year contract for Blood that provides an annual salary of $167,500 – the same as her predecessor – and that runs from Nov. 15, 2014 to June 30, 2019, subject to its approval by the Hudson County Executive Superintendent of Schools.

Afterwards, The Observer asked board president Bernadette McDonald why the board opted to do the appointment at a sparsely attended special meeting. Said McDonald: “It’s the first meeting that we had a chance to deal with it after the Ferraro business.”

Blood holds an educational administrator’s certificate and is due to complete a state-required one-year mentorship program by year’s end to meet all her requirements for a permanent appointment as superintendent.

Asked whether the board had considered hiring an outside firm to undertake a search for a new chief school administrator, McDonald said: “We wanted to keep the continuity” with Blood at the helm.

“Everything went smoothly with the Lincoln School transition [from an elementary to middle school for grades 7 and 8] and Patti has proved she’s dedicated to Kearny and the children,” McDonald added.

Asked if the board had considered restoring the assistant superintendent of schools post, which was eliminated from the budget in the wake of the departure of its former occupant Debra Sheard, Mc- Donald said that was unlikely, given that, “things seem to be working so well now [under an administrative reorganization orchestrated by Blood] but maybe in the future, unless we think of another position to put in there.”

Blood started as a teacher in the Kearny public schools in 1977 and continued in that role until 1986 when she relocated to Monmouth County to raise her children but then resumed her educational career with the Freehold Regional High School district as a teacher and then assistant principal. After 13 years there, she returned to Kearny as director of curriculum for grades 6 to 12 in December 2010.

“I’m very excited to continue the work we’ve begun [in Kearny] and move forward to provide Kearny student with the best possible education and I appreciate the confidence the Board of Education has placed in me as well as the support I have received from administrators, teachers and staff members,” Blood told The Observer.

Blood said that this school year, she’ll be monitoring the implementation of a new reading program in the elementary schools. And, on other fronts, she said: “We’ve been getting great feedback on our new writing program, we’re on a very busy path for the administration of the [new state-mandated] PARCC [Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College & Careers] test in March and I hope to be moving forward soon on our long-delayed [high school] construction project.”

On that last topic, the board heard a presentation from the Wayne architectural firm DiCara Rubino, hired earlier this year to scale down design specifications on the completion of the north building of the high school after the only bid received for the job came in well over the board’s estimate.

DiCara Rubino’s proposal called for a reduction of the planned atrium, from five to two stories, and a relocation of a new faculty lounge; however, none of the educational space – including the 20-plus classrooms and culinary classroom/cafeteria – would be reduced.

The architects were slated to repeat their power-point presentation at the board’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 17, at Lincoln School, beginning at 6 p.m. with an executive session, and re-convening at 7 p.m. for the public portion.

Michael DeVita, the board’s business administrator/ secretary, told The Observer that it would likely take “several months” before the revised specifications would be ready for the board to advertise for a new round of bids.

Kearny unveils new monument


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died in the Great War.

Pershing had been commander of the American Expeditionary Forces during the “War to End All Wars.” We all know how that turned out.

Ensuing years saw Monument Park add memorials to those who died in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. And last week, it became home to yet another, dedicated to the military victims in the War on Terrorism.

Carved from Vermont gray granite, like the original, it bears only one date: 2001. Which marks the beginning of the battle whose end no one dare predict.

Thus far, it carries only one name, that of Staff Sgt. Edward Karolasz, a Kearny soldier killed in Iraq nine years ago this week. He was just 25.

Its official dedication took place Nov. 11 during the annual Veterans Day ceremony sponsored by American Legion Post 99, with support from the VFW and Marine Corps League. Among those attending were the soldier’s mother, Krystyna Karolasz, and his sisters Kristine Lancha and Donna Kornas.

Mayor Alberto Santos, standing before the WWI pillar, noted, “Our community has assembled at this monument for the last 92 years — at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” — which was when the guns finally fell silent on the Western Front.

There was optimism then, but as Santos noted, “That optimism, that hope for peace, was shattered just a generation later.”

What followed was a century of conflicts, including the overarching Cold War. Then on Nov. 9, 1989, the world witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall — prime symbol of the Cold War. “And like before,” Santos said, “we spoke of peace, a lasting peace. But that was not to be.”

After America was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, we took up arms against terrorists and the regimes that harbor them. The new battlefields have stretched from Iraq to Aghanistan to Pakistan to Syria to the Sahara and beyond. The newest enemy to make its murderous appearance is ISIS. What will be the next cowardly extremist group seeking blood? And where will it be spawned?

Fortunately, our nation has always harbored the brave and the courageous: freedom-cherishing men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of that freedom.

The Nov. 11 ceremony was about them, too. The living and the dead. To each of whom we owe an eternal debt of gratitude.

How many of us pass Kearny’s Monument Park on a daily basis, and never give it a thought? Next time you drive by, you might offer a prayer, or just a simple “Thank you.”

You might even stop to take a close-up look at all the monuments.

Including the one unveiled just last week.

You will note that it bears only one name. But it has room for more.

God willing, that space will remain blank.

Nutley cops hunt driver in fatal hit-run

A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.



Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on Saturday morning and fled the scene.

Chief Thomas Strumolo said the victim, Ernesta Fernandez of Nutley, had been crossing Centre near Ravine Ave. at 11:40 a.m. when she was hit.

One witness described the vehicle as an older model, dark-colored Econoline van, possibly blue or black. The driver reportedly headed west on Centre St. and made a right turn onto Franklin Ave. Fernandez was found in the street and subsequently pronounced dead at University Hospital in Newark. P

olice are asking anyone who was in the area at the time and may have witnessed the accident to call the NPD at 973-284-4940 or the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force tips line at 1-877-847- 7432 or 1-877-TIPS-4-EC .

The Essex County Sheriff’s Office Crime Stoppers Program is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.

– Karen Zautyk

Cop promotions upcoming


Kearny Police Chief John Dowie, who has repeatedly warned that his ranks are being stretched thin with a recent spate of retirements, will be getting some relief.

Dowie came away from last Wednesday night’s Town Council caucus with a tentative sign-off on his proposal for five promotions: one lieutenant and four sergeants, Mayor Alberto Santos said.

Based on the current promotional lists certified by the state, the lieutenant rank would go to current Sgt. Peter Caltabellotta, while the four new sergeants look to be current Officers Joseph Vulcano, Scott Traynor, John Corbett and Len Reed.

Before the chief’s recommendation can be implemented, however, the state monitor assigned to Kearny must sanction it, Santos said.

If he got the requested promotions, Dowie told the mayor and council members, he would then have enough personnel to staff the South Kearny Police Precinct on a 24-hour-a-day basis.

And, Dowie advised, filling in those ranks – while, at the same time, preparing to hire more rank-and-file cops – should help trim the massive overtime in the Police Department, which has topped $1 million for the year to date, according to town CFO Shuaib Firozvi.

Another sales point the chief served up was that additional four sergeants would bring that rank up to one below the optimum number of 19 called for in the Police Department’s Table of Organization while increasing the number of captains to the T.O. standard of nine.

Sergeants currently earn about $124,000 a year, plus health benefits, while lieutenants collect about $140,000, plus benefits. Santos and Dowie said the town should see some savings in the long run, however, because under the current PBA contract, it will take two years for superiors named after Jan. 1, 2013, to reach their maximum pay level.

The mayor and council have agreed in principle to hire up to 10 more rank-and-file cops, according to Dowie, who said the town should also see some savings down the road because it now takes 12 years for officers to reach their maximum pay grade.

A newly issued appointment list, as certified by the state Civil Service Commission, for police officer in Kearny triggered frustration voiced by a member of the Kearny PD during the public portion of Wednesday’s council meeting.

Det. Steven Podolski, a veteran member of the police force, spoke on behalf of 10 Kearny residents who applied to take the state Civil Service test for police officer and were upset about the process which involves a procedure mandated by U.S. District Court, dating from 1991, which stems from an NAACP lawsuit alleging that Kearny’s municipal hiring practices were discriminatory.

The court stipulated initially that, to achieve “racial diversity” in its employee mix, Kearny was compelled to establish an applicant pool drawn from residents of Kearny and Essex County. Kearny challenged that pool as too broad and unfair to its residents and in 2002 the court modified the territorial pool to Kearny and Newark residents.

Earlier this year, Santos said, things became muddled when in anticipating of hiring more cops, Kearny asked Civil Service to certify an updated appointment list and, in response, the mayor said, the agency inadvertently issued a Kearny resident-only list, reportedly containing the names of 75 Kearny residents as potential hirees.

Then, the mayor said, the agency ended up retracting that list and issued a new list with the names of only 16 Kearny residents and the balance from Newark. Some of the contingent that showed up Wednesday at Town Hall are no longer on the list while a few now find themselves farther down on the list, Podolski told the governing body.

Podolski reasoned that it makes more sense for the town to appoint Kearny residents, since cops who live in town will have more of a stake in keeping the town safer and will be more likely to spend their money in town.

“We agree that it’s important to hire local residents for security and economy reasons,” said Santos, “but unless there are changes in federal law that would allow us to challenge the consent decree that obligates us, we can’t ignore it.”

Meanwhile, the town is responding to other public safety needs. On Wednesday, the council voted to introduce a $2 million bond ordinance that would earmark $600,000 for the “acquisition of patrol sport utility vehicles with equipment” and $300,000 for “computer infrastructure and equipment” for the Police Department, along with $350,000 for “equipment and turnout gear” for the Fire Department.

Other projects to be funded from the bond – which must be approved by the state Local Finance Board – include “acquisition/installation of fiber optic and computer infrastructure town-wide” for $400,000 and acquisition of a “dump truck, a pickup truck and a utility van” for the Public Works Department.

The council also authorized the Fire Department to apply to the federal Assistance to Firefighters grant program for $950,000 toward the cost of a new aerial ladder truck and for $600,000 to subsidize acquisition of more than 40 self-contained oxygen packs. Each would require a 25% local match. Fire Chief Steve Dyl said the new rig would replace a 1990 truck which has required more maintenance each year. He said the department’s current oxygen packs are “over 20 years old” and need to be replaced.

School is more than books for these kids


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


At Washington Middle School in Harrison, nearly 75% of the more than 400 enrolled are just as busy with school-related projects after 3 p.m. as they are during their regular day of classes.

And that’s partly by design of the school administration who made a point this fall of expanding its menu of an already busy after-school extracurricular schedule.

Principal Michael Landy extended an appreciative nod to the Board of Education, acting Superintendent Fred Confessore and his staff for being “tremendously cooperative in supporting all additional programs that we proposed.” Students’ voluntary participation in such activities are important, Landy said, because studies show that there is a positive carryover on the academic side.

“If a student has an extra reason to come to school – if they’re looking forward to being in a club or sport program – it almost always translates to a better performance in the classroom,” he said.

Mixing with other kids can also be instrumental in changing a painfully shy or introverted youngster’s personality, Landy said.

If they’re interacting consistently with a smaller group of peers all sharing a common interest, “their whole outlook is different,” the principal said. “They walk down a [school] hallway and they realize, ‘Hey, there’s my friends.’ ’’

Landy provided a list of the various student activities offered by the school, as follows: There are two after-school homework assistance programs known as Family Friendly and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program).

Family Friendly, which includes a fitness component, is funded by a state grant combined with a local match, and is designed for grades 6 to 8. It has been operating in Harrison for the past eight years and, with more than 100 kids and between 10 and 12 instructional staff participating, “it’s our biggest after-school program,” Landy said. The group meets Monday to Friday, from 3 to 5 p.m.

CHIP’s function is similar to Family Friendly but is geared specifically for special needs youngsters and meets Monday to Thursday, from 3 to 5 p.m. About 50 children are in this year’s group.

“We have an expanded Fine and Performing Arts program,” Landy said, “that includes one day of Chorus, two days of Step dancing, two days of regular dance, one day of actors workshop, one day of play writers workshop, one day of crew/public relations and one day of set design.”

Chorus, with some 30 youngsters involved, meets Wednesdays and performs holiday shows and at special events like the Winter and Spring Concerts.

Step dancing “is our version of hip hop and this year, it’s really taken off,” Landy said. The group, led by physical education/health teacher Uril Parrish, rehearses on Mondays and Thursdays and struts its stuff at different events during the school year. This Halloween eve, its members offered a special dance tribute to Michael Jackson.

Parrish also assists the regular dance team which practices their routines on Tuesdays and Fridays.

“Between the two dance groups, we have to close to 30 participating,” said Landy.

Kids in the various performance- related groups, with some overlapping, work together as a part of a drama production team, starting in the winter session, to prepare for the annual Spring Musical. They get help from music teacher Steven Fink and technology instructor Eileen Winkleblech.

There are also clubs focused on Art, School Newspaper, Yearbook, Environmental, Explorers (with fields trips to big metropolitan cities to learn more about history), Student Council, Fitness, Canstruction, Gifted & Talented and Chess, which has grown to 20 members who meet a couple of times a month to play each other.

The school’s sports program has also expanded. In the fall, it offers girls’ volleyball and soccer and boys’ soccer; in the winter, there is boys’ and girls’ basketball and swimming; and in the spring, boys’ volleyball, baseball and softball.

Bribery: By hook…

A Belleville man who was a Jersey City fire inspector pleaded guilty last week to accepting bribes from brothels, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reported.

Authorities said Phillip Procaccino, 56, took money from two Jersey City massage parlors that were fronts for prostitution. In one of the cases, his cut was a percentage of the profits. A

ccording to prosecutors, Procaccino admitted that, in October 2013, he accepted $2,500 in exchange for his official assistance in obtaining a certificate of occupancy for one of the businesses. He also agreed to provide notice of impending inspections by Jersey City authorities so the owner and employees could hide evidence of their other, oldest, profession.

Dealing with a separate prostitution operation, Procaccino agreed to provide a certificate and one day’s notice of any police plans to target the parlor, this in exchange for 10% of its future profits.

Appearing before U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court last Wednesday, Procaccino pleaded guilty to one count of extortion.

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in February.

– Karen Zautyk 

…Or by crook

An Essex County corrections officer from Belleville was arrested last week by special agents of the FBI for allegedly taking bribes to smuggle contraband, including cell phones and cigarettes, into the county jail in Newark, authorities reported.

John Grosso, 41, was taken into custody Thursday morning at the jail, a federal pretrial detention facility. He was arraigned that afternoon in Newark federal court on one count of conspiring to commit extortion and was released on $100,000 bail.

According to the complaint filed by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, on multiple occasions between November and December 2013, Grosso accepted cash bribes of approximately $1,000 in return for smuggling phones and cigarettes to an inmate. The officer reportedly met with the inmate’s associate in the parking lot of the Best Buy store in Secaucus to accept the contraband and bribes, before delivering the packages to the prisoner.

If convicted, Grosso faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Fishman credited the FBI and the Internal Affairs Division of the Essex County Correctional Facility, under the leadership of Warden Roy Hendricks, with the investigation leading to the arrest.

– Karen Zautyk 




2nd victim identified in Rt. 21 accident


Authorities last week identified the second person killed in a fiery multi-vehicle crash on Rt. 21 on Nov. 3 as Terrence Morris, 26, of Newark.

According to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Morris was the driver of a Chevy Cavalier that collided with a tractor-trailer in the southbound lanes in Belleville. Both Morris and his passenger, Jonathan Fontenot, also a 26-year-old Newark resident, were pronounced dead at the scene.

The truck driver and the driver of a Dodge Dart that was involved in the 7:25 p.m. crash were reportedly unhurt.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Task Force and the Belleville Police Department. Anyone with information is asked to contact Task Force detectives at 877-847-7432 or 973- 621-4586. – Karen Zautyk

Now he can tell it to the judge: KPD blotter

Kearny driver who told police they were violating his legal rights ended up facing the weight of the law.

Responding to a report of a hit and run in the 270 block of Stewart Ave., at 4 a.m., Officer Derek Hemphill spotted a 2008 Saab leaving the area at a high rate of speed and pursued the vehicle, forcing the driver, Louis Moreiradejesus, 35, of Kearny, to pull over.

When asked for his paperwork, police said the driver lowered his tinted window a few inches, produced his license and informed Hemphill that his “constitutional rights were being violated” and that the officer “had no right to pull him over.”

Police said he also refused to submit to a sobriety test, instead, inviting Hemphill and backup Officer Brian Wisely to, “Arrest me.”

They did.

At HQ , police said Moreiradejesus had a change of heart and agreed to take an Alcotest.

It didn’t help.

Moreiradejesus was charged with DWI, careless driving, having tinted safety glass and failing to produce registration and insurance.

Other recent reports logged by Kearny PD included these incidents:

Nov. 2 

Officers Ben Wuelfing and Tom Floyd responded to the 90 block of Hoyt St., at 3 a.m., on a report of an accident. There, they found a 2012 Toyota embedded in the passenger side of a parked Nissan. Police said the officers detected an odor of alcohol from the Toyota’s driver, Claudia Barrow, 45, of Kearny, who, police said, may have passed out when the crash occurred. Barrow was charged with DWI, careless driving and refusal to take an Alcotest.

Nov. 3 

While on patrol in the 200 block of Kearny Ave., at 3:45 p.m., Officer John Travelino spotted a man, later identified as Sidnei Antunes, 28, of Kearny, drinking from a 16-ounce can of Budweiser on the street. Antunes, who was issued a summons for drinking in public, had an outstanding warrant from East Newark charging him with the same offense, police said.

Nov. 5 

At 7:45 p.m., Officers Chris Levchak and Phil Finch responded to 125 Passaic Ave. on a report that someone using an ATM appeared to be drunk. In the parking lot at the site, police said the officers found a vehicle occupied by Edison Vera, 32, of Belleville, who, they said, smelled of alcohol. Asked to step out of the car, police said Vera’s eyes were bloodshot and he was unsteady on his feet. Enroute to HQ , Vera fell asleep in the back of the police cruiser. After being charged with DWI and refusal to take an Alcotest, Vera was placed in a cell where, police said, he began doing headstands.

Nov. 6 

Sgt. John Taylor, while patrolling the parking lot of the Walmart store on Harrison Ave., at 10 a.m., came across a 2004 Hyundai with its engine running and driver slumped over the steering wheel, police said. After being roused, the driver, Edlaus New, 44, of Wheeling, W. Va., was charged with driving while suspended and operating an uninsured vehicle.


At 3:45 p.m., Officer Jordensen Jean responded to a S. Hackensack Ave. location on a report of an assault. There, police said, he found a 33-year-old Jersey City man bleeding from a head wound and Junell Santanapujols, 33, of Jersey City. The victim was taken to UMDNJ, Newark, where he was questioned by Det. Ray Lopez. Police subsequently arrested Santanapujols on charges of unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. The suspect is alleged to have struck the victim several times with a vehicular anti-theft device which police recovered. He was taken to Hudson County Jail on $30,000 bail with a 10% cash option.


Officers Tom Sumowski and Derek Hemphill responded to the Hamburgao Restaurant in the 200 block of Kearny Ave., at 11 p.m., on a report of someone stealing a tip jar from the front counter and running away. A short time later, a man matching a description provided by witnesses was seen at Kearny and Bergen Aves. and was detained by the officers for a positive drive-by ID. Searching the man’s backpack, police said the officers found a Toshiba laptop marked with the word Princess (which police traced to a Franklin Place owner), along with a counter display of cigarette lighters taken from an unknown location, two thin strip “loids” (used to pry open locks) and a rachet-type device. Police said he also had on his possession “currency consistent with the contents of the tip jar.” Mareus Rawls, 46, of Newark, was arrested on charges of receiving stolen property, theft of movable property, theft of property lost or mislaid and possession of burglar tools.

Nov. 10 

More than 20 tools, including pipe threaders, power saws and power drills, impact guns and sockets, were reported taken from a construction site during the weekend. Police said the burglary was reported by a sprinkler fitting company working at a residential development under construction at Bergen and Schuyler Aves. The tools were valued at about $10,000, police said.

Nov. 12 

A taxi driver called for help, at 9 p.m., after his fare reportedly refused to exit the cab, police said. Officer Jay Ward responded to Beech St. and Oakwood Ave. where he found passenger Michael Miller, 36, of Kearny, asleep in the back seat. When Ward woke him and tried to get him to leave the cab, Miller reportedly argued with the officer and tried to grab his flashlight. At that point, police said, Ward and backup Officer Travelino began removing him and Miller then pushed Ward. Police said the officers grabbed and handcuffed him and took him to HQ where Miller refused to leave the patrol car and had to be carried inside. After he was booked on charges of aggravated assault and resisting arrest, he was taken by EMS to Clara Maass Medical Center for observation.

– Ron Leir 

Hits car & flees; later, leaves kid: cops

What started as a hit and run led Kearny PD to a suspect who, initially, eluded them while leaving his small child home alone, according to police, but who ultimately gave himself up.

At 8 a.m., on Nov. 5, Office Peter Jahera responded to a report of an accident at Passaic and Bergen Aves. where the driver of a 2012 Toyota said her car was struck by a white vehicle which then left the scene with extensive front end damage.

A few hours later, police said Officer Damon Pein was called to the 30 block of Highland Ave. where the owner of a white 2010 Nissan told the officer his car had been hit overnight while parked at that location.

But after conferring with Jahera, who observed that the Nissan matched the description of the hit-and-run car and that the Nissan was allegedly missing certain body parts that Jahera had recovered from the hit-and-run site, Pein confronted the Nissan owner, Jayme Diaz-Cobo, 23, at his residence about the prior incident, and police said Diaz-Cobo admitted having fled from the scene because his license had been suspended.

When asked to accompany the officer, however, police said Diaz-Cobo replied that he couldn’t leave because he was the “sole custodian” of a 2-year-old girl, slammed the door in the officer’s face and ran out the back door.

Police said Pein remained with the child and notified the state Division of Child Protection & Permanency Involved Families who arranged to turn over the child to the custody of a relative.

Meanwhile, police issued warrants for Diaz-Cobo’s arrest on charges of driving with a suspended license, resisting arrest, hindering prosecution and endangering the welfare of a child. Police said Diaz- Cobo was also wanted on a Clifton warrant for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident.

On Nov. 7, police said Diaz- Cobo surrendered peacefully to Kearny PD pending a court appearance on the charges.

– Ron Leir