web analytics

Category: News

Convicted in mortgage swindle

A Belleville man was among three defendants convicted earlier this month in federal court for their roles in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme involving condominiums in New Jersey and Florida, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reported.

Last month, another Belleville resident pleaded guilty in the same scam.

According to Fishman’s office, the scheme used phony documents and “straw buyers” to defraud financial institutions and make illegal profits on condos overbuilt by financially stressed developers. Thus far, 13 persons have been arrested in the case.

Found guilty Oct. 6 by a jury sitting in U.S. District Court, Camden, were Dwayne Onque, 46, of Belleville; his sister, Mashon Onque, 43, of East Orange, and Nancy Wolf-Fels, 57, of Toms River.

Each was each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In addition, Dwayne Onque was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The jury returned the verdicts after a four-week trial and just five hours of deliberation.

Authorities reported that, from late 2006 through mid 2007, Dwayne Onque served as a “straw buyer” of five properties in Middletown and Wildwood. For each of the five, he signed fraudulent loan applications and closing documents that resulted in the release of more than $2 million in mortgage funds.

In 2006 and 2008, Mashon Onque, employed by Tri-State Title Agency in Montclair, acted as the closing agent for fraudulent mortgage loans orchestrated by other conspirators, including her brother.

Wolf-Fels, a loan officer at Mortgage Now in Forked River from 2007 through mid-2008, assembled six fraudulent loan applications and sent them to victim financial institutions, which lent the unqualified buyers mortgage funds.

On Sept. 2, Larry Fullenwider, 63, of Belleville, pleaded guilty in the same court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He admitted purchasing four condos in North Wildwood after presenting a false identification and using fake documents to support fraudulent loan applications.

For wire fraud conspiracy, all four defendants face up to 30 years in prison and fines of $1 million. Dwayne Onque’s money laundering conspiracy conviction carries an additional potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing is scheduled for January.

– Karen Zautyk 

Walmart is keeping cops busy

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


The Walmart in Kearny is conveniently located on Harrison Ave., with easy access to Rt. 280, the N.J. Turnpike and feeder roads to Newark and Jersey City. This is a boon for shoppers. However, according to Kearny police, it is also a boon for shoplifters who can make a fast getaway.

Regular readers of the Kearny police blotter are aware that rarely a week goes by without at least one shoplifting incident at the store. On Friday, KPD Chief John Dowie told The Observer that, in 2013, his officers had responded to Walmart 300 times.

“We are already approaching 400 responses this year — with the best of the year [holiday shopping time] yet to come,” he said. “This amounts to least one a day.”

As of Oct. 13, Dowie noted, the KPD had made 113 arrests at the store, and many of those taken into custody “are not your stereotypical shoplifters.”

“They come with a lot more baggage,” he said, noting, for example, the number who have outstanding warrants from other jurisdictions.

The reported statistics are in no way intended to reflect badly on Walmart security; it is store security personnel who initially spot and detain — or attempt to detain — the suspects. But security has no arrest powers. And each incident takes Kearny officers off the road, sometimes for hours as they process arrestees and deal with required paperwork.

Last week was apparently a particularly busy one, so we are running a separate shoplifter “blotter.” As reported by Dowie the incidents included the following:

On Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m., Officer Luis Moran responded to Walmart where security had detained Danny Morales, 36, of Newark, who allegedly had attempting to conceal numerous cans of Enfamil baby formula, worth a total of $80. Morales was charged with shoplifting. If all that sounds familiar, it’s because last week’s KPD blotter reported Morales’ Oct. 2 arrest, on a charge of shoplifting $88 worth of Enfamil from Walmart.

* * *

On Oct. 16, at 3:30 p.m., Officers Chris Levchak and Jose Resua responded to Walmart where security had in custody Brianna Young, 19, of Newark, who was charged with stealing $128 worth of merchandise. She was processed at HQ and released.

* * *

That same day, at 4:10 p.m., Levchak and Resua returned to the store on a report of two shoplifters. One of the suspects, Ashley Crenshaw, 23, of Orange, was arrested for allegedly attempting to steal merchandise valued at $229.

Police said the second suspect, Crenshaw’s alleged cohort Jasmine Moore, 24, of Newark, tried to intercede, refused to heed Levchak’s warnings to cease and desist, became hostile and profane and demanded to see the security video.

When Levchak tried to arrest Moore, a struggle ensued and she punched the officer in the head, police said. Cuffed by both cops and escorted from the store, she allegedly kicked and dented the squad car door.

Moore was booked for shoplifting, aggravated assault, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. Police said she also had two outstanding warrants, from East Orange and Long Hill Township.

Video of her conduct in the store parking lot has been recovered and entered into evidence.

2011 layoffs affirmed

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Four former Kearny workers, including a union chief, have lost the first round of a bid to reverse their New Year’s Eve dismissals nearly three years ago.

In a 21-page ruling issued Sept. 3, the state Office of Administrative Law Judge Irene Jones dismissed an appeal by Kerry Kosick, Elizabeth Wainman, Mary Ann Ryan and Fatima Fowlkes, contesting their “economic” layoffs that took effect Dec. 31, 2011.

Ryan, president of Council 11, Civil Service Association, which represents most of the town’s civilian employees and crossing guards, said the judge’s decision has been appealed to the state Civil Service Commission, which must affirm or reject the ruling.

The town characterized the layoffs as a reduction in force prompted by reasons of “economy and efficiency” but the employees countered that the town acted in bad faith because the employees were let go, not for anything budget-related, but rather, in retaliation for complaints made against superiors.

Hearings were held in the OAL court in Newark Sept. 28 and Oct. 31, 2013, with attorney Paul Kleinbaum representing the employees and special counsel Jonathan Cohen appearing for the town.

Kosick, a senior librarian who earned $71,000, testified that she was targeted for a layoff in connection with a 2010 incident for not allowing a contracted artist to do portraits of two local politicians’ kids at a library program because the politicos arrived with only five minutes left in the program. Kosick said she was bawled out by her thenboss but acknowledged she wasn’t disciplined. She said that after she was let go, the town hired a part-time librarian in violation of its hiring freeze policy.

However, the court found that Kosick had no proof that she’d been targeted for a layoff and that the town had hired only “low-level” employees — not librarians – to handle some of her work.

Wainman, a clerk for the Construction Code Department who earned more than $55,000, claimed that she was targeted for a layoff after she filed a harassment complaint in 2010 for being told to bring a doctor’s note after being out sick for less than three days, for being told to leave and docked a half sick day after arriving to work 19 minutes late and for being yelled at by a supervisor to “get that baby out of there” while she was assisting a customer with a crying infant. After filing a verbal complaint, Wainman said she was branded a “pot stirrer” by the town’s personnel officer.

Again, the court found that no bad faith in Wainman’s case, noting that the harassment complaint was made “after the layoff plan for 2011 was formulated.” The court noted that it was Wainman’s choice not to apply for the position of permit clerk – which would have insulated her from the layoff – nor did she want to “bump” another employee who is the mother of three children.

Fowlkes, a $54,000 clerk typist bilingual in the Public Works Department, testified that in 2011, she filed a racial discrimination complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission, based on allegations of a hostile work environment, including the placement of a big black rubber rat on her work desk and an order by her boss to get out of his office. She said that Town Administrator Michael Martello found no evidence of racial discrimination or a hostile work environment but that everyone in the Public Works Department had to take a class on racial harassment. Subsequently, she got a new job at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission in Newark.

The court concluded that no bad faith had been demonstrated against Fowlkes, noting that the EEOC had investigated – and dismissed – her claim of racial discrimination. It also found that Fowlkes had three years’ less seniority than a second bilingual clerk in the Public Works Department.

Ryan, a $75,000 principal clerk typist in the Fire Department who worked there 28 years for six different fire chiefs, testified that she was targeted for layoff because of her union activism. She said that the town originally sought $785,000 in concessions from Council 11 but then upped that amount to $870,000. Also, she said, the town initially wanted 26 furlough days but then offered to take 20 days – and later, 13 days – if she retired.

The court found “no merit” to Ryan’s claim of retaliation due to her union activities. Instead, it concluded, “the record supports that the town and unions worked together to avoid layoffs in the prior year and to reduce the overall number of layoffs by agreeing to furlough days and other concessions.”

Ryan retired April 1, 2013, and began collecting pension benefits.

Mayor Alberto Santos said last week that he expected to begin negotiations with Council 11 on a new labor contract by the end of October or early November. The union currently represents about 55 civilian employees and 25 crossing guards.

Go pink at St. Michael’s

Don your favorite pink attire and join St. Michael’s Medical Center for a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event — Breast Health & You — on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at SMMC’s Connie Dwyer Breast Center, 111 Central Ave., Newark.

Dr. Nadine Pappas, director of the Dwyer Breast Center, along with a team of medical experts, will lead a question-and-answer session about breast health. Attendees can enjoy lunch, meet the staff, tour the center and schedule mammograms.

The event is free, and attendees will receive complimentary valet parking. However, registration is required, as space is limited.

To register, call 973-877- 2990. To learn more about the Connie Dwyer Breast Center, visit www.smmcnj.org/conniedwyer.

Check out school board hopefuls

The Belleville United Coalition will sponsor a Candidates Forum for those seeking election to the Belleville Board of Education on Monday, Oct. 27, at the Belleville Seniors Center, 125 Franklin Ave.

The event is slated to run from 7 to 9 p.m.

Robert Braun, former longtime education writer for The Star Ledger, will serve as moderator.

Five people are running for two open 3-year seats on the school board. Trustee William Freda isn’t seeking re-election and former Trustee Joseph Longo resigned earlier this year after his election to the Belleville Township Council.

BUC President Jeff Mattingly said that four of the five candidates have accepted invitations to attend the forum. They are: Gabrielle Bennett, Patricia Dolan, Erika Jacho and Ralph Vellon.

Mattingly said that candidate Christine Lamparello “has a scheduling conflict concerning giving testimony about services for the severely disabled” and is considering sending someone to represent her.

According to an announcement posted by the BUC on NutleyWatch.com, the forum “is a non-partisan event designed to give the candidates a unique opportunity to express their views and positions on a wide array of vital issues currently affecting our troubled district.”

As guests enter the Senior Center, they will be invited to submit questions for the candidates on 3-by-5-inch cards which will be collected soon after the forum begins. Braun will choose the questions which he will then present to the candidates on a rotation sequence.

The forum will be videotaped and made available to the public through the local cable access station and via internet posting.

Some background on the candidates: Bennett has served as a committee member of the Belleville High School Business Employment and Technical Advisory Council; Dolan, whose daughter is a 2013 Belleville High graduate, says, if elected, she will support teachers’ needs and “make sure the excessive, needless overspending will stop” under her watch; Jacho is a Belleville High alumna who has served as School 9 PTA president and was an unsuccessful candidate for the board in 2012; Lamparello has chaired the Belleville Special Education Advisory Council; and Vellon, a Navy veteran with two children in the public schools who has a master’s degree in nursing and is pursuing a business administration degree, says he supports “reform” of the school system and would work to give teachers “support” and “respect.”

Dolan and Vellon have been endorsed by Belleville’s Voice of Teachers in Education, a political action committee comprised of local teachers.

 – Ron Leir 

Octoberfest in Kearny





Photos by Karen Zautyk

Scenes from Saturday fest sponsored by veterans groups to raise money for ‘care packages’ for National Guard troops. Top r., clockwise from l: VFW State Commander Jack Kane & Jennifer Long, Kearny VFW; Nam Knights motorcycle club; Hudson County Veterans Coordinator JoAnn Northgrave, Cmdr. Long & Keith McMillan, Kearny American Legion commander; National Guard members David Williams, Leonard Wright, Karen Lema, Zuleyca Martinez & Vanessa Cabrera, The truck & flag above were courtesy of the KFD.



KPD Officer Steve Montanino.

Mid-Realty in the pink



If you were on Kearny Ave. near the intersection at Midland Ave. on Saturday afternoon, you might have wondered about the crowd of people on the sidewalk — although all the pink ribbons and pink balloons should have given you a clue.

Folks were gathered in and about the offices of Mid-Realty, 572 Kearny Ave., for a Breast Cancer Awareness event sponsored by the agency to raise funds for two local people — a woman and a child — who are battling cancer.

“All the money will be divided between the two,” noted agency owner Jarlynn Hyde.

Photos by Karen Zautyk

Photos by Karen Zautyk


The first-time event was the idea of Mid-Realty agent Diane Turowski, herself a breast cancer survivor. It was held in memory of another agent, C.J. Parada, who died of cancer last year.

Every Mid-Realty agent, 50 in all, “participated in one way or another,” Hyde said.

Attendees could purchase refreshments, pink T-shirts, tote bags, bracelets and even pink hair extensions. Manicures and face-painting and temporary tattoos were available — as was a Kearny Fire Department engine for children to explore. And the KGC cheerleaders performed.

Add to that a photo booth sponsored by Investors Bank and a deejay provided by Vanguard Funding. Other sponsors included Prime Source Mortgage, First Meridian Mortgage and N.J. Lenders.

–Karen Zautyk 

Around Town


Bloomfield Public Library, 90 Broad St., announces the following events:

  • Shirl Knobloch, author of “The Returning Ones, A Medium’s Memoirs,” will discuss hauntings and related topics on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 2 p.m.
  • A Halloween blood drive is slated for Oct. 31, from noon to 4 p.m. All donors must present signed ID, know their social security number and weigh at least 120. For more information, call 973-676-4700, ext. 144.

East Newark 

Borough Council urges residents to sign up for free breast and prostate cancer screenings by filling out an eligibility form at the Municipal Building, 34 Sherman Ave., on Mondays and Wednesdays, between 5 and 7 p.m. Screenings are open to women ages 35 and 64 for mammography, women ages 21 and 64 for pap smear and men ages 50 and 64 for prostate/colon screenings. Eligible participants must have no insurance or indicate that their current insurance will not pay for these screenings. Income limits vary with the degree of insurance, so those with limited or no insurance are advised to fill out an initial eligibility form.


The Women’s Social Club of the Harrison/East Newark Elks Lodge sponsors a bus ride to Caesar’s Casino, Atlantic City, Sunday, Oct. 26. Cost is $30 with a $25 slot bet in return. A bus leaves from the lodge, 406 Harrison Ave., at 10 a.m. For reservations, call Shirley at 973-483-6451. Participants must pay in advance.


Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/Coccia Realty sponsors a coat drive, through Nov. 15, at its Kearny, Lyndhurst and Rutherford offices. Coats will be distributed to the less fortunate in the area. Drop off gently used or new coats between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays or 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekends at any of these participating offices: 636 Kearny Ave., Kearny; 273 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst; or 11 Park Ave., Rutherford. For more information, call Randy Wine at 201-939-0001.

The Presbyterian Boys-Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., holds its annual Halloween dance on Friday, Oct. 24, from 7 to 10 p.m. Guests are restricted to teenagers. Costumes are optional.

Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., hosts Tempest Storybook Theatre, an interactive story and craft program, open to all ages, celebrating the books of Bernard Waber, Saturday, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m. Admission is free. Space is limited. To reserve a spot, call 201-998-2666.

First Presbyterian Church of Arlington, 663 Kearny Ave., will hold its annual fair on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Enjoy a bake table, tricky tray, Christmas crafts and more. Lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Raffle drawings are at 4 p.m.

First Baptist Church of Arlington, 650 Kearny Ave., holds a free clothing giveaway on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to noon.

The church holds worship services Sundays at 11 a.m. with Spanish worship at 5 p.m. and Bible study on Fridays at 8 p.m.

Trinity Church, 575 Kearny Ave., will hold its monthly flea market on Nov. 8. Refreshments are available. Vendors are invited. Tables are one for $15 and two for $25. Call the church at 201-991-5894 to schedule your table or call Annamarie at 201-998-2360 after 5:30 p.m. Walk-in vendors are welcome.

The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., sponsors an Oktoberfest, with live music and food, Friday, Oct. 24, in the church basement. (BYOB). Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $25. For tickets, call 201-991-2808 or 201-998-4616.

A Doggie Halloween Parade and Festival, sponsored by the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone program, is set for Saturday, Oct. 25, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Arlington Depot Park, off Midland Ave., between Forest and Elm Sts. Owners can register their dogs for a costume contest by providing a current dog license and proof of rabies vaccine. Registration forms are available at www.kearnynj.org, the KUEZ office at 410 Kearny Ave., or K-9 corner, 169 Midland Ave. For more information, call 201-955-7985 or email Halloweenpawrade@kearnynj. org. All dogs, either attending or participating, must be leashed.


Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3549, 527 Valley Brook Ave., hosts karaoke on Friday, Oct. 24, at 7:30 p.m. The post hall is available for all occasions. For more information, call 201-939-3080.

ShopRite of Lyndhurst, an Inserra Supermarkets store, 540 New York Ave., hosts the following free programs, each led by in-store registered dietician Julie Harrington. Advance registration is not required, unless otherwise noted. For more information or to preregister for a program, contact Harrington at 201-419-9154 or email Julie.harrington@ wakefern.com. ShopRite’s retail dietitians can serve as guest speakers/instructors at wellness events hosted by local organizations. Here are the upcoming events:

  • Scary Facts about Sugar are shared at the Dietitian’s Corner Thursday, Oct. 23, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • High Fiber Friday at the Dietitian’s Corner explains how to meet your fiber requirements Fridays, Oct. 24 and 31, noon to 2 p.m.
  • Soups and Stocks Cooking Class offers tips on how to make a tasty stock and a new soup recipe Tuesday, Oct. 28, 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

Lyndhurst Garden Club welcomes North Arlington florist Dennis McSweeney to its meeting on Monday, Oct. 27, at the Senior Citizen Building on Cleveland Ave. at 7 p.m. McSweeney will demonstrate seasonal floral arrangements. There will also be raffles and refreshments. Prospective members are welcome. For more information, call 201-939- 0033.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 353 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following events:

  • Children ages 3 to 10 meet “Belinda Bumble Bee” author Jennifer Katafigotis Wednesday, Oct. 22, 4 to 4:30 p.m.
  • Kids in kindergarten to grade 4 can make a Halloween craft Monday, Oct. 27, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
  • Kids in pre-k to grade 3 will step off in a Halloween Parade Friday, Oct. 31, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Book Club discusses “The Body in the Library” by Agatha Christie Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 6:30 p.m. Call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, for more information and to obtain a copy of the book. Space is limited.

Registration is required for all of these events. To register, call the library at 201-804-2478.

Lyndhurst American Legion Post 139 Rehabilitation Committee holds a ward party for veterans at Chestnut Hill Extended Care Facility, Passaic, on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 2:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by John and Marilyn Faziola in memory of Marilyn’s brother Marine L/Cpl. Frank Lopinto, who was killed in action in Vietnam, and Marilyn’s parents Eugene and Madelyn Lopinto. Post members will play games of chance with hospitalized veterans and distribute treats to them. Anyone interested in sponsoring a ward party is invited to call 201-438-2255.

North Arlington 

Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington will celebrate Priest Appreciation Sunday, Oct. 26, 1 to 3 p.m. Call 201-997- 0700 for more information.

North Arlington Recreation Department’s Halloween costume parade and Trunk or Treat celebration is set for Oct. 30. Participants will assemble in the Boston Market parking lot at Ridge Road and Bergen Ave. at 6 p.m. The parade will kick off at 6:30 p.m. and will end behind North Arlington High School, where the Trunk or Treat celebration will begin.

Donations of candy or snacks are welcome. Parents are asked to bring canned food that the Recreation Department is collecting for the local food pantry.

For more information, call Recreation Director Michele Stirone at 201-852-0119.

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, offers the following programs:

  • Lego Club, for grades 1 and up, meets Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Halloween Story Time, for ages 5 to 7, meets Monday, Oct. 27, at 6 p.m.
  • Comics Club, for grades 6 and up, meets Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 3:30 p.m.
  • Computer Basics class is slated for Mondays in November from 6 to 7 p.m.
  • A representative of the Newark Museum presents an overview of the museum’s vast decorative arts collection Thursday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m.

For more information, call the library at 201-955-5640. Registration is required, unless otherwise noted.

North Arlington Woman’s Club sponsors a beefsteak fundraiser Friday, Oct. 24, 7 to 11 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus hall, 194 River Road. Tickets are $40. Proceeds benefit various local charities. For tickets and more information, call Christine at 201-577-1088 or Fran Sardoni at 973-818- 6421.


Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, offers the following programs:

  • Cook-with-a-Book Reading Club. for grades 4 to 6, meets Friday, Oct. 24, at 3:30 p.m. The group will discuss a book and cook up something fun to eat. Registration is required.
  • Halloween Costume Party is slated for Monday, Oct.27, at 6:30 p.m. Registration is required.
  • Teen Zombie Night, open to grades 7 to 12, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 6:30 p.m. This event includes zombie costume contest, pizza, games and a movie.
  • Pumpkin Painting, with pumpkins and supplies provided, is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 30, at 10:30 a.m. Wear an old T-shirt and bring a box to take your pumpkin home. This is open only to Nutley residents with library card. Registration is required.

For more information, call 973-667-0405.

Meet the ‘Ambassadors’


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Ambassadors and Knights walk the halls at East Newark Elementary School.

Well, actually, the Ambassadors do a lot of sitting and talking, while the Knights are busy mostly outdoors.

Explanation: the Ambassadors are older students who are part of an experiment to bolster the reading readiness skills of younger children through one-on-one tutoring sessions at the end of the school day.

And the Knights are also part of an elite group: They’re members of the first intramural soccer squad that veteran borough observers can remember functioning in many years, if at all.

Both programs came to life under the watch of Patrick Martin, the new superintendent/ principal of the borough’s only school, although Martin credits school psychologist Shelley Harrison for recommending the student tutorials as a way of breaking through the language barriers that many of the school’s ethnically diverse population face.

Because a significant number come from families whose primary language is something other than English – mostly Spanish and Portuguese – the kids are up against it when it comes to getting English homework help at home, especially if one or both parents are working the night shift, said Jeanine Cruz, now in her 15th year as a basic skills teacher in East Newark.

And that impacts kids’ performance on standardized tests, not only in Language Arts but also in math, since arithmetic word problems can be tricky without a full understanding of the words.

Enter the Ambassadors.

Every Monday to Thursday, from 3 to 4 p.m., nine students from grades 7 and 8 are matched up, individually, with youngsters from grades 1 to 4 and convene in the school cafeteria to work together.

For the first 40 minutes, the younger kids read aloud from a grade-level classroom text to their tutors, who encourage them to sound out a tricky word, break it into syllables and check for comprehension. After a snack, the tutors will spend 20 minutes guiding the younger ones through their reading homework.

Generally, Cruz said, “The little ones are excited to be working with the older students. They feel special. … They see their tutors as positive role models. They’re very chatty and smiling with them.”


Photos courtesy Shelley Harrison TOP: Tutor Elijah Brown (r.) reviews reading sample with Keanu Vargas. MIDDLE: Sharing a light moment, from l., are school psychologist Shelley Harrison, students Monica Arce, Daveed Alverio and Angela Arca and PE teacher/soccer coach Michael Caravalho. The students are ambassadors and players on intramural soccer team. BOTTOM: Model of soccer shirt.

Photos courtesy Shelley Harrison
TOP: Tutor Elijah Brown (r.) reviews reading sample with Keanu Vargas. MIDDLE: Sharing a light moment, from l., are school psychologist Shelley Harrison, students Monica Arce, Daveed Alverio and Angela Arca and PE teacher/soccer coach Michael Caravalho. The students are ambassadors and players onintramural soccer team. BOTTOM: Model of soccer shirt.


“Research shows that [working together] also helps the tutors by boosting their self-esteem,” Harrison said. Several of the tutors have brought in their own smart boards as a resource tool, she noted.

The nine tutors are: Monica Arce, Elijah Brown, Janeth Medieta, Daveed Alberio and Angela Arca, all seventhgraders; and Layza Espichan, Virginia Sacramento, Joselyn Gutierrez and Jenna Vieira, all of grade 8.

The tutorees were selected by classroom teachers while 17 students volunteered to be tutors after getting their parents’ consent and then school staff picked nine, based on high academic performance, teacher recommendations and an interview.

Eighth-grader Virginia Sacramento, who is tutoring a third-grader, said she’s happy to have been chosen because, “I love leading people in different things,” even though, she said, people tend not to see her in that light.

Even before, she said, “I was helping some of the kids in class with math, even though I don’t always understand a problem. I enjoy trying to work it out.” (A tutor training worksheet that school staff share with the students advises: “Always ask a teacher for help if you need it.”)

Fellow tutor Elijah Brown, a seventh-grader, recalled how sometimes, when he was younger, he and his older sister “played the game of teacher. On days when I was sick and not in school, she’d pull me aside for two hours and start teaching me.”

Had he resented her intervention? No way, said Elijah, also a member of the school’s Pre-Chemistry Club. “Without her, a lot of the knowledge I have today, I wouldn’t have.”

As he’s working with his fourth-grader, he uses his smart board to “write out a word and separate it into its different parts,” along with how words sound. Elijah believes his tutoree is “getting better” with his help. And, he said, “I’m very grateful because I’m doing something that’s actually useful instead of just reading myself.”

Then there are the Knights, formed at Martin’s behest, both to offer some measure of intra-scholastic athletic competition in soccer and as a morale builder for middle schoolers.

Thirty-three kids from grades 6, 7 and 8 took up the challenge, even though “very few” of them had previously played the sport, according to coach Michael Caravalho, the school’s physical education instructor and a volunteer coach for the Kearny Kardinals Junior Varsity soccer team for the past three years.

Why soccer and why so many? “That’s what the kids want,” said Martin, “so they flock to it.”

The kids play – so far, only among themselves – at the borough’s soccer field next to Borough Hall, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 4 to 5 p.m., but that could change soon. The Harrison school district has offered the use of its turf field for middle school soccer play, thereby suggesting the possibility of inter-scholastic play for the first time.

Good times at Belleville High


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent 


Elinor Mostello and Bob Iracane were both members of the Belleville High School Class of ’65 but didn’t actually get to know each other until their senior year – which happened to be the same year the then-“new” high school opened.

“We met the first week of school in [September] 1964 when we happened to be in the same math class,” Elinor explained, “but it took him until February to ask me out.

“It was Feb. 12, 1965. We went out to the Belleville vs. Orange basketball game.” Four years later, he proposed.

Bob and Elinor remembered the good times at Belleville High last month when they joined three fellow alumni – Joseph Cervasio, Pat Bradley and Rose Pepe – and Patricia Maucione (now Pugliese), one of their former social studies teachers who has since retired, at a mini-reunion of some members of the first class to graduate from the current Belleville High.

Cervasio, who was president of the Class of ’65, which had 364 students, had called BHS Principal Russell Pagano about organizing a visit, primarily to celebrate Bob and Elinor’s initial meeting in Classroom 217.

“When I was contacted late over the summer by Mr. Cervasio, I thought this would be a great opportunity to reunite the community with the wonderful things at Belleville High School,” Pagano said. “Having alumni return to our school and speak to our students give our students an insight on what to expect when they leave the halls of Belleville High School. It provides encouragement, positive vibes, creates respect and helps student learn about success. This is why I had Mr. [BHS Vice Principal Joseph] Rotonda coordinate this event with me.”

The alums got a tour of the building from BHS seniors, ate cupcakes marked “BHS 1965” baked by the school’s culinary arts students and fielded questions from students.

“I really enjoyed high school,” said Elinor Iracane. “Belleville was a great place to grow up.” And, in September 1964, “It was heaven to be in a new place. We had spent three years in the other building on Washington Ave. [now the middle school] where we were on split sessions where it was so crowded that one year, we couldn’t even get to our lockers, so we had to carry our books everywhere.

“In the new building, we had lots of space. … I remember the excellence of the teaching staff. It was interesting to see how many had gone to Belleville High School themselves. To me, that says something very good about the community.” Elinor eventually became a software engineer for AT&T at Bell Labs.

Photos courtesy Gary Klotzin Top Photo: Recalling fond memories of their time at Belleville High, from L., are: retired social studies teacher Patricia (Maucione) Pugliese, and alums Elinor (Mostello) and Bob Iracane, Pat Bradley and Joseph Cervasio. They were treated to specially decorated cupcakes in honor of the occasion.

Photos courtesy Gary Klotzin
Top Photo:
Recalling fond memories of their time at Belleville High, from L., are: retired
social studies teacher Patricia (Maucione) Pugliese, and alums Elinor (Mostello)
and Bob Iracane, Pat Bradley and Joseph Cervasio. They were treated to
specially decorated cupcakes in honor of the occasion.


Bob Iracane, a CPA, recalled the feeling of “arriving at a new school in my senior year after spending three years in the same high school my father had graduated from 30 years before me. Everything was brand new. It was a total change. In the old high school, it was crowded, there was no campus to speak of and only a small gym. For physical education, we had to walk up to Clearman Field on Union Ave. At lunchtime, you could go to the corner pizzeria. At the new school, we had a cafeteria – there were five lunch periods and you had 25 minutes to eat.”

Overall, though, high school “was just a good time in my life,” he said. “And going back to the high school last month was such a breath of fresh air. The school was in beautiful shape, spotless. To see the kids wearing uniform golf shirts or the sport shirt of the day was very refreshing.” Bob confessed to having “planted the seed in Joe Cervasio’s head” to help arrange a return visit to commemorate that special time when he and his future wife first met.

Cervasio, a corporate executive who handles talent management services for the resort industry and the author of “Bad News on the Doorstep,” also enjoyed the occasion and interacting with the students who “were so relaxed and transparent.” He advised them to, “Live in the moment [and] not be fearful of tomorrow or overly consumed with yesterday.”

His fondest memory, Cervasio said, was of classmate Nicholas Arnold Melito, who had cerebral palsy but who “went from seemingly being least likely to succeed, to becoming one of America’s best comedy writers in Hollywood…. He was the youngest writer ever for Johnny Carson and Joan Rivers was his mentor. When he passed away in 1999, he remains an inspiration to me and all of us from the Class of 1965. He is the only member of our class on the hallowed Wall of Recognition.”

A formal reunion gathering of the Class of ’65 is being planned, possibly for fall 2015.