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Serial robber guilty


An accused serial robber has admitted to playing a role in 11 robberies, primarily of drug stores, in Harrison, Newark and Jersey City over a period of eight months, it was announced by U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.

On July 21, Christopher Mojica, 23, pleaded guilty to an information presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office charging him with one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy, one count of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

Mojica was arrested April 27, 2013, in connection with the robberies and was ordered to be held at Essex County Jail, Newark, on $150,000 bond.

Mojica, represented by Woodbridge attorney Paulette Pitt, entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Joel A. Pisano in Trenton Federal Court. The government’s case was presented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dara Aquila Govan of the Organized Crime/Gangs Unit in Newark.

The government alleged that Mojica conspired with others to rob Pharmacy Plus, 234 Harrison Ave., Harrison, on Feb. 21, 2013.

Additional robberies to which the government has linked Mojica include these: New Barbershop, Sept. 14, 2012; a “gambling operation,” Sept. 2012; Amcare Pharmacy, Nov. 13, 2012; Summer Pharmacy, Dec. 11, 2012; Community Health Pharmacy, Jan. 19, 2013; Delson Jewelry, Feb. 8, 2013; Forest Hill Pharmacy, April 4, 2013; Harris Pharmacy, April 16, 2013; and Delta Gas Station, April 19, 2013, all in Newark; and Montgomery Pharmacy, Jersey City, April 15, 2013.

According to the government, “Mojica and his conspirators robbed each of these establishments at gunpoint, stealing cash, oxycodone pills, jewelry and other items.” And, the government said that at the time of the robbery of the Delta Gas Station, 466 Bloomfield Ave., Newark, “… Mojica fired a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun during his flight from the scene of the robbery.”

The government said that Mojica could draw a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the conspiracy and robbery charges and that the discharging a firearm charge carries a “minimum consecutive term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.”

“Each of these charges carries a statutory maximum fine of $250,000,” the government said.

Mojica, who has waived prosecution by indictment, will be sentenced Dec. 8 before Judge Pisano in Trenton.

Fishman credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford in Newark, with the investigation leading to the plea. He also thanked the Newark, Harrison and Jersey City Police Departments for their work on the case.

Blue ranks get reinforcements


By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent


Talk about parallel life paths: Joseph White and Matthew Giunta went to pre-school (St. Michael’s) together, then to Franklin Elementary School, then Lyndhurst High.

And, last Friday, they entered the Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute in Mahwah to begin 22 weeks of training to become accredited municipal police officers in their hometown.

Joining White, 25, and Giunta, 24, in the training class will be Nolan James, 33; and Michael Giangeruso, 27. Those four, along with Nicholas Abruscato, 23, were sworn in as newly hired Lyndhurst cops in an outdoor ceremony in the park outside the Municipal Building July 22.

The additions to the police roster brings the strength of the department up to 48 – four short of the maximum permitted by township ordinance under its Table of Organization, according to Police Chief James O’Connor.

Asked if any further appointments were planned, O’Connor said: “I’ve had a conversation with the mayor about that and it’s possible that we may see something happen around the first of the year.”

Photos by Ron Leir The five recruits, from l., Nicholas Abruscato, Joseph White, Nolan James, Michael Giangeruso and Matthew Giunta wait to be sworn in.

Photos by Ron Leir
The five recruits, from l., Nicholas Abruscato, Joseph White, Nolan James, Michael Giangeruso and Matthew Giunta wait to be sworn in.


Abruscato, son of former Township Commissioner and current Board of Education vice president Joseph Abruscato, has already graduated from the police academy, having served the past year and a half as a police officer in Bergen County. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in national security studies, both from New Jersey City University in Jersey City.

“He will go on the road immediately,” said O’Connor.

Giangeruso, whose dad Charles is a retired deputy chief with the Lyndhurst PD and whose brother Charles is a Lyndhurst police officer, has an associate degree in criminal justice from Bergen County Community College and is pursuing a B.A. in psychology at Montclair University where he’s a dean’s list student, according to O’Connor. He’s a cousin of Mayor Robert Giangeruso, a former Lyndhurst deputy police chief.

“Law enforcement has been in my family forever,” Michael Giangeruso told The Observer. When asked whether he felt any pressure to follow the blue path, though, “Not in any regard,” was the rookie’s reply. “I’m just altruistic,” he said. “I enjoy helping people.”

James has been an officer with the state Corrections Department for more than six years, assigned to the Adult Diagnostic & Treatment Center in Avenel, and was a recipient of “numerous letters of exceptional duty” from the DOC, O’Connor noted.


Photos by Ron Leir After getting their badges, they pose for family and friends with the mayor and Chief James O’Connor.

Photos by Ron Leir
After getting their badges, they pose for family and friends with the mayor and Chief James O’Connor.

James, who attended the University of New Haven in Connecticut, holds a New Jersey teaching certificate. With his new appointment, James said he was “happy to be further along in my law enforcement career.”

White has served as a member of the Lyndhurst Police Auxiliary and has a B.A. in criminal justice from Montclair State University and Giunta is pursuing a degree in criminal justice.

“I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement,” Giunta told a reporter. “I love the work and I look forward to a long career.”

Also beaming was White, who, after being handed his badge, said he was “on cloud 9. I’ve worked for the department as a maintenance officer, in charge of the vehicle fleet, traffic signs and barricades, as a member of the police auxiliary for several years. I’ve been the court bailiff. I’ve played sports here – baseball, basketball – and I want to give back to my community what they gave to me.”

Addressing the crowd of relatives, fellow officers, township officials and well-wishers, including Rutherford Police Chief John Russo, attending last Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, O’Connor said the five new hires were judged to be the best of some 100 applicants for the job.

O’Connor reminded the rookies of the challenges they’ll be facing. “You’ll be a “teacher, parent, problem solver, negotiator and be expected to solve everyone’s problem in several minutes,” he said.

Remember, O’Connor told the rookies, an officer has to react to a situation in a clearheaded fashion with no emotion. “There are no do-overs. … Go out in our community and enforce the law. But also be good to your families, your friends and your neighbors. Become proud members of this profession.”

Slow-paced developments


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


It’s been a year and two months since Gov. Chris Christie presided at a ballyhooed groundbreaking for Franklin Manor, an age-restricted 137-unit apartment complex for those 55 and over – the first such senior development for Belleville in more than three decades.

Since then, there’s been some land clearance work at the 2.5 acre site, Franklin Ave. and Mill St., but little else has happened except a lot of commotion over the project being gifted $6 million from a federal Sandy-relief pot for the project – even though Belleville homeowners were spared much of the storm’s wrath.

It was shortly after the $6 million was committed that Mayor Ray Kimble, a Democrat, endorsed Christie for re-election. Kimble and other township officials have said that it was the developer – not Belleville – who applied for the Sandy funds.

Last week, when The Observer called Robert Ricciardi, secretary to the Mill St. Development Urban Renewal Corp. and architect for the project, and asked when work would resume, he refused to comment and Paul DeBellis Sr., president of the corporation, couldn’t be reached.

But on July 22 there was some stirring … of paperwork at least … involving the project as the Belleville Township Council voted to authorize the mayor and township clerk to sign off on an amended redevelopment agreement and financial agreement with the developer who will be providing a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) to the township.

According to Township Attorney Thomas Murphy, “The project is being done in two phases [86 apartments are scheduled for phase 1 and 51 for phase 2] which the developer needed to clarify to get financing and tax credits. The revised agreement will reflect an increase in longterm payments to be received by the municipality, from $2.8 million to $3.5 million.”

Murphy said the township has “already been paid for the land” secured by the developer for the project.

The township Construction Department issued two permits for work at the site: one on Feb. 26 for demolition of an overhead railroad bridge and a second on May 22 for partial footing and foundation only.

Aside from $6 million from the state Community Development Block Grant program (via federal Sandy aid), project funding was also expected from the N.J. Housing Mortgage Financing Agency Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and the Essex County HOME program, in addition to developer equity. Construction and land costs were pegged at about $18 million.

DeBellis’s Franklin Development Group has partnered with the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency to build several mixed-income apartment clusters in the city’s Heights section and has also developed Willow Manor, luxury duplex townhomes in Bloomfield.

Meanwhile, at the nearby Roche Diagnostic tract, Belleville continues in negotiations with David A. Mack Properties of Southport, Conn., for development of that 18- acre property which is being vacated by its owner. Mack was designated redeveloper in December 2013.

Township Manager Kevin Esposito said last week that there’s now some uncertainty about whether the Mack group would want to invest in the Roche site because of what he characterized as “longterm liability.”

The Mack group, Esposito said, “caters to residential and commercial-residential” development “but, based on restrictions for the site’s development, that site will not be residential, by the seller’s desire. We should know how this plays out within 30 days.”

There is, however, some movement at the former Soho hospital building at Franklin and Belleville Aves., which Essex County sold to Alma Realty of New York to redevelop. Esposito said that Alma has been issued local permits to clear out broken windows and frames and secure access points to the structure.

“Next step, we expect, will be submission of an application for site plan approval,” he added. Township officials said that Alma has talked about adapting the building to accommodate market rate residential units and possible ground-floor commercial use.

And, in another prospective development-related move, the township governing body has accepted the Planning Board’s recommendation to designate Kidde Place and adjacent land at the old ice house property on the west side of Washington Ave. near the Nutley border as an “area in need of redevelopment” in anticipation of development plans by investors for the proposed “Imagine Center,” envisioned as a multimillion dollar, mixed-use project consisting of hundreds of residential units and thousands of square feet of commercial/ retail space with a rail connection.

Still waiting for wall’s restoration


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


A property dispute between a longtime Harrison business and some neighbors that has been simmering for a few years now appears to be coming to a boil.

Smack in the middle of the controversy are Bergen St. homeowners Victor and Eleanor Villalta and Harrison Equipment Co., which rents and sells air compressors, welders, generators and pumps from its Essex St. facility, across from the backyards of several residents.

Villalta, a councilman who represents the Second Ward, said that the trouble began a few years ago when a concrete retaining wall put up many years ago by the company bordering five residents’ yards began to “tilt.”

That concerned the Villaltas – as it did their neighbors – because of the possibility that the wall could topple over and cause damage so the couple asked the municipal construction office to check out the wall’s condition.

That, in turn, led to Construction Official Rocco Russomanno issuing a “notice of unsafe structure” to the company on June 26, 2012, noting that the “retaining wall at Essex St. parking lot has developed vertical cracks and has begun to overturn due to lateral loading. [The] wall must be repaired or reconstructed.”

The notice directed the company to “demolish [the wall] … or correct the … unsafe conditions by no later than July 24, 2012.” Failure to do so, the notice said, can result in “assessment of penalties up to $2,000 per week per violation.”

Photos by Ron Leir Neighbor’s backyard partly occupied by items previously stored in shed she was told to take down to make room for wall.

Photos by Ron Leir
Neighbor’s backyard partly occupied by items previously stored in shed she was told to take down to make room for wall.


In a July 6, 2012, letter, Harrison Equipment President Robert Koones asked Russomanno “for an additional 90 days” beyond the July 24 deadline “to have the property surveyed, discuss the options to correct the issue with a qualified engineer, discuss all legal matters with our attorney, and finally to obtain permits and perform all necessary work to correct the problem.”

Koones then asked Russomanno’s office to “advise [neighbors] of the potential impact on their properties of the retaining wall correction ….”

In a Sept. 19 letter, Koones’ attorney told the Villaltas that his client was awaiting an engineering report on how to proceed with the corrective work and that because part of the company’s property “extends beyond the retaining wall and abuts your property … it will be necessary for the individuals doing the necessary work to access [that part of the property]. It is not expected that this should materially impact your property.”

Nothing happened, Villalta said, until “three days before Christmas in 2013,” when a work crew showed up and took down the wall. But nothing was put in its place, he said.

In the meantime, he said, signs of erosion in residents’ yards were evident: cracks developed in the couple’s backyard concrete patio and separation began to occur in their cinderblock wall bordering their neighbor’s property to the east.

Two yards down, a shed perched on the rear edge of the property line started slipping over.

Sometime in early spring, Villalta recalled, the company sent another work crew to install a “safety” orange plastic fence along the edge of the property which, Villalta said, offered little security, especially with “a lot of kids who use our yard.”

A bit later, as reinforcement, the company also put up a chain link fence which Villalta said was “stretched out,” without metal poles to anchor the fence end to end.

Recently, Villalta said, Harrison Equipment auctioned off much of its inventory and is seeking a buyer for its property so he’s wondering “who’s going to take responsibililty” for the wall. Last week, Koones said that Custom Bandag, a local tire and truck repair shop, “is buying the property and he’s taking over responsibility for the wall after he gets environmental approvals from the state” for a cleanup of the site.

As Bergen St. residents wait, Eleanor Villalta lamented the loss of several rose bushes and decorative brick latticework from the back of the yard that had to go when the wall was removed.

And, about a month ago, neighbor Susan Meneses of 515 Bergen said she was told by the company that she had to take down her backyard shed, because “they were going to be starting to work on [restoring] the wall,” forcing her to place storage items on her newly sodded lawn.

Beware the river crabs!


Despite repeated warnings from the Department of Environmental Protection, some anglers seem determined to harvest crabs from the Lower Passaic River.

One more time: DON’T! It is illegal. And hazardous to your health.

Note also, that there are consumption limits on fish caught in the river.

The blue claws that dwell in the Lower Passaic — which is the part that runs through North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Kearny, Nutley, Belleville, East Newark and Harrison — “are bottom-dwellers that absorb cancer-causing dioxins and other contaminants in high levels,” notes the DEP, which has issued yet another warning.

The crabs should not be consumed.

They should not even be caught.

To emphasize the hazards, the agency notes that anyone found illegally harvesting blue claw crabs may be fined $100 to $3,000. And that’s for a first offense.

DEP conservation officers are patrolling the waters, including Newark Bay and surrounding areas, to ensure compliance with the ban.

Despite ongoing efforts to clean the Passaic, it remains polluted, thanks to sediments containing “highly toxic dioxins resulting from the production of Agent Orange many decades ago,” the DEP notes.

Considering the pollutants, it is amazing that the Passaic River and Newark Bay crabs have not developed fins, and the fish, claws.

“Crabs in these waters are abundant and appear healthy, but they are not safe to eat,” said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin.

“We have to be vigilant about preventing people from eating crabs caught in these waters because they can be harmful to those who consume them, especially vulnerable populations such as infants and children, expectant mothers and women of child-bearing age,” Martin noted.

He added, “In concert with the federal government, we are now working to develop a massive cleanup project that will make these waterways safe for generations in the future, but the warnings remain in effect now.”

The agency reports that it and the N.J. Department of Health are working with local municipalities to distribute informative literature and signs about the crab consumption ban and fish consumption advisories.

Warning signs and informational literature are available in English, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Cantonese, Korean and Tagalog.

“By heeding the ban on blue claw crabs, anglers can protect the health of themselves and their families,” said Michelle Mc- Bean of Future City Inc., a partner in the outreach initiative.

“These blue claw crabs contain toxins that cannot be removed by cooking,” she cautioned. “It’s important that the public observe the ban.”

In addition to the Lower Passaic and Newark Bay, tidal waters affected by the crab ban and fish advisories include the Hackensack River, the Arthur Kill, Kill Van Kull, Elizabeth River and Rahway River.

For more about the ban on blue claw crabs, visit: www.state.nj.us/dep/dsr/craboutreach/alert-english.htm For a full list of fish consumption advisories in New Jersey, visit: www.FishSmartEatSmartNJ.org.

Call 1-866-DEP-KNOW to learn about where to harvest seafood in New Jersey’s waters.

To learn more about the Lower Passaic River Restoration Project, visit: www.ourpassaic.org.

– Karen Zautyk 

Getting to the bottom of sewage backups



Borough Hall is taking action on two fronts to try and figure out how to stop sewage backups into residents’ basements.

Last week, borough engineer Tom Lemanowicz began a camera inspection of sanitary sewers on Geraldine and Carrie Roads on the borough’s western edge bordering the meadows.

At the same time, the borough wants residents in that area to ‘fess up if they’ve put in basement sump pumps attached to the sanitary system without having secured local permits from the building department.

Running a camera through the sewers should help reveal how well the pipes are holding up and to what extent ground and rain water are infiltrating the sanitary system, Lemanowicz said.

The engineer suspects that water infiltration from leaky manhole covers, cracked pipes, sump pumps and roof drains from residents’ homes is the reason for sewage being forced into basements in heavy storms.

One option that may be explored to remedy the problem is creating a water collection system for storm water runoff with the help of state and federal funding, suggested borough spokesman Thom Ammirato.

Having reviewed local sewer maps, Lemanowicz said that the developer of the homes in the western neighborhood may have tied drainage systems installed around those homes to the sanitary sewer line.

It is the engineer’s judgment that sewage pumps at the bottom of the hill near Geraldine Road have enough capacity to handle the sanitary flow from the homes in the area; therefore, he believes that sump pumps and roof leaders tied to the sanitary system over the years have increased water flow beyond the ability of the sewage pumps to process it.

To determine how many residents have those sump pumps and roof drains linked to the sanitary system, Mayor Peter Massa has delegated Councilman Tom Zammatore and three resident volunteers to go door-to-door in the neighborhood to ask residents if they improperly hooked up drainage to the sewer pipe.

“We’re not looking to punish anyone who has a sump pump in their basement,” Massa said, “but we do want to inform residents that part of the problem with sewage backups is likely due to illegal sump pumps.”

Lemanowicz said that once the data is collected from the cameras, he’ll be able to come up with the best strategy to remedy the backups.

In another public works-related matter, the borough governing body voted July 17 to contract with Downes Tree Service of Hawthorne for tree trimming and removal.

Downes was low bidder on a menu of tree services for which the borough solicited perunit prices in hopes of better controlling tree service costs which, according to Council President and Finance Chairman Al Granell, climbed from $200,000 in 2012 to $300,000 last year.

“We need to manage those costs and this bid award will help give us some predictability on the cost of tree management,” Granell said.

Putting a lid on those expenses is becoming particularly critical now that the borough is reaching the point where many of its larger street trees – like sycamores – are nearing the end of their life expectancy, noted Ammirato.

Makeover continues at Carnegie library



Belleville Public Library, one of 1,689 U.S. libraries built with grants from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, is continuing to undergo renovations.

Built with a Carnegie grant of $20,000 awarded in April 1909, the library has cost a lot more to make over: In 2011 the library Board of Trustees authorized spending nearly $400,000 to expose the original façade, install several skylights and improve accessibility.

And now, as part of what Library Director Joan Taub described as “phase 2” of a renovation project, the board is investing an additional $664,900 to “make over the whole second floor with casual seating and low tables that will, eventually, accommodate laptops.

Stairs leading to the second floor are being relocated to the space formerly occupied by the director’s corner office on the Academy St. side of the building and her new office and conference center will be shifted to the area where library patrons accessed computers.

Taub said the reconfiguration is designed “to make things more efficient.”

Three Sons Restoration LLC of Union was awarded the phase 2 contract on Jan. 8 but the contractor didn’t start the job until around April, according to Taub. The work was expected to take about three and a half months to complete, she added.

The job hasn’t impacted library activities or hours, although spaces dedicated to specialized services have been shifted to some extent. “Our reference and computer access are still available and our circulation and children’s rooms have been combined,” Taub said.

Taub has moved her office downstairs to merge with other administrative staff.

And the library’s main entrance has been moved from Washington Ave. to the Academy St. side of the building.

“We’re kind of used to it,” said Taub, referring to disruption of the normal routine. “I’ve been working in this building since 1989, when I was reference librarian, and as director since 1999, and we’ve gone through various construction jobs before but my wonderful staff makes it easy to adapt.”

When the laptops arrive, patrons will be able to carry them into other parts of the library to use, Taub said.

How many laptops the library will be ordering – and how much they’ll cost – isn’t yet known. “We haven’t gone before the board on that yet,” the director said.

– Ron Leir 

News from the KPD blotter

Kearny police are on the trail of a burglar who escaped with more than $11,000 worth of property from a Passaic Ave. business July 21. Chief John Dowie said the break-in was reported at 10 p.m. on the 100 block of Passaic, where an office had been ransacked and assorted items — primarily jewelry but also a camera and a Louis Vuitton bag — had been stolen.

After the initial investigation by Officer Derek Hemphill, the case was turned over to Detectives Scott Traynor and John Telle. “They have developed a suspect and we are hunting him,” Dowie said.

Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:

July 19 

After Officer Daniel Esteves saw a Jeep run a stop sign at Chestnut St. and Garfield Ave. at 2:30 p.m., his mobile data computer indicated the vehicle’s registered owner had a warrant from Elizabeth. The owner, Petronio Salazar, 39, of Kearny, turned out to be a passenger in the Jeep and was arrested. The driver was issued a summons for the traffic violation. It is not known if Salazar and the driver are still friends.

 July 20 

Officer Pat Becker, on patrol shortly after midnight, came upon a large and disorderly group at Kearny and Garfield Aves. and reportedly saw one of the individuals, Carlos Rabines, 22, of Kearny, punch another. Rabines was arrested for simple assault. Meanwhile, as back-up Officer Derek Hemphill attempted to disperse the crowd, 22-yearold Gianfranco Niccodemi of Kearny threw a metal object at the cop and fled on foot down Afton St., police said. Hemphill gave chase and found him hiding behind a picnic table in a Maple St. backyard.

Niccodemi was charged with obstructing the administration of law and on an outstanding Kearny warrant.

July 22 

At midnight, Officer Tom Sumowski stopped a car with no headlights at Kearny and Linden Aves. The driver, who identified himself as Antoine Johnson, had difficulty answering routine questions, such as his date of birth, police said.

His passenger, Sherell Price, 22, of Newark, reportedly “attempted to corroborate the lies.” At headquarters, the driver was eventually identified as Jamar Johnson, 25, of Roselle, who had a suspended license, police said. He was issued summonses for that offense, for careless driving and for driving without lights. Price got a summons for allowing an unlicensed person to operate her car. And both were charged criminally with hindering apprehension.

After the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office notified the KPD that it had issued a warrant for a 17-year-old Newark female who was known to frequent Kearny, Det. Michael Farinola spotted her at 4:30 p.m. at Belgrove Drive and Afton St. She allegedly resisted arrest and tried to flee but was taken into custody by back-up Officer Sean Kelly. Charged on the warrant and with resisting, she was remanded to the Hudson County Juvenile Detention Facility.

At 8 p.m., Vice Unit officers, as part of an ongoing marijuana-distribution investigation, were conducting surveillance at Tappan St. and Davis Ave. when they reportedly witnessed a drug transaction between two Kearny men: Jovan Echevarria, 19, and Abdrubalameer Abdullah Alethan, 56. Police said Alethan, the alleged customer, was found to have four plastic bags of suspected pot and was charged with possession of the drug and drug paraphernalia. Echevarria, who was reportedly holding another bag of pot and $40 in cash, was charged with possession with intent to distribute, distribution within school and playground zones and possession of paraphernalia.

Officers Ben Wuelfing and Tom Pontrella encountered a large group gathered in a parking lot at Maple St. and Bergen Ave. at 10:20 p.m., saw among the John Rodrigues, 23, of Kearny, and arrested him on his outstanding Kearny warrant.

July 23 

At 1:50 a.m., Officer Chris Medina was at Chestnut St. and Garfield Ave. whn his automatic license plate reader (ALPR) indicated that a passing VW bore plates that were not on file. Police said the driver, Walid Helmy, 20, of Kearny, was unable to produce a driver’s license or any paperwork on the vehicle. He was charged with driving while suspended, operating an unregistered and uninsured vehicle and misuse of plates. The car was impounded.

At 7:20 a.m., Officer David Rakowski’s ALPR indicated that the car in front of his on Harrison Ave. had a suspended registration and that the registered owner had a Secaucus warrant. Terrell Golding, 28, of East Orange was arrested and also charged with driving with a suspended license.

At 2 p.m., Dets. Michael Gonzalez and John Plaugic saw a Nissan run a traffic signal at Passaic and Bergen Aves. and attempted to make a MV stop, but the car accelerated, passing other vehicles in a reckless manner, police said. The detectives halted it between North and South Midland Aves., but as Plaugic approached on foot, it reportedly took off again, continuing north on Passaic. However, other units had been alerted and were waiting just up the hill, at the foot of Laurel Ave., where they blocked its progress. Police said that when Plaugic ordered him out of the car, the driver began screaming incoherently and had to be brought to the ground.

Harrison resident Raphael Mendonca, 28, was charged with eluding, obstructing the administration of law, reckless driving, disregard of a traffic signal, possession of a CDS and possession of drug paraphernalia.

–Karen Zautyk 

Around Town


Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., hosts The Mad Scientist’s Laboratory, involving crafts and activities, on Tuesdays at 2:30 p.m., open to all ages. The August schedule: “Rocket Power,” Aug. 5; “To the Stars,” Aug. 12; “What Planet,” Aug. 19; and “Alien Life,” Aug. 26.

The library will screen these children’s films on Fridays at 2 p.m.: “Ice Age,” Aug. 1; “Monsters vs. Aliens,” Aug. 8, “The Lego Movie” Aug. 15, “Happy Feet” Aug. 22 and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” on Aug. 29.


The Essex County SummerMusic Concert Series presents Jersey Sound and Almost Queen in a rock and roll show Friday, Aug. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in Brookdale Park. Jersey Sound is one of the Tri-State area’s premier oldies band, and Almost Queen is a tribute band featuring the songs of the 1970s group Queen. Admission is free.

The Fab Four come to Bloomfield in a free concert Friday, Aug. 8, when the Essex County SummerMusic Concert Series hosts the Beatles tribute band, featuring former cast members of the Broadway show “Beatlemania,” at 7:30 p.m. in Brookdale Park. For more information, call the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs at 973‑239-2485.


Harrison will mark National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 5, with a program co-sponsored by the Harrison Police Department and Harrison/East Newark Elks. From 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 5, residents are asked to lock their doors, turn out outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. During those hours, members of the Harrison Police Department and Elks will gather at Roosevelt Park, in front of the Harrison Public Library, along Harrison Ave., to meet residents and share strategies about stopping crime and educating folks about drugs. There will also be games and giveaways for children, along with music and food.


Kearny’s National Night Out celebration, sponsored by the Kearny Police Department, will be held Tuesday, Aug. 5, from 6 to 8 p.m., on Belgrove Drive at Veterans Field. The event will feature live music, a bounce house, spin art, balloon artists, a classic car show and demonstrations by the Hudson County Corrections K-9 unit, Kearny Fire Department and NorthStar Helicopter.

Summer vacation Bible School will be open from Sunday, Aug. 10 to Thursday, Aug. 14, 6 to 8 p.m. each night, at Calvary United Methodist Church, 342 Elm St. All ages are welcome.

“Princess” double features will be screened on the lower level of the Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., on Fridays throughout the summer. Refreshments will be served. Here’s the schedule: Aug. 1 – “Cinderella” (G) at 1 p.m. and “The Swan Princess” (G) at 2:30 p.m.; Aug. 8 – “Beauty and the Beast” (G) at 1 p.m. and “Brave” (PG) at 2:30 p.m.; Aug. 15 – “Shrek” (PG) at 1 p.m. and “The Princess Bride” (PG) at 2:30 p.m.; and Aug. 22 – “Aladdin” (G) at 1 p.m. and “Princess and the Frog” (G) at 2:30 p.m.

Mary’s Traveling Seniors sponsors a five-day, four-night trip to Wildwood, Sept. 14 to 18. Final payment is due by Aug. 1. Price includes transportation, accommodations, breakfasts and dinners, entertainment, dolphin watch cruise, a visit to Cape May and Atlantic City. Cost for double occupancy is $482 and single is $90 additional. A deposit of $150 per person is required. For reservations and more information, call Mary at 201-998-1030.


Join Special Angels Recreation, an organization for special needs children, as they take on the Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad in a kickball game Aug. 16, at 9 a.m., at the Lyndhurst Little League field on Riverside Ave. After the game, there will be fun activities for all. For more information or to learn how to participate, call 201-804- 2469 or email recruitment@emergencysquad.com.

The Lyndhurst Health Department is collecting donations for students in need. Items welcomed include backpacks, marble composition books, notebooks, dividers, loose paper, crayons, and 3-ring binders. Donations can be dropped off at the Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donations should be made prior to Aug. 31. People with children in need of school supplies are asked to contact the Health Department at 201-804-2500 to schedule a pick-up of the needed supplies. Be prepared to give child’s gender and grade level.

The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and Bergen County Audubon Society announce that the First Sunday-of-the-Month Bird Walk is set for Sunday, Aug. 3, at 10 a.m. in DeKorte Park. The walk starts outside the Meadowlands Environment Center. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/BCAS events throughout the year. To R.S.V.P., contact Don Torino of the BCAS or call 201-230-4983.

NJMC Pontoon Boat Cruises are set for 5:30 p.m. for Aug. 5, 7, 13 and 15, departing from River Barge Park, 260 Outwater Lane, Carlstadt. Experienced NJMC staff lead this two-hour cruise of the Hackensack River. Cost is $15 per person. Cruises are recommended for ages 10 and up. Pre-registration is required. For a complete schedule of trips, directions, and to register, visit www.njmeadowlands.gov and go to the Parks and Nature Programs tab at the top of the page, or call 201-460-4677.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., announces:

• Children of all ages are welcome for a screening of “Ratatouille!” on Monday, Aug. 4, from 2 to 4 p.m. Registration is required.

• Children in grades pre-k to 3 can make their very own watermelon craft on Wednesday, Aug. 13, from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. Registration is required.

North Arlington

The North Arlington Woman’s Club holds a flapjack breakfast Saturday, Aug. 23, 8 to 10 a.m., at Applebee’s Restaurant in Kearny. The cost is $10. For tickets, call 201-889-2553.

Chief Louis M. Ghione of the North Arlington Police Department announces that National Night Out is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 5. Residents are encouraged to meet their neighbors and leave a porch light on overnight as a show of unity against crime.

Borough residents are invited to a free outdoor concert featuring the Duprees Aug. 6 at 7 p.m. at Riverside County Park. This concert is co-sponsored by the Borough Recreation Department and Inserra ShopRite.

Food vendors will be available at the park. Residents are advised to bring their own lawn chairs.

The Duprees are known for their romantic interpretations of some of the most popular songs from the ’50s and ’60s.


Story time, crafts and more are planned for this August at Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive. For more information or to register for programs, call the library at 973-667-0405 or visit http://nutleypubliclibrary.org. Here’s the schedule:

• Two-Year-Old Story Time will be held Friday, Aug. 1, at 10 a.m. Registration is required and participants must be Nutley residents.

• Drop-in Craft session for children is set for Monday, Aug. 4, at 2 p.m. (while supplies last).

• Family Game Night is open to all ages at 7 p.m. on Aug. 4.

• Play Tuesday is open to children of all ages on Aug. 5 at 1 p.m. • Static Science, a workshop program, is offered Wednesday, Aug. 6, at 2:30 p.m., for ages 8 and up.

• End-of-Summer Reading Treat Party is set for Thursday, Aug. 7, at 1:30 p.m., and features a live reptile show. Children must be registered for summer reading to attend.

• “Happy Birthday, Annie Oakley,” a program on the famous sharpshooter and onetime township resident, is set for Saturday, Aug. 9, at 2 p.m. Local historian Nancy Greulich will appear as Oakley. The event, open to all ages, includes a craft and birthday treats.

• A screening of “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is set for Aug. 1 at 2 p.m. as part of the library’s First Friday Films program. A new film is shown the first Friday of each month. Check the library’s event calendar for a film schedule.

Attacked by bees & other news from NPD blotter

Police responded to Booth Park on July 24, at 4:59 p.m., after getting a call about a female who was screaming and running frantically in the park. The caller told police the female had possibly been attacked by bees.

Upon arrival, officers found the female sitting in her vehicle, conscious and alert. She told them she was walking her dog in the park when, suddenly, they were swarmed by bees.

Police said officers spotted a nest, at knee level from the ground in a nearby bush, with a piece of the nest broken off and on the ground.

After marking off the area with caution tape, police alerted the Parks Department about the incident and a parks crew was due to deal with the nest in the morning.

The female victim, who was examined by the Nutley Volunteer Emergency Response Service, told police she’d follow up with her personal doctor.

Other incidents logged by police during the past week included the following:

July 21 

A resident of a senior citizen home was the would-be victim of an apparent attempted scam. Police said the resident got a call on their cellular phone from an unknown person who said their daughter had been kidnapped and would be killed unless her father came up with $1,500. The caller claimed to be the brother of someone who was involved in a motor vehicle accident with the resident’s daughter. Police said the resident called the daughter and learned she was fine and hadn’t been in an accident. After doing an internet search of the incoming phone number, police said they found multiple complaints logged about similar efforts to collect ransom payments for family members allegedly being held hostage. Efforts by police to reach someone through that number were unavailaing.

July 23 

Someone used a paint marker to scrawl a derogatory message on the driver’s side portion of the front windshield of a vehicle parked on Oakridge Ave., police said. The incident was reported at 1:30 p.m.

At 3:15 p.m., a Wayne Place resident reported that someone had slashed flat the rear passenger side tire of their vehicle and left scratch marks on the vehicle’s rear panel.

At 6:57 p.m., a Washington Ave. business reported getting stuck with bad checks. The credit manager told police a customer who bought a vehicle gave two checks for $2,000 and $5,000 as a deposit that didn’t clear. After calling to verify the buyer’s place of employment, the manager was told the buyer isn’t currently working there. The buyer, who applied for a loan, has possession of the vehicle which is valued at $19,532. Police said the credit manager asked the buyer to return the vehicle or to make good on the $2,500 deposit. Police said they left a phone message for the buyer, who, they learned through the state Motor Vehicle Commission, has a suspended driver’s license. Police advised the credit manager to send a certified letter to the buyer to forward the money. The case is still open, police said.

 July 24 

At 8:45 a.m., police responded to a Nutley Ave. location on a call about a neighbors’ dispute. A resident griped that their backyard neighbor has been banging on their fence at all hours of the day and night and on this date, made the noise at 1 and 3 a.m. and again, just before officers arrived. The resident said the neighbor also harasses them with verbal tirades outside. Police cautioned the neighbor to cease the annoying behavior.

At 8:38 p.m., police responded to a Washington Ave. gas station where the attendant told them that after they’d pumped $38 worth of gas into a newer model Honda Civic with no plates, closed the gas cap and walked to the driver’s side window to collect the money, the driver took off, last seen heading south on Washington. The driver was described as a white female, possibly in her 20s, with shoulder-length hair. Police planned to review surveillance tape with the attendant to try and come up with an ID of the driver.

– Ron Leir