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Category: News

Tuning your internal recorder

A determined mind is the biggest asset of all. A mind that knows what to do and where to go cannot be stopped or deterred from its path. It is to be considered an asset. Not everyone is blessed with a personality and a mind to know and do always the right thing. However, the good news is that this is a skill which can be acquired with some effort and patience from your end. In many cultures, including India, it is believed that our body has an internal memory, which works similar to a recording machine. If you have ever tried waking up at a particular time without an alarm clock to aid you, then you probably know what I am talking about. For others, I recommend you try this little exercise at home. Tell yourself with a sincere heart that you would like to be up at a certain time the next morning or perhaps be reminded of something important later in the day. Shut your eyes, visualize yourself making a mental note, and you will be amazed at how your internal recorder remembers to perform as instructed by you. Once you have mastered this act of using your own abilities to maximize your gains, you can then start working towards more intense acts such as training your mind to think and act assertively even in matters that usually get your blood pressure to go sky-high. You can achieve this by simply instructing your mind to stay calm, weigh the options that you may have before you in any given situation and act in the most feasible manner. You need to train yourself to be clear in your thoughts. It is important to learn to compartmentalize emotions, people and situations, so that your reactions are not an outcome of a combination of these factors, but instead they must be so for their true purpose and nature. Once you are successful at this, you will realize that it is not such an effort after all. This training will come back naturally to you in subsequent acts. Always know that your body remembers everything. It understands and stores every performance as a memory, especially those which are appreciated and respected. You will see yourself living a better life when you clear all doubts and know what to do and that is reason enough for you to train yourself, and your mind to living a more peaceful life.


Visit Shweta Punjabi at her website solutionsbyshweta.com for more information or email her at magictaara@yahoo.com

Finding a good tax shelter

By Randy Neumann

One of my columns was about someone still working after having reached his “full retirement age.” Full retirement age, in Social Security speak, is that time in your life when you are eligible to collect your “full retirement benefit” without any offsets while maintaining a full-time job.

For those born between 1943 and 1954, the full retirement age is 66. So, although up to 85 percent of his Social Security benefit can be taxed, he avoided the tax by contributing his entire Social Security benefit into his company’s 401(k). The icing on the cake was the 3 percent match made by his employer that also went into the plan and was not taxable to him. Needless to say, he was a happy camper.

With all the brouhaha generated by the deficit ceiling “crises” looming in a few weeks, there is some interesting information regarding government tax and spending.

Below is a shortened version of the 2011 “Index of Economic Freedom” published by The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal that shows government tax and spending.:

Belgium: Tax burden percentage of GDP is 41.2 percent; government expenditure percentage of GDP is 50 percent.

Cuba: Tax burden percentage of GDP is 46.5 percent; government expenditure percentage of GDP is 78.1 percent.

Singapore: Tax burden percentage of GDP is 14.2 percent; government expenditure percentage of GDP is 17 percent.

United States: Tax burden percentage of GDP is 26.9 percent; government expenditure percentage of GDP is 38.9 percent.

“Gimme Shelter” was the opening track of the Rolling Stones 1969 album, Let It Bleed. And the “Taxman” was written by George Harrison for the Revolver album when he discovered that Harold Wilson’s Labour government established a 95 percent super tax in 1966 and that the Beatles would be subject to the tax.

Obviously, we all need some shelter from the taxman!

Here’s how another client did it: A gentleman was referred to me towards the end of 2010. He was in his late 50s and had enjoyed a successful business career. He came to see me because he’d retired and wanted to put the various pieces of the puzzle together. Having spent most of his time on his career and his family, he hadn’t gotten around to some of the tenants of financial planning such as tax and cash flow planning, investment planning, retirement, risk management and estate planning. This is not unusual as one has only so much energy, time and focus.

In our initial conversation, he mentioned that he’d earned about $100,000 as a consultant in 2010. A light bulb went off in my head (of course it was a government compliant CFL compact fluorescent lamp and not one of those evil incandescent bulbs), so I asked him, “Do you need the $100,000 to live on?” His answer was, “No.” I responded, “Would you like to stash a chunk of it away in a retirement plan?” His answer was a resounding, “Yes.”

It was near the end of the year, so we had to get the document signed to establish the plan before Dec. 31. Funding for the plan could wait until April 15, 2011 or, if he filed an extension, until the date of the extension. Funding was not a problem for him because his portfolio was large and liquid.

I immediately contacted Charles Rosenberg, a principal at INTAC Actuarial Services here in Ridgewood, to determine the best plan for my new client and to get everything done by the required year-end deadline. To use the jargon of the industry, we set up a Solo 401(k). Solo or individual 401(k) plans came from the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act (EGTRRA) signed into law in 2001. This legislation enabled and encouraged selfemployed people to enjoy the advantages of 401(k) plans without the administrative costs and burdens that typically accompany 401(k) plans.

So, without a lot of administrative headaches and government red tape, my new client was able to contribute $22,000 as an employee and $20,000 as an employer for a total of $42,000. Although his taxable income was $100,000, after the 401(k) contribution, it was reduced to $58,000. The money can be invested in a myriad of investments, and it will grow tax-deferred until it is withdrawn. If he continues to work as a consultant, he can continue to make contributions in the future, but what if he doesn’t.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that the $42,000 contribution compounds at 7 percent. In five years, it will be worth $58,907. In 10 years, when he is in his late 60’s, it will be worth $82,620. In 12 years, it will be worth $94,592, and because he will be 70 1/2 years old, he will have to take a required minimum distribution RMD. That amount is $3,452. Big deal.

If he dies before his wife, he can pass this along with his other IRAs to her and she can treat them as her own. Then his wife can pass them on to their children who can hold them as beneficiary IRAs and take out withdrawals based on their life expectancies.

This was the first step in his financial plan because it had a deadline. There will be many more.

This is a hypothetical example and is not representative of any specific situation. Your results will vary. The hypothetical rates of return used do not reflect the deduction of fees and charges inherent to investing.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual.

Randy Neumann CFP (R) is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 600 East Crescent Ave., Upper Saddle River 201-291-9000.

News from the Nutley Police Blotter

March 9

Juan Orellana, 23, of Hasbrouck Heights, was arrested for DWI while traveling on River Road at 2:39 a.m. He was taken to headquarters where he was released to a responsible adult.

A 22-year-old West Orange man was found bleeding from the head in Municipal Lot 2 at 1:46 a.m. The man told police he’d been assaulted by an unknown man after leaving a bar near Franklin Ave. and Centre St. The Nutley Rescue Squad examined him. Police are investigating.

March 8

Police are investigating a possible identity theft in connection with the case of a River Road resident who reported getting a mailing from the IRS stating that it was auditing the resident’s tax return and that a refund would be delayed. The resident called the IRS to say that he hadn’t yet fi led his return and was advised to call police.

Someone stole a 2012 motorcycle and other items from an Overlook Terrace resident’s garage. The theft was reported to police at 5:16 p.m. Police are investigating.

Police are investigating the painting of graffiti on the rear of several E. Centre St. businesses facing Owens Park. The vandalism was reported at 4:20 p.m.

Police stopped a vehicle whose trunk was overloaded with scrap metal while it was traveling south on Rt. 21 at 1:17 a.m. Police said they learned that the scrap metal was unlawfully removed from Rutherford and the vehicle and driver were turned over to Rutherford P.D.

March 7

The owner of a vehicle parked on Franklin Ave. returned to the car to fi nd its rear window shattered with a baseball bat lying on the rear seat. The incident happened while the Nutley High School baseball team was practicing in the nearby Park Oval, police said.

March 6

A 22-year-old Nutley man was struck by a motor vehicle while skateboarding in a crosswalk at Bloomfi eld Ave. and Cedar St. at 6:29 p.m. The man suffered minor injuries, police said.

A search for a missing women with Alzheimer’s disease ended happily. Police said the search began at 6:03 p.m. when they were called to a Cortland St. residence where a 79-year-old woman afflicted with Alzheimer’s had been reported unaccounted for. After canvassing the area for several hours, a police broadcast to surrounding communities resulted in police finding the woman safe in a Clifton residence on Dwas Lane. Police the resident invited the woman inside and contacted police.

Intruders broke into a Mapes Ave. home, sometime between 8:15 a.m. and 5:13 p.m., ransacked every room and removed many items. Police are asking anyone who may have seen something suspicious in the area to call the Detective Bureau at (973) -284-4938.

A teacher at a local private school not identified by police reported the theft of her cellular phone, valued at $300, from her desk drawer. She reported the incident at 3:50 p.m. Police are investigating.

Someone reportedly opened several postal packages before they were delivered to a River Road resident although nothing was reported missing from the packages. Police advised the resident to contact the carrier. The resident reported the matter at 10:26 a.m.

March 5

Police received a complaint from an Oakley Terrace resident at 7:48 p.m. about a contractor who took a deposit for the replacement of wall tile in a bathroom and hasn’t returned to the job for more than five weeks.

A Prospect St. resident called police at 10:47 a.m. to report that two trespassers entered the resident’s rear yard to take metal scrap. Police couldn’t locate the pair.

A vandal sprayed black paint over the rear door of a Franklin Ave. building owner during the night. The incident was reported at 9:52 a.m. Police are investigating.

Police responded to a motor vehicle accident on Franklin Ave. at 3:06 a.m. and arrested Phanrapee Premabhuti, 24, of Nutley, for DWI. He was ticketed, taken to headquarters and released to a responsible adult.

March 3

At 9:59 p.m. police found Frank Ruglio, 24, of Nutley, staggering at Franklin Ave. and Chestnut St. Police said Ruglio was drunk and had an outstanding warrant for $5,000 from Newark. After struggling with cops, Ruglio was charged with resisting arrest and the warrant and was taken to an area hospital for treatment.

Police are investigating the theft of unknown proceeds from a Mapes Ave. residence. The incident was reported at 2:45 p.m.

An 11:56 a.m. call brought police to the Rite Aid on Franklin Ave. where the manager reported that several pallets had been stolen from outside the store. Police are investigating.

March 2

Three Nutley juveniles in a vehicle parked in Municipal Lot 1 were found to be in possession of marijuana at 11:09 p.m., according to police. All three were turned over to the custody of legal guardians and charges are pending against one of the three – a 17-year-old boy – through the Juvenile Bureau.

Police are investigating possible credit card fraud following the report of a Chestnut St. resident that she had a zero balance on her account and a fraudulent charge on her card. The resident told police that her research disclosed that the card had been used at several area establishments.

Free rabies clinic

The North Arlington Board of Health will sponsor a free Rabies Clinic at the Legion Place Firehouse on Wednesday, March 21, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

North Arlington residents are urged to make sure that all cats and dogs are vaccinated against rabies.  Unvaccinated domestic animals can contact rabies from wild animals and transmit infection to humans.

Those attending the Rabies Clinic will have the opportunity to obtain a license for their dogs and cats after the pet is vaccinated.

The cost for a dog and cats licenses are $10 if the animal is neutered or spayed and $13 if not.  Licensing fees may be made either by check or money order payable to the North Arlington Health Department or EXACT cash amount.

For further information, please call the North Arlington Health Department at 201-955-5695.

Open house and registration for pre-k program

Lyndhurst Department of Parks and Recreation, 862 Valley Brook Ave., announces a Pre-K Open House and Registration will be held on March 20 from 7 to 9 p.m.  Parents are invited to come meet the staff and view the facility.

The Pre-K Program has two sessions per day – A morning session from 8:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., and an afternoon session from 12:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.  The program is open to children who are turning 4-years-old by December 15, 2012.  The cost is $10 per day paid weekly.  Aftercare may become available if enough children are enrolled in the program.

Registration for the September 2012 to June 2013 School Year will be taking place at the Parks and Recreation Department, located at 250 Cleveland Ave., from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Any questions regarding the program please contact, Theresa Cicero, at the Lyndhurst Parks Department, (201) 804-2482.


Alleged sexual assault of juvenile comes to light

Belleville –


At 10:50 a.m. on March 8, Belleville police received a call from the Essex County Prosecutors Office notifying them of an aggravated sexual assault of a juvenile.  A Belleville Detective was sent to the prosecutor’s office where he spoke with the child’s mother who said the girl had revealed being sexually assaulted in 2010 while staying at 70 Naples Ave. in the care of the mother’s friend. According to the girl, the friend’s brother was responsible for the sexual attack. Based on the daughter’s statement and an interview conducted at the prosecutor’s office, several criminal charges were authorized by that office. After learning about the charges now pending against him, Daniel A. Rombola, 27, of Kearny turned himself over to Belleville authorities on March 9. At press time, his bail was yet to be determined.


In other Belleville Police news:


Police saw a man walk out of the rear yard of 120 Rutgers St. at 2:11 p.m. and peer into several windows on the first floor of an adjacent apartment building.  When the man noticed that police were watching him, he turned and walked in the opposite direction. Police stopped him. Calvin Battle, 53, of Newark was found to have a warrant out of Newark for $264. He was arrested and released on his own recognizance.


March 6


The owner of the Shopper’s Express store at 300 Washington Ave., reported the theft of numerous bundles of Star Ledger newspapers at 3:05 a.m. He told police that he had surveillance video of the crime that showed a man driving a Honda Accord stealing the papers.  A man whose car fit the description was later seen at the store taking newspapers from the site. Sharad Pandya, 60, of Nutley was charged with theft and held on $500 bail.


At 2:33 p.m., police responded to a shoplifting call at the K-Mart at 371 Main St. Store detectives told police that John F. Mosca, 38, of Belleville had swapped his shoes with a pair of new ones and attempted to exit the store. He was detained by security until police arrived, Mosca was charged with shoplifting and released on his own recognizance.


At  1:08 a.m., at the intersection of Union Ave. and Tappan Ave., two officers on a motor vehicle stop observed another vehicle traveling northbound on Union Ave. at a slow rate of speed. They noticed smoke coming from the vehicle and attempted to wave the driver down. When the vehicle came close to striking the command unit, police issued loud verbal demands for the vehicle to stop. The 1998 Grey Mitsubishi four-door pulled over. Police noticed that the front passenger side of the car was damaged and the “tire was pinned underneath the car.” When asked for his credentials, the driver stated, “I live in Belleville, I live in Belleville,” multiple times.  Police noticed alcohol on the man’s breath and conducted several sobriety tests. He was placed under arrest for D.W. I. and transported to headquarters. While underway, the man turned combative and issued death threats to the arresting officers. Ronny Alexander Gomez, 40, of Belleville was arrested for D.W.I., resisting arrest, two counts of terroristic threats, and numerous motor vehicle summonses. His bail was set at $20,000.


March 5

At 4:43 p.m., police were alerted to a shoplifting at K-Mart, 371 Main St. According to store detectives, John W. Cruz, 21, of Belleville was seen concealing a Nook Tablet in his jacket and attempting to exit the store.  He was arrested and charged with shoplifting.  His bail was set at $200.


At 12 p.m., Belleville Police were dispatched to the Paterson Police Dept. to pick up 46-year-old Jennifer Fiore.  The woman carried a $700 active warrant out of Belleville.


While conducting a random license plate check on Washington Ave., it was learned that the registered owner was driving with a suspended license. It was also learned that the woman carried warrants. Geneequa A. Phillips was arrested and taken to headquarters. Her outstanding warrants included: Newark $500; Union $500; E. Orange $500.

Bloomfield Police Blotter

March 6

George Attys of Orange was arrested for contempt.

Larry Amons of Newark was arrested for contempt.

March 5

A large metal safe was stolen from the bedroom closet of a residence on the 300 block of Broughton Ave.  The safe contained cash and documents.

Rims and tires were stolen off of a vehicle parked at a residence on Walnut St.

A Garmin GPS unit and an I-Phone charger were stolen from a vehicle on Van Winkle St.

Carl Furguson of Bloomfield was arrested for assault.

Donelle Bellot of Bloomfield was arrested for an outstanding warrant.

James Rouse of Newark was arrested for outstanding warrants.

March 4

A 2007 Toyota parked on Donald St. that was possibly left unlocked, was reported with a laptop computer missing from it.

Another vehicle, this one a 2011 Ford was also possibly left unlocked on John St. A Coleman flashlight and $5 in change were reported missing.

Spray paint markings were found on the rear cellar door of a residence on the 200 block of Broughton Ave.

An attempted theft of a 2003 Audi was reported on the 200 block of Berkeley Ave.

March 3

John Plaza of Montclair was arrested for robbery, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. His bail was set at $250,000.

Jordan Hooks of Orange was arrested for robbery and conspiracy. His bail was set at $100,000.

Jose Echievarria-Ortiz of Paterson was arrested for aggravated assault.

A residence on the 300 block of Broughton Ave. was burglarized with no apparent signs of forced entry evident. A 42-inch LCD television was found missing.

A 2010 Chrysler with N.J. plates was stolen from the 900 block of Broad St.

A Honda Civic with N.J. plates was stolen from the 200 block of North 17th St.

March 2

Two men approached a woman as she exited her vehicle on the 100 block of Thomas St. When one of the men pointed a silver handgun at the woman and demanded her wallet, the victim started screaming for help. Startled by the woman’s reaction, the would-be holdup men fled the scene.  With the assistance of Montclair Police Officer Steven Iberer, a suspect was located and Bloomfield Police Officers Mike Moleski and David Lehman were able to get a positive identification that led to his arrest. Further investigation resulted in the arrest of his alleged accomplice.

A first-floor residence on Edison St. had one of its basement window forced open. Various types of jewelry were found missing at the home.

A second-floor residence at the same Edison St. location had its front door forced open. Missing were an Apple laptop computer, a Canon digital camera, and various types of jewelry.

A rear window was broken at a residence on the 300 block of Broughton Ave.  An I-Pad and jewelry items were reported missing.

A 2005 Toyota had two sets of fog lamps removed from it on Birch St.

A 2001 Ford pick-up was found with damage to its driver’s side door and ignition on the 100 block of Washington St. Work tools were missing from the vehicle.

March 1

Two men approached a man on the 100 block of North15th St. After pointing a handgun at the man, the duo relieved him of two cellular telephones and darted off in a white Cadillac. The vehicle was later recovered in Newark. Police are investigating.

February 29

A 1999 Honda Accord with N.J. registration was stolen at Bloomfield Ave. and N. 16th St.

On Carteret St., a shop owner reported the theft of bundles of newspapers.

Harrison Police Blotter

March 7

Jewelry and laptop computers were stolen from three apartments on Frank Rodgers Blvd. South, N. Fifth St. and Harrison Ave. that were burglarized.

Police found a homeless man, identified as Numar Giraldo-Ramirez, 47, sleeping in hallway of a building on Frank Rodgers Blvd. North. He was arrested on a $3,500 warrant out of North Bergen and was subsequently released by North Bergen P.D.

March 6

Burglars broke into a vehicle parked on Warren St. under Rt. 280 and another vehicle parked on Sussex St. beneath the highway. Nothing appeared to have been stolen from either car, police said.

A former Harrison resident, Luis Garcia, 20, was arrested on an outstanding warrant from Webster, Mass., charging him with rape. When he was apprehended, Garcia had eight plastic bags of suspected marijuana in his pocket. He was charged with possession of drugs with intent to distribute. He was also charged with entering the state of New Jersey as a fugitive from justice. Garcia is being held at the Hudson County Jail, Kearny.

March 4

Someone stole a 1998 Honda Civic while it was parked in the 300 block of Sussex St.

March 3

Police are seeking three men who allegedly beat up a 16-year-old male and robbed him of his cellular phone and hat while he was walking on Kingsland Ave. around midnight. Police described the suspects as two Hispanic males and one black male. An investigation is continuing.

A motor vehicle accident on Frank Rodgers Blvd. North led to the arrest of Antonio Rosmaninho, 57, of Newark, for disorderly conduct after police said he created a disturbance. Police said they subsequently arrested Rafael Torres, 37, of Harrison, who was involved in the accident, on charges of assaulting the other motorist involved. Torres was charged with aggravated assault. He was released after posting bail.

March 1

An unknown male stole an undetermined amount of money from a tip cup at Frank Rodgers Blvd. restaurant. However, the theft was captured by the eatery’s security camera and a police investigation is under way to identify and locate the thief.

Someone broke into a vehicle parked on N. Second St. and removed a portable GPS unit.

Feb. 29

A Harrison Ave. resident reported that his vehicle was broken into while it was parked in a private lot on Harrison Ave. Nothing was stolen.

Hugo Martinez, 32, of Kearny, was arrested for an outstanding Newark warrant after he was involved in a dispute outside a Harrison Ave. tavern.

Feb. 27

Eli Cabral, 44, of Kearny, was arrested on a DWI charge after he was observed operating his motor vehicle with a flat tire on Frank Rodgers Blvd. near the PATH station.

Feb. 26

Someone broke into a vehicle parked at Third and Warren Sts. and took a portable GPS unit. And another vehicle parked on Warren St. under Rt. 280 was burglarized and a portable GPS unit taken from that vehicle.

Feb. 24

Jamie Montoya, 23, of Harrison, was arrested for DWI and filing a false police report after he reported that his vehicle was stolen in Harrison when, in fact, he had crashed it on Jackson St. in Newark, police said.

Feb. 23

Donald Carpenter, 29, of Harrison, was arrested on charges of assaulting a woman at a local convenience store after the two became involved in a dispute, police said.

Police arrested Ryan Carson, 29, of Harrison, at Third and Jersey Sts. for an outstanding warrant from Newark for $350.

Online Exclusive: Belleville Blotter

Stolen cars/keys at Signature Fitness, Belleville


For the convenience of its members, the Signature Fitness gym at 471 Cortlandt St. provides a basket where they can leave their car keys while taking their workouts. On February 27, three sets of car keys were stolen from the basket. Of those three, two were used to steal cars parked outside. The missing cars are a white 2012 Honda Accord with temporary license plates, and a black 2007 Mazda 6 4-door.  Police are investigating.



In other Belleville happenings:



March 2


At 12:51 a.m., officers noticed a vehicle stopped in the middle of Cortlandt St., with a person standing beside the passenger door. After making a hand signal to the driver, the man got into the vehicle. It then performed a U-Turn and sped off. Suspicious, police stopped the car and spoke with the driver. They noticed numerous cans of spray paint and an art binder in the vehicle, the latter of which carried “graffiti tags” on its cover. After returning to the spot where the car was originally parked, they noticed a wall with fresh blue paint markings on it. They also noticed blue paint smudges on the hands of the two men. The driver, Sean M. Raybeck, 22, of Wallington was charged with criminal mischief and issued motor vehicle summonses for careless driving and driving without a license. The passenger, 19-year-old Kevin Sanchez of Paterson was charged with criminal mischief. Both men were released on their own recognizance.


February 27,

A car was reported stolen from 85 Tappan Ave. at 8:00 p.m. A man stated that he parked his wife’s silver 1996 4-door Honda Civic at the address and stayed at his sister’s house located on the same block.  When he returned for the car it was gone.


February 26


A woman walking along Belleville Ave. where it intersects with Delavan Ave. noticed a car pull up beside her at 11:54 a.m. The male driver asked her, “Do you know where the library is?” After giving him directions she continued on her walk. Shortly thereafter he pulled beside her again, ostensibly to ask for more directions. This time, however, he said, “What do you think?” as he exposed his genitals to the woman.  Shaken by what had just occurred, she ran off and called police. The man, being sought for lewdness and attempted luring is described as medium/heavy set, 20-30 years of age with a “young looking” face. He was wearing a dark jacket and jeans and driving a silver 4-door vehicle.



Stephen D. Bryant, 39, of Maplewood was arrested for outstanding warrants after his motor vehicle was stopped at Newark Ave. and Cuzo St. at 10:52. Bryant carried a $624 warrant out of Totowa, and a $600 warrant from Pequannock. He was released on his own recognizance on one warrant, and paid bail on the other.


Another warrant arrest occurred at 10:58 a.m. at 162 Franklin St. when police saw a suspicious man “pacing and looking through fences.” It was learned that Luis A. Martinez, 51, of Newark carried an outstanding no-bail warrant from the Essex County Sheriff’s Dept.

At 1:50 p.m., a female manager stopped a man who was spotted putting cases of formula into a black bag at the Belmont Ave. Pathmark as he attempted to exit the store. He shouted, “I’m just letting you know I’m not going!” as he ran off and hopped into a waiting car. The man is described as white, 5’6” tall, 170 lbs. with brown eyes.


February 25


At 12:24 p.m., a 9mm handgun accidentally discharged at the Bullet Hole indoor shooting range, striking a man in his leg. The unidentified victim said that just after firing a round, the burning hot shell casing landed on his leg. As he went to remove it, the gun accidentally fired.  Luckily, his injuries appeared to be minor. He was taken to University Hospital in Newark and released the same day.






By Jeff Bahr


As she glanced across the street toward her home on the Belleville Turnpike, North Arlington resident Miriam Montes De Oca tried to pretend that everything was still the same. Only hours before, she had routinely walked the few short paces from her house to her beautician’s job directly across the street. Now that her shift had ended she would make the trip in reverse. But something was distinctly different this time around. This time, an ominous cloud of uncertainty hung over her home – a cloud that would prove to be a mother’s worst nightmare.

With three sons in the Marines (a set of twins and their older brother) stationed in war-torn Afghanistan, Miriam knew in her heart that the soldiers standing at her front door weren’t there to socialize. She also knew that when she took those first agonizing steps toward the house, her life and the lives of her remaining family would be forever altered. How could this have happened? Which one of her babies was it?

She pushed fear aside and plodded forward. She simply had to know.

Osbrany Montes De Oca didn’t look like a Marine in- the-making when he was younger. Like his twin brother Osmany, he was slight of build, bony-thin actually, according to his younger brother Franklin, and possessed nothing close to the brawny physique emblematic of the “few and the proud.” But nature at this early stage can often mask the potential that lies within. The best was yet to come.

Skinny or not, “Osbrany and Osmany were determined to become U.S. Marines,” explained Miriam. “Since they were eleven they dreamed about being Marines. They said when they were eighteen they wanted to sign up and were going to do it no matter what I said. Osbrany even told me that he would one day win the Purple Heart.”

As the boys matured their bodies began to change. The reed-thin appendages that they laughingly called arms were now banded by sinewy muscle – a physical trait passed down by their father. Regular weight training only enhanced this physical change. A few years later when the twins signed up for boot camp at the Marine recruitment offi ce, they had not only the desire to be proper Marines, but the brawn to back it up. Their long-anticipated dream was finally taking form.

Back at home life went on as always. Younger brother Franklin played at sports and was thankful that he would no longer be treated as the “little brother,” no longer be called “midget,” or jokingly be “locked into a suitcase” by his older siblings. Even so, he couldn’t deny that he missed them both. Despite their antics and a five-year age difference, they were still his heroes, and sometimes he wished that they were still around. He wondered how boot camp was treating them and how he would fare if put to the same grueling test. By now it was common knowledge that Franklin also longed to be a Marine, just like his older brothers.

Osbrany’s girlfriend, Maria, had high hopes for their future together. Sweethearts for six years, the serious-minded young couple had already thrown a stiff jab at the longevity odds. One fine day they would marry and begin a fruitful life together – she just knew it. Maria could hardly wait.

Rosa Matos, the twins’ great aunt, had always cooked for the boys. Now that they were gone she felt a sudden void in her daily routine. “Hey auntie, whatcha got in the pot?”

Osbrany would ask her while licking his chops in hungry anticipation. She recalled how Osbrany was absolutely nuts for lasagna. “Auntie, please make two lasagnas, one for today and one for tomorrow,” he’d say with a Cheshire cat grin and playfulness in his voice. He’d usually wolf down both servings in one day.

Miriam did her best not to worry, but when her 20-yearold twins were sent off to Afghanistan, as their 22-year-old brother Sandro (also a Marine) had done before them, it was all she could do. Sometimes she’d think about Osbrany’s keen sense of humor and silly antics and it would bring a smile to her face. Like that time when he was three and purposely knocked a bottle of cooking oil onto the fl oor and began to swim in it, just like a fish. Were these aquatic motions Osbrany’s way of showing that he was destined to be a Marine? The notion still made her giggle.

But then Miriam’s fears would come rushing back and she’d think about the cruel possibilities of war. She’d recall in particular that definitive moment when Osbrany said to her, “Mom, I know what I’m getting myself into. If I’m going to die, I’m going to die a Marine.” It was a haunting comment that she could never quite shake.

As Miriam moved closer to the Marine contingent standing at her front door, the ashen look on their faces spoke volumes. She now knew with agonizing certainty that at least one of her boys had been killed. It was Osbrany, the Marines told her in a soft respectful tone. He had been cut down by a sniper on Friday, February 10, in the Helmand Province. He never saw it coming. Miriam was inconsolable. Within the span of a few excruciating hours the rest of Osbrany’s family learned the tragic news. Most were as shaken as Miriam. All prepared for a life now devoid of Osbrany’s shining light.



Photo by Jeff Bahr/ Various moments in the life of Osbrany Montes De Oca, as arranged by family, including Purple Heart (c.)

The body of Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca was flown stateside. His brother Osmany, who had received a 30-day leave, accompanied the casket on the flight to Dover Air Force Base. “Osmany was hit the hardest by the news,” said Miriam. “He shared a special bond with his brother that only twins understand,” she said. Now, as one half of the former “team” Osmany would have to carry on without his brother. He understood that the going would be tough, but he also knew that he had no choice but to rise to the challenge; people were depending on him. First and foremost he was a Marine.

Osbrany was laid out at the Parow Funeral Home, North Arlington where countless loved ones, friends and soldiers viewed him for “one last time” before he was committed to the ages. His burial at Holy Cross Cemetery on Feb. 20 was conducted with full military honors. It’s as he would have wanted, said his mom.

Miriam Montes De Oca wants everyone to think of her beloved son not just as Osbrany, a young man who brought joy to so many, but as Osbrany the proud U.S. Marine. By anyone’s measure he has earned that right.

“Osbrany was a person who saw the dangers of protecting freedom and yet volunteered to defend it, regardless,” said Montes De Oca of her boy’s legacy. But that only accounts for a portion of this soldier’s story. Osbrany also managed to see his dream materialize even though his mortal life was cut short. There are millions of people wandering this globe who would give anything – including years off of their lives – to make such a claim.

A makeshift shrine has been set up on the family’s coffee table. Amongst the remembrances are formal sympathy letters from dignitaries such as U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (DN. J.), U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.). All include a somber passage about Osbrany making the “greatest sacrifice” in service to his country. Standing beside these are picture frames containing snapshots of Osbrany from many stages of his life. Here he is as a fresh-faced lad of six or seven; there he is just a few years older wearing a cocky grin, and so on.

The majority, however, show Osbrany standing tall and proud in his Marine Camo’s or Dress Blues. This is only right and proper for Lance Cpl. Osbrany Montes De Oca was a Marine through and through. Nothing and no one can ever alter that fact – not even a sniper and a sneak attack. This committed young man did what he believed he was destined to do and in the process helped to keep us safe.

A velvet jewel box rests prominently on this table of honor. Inside is the Purple Heart medal just as Osbrany had promised.

You made the grade, soldier, and you made us proud.

Semper Fi and Godspeed.

May we never forget you.