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Category: News

IRS warns of massive scam


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent

Recent police blotters from various towns have included reports of people who received phone calls from a person or persons claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service and demanding immediate payment of fines or back taxes.

In our March 19 edition, for example, Nutley police noted that a township resident had been warned by a caller that the IRS would freeze his bank accounts, credit cards and passport unless he forked over more than $3,600 in “money due.”

He was instructed to purchase eight Green Point money pack cards adding up to the total, scratch off the cards, return the call to the “IRS” at a number provided and read the account numbers over the phone.

He complied. Read more »

Japan was topic for this history lesson


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


The “Land of the Rising Sun” got a rise out of some 60 ninth-graders at Belleville High School last Tuesday.

Two representatives of the Japanese Consulate General’s office – public relations specialist Jesse Taylor and Goro Watanabe of the Ministry of Education – wearing traditional Japanese garb – visited a World History class.

They’d responded to an invitation extended by social studies teacher Gary Klotzkin to bring their “School Caravan” program to schools in the metro region to share information about Japan and its culture in engaging ways.

They showed the students videos about Japan, highlighting traditional music festivals, like the four-day Awa Odori event held in Tokushima Prefecture, typically featuring 100,000 dancers and attended by four million spectators. Read more »

Rick’s has weathered the storm


By Anthony J. Machcinski
Observer Correspondent

In October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy devastated much of the area, Rick’s American and Foreign, a Bumper 2 Bumper store in North Arlington, was no exception.

The business, formerly on River Road, was flooded in the basement with over twoand- a-half feet of water. But the damage incurred was not only focused on floodwater.

“On the second floor, the roof had blown off and the rain destroyed everything,” said Rick’s American and Foreign owner Rick Garofola.

After 14 years at that location, Garofola tried to stay strong and keep Rick’s right where it was. Read more »

KPD blotter: Two nabbed in mugging

At 11:40 p.m. on Sunday, Match 16, a 22-year-old Newark man was walking at Devon and Hoyt Sts., “minding his own business,” when two other males accosted him and knocked him to the ground, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie reported.

The muggers “ran his pockets” and left him lying beaten and bloody on the sidewalk, police said.

However, he managed to get good descriptions of his attackers.

A police search of the immediate area came up negative, but a short time later, Officers Chris Medina and Joe Martin spotted two men matching the descriptions walking on the 600 block of Kearny Ave., Dowie said. When questioned, the men reportedly gave evasive answers.

On his hands, one of the suspects had numerous scrapes and dried blood, which he could not explain, and during a pat-down, he was found to be in possession of a butterfly knife, Dowie said. He also was reportedly in possession of suspected marijuana.

The two were taken to headquarters, where they were identified by the victim as his assailants, the chief said.

Mark Webb, 21, of Newark, and Xavier Guridi, 19, of Kearny, were both charged with robbery and conspiracy. Webb, the one who allegedly had blood on his hands, was also charged with unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a CDS.

Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:

March 16

At 7 p.m., Sgt. Peter Gleason and Officers Jay Ward and Pat Becker responded to a Kearny Ave. establishment after receiving reports of fights breaking out and of a bartender having been bitten by one patron, identified as Kenny Negrin, 25, of North Arlington.

Negrin resisted being arrested and cuffed, and another man, Brian Scheckter, 26, of Kearny, attempted to intercede on Negrin’s behalf, police said. Scheckter was himself arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct.

Several police units went to the area to disperse crowds that were gathering.

March 17

Officer Leroy Bibbs responded to the Rite Aid Pharmacy on Kearny Ave. at 12:30 p.m. on a report of a shoplifting- turned-robbery. The officer was told that a woman had filled a bag with unpaid merchandise and tried to leave by the rear door. Confronted there by a store employee, she reportedly fought with the worker and fled to a waiting car — but the employee managed to get the license plate number.

Dets. Michael Gonzalez and Bryant Obie tracked the plate to a rental car and, after a review of the store’s security tapes, the suspect was identified as Vanessa Shaarawy, 29, of Kearny, police said. A warrant was issued for her arrest.

At 7:15 p.m., at Kearny and Midland Aves., Vice detectives, armed with knowledge of a prior drug transaction, stopped two individuals and confiscated five glassine bags of suspected heroin, stamped “Magic City,” police said. Charged with possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia were Michael Daly, 39, of Harrison, and Ulises Rebozo, 40, of Kearny.

March 19

Officer Chris Medina, on patrol at Davis and Quincy Aves. at 2 a.m., was alerted by his license-plate reader to the approach of an unregistered vehicle. Medina stopped the car on Ivy St. and found it to be operated by Luis Huillcapoma, 53, of Kearny, who police said also had a suspended license and an outstanding Belleville warrant. The unregistered vehicle was impounded, Huillcapoma was charged on the license offense, and Belleville PD was notified that he was in custody.

At 3:30 a.m., on the 200 block of Davis Ave., Officer Michael Santucci took into custody Aaron Taylor, 26, of Harrison, who, during an altercation with a female, allegedly took her cell phone and smashed it. He was charged with simple assault and criminal mischief.

– Karen Zautyk

Kearny realtor wins award

Luis Pinto

Luis Pinto


Jan R. Kwapniewski, president of Coccia Realty, announces that Luis Pinto Jr., a full-time licensed sales associate with Coccia Realty’s Kearny office, has been awarded the New Jersey Association of Realtors’ 2013 Circle of Excellence Sales Award Bronze Level.

The award is given to individuals who are members of the New Jersey Association of Realtors in good standing who logged a minimum of $3 million in sales volume and 15 units closed in 2013.

Since he was licensed as a real estate agent in 2004, Pinto has been involved in hundreds of real estate transactions. Among his specialties are residential and commercial sales and he is touted for his listing style and property marketing ability.

Pinto attributes a portion of his success to his constant broadening of his real estate sales skills through consistent education and training that he receives at the Board of Realtors and other real estate sales courses. Pinto also credits his success, in part, to Coccia Realty’s dynamic systems, tools and marketing strategy, of which he takes full advantage.

Born in Portugal, Pinto came to the United States as a child and grew up in Harrison. In addition to English, Pinto speaks fluent Portuguese and Spanish. He currently resides in Kearny and may be reached at Coccia Realty’s Kearny Office.

Around Town


St. Valentine Church, 125 N. Spring St., offers a Spanish Mass on Sunday, April 6, at 3 p.m. Starting in May, Spanish Mass will be offered the second Saturday of each month at 3 p.m. The church offers an evening of reflection and Stations of the Cross in Spanish on Friday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m.


Belleville Public Library and Information Center, 221 Washington Ave., offers the following children’s programs:

• Teddy Bear Tea Party – Registration is open April 1-28. The event is set for Saturday, May 3, at 2 p.m.

• Story Time and Craft – Saturdays: March 29, April 12 and May 17, all at 11 a.m.

East Newark

West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. The group provides an atmosphere of warmth and comfort for patients and family. For more information, call Emma at 201- 998-6828, Rosa 201-246-7750, Fatima 973-485-4236 or email emidura2@yahoo.com.


Registration closes March 28 for Harrison Recreation TBall, Minor and Little League at the Community Center, 401 Warren St. Ages: T-Ball, 5 to 6; Minors, 7 to 8; and Little League, 9 to 12 (cannot turn 13 before May 1). For more information, contact the center at 973-268-2469.

The Harrison High School Drama Club will be performing “Sweeney Todd” on April 3 to 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the school auditorium, 800 Hamilton St. Admission is $10 for Adults and $5 for students, children and seniors.


A pancake breakfast fundraiser to benefit the American Diabetes Association will be held at Applebees, 175 Passaic Ave., on Sunday, April 6, from 8 to 10 a.m. Admission for adults is $10 and $5 for children age 2 to 9. Door prizes will be included. For tickets, contact Janice at 201-362-2958 or by email at shnanny@aol.com.

Kearny High School’s annual Project Graduation Volleyball Tournament will be Friday, April 25 in the school’s gymnasium, 336 Devon St. Contact Melissa Dyl for information at 201-978-8257.

Tickets are being sold for Project Graduation’s 50/50 raffle, scheduled for Friday, June 20, following graduation ceremonies. The winner need not be present. Tickets are $10 each. To purchase or sell tickets, contact Sandy Hyde at 551-265-8969.

Project Graduation meets the last Thursday of each month in the school’s faculty lounge and next meets March 27 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact President Steve Dyl at 201-991-7467.

The Book Discussion Group at Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., meets on Wednesday, April 9, at 6:30 p.m. Copies of each book are available at the front desk while supplies last. For more information, call the library at 201-998-2666 or visit www.kearnylibrary.org.

The library is seeking local authors interested in doing book talks. Contact the library for more information.

Kearny High School PTA presents Rocking with Rod Stewart, a performance by Jay Gates, on April 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Irish American Club, 95 Kearny Ave. Cost is $25 with refreshments, cash bar and a small raffle. Call Denise at 201- 428-8572 for more information or to purchase tickets.

Ladies of the Irish presents “Murder Mystery” on March 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Irish American Club. Cost is $35 with refreshments and cash bar. Call Mary 201-450-5210 for more information or to purchase tickets.

The Woman’s Club of Arlington presents “Cherry Blossom Mystery Evening” with author Brad Parks on April 6, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Players Club, 12 Washington Pl. Proceeds benefit Family Promises and other charities. The event includes tea buffet, gift basket raffles and 50/50. Tickets are $25. Send checks to: Woman’s Club of Arlington, c/o Julie McCarthy, 25 Columbia Ave., Kearny, N.J. 07032.

Kearny UNICO announces:

• Membership meeting on Thursday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call Chapter President Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-24009.

• Fund-raising bus trip to the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City on Sunday, April 27, leaving from the parking lot of Kearny Federal Savings Bank at 8:30 a.m. Tickets are $30 per person and can be obtained by contacting Lou Pandolfi.

• Super 50-50 Raffle to be drawn of May 15. Tickets are $5 each or 3 tickets for $10. To purchase a ticket, contact any member of Kearny UNICO or Lou Pandolfi.


The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst hosts a children’s Tricky Tray on Saturday, March 29, at the Senior Center on Cleveland Ave. Doors open at noon. Admission is $5. Lunch is available at a nominal cost. No outside food is allowed. Numbers will be called starting at 1 p.m. For tickets, call Janet at 201-935-1208.

Join special needs teens and adults from Special Angels Recreation, the Lyndhurst Police Department and the SPARK cheer dance squad for a game of basketball and half-time performance fundraiser on Saturday, March 29, at the Lyndhurst High School gym, 400 Weart Ave. Tickets are $5. For tickets or more information, call Debbie or Tara at 201-966-8738. Tickets are also available at the door. Special Angels does all of their own fundraising; they get no public funding and no one takes a salary. All donations go directly to Special Angels programs. For more information, visit www.puttingthepiecestogether.org.

Sacred Heart Home School hosts its annual Calendar Party Tricky Tray fundraiser on Friday, May 2, at the school, 620 Valley Brook Ave. Tickets are $20 and non-refundable. Admission includes sandwich, potato salad, beverage and dessert. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Ticket deadline is April 12. No one under 18 will be admitted and no alcoholic beverages are permitted. For tickets, call Patty at 201-803-9580 or the school at 201-939-4277.

Lyndhurst Fire Department, 299 Delafield Ave., will collect blood/platelets in honor of John Barnas, a Wallington resident with lymphoma, on Sunday, March 30, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit communitybloodservices.org for details and parental consent form for 16-year-olds. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are available by calling 201- 251-3703.

Lyndhurst Library Children’s Room, 355 Valley Brook Ave., hosts the following events:

• Walk-In Story time is held every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6:30 p.m. for grades pre-k to 2. The program includes coloring time. No registration is required. Registration is required for the following programs. Call the library at 201-804-2478.

• Easter Basket Craft – Children in grades pre-k to 4 make and fill an Easter basket with treats on Wednesday, April 9, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

• “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” – Children in grades pre-k to 4 can hop on in for this exciting Easter movie on Monday, April 14, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

• Ladybug Craft – Children in grades 1 to 4 are welcome on Monday, April 28, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m.

Lyndhurst Health Department, 601 Riverside Avenue, Suite 1, offers a free Women’s Health Clinic, in partnership with Clara Maass Medical Center. Open to female township residents age 18 and over, the clinic includes education on breast self-examination and a pap smear. Call 201-804-2500 to make an appointment on a first-come, first-served basis.

North Arlington

The Borough of North Arlington requires that any one who wishes to have a ‘garage sale’ must first secure a permit with the town before doing so. Permits are $6 each and can be obtained at Borough Hall, 214 Ridge Rd., or on-line at www.northarlington.org.

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Rd., announces the following programs: For children and teens:

• Story Time, for ages 2 to 5, every Wednesday at 11:45 a.m.

• Evening Story Time for ages 4 to 6 on Tuesdays, March 4, and 25, at 6:30 p.m.

• Fifth Annual George Miller Art Show on Thursday, April 3, at 6 p.m. Note the library will be closed until the beginning of the show for preparations.

In celebration of World Down Syndrome Day, Garden State Rollergirls welcomes Bergen County United Way residents to its home opening bout on April 12 at the Inline Skating Club of America, 170 Schuyler Ave. The event includes a 50/50 raffle to benefit the Bergen County United Way. Doors open at 7:15 p.m. and the whistle blows at 8 p.m. This event is open to all ages. Tickets can be purchased at the door ($15 for adults, $10 for kids under 12) or online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/ event/601006 ($10 for adults, $5 for kids under 12).

Queen of Peace High School, 191 Rutherford Pl., along with Make Wine With Us of Wallington, are sponsoring a red carpet event to support the school’s spring musical, “The Sound of Music” on Saturday, March 29, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at the high school. Tickets are $40 and include appetizers, wine tasting, raffles and music. Call 201-998-8227, ext. 28, to reserve tickets. Tickets will also be sold at the door.

Senior Harmony Club announces the following trips:

• Sands Casino on Thursday, April 24. For reservations or information, call Florence at 201-991-3173.

• Westchester Broadway Theater to see the musical “Ragtime” on Thursday, May 1. Reservations must be made ASAP. Call Anna at 201-939- 2960.

American Legion Alexander Stover Post 37 meets on Tuesday, April 1, at 8 p.m. at NAFD Engine Co. No. 2, 550 Schuyler Ave. All veterans are invited. For more information, call 201-214-8253.

Toddler ‘rescued’ by tenant

Photo courtesy Harrison Housing Authority Karina Robredo accepts certifi cate of appreciation from Harrison Housing Authority Chairman Larry Bennett.

Photo courtesy Harrison Housing Authority
Karina Robredo accepts certificate of appreciation from Harrison Housing Authority Chairman Larry Bennett.



A scantily dressed 4-year-old boy wandered out of his Kearny home into the cold but, fortunately, was intercepted by an adult who kept the lad safe until authorities could be contacted, officials said.

Police said the child was returned, without harm, to his family.

The Harrison Housing Authority has credited tenant Karina Robredo, a resident of Harrison Gardens, for befriending the boy.

In a press release, the HHA said Robredo encountered the child, attired only in a T-shirt and short pants, wandering around the Harrison Gardens property on a freezing day on Feb. 24.

Robredo asked the boy his name and where he lived but he would say only that his mother was in the hospital and that he was cold, the release said.

The release said that Robredo brought the boy a sweatshirt and blanket from her apartment and then escorted him to the HHA management office where a call was placed to the Harrison Police Department.

HPD responded and learned that the boy had walked out of his home on Sanford Ave. and crossed Schuyler Ave., a heavily-traveled county road, to get to the Harrison Gardens.

The HPD took care of the boy until he was picked up by Kearny Police who then took him home.

– Ron Leir

News from the Nutley Police blotter

March 15

At 11:17 a.m., police responded to a Park Ave. location on a report of illegal dumping. Police were advised by residents that someone had left an old end table on the sidewalk in front of their home, blocking the front door and that, previously, someone had deposited an old chair cushion in the same spot. Both incidents happened in the late evening or early morning, the residents said.

March 16

Officers on patrol on Hillside Ave., at 2:23 p.m., stopped a Plymouth minivan with its rear passenger window missing. Police said they learned that the driver, Ralph Adubato, 50, of North Arlington, had an outstanding warrant from Nutley. He was arrested on the warrant and then released with a new court date.

March 17

At 1:10 p.m., police and firefighters were dispatched to a house on Burnett Place on a report of water flowing from the building. Upon arrival, police said they observed an open hose spigot with water streaming from it. They shut it off. Police said the side door was unsecured and the house was empty. Police learned that the house is owned by a bank and that a contractor for the bank was at the location.

March 20

Police executed a motor vehicle stop at a Centre St. location, at 1:44 a.m., and arrested the driver, Marvin Torres, 19, and his passenger, Brian Rosas, 19, both of Belleville. Torres was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia (a crack pipe), ticketed on a charge of failing to signal a turn and released pending a court appearance. Rosas was charged with possession of suspected cocaine (several small white, rock-like substances which, police said, were found in a small plastic bag in his sock), possession of heroin (five glassine envelopes labeled “Brown Magic” containing brown powder that, police said, tested positive for heroin) and possession of suspected marijuana under 50 grams (the remainder of a marijuana cigar). Both were released pending court dates.

At 5:25 a.m., police went to a Hickory Road location on a report of property damage. There, a resident told police they heard a loud noise in their backyard and, looking outside, noticed that the neighbor’s retaining wall and fence had fallen into their property causing damage to the lawn and part of the rear chain link fence. A Faber Place homeowner told police they also heard a loud noise, and, looking out their window, saw that their entire rear fence and wall were gone.

At 10:05 a.m., police responded to a Bloomfield Ave. location on a report of a theft. Police were told that someone had stolen a stainless steel double sink, valued at $300, from a parking lot. Detectives are reviewing video surveillance.

A fraud victim came to headquarters to report they found three unauthorized charges totaling more than $500 on their bank card, from various locations in New York. Their financial institution has closed the account and is investigating, police said.

March 21

At 11:24 a.m., police received a report of a theft. The victim told police that while shopping at a Franklin Ave. grocery, someone took their wallet from their purse. The wallet contained cash, credit cards and personal items, the victim told police. Security personnel are reviewing surveillance tape for possible clues.

At 11:55 a.m., the manager of a Centre St. business reported criminal mischief to the front door of the property. Police said it appears that someone put something like Crazy Glue in the front door lock. The manager told police that the front door lock to the entrance of the closed restaurant, which is attached to the business, was also “glued.” Police said that surveillance video will be screened for potential clues.

– Ron Leir

Get Skyway-closure info Tuesday at St. Peter’s Uni.


The state Department of Transportation (NJDOT) will host a Public Information Center (PIC) to promote travel alternatives available when the northbound lanes of the Pulaski Skyway are closed on April 12. NJDOT’s project team will be available to discuss the project and answer questions.

The PIC will take place noon to 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 25 at St. Peter’s University in Jersey City.

In February, NJDOT announced the Pulaski Skyway northbound will close on Saturday, April 12 for approximately two years. The existing deck of the 3.5-mile long structure that carries Route 1&9 traffic will be replaced during this phase of the rehabilitation project.   Southbound travel on the Skyway will be maintained during construction.  Route 139, which is just east of the Skyway, will maintain one lower level travel lane east toward New York and two travel lanes west toward Newark at all times (except nights and weekends) while the Pulaski Skyway northbound is closed.

NJDOT created a project-specific website, www.pulaskiskyway.com, which contains a wealth of information about the Skyway project, including construction updates and information specifically about the Hoboken and Conrail Viaduct rehabilitation in Contract 2.

Room for ‘Blue’ in tight budget


By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


A municipal spending blueprint introduced by the Kearny governing body last Tuesday night will mean that local property taxes on the average house assessed at around $95,000 will rise by an estimated $417, Finance Director Shuaib Firozvi predicted.

Although total appropriations of $76.5 million are up by less than 1% over last year, the municipal tax levy is rising by $4.3 million – a jump of nearly 11% — to $43.9 million, according to Firozvi’s calcuations.

How local school taxes and the town’s share of county expenses will factor into the overall local tax rate has yet to be played out. Read more »