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Category: News Alerts

Election results will be posted on our Facebook page tonight around 9



There are numerous local elections today — and we’ll be posting results on our Facebook page. Not connected to us yet on Facebook? Click here to get to our page — and be sure to “LIKE” us.

Belleville, State police looking for missing 12-year-old boy


Charlie Castillo, above, has not been seen since 7 a.m. Thursday morning in his Belleville home.

The Belleville Police Department and the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit are seeking the public’s assistance in locating missing Belleville boy Charlie Castillo.

Castillo, 12, is 5’3″, 100 pounds with black hair, and brown eyes and was last seen 7 a.m. this morning at his home in Belleville.

He suffers from allergies and asthma and is known to wear plastic and thread bracelets.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Belleville Police Department at (973)450-3334 or the New Jersey State Police Missing Persons Unit at (800) 709-7090.

KHS’ Project Graduation Committee has lots planned, seeks volunteers for fundraisers

khs-14Kearny High School’s Project Graduation committee is already working on fundraising for next year’s drug- and alcohol-free party for the school’s graduating seniors. The average cost is just under $30,000 and each student pays a small stipend of $15 to reserve a seat on the bus.  That leaves a balance of $24,000 to be raised.

In an effort to raise awareness of the group and activities that are planned, a Facebook page has been set up under the banner Kearny High Project Graduation, where the list of events Steve Dyl, Kearny’s fire chief who also serves as the President of Project Graduation committee, was able to provide.  

The first is a Dec. 8 bus trip to Sands Casino and Outlet Mall in Bethlehem, Pa., which leaves from Kearny Federal Savings Bank, 614 Kearny Ave. at 8:30 a.m., and arrives back about 6 p.m. The cost is $30, and you receive $20 slot dollars and a $5 food voucher.

For tickets or more information, contact Judy Hyde at 201-991-5812 or email jh519@aol.com.

Jan. 30 is the first major meeting of the year where the committee looks to have as many underclassman parents join the parents of this year’s graduates. At this meeting, the various sub-committees are explained and volunteers are sought for each.

There is no requirement to attend every meeting or be at every fundraiser, as we can use people for an hour or every hour — whichever works best. Meetings take place the last Thursday of each month at Kearny High School.

Feb. 23 is a bus trip to Atlantic City.

April 25 is a town wide volleyball tournament, which will see the Town of Kearny defend its 2013 title against teams from the Kearny Police and Fire departments, the Kearny Board of Education and the staff of each of the schools.

The single largest fundraiser is a 50/50, which kicks off mid-December with the drawing on graduation night, June 20.  This year’s goal is to raise $10,000 from the 50/50 which would also give the winner $10,000. Tickets are $10 each.

The 2013 winner received just under $9,000.

Project Graduation is a town-wide event that began in Kearny in 1996 as a safer alternative to private house parties. The idea was been prompted by a serious graduation-night car crash on Kearny Avenue, in which several teens were injured.

For more information, send an email to projectgrad@kearnyschools.com.

Nutley police warn of scammers posing as utility workers



Township residents are cautioned that two suspects are posing as utility company employees asking to look at the homeowners’ water meters in an effort to gain access to homes.

Once inside, the homeowner is distracted while an accomplice rummages through the home for valuables.

The most recent  incident occurred April 11 at 12:15 p.m. on Ravine Avenue.

One suspect is described as a white man, approximately 35, 5’9” with average build and olive complexion wearing a black jacket and a black shiny hard hat. The second suspect is described as a white man, 35, slightly shorter than the other suspect, with average build and olive complexion.

Mayor Al Petracco urges anyone with information to contact the police department at 973-284-4940.

In addition, residents are reminded not to allow anyone into their home without proper verification.

UPDATE: Fire director says woman dies in Harrison fire

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


Fire struck again in Harrison this week, this time taking a life.

Harrison Fire Director Harold Stahl said a call came into the dispatch center Monday, April 8, at about 12:30 p.m. reporting a fire in the rear of 209 N. Second St., a two-sto-ry residential structure.

Read more »

Three Lyndhurst men arrested, charged with theft-related offenses over alleged mortgage scheme, Bergen County Prosecutor says

Adan L. Cueva

BCPO Photos
Adan L. Cueva

Three Lyndhurst residents have been arrested on theft by deception charges, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli announced today.

Adan R. Cueva, 31, Lyndhurst; Adan L. Cueva, 57, of Lyndhurst; and Angel C. Cueva-Castro, 26, of Lyndhurst, were also charged with other fraud-related offenses, Molinelli said.

The charges are the result of an investigation by members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office’s White Collar Crimes Unit under the direction of Chief Steven Cucciniello  of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office under the direction of Chief John Speirs, Molinelli said.

Reports say members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office White Collar Crimes Unit received information from the Lyndhurst Police Department that Adan R. Cueva, the owner of Time Consulting & Associates, at 298 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst, along with his father, Adan L. Cueva, and his brother, Angel C. Cueva-Castro, were involved in an alleged scheme to defraud innocent homeowners who hired Time Consulting to modify their existing mortgages. Read more »

BREAKING: North Arlington police say missing 16-year-old boy has returned home safely

Anthony Coto

Anthony Coto

The North Arlington Police Department says 16-year-old Anthony Coto has returned home safely.

He’d gone missing Friday night.

No other details are available.




DEVELOPING STORY: Kearny Board of Education vice-president John Leadbeater arrested on mortgage-fraud charges

Observer File Photo John Leadbeater

Observer File Photo
John Leadbeater

Updated at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 23, with comments from Kearny Mayor Alberto G. Santos.


The vice-president of the Kearny Board of Education, who is also a former town councilman, alleged to be involved in a $13 million mortgage fraud scam that used phony documents and straw buyers to make illegal profits on overbuilt condos at the Jersey shore, has been arrested and charged in connection with the scheme, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced earlier today.

John Leadbeater, 54, of Kearny, who served on the Kearny Town Council throughout the 1990s as a Republican representative of the 4th Ward, along with Daniel Cardillo, 49, of Wildwood, are each charged in a superseding indictment with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.

Leadbeater is also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, reports say.

Read more »

BREAKING: Jury finds Nutley’s Bergrin guilty on 23 charges

A screen grab of Paul W. Bergrin speaking at a conference several years ago.

A screen grab of Paul W. Bergrin speaking at a conference several years ago.


Report By The Observer Staff


A former prominent Nutley attorney has been found guilty on 23 charges — ranging from conspiracy to commit murder to racketeering — after a significant trial and two days of jury deliberation.

Paul W. Bergrin, 57, who practiced primarily in Newark, and who was a former federal prosecutor, sat in stunned silence as the foreman of the jury announced he was guilty of all charges he faced.

The charges — all one count unless otherwise noted — included Conspiracy to Travel in Aid of Drug Trafficking Business and Bribery, Travel in Aid of Drug Trafficking Business and Bribery (2 counts), Conspiracy to Travel in Aid of Drug Trafficking Business, Travel in Aid of Drug Trafficking Business (5 counts),  Failure to file an IRS Form Racketeering, Racketeering Conspiracy, Violent Crime in Aid of Racketeering (2 counts), Conspiracy to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance, Maintaining Drug-Involved Premises (3 counts), Conspiracy to Murder a Witness, Aiding and Abetting the Murder of a Federal Witness, Conspiracy to Travel in Aid of Prostitution Business and Travel in Aid of Prostitution Business (2 counts).

“Bergrin’s conduct was a stunning violation of his role as an officer of the court and a betrayal of his roots as a member of law enforcement,” said U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.  “Today, the jury returned the verdict compelled by the evidence and imposed the justice he deserved.  We take no joy from his tragic fall, but I am extremely proud of the work done by those in my office and agents from the FBI, IRS and DEA that led to this just result.”

The once-respected lawyer was the representative to many celebrities over the years. The charges arose when federal investigators became aware he was using his law office in a mafia-like manner, according to reports.

During a two-month trial, Bergrin represented himself, and insisted he was set up by corrupt prosecutors. But clearly, the jury didn’t buy his defense.

Bergrin was a major in the United States Army, having served in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

As a U.S. attorney, he served under U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff.

While on trial, Bergrin maintained a website and blog, where he continued to lament that he was set up.

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge David Velazquez; Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Shantelle P. Kitchen; and the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division – under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Robert G. Koval, with the investigation leading to the conviction.

Three of the charges Bergrin was found guilty of carry a mandatory life sentence — and there’s no parole in the federal prison system. He’ll never see the light of day again.

Sentencing is set for June 18.

BREAKING: Major fire in Harrison


Updated at 4:30 p.m.

A six-alarm fire is still giving firefighters trouble on Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard this afternoon, just as the West Hudson St. Patrick’s Day Parade is kicking off.

Reports say the fire broke out at around 12:30 p.m. in numerous, two-story attached homes and that fire can be seen shooting out of the roof of each building. Scanner traffic reveals firefighters have found heavy smoke in the rear of the buildings, as well.

Firefighters on scanners have also reported “trouble with water,” though it’s not immediately clear what the issues are.

One report indicates one of the buildings has collapsed and that numerous firefighters were injured by a backdraft that caused windows to break, sending debris flying (see Youtube video in posts below this

Photo By Alyssa Ficeto This photo was taken just moments ago from a few blocks away from the fire scene. Smoke continues to billow from the scene.

Photo By Alyssa Ficeto
This photo was taken at about 2 p.m. Sunday  from a few blocks away from the fire scene. Smoke continues to billow from the scene.

one). Five Jersey City firefighters were taken to hospital with injuries, officials say.

An eyewitness tells The Observer the fire is still burning as of 3:15 p.m.

The parade route, meanwhile, has been changed — and it will not proceed up Rodgers Boulevard from Harrison into Kearny as it normally would. It’s not immediately clear how the route will change.

The Jersey City, Kearny, East Newark Belleville and North Hudson Regional fire departments are on scene, providing mutual aid and alternate coverage, according to scanner traffic.

Please check back with The Observer for updates to this developing story.