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Category: Police/Fire

Clean-minded suspect in drug sweep


A Bloomfield woman who allegedy stored hundreds of envelopes of heroin, along with vials of crack cocaine, in her vacuum cleaner was arrested last week by a joint task force of Essex County sheriff’s and Bloomfield police detectives, Sheriff Armando Fontoura reported.

Fontoura said officers from his department’s Bureau of Narcotics and the Bloomfield PD surrounded the suspect’s residence at 43 Hickory St. on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 17. When the target of their investigation, 53-year-old Carolyn Mendez-Molder, exited the home and entered her SUV, she was followed by the task force officers, who pulled her over a few blocks away.

At the residence, officers executed a search warrant for her second-floor apartment, where they reportedly discovered 499 glassine envelopes of heroin and 150 vials of crack cocaine secreted in the vacuum cleaner in the living room.

An additional 30 vials of crack cocaine were found in a bedroom laundry hamper, and a bag of marijuana, along with drug-processing and packaging materials, were in a kitchen cabinet, police said.

During a subsequent search of the suspect, she was reportedly found to have $1,145 on her person.

Authorities said Mendez- Molder was charged with three counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance, three counts of possession of CDS with intent to distribute, and with possession of narcotics paraphernalia.

At arraignment last Wednesday in Newark, Judge Marilyn Williams set bail at $300,000 and ordered her held at the Essex County Jail.

– Karen Zautyk 

New contract gives cops 3% pay hikes


Belleville’s police force, from the rookie to the chief, is the beneficiaries of a new labor contract, approved by the Township Council Feb. 10.

An ordinance amending the township police salary guide via an annual pay increase of 3%, across the board for each rank, was adopted following a public hearing.

Police Chief Joseph Rotonda said he recommended that the governing body approve the revised pay scale, given that the department had gone without any increases during the last two years of the old contract with the Patrolman’s Benevolent Association.

Ninety-five members of the department are covered by the new agreement.

Belleville Police Det. Mark Johnson, president of the PBA local, said that the membership voted 36-0 to ratify the 3-year pact at a meeting held Jan. 6. “We’re extremely happy with the new contract,” he said.

The new agreement, which provides for no new benefits or concessions to the township, takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, and runs through Dec. 31, 2017.

Under that contract, a newly hired cop who had started off earning $33,823 while undergoing training will see that pay rise to $36,990 in 2015, $38,100 in 2016 and $39,243 in 2017.

Revised salary steps applicable to anyone hired after July 1, 2007 call for first-year cop’s pay to increase, over the life of the contract, from $44,686 to $47,409; second-year, from $52,391 to $55,582; third year, from $60,096 to $63,756; fourth year, from $67,803 to $71,932; fifth year, $75,508 to $80,106; and sixth year (top step), from $87,470 to $92,796.

Sergeant’s pay will rise over the life of the contract, from $100,564 to $106,688; lieutenant, from $115,648 to $122,690; captain, from $132,995 to $141,095; deputy chief, from $152,944 to $162,258; and chief, from $160,590 to $170,370.

While labor peace between the township and its bluecoats seems assured for the next three years, there remains the matter of diminishing ranks to deal with.

“We have eight or nine officers now in the Academy but we also have at least 20 of our members eligible to go out on retirement,” Johnson noted, and more and more veteran cops around the state have been inclined to leave because of mandated increasing costs of health insurance.

How Belleville officials plan to deal with that possibility remains to be seen. In 2013, the township did promote seven officers to sergeant but it’s likely that additional gaps in the ranks will, ultimately, have to be filled.

 – Ron Leir 

KPD: The sweet smell of arrest

Kearny police were on radar detail on Rt. 7 in South Kearny last Wednesday when, at 4:14 p.m., Officer John Fabula clocked a westbound PT Cruiser doing 68 in a 45 mph zone. Officer Brian Wisely stopped the vehicle and, as he approached on foot, reportedly detected the odor of marijuana. Asked about the scent, police said the driver, Alexander Delgado, 44, of Lyndhurst, replied, “That’s my air freshener.”

After backup officer Sgt. Charles Smith noticed a handrolled cigarette in the center console, Delgado admitted to having two small bags of pot in his pocket, police said. He was arrested charged with possession of the drug and paraphernalia and also received a summons for speeding.

• • •

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

Feb. 13 

Officer Luis Moran responded to Walmart at 7:59 p.m. to take into custody an alleged shoplifter who had been stopped by store security. Suspect Francisco Maldonado, 25, of Newark was found to have two warrants from that city and, unable to post bail, was taken to the Hudson County Jail.

Feb. 14 

Moran took into custody another shoplifting suspect, Jessica Rosado, 36, of Newark, at 2:37 p.m. at ShopRite, where store security was holding her. Police said Rosado had been seen on videotape stealing baby formula the previous afternoon and was nabbed by security when she returned to the store this day.

Feb. 15 

Officer Dean Gasser, responding to a 2:50 a.m. report of an accident on Harrison Ave., arrived to find that a 1999 Honda Accord had crashed into a concrete divider near the Turnpike entrance. Limping along the roadway was a man clad in a flourescent green jacket, who was identified as the driver, Derick Mejianovoa, 28, of Harrison. Police said he complained of leg pain, but after an ambulance was summoned, refused medical attention. He also allegedly refused to take an Alcotest. He was charged with that offense and with DWI.

• • •

At 6:29 p.m., Officer Wisely was on patrol on Passaic Ave. when he spotted a 1995 Honda parked near the loading dock at the vacant Pathmark building. Approaching the car, he reportedly detected the odor of pot and saw the passenger attempting to conceal something. Questioned, the passenger, Jaycee Louis, 23, of East Orange, turned over a handrolled lit cigar containing the drug, police said. As the driver, Norberto Lopez, 20, of Belleville, exited the vehicle, a container of pot-filled baggies, fell out, police said. Both men were charged with possession of the drug and paraphernalia; the driver, was also charged with possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle.

Feb. 16

At 1:30 a.m., Wisely responded to a report of a homeless person in an empty building on the 500 block of Kearny Ave. Peering through a window, the officer saw, and recognized, 34-year-old Eric Tobin sleeping in the basement. Tobin, of no known address, was allegedly in possession of marijuana, and was charged with that, possession of drug paraphernalia, and trespassing. Police said he also had two outstanding Kearny warrants. He was taken to the Hudson County Jail, where, your correspondent notes, at least he had a warm place to snooze.

• • •

Officer Jordenson Jean, on patrol at Johnston and Kearny Aves. at 2:40 p.m. stopped a 2011 Infiniti for having illegally tinted windows. Police said the driver, Carnell Wright, 25, of Kearny, was found to have a suspended license. He was charged with the equipment violation, driving while suspended and being unlicensed. (To alert Observer readers who recognize the name: Yes, he was arrested in Kearny last week on a warrant from Newark and at that time was said to have a Newark address.)

– Karen Zautyk 

Bank’s accounts secure despite ATM skimmer: NPD

On Feb. 2, a local bank’s branch manager had alerted Nutley PD that it appeared that someone had placed a skimming device on the ATM just outside the bank near its drive-thru and cops noticed an adhesive residue left on the machine near the slot for inserting the ATM card.

Police now report some consolation in the fact that an investigation by the Centre St. bank “has revealed that no customer’s accounts were compromised.”

No further details were provided by police about the original incident reported by the bank.

• • •

In other developments, between Feb. 14 and 20, Nutley PD said they responded to 17 motor vehicle accidents, four suspicious incidents, 27 medical calls and these incidents:

Feb. 14 

After spotting a vehicle with its right rear brake light out on Bloomfield Ave., police pulled over the driver, Kellie Van Pelt, 22, of North Brunswick, who was found to have an active warrant from that municipality. She was arrested on the warrant and ticketed for maintenance of lamps, driving without a license and failure to possess insurance card. After posting bail, she was released pending court dates.

Feb. 15 

While patrolling on Kingsland St., police observed a vehicle eastbound with a non-functioning rear left taillight. The driver, Julius Sierra, 18, of Jersey City, was issued summonses for maintenance of lamps and driving while suspended. Police said Sierra also was wanted on warrants from North Bergen. He was turned over to North Bergen PD.

Feb. 16 

A fraud victim told police that someone had made four unauthorized charges totaling about $1,000 on their credit card, which, police said, the victim has now canceled.

Feb. 17 

A Coeyman Ave. resident reported getting a message on their voicemail from an unknown male saying their taxes were delinquent. Police tried to contact the caller but only got voicemail.

Feb. 18

A theft was reported at the PSE&G electrical yard on Cook Road. A worker told police that when they arrived that morning, they found the main gate locked but the gate to the yard open and a lock and extra chain missing. It was unclear whether anything was missing, police said.

• • •

A homeowner reported the theft of a four-month supply of seizure medication valued at more than $300.

• • •

Two packages were reported stolen from a Washington Ave. resident’s porch. The resident told police that they had made two online purchases but that neither package had been received although they had gotten emails from FedEx and USPS confirming both deliveries. The resident told police that prior packages had been stolen as well.

Feb. 19 

Police responded to a Franklin Ave. car wash on a report of damage to a vehicle. The vehicle’s owner told police that after the wash, they noticed their car antenna broken off. Police said the manager assured them that the car wash would pay for any damage to the vehicle.

Feb. 20

While on patrol on Franklin Ave., police said that they saw a black BMW X3 southbound with its passenger side headlamp out and that a computer check of the vehicle’s registration revealed that the owner had a suspended license and three warrants. Police stopped the vehicle at Chestnut and Prospect Sts. The driver, David Echavarria, 38, of Belleville, was arrested on the warrants from Rutherford, Roseland and Hoboken. He was also ticketed for operating while suspended, failure to produce a license and failure to produce a registration card. He was released pending court dates.

– Ron Leir 

Logged on the Harrison police blotter

Feb. 17 

A man came to Harrison police HQ to report that someone had broken into his blue 2001 Ford Van while it was parked in the municipal lot at Central and Kingsland Aves. He said he’d parked it there at 4 p.m. the day before and when he returned the next day at 8:30 a.m., he found its rear window smashed in and a portable power generator removed from the van. He also reported that his second work van that he’d parked there the day prior was missing.

Feb. 19 

Police responded to a report of a theft from a motor vehicle at S. Fifth and Sussex Sts. Upon arrival, the victim told officers that he’d parked his Audi S4 on the 500 block of Sussex St. at 9:30 p.m. overnight and that when he returned at 8:33 a.m. this day, he discovered that someone had broken into the vehicle and took a Pioneer touch screen radio valued at $700, a Pioneer sub woofer worth $400 and a $100 MP3 player. He also found that the steering wheel column had been damaged, apparently in an attempt by the burglar to steal the car.

Feb. 22 

At 1:41 a.m., HQ received a call about a two-car accident on Cleveland Ave. and dispatched officers to investigate. At the location, police said they observed a man behind the steering wheel trying to move a vehicle which looked like it had been in a collision with another vehicle. Police said the driver, Luis Lescanoguzman, 35, of Kearny, was revving the vehicle but it would not move while in drive. As the driver tried to speak to the officers, police said the officers detected the odor of alcohol coming from him. When he was asked to exit the vehicle, the driver could barely open the door because of extensive damage to the front wheel and quarter panel, police said. Using the vehicle for support, the driver tried to move away from it but, in doing so, lost his balance and fell. Lescanoguzman was charged with DWI and given additional summonses.

Feb. 23 

At 3:10 a.m., police said an officer on patrol spotted a parked vehicle straddling the sidewalk and the street near Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. and Riverbend Drive. Activating emergency lights, the officer pulled up behind the vehicle, a 2012 gray Jeep Liberty, exited his patrol car and approached the driver’s side where he observed the driver asleep behind the wheel with the vehicle in drive. Police said the officer knocked on the window but, after getting no response, opened the door and saw that the driver had vomited on the driver’s door and could detect the odor of alcohol. Eventually, police said, the officer roused the driver, Jorge Torres-Monteverde, 24, of Newark, and ticketed him for DWI and other motor vehicle violations.

– Ron Leir 

Fire empties fast food business


A fire erupted at a fast food eatery in Lyndhurst over the weekend, according to the Lyndhurst Police Department.

At 10:43 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21, the Lyndhurst Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched to the Burger King, 2 Park Ave., just off Valley Brook Ave., on a report of fire.

Police Capt. John Valente said that the Fire Department extinguished a grease fire in the kitchen of the establishment which was closed during the fire.

Valente said the Fire Department determined that the cause of the fire was an electrical surge to the business, causing a malfunction in the fryer.

“The oil in the fryer became superheated and boiled over the sides of the container and were ignited by the heating element,” Valente said.

No injuries were reported.

As of Monday, the township Health Department reported that work crews were still in the process of cleaning up damage from the fire and hoped to reopen by Tuesday, Feb. 24.

– Ron Leir 

Abducted Delaware child could be in NJ, NYC

Top: Elinor Trotta; Bottom: Michael Trotta.

Top: Elinor Trotta; Bottom: Michael Trotta.


The New Castle County, Del., police seeks your help in locating a missing child.

Elinor Trotta, a 3-year-old, 60-pound girl with brown hair, was last seen wearing a purple coat, pink pants, and “Frozen” shoes.

The New Castle County Police Department is investigating a domestic-related incident that occurred in the community of School Side Apartments in New Castle, Del. At approximately 6:48 p.m., county police responded to the 800 Block of East Basin Road on a report of a domestic-related assault. The reporting person advised that her ex-boyfriend, 39-year-old Michael Trotta, came to her residence, assaulted her and took their 3-year-old daughter.

Police are currently looking for Mr. Trotta. He is a white man, 5’8” tall, approximately 160 pounds, balding/short haircut, scruffy beard and mustache last seen wearing all black clothing. The suspect fled the scene in a 1989 gray Mazda 626 bearing Delaware registration 247457 with his 3-year-old daughter.

Police believe the child is in imminent danger and that Mr. Trotta may have fled with her to the state of New Jersey, possibly heading to New York City.

Anyone with information is asked to call 9-1-1 immediately, the New Castle County Police Department at (302) 573-2800 or visit www.nccpd.com.

Nutley police: Did you witness Centre St. robbery?

A surveillance image of a man who is alleged to have robbed a Centre St. convenience store in Nutley.

A surveillance image of a man who is alleged to have robbed a Centre St. convenience store in Nutley.


Police are seeking the public’s help locating a man they say robbed a Centre St. convenience store over the weekend.

On Sunday, Feb. 22, at 8:30 a.m., a man entered the convenience store, placed his hand into his jacket pocket and demanded money from the store clerk, police said.

He stated: “I don’t wanna hurt you.”

Police said the clerk told them no weapon was displayed, and the suspect made no threats.

The suspect is described as a white man, 18 to 25 years old, 5’3″-5’5″ tall, thin, wearing a tan jacket with a gray hooded sweatshirt under it, a dark cap with some type of symbol on it, a face mask and blue jeans with brown boots.

Police said they followed footprints in the snow to Union Ave., but didn’t locate the suspect. They continue to investigate.

Police are actively following all leads and ask that anyone with information about the incident call detectives at 973-284-4940.

NAPD sees upswing in residential burglaries

napd-shield-transparentThe North Arlington Police Department wants to ensure residents are aware that there have been a series of residential burglaries in recent weeks that had similar characteristics and asks that all necessary precautions be taken to aid in preventing further incidents.

Five burglaries have taken place in apartment building/complex facilities in the last several months.

The suspects identify units that have unlocked doors and/or windows. They have focused on ground-floor apartments with air conditioning window units in which they’ve been able to push (or pull) the unit out of the window to gain entry, or have entered through unlocked windows.

All residents are asked to identify and correct any issues that may make their residence a potential target.

Anyone with any information, or assistance needs, can contact Det. Feola with the North Arlington P.D. at 201-991-4400, ext. 139.

As always, immediately contact the police to report suspicious activity.

Up and running


By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


The Kearny Police Department’s enhanced 911 emergency communications system at its South Kearny Precinct that Super Storm Sandy wiped out two and a half years ago has finally been finally restored.

“Tuesday, Jan. 13, we went live,” said Police Sgt. John Manley, deputy coordinator for the Kearny Office of Emergency Management. “It’s been a long haul.”

As part of the recovery effort, the town ended up ordering several trailer units that it had installed inside the combined police/ fire facility to provide separate offices for firefighters and police and space for fire rigs.

Then the town had to shell out $240,000 just to replace the 911 system which took months to set up, with the vendor Carousel Industries of Bensalem, Pa., working with Verizon to get everything humming. Kearny has applied for reimbursement through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The last step was the KPD’s training superior officers in using the new system so that a rotating schedule of officers assigned to the precinct for 911 duty could be set up.

From the precinct, the officers can handle not just 911 calls – medical calls are routed from a 911 center at the Jersey City Medical Center and nonmedical calls from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office in Jersey City – but also regular police calls.

For emergency situations, the system allows the officer handling the calls to link up with the appropriate outside law enforcement or local and/ or regional civilian agency to respond.

All 911 calls are logged and can be played back as needed. The system is also outfitted with TTY capability, a telecommunications device for the hearing impaired.

The system also is equipped with a video mapping capability that can help an officer trace the location of a caller, should that communication be interrupted or abruptly ended.

“We have 98 surveillance cameras positioned around South Kearny so that area, (which is largely industrial), can be monitored from our 911 center,” Manley said. “And because the town arranged to run fiber optic cable through the area, we’ll be getting a better picture quality.”

With the trailer units situated three feet above ground level, the hope is that elevation will protect officers and the electronic gear against an incursion of flood water. And KPD has backup phone lines for its 911 and regular police communications, both in South Kearny and uptown at KPD headquarters on Laurel Ave.

However, if another monster storm hits the area and the precinct is inundated again, there is a fail-safe system in place, Manley said.

Part of the 911 system features new technology – a portable unit designed so that it can be disconnected from its precinct-based housing and re-attached to a laptop computer for operation on a mobile basis and continue to provide a 911 capability.

“So if we get another surge from the (Passaic) river that’s going to flood us out of South Kearny, we will pull out the portable unit and our vehicles – as well as the Fire Department rigs – to redeploy uptown,” Manley said.

Other safeguards being taken by the town in case of heavy flooding include readying the installation of backup and/or new generators at various pumping stations and other critical local facilities, he said.

For example, Manley said, the town will be arranging for the placement of a backup generator at Schuyler Elementary School in the event that the school is put into service as an emergency shelter. Neglia Engineering, the town’s consulting engineers, is drafting specifications for that project, he added.