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Category: Police & Fire News

Heroin/gun rap for felon




KPD photos Top: Gilberto Rivera and the treasure trove cops say they found in his car. Bottom: That’s not a dashboard console (l,), it’s a place to stash gun and dope.

KPD photos
Top: Gilberto Rivera and the treasure trove cops say they found in his car. Bottom: That’s not a dashboard console (l,), it’s a place to stash gun and dope.


By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 


When Kearny Vice Squad detectives busted a Newark man for drug possession/distribution Oct. 17 on Maple St., they reported recovering 135 folds of heroin. While the suspect was languishing in the Hudson County Jail on $40,000 bail, the KPD obtained a search warrant for his impounded car. The result? A reported 365 additional folds — for a total of 500 — plus a fully-loaded .357 Magnum.

The accused, Gilberto Rivera, 32, is now being held on an added $150,000 bail, cash only, no 10% option. Authorities said he has a record of 11 prior arrests — including charges of kidnapping, drug distribution and gun possession — and eight felony convictions.

Rivera’s latest encounter with law began at 2 p.m., Oct. 17, when KPD Vice observed what appeared to be a hand-to- hand drug transaction in a 2006 Chevy Impala he had been driving on Maple St. near Liberty St.

The buyer, described as a “known drug violator,” was identified as Carol Enright, 37, of Kearny, who reportedly discarded several folds of suspected heroin within the car as the officers approached.

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Clerk for Kearny doc stole 500G


A woman who had worked as a receptionist at a Kearny medical office pleaded guilty last week to embezzling nearly a half-million dollars from her employer, as well as using fraudulent credit cards to make more than $200,000 in personal purchases, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Gwendolyn Muller, 53, faces up to 25 years in prison when she is sentenced in February.

Muller was said to be a former resident of Kearny. Authorities revealed neither her current address nor the identity of the medical practice where she had been employed.

She pleaded guilty Oct. 20 before U.S. District Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court to one count each of embezzlement, credit card fraud and tax evasion.

According to prosecutors, Muller worked for a Kearny physician from 2007 through 2011, during which time she used her position to obtain and cash more than $446,000 in checks that had been paid to the medical practice by patients’ insurance companies.

Court documents noted that, as the receptionist, she handled the mail and had unsupervised access to the office computer system, which she used to conceal the embezzlement.

In addition, she fraudulently obtained 10 credit cards in the name of a principal of the practice and used these to charge at least $218,000 in goods and personal services. Muller also admitted to filing a false tax return to evade the payment of taxes on the illegally obtained income.

The embezzlement and credit card counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison; the tax count, five years in prison.

All three counts are also punishable by a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross loss or gain caused by the offense.

Under terms of the plea agreement, Muller is required to forfeit $556,000 to the United States.

Fishman credited special agents of the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation with the investigation leading to the guilty plea.

– Karen Zautyk 

Don’t expect cops at grid games

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


On Saturday, Oct. 17, the normal presence of local bluecoats to provide security for Kearny High football games was missing. Nor were they available for the Kearny High girls soccer tourney Oct. 19 at Cochrane Stadium in Jersey City.

And they will likely be missing for the balance of the season – and for all other Kearny school-related events – because the Kearny Board of Education is unwilling to pay the going hourly rate.

Provisional Superintendent of Schools Patricia Blood told The Observer last week that the amount of money now sought by the police for off-duty work simply wasn’t anticipated in the district’s budget when it was adopted in April.

Blood said the district brought in additional school security personnel to cover for the absent cops at the weekend games, “which, by the way, were incident-free,” she added.

Off-duty pay for Kearny police officers is set by the labor contract between the town and the police unions and the current contract calls for cops to be compensated for that work at the rate of $55 per hour, except for school-related jobs which are to be compensated at $40 an hour.

That $40-an-hour rate has been in place since September 2012. Before that, it was $25 an hour.

However, according to Blood, this September, the district was contacted by Sgt. John Manley, on behalf of the Police Department, “who told us they were planning to raise the [school] rates.”

To that end, the mayor and Town Council were asked to introduce an ordinance to increase the rate from $40 to $55 an hour at their Oct. 14 meeting, which they did but the new rate cannot go into effect until it is adopted at a public hearing that was tentatively scheduled for Oct. 29.

There were no plans by the district to send anyone to the meeting to oppose the proposed rate hike. Instead, Blood said, the district is “working on an alternate [security] plan, including the possibility of bringing on more teachers [to supplement school security]. They’re familiar with our students who generally respond positively to them and, between the two [security and teachers], we should be able to ensure a safe environment.”

Under their union contract, teachers are entitled to $36 an hour for overtime work while security personnel get less, so the district will likely be able to afford such a deployment scenario, she said.

District records supplied by School Business Administrator/ Board Secretary Michael DeVita show that the district spent $21,000 for “police charges” in 2010-2011, $20,970 in 2011-2012, $19,980 in 2012- 2013, $25,360 in 2013-2014 and $11,715 through fall 2014.

For many districts comparable in size to Kearny, it’s quite common to get by with one person in uniform and several staff to cover an event, Blood added.

Asked his take on the cops’ school rate predicament, Police Chief John Dowie said: “It’s a matter of being competitive” with what the private security market will bear. And, he said, there are always plenty of off-duty jobs available, “so I can assure the Board of Education they’re not being snubbed.”

On a typical day, Dowie said, “I have six contractors, be it ShopRite, Walmart, Fletcher Creamer, Public Service, looking to get police employees. Besides that, I have eight men assigned to Pulaski Skyway details between 6 a.m. and midnight.

“Plus, every week it seems, there’s some kind of public event – whether it’s a 5k run or a religious procession or July 4th fireworks – those posts have to be manned,” he added.

In Kearny, Dowie said, cops “have always worked Board of Education details for less [money]” in deference to giving back to local schools, but “if they can get a job paying more, why not?”

Generally, he said, Board of Education off-duty jobs “are designated to one individual but if that individual doesn’t want the job, you can’t order a guy to do it.” Such assignments are voluntary, he added.

And even if no uniformed personnel are on site for a schoolrelated event, “we certainly have patrols in area, if they need assistance,” the chief said. Plus, he added, even with the Police Department’s ranks “stretched too thin,” the department “still has a Cops in School program in place every day.”

Kearny High PTA President Irene Olawski couldn’t readily be reached for her assessment of the students’ safety situation.

KPD: A formula for crime


If you see the gentleman in the photo accompanying this week’s blotter — particularly if you see him in the babyfood aisle — you might give the Kearny police a call. They would like to chat with him.

The man in the mugshot is Danny Morales, 36, of Newark, who has made two prior appearances in the KPD blotter this month. On Oct. 2, he was charged with shoplifting $88 worth of Enfamil from Walmart. On Oct. 14, he allegedly stole $80 worth of the baby formula from the same store and was again arrested.

On Oct. 17, the KPD had, concidentally, their 17th encounter with Morales, Chief John Dowie reported. Officer John Travelino was called to Walmart at 7:15 p.m. and took into custody the same suspect, this time for allegedly shoplifting four Enfamil cans, worth $63. Morales was charged and released on a summons, only to return to Walmart on Oct. 20 and allegedly steal four more cans.

Officer Daniel Esteves responded to that 7 p.m. report and was told by loss prevention that this time Morales had pushed one of the security officers and fled through the parking lot. That push elevates simple theft to a charge of robbery.

Det. Scott Traynor is handling the case, and a robbery warrant has been issued.

In case you’re wondering about the strange affinity for baby formula, it apparently is readily fenced to certain smaller stores for cash.

• • •

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

Oct. 16 

Officer Jose Resua took a 6 p.m. report of a 2002 Jeep having been stolen from the 100 block of Windsor St. After a review of security videotapes and further investigation, Officer John Fabula and Det. Michael Gonzalez developed as a suspect Douglas Welfl, 29, of Kearny. A warrant has been issued for his arrest on charges of burglary and theft.


At 7:30 p.m., Vice Squad detectives observed Ernesto Rosabal, 47, of Kearny riding a bike at Chestnut and Boyd Sts. with what appeared to be a capped hypodermic needle protruding from his sock. After this was confirmed, police said, a search incident to arrest produced seven folds of suspected heroin, stamped “No Good Deed,” and a bag of suspected cocaine. He was charged with possession of the needle, the drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Oct. 19 

Officers Tom Pontrella and Tom Floyd responded to a 10:30 p.m. report of of an armed assault at an Exxon station on the Lincoln Highway in South Kearny. The victims, two truckers from Texas, said they had been sleeping in the cab of their vehicle when they were awakened by a gunman who ordered them to get out and lie face down on the ground. After striking one of the truckers on the head with the gun, the assailant fled, taking with him only the keys to the vehicle. The victim was treated at St. Michael’s Medical Center and was released. Det. Ray Lopez is investigating the case.

Oct. 20 

Officers Glenn Reed and Jay Balogh, patrolling in South Kearny at 11:30 p.m., pulled over a 2004 Lexus that ran a stop sign at Rts. 1/9 and Hackensack Ave. Motorist Keith Rodriguez, 23, of Jersey City, was charged with that offense and driving with a suspended license.

Oct. 21 

At 4 p.m., a teenager reportedly stole a tip jar from the counter of a cafe on the 100 block of Kearny Ave., struck the proprietor and fled on foot, pursued by the cafe owner and a good Samaritan. They chased him to Patterson St., where he escaped by climbing onto a garage roof and jumping off the other side, police said.

Detectives canvassed the area, recovering the jar, viewed security videos and identified as a probable suspect a 17-year-old from Newark.

Police said he was the same youth recently apprehended for trespassing in yards on Ivy St. and for possession of a weapon, a knife, outside Kearny High School.

At 9 p.m., police said, the teen returned to the scene of the theft, where he was arrested by Det. Ray Lopez on a robbery charge and a Hudson County Family Court warrant. He was remanded to the county Juvenile Detention Center.

Oct. 22 

Shortly after midnight, Officers Frank West, Ben Wuelfing and Chris Medina were called to the 100 block of Brighton Ave. on a report of two suspicious individuals, who were then spotted near Liberty St. One managed to flee, but the second, who identified himself as Jason Bryan, 27, of Newark, was detained — and arrested after a warrant check showed Bryan was wanted by Newark.

The detainee turned out not to be Bryan at all. A fingerprint check at headquarters showed he was Anthony Booker, 27, of Newark, himself the subject of three warrants: two from Newark, one from Essex County.

Booker was charged on those and with hindering apprehension and was held for the Essex County Sheriff ’s Office.


Officer Rich Carbone, on patrol at 9:30 p.m., saw a 2003 Nissan — with no front license plate — speeding west on Quincy Ave. at Devon St. Stopping it at Devon and Bergen Ave., he reportedly detected the odor of marijuana and observed in the car a partially smoked joint, a pipe and a marijuana grinder.

Driver Yannick Benavides, 19, of Kearny, was charged with possession of pot and paraphernalia and was issued summonses for careless driving, being an unlicensed driver, the missing plate and possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle.

–Karen Zautyk 

Residents cautioned by cops on home burglaries: NPD blotter

The Nutley Police Department is warning residents to be wary of suspicious activity around their homes, given a higher than usual call for service for residential burglaries.

During the past two months, the PD has responded to reports of 10 burglaries, of which three were attempted burglaries.

Since September, police have been called to check locations on Whitford, Bloomfield, Grant, Gless and Conover Aves., Wilshire and Winthrop Drives, and Pake St. Detectives are continuing to investigate every lead on each of the incidents.

Nutley Mayor/Police Director Alphonse Petracco and Police Chief Tom Strumolo said they have initiated supplemental patrols and intelligence sharing activities with the aim of putting a stop to these incidents.

Police are encouraging anyone who sees anything suspicious, whether individuals or vehicles, to call headquarters at 973-284-4940.

Between Oct. 18 and 24, Nutley PD responded to 14 disputes, 26 motor vehicle accidents, 11 suspicious incidents and three missing juveniles, in addition to these matters:

Oct. 18 

Owners of a Winthrop Drive home reported that while they were away, someone got inside – probably through a rear window – and rummaged through the interior.


A Coeyman Ave. resident told police they spotted a man described as white, about 5-feet-10, about 200 pounds, wearing a green hooded sweat shirt, dark hair and dark beard, holding a smart phone, in their yard after hearing their dog barking. After the resident yelled out, the man ran through the yard north onto Laura Ave. Police checked the area but couldn’t find him.


When police and fire units responded to a smoke condition at a Franklin Ave. building, they found residents in the lobby trying to rouse the occupant of an apartment where a smoke alarm had sounded and smoke was seen. One was knocking on the door so hard he hurt his hand and was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center for treatment. Meanwhile, the Fire Department made a forced entry to the apartment where they found a pan with food had been left on the stove and was on fire. At this point, the tenant woke up, reportedly refused to leave and blocked the doorway, interfering with firefighters so police arrested Tom Edison, 64, of Staten Island, N.Y., on charges of obstructing administration of law or other governmental function. He was and released pending a court date.


A Ridge Road resident told police that a car drove across their lawn, for the third time this year, causing damage to it.

Oct. 20 

A man was observed walking onto wet cement where a sidewalk in front of an E. Centre St. residence was under construction, leaving behind footsteps in the cement. Police said the man told them he didn’t realize the cement was freshly poured.


Rose Guido of Nutley was issued a summons for shoplifting after the manager of a Harrison St. business told police that the woman allegedly tried to conceal various items totaling $102.86 in her purse and walk out without paying. Guido told police she was sorry but she had no money.


A burglar kicked in the front door of a Bloomfield Ave. home to get inside, police said. When the resident returned home, they found the interior lights on and much of the apartment disrupted: a mattress overturned, various drawers pulled out and contents strewn about. Both Nutley PD detectives and the Crime Scene Division of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating.

Oct. 21 

Michael Regno, 44, of Nutley, was issued a summons for disorderly conduct after police said he disrupted a Washington Ave. auto dealership by yelling about his car not starting while in the dealership parking lot. When officers tried to calm him, police said Regno flew into a rage and began shouting derogatory comments about the owner. He was advised not to return.

Oct. 24 

While on patrol on Franklin Ave., at about 1 a.m., police noticed an occupied vehicle parked for a long time in front of closed businesses. After checking the vehicle’s registration, police learned that there was an active warrant from Bloomfield for the vehicle’s registered owner who was the driver. Christina Hernandez, 38, of Nutley, was arrested but released, pending a court date, after posting bail.


Police were called to a Gless Ave. home where the owner had noticed damage to his front door. Police said they noticed chip marks on the bottom of the door frame and other damage suggesting someone had tried to kick in the door but didn’t get inside.


A Conover Ave. resident told police they’d just returned home only to find that their back door had been tampered with. Detectives are investigating.

 – Ron Leir 

Cops thwart jewelry robber



Last Tuesday, Oct. 14, happened to be the birthday of a woman visiting Harrison but it was marred by an unfortunate incident.

Police said the 61-year-old woman and her husband were walking west on Harrison Ave., at 2:53 p.m., when a man riding a bicycle passed the couple, then circled back and grabbed a gold chain from her neck while pushing the woman to the ground.

Police said the robber then ditched the bike and fled on foot on Harrison Ave.

Police said the robber, who was being chased by several men who had reportedly witnessed the incident, was described as an African-American, with long black dreadlocks, wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans.

As the civilians pursued the suspect onto William St., Harrison Police Dets. Corey Karas and Dave Doyle – after getting a call about a theft from a female victim – ran from headquarters on Cleveland Ave. to Third St., anticipating they’d head off the suspect, who, they reasoned, would be aiming to find the quickest route out of town, possibly to Newark.

And this they did, spotting a man with a black knapsack running on the north side of William St. approaching Third, Doyle said. “We cut him off and ordered him to the ground.”

After the victim and two witnesses positively identified the man as the individual involved in the episode, police placed him under arrest and a search of the suspect yielded the stolen piece of jewelry in his pocket, Doyle said.

The victim, who told police the 30-inch-long chain was a wedding necklace valued at $300, was treated by emergency medical personnel from MONOC (Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service Corp.) for injuries to her neck and hands that she sustained from the suspect pushing her to the ground.

A bicycle, which police believe was the bike the suspect was pedaling at the time of the crime, was recovered at the scene, police said.

The suspect, identified as Curtis Rowe-Williams, 24, of Newark, was charged with robbery, a first degree crime.

Police said that Rowe- Williams, who has a history of prior arrests, was wanted on an active drug-related warrant from Newark. He was taken to Hudson County Jail in Kearny on $75,000 bail with no 10% option.

Harrison Police Chief Derek Kearns commended the two detectives for anticipating the suspect’s potential flight route and for proceeding on that basis, rather than going to the crime scene itself. “It was a good call,” he said.

Police said the victim told them she was planning to return to her native country India the day after the crime.

– Ron Leir 

2 adults found dead


Police are investigating what they characterized as a murder-suicide in Belleville.

Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, said that the Belleville PD responded to a residential location on New St. on Friday, Oct. 17, at 6 p.m., to check on the status of resident John Sykes, 47, after Sykes hadn’t shown up for work.

Inside, police discovered the lifeless bodies of Sykes and Felicia Hunt, 23, Carter said.

“It appears to be a murder-suicide,” Carter said.

Police believe there was some type of relationship between Sykes and Hunt, Carter said.

The bodies were removed to the offices of the Essex County Medical Examiner where an autopsy was to be conducted, according to Carter.

Carter said the incident remains under investigation. No further details were readily available at The Observer’s press time.

– Ron Leir 

Arrest in sex case & more: NPD blotter


A local man has been arrested on charges of sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Members of the Nutley Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said the arrest stemmed from an investigation of claims of a sexual relationship between Jonathan Matos, 23, and a 14-year-old Nutley girl over the past year, police said.

Police said the prosecutor’s office authorized charges to be brought on Oct. 10, at which time Nutley PD drafted warrants for Matos’s arrest.

Matos was apprehended on Spring St. in Nutley and is now being held at Essex County Jail on $250,000 bail pending court action.


Nutley PD and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department conducted joint surveillance behind Nutley School on Friday, Oct. 17, and arrested Neil Allarey, 19, of Nutley, and Antonio Reyes, 19, of Passaic Park, for allegedly selling CDS to a 13-year-old middle school student.

Detectives recovered marijuana, Schedule II narcotics and paraphernalia.

Allarey and Reyes face various drug charges. Allarey was released after posting a portion of his $75,000 bail, pending court action, and Reyes ws freed pending a court date. The student was charged with possession of CDS and released pending a juvenile hearing.


Between Oct. 11 and 17, Nutley PD responded to 15 motor vehicle accidents, 10 disputes, 34 medical calls and the following incidents:

Oct. 11 

A motor vehicle stop on Clover St. resulted in the arrest of Eric Abreu, 22, of Nutley, for outstanding warrants from Lyndhurst and Edgewater, police said. He was also ticketed for driving with a suspended license. Abreu posted bail for the Edgewater warrant and was released by Lyndhurst PD pending court dates.


A Passaic Ave. resident reported a series of suspicious calls from an unknown number. The resident told police it sounded like someone was on the line but then hung up after a few minutes. Police said the resident’s ID was previously stolen.

Oct. 12 

Police responded to a Washington Ave. gas station on a report of theft of services. The attendant told officers that after he’d finished pumping $40 worth of fuel for a silver Dodge Charger, the driver, a black woman with two children in the back seat, drove off south on Washington Ave. into Belleville without paying. Police said the car was registered to an East Orange resident.


Police were called to a Stanley Ave. location on a report of criminal mischief to a vehicle. The owner told police someone had poured some type of liquid on top of, and next to, the vehicle, causing the car’s paint to peel.

Oct. 14

Police were alerted to illegal dumping on Prospect St. near Hawthorne Ave. where, a resident reported, someone drives by regularly and leaves empty bottles of beer and liquor on the sidewalk. Police found a broken bottle near the curb. The resident said they’d already cleared away up two other bottles. No description of the vehicle was provided to police.

Oct. 15 

The theft of a large amount of money from a vehicle parked on Washington Ave. was reported to police. The victim told police they’d withdrawn $7,063 from a company account at the bank and placed a folder with the cash in their vehicle. After driving to a local store, the victim said they locked the car and, after a 15-minute stay, returned to find the cash gone. Police said they found no sign of forced entry.

Oct. 16 

A Pake St. resident told police they’d returned to their home after having been gone 2 ó hours to find the rear door forced open. Police said they found damage to a door jam and pry marks to an interior door that provided access to the main floor. Detectives are investigating.

– Ron Leir 

3rd swastika suspect charged



The third member of a Belleville trio suspected in the vandalism of vehicles at a Kearny trucking company was arrested last week on charges of bias intimidation, criminal mischief and conspiracy, Kearny Police Chief John Dowie reported.

Adonis Giron, 20, turned himself in at KPD headquarters Oct. 15 after being contacted by Det. Michael Gonzalez, chief investigator on the case, Dowie said.

His bail was set at $25,000, and he was subsequently released after posting 10%, authorities reported,

The previous week, Gonzalez and Det. John Plaugic had arrested Frederick Vangeldren, 26, and Akim Dolor, 24, both also of Belleville, in connection with the incident at Star City trucking on Third St. in Kearny.

On the morning of Oct. 3, a company manager had discovered four trucks vandalized, two of them spray-painted with swastikas. Police said Star City’s owner is Jewish.

Vangeldren and Dolor face the same charges as Giron.

Dowie noted that Gonzalez had developed the suspects after viewing security videos in the neighborhood.

All reports connected with the case have been forwarded to the state Bias Crimes Unit

– Karen Zautyk 

Assault suspect



A 44-year-old North Arlington man has been arrested for child endangerment after “repeatedly striking” a borough 6-yearold, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli reported last week.

The suspect, Alex Shenouda of Rutherford Place, was remanded to the Bergen County Jail on $100,000 bail, with no 10% option.

Authorities said the assault was reported by the principal of the victim’s school after the school nurse observed bruising on the child’s leg and back. The principal contacted North Arlington police, who notified the prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit and the Division of Child Protection.

Molinelli’s office would reveal neither the gender of the victim nor what relationship, if any, there is between the child and the alleged assailant.

Shenouda, who reportedly is married and employed as a delivery man, was arrested Oct. 10 by borough police and officers from the SVU.

Arrangements were made for the victim to be interviewed by an SVU detective at the Audrey Hepburn Children’s House in Hackensack. According to the prosecutor, the child “provided specific details” about being struck by Shenouda several times, causing the bruising.

Shenouda was charged with one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

He was ordered to have no contact with the victim or the victim’s family and also to surrender his passport.

– Karen Zautyk