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Category: Police & Fire News

Now she can bank on prison

Photo courtesy Newark PD
Valeria Parziale

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


A 35-year-old Harrison woman who robbed three banks over a three-week span earlier this year is facing up to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty in Federal Court in Newark, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced. The robbery spree had begun in Harrison.

Valeria Parziale entered her plea last Wednesday, Sept. 24, in connection with the Valentine’s Day hold-up of a Wells Fargo Bank in Newark.

Fishman said she also admitted to the two other heists: one at a Valley National Bank in Harrison on Jan. 30; the other, at a Popular Community Bank in Newark on Feb. 20.

Parziale, who reportedly has 15 aliases, was arrested by Newark police in that city on Feb. 24 and has been in custody since then.

Authorities said the first in her trio of crimes occurred at Valley National, 433 Harrison Ave., near S. Fifth St. According to the complaint filed by the FBI, Parziale, wearing a dark, hooded jacket, entered that bank at approximately 1:40 p.m., Jan. 30, and handed a teller a note reading: “Don’t BE Stupid! Put $3,000 in envelope 50/lOO’s I got a gun! Hurry Up.”

Although she claimed to be armed, no weapon was seen. (She, however, was clearly seen on the security video.)

There reportedly were seven employees but only one other customer in the bank at the time.

Parziale fled with approximately $3,000, leaving the note behind. Harrison police said investigation later revealed that she entered a cab several blocks away and was driven to Newark.

On Feb. 14, Parziale — this time wearing a hat, sunglasses and a wig — hit the Newark Wells Fargo Bank, demanding $3,500, again via a note indicating she was armed, the FBI said. The indictment provided the exact amount handed over: $3,320.28.

In the Feb. 20 incident at the Popular Community Bank, the robber once more produced a note demanding $3,500 but setting a 15-second time limit, authorities said. The complaint stated: “The teller told Parziale to wait, but Parziale left the bank before she received any money.”

When Parziale was nabbed in Newark four days later, she reportedly was in possession of a wig, sunglasses and a note that read, “I have a gun Don’t be stupid Give me $3,500 now! Put in envelope! You got 10 seconds! Don’t Risk Yourself.”

Following the Harrison robbery, surveillance photos had been circulated among law enforcement agencies. Kearny detectives obtained an identification on the suspect and turned the information over to the Harrison PD, which was working with Newark and the FBI. Fishman thanked both the Kearny and Harrison PDs “for their excellent work in this case.”

Parziale’s sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 23.

Along with the maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison, she faces a $250,000 fine.

He preyed on dementia victim



A routine traffic stop by Bloomfield police earlier this year played a role in the investigation of, and guilty plea by, an East Orange man who stole $50,000 from a 90-year-old, dementia-stricken friend, authorities reported.

On Friday, in Essex County Superior Court, defendant Gilbert Vaughn, 64, pleaded guilty to second-degree insurance fraud, third-degree unlawful theft by taking and fourth-degree identity theft.

Vaughn and his victim reportedly were residents of the same senior citizens housing facility.

According to New Jersey acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and Ronald Chillemi, prosecutor for the Office of Insurance Fraud, Vaughn had coerced the victim into withdrawing the money from an annuity account when the state Office of the Public Guardian for the Elderly began protecting the man’s finances.

In July 2013, the 90-year-old was placed into state guardianship. In August 2013, the $50,000 was cashed out before the company holding his annuity froze the account.

On June 3 of this year, Bloomfield Police Officer Anthony Piccinno and Sgt. Thomas Fano pulled Vaughn over on Bloomfield Ave. for a motor vehicle violation. Authorities said he was operating the victim’s Toyota and, when asked for identity, produced victim’s driver’s license. A fraud investigation followed.

“Vaughn was well-aware of the victim’s diminished capacity and had followed the public guardian’s legal proceedings closely,” said Chillemi, adding, “His crimes are disturbing, especially given that he exploited a susceptible man with dementia.”

Hoffman said, “Some in New Jersey’s elderly population are able to rely on their family or friends to assist them with their financial affairs. The victim in this case, sadly, was not that fortunate.” The AG called Vaughn “a criminal who viewed the victim as easy prey.”

Sentencing is set for Nov. 14. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend a five-year term in state prison.

– Karen Zautyk 

KPD drug busts: It’s all relative

Two Harrison men were arrested separately on drug charges last week, one while he was driving into the town, one at his home. Police said the accused are brothers.

At 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 24, Kearny Vice Squad officers spotted a Toyota Camry traveling from Kearny into Harrison on Harrison Ave. and were aware that the driver had a suspended license and a contempt-ofcourt warrant from North Arlington, KPD Chief John Dowie said.

After Dino Bermudez, 30, was taken into custody, a search incident to arrest revealed he was in possession of 30 Oxycontin tablets, police reported. He was charged with possession of a CDS, possession with intent to distribute, possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle and in/near a school zone.

Several hours later, Vice cops, armed with a search warrant, visited the Bermudez residence and reported recovering 50 glassine bags of heroin, stamped “Sin City”; 50 folds of heroin, stamped “Superman”; $149 in currency and several cell phones.

Marcos Bermudez, 31, was charged with possession and distribution of the drug, distribution in a school zone and possession of drug paraphernalia.


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

 Sept. 19 

At 9 a.m., School Resource Officer Steven Montanino, assigned to Kearny High School, advised headquarters he had arrested a 15-year-old student who was involved in a physical altercation with school security officers. When Montanino interceded, police said, the youth continued to be aggressive and had to be forcibly handcuffed. He was charged with aggravated assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and was later released to the custody of his father.

Sept. 20 

At 9 p.m., Officer John Fabula responded to Walmart on a report of a man assaulting his girlfriend in the parking lot. Police said the officer stopped the suspect’s SUV as it was leaving the property and found that the driver, Luis Diaz, 24, of Elizabeth, had a Newark warrant for possession of drug paraphernalia.

The woman, whom Diaz had left behind in the lot, was advised of her rights but reportedly would not press charges, and since she had no visible injuries, Diaz could not be arrested for domestic violence. He was arrested on the warrant.

Sept. 22 

Shortly after midnight, Officers Chris Medina and Ben Wuelfing went to Walmart when store security reported that two men were using a knife to cut open packages. The officers located the suspects near the jewelry department and took into custody Lawrence Roland, 22, and Michael Jones, 25, both of Newark, They were charged with shoplifting, conspiracy, possession of a weapon and possession of burglar tools.


Officers Chris Levchak and Daniel Esteves, patrolling on the Belleville Pike at 7:45 p.m., saw an eastbound car swerving in the roadway, nearly hitting another vehicle and a concrete divider, police said. After FSTs and an Alcotest, driver Carlos Escaleira, 52, of Garfield was charged with DWI and careless driving.

Sept. 23 

Chapter 1: At 2 p.m., after concerned citizens reported an individual entering backyards and driveways on the 200 block of Ivy St., units converged on the area. Near Hickory St. and Oakwood Ave., Chief Dowie spotted and detained the suspect, a 16-year-old Kearny male who reportedly became confrontational under questioning. When backup officers Det. Lt. Anthony Gouveia, Det. Marc McCaffrey and P.O. Philip Finch arrived, McCaffrey recognized the youth from a prior encounter, police said. One of the Ivy St. residents identified the suspect, who was charged with trespassing and obstruction of justice — for allegedly failing to provide ID information. The teen was released to his father’s custody.

Sept. 24

Chapter 2: Officers John Travelino and Jordenson Jean were assigned to monitor dismissal at Kearny High School after “threats of unrest” were made following the earlier ejection of a student from the building. At 2 p.m., they observed the same 16-yearold who had been taken into custody the previous day. (He was not the student who had been ejected.) As they approached the youth, he reportedly ran and appeared to be clutching something in his pocket.

Apprehended, he was found to be in possession of a “large folding knife,” police said. He was charged with obstruction and with unlawful possession of a weapon.

And he was again released to the custody of his father.

– Karen Zautyk 

News from the Nutley police blotter

During the past week, Nutley PD responded to six suspicious incidents, eight disputes, 14 motor vehicle accidents and 40 medical calls, in addition to the following logged incidents:

Sept. 20 

Roger Maldonado-Melgar, 20, of Newark, was charged with eluding and resisting arrest after police said he refused orders to pull over while reportedly reaching a speed of 74 mph traveling south on Rt. 21. Police said he was finally stopped in Newark. He was also ticketed for alleged violations of DUI, speeding, unlicensed, careless driving and failure to keep right on highway with marked lanes. He was released pending a court date.


Two separate incidents of identity theft were reported. In the first, someone opened an AT&T Wireless account in the victim’s name and ordered two iPhones and service, for which the victim was billed $229. The defrauder used the victim’s driver’s license and Social Security number to open the account. Police said the suspect who made the transaction was described as a light-skinned white or Hispanic male, with close-cropped brown hair, between 5-feeteight and 5-feet-10, in his early to late 40s.

In the second incident, the victim was fraudulently billed by Credit Collection Services, Newton, Mass., for a past due amount of $3,837 owed to Verizon. The victim had no outstanding Verizon balance and was told that Verizon retains no collection agencies, police said.


Michael Montero, 19, of Belleville, was arrested while parked in Flora Louden Park off Hancox Ave. after police said he was found to have a green leafy substance consistent with marijuana, an “Entourage” cigar which is commonly used to smoke marijuana, a green water bong and a bag of burnt “roaches.” He was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and issued motor vehicle summonses for possession of CDS in a motor vehicle and uninsured vehicle. He was released pending a court appearance.

Sept. 21 

Someone entered a vehicle parked on Warren St. Police said the ignition had been broken. It was unclear whether this was a forced entry.


Two Belleville men were apprehended at 2 a.m. at Walnut St. and Nutley Ave. after police learned they had outstanding warrants. Police said Joshua Garcia, 22, had two active warrants from Belleville and Christopher Gallo, 21, had an active warrant from Paramus. Garcia was turned over to Belleville PD after declining to post bail while Gallo was released after he posted bail.


In an apparent fraud incident, the victim made a purchase at an unidentified store via a card swipe on a phone and, two days later, learned that several unauthorized transactions totaling more than $400 had been made to their card. Sept. 23  Someone smashed the rear window of a van parked on Plymouth Road, police said.


Police responded to Holy Family Church on Brookline Ave. on a criminal mischief report. The parish’s Good Shepherd Academy school custodian told police that a man he described as white, with blond-brown hair and no shirt, was roller blading and hitting flowers with a stick. Police said several flowers had been uprooted. A check of the area was negative, police said. A day later, a school official notified police that someone had damaged seven plants and defaced a plaque on the north side of the older church near the sidewalk, causing $100 in damages.


Police made a motor vehicle stop on Washington Ave. after discovering that the driver had active warrants from Clifton, Montclair and Belleville. Joseph Geraldo, 25, of Nutley, was also charged with possession of CDS, possession with intent to distribute and possession of CDS with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school (Washington) after police said a search of Geraldo revealed a pill bottle containing Xanax and a folded dollar bill holding seven pills identified as oxycodone. Geraldo was taken to Essex County Jail after failing to post bail set at $25,000 with a 10% cash option.

Sept. 24 

A Centre St. store owner called police to report that a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt had swiped the pile of newspapers delivered to the front of the store.

Sept. 25 

Police responded to a 9-1-1 call from a Myrtle Ave. residence on a report of a prowler. The resident told police that while watching TV, they heard a car door close outside their window and saw a young white female with long dark-colored hair, wearing a dark-colored dress with a wave pattern checking out the vehicles parked in their driveway. After realizing that she was being watched, the female slipped into the passenger seat of a dark-colored SUV parked with its lights off which then drove away onto Park Ave.


Someone stole a silver mountain bike valued at $60 from the side of a residence on Prospect St., the owner told police.


Two cases of identity fraud were reported. In the first, someone opened a Verizon Wireless account using the victim’s name and Social Security number. In the second incident, someone charged an item to the victim’s credit card via Lord & Taylor Online but subsequently canceled the order, then made a subsequent attempt to charge an item at a Pennsylvania store. The victim closed their account and received a new card, police said.

Sept. 26 

Police received a report of a case of identity theft involving a victim who applied for unemployment insurance but was declined on the basis of the unemployment office having a record of the victim currently working in Virginia. The office advised the victim that someone was working under their social security number but wasn’t sure what name they were using.

– Ron Leir 

Harrison police blotter entries

Sept. 22

At about 4:35 p.m., the owner of a 2009 Hyundai Elantra came into Harrison Police HQ to report that someone damaged his vehicle while it was parked on Cleveland Ave., just off Hiram Place, sometime between 4 p.m. Sept. 20 and 9:45 a.m. Sept. 22.

Police said the vehicle was scratched on the driver’s side, from the fender to the rear door.

The owner told police that two weeks prior, when his vehicle was parked in the same location, someone had placed on his vehicle’s windshield a note written on the back of a receipt from Kearny Auto Spa saying that the way the vehicle was parked, it had taken up two parking spaces. At that time, the vehicle was untouched, the owner reported.

Sept. 23 

At about 7:30 p.m., a man entered HQ to report a theft. The man told police that when he’d entered his Washington St. apartment at 4:30 p.m., he discovered that his laptop and iPod were missing.

The HP Pavilion laptop was valued at about $700 while the iPod touch was priced at about $200, the tenant told police.

Earlier in the day, the man told police he had friends in the apartment.

Detectives are investigating.

– Ron Leir 

Kearny fire displaces 5


By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent 


A kitchen fire last Thursday temporarily displaced five persons and sent one of them to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, officials reported.

KFD Chief Steve Dyl said units responded to a 7:02 p.m. call Sept. 18 at a two-family residence on John Hay Ave., below Schuyler Ave.

The blaze was confined to the second-floor kitchen and was extinguished within 20 minutes, but all five occupants of the dwelling were relocated for the night, Dyl said, and would likely remain displaced until the structure was inspected by the buildings department.

Initially, there was a report that someone was trapped inside the home, but that turned out not to be the case.

Dyl said the blaze was accidental and was ignited by cooking oil.

“Luckily, the occupant who was doing the cooking knew not to put water on it [the burning oil], and she got out immediately,” the chief said.

But he said a downstairs resident initially attempted to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher, and she suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville.

Dyl said the occupants all left the home, “which was important, because had they stayed, injuries would have been more severe.” And he reiterated the standard advice: “Get out and stay out, and call the Fire Department.

While Kearny firefighters were at the scene, the Jersey City FD provided coverage to the town.

News from Nutley PD blotter


At about 10 p.m. on Sept. 11, Nutley police arrested 48-year-old Martin Lucas of Newark in connection with a drug transaction.

Police said detectives conducting surveillance observed Lucas driving a 1999 Mercury SUV at Vreeland and Hillside Aves. and spotted a woman known to use narcotics walk up to the vehicle and allegedly make a transaction.

Police said detectives approached the car and saw a bag containing suspected crack cocaine in close proximity to the driver.

Lucas was taken into custody and charged with possession of CDS and distribution of CDS.

He was taken to Essex County Jail after failing to post $25,000 bail, pending a court appearance.

Police said they learned that Lucas also had three outstanding warrants from Newark and one from Nutley totaling nearly $2,000.

Police said the woman, who was not in possession of drugs at the time of Lucas’s arrest, was not charged.


A Nutley man has been linked by police to two crimes committed in the township within an eight-day period.

On Aug. 14, police said a woman parked her car at an E. Centre St. location momentarily to drop off a family member. As she was entering an apartment, a young man passed her. She went inside and immediately turned back to her car, only to find the young man inside, allegedly taking her purse and then leaving the vehicle.

Police said the woman then ran after him until she confronted him near the Washington Ave. intersection where the man dropped the purse and ran away.

After the incident, detectives reviewed a tape taken from a private surveillance camera in the area of the incident to help get a description of the suspect.

Then, police said, on Aug. 26, a man with a similar description allegedly entered a new business on E. Centre St. and removed more than $500 from the cash register.

Detectives investigating both incidents positively identified the man as Fernando Acosta, 19, of Nutley.

Acosta was arrested and charged with burglary to auto and theft from the auto and theft at the business. He was ordered held at Essex County Jail on $30,000 bail, pending court action.

Nutley PD Martin Lucas.

Nutley PD
Martin Lucas.



During the past week, Nutley PD responded to 10 medical calls, 20 motor vehicle accidents, 11 suspicious incidents and 13 disputes, plus the following activities logged:

Sept. 13

A Washington Ave. resident reported the theft of a black iPhone. The resident told police they allowed an acquaintance the use of the phone but never got it back.


The owner of a vehicle parked on Park Ave. told police that when they returned to the car in the morning, they discovered that someone had tried to pry open the driver’s side door but couldn’t get inside.


An Oak St. resident reported being victimized by credit card fraud. The resident told police that someone had obtained their Social Security number and fraudulently opened accounts at Express, Victoria’s Secret and Mandee and that they’d received three credit cards and a bill for $748 from Victoria’s Secret charged on Sept. 2.

Someone left a bag of candy on the front porch of a Chestnut St. resident’s home, the owner told police. An unknown party has left candy six times within the past six months, the owner said.


An Ernest St. resident reported that within the last three weeks, someone had stolen their green metal filing cabinet, valued at $100, from their driveway.

Sept. 15 

A man drove up to a Centre St. business and swiped a bundle of 50 Star Ledger newspapers, valued at $50, from the curb


After observing an individual walking through side streets and appearing lost, police said they learned that the man, Enrique Garcia, 22, of North Bergen, was wanted on warrants from North Bergen and West New York. Garcia was released to the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department.


Police responded to an abandoned Funston Place residence after receiving a call about three males seen exiting a black pickup truck and entering the house. Upon arrival, police said they saw a man standing next to a black Chevy pickup. The man told them two other men were inside and police escorted them out. The three told police they worked for Safeguard Properties and were there to winterize the house and produced valid paperwork confirming that information. However, police said one of the three men, Harold B. Williams, 56, of Elizabeth, was found to have an outstanding warrant from Linden. He was turned over to Elizabeth PD.

Sept. 17 

After getting a report of a woman wearing a white sweater and carrying a large bag suspected of shoplifting at a Harrison St. drug store, police went to the location and spotted a woman matching the description. Police said the woman had on her person proceeds from the alleged shoplifting incident with a total value of $78. Carmen Richardson, 36, of Newark, was charged with shoplifting. Police said she also had an outstanding warrant from Verona. She was released to Verona PD.


A Bloomfield Ave. resident reported that someone removed a folding work table, a full bucket of copper wire, aluminum cans, screens, weights, A/C unites and an animal trap from their property. Total value of the missing items was listed as $950. Detectives are investigating.


A Kingsland Ave. resident told police that upon returning home, they found that someone had smashed their butane grill lighter, which is kept on the outside window sill on their back porch. A piece of the broken lighter was found wedged into the awning of the 8-foot-high back porch.

Sept. 18 

A motor vehicle investigation involving someone known to have an active warrant from Wildwood Crest resulted in the arrest of Frank DiLiberto, 20, of Nutley, on charges of possession of marijuana under 50 grams and resisting arrest. He was released pending a court date.

– Ron Leir 

Notes from the KPD blotter

Sept. 14 

Officer Chris Levchak, on patrol at 5:45 a.m., saw a man asleep behind the wheel of a car at a stoplight on Schuyler Ave. at Bergen Ave. The auto was running and the driver’s foot was on the brake, police said. Levchak secured the vehicle and reportedly detected the odor of alcohol. Gerard Reimers, 24, of Kearny, was brought to headquarters for an Alcotest and was charged with DWI, DWI in a school zone, and driving an unregistered vehicle.

Sept. 15 

At noon, Officer Jack Corbett and Sgt. Paul Bershefski responded to a report of several youths being threatened by a man in the area of Chestnut St. and Midland Ave. After interviewing them, the officers located and arrested Victor Vigilante, 50, of Kearny on charges of making terroristic threats and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.

Sept. 16 

Officer Steve Hroncich and Det. Bryant Obie responded to a noon report of a verbal dispute involving a man with a knife at a business at Kearny Ave. and Halstead St. Raul Polanco, 42, of Kearny was charged with aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.

Sept. 17 

Vice detectives, at Passaic and Johnston Aves. at 12:30 p.m., observed Scott Huaman, 24, of Kearny, whom they knew to have an outstanding Kearny warrant. After confirming this, they approached Huaman, who fled on foot along Passaic, police said. Overtaken and tackled, he reportedly fought efforts to handcuff him was charged with resisting arrest along with the aforementioned warrant. Police said that stemmed from a Sept. 9 incident in which he allegedly broke the jaw of a 26-year-old Kearny man.

Sept. 18 

At 7:40 p.m., the KPD received reports of two individuals attempting to enter a half-dozen parked vehicles on the 160 block of Hoyt St. Officers Brian Wisely and Frank West located and detained suspects Douglas Welfl, 29, and Alexander Harkes, 30, both of Kearny, who were arrested after Det. Ray Lopez obtained witness statements.

Harkes was charged with burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and attempted burglary/theft. Police said he also had three warrants — two from Kearny, one from Newark.

Welfl was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, attempted burglary and possession of burglar tools.

– Karen Zautyk 

One dead in Lyndhurst shooting


The state Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is investigating a fatal shooting of the driver of a stolen SUV at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border early Tuesday, Sept. 16, according to a press release issued by the AG’s Office.

The driver, identified as Kashad Ashford, 23, of Newark, was shot by police shortly before 2:30 a.m. after a pursuit and a passenger in the vehicle, listed as Jemmaine T. Bynes, 30, of East Orange, was arrested.

The AG’s Office said the two men, who reportedly had a weapon inside the vehicle, were being chased in connection with their alleged efforts to steal or break into vehicles. Read more »

DNA, the KPD & the NYPD


Back in April, Kearny police apprehended a Bayonne man for allegedly engaging in a “lewd and lacivious act” — on two separate occasions — in Walmart.

David Harper, 35, had reportedly been pleasuring himself, in close proximity to female shoppers. Police said he had fled the store after the initial offense, but when he returned about three weeks later, the KPD located him on the premises and arrested him.

Harper was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct.

The police also obtained a DNA swab from the suspect and entered the information in the national DNA database.

Last week, New York City police advised the Kearny Detective Bureau that, thanks to that DNA sample, the NYPD had developed Harper as a suspect in two sexual assaults in the city.

KPD Chief John Dowie said inquiries revealed that Harper had “an extensive record of arrests and convictions” in N.Y.C. before he moved to New Jersey. The charges included larceny, possession of stolen property, criminal impersonation, resisting arrest, and possession of a firearm, Dowie reported.

– Karen Zautyk