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Category: Police/Fire

Pedestrian killed; ruled ‘accidental’

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent


A 70-year-old Kearny woman was fatally injured last Wednesday night when she was struck by a motor vehicle while crossing Devon St. at Midland Ave., KPD Chief John Dowie reported.

Dowie said the victim was walking across Devon from west to east shortly after 8 p.m., March 18, when she was hit by a Jeep that was attempting to make a left turn off Midland.

P.O. Jay Ward, the first officer on the scene, summoned Kearny EMS and paramedics and attempted to render medical aid while awaiting their arrival, Dowie said.

The woman was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, where she was later pronounced dead.

Dowie said the Jeep’s driver, a 25-year-old Kearny man, remained at the scene and was “very cooperative.”

The chief said the incident appeared to be “purely accidental” and there was no indication any alcohol was involved.

Given the severity of the victim’s injuries, members of the KPD Fatal Accident Unit — Sgt. John Taylor and Officers Adriano Marques and Peter Blair — were called to the scene, and “as a matter of course,” the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office was notified, Dowie noted.

The HCPO has “determined there was no criminality involved,” he reported.

Authorities were withholding the identities of both the victim and the driver.

Accused burglar & robbery suspect nabbed


The separate arrests of two township men, one on a North Arlington burglary charge, the other on a hefty outstanding warrant, top the Kearny police blotter news this week.

At 7 p.m., March 16, Dets. Ray Lopez and Michael Farinola responded to a call about a suspicious person on the 600 block of Devon St. While they were checking the rear of a building there, they saw a man running away, Chief John Dowie said.

Following a short foot pursuit, during which the suspect reportedly discarded a cell phone under a parked car, they caught and detained Joseph Ferguson, 23, of Kearny.

Advised by a concerned citizen that Ferguson had possibly entered Devon St. from North Arlington, the detectives contacted police in that borough and were advised of a recent burglary there, Dowie said.

NAPD officers came to Devon St. and reportedly identified the cell phone and other items in the suspect’s possession as being among the stolen property.

According to North Arlington Police Chief Louis Ghione, the break-in occurred at a residence on Abbott Place and an Xbox, camera and assorted jewelry were also taken.

Ferguson was taken into custody by the NAPD.

• • •

On March 15, at 7:30 p.m., Det. Michael Gonzalez was on patrol when he saw Christopher Ochoa, 18, of Kearny, walking in the area of Kearny Ave. and Afton St. Dowie said the detective was aware of Ochoa’s having an outstanding warrant, confirmed same and arrested him.

KPD PHOTO AT TOP: Joseph Ferguson ABOVE: Christopher Ochoa

PHOTO AT TOP: Joseph Ferguson
ABOVE: Christopher Ochoa


That warrant, the chief said, was a $95,000 one out of Newark in connection with a “vicious” robbery on Garside St. in that city.

Ochoa was processed at headquarters and turned over to the Newark PD Robbery Unit.

• • •

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

March 13 

Officer Peter Jahera, responding to a possible hit-and-run on Passaic Ave, at the Belleville Pike at 8:15 p.m., learned that the driver whose car was struck had followed the fleeing vehicle, a pick-up truck, into Lyndhurst. where it had been stopped by North Arlington police on Riverside Ave. Following questioning by Jahera, and field sobriety tests, the truck’s driver, Marek Grotkowski, 51, of Wallington, was charged with DWI, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. Police reported that the victim said he had been stopped in traffic in front of Stewart’s when his car was rear-ended.

March 16 

Shortly after midnight, Officer Derek Hemphill got an alert on his mobile data computer that a 2008 Subaru he saw parked in the VFW lot off Belgrove Drive had a suspended registration. Approaching the car, he reportedly detected the odor of marijuana and observed inside: cigar shavings, a plastic grinder, a baggy containing suspected pot, a beer mug and an open bottle of rum.

Occupant Ana Sarmiento, 21, of Kearny, was charged with possession of pot and paraphernalia and was issued MV summonses for possession of CDS in an MV, having an open container of alcohol in same, and the registration violation.

The Subaru was impounded.

• • •

At 3:15 p.m., just as school was letting out, Officer Jay Ward received a report of a man walking past Franklin School on Davis Ave. consuming an alcoholic beverage. Ward saw and detained Robert Glasser, 51, of Harrison, at Davis and Wilson Aves., issued him a town ordinance summons for drinking (from a bottle of filtered vodka) in public — and arrested him on two warrants: one for an ordinance violation in Harrison and a $2,500 one out of Newark for allegedly “wandering in a drug area.” Harrison and Newark were both notified.

• • •

At 4:20 p.m., Officer John Fabula observed two individuals going door-to-door on the 100 block of Wilson Ave. Although they had credentials displayed, Fabula found they did not have Kearny-issued solicitation permits. Police said he also found they both had warrants — one each out of Clifton. Arrested were Khalid Gaston, 26, of Jersey City, and Amirian Gadzhiev, 22, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

In Kearny, they claimed to have been selling “energy,” said Chief Dowie, who also warned residents that sometimes solicitors go door-to-door “just to get your information.”

March 19

Officer Jordenson Jean responded to a 3 p.m. report of a suspicious individual possibly involved in attempted burglary of apartments on the 800 block of Kearny Ave., near Seeley Ave. Jean, armed with the suspect’s description, searched the area and detained Frank Fletcher, 47, of Kearny. Fletcher was subsequently charged with criminal attempted burglary and was remanded to the Hudson County Jail on $50,000 bail. Police said he also had a $500 drug-related warrant from Belleville.

• • •

Officer Kevin Arnesman responded to a two-car accident at 3:45 p.m. on the 100 block of Oakwood Ave. Police said one driver had fled the scene but later contacted them. Steven McGirr, 24, of Kearny — who was located on the 400 block of Elm St. — was reportedly found to have a suspended license and was charged with that offense.

– Karen Zautyk 

He bit EMTs after crash, cops say


By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


A Paterson man who was involved in an auto accident on Passaic Ave. last week ended up under arrest after he bit two of the EMTs who had been called to render medical aid, Kearny police reported.

But then, he would have been arrested anyway, since police said he had four outstanding warrants. And was allegedly under the influence of marijuana.

The drama started at 9 a.m., March 17, when Officer Kevin Canaley responded to the report of a two-car crash at Passaic and W. Bennett Aves. and arrived to find two utility poles knocked down, one car up on the grass in the park and the second sitting sideways in the roadway.

Canaley summoned the Kearny EMS to assist both motorists, a 23-year-old Union woman, whose car had jumped the curb, and Joseph Williams, 42, of Paterson, operator of the vehicle that had spun around.

Police said that as the EMTs tried to aid Williams, he became “very combative,” and when attempts were made to restrain him, he began kicking, punching, spitting — and biting. He was eventually subdued and taken by ambulance, and under police guard, to Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville.

When police approached Williams’ car, they reportedly detected the odor of marijuana and observed a blunt cigar wrapper with suspected pot. And, police said, when Canaley made a warrant check, he found that Williams had four: two from Paterson, one from Newark and one from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office.

Williams was charged on those and with two counts of aggravated assault; possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia; operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a CDS; possession of a CDS in a motor vehicle, and driving while suspended and uninsured.

Police said he was to remain under guard at the hospital until Hudson County Sheriff’s officers took custody of him.

6 new cops can’t keep pace with retirees

new cops_web

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Six new officers – two with local public safety pedigrees – have been added to the Kearny Police Department but due to anticipated retirements, their arrival won’t provide much relief for a force already stretched thin.

Last Monday, the Kearny Town Council voted to appoint the officers, effective April 13, at the initial salary step of $44,821 a year.

The rookies will begin their mandated training next month at the Passaic County Police Academy and, if successful, finish in October, Police Chief John Dowie said.

“Then, we get them for two months field training and orientation to local streets,” Dowie said. “We’re hoping to get them on the street by December.”

With the new hirings, Dowie said his departmental strength is up to 100 – far below the 120 authorized by the department’s Table of Organization.

Dowie estimated that “12 to 15” cops – many of them supervisory officers – will be eligible to put in their pension applications between now and year’s end. A 27- year veteran, Capt. Stephen P. Durkin, just retired March 1 with $72,732 in terminal leave pay and unused vacation pay. And Capt. Tom Osborn, with 27 years on the force, will be leaving June 1. Plus, Sgt. John Becker, with 26 years, is retiring April 1.

So, in anticipation of an even further diminished roster, Dowie said he has asked for an “immediate recertification” of an appointment list for more rank and file cops.

Meanwhile, Dowie, who was authorized to hire up to 10 new cops now, said it was a struggle just to end up with the new six officers from an original list of 75 eligibles.

The new hires are Dominic Dominguez, Mina Elkadious, Victor Girdwood, Sean Podolski, Esteban Gonzalez and Christos Manolis.

Dominguez, 22, is a Newark resident who did a one-year tour in Afghanistan with the Army’s 508th Military Police Combat unit and, following his discharge from the service, got a job as a dispatcher with the Montclair PD in December 2011 where he will continue to work until he enters the academy.

Elkadious, 23, is a Kearny resident who has worked as a paralegal with a law firm in Orange.

Girdwood, 24, is a Kearny resident whose dad, Victor Sr., is a member of the Kearny Fire Department. Victor Jr. has worked about six months as a Hudson County Sheriff ’s officer and has attended college classes.

Podolski, 20, is a lifelong Kearny resident and the son of Kearny Police Det. Stephen Podolski. He has been working as a private security officer for a South Kearny firm and has been taking college courses.

Gonzalez, 34, is a Newark resident who has performed military service as a weapons specialist with the Air National Guard. He has worked as a security officer with the Newark public school system and has served with the Essex County Department of Corrections since August 2014. He is married with two children.

Manolis, 25, is a Kearny resident and Kearny High School graduate who served with the Army in Afghanistan, earning a campaign medal and two campaign stars. After his discharge, he worked in private security and has served as a Hudson County Sheriff ’s officer assigned to the courts. He is a member of the Kearny Veterans of Foreign Wars post.

He ‘checked in’ to county jail



A Brooklyn man who apparently came all the way to Kearny just to cash a check has taken up residence in the town. At least temporarily. His new address is the Hudson County Jail.

According to police, the suspect had tried to cash a check for $4,137 at the Chase Bank, Kearny and Johnston Aves., at about 11:30 a.m. last Thursday, March 12. Because there was no name on the check, he was turned away.

He returned at 4:30 p.m. with the same cashier’s check, which this time reportedly bore the name “David Abel.” Suspicious bank personnel, believing the check to be fraudulent, alerted the KPD, and Officers Richard Pawlowski and Dave Rakowski responded, Chief John Dowie said.

Asked for identification, the man allegedly presented a New York driver’s license in Abel’s name. However, when he was asked to spell the name, he could not, police said. Additionally, when asked to confirm his address, he could name the street but not the house number, police said. The license, they said, was determined to be fake.

A search incident to arrest produced other ID, which revealed him to be Thomas Des-Angus, 33, of Brooklyn. It also reportedly produced a New York identification card bearing a woman’s name.

Des-Angus was charged with: criminal attempted theft, identity theft, forgery, fraudulent checks, a false government document, and hindering apprehension.

He was remanded to the county jail on $20,000 bail, with no 10% option.

– Karen Zautyk 

2 nabbed in meth bust


Two Bloomfield men, one of whom is confined to a wheelchair, were arrested last week after police executed a search warrant on their Franklin St. apartment and confiscated 224 grams of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $35,000, Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura reported.

Fontoura said the wheelchair-bound suspect, 54-year-old Gary Schuren, had been the target of a two-week investigation.

On the morning of March 17, Bloomfield police officers and detectives from the sheriff’s Bureau of Narcotics executed the warrant and made a forced entry into the apartment, where they found Schuren and his roommate, Marcus Irizarry, 32.

A patdown search of the suspects reportedly found Irizarry to be in possession of one gram of crystal meth and a glass pipe. The sheriff said $343 in cash was discovered in Schuren’s wheelchair.

Officers found an additional 223 grams of meth, a variety of drugprocessing and packaging materials and $2,350 in cash secreted in various locations throughout the apartment, Fontoura said.

Schuren and Irizarry were each charged with possession of a CDS, possession with intent to distribute, intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of Essex County Vocational School, possession of narcotics paraphernalia, and conspiracy.

The suspects were arraigned March 18 and were remanded to the county jail on a cash-only bond of $250,000 each.

– Karen Zautyk 

Car thieves collared in NA after multi-town chase

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent


Omar Hill

Omar Hill

Two Passaic men driving two stolen cars were collared in North Arlington early on March 12 after they led police from several surrounding communities on a wild chase that included a foot pursuit through Holy Cross Cemetery.

North Arlington Police Capt. James Hearn gave this account of the episode:

At 3:01 a.m., a borough patrol officer traveling on Hendel Ave. near Ridge Road observed a dark-colored Mercury make a sharp turn off Ridge on to Hendel, followed by a silver Toyota, both ignoring a stop sign. Read more »

Saw pal fatally shot; now he’s shot dead

An East Orange man who was a passenger in a vehicle whose driver was fatally shot by police after a chase ended with a crash at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border last fall, ended up a fatal shooting victim last week, according to published reports.

The Associated Press and other media sites cited a report by Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray that Jemmaine Bynes, 31, was slain after a shooting at a S. 10th St. location in Newark at around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. Bynes was pronounced dead at the scene shortly before midnight, according to Murray.

Murray was quoted by NJ Advance Media as saying that Bynes had received multiple gunshot wounds in an apartment complex courtyard at S. 10th St. and Woodland Ave.

No further details were readily available about the shooting incident and Katherine Carter, spokeswoman for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, could not be reached last week.

The Observer had reported last year that the state Attorney General’s office became the lead agency for releasing information on last year’s shooting incident. The AG’s office said that Bynes was riding in a stolen Nissan Armada SUV driven by Kashad Ashford, 23, of Newark, during the early morning on Sept. 16, 2014.

A statement issued by the AG’s office said that at some point, the SUV rolled through North Arlington and one of its occupants tried to break into a vehicle parked in a resident’s driveway. North Arlington Police Chief Louis Ghione said that borough police responded to a Newell Place location at 2 a.m. on a report of a burglary and theft of a motor vehicle but, as cops approached, the suspects drove off.

Soon after the attempted break-in, the AG’s office said, Lyndhurst PD spotted the SUV and tried to pull it over but the SUV driver “proceeded to drive recklessly through Lyndhurst and surrounding towns,” pursued by Lyndhurst and Rutherford PD and State Police.

The AG’s office said the chase ended when the SUV hit a guardrail at the Ridge Road bridge at the Rt. 3 approach and patrol cars surrounded the vehicle in an effort to block it but the driver put the car in reverse, spinning the tires and filling the road with smoke, before backing the SUV into a patrol car.

At that point, the AG’s office said, officers fired at the driver, striking him. Ashford was taken to Hackensack Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 7:05 a.m.

(The cliffviewpilot.com website reported that Ashford had a prior criminal record, including having served more than three years on a conviction for aggravated assault and “resisting arrest by fleeing in a motor vehicle, creating a risk of injury.”)

Bynes surrendered and, after officers reportedly recovered a loaded .357-caliber Magnum handgun and a ski mask from the SUV, charged him with unlawful possession of a handgun, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, possession of a firearm as a convicted felon and receiving stolen property. He was taken to Bergen County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.

NJ Advance Media reported that according to Bergen County Sheriff’s records, Bynes was released from jail in November 2014 after posting bail.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has asked anyone with information on Bynes’ shooting to call detectives with the office’s Homicide and Major Crimes Task Force at 877-847-7432 or 973-621-4586.

Because an investigation of last September’s fatal shooting was undertaken by the AG’s Shooting Response Team, local police departments involved in the incident refused to provide further details about the circumstances of the shooting and the state appeals court has denied OPRA requests by two media outlets for information about the case.

Results of that investigation have yet to surface.

Accused fare evader ‘led’ cops to drugs



A New York man who reportedly stiffed a cabbie before taking off was subsequently found hiding in a Lyndhurst apartment where police said they discovered a cache of illegal drugs. Lyndhurst Police Det. Capt. John Valente said the episode began on Monday, March 9, when police responded to 855 Valley Brook Road after getting a call, at 1:23 a.m., from a taxi driver about a theft of service. Valente said the driver, 39, of Sunnyside, N.Y., told officers that he had picked up a fare in Queens, N.Y., and transported him to a Lyndhurst location when the passenger – listed as a Latino – ran away, failing to pay his $110 fare, heading toward a condominium apartment complex at 855 Valley Brook.

Valente said Officers Charles Giangeruso, Rob Fernandez and Anthony Ricigliano, knowing the suspect’s direction of flight, followed a trail of footprints and tracks in the snow to an apartment in the complex where they believed he ended up.

Police talked with an Asian man who, they said, lived in the condo apartment but who told the officers he had no knowledge of the man they were seeking and claimed the only other individual living in the apartment was an Asian roommate, Valente said.

LPD Above: Jonathan Rodriguez Top Photo: Andrew Lee

Above: Jonathan Rodriguez
Top Photo: Andrew Lee


After they were allowed entry to the apartment, Valente said the officers observed a large assortment of drugs and paraphernalia on table tops, counters and other locations in plain view. And, he said, they discovered a man matching the description of the suspect hiding in the flat.

Both men were taken into custody and Dets. Ronald Guirland and Vincent Auteri successfully applied for and executed a search warrant for the remainder of the apartment.

Jonathan Rodriguez, 31, of Elmhurst, N.Y., the original suspect, and Andrew Lee, 24, of Lyndhurst, the apartment occupant, were both charged with possession of Alprazolam with intent to distribute same within 1,000 feet of a school and within 500 feet of a park, possession of Psilocybin, possession of marijuana and paraphernalia (digital scale and baggies) within 1,000 feet of a school and 500 feet of a park and possession with intent to distribute marijuana greater than 16 ounces.

Lee was also charged with possession of a weapon (brass knuckles) and possession of hollow point bullets (.45-caliber and 9 mm), while Rodriguez was additionally charged with theft of services.

Both were taken to Bergen County Jail in lieu of $110,000 bail for Lee and $100,000 bail for Rodriguez.

– Ron Leir 

Still probing how body ended up in river

By Karen Zautyk

Observer Correspondent 


The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Belleville Police Department are continuing to investigate the death of a Newark man whose body was found last Wednesday morning in the Second River off Mill St. His car was also in the water, reportedly some 150-200 feet away from the body.

The victim was identified as Roosevelt Padilla-Correa, 67, but, as of press time, there was no information available on the specific cause and manner of his death.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, it appeared that Padilla-Correa’s vehicle crashed into the water near the intersection of Franklin Ave. and Mill St. the previous night, Tuesday, March 10.

The Second River is the stream that parallels Mill St., crosses beneath Franklin Ave. and runs through the Belleville portion of Branch Brook Park.

Sources told The Observer that the auto apparently went into the river in the vicinity of the DAV Post, near the northwest corner of Franklin and Mill. The body reportedly was found in the water behind Nanina’s in The Park, on the other side of Franklin.

On the night of March 10, there had been heavy rain, and a dense fog blanketed the area. There is speculation that these may have been factors in the car apparently driving into the water.

The sources said the doors on the vehicle were open when it was found mid-morning Wednesday.

The investigation is being conducted by the prosecutor’s Major Crimes Task Force and the Belleville Police Department, under the direction of Chief Joseph Rotonda.

Results of an autopsy by the county Medical Examiner are pending.