By Karen Zautyk
A 68-year-old North Arlington man, busted by Kearny police for alleged drug distribution, has turned out to be a convicted murderer who was paroled 17 months ago from a New York State prison, police reported.
The suspect, identified as Kenneth Grochulski, was convicted in Manhattan in 1977 on two counts of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree burglary and one count of second-degree weapons possession, court papers show.
He was subsequently sentenced to 20 years to life imprisonment, at least part of which was served at the Auburn Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in upstate Cayuga County, N.Y.
Grochulski was paroled in December 2011 after serving 34 years of his term.
Earlier this month, on May 9, as part of an ongoing investigation into the sale and distribution of cocaine, members of the Kearny Police Department Vice Squad were on fixed surveillance on the Belleville Pike at 10:30 p.m. when they witnessed what appeared to be a drug transaction.
Detectives kept the suspected seller under observation as he crossed to the North Arlington side of the street. When they stopped him, he was allegedly found to be in possession of suspected cocaine and $650, believed to be the proceeds of drug transactions, police said.
The suspect, Grochulski, was arrested on charges of possession and distribution of the drug, police said. At KPD headquarters, a criminal history check revealed that he had a record of 17 prior adult arrests, “which seemed to have stopped in 1974,” Police Chief John Dowie said.
They stopped apparently because Grochulski was involved in a home invasion in New York City in 1975, during the course of which he shot and killed a man, Dowie said.
According to court papers: On Oct. 20, 1975, Grochulski, then living in Jersey City, drove to Manhattan with a woman and two men with the intent of robbing the apartment of a drug dealer, who they believed kept a significant amount of money on the premises.
Finding none, the conspirators decided the cash might be in the E. 11th St. apartment of the dealer’s parents. Gaining access through an unlocked door, Grochulski and the two other men, “all armed, entered and held six members of the … family at gunpoint.”
“During his attempts to locate the cash he believed to be there, Grochulski struggled with [the dealer’s] father and shot him dead at point-blank range” — with a shotgun.
They fled and drove off with their female companion in Grochulski’s car.
On Oct. 25, 1975, a group of five — not including Grochulski — returned to the dealer’s apartment to attempt the robbery a second time, struggled with the dealer, “wounded him and fled.”
The NYPD eventually located all the participants in both crimes, and a witness identified Grochulski’s car as the one seen fleeing the Oct. 20 murder scene.
Grochulski was identified in police lineups as the killer by eyewitnesses to the murder.
He was tried in state Supreme Court in Manhattan and convicted on Feb. 10, 1977.
Since Grochulski has now been arrested in Kearny, one might assume that would be a parole violation requiring his reincarceration. This is not the case.
Law enforcement authorities told The Observer that his parole was not automatically revoked, but he has been put under “intensive supervision.”
Revocation of parole is contingent on Grochulski’s being convicted in the Kearny case.
Currently, his term of parole, sources said, is not scheduled to end until December 2099, when Grochulski would be 154 years old.