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STATE CHAMPS AGAIN!

Harrison defeats Haddon Township, 4-0, to win 25th NJSIAA state soccer title in school history (Photo by Jim Hague) The Harrison High School boys’ soccer team pose with the NJSIAA Group I state championship trophy, after defeating Haddon Township, 4-0, […]

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This week’s e-Edition, classifieds are now posted

This week’s e-Edition and classifieds are now posted. We apologize for the delay.

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Blood appointed

By Ron Leir  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  Take away the “acting” title: the Kearny Board of Education has formally installed Patricia Blood as its official superintendent of schools. The board took the action at a special meeting held last Thursday night at the Lincoln School. The vote was […]

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Kearny unveils new monument

By Karen Zautyk  Observer Correspondent  KEARNY –  On May 27, 1922, an estimated 25,000 people gathered in the streets around the small park where Kearny Ave. and Beech St. meet, to witness Gen. John J. Pershing personally dedicate the towering granite monument honoring the Kearny men who died […]

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Nutley cops hunt driver in fatal hit-run

A photo (above) of the suspect van was released Nov. 19 by the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.   NUTLEY –  Nutley police are seeking the public’s help in identifying and locating the motor vehicle that struck and killed a 77-year-old woman on Centre St. on […]

 
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Harrison native Martino a credit to athletics, academics

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By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Although he’s a key player on one of the top high school football teams in New Jersey, Tyler Martino believes that his work in the classroom is far more important.

“I always think academics are far more important than football,” said Martino, a Harrison resident who plays football at St. Peter’s Prep. “I want to make a good living when I’m done playing football. I don’t have the size to play football for a long time. So academics have always come first and foremost. It’s the reason why I went to (St. Peter’s) Prep in the first place, to get a great education.”

Last week, Martino received the ultimate honor as a student/athlete. He was inducted into the National Honor Society, the lone member of the Prep grid team to become a member of the NHS.

“It means a lot to me,” Martino said. “Usually, people say that athletes don’t do well academically. But I’m proud to represent my team, my hometown. I’m the only one from Harrison in my class to go to Prep. It’s a great honor.”

Prep head football coach Rich Hansen had nothing but praise about his undersized senior running back.

“He’s a great kid who works very hard,” Hansen said of Martino. “He makes the most of his ability and is in there every day, grinding it out, making contributions. He definitely helps us be more competitive. He’s one of those players where height and weight don’t matter. It’s not a big distraction. I’ve had other smaller kids who played big roles.

Added Hansen: “Tyler has that competitive fire. He’s a tough minded kid. He’s the kind of kid who you have to find a place on the field for.”

Hansen was asked about Martino’s induction into the National Honor Society.

“That’s what this is all about,” Hansen said. “He has that ultimate balance, the combination of athletics and academics. Every single student is challenged when they come to Prep. It takes a lot of maturity and mental toughness. For him to achieve what he did academically is the pinnacle. It’s what it’s all about.”

Martino stands only 5-foot-2 and weighs only 150 pounds. But that is not a deterrent to him. He runs like the wind – and shows that speed during the indoor track season, running the 55-meter dash.

“When you’re not blessed with size, you have to go harder than most,” Martino said. “I have to give 100% every play. I spend a lot of time in the weight room, so I can have somewhat of an advantage. I get really low and run hard and fast, so teams have a tough time trying to handle me.”

Martino spoke of his academic commitment.

“I have a couple of advanced placement classes, so it’s tough to come home after practice at 8 p.m. and then do my schoolwork,” Martino said. “Once I learned how to manage my time, it got a lot easier.”

Martino is also civic minded.

“I want to give back to Harrison,” Martino said. “I like to go help at the Pop Warner program. I try to stay as close to my community as possible. I love Harrison. We have a really close knit community.”

Despite his size, Martino has been looked at by some colleges.

“I’m being recruited a little,” Martino said. “I think I’ll be able to play somewhere in college.”

Martino is looking at Lehigh, Lafayette, Monmouth and Fordham.

“We’ll see what happens,” Martino said. “I think I’ll get my chance to play.”

Martino said that he’s blessed to be on one of the state’s best football teams.

“It’s awesome,” Martino said. “It’s crazy how good this team has become. We’ve been together for four years and it’s like a brotherhood. We have a really good chance to win a state championship. Everyone is so talented. When you play football at Prep, people want to come up to you and talk to you. It’s a great honor to play for Prep and it’s always been a lot of fun.”

Martino said that he is looking into studying business or engineering in college.

Needless to say, Tyler Martino is enjoying things right now.

“I’m living the life,” Martino said. “It’s great.”

Kearny’s Rodriguez becomes instant quarterback in big win

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By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer

The entire Kearny High School football season was hanging in the balance. The Kardinals trailed Dickinson, 20-6, at halftime last Friday night, watching their faint hopes of finally qualifying for the NJSIAA state playoffs fade into the dark night.

With that, Kearny head coach Nick Edwards knew that he had to make a change, putting starting fullback Christian Rodriguez in as the Wildcat formation quarterback.

In the Wildcat, the quarterback takes a direct shotgun snap and then determines to either run the ball or throw a pass.

“I knew we were struggling and I knew we had to step up,” Rodriguez said. “I loved the idea of playing the Wildcat. I liked being the general of the offense. I know that there’s a responsibility, but I loved it.”

Rodriguez said he had one reaction when Edwards told him he was going in as the Wildcat signal caller.

“It is very tough,” said Rodriguez, who was once a quarterback earlier in his life. “But I said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

“We have the Wildcat package and Christian is the one to run that,” Edwards said. “He’s a strong kid with good speed. He also has good vision. He’s played about three years at quarterback in his life, so we knew he could do it.”

So Rodriguez took over the signal calling responsibility in the second half of the Dickinson game. The results were staggering.

Rodriguez carried the ball 12 times for 120 yards and completed five passes for 73 yards. More importantly, he guided the Kardinals to 34 unanswered points in the second half, keying Kearny’s gigantic 41-20 victory.

And the Kards are in position for their first-ever state playoff berth. If they win this weekend against Bayonne, the Kards are in. Simple as that. A loss last week would have destroyed those hopes.

So for his all-around effort, Rodriguez has been selected as The Observer Athlete of the Week for the past week.

Rodriguez said that he was up for the challenge to fill in at quarterback.

“I was once the starting quarterback and then I got moved to fullback,” Rodriguez said. “I was excited to get the chance to play quarterback again. It was fun.”

Football is always more enjoyable when your team is winning.

“He played a big part in the second half comeback,” Edwards said. “We had 230 yards rushing in the second half. He’s perfect at that position. The more experience he gets there, the better he is. If we need a short screen pass, he’s capable of doing it.”

Rodriguez said that the hardest part of the Wildcat offense is reading the opposition defensive formation.

“I have to try to find the reads,” Rodriguez said. “I can’t have anything distract me. I have to have the right vision so I can see the play develop.”

Rodriguez said that he has watched other Wildcat quarterbacks, like former New York Jet and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

“I see them running it and it motivates me to want to do it as well as they did,” Rodriguez said. “It blew my mind how well we did it. We just ran the ball right in their faces and they couldn’t stop us.”

Rodriguez said that he never played organized football before entering Kearny High School.

“I was more into skateboarding,” Rodriguez said. “That was what I did.”

Rodriguez was also hanging out with a wrong crowd. It forced Rodriguez’s mother, Maria, to step forward and put her foot down.

“She wants me to go to college,” Rodriguez said. “I started to think I could play football in college. I learned my lesson and realized that I couldn’t hang out with the wrong kids. I had to make a change in my life.”

Rodriguez has played quarterback in a triple option offense, then a fullback and now a Wildcat QB. Defensively, Rodriguez has played linebacker and defensive end, but does not play defense when he’s calling the signals.

“I got a little taste of everything,” Rodriguez said. “I didn’t mind, because I love playing football. I like being with my teammates. They’re like my family. That’s why I stuck with it.”

Rodriguez is also a member of the Kearny wrestling team in the winter months.

“It helps my conditioning,” Rodriguez said of wrestling after football season is over. “It makes me stronger.”

Edwards likes what Rodriguez brings to the table.

“He’s a very respectful kid,” Edwards said. “He’s always at practice and he’s a very vocal kid. He’s become a leader.” That’s quite a compliment for someone who is only a junior.

“He also does well in the classroom,” Edwards said. “He’s the one getting us through the season.”

And yes, if the Kardinals get a win this weekend, they’re in the state playoffs for the very first time.

“None of these kids ever thought of being in the state playoffs,” Edwards said. “If we do win, we’re in. We definitely will talk about it. By telling them about it, it gives them something to shoot for. It’s good that this team is getting some recognition. They’re also getting some good support from the school and their families.”

Rodriguez was asked what it would be like to be part of the state playoffs.

“That would be so awesome,” Rodriguez said. “Next year, we’ll be even better. But this has been a fun year. I never expected all of this. “

Rodriguez has hopes of majoring in business management in college at either Montclair State or William Paterson. Of course, football will be a part of his life.

“I would love to play in college,” Robinson said. “I want to keep playing. Whatever position they want to put me at, I’ll play it. But this has been an awesome year. It’s one of the best years of my life.” And maybe the best is yet to come for Christian Rodriguez.

Chiropractic treatment of auto injuries

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Injuries to the neck and back as a result of a motor vehicle accident can leave patients with serious and permanent injuries when left untreated. The most common types of car accidents are rearend and side impact collisions. The greatest types of injury are to the neck, mid-back and lower back. Pain medications and muscle relaxers are only just temporary solutions to reducing pain and discomfort and do not treat the structural trauma and stress placed on the spine, muscles, nerves and joints. Although initially helpful, these medications eventually lose their effectiveness and the patient realizes that their injuries are more serious than a gentle bruise or muscle sprain/strain. Chiropractic physicians are highly trained specialists experienced in diagnosing and treating traumatic injuries to the spine, muscles, nerves and joints.

When the neck and back are subjected to a traumatic injury, there are usually a combination of factors that contribute to intense pain and discomfort. The doctor of chiropractic treats the body without medication using a “holistic” and natural healing approach. Chiropractic physicians treat neck and back pain, headaches, arm, shoulder and leg pain along with numbness and tingling caused by auto accidents in a gentle and painfree manner. Left untreated, these types of symptoms can lead to permanent injuries and chronic nerve and muscle inflammation causing severe pain and suffering.

The force of an auto accident can also cause injury to the discs between the vertebrae where small tears can develop. If the gelatinous middle of the disc seeps out, it can irritate the nerve endings in this area. Occasionally, the gel material can seep all the way out and press on a nerve root exiting the spinal cord behind the disc known as a disc herniation. A disc bulge, although not as serious, can also cause pressure and irritation to the nerves. A herniated disc can cause pain in the neck as well as sharp, shooting pain down the arm into the hands and neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. A herniated disc in the lower back can cause back pain as well as sharp, severe shooting pain into the buttocks and legs with neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling and muscle weakness into the legs and feet.

One area chiropractor who treats people involved in a motor vehicle accident is Dr. Louis Stimmel, D.C. at Harrison Spine & Rehabilitation Center for a free consultation and evaluation. Stimmel is board certified with over 25 years of clinical practice experience. Stimmel has been board certified as a chiropractic sports physician and in hospital protocols and privileges. He has frequently lectured to orthopedic surgeons and medical physicians on the benefits of chiropractic care. Stimmel says he is highly trained and experienced in treating injuries caused by an auto accident utilizing a variety of safe, gentle and painfree techniques along with the latest physical therapies to relieve your pain and discomfort. Contact our office today at 973-483-3380 for your free consult and evaluation.

– Louis Stimmel, D.C. 

Harrison Spine & Rehabilitation Center 

Diabetes screening

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St. Michael’s Medical Center will offer free blood pressure and glucose screenings on Friday, Nov. 14, from 9 to 11 a.m., in the main lobby at 111 Central Ave., Newark.

November marks American Diabetes Month. According to the American Diabetes Association, 86 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Additionally, 67 million have hypertension (high blood pressure).

A two-hour fast is recommended for glucose screenings. Walk-ins are welcome and attendees will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. To learn more about this event or the Diabetes and Hypertension Care Program at SMMC, call 973-690-3604.

Obituaries

Joseph P. Bradley 

Joseph P. Bradley, 41, of Stirling, formerly of Kearny, passed away on Thursday, Oct. 9, at home.

A memorial visitation was held on Oct. 15 at Gallaway and Crane Funeral Home, Basking Ridge.

Joseph is survived by his wife Valerie Bradley, daughter Lillian Pires, mother Genevieve Heslin, stepfather Kevin Heslin, sister Jennifer Lopez, grandmother Ina Bradley, nephews Patrick Triano Jr., Joshua Lopez and Jacob Bradley, mother-in-law Naomi Devaney, brothersin- law Angel Lopez, Jim Devaney and Keith Devaney.. He is also survived by many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.

Joseph is predeceased by his father Corneilous Bradley, sister Laura Bradley, grandparents Mary and Joseph Burneyko and grandfather Peter Bradley.

He was a blessing to everyone. May his story, smile, love, sense of humor and wisdom live on until the day we all meet in paradise.

Until then, “may you shine on.”

Joan M. Brennan 

Joan M. Brennan, 76, died on Friday, Sept.12, in Windward Gardens Care Center in Camden, Maine.

Arrangements were by the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by entombment at Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

Ms. Brennan was born in Kearny and was a life long resident.

She was an office worker at Fidelity Bank in Newark for 20 years retiring in 1990.

She is survived by her son Mark Kunz.

Donald S. Kaywork 

Donald S. Kaywork, of Kearny, died Oct. 19 in Alaris at West Hudson. He was 80.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home followed by burial in Arlington Cemetery.

Donny served in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant in 1961. He was a custodian for the Kearny Board of Education. He was a life member of the V.F.W., the American Legion and the Marine Corps League. Don was very active with the Elks. He was also a member of “The Greeks” lunch club and the Eagles in Kearny.

Son of the late Charles and Mary Kaywork, he is survived by his siblings Jean Sansone, Charles Calvin Kaywork, Ira “Wimpy” Kaywork (Emma), Paul M. Kaywork (Christine), Mary Bender (John), Sharon Sterople, and Lee Kaywork (Mary Jane) along with many nieces, nephews and friends.

In lieu of flowers, kindly make a donation to www.woundedwarriorproject.org/ Donate.

June K. Mager 

June K. Mager (nee Knight) died at home on Oct. 20. She was 67.

Born in Newark, she lived in Kearny the past 45 years.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by burial in Arlington Cemetery.

June is survived by her loving husband Arthur Mager and her beloved sons Steven, Ronald and Sean Mager. She is also survived by her sister Joyce Schoeneick and her family.

To leave online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Ruth E. Worsnop 

Ruth E. Worsnop (nee Morrison), of Kearny, died peacefully on Sept. 22. She was 89. Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A service was held at the funeral home, followed by burial in Arlington cemetery. To leave online condolence, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.

Ruth was a retired Kearny Federal Savings manager.

Wife of the late Barrie Worsnop, she is survived by her son Barrie Worsnop and his wife Renee, and daughter Linda Thomas and her husband Jim, her sister Dorothy Betcher, two grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the A.S.P.C.A.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

Relief for commuters

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By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

LYNDHURST – 

After what Lyndhurst Mayor Robert Giangeruso characterized as “33 years of starts and stops,” the township – with help from Bergen County – is finally beginning to see the start of improvements to the intersection at Kingsland and Riverside Aves.

The changes – being undertaken under a contract awarded by the county – are designed with the aim of relieving commuter backups at the approach to the DeJessa Memorial Bridge, linking Lyndhurst and Nutley over the Passaic River, and from Rt. 21 on the Nutley side of the bridge.

Contributing to the problem – accentuated during rush hour periods – are bad traffic signal synchronization, coupled with the age (more than a century old) and limited capacity (one lane in each direction) of the truss swing span over which more than 26,000 vehicles cross on a daily average.

Since coming into office nine years ago, Giangeruso has been pressing for action to alleviate the persistent commuter nightmare that has afflicted residents of both Lyndhurst and Nutley and beyond.

It took eight years, the mayor noted, just for Lyndhurst and Bergen County to come up with a project design, for Lyndhurst to acquire privately owned rights of way easements, to move commercial signs for 601 Riverside and an Exxon station, and to coordinate relocation of utility poles, before the county could bid out the intersection work.

Bids from three firms were submitted, ranging to a high of nearly $1 million, with J C Contracting Inc. of Bloomfield coming in as low bidder with a price of $813,725. A contract was awarded recently by the Bergen County Freeholders and work began in earnest Oct. 6.

A temporary traffic signal has been installed and was activated when PSE&G connected the electrical service and the project’s construction will be phased so that one corner of the intersection is completed at a time to minimize inconvenience and to keep the intersection open to traffic, Giangeruso said.

Brian Intindola, director of traffic engineering services for Neglia Engineering, the township’s consulting engineering firm, outlined the improvements as follows:

For traffic flowing from Nutley to Lyndhurst, there will be a “fully signalized” dedicated left turn lane, from Kingsland Ave. eastbound to Riverside Ave. northbound, along with a dedicated through lane and a dedicated right turn lane, coming from the bridge to Riverside southbound.

“The idea is we’re trying to move as much traffic off the bridge as possible, given its capacity being restrained,” Intindola said.

As a complement to that flow, for traffic moving from Lyndhurst to Nutley coming off the bridge, there will be a fully signalized dedicated left turn lane from Kingsland westbound to Riverside southbound and a shared through lane and right turn lane for Nutley-bound motorists.

For traffic southbound on Riverside, a new right turn lane will be constructed to allow motorists improved access to the bridge to cross into Nutley; there will also be a dedicated left turn lane for local traffic to Kingsland eastbound and a through lane to continue southbound on Riverside.

Traffic northbound on Riverside will get a dedicated left turn lane to cross the bridge, along with a shared right turn to Kingsland eastbound and northbound through lane.

“We have worked out the signal timing to be as efficient as possible,” Intindola said. “As eastbound Kingsland traffic coming off the bridge from Nutley to Lyndhurst gets a green light, drivers making right turns from Riverside to Kingsland will proceed at the same time.”

“We’re also attempting to do video detection where you can optimize signalization time to process as much traffic as possible and to facilitate better coordination with the Rt. 21 ramp traffic signal and River Road (County Rt. 622) on the Essex County side,” said Intindola.

As things are now, he said, coordination of the signals isn’t aligned, “so we’re going to use a GPS-based clock mechanism to stay in sync.”

Additionally, Intindola said, for public safety, there will be “full pedestrian actuation,” meaning push-button activated Walk/Don’t Walk signals for people looking to cross Kingsland or Riverside, and new curbside disabled-access ramps.

Intindola credited Giangeruso for having “invested a lot of time and effort to bring this project together,” since it was first pitched as a concept back in 1981.

If Mother Nature cooperates, Inindola said that the contractor could wrap up the project with paving by spring 2015.

Convicted in mortgage swindle

A Belleville man was among three defendants convicted earlier this month in federal court for their roles in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme involving condominiums in New Jersey and Florida, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman reported.

Last month, another Belleville resident pleaded guilty in the same scam.

According to Fishman’s office, the scheme used phony documents and “straw buyers” to defraud financial institutions and make illegal profits on condos overbuilt by financially stressed developers. Thus far, 13 persons have been arrested in the case.

Found guilty Oct. 6 by a jury sitting in U.S. District Court, Camden, were Dwayne Onque, 46, of Belleville; his sister, Mashon Onque, 43, of East Orange, and Nancy Wolf-Fels, 57, of Toms River.

Each was each convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. In addition, Dwayne Onque was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. The jury returned the verdicts after a four-week trial and just five hours of deliberation.

Authorities reported that, from late 2006 through mid 2007, Dwayne Onque served as a “straw buyer” of five properties in Middletown and Wildwood. For each of the five, he signed fraudulent loan applications and closing documents that resulted in the release of more than $2 million in mortgage funds.

In 2006 and 2008, Mashon Onque, employed by Tri-State Title Agency in Montclair, acted as the closing agent for fraudulent mortgage loans orchestrated by other conspirators, including her brother.

Wolf-Fels, a loan officer at Mortgage Now in Forked River from 2007 through mid-2008, assembled six fraudulent loan applications and sent them to victim financial institutions, which lent the unqualified buyers mortgage funds.

On Sept. 2, Larry Fullenwider, 63, of Belleville, pleaded guilty in the same court to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He admitted purchasing four condos in North Wildwood after presenting a false identification and using fake documents to support fraudulent loan applications.

For wire fraud conspiracy, all four defendants face up to 30 years in prison and fines of $1 million. Dwayne Onque’s money laundering conspiracy conviction carries an additional potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing is scheduled for January.

– Karen Zautyk 

Walmart is keeping cops busy

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

The Walmart in Kearny is conveniently located on Harrison Ave., with easy access to Rt. 280, the N.J. Turnpike and feeder roads to Newark and Jersey City. This is a boon for shoppers. However, according to Kearny police, it is also a boon for shoplifters who can make a fast getaway.

Regular readers of the Kearny police blotter are aware that rarely a week goes by without at least one shoplifting incident at the store. On Friday, KPD Chief John Dowie told The Observer that, in 2013, his officers had responded to Walmart 300 times.

“We are already approaching 400 responses this year — with the best of the year [holiday shopping time] yet to come,” he said. “This amounts to least one a day.”

As of Oct. 13, Dowie noted, the KPD had made 113 arrests at the store, and many of those taken into custody “are not your stereotypical shoplifters.”

“They come with a lot more baggage,” he said, noting, for example, the number who have outstanding warrants from other jurisdictions.

The reported statistics are in no way intended to reflect badly on Walmart security; it is store security personnel who initially spot and detain — or attempt to detain — the suspects. But security has no arrest powers. And each incident takes Kearny officers off the road, sometimes for hours as they process arrestees and deal with required paperwork.

Last week was apparently a particularly busy one, so we are running a separate shoplifter “blotter.” As reported by Dowie the incidents included the following:

On Oct. 14, at 6:30 p.m., Officer Luis Moran responded to Walmart where security had detained Danny Morales, 36, of Newark, who allegedly had attempting to conceal numerous cans of Enfamil baby formula, worth a total of $80. Morales was charged with shoplifting. If all that sounds familiar, it’s because last week’s KPD blotter reported Morales’ Oct. 2 arrest, on a charge of shoplifting $88 worth of Enfamil from Walmart.

* * *

On Oct. 16, at 3:30 p.m., Officers Chris Levchak and Jose Resua responded to Walmart where security had in custody Brianna Young, 19, of Newark, who was charged with stealing $128 worth of merchandise. She was processed at HQ and released.

* * *

That same day, at 4:10 p.m., Levchak and Resua returned to the store on a report of two shoplifters. One of the suspects, Ashley Crenshaw, 23, of Orange, was arrested for allegedly attempting to steal merchandise valued at $229.

Police said the second suspect, Crenshaw’s alleged cohort Jasmine Moore, 24, of Newark, tried to intercede, refused to heed Levchak’s warnings to cease and desist, became hostile and profane and demanded to see the security video.

When Levchak tried to arrest Moore, a struggle ensued and she punched the officer in the head, police said. Cuffed by both cops and escorted from the store, she allegedly kicked and dented the squad car door.

Moore was booked for shoplifting, aggravated assault, criminal mischief and resisting arrest. Police said she also had two outstanding warrants, from East Orange and Long Hill Township.

Video of her conduct in the store parking lot has been recovered and entered into evidence.

2011 layoffs affirmed

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY –

Four former Kearny workers, including a union chief, have lost the first round of a bid to reverse their New Year’s Eve dismissals nearly three years ago.

In a 21-page ruling issued Sept. 3, the state Office of Administrative Law Judge Irene Jones dismissed an appeal by Kerry Kosick, Elizabeth Wainman, Mary Ann Ryan and Fatima Fowlkes, contesting their “economic” layoffs that took effect Dec. 31, 2011.

Ryan, president of Council 11, Civil Service Association, which represents most of the town’s civilian employees and crossing guards, said the judge’s decision has been appealed to the state Civil Service Commission, which must affirm or reject the ruling.

The town characterized the layoffs as a reduction in force prompted by reasons of “economy and efficiency” but the employees countered that the town acted in bad faith because the employees were let go, not for anything budget-related, but rather, in retaliation for complaints made against superiors.

Hearings were held in the OAL court in Newark Sept. 28 and Oct. 31, 2013, with attorney Paul Kleinbaum representing the employees and special counsel Jonathan Cohen appearing for the town.

Kosick, a senior librarian who earned $71,000, testified that she was targeted for a layoff in connection with a 2010 incident for not allowing a contracted artist to do portraits of two local politicians’ kids at a library program because the politicos arrived with only five minutes left in the program. Kosick said she was bawled out by her thenboss but acknowledged she wasn’t disciplined. She said that after she was let go, the town hired a part-time librarian in violation of its hiring freeze policy.

However, the court found that Kosick had no proof that she’d been targeted for a layoff and that the town had hired only “low-level” employees — not librarians – to handle some of her work.

Wainman, a clerk for the Construction Code Department who earned more than $55,000, claimed that she was targeted for a layoff after she filed a harassment complaint in 2010 for being told to bring a doctor’s note after being out sick for less than three days, for being told to leave and docked a half sick day after arriving to work 19 minutes late and for being yelled at by a supervisor to “get that baby out of there” while she was assisting a customer with a crying infant. After filing a verbal complaint, Wainman said she was branded a “pot stirrer” by the town’s personnel officer.

Again, the court found that no bad faith in Wainman’s case, noting that the harassment complaint was made “after the layoff plan for 2011 was formulated.” The court noted that it was Wainman’s choice not to apply for the position of permit clerk – which would have insulated her from the layoff – nor did she want to “bump” another employee who is the mother of three children.

Fowlkes, a $54,000 clerk typist bilingual in the Public Works Department, testified that in 2011, she filed a racial discrimination complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission, based on allegations of a hostile work environment, including the placement of a big black rubber rat on her work desk and an order by her boss to get out of his office. She said that Town Administrator Michael Martello found no evidence of racial discrimination or a hostile work environment but that everyone in the Public Works Department had to take a class on racial harassment. Subsequently, she got a new job at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission in Newark.

The court concluded that no bad faith had been demonstrated against Fowlkes, noting that the EEOC had investigated – and dismissed – her claim of racial discrimination. It also found that Fowlkes had three years’ less seniority than a second bilingual clerk in the Public Works Department.

Ryan, a $75,000 principal clerk typist in the Fire Department who worked there 28 years for six different fire chiefs, testified that she was targeted for layoff because of her union activism. She said that the town originally sought $785,000 in concessions from Council 11 but then upped that amount to $870,000. Also, she said, the town initially wanted 26 furlough days but then offered to take 20 days – and later, 13 days – if she retired.

The court found “no merit” to Ryan’s claim of retaliation due to her union activities. Instead, it concluded, “the record supports that the town and unions worked together to avoid layoffs in the prior year and to reduce the overall number of layoffs by agreeing to furlough days and other concessions.”

Ryan retired April 1, 2013, and began collecting pension benefits.

Mayor Alberto Santos said last week that he expected to begin negotiations with Council 11 on a new labor contract by the end of October or early November. The union currently represents about 55 civilian employees and 25 crossing guards.

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