The North Arlington Police Department is currently investigating an incident involving use of counterfeit $100 bills at a 7-Eleven on Ridge Rd. A man, approximately 6′ in height, 150 lbs., wearing a baseball cap with a Seattle Mariners logo, a […]
W.H.A.T. presents ‘The Addams Family’ July 30-Aug. 5, including preview tonight at Angry Coffee Bean
KEARNY — Teen Drama, a theater company for teens celebrating its fifth anniversary this summer, in association with the West Hudson Arts & Theater Company (W.H.A.T.) presents the modern classic Broadway musical “The Addams Family” this summer. The smash-hit musical […]
On Friday afternoon, regular traffic came to a halt on the Belleville Pike and Ridge Road to open the route for the funeral procession of slain Jersey City Police Detective Melvin Santiago. The 23-year-old rookie, promoted posthumously to detective, had been ambushed early Sunday, July 13, when he […]
By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent KEARNY – The Rt. 7/Belleville Turnpike corridor which runs through Kearny’s meadows area and beyond is getting a lot of attention these days from state and federal transit agencies. For the past couple of years, contractors hired by the state Department of Transportation have […]
Sawyer fires third no-hitter of season in county tourney opener
By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
It’s safe to call Corey Sawyer “The No-Hit Kid.” When a baseball pitcher throws one no-hitter, it could be perceived as a fluke. A second one might be a trend.
But a third? In a span of five weeks? That’s bordering on habit forming.
Well, Sawyer, the Kearny High School sophomore, earned his nickname last Saturday, firing his third no-hitter of the 2014 season, not surrendering a single hit against Dickinson in the Kardinals’ 2-0 victory over Dickinson in the opening round of the Ed “Faa” Ford Memorial Hudson County Baseball Tournament.
Sawyer struck out nine and walked two in his second no-hitter of the season against Dickinson. Sawyer had previously thrown a perfect game against the Rams in the regular season April 21.
In his varsity debut April 3, Sawyer tossed a no-hitter against Memorial.
Sawyer had just joined the Kearny baseball program this season, after transferring to the school. Last year, Sawyer attended St. Joseph Regional in Montvale in Bergen County, but did not participate in varsity baseball.
Kearny head baseball coach Frank Bifulco said that he never heard of a Kearny pitcher ever throwing one no-hitter in a season, never mind three.
“The last one I remember was (former Kearny teammate and current Harrison head coach) Jairo (Mendez)’s in the state tournament,” Bifulco said. “That was it. It’s really remarkable, three no-hitters, one of which is a perfect game, among his first seven starts.”
Even Sawyer is having a tough time believing the no-hit phenomenon himself.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Sawyer said. “I was just hitting all my spots. Everything was working. My curveball was really working. I think that was my best pitch. I’m able to get a lot of people out with it.”
There’s a superstition involved with pitching a no-hitter, one that Sawyer is obviously well aware of now. No one is supposed to speak a word about flirting with the milestone pitching performance, because it’s apparently bad luck.
But Sawyer knew he was flirting with another gem Saturday.
“I knew, but I didn’t tell anyone,” Sawyer said. “I just had to go out there and pitch.”
Bifulco didn’t know Sawyer had the no-hitter going.
“We have a tradition that before the final out, the entire bench stands up,” Bifulco said. “Well, I looked over and they were all sitting down. I wanted to know what they were doing, but they said they didn’t want to jinx the no-hitter. I couldn’t believe he was doing it again. So I just yelled, ‘Strike the kid out.’ That’s what he did. He got into little jams, with an error and a walk, then struck out the side. Not even one ball was hit hard. He just got into a groove.”
Bifulco used the most descriptive term about Sawyer’s performance this season.
“It’s shocking,” Bifulco said. “You always want your pitchers to do well, but no one could have imagined three no-hitters. He pitches well every time out.”
Incredibly, Sawyer has a 4-3 record this season with a 1.09 earned run average. One has to wonder how the “No-Hit Kid” could actually have three losses.
One of the losses was a 1-0 setback to Hudson Catholic, a game where Sawyer surrendered only two hits.
“He never gets flustered, never gets upset,” Bifulco said. “You want to make sure your pitcher keeps focus. Well, that’s never a worry with Corey. It’s focused all the time. It’s really just a pleasant surprise. He has matured so much this year already. He just gets the ball and goes.”
Sawyer said that he was in a good pitching rhythm all game.
“Every time I caught the ball from (catcher) T.J. (Witt), I just went right back out to the mound and threw another pitch,” Sawyer said. “I like the mound (at Franklin School Field). I pitch well there.”
All three of his pitching masterpieces this season have been at Franklin.
“I don’t know what it is,” Sawyer said. “I just feel more comfortable there. It’s definitely a good feeling.”
Sawyer doesn’t want to jinx his great streak.
“I just want to find a way to keep it going,” Sawyer said. “After the first no-hitter, I never thought I could pitch a perfect game. Now, after this one, I don’t even know what to think. It’s all a little ridiculous now.”
And how about the nickname of “No-Hit Kid?”
“Yeah, I like that,” Sawyer said. “It’s a good one.”
One of the latest trends in the new American restaurant landscape is the stylish winebar- burger-joint-milkshake restaurant. What was normally considered “fast food” can now be a high-quality, fine dining, burger concept.
Burger Bound, which has mastered the chic burger concept in less than two years with its Ironbound location in Newark, has opened a second franchise in Kearny this week.
Burger Bound’s co-owners, Francisco Rosa and Rodrigo DaSilva, decided to share their passion for a great burger, and take a family favorite dish to the next level. With years of experience in the restaurant business, they want to bring a fine dining experience to a very casual and fun atmosphere, where the food is always fresh, and the guest always come first.
Their burgers are all handcrafted, made with 100% organic meat with no hormones and no antibiotics. They use only fresh high-quality ingredients for health conscious diners. Dishes like organic beef patty with avocado aioli and truffle parmesan fries paired with either a glass of Malbec or a vanilla shake are unique to their bill of fare. T
heir menu is also designed to please veggie-friendly friends and salad lovers with dishes like fresh salmon burgers with caramelized onion pesto, calamari salad and black bean cakes stuffed with mozzarella.
Together with the Hudson/ Essex County foodie community, the official grand opening of Burger Bound Kearny was scheduled for Tuesday, May 13, from 6 to 10 p.m., at 190A Kearny Ave., between Wilson Ave. and Boyd St., with live music, special prizes, special guests, and great food.
Jaime Arevalo died suddenly at home on May 6. He was 89.
Born in Argentina, he lived in Newark and the past 42 years in Kearny. Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at Queen of Peace Church, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.
Jaime was the beloved husband of Carmen (nee Camino). He is also survived by his loving daughter and her husband Carmen and Charles Leone, his sister Josefina Arevelo and his granddaughters Diana and Cristina.
In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
Maryann Carr (nee Sunbury) entered into eternal rest on Saturday, May 10.
Born in Newark, she was a lifelong resident of Harrison. Maryann worked for the Newark Policeman’s Federal Credit Union for many years.
Predeceased by her husband, Harry (1990), Mayryann is survived by her sons Bryan (Michelle), Joseph and Steven; a stepdaughter Debbie Raychok; grandchildren Bryan, Danica, Steven, Alexa, Dante, Casey and Riley; and sisters, Virginia De John and Patricia Morella. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins. She was predeceased by her sisters, Dorothy Ackerson and Margaret Farrell.
The funeral will be conducted from the Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison, on Thursday, May 15, at 9:30 am. A funeral Mass will follow at Holy Cross Church, Harrison, at 10 am. Friends may call on Wednesday, May 14, from 4 to 8 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. Her interment will take place in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. For information or directions, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.
Timothy P. Eager
Timothy P. Eager passed away suddenly at home on May 4. He was 53.
Born in Kearny, he was a lifelong resident.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. The cremation was private. To leave online condolences, please visit www. armitagewiggins.com.
Tim owned and operated Eager Freight in Kearny.
Son of the late George and Betty Eager, he is survived by his wife Maryann (nee Gavwrachinsky), his son Mark and his sister and brother Nancy and Tommy Eager.
In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a memorial donation to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Paul Michael Eltringham
Paul Michael Eltringham died on May 2 at Clara Maass Medical Center. He was 57.
Born in Newark, he lived most of his life in Kearny.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held Wednesday, May 7, at St. Stephen’s Church. Private cremation followed the Mass. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.
Paul had been a store manager at Thinka Dinka in Westfield.
Formerly married to Karen (Hendelman), he is also survived by his son Scott and his brothers Stephen and David Eltringham.
In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the Kearny Little League.
John T. Liberta
John T. Liberta (“JT”) died on May 3 in Hackensack Medical Center. He was 28.
Born in Newark, he lived most of his life in Kearny.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was held at St. Stephen’s Church, followed by burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.
JT had been a computer technician in NYC at Alcatel. He was a member of the Polish Club and Elks. When he was young, both he and his sister were altar servers at St. Stephen’s Church.
He is survived by his parents John A. and Maureen (Hughes) Liberta, his sisters Elizabeth and Samantha and many loving aunts, uncles and cousins. Also surviving are his great pals Jessie, Monk and Phil as well as many other friends.
Dolores E. Lord
Dolores E. Lord passed away on May 5. She was 88.
Born in Carbondale, Pa., she lived in North Arlington and Wall Township.
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 Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com.
Dolores was the wife of the late William Lord and mother of David and the late Nancy Lord. Sister of Alfreda Sherman, she is also survived by her grandchildren Melissa, Kelly and David along with five great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to Monica Borosky Memorial, c/o 312 Dundoff St., Carbondale, Pa. 18407.
Emily Rinaldi (nee Saporito), 97, died on Sunday, May 4.
Mrs. Rinaldi was born in Batavia, N.Y., raised in Kearny and was a resident of Lyndhurst for over 20 years. She was an inspector for Wilkata Paper Box Co., Kearny, for 16 years, retiring in 1964.
Emily was predeceased by her beloved husband Anthony J. Rinaldi in 2004. She is survived by her loving children Janice Rinaldi, Ronald Rinaldi and Ginamarie Lugo and her grandchildren Amanda Rinaldi and Joseph Lugo and by her sister Josephine Rinaldi.
A funeral Mass was held on Saturday, May 10, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Lyndhurst, followed by a private cremation. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to Bristol Manor Nursing Home, Rochelle Park.
Kathleen M. Servitis (nee French), 46, died suddenly on May 5.
The funeral will be from the Thiele-Reid Family Funeral Home, 585 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral Mass was offered at Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, followed by interment in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. Condolences and memories may be shared at www. thiele-reid.com.
Kathi was born in Belleville and was a lifelong resident of North Arlington.
She was employed as a shipping manager for King Maker Marketing, Inc., in Paramus for the last 12 years. She was an active volunteer for the George Washington Elementary School P.T.O. as well as a former police dispatcher, both in North Arlington.
Kathleen is survived by her husband Pantelis “Telly” Servitis; her beloved daughter Cassandra “Cassie” Servitis; and parents Joseph and Kathleen (nee Ricciardi) French. Kathi will be deeply missed by her sister Colleen Cappuccino and her children Brianna, Kaitlyn and Sammy Cappuccino. She also leaves behind Mocha, her German and Australian Sheppard mix.
In lieu of flowers, contributions to the family in her memory would be appreciated.
Robert A. Watson
Robert A. Watson, of Kearny, died May 2 at the Whiting Health Care Center. He was 97.
Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Drive, Kearny. A funeral service was held at the funeral home, followed by burial in Crest Haven Memorial Park, Clifton.
Bob was a manager at Wallace and Tiernan in Belleville where he worked from 1935 until retiring in 1982. He was very admired and respected by all his colleagues. Bob and his late wife Helen (McGlynn) loved their cottage at Lake Hopatcong, boating and spending time entertaining family and friends. Lake Hopatcong was a special place for Bob and Helen.
Bob is survived by loving nieces and nephews Roberta Lone, Tony Vidal, Gloria Wolf, Sandy Gilmour, Betty Hylands, Jerry Watson, Bill Watson, Wendy Comey and the late Judy Frenya, along with their families.
ShopRite of Lyndhurst, an Inserra Supermarkets store, hosted a grand re-opening to mark completion of its comprehensive renovation project. The store now offers an expanded hot foods section, bakery, produce department, natural and gluten-free selections and frozen food and dairy options.
In addition, the store added a “Dietitian’s Corner” office and welcomed Julie Harrington, R.D., as its in-store retail dietitian. In her new role, Harrington will be providing nutrition counseling and programming at the store and at local community events. ShopRite’s retail dietitian program is designed to provide customers with a free wellness resource while they are shopping or planning meals. ShopRite of Lyndhurst also hosts a LiveRight calendar of events featuring healthy food and meal preparation tips for people of all ages.
“The addition of Julie to our team is very valuable to our customers, who have already embraced the opportunity to learn more and gain advice regarding healthy eating options,” said Slavko Profaca, store manager. “At ShopRite of Lyndhurst, our goal is to help our customers, in whatever way we can, to make sound food purchases that are good for them and their families.”
Each month, dietitians at Inserra’s ShopRite supermarkets located throughout New Jersey and New York State host a series of events for the public. In addition to small group and one-on-one counseling, they host healthy cooking classes, recipe demonstrations, pantry makeover seminars and in-store aisle tours.
Prior to joining ShopRite of Lyndhurst, Harrington was a personal chef, cookbook author and culinary nutritionist. A graduate of Johnson and Wales University, she served her dietetic internship at the College of St. Elizabeth. Professional memberships include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and New Jersey Dietetic Association.
Inserra Supermarkets has deep-rooted ties to Lyndhurst, where Inserra family patriarch Patsy Inserra established the company’s flagship store in 1954. Although the original store no longer exists, ShopRite of Lyndhurst always has been and continues to be affectionately referred to as “Patsy’s,” as homage to its founding father.
Promoting wellness is an overriding philosophy at Inserra Supermarkets, which also recently expanded its hearthealthy Chef Express menu choices. During the course of each week, the creative culinary minds at each Inserra Supermarkets ShopRite create flavorful, nutritious ready-to-heat entrees.
Inserra Supermarkets seeks to be a good corporate citizen dedicated to making life better for local residents as, for example, through ShopRite Partners in Caring, which challenges associates to band together as part of National Hunger Action Month to raise awareness and funds to alleviate hunger in their local communities. The company also supports the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, based in Hillside, and Table to Table, the first food rescue program serving Northern New Jersey.
For more information about Shop- Rite’s dietitian services, visit shoprite.com/for-your-family/dietitians-corner/.
The Metabolic and Bariatric Center at St. Michaels’s Medical Center (SMMC) earned national accreditation from the Metabolic Bariatric Surgery Accreditation Quality Improvement Program.
The American College of Surgeons and American Society for Metabolic and the Bariatric Surgery recently combined their respective national bariatric surgery accreditation programs into a single unified program to achieve one national accreditation standard for bariatric surgery centers.
“St. Michael’s offers patients who struggle with obesity the most advanced medically supervised weight loss and surgical options, as well as the psychological and dietary support they need,” said Dr. Saniea F. Majid, medical director of the Metabolic and Bariatric Center at SMMC. “This accreditation gives us the opportunity to enhance the exceptional care and services we provide to our patients.”
Accredited bariatric surgery centers provide both the hospital resources necessary for optimal care of morbidly obese patients and the support and resources necessary to address the entire spectrum of care and needs of bariatric patients, both pre- and postoperatively.
“This designation demonstrates the level of commitment, safety, and quality care our multidisciplinary health care team provides to patients each and every day,” said David A. Ricci, president and CEO, SMMC. “Our team stays with patients throughout, and well after the weight loss process— it’s an unbreakable bond that can only grow stronger as our program continues to expand.”
In the U.S., more than 15 million people suffer from severe obesity, and the numbers continue to increase. Obesity increases the risks of morbidity and mortality because of the diseases and conditions that are commonly associated with it, such as type II diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease, among other health risks. At the present time, weight-loss operations provide the only effective lasting relief from severe obesity. Therefore, the MBSAQIP believes it is of utmost importance to extend its quality initiatives to accrediting bariatric surgery centers so that it can assist the public in identifying those facilities that provide optimal surgical care for patients who undergo this surgical procedure.
To learn more about The Metabolic and Bariatric Center at SMMC, visit SMMCWeightLoss. org, or call 973.877.5498.
Police responded to a McKinley St. location at 7:20 p.m. on a report of a large branch in the street. Arriving there, police said they found an entire town tree down straddling the property lines of two homes, next to the curb. Police said the fallen tree had struck two parked vehicles. A Nutley Shade Tree crew responded and removed the obstruction. PSE&G also responded.
At 3:05 p.m., police received a report of a suspicious incident at Bloomfield Ave. and Centre St. An individual told police that while they were walking on Centre St., a black, 4-door Toyota pulled over to the curb and the male driver asked if they needed a lift. After the person declined, the driver repeated the offer. The pedestrian told police that the vehicle was last seen traveling eastbound on Centre St. The driver was described as in his 40s, of medium build, with short brown or black few cut style hair. Police said the pedestrian told them it appeared that the driver may have circled the block to follow them.
At 3:39 p.m., a Coeyman Ave. resident reported an auto burglary. The owner told police they’d parked their vehicle, which was unlocked, in their driveway and, upon leaving for work, noticed that their black leather wallet, containing cash and private documents, was missing from the undamaged vehicle.
Police said a motor vehicle stop on Franklin Ave., at 2:44 a.m., resulted in the arrest of Jasmine Roberts, 24, of Newark, on an outstanding warrant from Newark. She was released by Newark PD with a new court date.
At 7:04 p.m., police received a report from an Overlook Ave. resident that someone had broken into their 2011 Ford Explorer and removed a Louis Vuitton leather wallet containing personal items from the center console.
At 10:14 p.m., police responded to a Franklin Ave. business on a theft report. The victim told police that as they got out of their vehicle and entered the store, they realized they’d dropped a $100 bill and returned to the car to retrieve the cash but couldn’t find it. Police said an employee told the victim that two females had picked up the money and run east across Franklin Ave. towards a parking lot. Police are following up leads to pursue the two females.
A Washington Ave. resident called police at 2:29 p.m. to report that someone had slashed their passenger side front tire, valued at $37. The vehicle’s owner asked police to check the area periodically due to recurring incidents of vandalism. May 9 At 9:24 a.m., police were called to a Nicola Place location on a report of illegal dumping. Police said the caller told them that, overnight, someone had dumped two 32-inch tube TVs and shattered a large piece of glass. Police contacted the township street department to pick up the TVs and glass for proper disposal.
– Ron Leir
By Ron Leir
A South Kearny business sent reeling by super-storm Sandy has rebounded quite well, thanks, in part, to a little help from the state.
Custom Steel Contractors, one of several tenants at the Kearny Point Industrial Park, on the Hackensack River Peninsula, saw much of its machinery, including computer-controlled equipment and six trucks, wrecked by five feet of storm surge in late October 2012.
“A very specialized drilling machine critical to our operations was destroyed,” said Daniel Moran, president of Custom Steel, which has served a variety of corporate clients including NJ Transit, UMDNJ, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Schering Plough, the Newark Renaissance Building, along with local government and business organizations since 1986.
Essentially, Moran said, the storm “immediately halted our operations. We couldn’t do anything for a month. It took us three months to get back into operation. And we’re still recovering.”
And, Moran pointed out, his company wasn’t alone in the losses it experienced. “The whole Peninsula was destroyed.” Fedway, for example, was among the private sector facilities that took big hits and, among the public sector casualties, were the Hudson County Jail and the county’s Juneau Memorial Building. EDA’s Stronger NJ Business Grant of $50,000 for uninsured losses – awarded the South Kearny firm in November 2013 – “has helped us cover part of the cost of rebuilding our equipment [metal punching and shearing machines] and we’re now on track toward having one of our best years yet,” Moran said.
“We may not have made it back without [the EDA funding],” he added. For a while, he said, “we didn’t have money for payroll.” At the time, the company had about eight employees.
But since the Sandy shock, Moran said, “we got everyone back, we picked up a lot of new work and now we’re up to about 20 workers.”
Moran’s company has been based in Kearny since 2000, making itself “a little bit of a success story,” the owner said.
EDA CEO Michele Brown, who, along with Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus), visited the company last Thursday, said: “It’s exciting to see Sandy-impacted businesses like Custom Steel successfully recovering from the storm and in this case – coming back even stronger than before.”
Since the Stronger NJ Business Grant program began in May 2013, EPA said it has distributed more than $48 million in grants and loans to about 430 businesses statewide. It’s funded through the state’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery allocation from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In The Observer’s coverage area, EDA has also awarded $50,000 grants (the maximum available under the Stronger NJ Business Grant program) to: Pizza Hut and JL Transportation, both in Kearny; Spanish Pavilion, LMC Tool and SOS Carfix, all in Harrison; Sample Marshall Laboratories in Lyndhurst; and Melray’s Furniture in North Arlington.
Meanwhile, there are signs of non-storm-related business development activity in other sections of Kearny:
• Vineland Construction Co. has received approvals from the N.J. Meadowlands Commission to prepare a 3.29-acre site at 220 Harrison Ave., across from Walmart, for development. Plans call for construction of a single-story, 14,400 square foot building that will accommodate six retail stores to be occupied by Verizon, Gamestop, Sally’s Beauty salon, Buy-Rite Liquor, GNC Health and an as yet unannounced tenant. A sewer lateral will tie into the KMUA collection system.
• On the east side of Pas saic Ave., demolition is nearly complete at the old Bat Factory site, except for the old smokestack, on the east side of Passaic Ave. The Queens, N.Y., property owner has submitted to the town a conceptual development plan for retail use. This summer, the town expects to see construction begin for a new BJs Club at the nearby mall.
• On the west side of Pas saic, demolition is progressing at the old Spartec/Franklin Burlington Plastics site. Property owner Ernie Schaub said: “We have no plans for redevelopment, but we believe that removal of the [vacant] building will help in preparing and marketing the property for eventual sale.”
• The empty Pathmark property, also on the west side of Passaic, may be getting a new tenant at some point. L.A. Fitness, a nationwide exercise facility chain, is exploring the possibility of opening a new facility at the Vornado-owned site, confirmed company representative Gina Calabrese- Orosz. Information about the property is being collected for the corporate office, she said. “It will take months before we get a final word,” she added.
• And the new owners of the Jeryl Industrial Park site off Rt. 7 are continuing to knock down the mostly vacant buildings at that sprawling site and develop a “state-ofthe- art” industrial park after environmental remediation is completed.
By Karen Zautyk
Last week, we reported on a recent Neighborhood Watch meeting focusing on various scams — and we put the spotlight on the information about unscrupulous homerepair “contractors.” This week, as promised, we’re reporting on other vital info that was provided, this about higher-tech fraud, the kind in which the scamsters utilize phones, ATMs, email, etc., to separate you from your money.
In some cases, it’s a one-shot deal, an attempt to get a lumpsum payment by fraudulent means. In others, the criminals are engaged in identity theft, designed to drain your credit and your bank accounts.
At the meeting, held April 24 at Town Hall under the auspices of the Nutley Police Department, Det. Tom Perrota covered a multitude of topics, part of the effort to circulate the warnings throughout the township via Neighborhood Watch members. “We want you to spread the word to your friends and neighbors,” Perrota said. “We need to get the information out and let everyone know what to look out for.”
Mayor Alphonse Petracco introduced the program and admitted that he had been a victim. “One day I’m in my deli,” he said, “and I get a call from one of my credit-card companies, asking, ‘Are you at Nordstrom’s in Chicago?’” It turned out that someone had used his card info at that store to buy $800 worth of gift cards.
The mayor urged all to monitor their credit cards and to “cancel the ones that you don’t use.”
“Identity theft,” Perrota noted, “is an increasing epidemic in the United States.” He cited a Federal Trade Commission report showing $15.6 billion in estimated losses from ID theft in 2006, and added, “I guarantee it’s double that today.”
The scamsters are looking for any personal info — names, addresses, Social Security numbers (do NOT carry your SocSec card around with you; leave it in a secure place at home), mortgage info, etc. With the last, he noted, “they’ll take out a second mortgage in your name.”
To protect yourself, Perrota urged that, for starters, you register at freecreditreport.com, where you can get a copy of your report and begin to monitor it.
• Protect your mailbox. “Get a locked one,” Perrota said. “All they [ID thieves] need is one bill” with your info on it. If you don’t get any mail for a couple of days, go to the Post Office and demand to know where it is. • Shred any discarded paperwork with personal info.
• Be aware of your surroundings when using an ATM. Cover the keyboard and your hand when entering your password. If you regularly use the same ATM, know what it looks like. If anything looks different, do not use it; go to the counter. ID thieves place tiny cameras and card “skimmers” on the machines to steal your info.
• Review all your bills and credit-card statements. Check for double charges or charges made via phone. • If you are getting a new computer, do not simply discard the old one. DESTROY it and the hard drive. Smash it!
• Do not give out personal information. For example, when applying for a store credit card, do not provide your Social Security number. (It’s a good idea NEVER to provide that number unless you absolutely have to.) Do not fill out personal info on warranty cards, sweepstakes entries, etc.
Unfortunately, these days all these precautions are no guarantee your info will be safe. Perrota noted there have been cases where ID thieves have hired conspirators who then get themselves hired as receptionists and such at medical offices, where they are privy to all manner of personal and financial information. “This is why you need to regularly check your credit records and bank accounts,” Perrota warned.
If all this is not enough to cause worry, consider the phone scams.
Recently the IRS issued a nationwide warning about fraudsters pretending to be IRS agents calling people and seeking immediate payment of alleged back taxes and/or fines. In New Jersey, a similar scam involved calls from “sheriff’s officers” demanding payment of a fine for “missing jury duty.”
There are many other similar frauds out there. Sometimes the callers ask for a credit card number. Sometimes they want payment via a prepaid debit/money card, money order, wire transfer, etc.
These con artists are technically sophisticated. They can disguise their phone number so that your Caller ID indicates the call is, indeed, coming from the IRS or the sheriff’s office or whatever entity they claim to represent. And sometimes, they even have the last four digits of your Social Security number, the better to make you think they are legit.
Another popular phone scam, often made to a senior citizen, involves a call reporting that the person’s grandchild, or some other relative or friend, has been arrested somewhere and needs bail money, or has been in an accident or has had their wallet stolen and needs cash now.
These scamsters are even using Facebook and other social media sites to gather info on the relative/friend to make the call sound legitimate. Consider: If someone pretending to be your grandson’s friend knows what kind of car he drives or the name of his dog, you’d likely believe the phony story, wouldn’t you?
If you ever get a call like this, Perrota said, “before you do anything, verify!” Call the family and find out if the relative/ friend is indeed in trouble somewhere. Also call your local police. They can contact the supposed jurisdiction and find out if there really has been an arrest or accident.
As for email fraud, this, too, is increasing. Best advice we’ve ever been given: Don’t open emails from a sender you don’t know. And don’t EVER click on a link or attachment in a suspect email.
The email con artists are able to duplicate legitmate websites, so do not rely on appearances. If you get an email supposedly from your bank or utility company or credit-card company, etc., avoid any opening any link/ attachment. If you want to confirm the mail’s legitimacy, do not simply hit “reply” and do not call any number provided in the email; instead, call the company using a verified number from one of your printed bills or statements.
Bottom line and best line of defense in all these scams is (we can’t say it often enough): Safeguard your personal information.
As Perrota said: “Lock down your information like it’s gold. A thief doesn’t have to enter your house to take everything you have.”
The Nutley PD has a free reference guide full of valuable advice on preventing identity theft and what to do if you ever become a victim. For a copy, call 973-284-4947.
Belleville Raymond Kimble, who is seeking re-election in the May 13 municipal election, and his political allies have called on his opponent, Councilwoman Marie Strumolo Burke to step down in the wake of a racial slur that Kimble claims Burke uttered.
Burke denies making the remark and has refused to resign.
A press release issued by Kimble, his running mate Councilman Kevin Kennedy, and Councilman Steve Rovell on May 1 reads as follows:
“It’s a sad day for the people of Belleville. The trust that they placed in one of their elected officials has been violated in the most offensive manner. National and local revelations this week have reminded us all that racism and bigotry is alive and well, but they have also shown that it cannot and will not be tolerated, and that swift and decisive action is required when it is exposed.
“As the representatives of the Township of Belleville and of its 36,000 residents, we have no choice but to call for Councilwoman Burke’s immediate resignation from the Township Council [and from] her seat on the [county] Democratic Committee and for an official inquiry to be launched.”
Kimble, Kennedy and Rovell assert that an outside analysis of a tape in which a woman’s voice is heard saying, “This is terrible. This is terrible. This gonna be a [expletive] [N-word] town,” offers proof “that the vile remarks are those of Councilwoman Burke” but that Burke won’t own up to it. “Councilwoman Burke must step down so the healing process can begin and the Township Council can regain the trust of [its] constituents,” they say.
For her part, Strumolo Burke characterizes the allegations made by the Kimble team as a “desperate attempt to destroy my candidacy and smear my good name.” They are, she said, an effort to distract voters’ attention from what should be the real issues of the campaign: higher taxes and declining township services.
A tale of the tape was offered by Tom Grolimond, a Kimble campaign supporter and a township DPW inspector who sits on the Belleville Historic Preservation Commission.
Grolimond said Councilman Kennedy was “cleaning out a room in his cellar and there was an old answering machine. Before throwing it out, he was playing his messages and this tape was on the machine. I recorded it on my cell phone and I played it at work. Everybody was really upset [Strumolo Burke] could make such a statement.”
So, after the councilwoman publicly denied that it was her voice on the tape, Grolimond said, “a couple of us chipped in money to send the tape to [Primeau Forensics of Rochester Hills, Mich.] It’s the same guy who worked on Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto.”
To gain familiarity with the councilwoman’s voice, lab owner Edward J. Primeau submitted an Open Public Records Act request to the township for tapes of two recent (March 24 and April 8) meetings of the governing body.
In an April 28 letter to Grolimond, Primeau authenticated the voicemail message from the answering machine and concluded “beyond a reasonable degree of scientific certainty that the voice of the female caller that can be heard in the background to be that of Marie Burke,” based on “voice tone and accent” and “common word pronunciations” heard on the answering machine tape and on one of the Township Council recordings.
Still, Primeau qualified his assessment, adding: “I am 85% certain that the voice [on the voicemail] is Marie Burke. In order to arrive at a 100% positive identification, I will need an exact exemplar of the voice of Marie Burke reading the defamatory remark heard in the voicemail recording.”
In her own statement, Strumolo Burke insisted: “For the record, I am not the woman on the audiotape. The fact that I must publically deny such a disgusting allegation is indicative of the way Belleville politics has stooped to an all-time low under the Kimble and Kennedy re-election campaign.”
Strumolo Burke said this past October, Kimble and Kennedy told her they had “a four-year-old recording, which they claimed would destroy my mayoral campaign if I decided to run.” But if she agreed to endorse them, they’d suppress the tape, promised public works jobs for her supporters and further funding of the Friendly House project in Silver Lake, Strumolo Burke said.
“I told them, ‘No,’ ’’ the councilwoman said.
After that, she said, Kimble and Kennedy “played the audiotape for elected officials and Democratic Party officials from the state and Essex County,” with the intent of pressuring her to get out of the race. Strumolo Burke accused Kimble and Kennedy of keeping up the pressure by ordering their operatives “to harass me at town meetings, publically calling me a racist and further threatening me with their bogus recording.”
As a result, she said, “I have been charged, tried and convicted in the court of public opinion.”
Strumolo Burke alleged that Kimble and Kennedy “have given huge raises and excessive overtime” to friends in the Public Works Department, “using them at town meetings as props in their political theater. … The Kimble and Kennedy record of raising taxes more than 64% in eight years, and the general state of disrepair that the township is in are the two main issues we face as taxpayers.”
– Ron Leir