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Relief for commuters

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Go pink at St. Michael’s

Don your favorite pink attire and join St. Michael’s Medical Center for a Breast Cancer Awareness Month event — Breast Health & You — on Saturday, Oct. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at SMMC’s Connie Dwyer Breast Center, 111 Central Ave., Newark. Dr. Nadine Pappas, director of […]


Kearny Police Blotter

Two Kearny adults suspected of engaging in a drug transaction were arrested on the night of Feb. 9.

At 5 p.m. the Kearny Police Department vice squad observed a man passing drugs to a woman in the area of Forest St.

The squad followed the woman to Lyndhurst where they stopped and searched her. After finding Percocet on her, the cops charged her with possession of CDS.

Squad members then returned to Kearny and confronted the 29-year-old man whom they’d previously seen on Forest St.He was placed under arrest and a search of his residence uncovered 73 oxycontin pills, eight Xanex pills, and two suboxone tablets. The male was charged with possession of a controlled substance, distribution of a controlled substance and distribution within a school zone and a park zone.

Two days later, Det. Mike Gonzalez observed a 26-year-old Kearny resident acting disorderly in the Quik Chek parking lot. An hour earlier, Gonzalez had given the same man a summons on Belgrove Drive for drinking in public. After running a warrant check on the man, he was found to have outstanding warrants from East Newark and Harrison. Sidnei Antunes was taken into custody and booked for the outstanding warrants.

Later that day, police received a report of a robbery at the Street Smart Clothing store on Passaic Ave. An employee had engaged thPolice said an employee approached three female customers, only to be punched in the face. All three then fled the store carrying female undergarments and other items. Officers Caesar Negron, T.J. Hernandez, and James Mackintosh obtained a description and direction of flight. Negron went to Passaic Ave., where he received information that the females had crossed the Clay St. bridge, and had boarded a bus near the Burger King on Broad St. in Newark. Negron boarded the bus in the area of Mt. Prospect Ave. and found two of the female passengers fitting the description. Both females were taken off the bus and detained. The employee was brought to the scene by Det. John Plaugic, and both were positively identified and transported back to Kearny. Two Newark females, 22-year-old Norma Torresolivieri and 18-yearold Leslie Sanchez, were charged with robbery and conspiracy. Bail was set at $50,000 each.

In the early morning of Feb. 12, Officers Ben Wuelfing and Jason Ward responded to a report of a disorderly group in the 700 block of Chestnut St. and found several adults and juveniles carrying on in the middle of the street. Near the group, the officers observed a Volkswagon with a driver inside, and the officers observed his eyes were watery and bloodshot and detected the odor of alcohol emanating from the vehicle. When the driver was asked for credentials, he was unable to produce registration. Initially, he denied he’d been drinking but then admitted having several beers, cops said. The officers noted that the driver, 18-year-old Belleville resident Eduardo Silva, was underage and placed under arrest. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and given tickets for driving under the influence, failure to display registration, and underage driving while intoxicated.

On Feb. 14 at 2:30 p.m. Officer Mike Andrews, on patrol in the area of Kearny and Woodland Aves., spotted a man he knew had an outstanding warrant from Kearny. The man was then picked up by a woman driver. Andrews followed the car into East Newark where, after confirming a warrant was indeed issued, he pulled the car over. After a check of the motor vehicle, Andrews learned that the operator/owner of the car had a suspended license. Officer Jay Ward responded as backup and placed both under arrest. The driver, 25-year-old Harrison resident Natalie Martinez, was charged with driving with a suspended license, driving with a suspended registration, and failing to surrender her driver’s license to the DMV. The male, 28-year-old Ramiro Hernandez, of East Newark , was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia in addition to the warrants.

On Feb 17, Officers Angelo Palagano and Mike Santucci responded to the area of Highland and Quincy Aves. around 12:30 a.m. on a report of a female dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt acting suspicious. Searching the area, the cops found the woman on Brighton Ave. The officers searched a backpack she was carrying and found two GPS units that she couldn’t account for. Officers activated the units and tracked one to a Highland Ave. residence. Officers Ben Wuelfing and Chris Medina responded with the GPS to the Highland Ave. residence and confirmed with the owner that his GPS was in fact missing from his vehicle and that the one they had belonged to him. Once confirmed stolen, the woman, 26-year-old Jolene Brito of Little Ferry, was placed under arrest. Brito was charged with receiving stolen property and attempted burglary. A followup investigation as to the origin of the second GPS is still underway.

-Anthony J. Machcinski


Private eye hunts down stolen rare Grand National

Photo courtesy Latch Raghu/ Missing 1986 Buick Regal Grand National.


By Jeff Bahr

An East Orange man whose highly collectable car was stolen on Jan. 8 near the Providence Sports Bar and Restaurant, Belleville, has retained a private investigator to aid in its recovery. The car’s owner, Latch Raghu, says that the vehicle, a rare black 1986 Buick Regal Grand National 2-door is worth somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000.

Raghu says he parked the vehicle near the bar at Heckle and Jeraldo Sts. at 4:30 p.m. and went inside. Somewhere between that time and 8:04 p.m. the car was stolen, he says. Most troubling to Raghu is the fact that he thinks he knows the person responsible for the theft – in part or in whole – but is having trouble making headway on that front. According to private investigator Joseph Blaettler, the Belleville Police claimed that their hands were tied at this point since they didn’t have “probable cause” to move ahead.

Blaettler, who believes that the crime was part of a premeditated plan, explained that Raghu had originally told friends that he’d be driving to the bar in his Dodge Viper – valued in excess of $100,000 – to meet them to watch a N.Y. Giants playoff game, but then decided to drive his Grand National instead. This tip-off that a valuable car would soon be parked outside of the bar set criminal wheels in motion, according to Blaettler.

A camera mounted on the outside of the bar shows the suspected thief with two other men beside him when Raghu walked in, said Blaettler. “Based on sources I’ve spoken to, he (one of the other two men present) might be involved in some shady activity. I gave that (information) to Belleville. Nothing, no response.”

“I understand there’s no probable cause right now to arrest him, to question him, anything,” said Blaettler of the Belleville Police Department reportedly not having questioned the suspected thief, “but that does not prevent the cops from picking up the phone or going to visit him saying, ‘hey, we’d like to talk to you.’”

In response to Blaettler’s comments, Belleville Police Sgt. John Loiacono stood firm on his department’s original determination that there simply wasn’t enough probable cause to move ahead with this particular individual. “I sympathize with the owner,” said Loiacono, “but we need more (evidence) before we can proceed.” Loiacono cited the loss of auto theft recovery units as a further impediment to locating stolen vehicles. We simply don’t have the resources to do (look for) stolen cars, “ said Loiacono. “

This was not a random theft,” said Blaettler. “Somebody went after this car, they knew exactly what they were doing. They knew how to bypass the alarm system, and they then felt very comfortable jumping into that car and driving away.”

The missing Gran National is a GNX model that’s even more coveted than typical offerings from the esteemed group to which it belongs, according to Raghu. “It’s number six of only 547 that were ever made,” said Raghu to underscore the rarity of the vehicle. As evidence to support this, and as an identification marker unique to this one particular vehicle, a plate on the car’s dashboard reads “006.” The vehicle ranks as “one of the fastest models produced,” according to Raghu, and has “scratches on the trunk” that might help in its identification.

Raghu, who didn’t carry theft insurance on the vehicle, is offering a “no questions asked” reward of $5,000 for information that culminates in the return of the vehicle. Those with any information concerning the car or its whereabouts have been asked to contact the Belleville Police Department, owner Latch Raghu at 201-513-6121, or private investigator Joseph Blaettler at 973-725-9677.

Book to film adaptation


The Walking Dead TV show (shown with novel on right) hopes to have some of the success of the Harry Potter franchise.

By Anthony J. Machcinski

As AMC’s “The Walking Dead” continues through the second half of its second season, one huge issue has risen. “The Walking Dead,” based on the graphic novel series of the same name, follows a group of zombie apocalypse survivors in their endless quest to fight the odds and survive.

At the end of the first half of the season, the TV show took a turn away from the graphic novel. I won’t give the spoiler away, but if you’ve read the books, it certainly comes as a shock.

This turn got me thinking, with the amount of movies and TV shows taking popular ideas from novels, how many of them actually stick to the plan? I am not including ones based off of real life events like the films “Black Hawk Down” and “Friday Night Lights.”

Arguably, the most popular novelto- film adaptation has been the “Harry Potter” series. The first book, released June 1997, simply took the world by storm, as author J.K. Rowling would follow Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with six more lengthy books.

Four years after the debut of the novel, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” would hit theaters and kick of a chain reaction that would lead to box office revenues of $7.7 billion dollars.

Why did the “Harry Potter” franchise have such good success? It stuck to the book. While there are some minor differences between the books and the films, the main plot and sequence remains the same. People who read the books were able to see what they read visualized.

The “Harry Potter” model, as I’ll call it here for simplification, is not the same approach other studios have taken.

The “Bourne” films, based around super spy Jason Bourne, are taken from the Robert Ludlum series of the same names. There are several differences in the novels that the movies left out. In the film, and again, I’ll try to leave out much of the detail, Carlos the Jackal, an assassin, is killed in the first film, “The Bourne Identity.” However, in the novels, Carlos the Jackal isn’t killed until the second book.

Despite this twist between the film and the novels, The “Bourne” trilogy was a huge box office success, to the tune of $945 million. It has been so successful that a possible fourth film, “The Bourne Legacy,” is in the works.

However, going away from the “Harry Potter” model isn’t always successful. “The Sum of All Fears,” a film built off the Tom Clancy novel bearing the same name, was released in May 2002, and got a 59% rating on rottentomatoes.com. The film, which stars Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman, changed several parts of the movie including bits and pieces of the ending.

Why would studios change scenes from novels? Sometimes, as explained with the “Harry Potter” differences, the films omit certain details for time constraints. Leaving out a secondary relationship that doesn’t affect the outcome of the movie could help in cutting an extra amount of time and money out of the film’s budget.

However, when a production sees such a drastic change, there may not be a reason for that change. In a “Hollywood Reporter” interview with “Walking Dead” producer Robert Kirkman, Kirkman explains the death of one of the characters by simply saying, “When a good idea comes up, you have to go with it.” Whether the show continues to be as successful as the graphic novels is something only time will tell; however one thing we can easily say is this: you will have to read the novels and watch the shows to see how different things will be.

Around Town

East Newark

West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. The group will provide an atmosphere of warmth and comfort for patients and family. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa 201-246- 7750, Fatima 973-485-4236 or email emidura2@yahoo. com. Together we will fight this disease.


St. Stephen’s Church in Kearny will host a fish and chips supper on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in Hedges Hall. Cost will be $14 per person. The supper will be catered by Argyle Restaurant, Kearny.

All are welcome. Meals may be eaten in or taken out. All are asked to access Hedges Hall via the Washington Avenue entrance.

First Presbyterian Church, 663 Kearny Ave., is holding a Winter Blowout Sale on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sale items include clothing for the whole family, small household items, books and more.

Kearny High School PTA is having a Tricky Tray on April 20 in the Kearny High School gym and the cost is $15. Any questions, call Lisa at 201-955-9070.

The Rosary Society of Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., Kearny, will hold its monthly meeting on Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m., in the church hall. Plans for the upcoming fundraiser, “Tea for Three,” starring Elaine Bromka, scheduled for June 3, will be discussed. A fish fry is scheduled for March 16, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm. at the LCC on Davis Avenue in Kearny. Palm Crosses will be sold on the weekends of March 17 to 18 and March 24 to 25 at all Masses.


The Humane Society of Bergen County, 221-223 Stuyvesant Ave., Lyndhurst, is offering free dog food, both canned and dry, to anyone having problems feeding their dog due to unemployment, disability or any financial situation. Just stop by or call 201-896- 9300. The facility is open seven days a week.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst, member of the GFWC/NJSFWC, will sponsor a program to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday as part of the of the National Education Association’s Read Across America program on March 1 at Lyndhurst Public Library. Past Club President Annette Bortone will read to children at 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The Woman’s Club of Lyndhurst announces its annual fundraiser, “Spring Into Fashion” Sunday brunch and fashion show, on Sunday, April 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at The Graycliff, 122 Moonachie Ave., Moonachie. There will also be a tricky tray and a 50/50 raffle. Tickets are $35. For tickets, please call Rosemary at 201-935-4836 or Marge at 201-694-5976. No tickets will be sold at the door.

The Lyndhurst High School Class of 2013 and the LHS World Language Honor Society are sponsoring a Children’s Tricky Tray for children in grades pre-k through 4. This event will be held at the Senior Citizen Building on Cleveland Ave. in Lyndhurst on Saturday, March 31, at noon. Numbers will be called promptly at 1 p.m.

Admission is $5 per person. Children as well as their parents will require an admission ticket. This price will include a full sheet of tickets for the small prize category. There will be three categories of prizes and those tickets can be purchased upon arrival. Food and drinks will also be served. Therefore, outside food will not be allowed.

Please call Janet Ricigliano at (201) 935-1208 for further information.

The Lyndhurst Public Library invites the community to join in a continuous program “Connecting With Your Inner Self.” This program is geared for people age 50 and older. The purpose is to get people to talk about topics such as fears, aging, changing obstacles into opportunities, dealing with problems optimistically and appreciating where you are in life. The next meeting will be held on Thursday, March 8, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. For more information, please call the library at 201-804- 2478, ext. 7.

North Arlington

Dr. Richard Ekstein is offering a free seminar about the benefits of implants and veneers at his new facility, at 312 Belleville Turnpike, Suite 3B, North Arlington on Tuesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. Afterwards, light snacks and beverages will be served and Dr. Ekstein will be available to answer your concerns and questions. Seating is limited so please call our office to reserve your space before Feb. 28. Call Fran at 201-991-1228 or email at fran.sds2@gmail.com

Join Liz Nossier, RD, Clara Maass Medical Center (CMMC) Clinical Nutrition Manager, and North Arlington Health Department, 10 Beaver Ave., on Thursday, Feb. 23, at noon for dietary and nutritional tips as well as a heart-healthy lunch. There is no cost to attend this event. Wear red to show your support! To register, please call 1-888-724-7123, prompt 4 or visit www.barnabashealthcalendar.org. Walk-ins are welcome.

Queen of Peace Knights of Columbus Council 3428 is reorganizing a Squires Circle for Catholic young men between the ages of 10 to 18 years. Anyone interested in participating is invited to come and find out more at an open house on March 4, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the LaSalle Center at Queen of Peace Church in North Arlington. For more information about joining, please contact: Squires Chief Counselor Tom Jenkins (201) 772-5124 or Peter Briody (201) 991-8892.


Pen to Prose Writers’ Group will meet at Nutley Public Library on Monday, Feb. 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The group was formed to read works-in-progress, share accomplishments, critique works, give writing instruction, and provide encouragement and inspiration to aspiring authors. The group is free and open to the public.

Preschool Story Time, for children from 3 to 5 years old, and their caregivers, is held at the library on Thursdays at 10 a.m. Participants can enjoy old and new picture books, create arts and crafts, and meet other children. Registration is required. Story Time, for children from 24 to 36 months, and their caregivers, is held on Fridays at the library at 10 a.m. Registration is required.

BabyGarten, for babies from birth to 22 months, and their caregivers, is held Mondays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the library. The program includes books, nursery rhymes, playtime, and meeting other babies from the Nutley area. Registration is required.

Preschool Story Time, for children 3 to 5-yearsold, and their caregivers, is held on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Enjoy old and new picture books, create arts and crafts, and meet other children. Registration is required.

Nutley Department of Parks and Recreation is currently accepting applications for the 2012 Girls Softball Program. This program is open to Nutley girls in grades 1 through 8. The fee for this program is $25 per youngster. Online registration is available at www.nutleynj.org or applications are available at the Recreation Department, 44 Park Ave. The deadline for registration is March 26. For more information, contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 973-284-4966.

Nutley girls’ basketball team enjoying successful season

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Nutley girls’ basketball team has won 17 games this season, thanks to the efforts of seniors Eileen Purcell, head coach Dana Wynne, Jaimie Towey and Tonianne DeMatteo.


By Jim Hague

When Dana Wynne was hired as the girls’ basketball coach at Nutley High School three years ago, she came with an impeccable resume.

After all, Wynne is one of the greatest players in the history of the Seton Hall University women’s program, having scored 1,622 points and collected 1,265 rebounds, both totals among the highest in the school’s history. Wynne led the nation in rebounding her senior year of 1996, which led to her becoming a player for the Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA as well as a pro career in Greece.

When Wynne’s playing days were over, she returned to her alma mater and served as an assistant coach at Seton Hall for four seasons.

So when the job opened at Nutley and Wynne was interested, it was a no-brainer to secure Wynne’s services.

During the first couple of years, the Maroon Raiders had to become accustomed somewhat to Wynne’s philosophy _ a lot of it coming from Wynne’s college coach, Phyllis Mangina.

“Most definitely, a lot of what we do is based on what we did at Seton Hall,” Wynne said. “It’s something that I understand and our players understand.”

The Maroon Raiders were 13-14 last year, but Wynne knew that she had a veteran team returning this season.

“We had five seniors coming back,” Wynne said. “We had very good senior leadership. I thought that we would be able to do better than we did last year, because of the seniors.”

Three of the seniors have emerged as big time performers for Wynne and they are the main reason why the Maroon Raiders are one of the most improved teams in the Super Essex Conference.

The Maroon Raiders own a 17-6 record, after toppling Belleville, 61-42, last Friday night. They have had their share of big wins this season, including a two-point thrilling win over Kearny.

Wynne knows that the three senior leaders deserve a lot of the credit.

“Those three put the team on their backs and they’ve carried us,” Wynne said. “They’re making big shots, big plays. I think that’s what comes with senior leadership.”

So much so that Wynne had high expectations for the season, setting lofty goals that no one outside of Wynne and her players thought were possible.

“I really thought our goal this year was to win 20 games,” Wynne said. “We had 13 last year, but we had so much senior leadership that we had to win more this year. We won some big games, games that we probably would have lost last year. But we have the leaders. We play as a team and it shows.”

Leading the way has been senior forward Jaimie Towey. The 5-foot-9 Towey, a standout pitcher on the softball team and a solid soccer player in the fall, has really improved her basketball skills this season, averaging nearly 15 points and 10 rebounds per game.

“She’s become a solid post player,” Wynne said of Towey. “She’s worked very hard on her turnaround jump shot. She worked hard on a lot of things over the summer and came back very focused. She’s taken a big step up and become more offensive oriented. She’s also able to read the double team and get the ball to her teammates. She’s really having a great season.”

Another key performer is senior point guard Eileen Purcell, who like Towey, also plays soccer in the fall and softball in the spring. The 5-foot-6 Purcell is averaging close to eight points and eight assists per game.

“She sees the floor very well,” Wynne said. “She’s shooting the ball more and that’s what we wanted. We’re trying to get her to score more. She’s reading defenses well and gets the ball to her teammates. I think her ability in the other sports helps her for basketball. It gives her a sense of calmness when she plays.”

The third senior leader is shooting guard Tonianne DeMatteo. The 5-foot-6 DeMatteo has reached double figures in scoring in each of the last 13 games, including a 27-point performance against Woodbridge and a 25-point outing against Newark Academy.

“She has good range and is a good 3-point shooter,” Wynne said. “She’s also a great transition player. She also plays the opposing team’s better player.”

There aren’t many teams that have a post player, a point guard and a shooting guard like the trio of talented young ladies on the Nutley roster.

Senior Shannon Reid is a 5-foot-8 forward and senior Adriana Luzzi is a 5-foot-6 swing player, who could play the point, the shooting guard or the small forward positions.

Jasmine Small is a junior guard who can fill the role of both guard slots and has become the Raiders’ defensive stopper of late.

Sophomore Grace Montgomery has seen a lot of time as a sophomore. She also can play three positions.

“She’s a versatile player,” Wynne said. “I like having players who are interchangeable and can do a lot of things. That’s how we usually play.”

Junior Sarah Montes, the Raiders’ tallest player at 6-foot even, is a fine rebounder who gives depth up front.

So no one would have believed it, but Wynne’s goal may indeed become reality. The Maroon Raiders have two regular season games remaining against Newark East Side and Newark West Side and drew a home game in the opening round of the upcoming NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III playoffs against Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

“Just getting a home game in the state playoffs is an achievement,” Wynne said.

Sure is,  because the Maroon Raiders haven’t hosted a state playoff game in recent years. It’s been a fine season this year for the Nutley girls’ basketball team.

“I always thought that this team would do well,” Wynne said. “I always had expectations. We’re all very excited about this team. They’ve done everything that has been asked of them.”

Everything and then some – which includes winning. It’s definitely been a season to remember.

Belleville girls: On the right track without a track

Photo by Jim Hague/ The Belleville girls’ indoor track and field team recently finished fifth at the NJSIAA North 1, Group III state sectionals, a marvelous achievement considering the school doesn’t have a track to train on. From left are senior Kristy Bono, a twotime medal winner at the recent sectionals, head coach Scott Herman, and Kristy’s twin sister Jamie, who also earned a medal at the sectionals.


From afar, it doesn’t seem like much that the Belleville High School girls’ track and field program finished fifth at the recent NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group III championships at the Bennett Center in Toms River.

However, when you take a closer look, when you consider all the circumstances the Buccaneers have to overcome, all the parameters involved, then it’s quite remarkable that they did that well on the state sectional level.For one, there isn’t a ton of depth in the program, just an assortment of dedicated young ladies who love what they do and have the desire to get better.

More importantly, there’s no place to train. Of course, there’s no indoor track facility in the area, but Belleville doesn’t even have an outdoor track. To train, the girls have to do a lot like the old Doobie Brothers song – They’re taking it to the streets.

“They’re running in the streets and then run to Brookdale Park,” Belleville head coach Scott Herman said. “A lot of times, they take the run over to Branch Brook Park and get their work done there. Even though we don’t have a track, the good weather we had this winter contributed. We have a lot of young girls who are getting better.”
But the Buccaneers were spearheaded by a pair of senior twins, namely Kristy and Jamie Bono, who acted as the catalysts to help bring along a bunch of younger runners.

“Kristy and Jamie are good runners,” Herman said. “They worked hard all summer and that’s how they became good. They put in the time and the mileage. I think they were running like 40-to-50 miles a week. With Kristy and Jamie doing the hard work, they brought the younger girls along.”

Even without the benefit of a running track at the school, the Buccaneers had some good success during the indoor season.

Arnelle Ackon, a junior, had a fine year, culminating in a ninth place finish in the 400-meter run at the state sectional. Ackon won the 55-meter dash and the 300-meter dash at the Ridgewood Indoor Games late in the season, tying the school record in the 300. She also took second in the 300-meter at the Paul Schwartz Invitational. Ackon tied the school record that was set by former state sectional champion Sherece Shabazz four years ago.

Ackon was also fourth at the Super Essex Conference championships in the 55-meter dash.

Freshman Estefany Tello set a new school record in the 600-meter run at the Ridgewood Games.

“Any time you win at a big meet, it helps the confidence level of everyone,” Herman said.

But the heart and soul of the Buccaneers’ efforts were the Bono twins, who both earned medals at the state sectional championships.

Kristy was third in the 1,600-meter run in a time of 5:33.91, with sister Jamie right behind in fourth in 5:35.95.

“It just unfolded that way,” Herman said of the twins running 3-4. “They both improved their times from the week before. They’re both 30 seconds better than what they were a week ago. That’s incredible improvement. Kristy was sixth for most of the race, but then she pulled herself up to third. Jamie is always following right behind her.”

In the 3,200-meter run, Kristy ran third in 11:58.38, with Jamie just missing a chance to move on to the overall Group III championships in that event by finishing seventh.
Both sisters then went to the overall Group III championships Saturday at the Bennett Center, having to arrive at school before the crack of dawn for the sojourn down the Garden State Parkway to the state championships.

Kristy was 14th in the 1,600-meter run, with Jamie 17th overall. Kristy ran 20th in the 3,200-meter run.

It’s nothing to sneeze at, because they were there, competing with the very best in the state, yet neither had a formal track background before high school and don’t have the best training facilities to work on. Scratch that last one. They have none.

“Most of the girls in our program don’t run before high school,” Herman said. “There’s no feeder program and since we don’t have a track, it’s hard to get girls involved. The twins were running like 6:30 miles (1,600-meter run) as freshmen and look where they are now. It’s a gradual progress.”

Herman has to take it slow with the younger girls who are just starting.

“They can’t run as much as Kristy and Jamie,” Herman said. “I don’t want to have them get burned out early. They’re running six months tops right now. But the future looks good, as long as they stay with it.”

Much like the Bono twins stuck with track over their four years.

“We’ll see what the future holds,” Herman said. “A lot of them go on to other sports during outdoor season. It takes a lot of hard work. These kids never get a chance to perform in a home meet ever. Young kids are coming up and they don’t see the kids running track, so they try another sport. We have no feeder program. We have no home meets. Others can’t see the Bono twins run, see them and say, `I’d love to be like them.’ So we need all the recognition we can get, to get some attention with the young kids. Maybe they can see what the Bonos did without having a track, without running before high school. Maybe they can be an inspiration.”

So in that respect, the fifth place finish at the recent state sectionals was almost miraculous and something to behold. Here’s to hoping others in Belleville will stop and take notice of their incredible achievements.

Nutley captures District 14 team title, first since 1980

Belleville’s Colon wins third crown, becomes Essex all-time win leader

Photos by Jim Hague/ Belleville’s Justin Colon became the all-time leader in Essex County victories with his win in the District 14 finals.


By Jim Hague

It’s been a season of firsts for the Nutley High School wrestling team and that continued on last weekend at the NJSIAA District 14 championships that were held at West Orange.

The Maroon Raiders dominated the action at the tournament, capturing the team championship, the first for the program since 1980.

The victory at the District 14 tourney comes on the heels of coach Frank DiPiano’s team also winning the Essex County tournament and the Super Essex Conference championship in the same year, making it a total year to remember.

The Maroon Raiders crowned an astounding six individual champions, namely Anthony DeLorenzo (106 pounds), Bobby Trombetta (120), Brandon Keena (160), Nick Gaeta (195), Carlos Rosa (220) and Andre Hamlin (heavyweight).

It was the third straight district title for Trombetta and the second for Gaeta.

It’s also the culmination of an incredible improvement for Hamlin, who won only one match as a sophomore when he first joined the program. Now, he’s a District champion.

The Maroon Raiders also had three wrestlers place second in Julian Figueroa (113), Stephen Scuttaro (126) and Jordan Nochimson (182).

Ralph DiPasquale won his consolation match at 132 pounds, earning third place and a trip to this weekend’s Region 4 tournament in West Orange, as did Vinnie Mainiero at 170 pounds, so the Maroon Raiders will bring an unthinkable total of 11 wrestlers to the Regions this week.


Photos by Jim Hague/ Nutley’s Bobby Trombetta won his third straight District 14 championship and helped to lead his team to their first District 14 title in over 30 years.

It means a full wrestling room for practice for DiPiano.

Nutley finished first with 237 points, followed by Livingston, then Bloomfield and Belleville.

It was quite an impressive performance all around for the Maroon Raiders. When DiPiano took over the program four years ago, he thought it would take five years to build the Nutley program to a place of prominence.

Well, after the third jewel of their Triple Crown season, DiPiano’s program has definitely arrived.

The Maroon Raiders were not the only local team to fare well at the District 14 championships.

Belleville’s Justin Colon won his third District 14 title, taking the 126-pound title by defeating Nutley’s Scuttaro via a pin in just 1:18.

However, in the process, Colon surpassed his older brother, Filiberto, as the all-time win leader in Essex County wrestling history.

Colon’s win over Scuttaro enabled him to earn the 157th victory of his career, moving past Filiberto, who won 156 matches during his four years at Belleville (2004 through 2008). With his victory at the District 14 championship match, the younger Colon improved his seasonal mark to 37-1.

Photos by Jim Hague/Kearny’s Dave Bush finally earned the District 16 gold medal he had longed for, winning after falling in the finals three straight years.


It was always a goal for Justin to topple the record his older brother set. The two are very close and Filiberto has always served as an inspiration to his younger brother.
While Colon was the lone District 14 champion for veteran coach Joe Nisivoccia, the Buccaneers had five wrestlers reach the finals in their respective weight classes, only to come up a little short.

Ricky Gencarelli was the runner-up at 120, losing to Trombetta in the finals. Sean Carey was the second place finisher at 138, as was Anthony Avino (145), Joe Anello (160) and Daniel Giangrande (195). Anello and Giangrande both lost in the finals to Nutley wrestlers Keena and Gaeta.

Bloomfield crowned two individual champions at District 14, as Nate Garcia claimed the 145 pound title and Kyle Christiansen won at 170 pounds.

Chris Collado (160), Isaiah Thomas (195), Terrance Antoine (220) and Adam Wooten (heavyweight) all won their respective consolation matches to earn a ticket to the Region 4 tourney for veteran coach Sam Fusaro.

At the District 16 tournament held in North Bergen, Kearny’s Dave Bush realized his lifelong dream when he captured the 160-pound championship, winning by injury default.

Bush’s District 16 championship comes after reaching the finals his three other times and falling short in the finals.

Now, Bush will always have that district title to lay his hat on.

The Kardinals finished fourth as a team at District 16 and will send five wrestlers to the Region 4 tournament this weekend.

Johnathan Melendez (106), Chris Vezos (132), Marshall Everett (145) and T.J. Witt (182) all won their respective consolation bouts to finish in third place at District 16 and earn a berth in the Regions.

Lyndhurst/North Arlington’s Mike Morreale was the runner-up at 120 pounds in the District 15 tourney held at Becton Regional and Morreale will also head to the Regions this weekend.

All in all, a solid weekend for the local wrestlers, culminated by the Nutley team title, six individual champions, the record-setting performance by Colon and the redemption for Kearny’s Bush.

Belleville man charged with attempted murder of estranged wife’s lover

Angelo Corino, 61, of Belleville was charged with attempted murder on Feb. 16 for attempting to kill his estranged wife’s lover at her apartment in Lake Hiawatha, N.J. according to Morris County Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi. The unidentified man, also 61 years of age, was transported to Morristown Memorial Hospital after sustaining multiple knife wounds. The couple, married for 37 years, had recently parted ways with Corino’s wife settling into the Lake Hiawatha apartment. While living at the new address, she rekindled a four-decade-old romance with the victim who had stopped by that day to assist her with her move. According to a court affidavit, the two heard a noise and were startled to see Corino walking up the stairs toward the apartment. After making it past his wife, Corino pushed the victim up against a wall where he proceeded to stab him multiple times, according to the document. After a joint investigation conducted by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Parsippany –Troy Hills Police Dept., Corino was arrested and charged with attempted murder and several counts of assault, amongst other charges. Corino was held in lieu of $500,000 bail at the Morris County Correctional Facility. In other Belleville happenings:

Feb. 16

At 1:26 a.m., units were dispatched to the Seared Lounge nightclub at 56 Union Ave. near the intersection of Union Ave. and Mill St., on a report of a large fight in progress. As the lounge was letting out, a large group formed in the parking lot at 250 Mill St. and a group of men began to fight. Officers broke up the brawl and the crowd was ordered to disperse. As this was occurring, one of the men, Mario F. Wright, 23, of East Orange turned combative and yelled, “Let my boy go!” at the officers. Wright was asked to disperse but took a swing at the officer instead. Officers sprayed Wright with mace to gain his compliance but he continued to fight. Officers finally gained control of Wright and placed him under arrest. At this point two more men began to yell at the officers. They, too, were ordered to disperse but refused to comply and were placed under arrest. Wright was charged with aggravated assault on police, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. The other men, 22-year-old Victor L. Bazemore of East Orange and Mikal D. Francis, 28, of Newark were charged with disorderly conduct.

A police unit observed a black Honda Accord blow through a stop sign on Clara Maass Drive at 7:36 p.m. When they stopped the car at the intersection of Newark and Belmont Aves., they noticed a “strong aroma of burnt marijuana” emanating from the vehicle. At this time, a passenger began to make “back and forth sweeping motions with his right foot,” as if trying to conceal something. Police found a zip-loc bag filled with marijuana near the passenger’s foot. The man was subsequently searched and another bag of pot was discovered along with 64 empty zip-loc bags commonly used to package and distribute controlled dangerous substances. The vehicle’s driver was issued several motor vehicle summonses. Another passenger seated in the rear, Jonathan Gnisbett, 18, of Newark was found to have an outstanding warrant for $133 out of Newark and was taken into custody. The front passenger, Jose Mendoza, 18, of East Orange, was charged with possession of C.D.S. and released on his own recognizance.

Feb. 14

A store employee reported a burglary and theft at the Best of Breed Pet Grooming store, 328 Washington Avenue, at 9:20 a.m. The man stated that he found the back door unlocked when he arrived for work. A closer examination of the premises revealed an open cash register drawer missing $525. A blue-colored box containing $1700 was also missing from the store.

Feb. 13

At 10:21 p.m., police were dispatched to the Pathmark supermarket at 115 Belmont Ave. on a shoplifting call. Store detectives told police that they detained Alexandria Otero, 22, of Newark and Jennifer M. Ortiz, also of Newark after the two had concealed $298 worth of merchandise in their handbags and attempted to leave the store. Otero was charged with shoplifting and held on $200 bail. Ortiz was found to have an outstanding warrant for $500 out of Newark. She was charged with shoplifting and held on $200 bail in addition to the $500 Newark warrant.

Feb. 12

Police responded to Clara Maass Hospital at 11:31 a.m. after a nurse discovered three small glass pipes with burnt markings amidst a female patient’s belongings. The woman, Stephanie L. Sandora, 46, of Bloomfield was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and released on her own recognizance.

At 7 p.m., Emmanuelle S. Opoku, 23, of Belleville turned himself over to Belleville police for an outstanding warrant out of Montclair.

Feb. 11

At 1:48 a.m. officers proceeded to the Speak Easy bar at 538 Union Ave. to quell a disturbance that began when some patrons turned unruly after leaving the bar. When officers asked the group to disperse, a man ran past an officer in an attempt to restart an earlier fight with someone in the crowd. The man, Nathan Ineves, 21, of Newark was charged with disorderly conduct. As this was playing out, the man’s girlfriend pushed past the officers in an attempt to aid her boyfriend. For her actions, Jazmine N. Rivera, 20, of Bloomfield was charged with disorderly conduct and underage drinking.

At 10:31 a.m., officers patrolling Watchung Ave. observed a suspicious looking male peering into cars near the intersection of Watchung Ave. and Cross St. After an identification check, it was learned that Angel Rodriquez, 49, of Newark carried a no-bail warrant from the Essex County Sherriff’s Dept. He was subsequently arrested.

At 12:08 p.m., police were summoned to the K-Mart shopping center at 371 Main St. on a shoplifting call. According to store detectives, Brian Moore, 24, of Belleville had stolen $184 worth of merchandise. Moore was arrested and charged with shoplifting and found to carry outstanding warrants from the Township of Bernards for $950, and Bloomfield for $500.

–Jeff Bahr

Robbing Peter to pay Paul


In the fall of 2011, I received a mailing that I assumed was a check from the state of New Jersey.  I receive checks from the New Jersey State Treasury when I referee fights here in the Garden State, but I hadn’t worked in awhile, so I wasn’t expecting one.   After opening the parcel, I discovered that it was not a check; it was a bill from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Employer Accounts.  Wow!

The table that was below the following statements told me how much, as an employer, I owe the state.

“The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (Department) was required to borrow funds from the United States Treasury in order to pay Unemployment Insurance benefits.  Payment of the interest on the outstanding loan balance starting Jan. 1, 2011, is due Sept. 30, 2011.

As required by and N.J.S.A 43:21-14.3, the Department must assess all employers for the interest due.  Each employer’s assessment amount is determined by multiplying the employer’s unemployment contributions paid and payable for the preceding calendar year (2010) by the ratio calculated in accordance with the section of the law cited above.  The minimum assessment is $5.

The calculation of your Federal Loan Interest Assessment for 2011 is shown below.  Payment is due 30 days from the mailing date of this notice.  After 30 days, interest will accrue at the statutory rate of 15 percent per year.”

Sounds like “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”  Robbing Peter to pay Paul is an English idiom referring to taking money (or other things) from one party to pay one’s debt to another.  The first use of this idiom (that I was able to find) was from circa 1450 treatise known as Jacob’s Well. But I digress.

Unfortunately, this is not exactly “news.”  Here is an Associated Press story dated March 27, 2009:  “New Jersey is the first state to qualify for federal funds to shore up its unemployment benefits.  U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis announced today that New Jersey will receive nearly $207 million in federal stimulus money.

New Jersey is one of 14 states that have had to borrow from the federal government to pay unemployment claims.  New Jersey began borrowing from the feds this month when the state fund ran out of money.  The loan is interest-free through December 2010.”

The plot thickens.

Here’s an AP story published Jan. 25, 2010: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he’ll let a tax hike on businesses take effect if the federal government doesn’t help the state replenish the unemployment fund.  Employers could see an increase of up to $1,000 per employee in their unemployment tax starting July 1 unless the fund is infused with state or federal money.”  Governor Christie called for the cavalry and the cavalry arrived; however, New Jersey is not the only state to call in the cavalry.

States that have borrowed from the Fed (government, not the Reserve) in excess of $1 billion are California (no surprise, they are in for $10 billion) followed by Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Illinois – all having borrowed between 2 and $3 billion.  So, at least, we in the Garden State are not on that list.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is proposing waiving interest payments for two years on the $42.3 billion that states have borrowed from the federal government to cover unemployment benefits.  Some 30 states are on the hook for an estimated $1.3 billion in interest charges this year.

The other two measures would directly affect the taxes employers pay to support the unemployment system.  One would delay, for two years, an increase in federal unemployment taxes, which are used to pay down the principal of the loans.

The other, however, is proving to be the most controversial.  It calls for increasing the level of workers’ wages subject to federal unemployment tax to $15,000 in 2014, up from $7,000 currently.

Voltaire once said: “In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.”

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual. Randy Neumann CFP (R) is a registered representative with securities and insurance offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. He can be reached at 600 East Crescent Ave., Upper Saddle River, 201-291-9000.


Sandra ‘Scotty’ Bubenas

Sandra “Scotty” Bubenas (nee Dowd), 62, of Harrison, entered eternal rest on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at Clara Maass Hospital, Belleville.

Scotty was a dedicated employee for close to 30 years for the town of Harrison, She worked in town clerks office, violations department and the Senior Citizens Center until retiring in 2011.

Scotty loved the town of Harrison, especially working with the seniors as an outreach coordinator. She was also a very active supporter of Holy Cross Church.
She is survived by devoted husband Joseph of 43 years, loving children Tammy Deo and Greg, and Kimmy Pandullo and Anthony; she was the cherished grandmother to Kaitlyn and Alyssa Deo and Lexie and Anthony Pandullo and dear aunt to Carrie Ann Fyock. Scotty is predeceased by parents John and Ellen and sister Eileen Gardi.

Arrangements were by Mulligan Funeral Home, 331 Cleveland Ave., Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Holy Cross Church, Harrison, followed by entombment at Holy Cross Chapel Mausoleum, North Arlington. For directions, information or to send condolences, please visit mulliganfuneralhome.org.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Caldwell College for Autism Training and Applied Behavior Analysis, 120 Bloomfield Ave., Caldwell, N.J. 07006, in memory of Sandra “Scotty” Bubenas.

Mary A. Capozzi
Loving Aunt, 82
Mary Capozzi died on Thursday, Feb. 16, at Hackensack University Medical Center after a short illness.

Born in her family home in East Newark to the late Carmella and Joseph, she lived there her entire life. Mary worked for the Prudential Insurance Company in Newark for 34 years as a systems analyst before retiring in 1985. Mary was an avid bowler and competed for many years at Prudential and in community leagues.

Mary was extremely kind and generous and had an abiding love of people and an extraordinary devotion to her family. She was the family matriarch, and took an active interest in every member of her family, marking all birthdays and anniversaries. She particularly looked forward to hosting an annual family Christmas party. She also enjoyed weekly “coffees” with her girlfriends and actively followed the exploits of her cherished family on Facebook using her iPad.

Predeceased by her sisters Filomena Spataro and Catherine Stanish, brothers Vincent, Patrick, Joseph and Daniel Capozzi, and nieces Helen Fronheiser and JoAnn Fusiak, she is survived by six nieces and nephews, 13 great nieces and nephews and 12 great-great nieces and nephews.

Services were private.

Dottie E. Kunkel
Dottie E. Kunkel (formerly Cicchino) died on Feb. 13 in Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, surrounded by her loving family. She was 74. Dottie’s husband Jim died only one week ago.

Arrangements were by the Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass was held in Queen of Peace Church, North Arlington, followed by a private cremation.

Dottie was a unit secretary at West Hudson Hospital before her retirement. She was a devoted mother and grandmother.

Dottie was the wife of the late Jim Kunkel and the late Joe “Chicky” Cicchino. She is survived by her children and their spouses Joseph and Erica Cicchino, Valerie and Gary McCauley, Linda Ford and Daniel and Kathy Cicchino, her sister Clara Starr and her grandchildren Cara, Nicole, Gabi, Jesse, Patrick, Joseph, Kaitlyn, Timothy, Matthew, Jack and Gillian.

Dottie’s last unselfish act was to give the gift of sight by donating her eyes. In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.