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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
By Ron Leir
A ceremonial groundbreaking was held nearly five months ago. Hopes were high that now, after two years of waiting and planning, the Hudson County chapter of Habit for Humanity International was ready to move forward with its first project in Kearny.
Occupancy was projected for mid-September.
And then … nothing further happened.
The project actually took two steps backward: First, the chapter’s co-director Greg Strid resigned for personal reasons, thereby placing oversight responsibility on the remaining co-director Tom Bruning. Then, the project’s construction manager David Tillou became ill and couldn’t work.
Now, however, Bruning told The Observer, the project is ready to take the next great leap ahead, following the May demolition of the old county TB clinic building at 41 Kearny Ave., the targeted site for a three-unit, three-floor residential condominium.
“We’ve sent a [construction] schedule to the county,” Bruning said. “We should be putting in the foundation and frame by mid-December. Then we’ll be closed in for the winter and, hopefully, we’ll finish [with utilities and interior work] by March.”
Habitat still plans to install one disabled-access two-bedroom apartment on the first floor and two three-bedroom flats, one on the second floor and another on the third floor.
Habitat has been allocated $350,000 by the Hudson County HOMES home ownership assistance program, to be supplemented by $120,000 from the Hudson County chapter of Habitat, for the project, Bruning said.
Asked whether the delay on the job could end up pushing costs for construction materials above the already tight project budget, Bruning said that the reverse was more likely. “Prices are down because of the slump in stock since [Superstorm] Sandy,” he said, “so the project will actually be less expensive.”
Bruning said Habitat will begin soliciting applications from prospective buyers after New Year’s.
How much the apartments will sell for isn’t yet fixed, Bruning said. Buyers will also be responsible for payment of municipal taxes and condominium fees, he said.
Habitat hopes to have completed vetting the applicants by March so they can expeditiously move into the new units, Bruning said. “The criteria here is whether they can afford it, do they qualify income-wise; do they satisfy the need criteria: are they currently living in sub-standard housing or overcrowding conditions? Also, they must be first-time homebuyers and Hudson County residents.”
Buyers will get an interest- free mortgage loan, repayable over 30 years.
Buyers’ household income must be less than 80% of the regional median family income level as fixed by the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development; the buyers must have a good credit rating; and they must provide volunteer service to Habitat during construction.
The county deeded over the property a token $1 conditional on Habitat, a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian ministry advocating for “decent, safe and affordable housing,” building such a home on the site.
Once the heavy construction aspects of the project are done, Habitat will seek out community volunteers – along with the apartment buyers – to help work on the interior of the building with the contractor.
Habitat previously held open houses in the Kearny community to enlighten area residents about the process.
The Kearny Ave. residence will be the first project in West Hudson for Habitat’s Hudson County chapter. It previously built two single-family homes on Ocean Ave. in Jersey City. The chapter is also working on “moderate-scale” projects to repair homes in the area damaged by Sandy.
A suspect arrested by FBI agents earlier this year in connection with the armed robbery of a Belleville convenience store has pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court, Newark, to that crime and 16 additional hold-ups — including another in Belleville, one in Kearny, and two at the same deli in Bloomfield, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
The defendant, Bobby Dawson, 30, of Newark, was charged with conspiring to commit robberies Feb. 2 at the Shoppers Express in Belleville; Feb. 10 at Krauszer’s Deli in Kearny; Feb. 13 and March 29 at Krauszer’s in Bloomfield, and April 17 at Belleville News and Food.
The other crimes occurred between Dec. 29, 2012, and May 20 of this year in Newark, Linden, Paramus, Maplewood, West Orange and Verona.
Most of the targets were delis, groceries or convenience stores, but gas stations, pharmacies, fast-food restaurants and a liquor store also were among the businesses hit, authorities said.
Dawson and his conspirators (who were not named in the announcement from Fishman’s office) reportedly robbed the establishments at gunpoint, stealing cash, cigarettes and other items. In 15 of the 17 robberies, zip ties or duct tape were used to restrain the victims.
In his Nov. 21 court appearance, Dawson also pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm, a .380 semi-automatic handgun, during the Maplewood hold-up, firing at a store clerk. Authorities said the clerk was not injured.
In addition, the defendant admitted involvement in an armed carjacking, Fishman reported, but no details were provided as to when and where that crime occurred. Sentencing is scheduled for March 11, 2014. The carjacking is punishable by a maximum of 15 years in prison; the robbery conspiracy, by a maximum of 20 years, and the firearms offense by a term of 10 years to life.
The Belleville Police Department, Kearny Police Department and Bloomfield Police Department were among the law enforcement agencies cited by the U.S. Attorney for their work on the case.
– Karen Zautyk
A fire on Thanksgiving night gutted the kitchen in an apartment at 564 Devon St., but firefighters contained the blaze before it could spread to the rest of the six-family home, authorities reported.
Kearny Fire Chief Steve Dyl said the fire, which he described as “cooking-related,” was reported at 7:40 p.m. in a second-floor apartment. The kitchen was “destroyed,” he said, and there was smoke and water damage to the rest of that apartment, but the damage was reportedly limited to the one unit.
Dyl said one female occupant suffered “non-life-threatening injuries” and was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Tenants were allowed to reoccupy the building, the chief reported.
The Kearny Fire Department was assisted at the scene by firefighters from Harrison, and the Jersey City FD provided back-up coverage for the town.
– Karen Zautyk
By Ron Leir
Fifty-seven Lyndhurst teens went into “lockdown’’ mode in the high school gym for 12 hours and couldn’t have been happier about it.
And many, if not all, can’t wait to do it again.
Their adventure, enthusiastically endorsed by the local school district, was dubbed the “Lock-in Palooza” by Maryann Mulé, a student assistance counselor and anti-bullying specialist, who created the event as a way to inspire “acts of kindness” among students.
The experiment, which included dinner, seems to have worked, judging from kids’ reactions.
“Students can be impulsive, nasty, insensitive,” Mulé observed. “For example, a girl may tweet another girl, ‘I can’t believe you wore such an ugly sweater,’ and with the profusion of social media today, once you make a mistake like that, there’s no way of taking it back.” So, to try and dissuade such inappropriate behavior, Mulé said the district’s goal “is to persuade students, ideally, to think first about they’re doing before acting, or, if they’re the target of a spiteful remark, to say to themselves, ‘You don’t need to respond,’ ’’ and, thereby, avoid an escalation of hostilities.
Instead, Mulé said, “If we can train our students to be more kind to each other, then they aren’t going to engage in bad behavior.”
To that end, Mulé – with the backing of Schools Superintendent Tracey Marinelli and LHS Principal Nicholas Cofarro – invited students from grades 9 to 12 to volunteer for an all-night commitment – where they’d be confined to the school gym, from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday (Nov. 22-23), to participate in a series of staff-supervised exercised designed to promote teamwork.
As a way of eliminating outside distractions, once they entered the gym, it was “goodbye, cell phones,” which had to be surrendered to staff for the duration, Mulé noted. Kids had to fill out an application and get parental consent to attend.
Several participating students managed to find time for the “overnight” even with a lot already on their plate. Like Adam Kmeck, a 17-yearold senior who juggles AP courses in physics, biology and calculus, Computer Club, Future Business Leaders of America, freshman peer group and Golden Bear mascot, among other things.
As he waited for the event to start, Adam revealed a very personal reason for being there. “I want to better understand people, to empathize more. One day I’m caring, the next day I’ll just walk by someone,” he said, waving his arm at an imaginary passerby to drive home his point.
For ninth-grader Sarah Almeida, 14, a member of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), Color Guard and marching band, the event sounded like a “fun idea” and a good way “to get out of the house,” where she’d otherwise be “doing homework and sleeping.”
But junior honors student Lucinda Garcia, 16, felt she was a girl with a mission: “spreading positivity in school. We can have a better community if we stop thinking of having immature fights over somebody’s boyfriend, for example. Some people get angry over little things – they get angry over the way you might look at them.”
Lucinda, who is also president of the GSA, busy with directorial responsibilities for the LHS winter musical, “Beauty and the Beast,” in chorale and on the LHS newspaper, figured it would be “fun to see if I make new friends” via the anticipated team-building opportunities. And, practically speaking, she added, “networking is important, in and out of school.”
During the night, students bonded through such exercises as inventing and presenting skits, working as teams, matching up with partners they didn’t know and learning more about each other, discussing the elements of discrimination, planning and executing a “trust fall” and negotiating an obstacle course as a cohesive unit.
And there was a surprise appearance by The Cleopatra Club, a rock band whose members are from Garfield and North Haledon, whose music really made the Lyndhurst kids’ night.
Did the experiment work?
Sarah Almeida, who’d hoped for a night of “fun,” wasn’t disappointed. “It was great bonding – I had a blast. I feel a lot closer to kids I didn’t talk to before. We don’t feel like strangers anymore. I made four or five new friends,” she said.
Freshman Aaron Perez, 14, who was persuaded by his friends to get in the program, said he made as many as 15 new buds, from different grades. “I didn’t expect to bond,” Aaron said. “I met a lot of kids there I didn’t know before and now when I see them, I say ‘Hey, what’s up?’ Before that, I’d just turn away.”
Skeptical initially, Jose Rodriguez, a 15-year-old sophomore, found himself turned on by the hype about attention to kindness. “A lot of people, I wouldn’t talk to them before but now, I think those people are pretty cool.” And the role he played in his team’s skit – coming to the aid of boys being “picked on” – “made me realize that by saying some simple, couple of words, you can be a ‘superhero’ by making someone in need feel good about themselves.”
Jose must have been pretty convincing in that part because, as he put it, “I saw the effect on people’s faces. Everyone got into it.” Would he participate in another “Lockin Palooza”? “I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he said.
Principal Cofarro was confident going into the event that it would be an unqualified success.
“Ms. Mulé came to me with this [proposal] and we jumped all over it because it gives the kids a chance to collaborate and that’s an extension of what we try to do throughout the district. Team-building, cooperative learning, peer sharing. Having dialogue, conversation breaks down the boundaries between kids, gives them a sense of self-worth. It gets them to think creatively to solve problems. At the same time, the teacher-student relationship is enhanced. And while there’s rigor in the school day, we want to have our kids to feel safe and comfortable as they grow and achieve in a healthy and stress-free learning environment,” Cofarro said.
As for Mulé, the experiment turned out to be “one of the best moments I’ve had in my five and a half years as an educator. We have a lot of kids with social anxiety, who suffer from depression, who have trouble relating, and here they were, taking it all in. It was truly a rewarding experience to see so much kindness, happiness.”
“Now,” Mulé maintained, “we have to do it again next year!”
By Ron Leir
Schools Superintendent Frank Ferraro sounded two alarms – one about the district’s finances that he’d previously mentioned in March – and one about its students’ performance – at the Nov. 18 Kearny Board of Education meeting.
A recently concluded audit of the BOE’s spending blueprint found that the district “has used $1.9 million from our reserves to balance the [ever-climbing $80 million] 2013-2014 budget,” Ferraro observed.
“Using money from our reserves is similar to using a savings account to pay for your mortgage. Eventually these funds will be exhausted and our district will face some very harsh choices: to substantially raise taxes to make up for the lost revenue or substantially cut instructional programs and extra-curricular activities,” he said.
Ferraro is hoping to get some rescue strategies from “Vision 2018,” a five-year plan being developed with input from members of the school community. One option likely to be more thoroughly explored is creating a middle school program.
While it’s trying to figure its way out of the fiscal morass, the BOE also needs to reverse a flatering academic performance by its students.
Piggybacking on a public presentation by Assistant Superintendent Debra Sheard, also at the Nov. 18 BOE meeting, Ferraro said: “The data shows that five of our seven schools did not meet [the district’s] performance targets [as measured by 2013 state standardized tests].
“This is a major issue for Kearny schools because the information illustrates our administration and staff must work diligently to improve the instruction…,” he said.
Of the district’s six elementary schools, only Washington School, school-wide, met the progress targets for Language Arts Literacy and Math, as set by the state, as did Kearny High, school-wide, according to the data collated by Sheard.
For each of the schools that failed to meet the performance benchmarks, test scores by Hispanic students and economically disadvantaged (those qualifying for free or discounted school lunches) students lagged behind whites. (Interestingly, Washington School has the highest number of economically disadvantaged students in the district.)
A school-by-school breakdown of the test results can be found to going to www.kearnyschools.com, clicking on the link for Instruction and Programs and then clicking on “Progress Target Presentation.”
Sheard said that, beginning this year, with a new state-mandated evaluation system in place for administrative and instructional staff, part of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on assessment of his/ her students’ performance.
And, for better accountability, if a student transfers to another school in the district or outside the district, that student’s assessment “can be rolled over from school to school or from district to district,” Sheard said.
Among the instructional strategies being put into place to try to improve students’ performance is a partnership with Teachers College, Columbia University, for a reading and writing pilot project that, according to Sheard, will “provide on-site coaching to our K-5 teachers [at Washington and Lincoln Schools] with state-of-the-art methods of teaching writing.”
Washington School was picked because of its high percentage of lower-income population, Sheard said. “We chose Lincoln with the intention that, if we go to a middle school, most likely the Lincoln School elementary staff would be redistributed throughout the district [and] this would help to expand the program at a quicker pace ….,” she added.
Eighteen staffers at Lincoln and 23 at Washington are being trained at a cost pegged at $36,000, Sheard said.
The district is also paying LoTi, a California- based consulting firm, about $200,000 to make teachers aware of what’s expected of them in terms of how they can work with students to create a win-win outcome for their evaluations.
Other instructional tools that, Sheard said, the district is deploying include: the Fountas & Pinnell benchmarking system in K-5; Achieve 3000, a differentiated instruction system for elementary students; Go Math, an instructional system designed to meet the Common Core standards; Ticket-to- Read, an online reading program for K-6; Larson’s Big Ideas, a math program for middle schoolers; and more frequent, “three-to five minute” classroom observations by principals and vice principals.
Given that only a few parents or staff at the Nov. 18 meeting probed Sheard further about the test results, Ferraro told The Observer he felt “there wasn’t any sense of concern” driving the school community on this issue.
“People don’t seem to understand the implications [of failing to meet progress targets],” he said. “We’re accountable to the state and some serious consequences could result. The state [Department of Education] could, basically, come in and give us directives.” A more palatable option, he said, is for Kearny to develop its own solutions.
In other business: District Plant Operations Director Mark Bruscino reported progress on the resumption of construction work at Kearny High. He said that a newly hired contractor is ready to begin work on the KHS’s South Building, that the board will be seeking bids soon to complete demolition of the old pool area and will be bidding out work on the North Building by January. He said that the field houses would get new roofs and that staff were “reviewing quotes” for stadium lights.
Board member Cecilia Lindenfelser said that the public wouldn’t be permitted to tour the high school work site because of safety concerns. Instead, she said, “we will shoot a video,” narrated by the project’s supervisors, to show how work is progressing. “This is the best way to go,” she said. “We can’t have people traipsing through with construction going on.” Ferraro said he plans to “post work schedules” on the district website to keep the public in the loop.
As the BOE continues to await an accountant’s review of how much has been spent so far on the KHS project, it learned from its business administrator Michael DeVita that it has exceeded its contractual obligations to Piscataway construction manager Epic Management and to New York architect Sen Architects. Epic, originally hired on the KHS Aircraft Noise Abatement & Renovations part of the job for $970,918, is now billing for a new total of $1,745,968 and Sen, initially hired on the same job for $300,000, is now up to $964,000. DeVita told The Observer both had to perform additional work after the original contractor was terminated “for convenience.”
A delegation of Roosevelt School parents asked Ferraro to look into what one parent spokeswoman described as “a serious issue affecting the wellbeing of our children.” Several sources said the parents’ concern focused on allegations of inappropriate behavior by a school employee. Later that week, Ferraro told The Observer that after reviewing the situation, he was persuaded there was “no danger – not any issue of children being in harm’s way … based on what we know of our personnel [at the school]. Nothing credible was brought to our attention.”
The BOE agreed – conditional on approval by the Kearny Education Association – to hire an additional KHS track coach, at a stipend of $4,955, to be assigned to work with disabled student athlete Stephen Koziel, a varsity member of the KHS cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams and a 2013 USA Paralympics High School Track and Field All American. Koziel told the BOE that under Section 504 of the federal Disabilities Act, he was entitled to a “track aide to help me navigate” – with use of a javelin, discuss and 3-wheel racer – for safety reasons. Ferraro later told The Observer that Section 304 provided for “adaptive technology for special needs students.” He said the school track coaches “came to me to get him more [human] support.”
Our Nov. 20 issue of The Observer noted the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and the rest of that week was filled with television documentaries, panel discussions and replays of actual news coverage from 1963.
I found myself as transfixed as I had been all those years ago — even though things learned in those ensuing decades have diminished my opinion of JFK as a person, if not as a President.
But back then, Jack and Jackie were still the romanticized golden couple, and who am I to judge?
On Nov. 25, as I was watching a replay of the funeral, words I had heard spoken 50 years ago — and never since — suddenly came drifting up, unbidden, from the deepest caverns of memory:
“And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.”
I realized immediately it referred to Jacqueline, but who had said it? And in what context?
I found the answers. It was from the eulogy delivered by Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Montana) while JFK’s coffin lay in state under the Capitol Dome, where an estimated 250,000 people came to pay their respects.
I do not know if Mansfield actually witnessed the incident of which he speaks. I have heard different versions of the story. I have also heard that it is apocryphal. But that really doesn’t matter. I like to think it’s true.
Here is the Mansfield eulogy, in its entirety:
“There was a sound of laughter; in a moment, it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.
“There was a wit in a man neither young nor old, but a wit full of an old man’s wisdom and of a child’s wisdom, and then, in a moment it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.
“There was a man marked with the scars of his love of country, a body active with the surge of a life far, far from spent and, in a moment, it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.
“There was a father with a little boy, a little girl and a joy of each in the other. In a moment it was no more, and so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands.
“There was a husband who asked much and gave much, and out of the giving and the asking wove with a woman what could not be broken in life, and in a moment it was no more. And so she took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands, and kissed him and closed the lid of a coffin. “
A piece of each of us died at that moment. Yet, in death he gave of himself to us. He gave us of a good heart from which the laughter came. He gave us of a profound wit, from which a great leadership emerged. He gave us of a kindness and a strength fused into a human courage to seek peace without fear.
“He gave us of his love that we, too, in turn, might give. He gave that we might give of ourselves, that we might give to one another until there would be no room, no room at all, for the bigotry, the hatred, prejudice, and the arrogance which converged in that moment of horror to strike him down.
“In leaving us — these gifts, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States, leaves with us. Will we take them, Mr. President? Will we have, now, the sense and the responsibility and the courage to take them?
“I pray to God that we shall and under God we will.”
That is more than a eulogy. It is poetry.
– Karen Zautyk
Addendum: One more quote to remember in relation to Nov. 22, 1963. “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.” Now that would be a perfect final eulogy.
A Nov. 27 story on the Red Bull Arena in Harrison incorrectly reported that skybox patrons pay extra for alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are included in the skybox fee but club box customers are charged for alcohol, according to Red Bull spokesman Robert Pastor. For more information, call Pastor at 973-268-7128. The Observer regrets the error.
Another relatively routine arrest on an outstanding warrant led Kearny cops to uncover a more serious crime, this one involving stolen meat slicers, Police Chief John Dowie reported.
Apparently, there’s a market for everything.
This saga started at 6 p.m., Nov. 19, at Kearny and Locust Aves., where Dets. Scott Traynor and Michael Farinola apprehended 48-year-old David Murphy of Kearny on an active warrant out of Sparta, Dowie said.
Subsequently, police learned that Murphy had conducted a recent transaction at a local pawn shop. The item sold to the shop was a brand-new meat slicer, still in the box, for which Murphy reportedly received a “minimal amount of money,” although it had a manufacturer’s list price of $1,300, police said.
Investigators also learned that Murphy was employed by a South Kearny company that is the sole supplier for that particular make and model of slicer — and that, on five separate occasions, he had sold slicers or meat grinders to the same shop, Dowie reported.
Murphy, rearrested Nov. 21, reportedly admitted that he and another employee, not yet identified, had a scheme whereby they would secrete the devices on company property, then return after hours to remove them. He has now been charged with theft. The investigation is continuing.
Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:
At 1:15 p.m., Officer Steve Hroncich and Sgt. Paul Bershefski responded to Walmart, where one customer had allegedly threatened another with a pair of scissors. Neither the alleged assailant (female) nor the victim (male) was cooperative with the cops, but a review of the store’s security tapes showed the two engaged in a verbal altercation and the woman then threatening the man with scissors she had removed from a counter, police said. According to the report, the two were complete strangers. Apparently this was a case of “shopping rage.”
Toni Jones, 35, of Newark, was charged with aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes.
At 3 p.m., at Kearny and Garfield Aves., Officer John Fabula stopped a motorist for simultaneous violations, including running a crosswalk as pedestrians were attempting to cross and while she was talking on a cell phone, police said.
As Fabula approached the car, the driver, a reportedly “very irate” Glenia Dasilva, 47, of Rutherford, began waving three traffic tickets out the window. (Editor’s note: Why she did so is not known, but it proved very helpful to the police.)
Examining the summonses, the officer found they had been written in Lyndhurst within the previous hour for using a phone while driving, driving without a license and driving with a suspended license, police said. Dasilva was arrested, taken to headquarters and charged in Kearny with driving with a suspended license, failure to yield to pedestrians, and a driving/cell phone-yapping offense.
At 5 p.m., Vice detectives arrested a motorist, Richard Zulla, 25, of North Arlington, at Beech St. and the Belleville Pike after confirming his driver’s license was suspended, police said. During a search incident to the arrest, Zulla was allegedly found to be in possession of a cellophane wrapper containing suspected marijuana. He was charged on the MV violation and with possession of pot and paraphernalia.
Officer Luis Moran responded to Walmart at 3:30 p.m. on a report of a customer attempting to pass bad checks. The individual also tried to pass himself off as a Newark PD special officer, police said. The suspect, Anthony Jenkins, 48, of Belleville, was reportedly in possession of 11 checks, six of which had been used to try to purchase electronics. According to police, Jenkins admitted he had printed the checks himself on a home computer using a different name. He allegedly was also in possession of a burnt glass pipe, a vial of suspected crack, and a Newark PD special officer’s badge.
Newark police were contacted and confirmed that Jenkins was not, and never had been, on their force, Dowie said.
Jenkins now faces nine charges: impersonating an officer; theft of mislaid property (the badge, which he claimed to have found); passing bad checks; identity theft; forgery; uttering; possession of forgery devices; possession of a CDS, and possession of drug paraphernalia.
His bail was set at $10,000, and he was remanded to the Hudson County Jail.
Continuing with the Walmart theme: Officer Ben Wuelfing went to the store at 6 p.m. after a customer was reported trying to make purchases with counterfeit $20 bills. An examination of the currency showed that it lacked certain security features and that multiple bills had the same serial number, police said. The suspect, Rosalia Campusano, 28, of Newark, was charged with forgery and criminal attempt to commit a theft. The Secret Service was contacted to do a follow-up investigation.
– Karen Zautyk
At 1:41 a.m., police said they stopped a 2003 Toyota traveling north on Riverside Ave., near Rutherford Ave., after the driver, Pedro Lopez-Gomez, 37, of Bloomfield, allegedly made an improper lane change. Lopez-Gomez was ticketed on charges of DWI, careless driving, no registration and no insurance and was released pending a court date.
At 9:52 a.m., police responded to 240 Chubb Ave., where the Newark owner of a 2001 Chevrolet van told them someone had removed his i-Phone, valued at $650, from the parked van. Police said the vehicle had been left unlocked.
At 7:31 p.m., police were called to Medieval Times on Polito Ave. on a report of a person acting in an unruly manner who was observed driving out of the entertainment facility’s parking lot. Police ended up issuing the driver, Donald Goodman, 22, of North Plainfield, summonses charging him with DWI, careless driving and having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Goodman was released pending a court appearance.
In another development, The Observer belatedly learned of a traffic mishap that happened on Nov. 7.
Police said the incident occurred at 7:49 p.m. as three teenage girls were crossing Fern Ave. at the intersection of Lincoln Ave. as a vehicle, operated by Luann McLaughlin, 40, of Lyndhurst, was traveling east on Fern Ave.
All three girls, two listed as 13 and one as 14, all of Lyndhurst, were struck by the vehicle, police said. The driver told police she didn’t see the girls until it was too late. After her vehicle made contact with the pedestrians, she stopped immediately, McLaughlin told police.
Police said that the driver told them it was very dark and that a street light near the intersection wasn’t operating. Police said they notified PSE&G about the light.
Police said that one 13-yearold girl complained of pain to her right leg and back; the other 13-year-old complained of pain to her left knee and leg; and the 14-year-old complained of pain to her right ankle.
All three girls were taken to Hackensack University Medical Center for treatment, police said.
McLaughlin, who has pleaded not guilty to MV charges, failure to yield to a pedestrian, no insurance and uninsured vehicle, faces a court hearing Dec. 17.
– Ron Leir
A fraud victim told police someone attempted to use the routing numbers of their two checking accounts to withdraw about $3,300. Detectives are investigating.
At 12:57 p.m., police responded to a Prospect St. home on a call about an activated alarm. The homeowner told police that after arriving home, they got a notification from their alarm company and noticed pry marks around the frame of the inner porch door. Police said they saw paint and wood shavings on the floor. Police said it appeared that the intruder didn’t get inside. A witness told police they saw a man described as about fivefeet- 10, 200 pounds, wearing a tan jacket and carrying a soft briefcase walking hurriedly near the house. Detectives are investigating.
A fraud victim told police that someone had made three transactions involving their checking and savings accounts, withdrawing a total of $6,455, in person from a bank.
At 5:53 p.m., police responded to an accident at Kenzel and Kingsland Aves., resulting in the arrest of Brigette Lyons, 71, of Allendale. Police issued Lyons summonses charging her with DWI, refusal to submit to an Alcotest and failure to exhibit insurance card. She was released pending a court date.
At 11 a.m., while on patrol on Frank St., police said they came across a stolen vehicle. Police said the vehicle’s side door lock, ignition, glove compartment and middle console had been damaged. There was also some body damage but police said they weren’t sure when that occurred. Police notified the owner.
At 4:54 p.m., police responded to a Franklin Ave. business on a theft report. A patron in the store told police that they’d walked away from their shopping cart momentarily and, upon returning, noticed that the cart and purse inside the cart had been moved. Police said a store employee located the missing items in the back of the produce aisle, about 100 feet from where the patron had left them. After looking through her purse, the patron told police that it was missing $100. Store security personnel were reviewing surveillance footage, police said.
At 11:45 a.m., police arrested Murray Giardelli, 54, of Nutley, following a suspicious person report. Giardelli was charged with five counts of possession of drugs and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was taken to Essex County Jail after failing to post bail of $25,000 with a 10% cash option.
At 2:41 p.m., police were called to a Centre St. location where a motorist told police they were traveling east on Centre near Monroe St. when an unknown object struck their windshield, causing two cracks in the upper right corner. The motorist told police the object may have come from a large truck with a tarp traveling west on Centre at the same time.
At 10:56 a.m., police responded to an E. Centre St. location where the superintendent of a building showed them a crack in the glass of the lobby door. Police said the damage, estimated at $300, happened overnight. Surveillance video is being reviewed for possible clues, police said.
Police are investigating a possible fraud originating at an Evergreen Ave. location. Police said the victim paid, by check, $4,000 to an individual offering to repair large dents in the fender over the front passenger side tire and scratches to the bumper. After investigating, police said it appeared that the front fender had been hammered out and was full of ripples and looked to have just been spray-painted.
– Ron Leir