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Crime flat from ‘13 to ‘14

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KEARNY – 

The 2014 crime statistics have been released by the Kearny Police Department, and the good news is that crime in the township remained virtually static, with a total of 1,289 recorded major offenses last year, compared with 1,286 in 2013. The better news is, that aside from that plus-three difference with 2013, the 2014 tally was the lowest of the 14 years covered in the report. Back in 2001, the Kearny major-crime total was 1,717. And all that with diminishing staffing.

(Read on.)

Officially known as the Uniform Crime Report Index, the data cover nine categories. The highest tally, and one of the few showing an increase, was larceny: 694 incidents, compared with 642 in ‘13. Read more »

Council seat filled; 5 cops promoted

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

Marytrine DeCastro was seated as the newest member of the Kearny Town Council and five members of the Kearny Police Department were promoted last Tuesday.

Selected by members of the Democratic County Committee to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Alexa Arce Jan. 5, DeCastro will serve through the November general election, at which point she plans to run for the two years remaining in Arce’s unexpired term.

An occupational health nurse currently working at the Daily News plant in Jersey City, DeCastro has lived 19 years in the First Ward which she now represents, along with Councilman Albino Cardoso. She will chair the council’s Lighting Committee and will serve on the License, Transportation and Beautification Committees and as liaison to the Civil Rights Commission. Read more »

Township has Roche land but no developer

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By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 

BELLEVILLE – 

Belleville is taking the vacant 18.5-acre Roche Diagnostics parcel at Franklin Ave. and Mill St. off the owner’s hands in hopes of putting itself in a position to market the environmentally compromised site.

As part of the deal, according to Town Attorney Tom Murphy, Roche has agreed to provide $5 million to be applied toward the cleanup of the site, once the location of a copper mine with arsenic byproducts.

Most of that money would be placed in a trust account to be dedicated to the remediation effort and the township will look to have some discretionary use of the balance, Murphy said. Read more »

Learn more about tax appeals

KEARNY – 

With the April 1 deadline looming for filing municipal tax appeals, the Town of Kearny is offering local homeowners a chance to learn more about the process with a free Tax Appeal Seminar.

The event will be held Thursday, March 12, at 7 p.m. in the top-floor council chambers at Town Hall, 402 Kearny Ave.

John Peneda, the town tax assessor, and Salvatore Roccaro of Castano Quigley LLC, the town’s legal representatives, will talk about property tax assessments and appeals. They’ll also explain how to file an appeal and what is needed to do so. Read more »

Thoughts & Views: Dressed to kill (my brain cells)

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Unless you have been hibernating with the groundhogs, you recognize the photo that accompanies this column. However, for the few of you who have just stuck your heads out from the burrow, I shall explain:

Last week, a woman in Scotland posted that picture on the internet. She had attended a wedding, and that was the dress worn by the mother of the bride.

Within hours, it became a worldwide sensation. Not because of the design, but because of the colors. Or more specifically, because of how the colors were perceived. Read more »

WE’VE GOT MAIL

‘A COWARDLY ACT’

To the editor, 

My family and I are deeply saddened and offended by a flyer that was recently distributed via U.S. Mail to the residents of Lyndhurst by cowardly individuals who implied that I am one and the same as mass murderer, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian Adolph Hitler. Never in my political career have I ever witnessed an attack that rises to this level. I consider it to be defamatory and criminally biased in nature, not only to myself but also to Commissioner DiMaggio.

The flyer makes reference to Hitler’s SS and Secret Police and their tactics, drawing a direct comparison to the affairs of my administration. In addition, the flyer makes reference to me facing criminal charges, which is a ridiculous allegation.

I have made numerous statements over the past seven months since my forced redesignation as Commissioner of Public Safety dealing with suspicious lawsuits being filed naming the Township and myself as the defendants, and issues related to the Joint Insurance Fund (JIF). Read more »

Still hunting store robber: NPD

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Police are continuing to search for a man who robbed a Centre St. convenience store on Feb. 22.

At 8:30 a.m., police said, a man entered the store, and, placing his hand in his jacket pocket, demanded money from the clerk, saying, “I don’t wanna hurt you.”

No weapon was produced and no one was hurt, police said.

Police declined to say how much money was taken.

The suspect was described as white, age 18 to 25, 5-foot- 3 to 5-feet-5, thin, wearing a tan jacket with a gray hooded sweatshirt underneath, a dark cap with some type of symbol, a face mask, blue jeans and brown boots.

Police said they followed footprints in the snow to Union Ave. where the trail ended. Police are asking anyone with information on the incident to call detectives at 973-284-4940.

Det. Sgt. Anthony Montanari told The Observer that detectives are working with Bloomfield and Montclair PD, comparing robberies executed recently in those communities with scenarios similar to Nutley’s – and in one case in Bloomfield in particular where the physical description of the suspect appeared to match the Nutley suspect.

Montanari said Nutley detectives have also reviewed footage from the convenience store surveillance camera in trying to track the suspect.

Probe shooting in Nutley home

NUTLEY – 

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/ Major Crimes Task Force is investigating a Friday night shooting in Nutley involving a former cop.

Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray said in a press release issued Saturday night that retired Belleville Police Officer John Towey, 62, of Nutley, has been charged with aggravated assault for the shooting of his 58-year-old brother.

According to Murray, the shooting happened in Towey’s home. His brother had been staying with him for the past few days, she said.

Towey’s brother is in University Hospital, Newark, where he is listed in stable condition, Murray said. One bullet pierced the victim’s spine, she said.

The alleged shooter is being held at the Essex County Jail, Newark, on $75,000 bail.

No motive was given for the attack.

Murray did not disclose the victim’s first name or how many rounds were fired.

He’s delivered to jail: KPD

A Newark man was remanded to the Hudson County Jail on $10,000 bail for allegedy stealing packages left on the doorsteps of Kearny homes, Kearny police reported.

The suspect, Valentino Rogers, 27, was arrested Feb. 19 by Officer John Fabula, who had responded to a 2 p.m. report of a man taking items that had been delivered to the 200 block of Devon St. Fabula canvassed the neighborhood and saw Rogers, who fit the thief’s description, walking on Boyd St., carrying a large bag over his shoulder, police said.

The office confirmed that Rogers was wanted on a $250 Kearny warrant, and a search incident to arrest on that revealed three packages and a crack pipe, police said. (The crack pipe had not been among the deliveries.) Rogers allegedly was also in possession of a credit card bearing a woman’s name.

He was charged with three counts of theft, and one count each of theft of property lost or stolen (the card) and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Police said they recovered a $70 jacket, stolen from the 200 block of Devon St.; soap and specialty coffee, taken from the 300 block of Devon; and baby items, from the 100 block of Laurel Ave.

• • •

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

Feb. 18 

At 5:30 p.m., Officer Jordenson Jean pulled over a Chevy TrailBlazer for an illegal turn and failure to yield to pedestrians at Kearny Ave. and the Belleville Pike. Police said driver Jose Lameda, 42, of Lyndhurst, was arrested on an outstanding $500 warrant out of Bound Brook and was released after posting the bail.

Feb. 19 

It was disorder at the Kearny Municipal Court at 11:15 a.m., when Officer Jack Grimm heard a “loud and boisterous” individual in the lobby. Grimm went out to the hallway and cautioned the man, identified as Vanquan Rush, 30, of Jersey City, about causing a disturbance. A short time later, police said, Rush began loudly playing a music video — containing profane language — on his cell phone. Grimm returned to the hall and again warned him. Strike three, police said, came when Rush, apparently arguing with his girlfriend, began loudly spewing the F word. He was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Feb. 22 

At 3:30 p.m., Officers Jay Ward and Philip Finch responded to Kmart on the report of a shoplifter fleeing the store on foot. Ward spotted the suspect running from the lot and into heavy Sunday-afternoon traffic on Passaic Ave. Police said that after the officer blocked him with the radio car, the suspect began flailing at Ward in the street, a fight ensued, Finch joined the fray, and Santino Zaccardo, 20, of Belleville, was forced to the ground and cuffed. A search incident to arrest reportedly produced a glassine envelope of heroin, stamped “Out of Stock.”

Zaccardo was charged with possession of the drug and paraphernalia, robbery and resisting arrest. Store security reportedly had seen him removing the tags from boxes of Oxytrol (which, in case you are curious, is an overthe- counter treatment for an overactive bladder).

Feb. 23 

Officer Daniel Esteves, on patrol at Passaic and Johnston Aves. at 4 p.m., stopped a 2001 Buick for a headlight violation and saw that driver Ramon Leston’s license was suspended, police said. He reportedly also saw a plastic bag containing white powder in the center console. Leston, 55, of West Orange, was charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia, operating a motor vehicle while in possession of a CDS, failure to surrender a suspended license, and failure to maintain lamps (i.e., headlights).

• • •

Officer Jean recognized Richard Stevens, 29, of Kearny, walking on Elm St. near the Pike at 5:30 p.m., and confirmed that he was the subject of several warrants: a $700 DWI from Stafford Township; $100 for a Newark traffic offense, and a $5,000 one, also from Newark, for “wandering in a known drug area,” police said. He was taken into custody and turned over to the Newark PD.

• • •

At 8:30 p.m., Officer Fabula stopped a 2002 BMW that had been in the left-turn-only lane at Bergen and Harrison Aves. but then failed to turn. Police said a warrant inquiry revealed that driver Victor Mendez, 28, of Kearny, had a $1,000 drug-related warrant out of Newark. He was charged on that and given a summons for the traffic violation.

Feb. 25 

After stopping a 2006 BMW at Schuyler and Arlington Aves. at 1 a.m., Officer Christian Medina confirmed that passenger Herve Chavez, 24, of Kearny, had a $500 warrant from Belleville, police said. As identification, Chavez reportedly produced a suspended driver’s license and was charged with its possession and failure to surrender it.

– Karen Zautyk 

Rolling on to the Eastern Regionals

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By Kevin Canessa Jr.

Observer Correspondent 

Ryen Pezzolla probably never gave much thought to playing roller hockey at a Division I university when he first started playing the sport when he was a 3-year-old.

But now, more than 15 years later, the grandson of The Observer’s general manager Robert Pezzolla is doing just that — and he’s so good he’s been named a finalist for the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association’s Division I Player of the Year.

Pezzolla plays roller hockey for Rutgers University.

The St. Peter’s Prep alum scored an astonishing 52 goals in just 17 games played this season, the most of anyone playing college roller hockey in the entire country. But the modest Pezzolla was hardly ready to take credit for his personal accomplishments. Instead, he was more interested in the team’s overall accomplishments.

“We’re 11-6-1 in the Eastern Conference,” Pezzolla said. “But when you play with a guy like (teammate) Jeff O’Connell, it’s a lot easier. We have a lot of great chemistry when we play together.”

Last year, when Pezzolla was a senior playing ice hockey for the Marauders of St. Peter’s Prep, he says he got four offers to play ice hockey in college. He had a great senior season and even played an outdoor game at Yankee Stadium, something that was possible because of the NHL’s Outdoor Stadium Series that saw the Devils play the Rangers and the Rangers play the Islanders.

Despite this — and playing four years of ice hockey at the Prep — Pezzolla says his true love was for roller hockey.

“I love ice hockey and I miss it, but I’ve been playing roller hockey much longer than I played ice hockey,” he said. “I knew the coach at Rutgers. I really liked him. So really, it was a decision I had to make. I wanted to play roller over ice. “It’s a decision I don’t regret at all.” Of course, he says he does miss the game on ice.

“I do miss it, but I know I made the right decision to play roller,” Pezzolla said.

And, he says, playing roller hockey has actually offered him greater opportunities.

Soon, he’ll be playing in the Eastern Regionals in Pennsylvania, and the team that wins the tournament gets a cash incentive to be used by the team (individual players don’t make money).

“There’s $10,000 up for grabs,” he said.

He’ll also play in another tournament in Pennsylvania.

“The competition is great — and the sport is growing,” Pezzolla said. “In just a few years, there have been a lot more teams playing roller. I’m very happy to be playing the game and the sport.”

And with luck, fairly soon, he’ll be recognized as the country’s best player in that sport.