web analytics

Band of Brothers

By Karen Zautyk
Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

On Sept. 11, 2001, a young boy stared out a 5th-grade classroom window in St. Stephen’s School, watching the smoke rise above what had been the World Trade Center. That boy, now a young man, grew up to become a member of the Kearny Fire Department. And in addition to serving his hometown, he is serving his country — as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Next week, he’ll leave both the town and the country, headed for Afghanistan on a deployment that will last anywhere from six months to a year.

But no matter how long he’s gone, he will be held in the hearts of two families — his immediate family and the one called the KFD.

Firefighter Mark Isabella Jr., 24 years old and Kearny born and raised, has been a member of the department for just 13 months, but that has been enough time for him to earn the respect of those we call The Bravest.

Last Friday, every firefighter from every company who serves on the same shift as Isabella gathered at KFD headquarters on Midland Ave. to honor him in advance of his deployment. (The only ones missing were those at the South Kearny firehouse, who had to remain down at their frontier post.)

The informal ceremony included the placing of a Blue Service Star flag decal on Engine 1, Isabella’s rig. The symbol, indicating that a member of one’s family is on active military duty, will remain on the vehicle until the firefighter comes home.

Isabella’s parents, Florence and Mark Sr., were guests at the gathering.

“As a father, I am very proud of his accomplishments,” said Mark Sr., noting that among these was Mark Jr.’s serving as a squad leader throughout his Marine Corps training at Parris Island.

The Isabellas also had words of appreciation for the KFD. “As the parents, we are truly honored and grateful for the support we are receiving from the Kearny Fire Department,” Mark Sr. said, adding, “They’re a great bunch of guys.”

Capt. Dave Kealy from Station 1 on Davis Ave., where FF Isabella is assigned, described him as “a great asset, hardworking and very enthusiastic.”

“We’re going to be real sorry to see him go, but we’re looking forward to getting him back in six to 12 months,” the captain said.

This will be the first deployment for Isabella, who has served in the Marine Corps Reserve for 4 1/2 years. He noted that he joined the Corps for the same reasons he joined the KFD: “To help people, to give something back.”

As a boy growing up, being a fireman was “a dream job,” he said. And then he made it a reality.

“I’m proud and honored,” he told us, “to have both of the best jobs in the world: a U.S. Marine and a firefighter.”

As we were leaving the farewell ceremony, Isabella’s mom, Florence, took us aside. She wanted to say something that her emotions hadn’t allowed her to express aloud in front of everyone, including her son.

“I want him to know that his mother is extremely proud of him,” she said, “and that I will miss him more than he will know.”

Health Center to open Dec.

Health_web

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent

HARRISON – 

It was supposed to happen April 1 but now the sponsors are predicting that the long anticipated Harrison Health Center will open no later than year’s end.

Under a plan initially pitched by the late Mayor Raymond McDonough, the North Hudson Community Action Corp. (NHCAC) will be operating a “Federally Qualified Health Center,” providing primary and preventive care to low income patients from leased space at the Town Hall Annex on Harrison Ave.

To that end, Harrison advertised for bids to reconfigure the 3,580 square feet of space at the annex – that will be leased to the NHCAC for $24,000 a year – to accommodate what will be four examination rooms, offices for a physician and nurse and/ or nurse practitioner, a waiting room, utility rooms and bathrooms.

But the bids came in well above the funds budgeted – in excess of $500,000 – partly triggered by including displacement of a former basement bank vault as part of the job specifications, an expensive proposition.

After conferring with RSC Architects, which is designing the project, Harrison assigned municipal public works personnel to dismantle the vault to make way for office space and thereby drive down a big portion of the cost.

Then, last November, the town solicited a new round of bids, drawing prices from six contractors: Edge Property Maintenance, $379,640; LaRocca Inc., $331,000; Pal- Pro Builders, $344,000; SHD Construction, $319,000; V&K Construction Co., $417,000; and Salazar & Associates, $338,417.

After conferring with Harrison officials last week, NHCAC President Joan Quigley told The Observer that, “SHD Construction [of Monroe Township] has agreed to maintain the bid they offered months ago, so now only a Harrison [Town] Council resolution is necessary to complete the preconstruction process. That is expected to happen next Tuesday [April 14] evening.

“The SHD bid was for $319,000. The freeholders made $151,000 available in CDBG funds and the Town of Harrison had put aside $150,000. NHCAC will make up the difference and pay for essential equipment to get us started.”

So, Quigley said, NHCAC will have to come up with the $18,000 to make up the gap, plus an estimated $40,000 that it will need for equipment such as patient beds, examination tables and x-ray machines.

“After the site opens, it usually takes several months to obtain clearance from Medicare, then Medicaid, to begin accepting reimbursement,” Quigley continued. “So it will be some time before NHCAC is able to cover its costs, but we are so eager to serve patients from Harrison and West Hudson, that we will make that sacrifice. We are only sorry that the process took so much longer than originally planned, but since the contractor expects to complete the job within six months, we hope to open no later than December.”

Quigley said it typically takes 90 days for Medicare to sign off on approving reimbursement to a newly opened FQHC “and then, once that happens, Medicaid follows.”

Based on trends experienced at NHCAC’s other primary care facilities, most of the patients anticipated in Harrison “will have Medicaid insurance or none at all,” Quigley said. “Obamacare has increased our Medicaid population [at other sites] by 20% and has reduced our charity care by the same amount.”

Until Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement starts to come in at Harrison, the NHCAC figures that, “we will lose close to $100,000 in the first four to six months of operation in Harrison,” Quigley said. Nonetheless, the agency is resolved to go forward.

Quigley said the NHCAC will absorb the cost of all personnel assigned to the Harrison facility, although how many there will be has yet to be determined. That, she said, will depend on “the number of hours” it will be open and the volume of patients.

As of now, the Harrison Health Center will be open weekdays and will be staffed by at least “one full-time physician and two or three support people,” she said.

The Harrison facility will offer primary care to adults and children but no surgical procedures, cardiology care, mental health or emergency services will be available, Quigley said. Appointments will be encouraged but walk-ins will be accepted.

“As a Patient Centered Medical Home, the Harrison Health Center will be under federal supervision and we will be accredited by the Joint Commission [essential for Medicaid reimbursement],” she said.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services says that a PCMH “is accountable for meeting the large majority of each patient’s health care needs, including prevention and wellness, acute and chronic care,” and may involve counseling by “pharmacists, nutritionists, social workers, educators” and the like.

It is hoped that providing access to the Harrison facility will cut down on patient visits to already overburdened area hospitals and offer patients shorter waiting times and enhanced care.

Township losing faithful civil servant

Polito_web

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 

LYNDHURST – 

When she was appointed Township Clerk, her office was still in the Municipal Building, computers were just starting to take hold and New Jersey had just adopted the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) six months prior.

Since then, there’s been a few tons of paperwork that have passed under the watchful eyes of Helen Polito, who is now getting ready to call it a day.

Polito is set to retire May 31 after nearly 13 years as municipal clerk and a month shy of 29 years of service with the township.

A lifelong Lyndhurst resident who went to Washington Grammar School and graduated from Lyndhurst High School in 1972, Polito enrolled in Montclair State University as a home economics major but left after a year to test the job market.

She worked for several private companies in clerical and accounts payable positions before getting married. She and her husband Stephen will mark their 40-year anniversary in October.

“I had my first daughter Marie and I became a fulltime mom in 1978,” Polito said. “In 1981, I had my second daughter Michelle and when she was in kindergarten, I was hired by the then-Commissioner Lou Stellato as a part-time clerk in the Public Works Department in 1986.”

In 1993, the then-DPW Commissioner Paul Haggerty designated her for elevation to full-time clerk.

And, in 2000, when the then-Township Clerk Josephine Oleske made known her plans to leave the job in two years, Polito was transferred to the Township Clerk’s office to serve as a secretary/clerk and, eventually registered for courses at Rutgers University required for certification as a registered municipal clerk in New Jersey.

Typically, it can take a few years to complete the course work but Polito signed up to take a full load of five classes and completed all of them successfully in just a year.

Effective July 1, 2002, she was appointed to a 3-year term as Acting Township Clerk and in October 2002, after receiving her state certification papers, her title became permanent. She acquired tenure in the job after she was reappointed.

“And now I’m retiring,” Polito said, during a recent interview with The Observer. “It was time. Different things came about in my life and now I can enjoy my grandchildren: Stephen, 4; Evan, who will be 3 in July; Avery, 10 months; and newborn Michael.”

In recent years, the job’s demands have mounted while the office has had fewer personnel to meet them.

“The state’s requirements are a lot more stringent,” Polito said. “There are more reports we have to provide and, incidentally, tons more OPRA requests – that’s become a job in itself.”

Asked to account for the uptick, Polito suggested that, “people want to know more about their government, especially because of hard times they want to know where their money is being spent.” And, she noted, some of the OPRA filings are from for-profit groups engaged in research projects.

“A good quarter of my day,” she added, is spent just handling OPRA business.

Another reporting chore triggered by state policy changes is the mandated annual online filing of financial disclosure forms by local government officers, “and we’ll be starting to file liquor license applications through the internet next,” Polito said.

When the state began phasing in electronic maintenance and reporting of municipal data entries, Polito – whose office serves as custodian of township records – arranged for a private firm to begin scanning municipal documents in August 2007.

That was – and continues to be – a huge undertaking, as witnessed by the 20,395 resolutions and 2,911 ordinances adopted by the township Board of Commissioners since 1917, Lyndhurst’s date of incorporation, Polito said.

Between 1852 and 1917, the area was known as Union Township and Polito has some archives, including government minutes books dating from the 1800s that are too fragile to be scanned.

“I’ve learned a lot of Lyndhurst history here,” Polito said. “It’s fascinating to hear how these laws come on the books. That’s what keeps you involved.”

Preparing for and closing down elections was also part of Polito’s domain, although the load lightened a bit after 2008 when the township was relieved of the Board of Education balloting.

On the other hand, the starting time for municipal elections was advanced, from 7 to 6 a.m., to favor voters going to work, which meant, “that brought me into the office at 4:30 [a.m.]” to receive the voter registration books and signs for polling stations from the county which, in turn, had to be delivered to the polls.

Polito recalls one election when the public schools used as polling stations were discovered to be locked “so I had to wake up [BOE business administrator] Dave DiPisa, but they were open on time.”

In the months leading up to November 2012, Polito and her small staff were busy with yet another task – packing – after the township administration opted to move the cramped Clerk’s Office to larger quarters in the Municipal Annex on Stuyvesant Ave. and to allow Rep. Bill Pascrell’s staff to occupy the clerk’s office space, space which was then redecorated.

“I’ve enjoyed my time here and I’m grateful for the opportunity,” Polito said. “I’ll miss being with the people here and helping the residents and my co-workers. After all, we’re the face of municipal government and we try to be hospitable and cordial as much as we can.”

No question she has been every bit of that, said former Commissioner Brian Haggerty, whose eight years in office overlapped Polito’s tenure. “Helen is one of the sweetest, kindest people I could work with and it was a delight to deal with her and her staff,” he said. “She helped make everyone’s life much better.”

Polito, who is expected to be replaced by Deputy Clerk Angela White, is in line for an annual pension of $42,815, according to the state Div. of Pensions & Benefits.

Shields gala upcoming

Shields_web1

NORTH ARLINGTON –

The North Arlington Knights of Columbus, Queen of Peace Council 3428, holds its 21st annual Shields Awards dinner Saturday, April 18, at 6:30 p.m., at the Columbian Club hall, 194 River Road.

Tickets are $30; $10 for youngsters ages 6 to 12. To purchase tickets, call 201- 463-2151. Grand Knight Bill Mackey is chairman of this year’s gala which is being catered by Slice of North Arlington.

“We normally draw between 120 and 140 people to the affair,” Mackey said.

Guests are asked to consider donating non-perishable, unexpired food items for the Council’s “Food for Families” project. During the past two years, the project collected 2,000 pounds of food, all of which was donated to the Queen of Peace Food Pantry, according to Mackey.

The 2015 honorees, who – as Mackey put it – are being feted “for wanting to make a difference in their community,” are: Barbara Arena, Public School Teacher of the Year; Patricia Cordero and Kathleen Petrocelli, Parochial School Teachers of the Year; Agostino Feola Jr., Police Officer of the Year; Jack Fladung, Firefighter of the Year; Danielle Chiaro, CCD Teacher of the Year; Betsy Trunzo, Senior Citizen of the Year; Michelle Carvalho, EMT of the Year; Mary Swedeski Biro, Veteran of the Year; and Anthony Blanco, Citizen of the Year.

Barbara Arena is a 30- year teacher in the North Arlington public school system, including 20 years as a first-grade instructor at Roosevelt School where she implemented a garden project, used as a hands-on learning experience for her students. She has also been a volunteer, with her students, for “Alex’s Lemonade,” which raises money for children’s cancer research. She and her husband Anthony, a retired teacher, have raised twin daughters Gabrielle and Shari Ann, who graduated from the Universities of Delaware and Susquehanna, respectively, in 2014.

Patricia Cordero, an East Orange native and a Jersey City State College alumna, has served as a devoted middle school educator with a specialty in math. She has emphasized the development of faith and character in her students by combining her own Catholic faith, compassion and a belief in high expectations to ensure they strive for success. She also volunteers as a CCD teacher at Our Lady of the Valley Church and with the Wayne Little League. She and her husband Bob are the proud parents of a son Bobby.

Kathleen Petrocelli, born in Jersey City, where she graduated from St. Peter’s College, now lives in Kearny with her husband Vincent. They are the proud parents of Daniel and Maureen. She has taught for the past 27 years at Queen of Peace Elementary School where she has sought to build positive relationships with her students grounded in respect and trust and has encouraged them to follow in the teachings of Jesus. She has, in the past, volunteered for HANDS, a local organization that cares for the special needs community.

Shields_2

 

Agostino Feola Jr. credits his mother Julie and father Agostino Sr. and his uncle with stressing the sense of community and serving and protecting it. After graduating from Don Bosco Technical High School and Passaic Community College, he entered the Paterson Police Academy in 2003 and became a patrol officer. In 2010 he joined the North Arlington Police Department and has received the Excellent Police Duty Award, DWI Top Gun, MADD Award, Honorable Service Award and Lifesaving Award, and was promoted to detective. He and his wife Tara are the proud parents of Justin, Agostino Jr. and Gianna.

Jack Fladung, a Weehawken High School alumnus, moved to North Arlington from his native Secaucus in 1963 with his wife Roseann Lamberti. For 35 years, he was self-employed as a Thumann’s distributor. In 1965, he joined the North Arlington Volunteer Fire Department as a reserve and, a year later, became a regular member. On March 7, 1981, he was part of the crew who rescued an elderly tenant from a fire at 220 Gold St. for which he received a lifesaving award. He has served in various ranks including chief of the department. His son John Vincent is also a firefighter. Jack is now a borough crossing guard at Prospect Ave. and Hedden Terrace. He and his wife also have a daughter Laura Louise and four grandchildren, Glenn, Marina, Rachel and Jonathan.

Shields_web3

 

Danielle Chiaro, raised in Jersey City, moved to North Arlington a decade ago. She has a B.A. in English literature, a minor in women’s history, a master’s degree in education with a concentration in literacy and holds an educational specialist degree in curriculum and instruction. As a volunteer catechist, she shares Catholic lessons of love, justice, charity, caring and compassion with her fifth-grade CCD students and, at the same time, aspires to enable her students to become independent thinkers who can improve the world. She is devoted to her husband Aquilino and her daughter Gloria.

Betsy Trunzo, an alumna of Barringer High School, Newark, has lived in North Arlington since 1969. After working 36 years for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of N.J. and five years for the Archdiocese of Newark, she retired to care for her elderly mother. After her mother’s passing, she was a medical receptionist for five years. At Queen of Peace Church, she is a Eucharistic minister, lector and a member of the parish Life Committee and works at the rectory once a month. She is treasurer of the Rosary Society for which she organizes a fundraising casino trip. For the past 20 years, she has administered Communion to the sick at Clara Maass Medical Center. She is secretary of the Queen of Peace Ladies Bowling League. She has served on the borough Board of Health and Shade Tree Commission.

Michelle Carvalho joined the North Arlington Volunteer Emergency Squad in October 2010. After attending the Bergen County EMS training center, she became certified as an EMT in June 2011. With NAVES, she has served on the executive board, vice president, Saturday day crew chief and a member of the interview committee. She also helps train new members. She has volunteered thousands of hours of service to the borough and is ready to take on additional tours of duty at special events, meetings and snow watches.

Mary Swedeski Biro attended Queen of Peace Elementary and High School where she played softball and basketball. After working in the private sector, she joined the Army and was assigned to the operation and maintenance of vehicles and aircraft. She volunteered to serve in Kuwait in 1996 and received an Army Achievement Medal for outstanding performance under very stressful circumstances. After her honorable discharge in 2002, she became lead line service technician at Teterboro Airport. In North Arlington, she is chaplain of the VFW and is junior vice commander of the American Legion. She is also a faith formation teacher in Verona. She and her husband Joe live in Bloomfield with their children Joseph, 6, and Loretta, 2.

Anthony Blanco, 84, moved in 1945 with his family from Newark to North Arlington where he graduated from North Arlington High School. After getting his teaching degree from Montclair State Teachers College, he began his career in February 1995, teaching history at NAHS where he served as baseball coach, vice principal and principal. He also served in the Army. Eventually, he became the borough’s superintendent of schools before retiring in 1991. Since then, he has served as president of the Lions Club and is now in his third term as a member of the North Arlington Board of Education. Currently, he is the mayor’s representative on the Public Library Board of Trustees. He is married to Aidee and is the proud father of Paul and Philip.

– Ron Leir  

2% annual raises for cops for 3 years

EAST NEWARK –

Borough police salaries are going up a bit but some of the increase will be offset by cops having to contribute, to some extent, toward the cost of their health benefits.

That’s the mixed news contained in a new labor contract between the borough and the East Newark branch of the Harrison Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Local 22 which runs from Jan. 1, 2014, to Dec. 31, 2016.

The agreement, which has been ratified by the PBA and approved April 8 by the borough governing body, calls for 2% pay raises for 2014, 2015 and 2016. Borough police had been working under their old contract which expired Dec. 31, 2013.

Police Chief Anthony Monteiro said that members of the ENPD should be receiving their retroactive pay sometime in May.

Under a two-tier pay system the borough implemented in the last PBA contract, police employees hired prior to May 1, 2012, get one set of salaries and those “newbies” hired after May 1, 2012, get another. Both are based on rank and file cops achieving maximum pay after 10 steps.

So factoring in the 2% increase each of the three years of the new contract, the salary guide for cops on the payroll before May 1, 2012, shows, as an example, that the annual base pay for a cop on the third step will rise from the current $50,119 to $53,187 over the life of the contract; annual base pay for a cop on the seventh step will go from the current $67,472 to $71,602; and annual base pay for a cop at the 10th or highest step will climb from the current $80,922 to $85,875.

By contrast, the salary guide for cops hired after May 1, 2012, indicates that annual base pay for a cop on the third step going from the current $33,000 to $35,020 over the life of the contract; annual base pay for a cop on the seventh step, from the current $55,000 to $58,366; and annual base pay for a cop on the 10th step, from the current $70,000 to $74,285.

For those superior officers hired after May 1, 2012, sergeants will see their annual base pay increase from the current $82,980 to $88,059; lieutenants, from $89,618 to $95,103; and captains, from $95,426 to $101,267.

For those superiors hired prior to May 1, 2012, sergeants’ pay will go from $73,458 to $76,426; lieutenants, from $80,228 to $83,469; and captains, from $86,153 to $89,634.

Currently, the ENPD has no rank filled that’s higher than sergeant, except for chief.

Those cops eligible for health insurance coverage, provided through Blue Cross Blue Shield of N.J., are required by contract “to pay 30% of all usual and customary charges after the deductible is met up to a maximum out-of-pocket cost (including deductible) of $4,000 for individual and $8,000 for family coverage, each calendar year. Out-of- network deductibles shall be $1,000 for single coverage and $2,000 for non-single coverage, per calendar year.”

The borough is obliged “to reimburse bargaining unit employees for any costs incurred pursuant to the 30% requirement … [but] the [borough] is not obligated, however, to reimburse the employee for the first $500 of the $1,000 single or the first $1,000 of the $2,000 non-single deductible, whichever is applicable.”

Cops hired after May 1, 2012, are eligible for single benefits only.

– Ron Leir 

‘Gang member,’ wanted in Va., arrested

Armstrong_web

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 

KEARNY – 

A “known gang member” — who was wanted by Virginia authorities and was the subject of a national law enforcement alert — was remanded, without bail, to the Hudson County Jail following his arrest last Thursday morning in Kearny, KPD Chief John Dowie reported.

The suspect, Andrew Armstrong, 32, gave police a Kearny address, but this was believed to be false, Dowie said.

The chief said that, shortly after 8:30 a.m., April 9, two KPD officers, Sgt. Paul Bershefski and P.O. John Fabula, on patrol in separate cars, each noticed a man “lurking” in the area of Kearny Ave. and Beech St.

As they kept him under observation, he was seen entering an areaway between two buildings and later emerging near Quincy Ave. carrying “a pretty large amount” of scrap metal, police said.

Detaining him for a field interview, they conducted a warrant check and learned that he was wanted by authorities in Alexandria, Va. When that jurisdiction was contacted later, the KPD was told that extradition proceedings would begin and Virginia law enforcement would travel to New Jersey to take him into their custody.

Armstrong was arrested, charged in Kearny with theft and defiant trespass and with being a fugitive from justice, and was jailed without bail pending the extradition. His Virginia warrant was reportedly for drug-related offenses.

Authorities said that the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database contained a Law Enforcement Caution alert from South Plainfield identifying Armstrong as a known gang member, possibly a member of the Bloods.

Rooming house fire confined to 1 unit

KEARNY – 

A fire that started in an unoccupied room at the Hudson House rooming house Sunday evening is under investigation by the Kearny Fire Department.

KPD Chief Steve Dyl said the one-alarm blaze broke out in the building at 348 Kearny Ave. shortly after 6 p.m. and was under control in 20 minutes. The fire was confined to the room in which it began.

Some 15 occupants of the rooming house were evacuated, but all but one were allowed to return. Dyl said a man who lived in the room directly below the fire scene was displaced for the night.

No injuries were reported.

– Karen Zautyk 

Thoughts & Views: School daze, school daze . . .

4-15Op_web

When I was a toddler, there was no such thing as pre-school or day-care.

Formal education began at kindergarten, or, for many kids, not until first grade.

Until age 5 or so, we were free to be unrestricted children. While the daddies were out hunting/gathering and the mommies were cleaning the caves, we tots were outside playing with our pet brontosaurus. (The brontosaurus was the approved child-safe pet; when we got older, we might be allowed to have a T. Rex, provided it had obedience training.)

In any case, yours truly never went to pre-school. But if I ever felt deprived because of that (and I haven’t), today’s world offers a second chance. And this particular second chance is yet more evidence that today’s world is going stark raving mad.

Recently, a friend sent me an email link to an ABC News story about “the world’s first day-care experience for adults.”

What?

Yes, over in Brooklyn there has been established an adult pre-school, where for between $333 and $999 per month (the difference in price was not clearly explained in the email), you can attend classes featuring dress-up, games of musical chairs, Play-Doh crafting, fingerpainting, etc.

You will also have naptime. And maybe a field trip or two — but the destination was not specified. (I’d vote for a pub crawl.)

“In this one-month adventure,” the school’s founder was quoted as saying, “we’ll explore preschool concepts, like sharing and friendship, in order to apply and inject play, wonder, self-belief, and community into our grown-up lives.”

The program also includes a “parents day,” when the students can invite an (other) adult to speak to the class. (I would invite a psychiatrist.)

All of this reminded me of another “return to your youth” school I had heard about many years ago. This one was in England. For a fee — can’t recall the price — you could book a week at a private girls’ “boarding school” and relive all the joys of your privileged British adolescence.

It was touted as an alternative vacation option. The adult female students would be issued uniforms and live in dorms and spend their days in class and their evenings doing homework. There must have been some social events, too, but these have faded from my memory.

I was actually intrigued, until it dawned on me that I had never been either British or privileged.

I decided to give that particular “reliving” experience a pass.

As for the adult pre-school, I’ll give that a pass, too. I already have enough “play, wonder, self-belief, and community” in my grown-up life.

That’s because I’ve never completely grown up — as I have been told more than once. And I wouldn’t change that at all.

– Karen Zautyk 

KPD: ‘Unwanted advances’ at carnival

A 21-year-old Newark man was arrested last week for allegedly fondling a 15-yearold girl on a ferris wheel at a Passaic Ave. carnival, Kearny police reported.

Sgt. Peter Gleason, Det. Ray Lopez and Officer Chris Medina responded to the fair at 9 p.m., Sunday, April 5, on a complaint from the young victim. The teen said that while she was on the ride, she was accosted by a man who began touching her, Chief John Dowie reported. Dowie said “she let him know more than once” that the advances were unwanted, but the fondling continued.

When the officers arrived, the man had left, but Lopez developed a suspect, and Angelo Villalona was arrested that same night at his Newark home. He was charged with criminal sexual conduct, and the Hudson County Sex Crimes Unit was notified.

• • •

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

April 2 

Vice officers were at Elm St. and Stuyvesant Ave. at 9:30 p.m. when they observed a man in a parked car apparently ingesting a CDS from a straw. The car pulled away, but the officers stopped it at Elm St. and Midland Ave. and questioned passenger Alessandro Olaya, 27, of Kearny, who was reportedly found to be in possession of one oxycontin pill and one alprazolam tablet. He was charged with unlawful possession of prescription drugs and possession of paraphernalia.

April 5 

Officer Cesar Negron responded to the 800 block of Chestnut St. at 2:30 p.m. on the report of a suspicious person in the backyard of an unoccupied dwelling. At the scene, the officer encountered Courtney Conner, 25, of East Orange, and arrested him after a warrant check showed he was wanted by East Orange on a motor vehicle charge.

April 6 

At 11:30 a.m., Officer John Fabula attempted to stop a 2000 Ford pickup that made an illegal U-turn on Kearny Ave. at Afton St., but the truck, with the officer following, proceeded down Afton to Maple St., to Windsor St., to Bergen Ave. — failing to yield to a pedestrian and running a stop sign along the way, police said.

Fabula lost sight of it on Bergen. However, at 11 a.m. the next day, he spotted the same vehicle double-parked on the 200 block of Maple and confronted the driver, 27-year-old Noel Wessigk of Madison.

A warrant check revealed that Wessigk was wanted on a disorderly conduct charge by Elizabeth. He was arrested on that and also issued summonses for careless driving, failing to yield, and making an unsafe turn.

• • •

At 3 p.m., at Kearny and Garfield Aves., a 2008 Ford with an “extremely loud muffler” caught the attention of Officer Jordenson Jean, who stopped the vehicle at Pavonia Ave. and found that the driver, Hakeem Ford, 39, of Jersey City, had a suspended license and a MV warrant from Paramus, police said. Ford was arrested and taken to headquarters.

• • •

Officers Luis Moran and Kevin Arnesman were called to the town clerk’s office in Town Hall at 3:45 p.m. on a report of a disorderly person. Police said John Quinn, 51, of North Arlington, had apparently just wandered in and started acting out. Quinn was arrested after a warrant check showed he had one from Wood-Ridge.

• • •

Anthony Booker, 28, of Newark, was taken into custody on a Newark warrant after Officer Brian Wisely observed him at 7 p.m. near Kearny and Bergen Aves. Booker was brought to HQ and the Newark PD was notified.

April 7 

At 4 p.m., at Liberty and Maple Sts., Vice detectives observed a 17-year-old Kearny male “manipulating” a Rockstar energy drink can, the top of which popped open, causing small baggies of suspected marijuana to pop out. As the teen was retrieving them, the detectives approached and confiscated seven pot baggies, several empty baggies and a hand-rolled cigar, police said. The teen was charged with possession of the drug and paraphernalia and was released to the custody of a parent.

At 5 p.m., after a man was observed acting “peculiarly” over a two-hour period near the Quick Chek on Kearny Ave., Officers Moran and Sean Kelly took into custody Adrian Wesley, 45, of Newark, who was found to have three outstanding municipal code violation warrants from Newark, with bail amounts of $128, $500 and $1,000. Newark PD was notified.

April 9 

Officer Damon Pein, responding to an 11:40 a.m. accident between a truck and a 2004 Audi on the Old Lincoln Highway in South Kearny, arrested the Audi driver, Darrin Hailey, 43, of Roselle, for driving with a suspended license.

In addition, police said, a warrant check revealed — and this may be a KPD blotter record — that Hailey had nine: three from Jersey City, three from Newark, and one each from Bayonne, Roselle and Linden. His car was towed, the various municipalities were notified, and he was remanded to the Hudson County Jail.

– Karen Zautyk 

Prison term for protecting prostitution

A township man who was employed as a Jersey City fire inspector has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison for accepting bribes in return for providing certificates of occupancy to two Hudson County prostitution operations.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said Phillip Procaccino, 56, of Belleville, had admitted that, in October 2013, he accepted $2,500 in exchange for his official assistance in obtaining an occupancy certificate for a massage parlor that was a cover for prostitution.

In addition, Procaccino offered to provide advance notice of inspections so the owner and employees could hide evidence of illegal activity, Fishman’s office reported. Procaccino also agreed to take 10% of future profits from a separate prostitution business in return for both a certificate of occupancy and “one day’s advance notice of any police activity targeting the business.” Both businesses were located in Jersey City.

Procaccino, who had pleaded guilty to one count of extortion, was sentenced April 7 by U.S. District Judge Katharine S. Hayden in Newark federal court.

Following the prison term, he is to serve one year of supervised release.

– Karen Zautyk