Brand new year, same criminal mentality

By Anthony Machcinski

The New Year started bright and early for Kearny Police this year. Officers Melinda Esposito and Cesar Negron responded to the corner of Halstead and Maple Sts. in response to an attempted robbery.
When the pair arrived on the scene, they encountered two would-be robbers who had attempted to take an off-duty Newark Police officer’s wallet. Instead of producing his wallet, the cop grabbed his service pistol and held the surprised men at gunpoint until Kearny officers arrived. Lusi Duran and Bruce Cabides, both 19 and both of Kearny, were charged with robbery and sent to the county jail.
Listed below are other incidents from the Kearny Police Blotter.
On the morning of Dec. 30 at around 1:45 a.m., Det. Michael Gonzalez was at the corner of Elm St. and Quincy Ave. when he saw a car traveling at a high rate of speed heading westbound on Quincy Ave. After Gonzalez ordered the driver to pull over, the two men inside said they’d just been robbed and were fleeing the scene. One of the victims had facial injuries consistent with being on the wrong side of a fight and was able to provide the name of one of the possible muggers. With that information, police sent additional units were sent to the Hickory St. location of one of the potential suspects. After police brought one of the victims past the Hickory St. location, the victim was able to positively identify the two suspects who had robbed him earlier. Kearny Police then put under arrest 19-year-old Kearny resident Victor Calderon and 18-year-old Orlando, Fla. resident Joseph Betancourt were charged with robbery. Bail was set at $75,000.
In the third robbery in three days, officers responded to a woman who was accosted on Woodland Ave. near John St. The 50-year-old victim fought off a would-be robber before the suspect fled down John St.
After giving police a description, Officers Rich Pawlowski and Ben Wuelfing observed a male in the area of Johnson Ave. who matched the description. Before questioning even began, the suspect, a Kearny resident, claimed that he “didn’t do anything wrong.”
Police did a weapons search and found a replica handgun in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt.
The victim positively identified the 14-year-old suspect. He was charged with attempted robbery.
In what could be an audition for the television show “Cops”, Officer Mike Andrews was patrolling Harrison Ave. on Jan. 2 near Rt. 280 conducting random registration checks via his onboard computer. After observing a vehicle exit Rt. 280 to travel eastbound on Harrison Ave., he realized the car was stolen from North Arlington.
The car picked up speed, blew through a red light, and began to drive recklessly, passing cars on the right and moving into oncoming traffic heading east. As the chase got closer to the Kearny/Jersey City border, the individual lost control of the vehicle and slid into a pole. This led to a foot chase where Andrews took the suspect down, much like they do on TV. He was subsequently taken into custody.
The suspect, 45-year-old Robert Pagan from Newark, had a lengthy history of auto theft. In the vehicle, police found a crack pipe, latex gloves, and some implements known to be used for vehicle burglaries. Pagan was charged with possession of stolen property, eluding a police officer, resisting arrest, possession of burglary tools, possession of drug paraphernalia, driving while license is revoked, reckless driving, and outstanding parole warrant.
In what could be one of the weirder incidents of the week, Officers Tom Pontrella and Tom Sumowski responded to the corner of Boyd and Devon Sts. at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 3 after an observer said an individual was inside a parked car. The officers responded and detained the suspect. After admitting that the car wasn’t his, the officers asked him what he was doing inside of it. The man replied, “Seeing what I can find” in what Kearny Police Chief John Dowie later described as a “nonchalant manner.” After finding the insurance card on his person, confirming he wasn’t the owner of the car, police charged him with burglary and theft. The suspect is 21-year-old Kearny resident Daniel Almeida. There were a series of similar break-ins in the area preceding Almeida’s arrest. Det. Ray Lopez is following up.
Officer Andrews would make yet another appearance in a car chase last week as he was patrolling the Shop Rite parking lot randomly checking registrations. One such inquiry showed that the owner of the vehicle had a suspended driver’s license as well as an obstructed rear license plate. When he asked the driver for his license and registration, the driver feigned compliance, looked at his passengers, and then tore off while Officer Andrews was standing at the side of the vehicle.  Andrews detected a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle before it bolted. The car fled the parking lot through the southernmost exit and continued south on Passaic Ave.
After notifying headquarters, Andrews pursued the car until it crossed the Clay St. Bridge and went onto Route 21. Noting the time of day, Andrews terminated the pursuit. Kearny Police notified their Newark colleagues.
After investigating, Andrews was able to obtain an arrest photo that matched the description of the driver. Four officers, Andrews, Paul Bershefski, Steve Horoncich, and Dave Rakowski, responded to an area in East Orange where the vehicle was registered and found the vehicle in question parked on the street near the location. Upon entering the residence, the suspect was found in a rear bedroom and placed under arrest for his actions earlier that day, and for an outstanding bail warrant from a June 2011 incident. Bail was set at $35,200 and 21-year-old Bilal Rodgers, who is listed as an East Orange resident, was charged with driving while license is revoked, driving while unlicensed, reckless driving, disregarding a traffic signal, and eluding a police officer.

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