He could run, but he couldn’t hide


A Jersey City drag-racer, who led Kearny cops on a round-about pursuit before they terminated it for safety reasons, might have thought he had gotten away on the highway to haven. But thanks to some good police work, he ended up parked in the Hudson County Jail.

Shortly after midnight on Monday, March 18, KPD Officers Tom Pontrella and Glenn Reed were on patrol in South Kearny when they came upon several vehicles drag racing at Pennsylvania and Jacobus Aves. There was also “a large contingent of smaller sports cars parked and ready to race,” Police Chief John Dowie said.

As the officers stopped to disburse the crowd, one of the drivers smashed his Honda into the front of the marked KPD SUV, then backed up and started to flee down Pennsylvania Ave., Dowie said.

As Pontrella and Reed gave chase, the driver reportedly turned off his headlights, but the cops were able to keep him in sight as he led them along Fish House Road, over the Wittpenn Bridge, into Jersey City, south on Rt. 440 and then over the Hackensack River Bridge, heading back into Kearny.

On the bridge, the cops ended the chase when the Honda began to take on “an excessive rate of speed,” Dowie said.

While the pursuit was going on. backup officers had been dispatched to the South Kearny drag strip to interview witnesses and collect information. Thanks to that info and to video footage from cameras along the route of the chase, police developed a probable suspect, whose photo was ID’d by Reed and Pontrella.

Last Friday morning, Kearny Det. Michael Gonzalez and Det. Lt. Anthony Gouveia located the suspect, 24-year-old Kadeem Browne of Jersey City, in his hometown and brought him back to Kearny, where he was booked on a charge of eluding police.

Browne was being held on $25,000 bail.

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following incidents, many involving demon rum (or demon vodka or some such):

March 14

P.O. John Fabula, responding to the report of a motorcycle accident on the 400 block of Elm St. at 7 p.m., arrived to find the bike on the ground and a “highly agitated” man walking in circles around it. The biker reportedly told Fabula that someone must have put oil on the street or thrown a can under his bike. In any case, police said, he had managed to ride only about 20 feet from where he started his journey before falling off.

Fabula ruled out alcohol as the cause but felt the man was under the influence of something, and the biker then admitted he had ingested medication, Dowie said. EMS was summoned, and Ryan Decker, 23, of Livingston, was charged with DUI, careless driving and being under the influence of a CDS.

• At 11:30 p.m., P.O. Ben Wuelfing was on patrol at Schuyler and Midland Aves. when he observed a red Mazda with Kentucky plates run the red light at the intersection and proceed south on Schuyler at a high rate of speed. The officer pursued the car, which made a “series of evasive turns” onto a number of side streets before being brought to a halt on Garfield Ave.

After he reportedly failed the field sobriety tests, the driver was taken to headquarters, given an Alcotest, and charged with DWI, DWI in a school zone, underage DWI, careless driving and failure to observe a traffic signal. He was identified as 20-year-old Kearny resident Ilya Harbacheuski.

March 15

Chief Dowie, driving on the 100 block of Devon St. at 3 p.m., observed an apparently intoxicated individual sleeping in the doorway of a home. P.O. Brian Wisely responded to the report and persuaded the man to move along. Moments later, and a block away, came a report of a disorderly person near West Hudson Park, and in view of a group of schoolchildren and their parents. Wisely and P.O. Tom Pontrella cautioned him as to his behavior and offered medical aid, but the man refused and became uncooperative and confrontational, police said. Placed in the patrol car, he allegedly tried to kick out the back window. Arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct was Arthur Smith, 48, of Kearny, who was also issued summonses for creating a disturbance and failure to obey a police officer.

• At 8 p.m., on the 800 block of Kearny Ave., P.O. Pete Jahera came upon two cars that apparently had been involved in an accident. The crash, he learned, had just occurred on the Belleville Pike where one vehicle, exiting a driveway, was hit by another. Both then proceeded to the avenue and pulled over. Police said there were no injuries, but Jahera noted that one driver nearly fell while exiting his vehicle, and he then failed a field sobriety test. Charged with DWI and careless driving was John Keenan, 81, of North Arlington.

March 16

Lt. Tim Wagner and Det. Michael Gonzalez were on patrol at at noon when they observed two men sharing a bottle of Pride & Glory vodka while walking on Kearny Ave. near Stuyvesant Ave. Both guzzlers were issued summonses for drinking in public, but one was also taken into custody after a warrant check showed he was wanted by Linden, police said. He was identified as Richard Hester, 49, of Kearny.

March 17

Another incident apparently involving mid-day imbibing was reported at 11:30 a.m. when P.O. Steve Hroncich responded to a radio call concerning a dangerous driver heading south on Schuyler Ave. near Oakwood Ave.

The officer observed a blue Honda travelling erratically, crossing the center line and heading into oncoming traffic, police said. Hroncich, with backup by P.O. Adriano Marques, stopped it at Wilson Ave., and reportedly found the driver to have slurred speech and a scent of alcohol about his person. Arrested and charged with DWI, careless driving and refusal to take an Alcotest was Robert Ramsey, 27, of Upper Darby, Pa.

March 19

At 3:30 p.m., P.O. Sean Kelly was dispatched to the area of Bunny Hill (Afton St. and Hillside Ave.) on a report of a disorderly, intoxicated man with a dog (which, luckily, was neither disorderly nor intoxicated). He arrived to find a “large individual” who was covered in mud and standing near a vehicle parked against the flow of traffic. The dog was running free, dragging its leash behind it.

Approached by Kelly, the man reportedly announced, “I’m drunk!” began laughing and then fell to the ground.

EMS and backup Officer Chris Levchak were sent to the scene, but the man became upset about the ambulance, became profane and belligerent, fell again and, when arrested for DWI, began to fight, punched Levchak in the chest and resisted being cuffed, police reported.

Charged with DWI, refusing an Alcotest, aggressive assault on a police officer and resisting arrest was 64-year-old Newark resident Edmond Morris.

The dog was retrieved and turned over to Morris’ daughter.

March 20

At 5:15 a.m., P.O. Levchak responded to the report of a shoplifting-turned-robbery at WalMart, where two individuals had allegedly assaulted store security personnel while fleeing with the stolen goods, including a Wal-Mart vest and a box of condoms. Levchak broadcast a description of the getaway car, a red Cadillac, and its direction of flight. P.O. Derek Hemphill spotted the vehicle heading east on Harrison Ave., unsuccessfully attempted to stop it, and pursued it onto Rt. 280 West.

Because of the icy road conditions, he terminated the chase, but did get the license plate number. Security tapes from Wal-Mart led the officers to suspect that one of the robbers had been involved with the KPD at another store, Chief Dowie said.

With info from Hemphill and after viewing the surveillance footage, Det. Ray Lopez developed a suspect, comparing a recent arrest photo to the person on the tapes.

A warrant was issued for the arrest of Omar Greene, 18, of Newark, who was picked up the morning of March 22 by Essex County authorities and taken to the Green St. Jail in Newark to await transfer to Kearny on robbery charges.

• Officer John Fabula and Sgt. Anthony Limite went to the Marshall’s lot on Passaic Ave. at 8 p.m. on the report of two suspicious individuals, one of whom explained his presence by stating he was waiting for a bus. Which is odd because buses don’t stop in the Marshall’s lot. A warrant check showed that the man, Jerome Thomas, 43, of Rahway, was wanted by both Rahway and Clark, and a search of his person produced what appeared to be a crack pipe, police said. He was arrested on the warrants, charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and held on $5,000 bail. The other suspicious person was questioned and released.

• Members of the Vice Squad were at Bergen and Kearny Aves. at 9:20 p.m. when they observed what appeared to be a hand-to-hand drug transaction between alleged customer 23-year-old Barbara Walsh of Kearny and reputed supplier Paul Cabrera, 25, of Harrison. Walsh was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia; Cabrera, with possession and distribution of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia. Police said he was also wanted on a Harrison warrant for pot possession.

March 21

P.O. Brian Wisely was patrolling the Belleville Pike near Sellers St. at 4 p.m. when he noticed three individuals walking along the road carrying, in plain view, a bag of scrap metal and copper. He did a warrant check and arrested Anthony Malacow, 34, of Newark, who reportedly was wanted by Seaside Heights. The other two men were negative for warrants, and because it could not be assumed that the metal was stolen, were allowed to leave, Chief Dowie noted.

• Also at 4 p.m., Dets. Ray Lopez and Mike Gonzalez, pursuant to an ongoing investigation, arrested 47-year-old Kearny resident Carlos Fernandez at Kearny Ave. and Hoyt St. on an outstanding warrant connected to a Schuyler Ave. theft earlier this month. Fernandez was remanded to the Hudson County Jail on a charge of theft of movable property: a large air-conditioning unit.

— Karen Zautyk

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