KPD: A Cobra in the car

A routine traffic stop in the early-morning hours of Saturday, May 14, revealed some potentially lethal contraband — a gun in the open glove box, Kearny police reported.

Officers Michael Gontarczuk and Jason Rodrigues were on patrol in South Kearny at 3 a.m. when they observed a 2004 BMW without its tail lights on. Stopping the car, they found it operated by a “very nervous” and “visibly shaking” Jonathan Pettiford, 26, of Jersey City, and also saw a number of empty prescription-drug bottles scattered around the interior, police said.

Pettiford reportedly was unable to account for the bottles or produce a driver’s license and also had an expired insurance card.  

After the driver was asked to step from the vehicle, the officers noted that the glove compartment was ajar and, illuminating it, they found inside a .380 caliber, silver Cobra automatic pistol, police said. The gun was confiscated and the BMW impounded.

Pettiford was charged criminally with unlawful possession of a handgun and was issued summonses for driving while suspended, careless driving, failure to produce vehicle documents, and the original tail-light violation. The KPD said they determined that this was his second gun-related arrest, but no further information was available.

At 9 a.m., Pettiford was transported to the Hudson County Jail.

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

May 14

Sgt. Jack Corbett and Officers Rodrigues, Andre Fernandes and Dave Bush did not have to travel far to make an 11 p.m. disorderly-conduct arrest. They collared an allegedly “highly intoxicated” Nicholas Dow, 27, of Kearny, right in front of police headquarters.

Police said Dow’s condition was such they summoned an ambulance. However, while escorting him to the vehicle, he reportedly broke free, began to discard his belongings (shirt, glasses, hat), charged at the cops and had to be forcibly restrained. When the dust settled, he was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center.

May 15

A 3:20 a.m. traffic stop by Officer Ben Wuelfing near Bergen Ave. and Belgrove Drive led to the arrest of Uxua Pariona, 26, of Kearny, on a DWI charge. Police said that Wuelfing detected the odor of alcohol emanating from her 2013 Hyundai, and field sobriety tests were conducted, along with an Alcotest at HQ. Pariona was also charged with DWI in a school zone and failure to signal. 

May 17

At 4:15 p.m., Sgt. Charles Smith arrested Douglas Welfl, 30, of Kearny, near Kearny and Midland Aves. after confirming he had a $100 town-ordinance violation warrant from Kearny, police said. Welfl was turned over to back-up Officer Daniel Lopez and taken to HQ for processing. 

May 18

Shortly before 1 a.m., Officer Esteban Gonzalez stopped a BMW on the 400 block of Belgrove Drive for a headlight violation and was advised that driver Marlenis Delacruz, 24, of Harrison, had a suspended license. Police said she was also found to have two warrants: one for $500 out of Woodbridge on a DWI charge, and a $150 Harrison warrant for a municipal-ordinance offense. She was arrested on those, was also charged with the license offense, failure to surrender a suspended license, and the lighting violation, and was later released on bail. 

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Officers John Donovan and Chris Levchak responded to a 4 p.m. report of a male-female altercation at a restaurant on the 30 block of Kearny Ave.  While interviewing the male half — Paul Spana, 50, of Kearny — they had to repeatedly tell him to keep his hands out of his pockets, but he refused to comply, police said. 

They conducted a pat-down and reportedly found him to be in possession of a crack pipe and a small vial containing white-powder residue. Police said Spana also was the subject of a no-bail warrant from the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office. He was charged in Kearny with possession of drug paraphernalia and was sent to the county jail.

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At 8 p.m., Vice officers, believing its occupants had engaged in a drug transaction, approached a 2002 Honda parked near Johnston and Kearny Aves. and observed driver Gil Velastegui, 28, of Kearny, holding a blue pill, which they recognized as oxycodone, police said. Velastegui allegedly popped it into his mouth, ignored advice to remove it, but finally spit it out — into the car — as he was being taken from the vehicle. Police said passenger Francisco Troche, 24, of Kearny, was found to be in possession of one alprazolam tablet. 

Both men were arrested. Troche was charged with possession of a CDS; Velastegui, with possession of oxycodone, hindering apprehension, and operating a motor vehicle while in possession of a CDS. 

May 19

At 5:45 p.m., Vice reportedly detected the odor of burning marijuana coming from a 2013 Honda in the area of Passaic and S. Midland Aves. They followed the car, stopped it at Belgrove Drive and Halstead St., advised the driver of their suspicions and found a recently burnt marijuana cigar in the driver’s-side door pocket, police said. In a search incident to arrest, Troy Berrios, 26, of Kearny, was also allegedly found to be in possession of 28 suspected alprazolam pills.  

He was charged with possession of both drugs, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of alprazolam with intent to distribute.

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Shortly before midnight, Officers Fernandes, Bush and Jon Dowie responded to residents’ complaints that pot was being smoked in an apartment building on the 300 block of Kearny Ave. In a small courtyard at the rear, they found three individuals, one of whom was reportedly puffing on a hand-rolled marijuana cigar. Alleged puffer Kevin Linares, 19, of Kearny, was also found to have several empty plastic bags containing residue of the drug, police said. He was charged with possession of pot and paraphernalia. His companions were not arrested.

— Karen Zautyk

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