KPD: Fabula investigation leads to arrest of identity thief, a ‘friend’ of the victim

On May 14, 2021, a 20-year-old Kearny man reported to police that he was the victim of identity theft. The victim was tipped off when he received an email indicating a credit card for which he had not applied was on its way to him in the mail. After following up with a credit-reporting agency, the victim learned several accounts had been opened in his name, including one for a $20,000 loan.

On July 7, the victim became suspicious the identity thief might be Phillip D. Biet, 20, of Kearny, a friend who knew his personal-identifying information from prior involvement with a Small Business Association PPP loan application.

Det. John Fabula picked up the case — historically, very bad news for people benefiting from elaborate theft schemes.

Fabula conducted an extensive investigation leading to numerous communications-data warrants, seizure orders for over 30 bank accounts and search warrants for Biet’s Patterson Street home and Dodge Charger, the person of Gregory Costa and a premises on Port Avenue in Elizabeth.

In the early hours of Nov. 22, Kearny detectives assisted by the Hudson County Regional SWAT Team, executed the warrant to search Biet’s home and car. They recovered over $66,000 cash; over 30 credit cards; computer and electronic equipment; numerous cellular phones; a replica submachine gun and a replica AK-47 assault rifle, both which fired blanks; blank ammunition; a fraudulent driver’s license; fraudulent check stubs; checks; a ledger and receipts.

On Feb. 8, 2022, the Elizabeth Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit assisted Kearny detectives in executing an early-morning search warrant of a Port Avenue premises in Elizabeth. As a result of that warrant, Gregory Costa, 18, was turned over to Elizbeth police for drug-related offenses.

On Feb. 11, Biet turned himself in at KPD headquarters for formal charging and was charged by summons with money laundering (multiple counts), financial facilitation of criminal activity, theft by deception (multiple counts), credit card theft, possession of a false government document, forgery (multiple counts), possession of forgery devices, theft of identity and frauds related to credit cards. The investigation remains ongoing.

On Feb. 12 at 11:04 a.m., Officers Angel Martinez and Sean Brady responded to a call of a car burglary in-progress on Chestnut Street. The caller met officers and reported she witnessed a young man enter the driver’s side door of her BMW SUV and begin rummaging through her vehicle.

The woman’s husband confronted the burglar and chased him on foot to a pharmacy on Kearny Avenue. There, a physical struggle ensued, in which the burglar allegedly punched the husband in the face before running back out onto Kearny Avenue.

Undeterred, the husband resumed the foot chase until police officers joined in on Pavonia Avenue.

Officers Alan Stickno, Cort Montanino, Mat Lopez and Sean Podolski chased the burglar through backyards, finally apprehending him near the Salvation Army building on Chestnut Street.

The burglar was identified as a 17-year-old Newark boy. He was charged under juvenile delinquency with burglary, obstructing the administration of law, resisting arrest, robbery and trespass. The boy was remanded by a juvenile intake officer to the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center.

On Feb. 16, Dets. Jordenson Jean, Kyle Plaugic and Sgt. Neil Nelson arrested Dino J. Demetro, 40, near his Belleville home. Demetro had filed a police report of a gunpoint robbery in Kearny on May 7, 2021. However, Det. Jean’s investigation led to probable cause to charge Demetro with two counts of false reports to law enforcement in connection with his May 7 robbery allegation.

Demetro was held at the Hudson County jail on those charges.

On Feb. 17 at 2:23 a.m., Officers Cort Montanino and Kevin Matos were dispatched to Bayard Avenue for a report of vehicle burglaries in progress. When the officers tried to pull over a red Nissan SUV suspected of involvement, the SUV sped off, drove through Manor Park and then continued south on Passaic Avenue. Due to this year’s changes in the Attorney General’s Vehicular Pursuit Policy, the officers were forced to let the brazen burglars drive off without pursuit.

However, Officer Paul Duran found one more alleged burglar who had been left behind on Hamilton Avenue. Taysean Dunbar, 20, of Newark, allegedly ran when Officer Duran tried to detain him. Dunbar was arrested after a foot chase by the aforementioned officers and Officer Bismark Karikari.

Officer Ryan Wilson later found the red Nissan SUV in which the other burglars fled, presumably with impunity. It was abandoned on Stevenson Place with a damaged tire. A stolen license plate was affixed to the SUV. The plate the officers had spotted on it earlier was laying on its backseat.

Dunbar was charged with burglary, conspiracy, obstructing, resisting arrest and two counts of receiving stolen property. Also subject to outstanding arrest warrants issued by courts in Kearny, South Orange and Orange, Dunbar was held at the Hudson County Jail.

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Capt. Timothy Wagner | Kearny Police Department
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Capt. Timothy Wagner is the Kearny Police Department's public-information officer and the commander of the department's Internal Affairs Unit. He contributes the KPD Blotter weekly and writes it completely.