Nutley’s volunteer fire chief arrested, sent to Hudson County Jail, HCPO says

Henry Meola

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 6:40 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, to include a statement issued by Nutley’s Board of Commissioners & Saturday, Dec. 17, to include screenshots of chatlogs.

The chief of Nutley’s Fire Department is behind bars after he was arrested for his involvement in an online sex sting involving a purported 14-year-old boy, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office said today.

On Friday, Dec. 16, 2022, members of the North Bergen Police Department, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit and the Nutley Police Department arrested Henry Meola, 33, of Nutley, and charged him with one count of luring and attempted endangering the welfare of a child.

Meola was taken into custody at his home in Nutley, transported to the North Bergen Police Department, and is being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in South Kearny, pending his first court appearance.

The investigation determined Meola arranged to meet an individual, who he believed to be a minor, for sexual activity in North Bergen. Suarez credited the North Bergen Police Department, the HCPO Special Victims Unit and the Nutley Police Department with the investigation and arrest.

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Today, Mayor Joseph P. Scarpelli and the Nutley Board of Commissioners issued a joint statement about Meola’s arrest.

“Today, the Nutley Board of Commissioners learned of the formal arrest and charging of Henry Meola,” the statement reads. “Mr. Meola had previously been suspended from his duties as Fire Chief on Dec. 7, 2022. The township is disappointed and extremely concerned about the nature of the charges. The township is working with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office in this investigation of Mr. Meola. Be assured that the board will continue to cooperate with this investigation and will take any further action that is necessary.”

The Observer reported Meola’s suspension Thursday, Dec. 15.

The aforementioned incident occurred after a YouTube-based sting, led by the group OBL Nation — founded by a Jersey man who is known to his viewers by his first name only, Ramy — used a decoy who posed as a 14-year-old boy.

In the video, which was originally streamed live and is now re-posted after editing, Meola reportedly admits his intention was to have some sort of tryst with the boy. Though there wasn’t an actual boy, the intent was still present, which ultimately led to Meola’s arrest.

This story is subject to updates as needed.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.