KPD: 3 Kearny HS students arrested in 3 separate incidents; all took place off campus, 1 involved ‘recently founded’ street gang

On Dec. 9, Det. David Bush and Sgt. Michal Gontarczuk took a 15-year-old boy into custody at the Kearny High School main office. The boy was charged as a juvenile delinquent with robbery, luring a child, aggravated assault, criminal restraint, endangering an injured victim, theft, terroristic threats, false imprisonment and weapon possession offenses. A court intake officer then ordered the boy held at a county juvenile detention facility.

The charges stem from a Dec. 1 incident that occurred at 5:38 p.m. near Veteran’s Field on Belgrove Drive. In that incident, a 16-year-old Kearny boy reported that he was lured to the area by the suspect where he was then assaulted, threatened and robbed by the suspect and a group of teens who punched and kicked him and ripped his clothes. One of the teens was allegedly armed with an orange-handled knife. A suspect reportedly displayed the knife and told the victim that if he does not call himself a “b—ch” and allow them to take his belongings, they would stab him.

The suspects then stole the boy’s sneakers, coat, sweatshirt, smart phone and book bag before fleeing. The boy was later transported by EMS to University Hospital with hearing loss, several shoe print stomp marks on his body and a lacerated lip. It was later reported to detectives that the involved parties are part of two criminal street gangs recently founded by Kearny High students.

The investigation into the identities of the remaining suspects remains active.

On Dec. 14 at 1:08 p.m., a Kearny High School student reported to School Resource Officer Vanessa Sevillano that she placed her book bag on a cafeteria table as she was purchasing her lunch and the bag went missing. After further investigation, Officer Sevillano found a 15-year-old boy stole the book bag.

The boy was summoned to the principal’s office where he returned the book bag. The victim then found that her credit card was missing from the bag and her school-issued Chrome Book computer was damaged ($340 value). When administrators inquired about the missing credit card, the suspect also turned over the card to them.

Sgts. Michal Gontarczuk and Phil Finch took the suspect into custody. He was charged as a juvenile delinquent with theft and criminal mischief. The boy was later released to his mother.

On Dec. 21, Sgt. Michal Gontarczuk, Det. Kyle Plaugic and Officers Vanessa Sevillano and Jack Grimm took a 16-year-old Kearny High School student into custody at the school’s main office. The boy was charged as a juvenile delinquent with terroristic threats, conspiracy, weapon possession offenses, and simple assault.

The charges stemmed from a Nov. 30 report made by two boys – 14 and 17 — who said they had left the Passaic Avenue Burger King just before 8 p.m. and began walking across the parking lot. A dark-colored vehicle approached the boys and a male inside it pointed a knife at the boys from the car window and asked them if they wanted to die. The boys continued walking.

As the boys reached LA Fitness, they noticed a male wearing a ski mask following them on foot. The male stopped them near the gym and pressed an orange-handled knife against the boys’ backs as the dark vehicle pulled up nearby. One of the boys elbowed the suspect and the suspect reacted by punching the boy several times in the face. The suspect then got into the dark vehicle and fled.

Det. Plaugic and Sgt. Gontarczuk took up the investigation and later identified the suspect as the 16-year-old Kearny High student taken into custody on Dec. 21. After booking, the suspect was released to his mother. The investigation into the identity of co-conspirators is ongoing.

On Dec. 14 at 9:26 a.m., Officers John Fearon and Jason Rodrigues met with the manager of Walgreens located at 248 Kearny Ave. The store manager accused Lisa T. Lavin, 50, of Newark, of shoplifting by concealing $243.51 of soap, underwear and cough medicine in a bag. The manager reported Lavin also allegedly shoplifted on Dec. 9 by concealing $176.98 of merchandise in a bag and leaving the store without paying. Lavin was not apprehended immediately following the Dec. 9 incident.

Officers arrested Lavin, who allegedly gave them a false name and Social Security Number. When fingerprinting revealed the ruse, Lavin was charged with hindering apprehension along with her underlying shoplifting charges. Lavin was later transferred to the Hudson County jail.

On Dec. 20 at 9:37 p.m., Officers Alvaro Goncalves and Anthony Oliveira were dispatched to ShopRite for a shoplifting complaint. A store manager told the officers he was reviewing store surveillance video from earlier that day and saw a man conceal merchandise in a shopping bag and then leave the store through a self-checkout lane without paying for any of the merchandise.

The manager saw the man return later in the night and allegedly try to pull off the scam a second time. This time, the manager and Officer Derek Hemphill stopped the suspect at the store’s exit with $50.62 of unpaid-for merchandise in a bag.

The suspect was later identified as Enrique M. Mora-Maravi, 51, of Kearny. Mora-Maravi was arrested and charged with shoplifting. He was later released with a summons.

On Dec. 20 at 10:25 p.m., Officers David Vazquez and Matt Knighton responded to a private home for a domestic dispute. A 37-year-old man told cops that he had just gotten back from dinner with his 45-year-old wife. The husband said his wife became irate after drinking at the restaurant, so he left her there and walked home. When the wife came home, she allegedly told her husband she would kill him in his sleep and no one would care when he was gone. The husband then locked himself in his bedroom and phoned police.

The husband declined to press criminal charges but accompanied officers to the police station to apply for a temporary restraining order. When officers later returned to the home and served the wife with the restraining order, she allegedly barricaded herself in the bedroom and refused to leave. When negotiations failed, officers entered the bedroom and arrested the wife for contempt of court.

The wife was later held at the Hudson County jail.

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Capt. Timothy Wagner | Kearny Police Department

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.