On Feb. 23 at 2:50 p.m., Officers Alvaro Goncalves, Pedro Pina, Jonathan Lima, Mina Ekladious and Sgt. Jack Grimm were dispatched to Walmart to assist Newark police detectives in arresting a man armed with a gun.
Newark Detectives M. Aziz and N. Hargrove happened to be in the store’s loss-prevention office investigating an unrelated case from their city when a Walmart employee reported a male customer had repeatedly lifted his shirt to adjust the handle of a gun in his waistband.
The detectives confronted the male customer, who turned out to be a 16-year-old Newark boy. They seized from him a purple CPX-2 9 mm handgun, an extended ammunition magazine, eight 9 mm jacketed bullets and three 9 mm hollow point bullets.
Det. Anthony Nunez charged the youth under juvenile delinquency with unlawful possession of a firearm and two counts of possession of prohibited weapons (for hollow point ammunition and a high-capacity ammunition magazine). He was ordered held at a county juvenile detention center.
Nasir L. Davis, 18, of Newark, was accompanying the juvenile at the time of his gun arrest. Davis was wanted on $1,250 of Newark traffic warrants and on a $750 Lodi traffic warrant and was taken into custody.
Both jurisdictions later granted Davis a release with a new court date.
On Feb. 20 at 5:10 p.m., Officers Darwin Paulino and Sean Podolski investigated a report by Walgreens staff that a man at the 465 Kearny Ave. store was trying to load his CashAPP card using counterfeit currency. Officers learned a similar incident was reported earlier at a Walgreens in North Arlington, but it involved a different suspect. In the current case, it was reported Giancarlos Arauz, 29, of Manhattan, happened to be passing by Walgreens in an Uber and made a detour to the store to load up his cash card.
The officers arrested Arauz and recovered $1,100 in allegedly counterfeit United States currency in both $100 and $20 denominations. Arauz was charged by summons with forgery and criminal attempt of theft by deception.
He was later released.
On Feb. 21 at 7:27 p.m., Officer Ryan Wilson and several backup officers were dispatched to a domestic dispute at a private home. There, a 53-year-old resident alleged his 23-year-old son broke a $300 television, a $200 glass table, doors to a bedroom and closet and that he punched several holes in a wall. Officers arrested the son on a charge of criminal mischief. He was charged by summons and released to an area hospital for further assistance.
On Feb. 23 at 10:35 a.m., Officers John Fearon and Travis Witt were sent to Walgreens at 248 Kearny Ave. where a shoplifting had been reported. A store associate reported she observed Christopher D. Zapata, 25, of Belleville — a man who is already banned from the store — pocket $24.45 in merchandise and exit without paying.
Officer Jonathan Lima located the suspect in front of Dunkin’ and Officer Mina Ekladious furnished him with a littering summons after Zapata allegedly threw an empanada on the ground during his investigative detention.
After further investigation, the officers arrested Zapata and searched his person revealing deodorant and toothpaste allegedly stolen from Walgreens and 3.76 ounces of marijuana packaged in four sandwich bags.
Zapata was charged with shoplifting and defiant trespass, and he was booked into the county jail.
On Feb. 23, the Kearny Municipal Court contacted Officer Anthony Nunez to advise that defendant Steeve B. Benoit, 22, of Hillside, had been given a conditional discharge of charges proffered against him by the police department for which he had yet to be arrested or fingerprinted. Officer Nunez completed the booking and released Benoit back to the court.
The charges stemmed from a Nov. 3 report by the proprietor of Mira Sol Liquor and Deli alleging a man, later identified as Benoit, completed two transactions totaling $548.03 utilizing a stolen credit card. Det. Kyle Plaugic completed a thorough investigation to identify the suspect, in which he identified Benoit’s car as being the getaway car and matched his image to Benoit’s driver’s license photo and photos from prior law enforcement encounters.
At the conclusion of that investigation, on Nov. 11, Det. Plaugic charged Benoit by mailed summons with theft by deception and two counts of credit card theft.
On Feb. 23 at 7:46 p.m., a 24-year-old Kearny woman reported to Officer Bryan San Martin she had inadvertently left her debit card behind while shopping at BJ’s Wholesale Club and returned to find that it had gone missing. The victim’s banking app showed the card had just been used for transactions at the nearby ShopRite Liquors and Plaza Discount Liquors stores ($81.92 in total charges).
Officer San Martin reviewed surveillance camera footage from the liquor store transactions, which allowed him to identify the suspect as Frankie R. Crane, 48, a homeless man who frequents the area. After a short search, Officer San Martin, Det. Mike Andrews and Sgt. Sean Kelly found Crane at the BJ’s and arrested him.
Search incident to arrest revealed that Crane possessed a glass “crack” pipe, 11 vials containing crack cocaine residue, a metal rod used in preparing crack cocaine to be smoked, and empty heroin fold stamped “Dior” and a debit card issued to a second woman. The current victim’s credit card had allegedly been discarded already.
When fingerprinted, Crane was found to have been wanted under the alias “Jerry Lee Vandermark.”
Sussex County Superior Court issued a bench warrant for a prior charge of possession of heroin/cocaine with intent to distribute; and Roxbury Township Court issued an arrest warrant for possession of drug paraphernalia, which carried a $2,500 bail. Crane was charged in Kearny with theft of property lost or mislaid, unlawful use of credit cards and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was remanded to the Hudson County Jail.
On Feb. 26 at 10:21 p.m., Officer Ruben Rivera responded to a purse snatching at Walmart. A 54-year-old Newark woman reported three teens snatched her purse out of her shopping cart and ran off with it. Moments later, Officer Michael Ore located three 14-year-old Newark boys at Wawa who matched the description given by the victim.
After further investigation the three boys were taken into custody and charged under juvenile delinquency with theft, conspiracy to commit theft and credit-card theft. Additionally, two of the boys were also charged with theft of property lost or mislaid for possessing another’s driver’s license and the key fob to a Mercedes that did not belong to them. One of the boys was issued a warning for a first-documented offense of underage possession of marijuana. The boys were later released to a guardian.
The victim recovered her purse, which had been tossed by the suspects during their flight from Walmart, but the victim’s wallet and its contents were still missing. Surveillance footage showed the boys had been accompanied by two other persons who fled before police arrived.
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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.