A woman who called in death threats to a witness to a serious juvenile crime is behind bars thanks to clever detective work.
Here’s how it all went down.
Back in December 2022, two boys were charged for an incident in which they jumped out of a car, held a knife’s blade to the back of another boy, threatened him and assaulted him. Det. David Bush and Det. Sgt Mike Gontarczuk investigated.
Later that month, the same two boys, along with a larger group, were also involved in an armed robbery incident for which they were also charged. Bush and Gontarczuk investigated that, as well.
A witness involved in these cases began to receive threatening phone calls, in which a woman would order the witness to retract her statements to police, under threat of death. The witness reported the matter to her local police department, who coordinated efforts with the Kearny Police Department.
Det. Bush and Det. Sgt. Gontarczuk investigated the witness tampering and threats to the life of the witness. The witness and family were obviously scared.
Verizon provided records under exigent requests, which determined the phone number that was masked via *67 (blocks Caller ID). Investigation helped to narrow down the records, and found the phone number that called the witness 40 times.
T-Mobile/Omnipoint communications and Google exigent requests were also filed in order to determine the owner of the phone number.
Utimately, Clarissa Andrade, 33, of Harrison, admitted to possessing the cell phone during the time of the suspicious calls, but when confronted about making the calls, she complained that whenever other people call her from a blocked phone number, her local police department doesn’t investigate those people. (Perhaps because they are not threatening to kill a witness in a superior court criminal case?)
Police noted the phone records of the calls lined up perfectly with the time Andrade spent at Kearny PD HQ during which time her son was under arrest and thus, she wasn’t making any phone calls but dealing with the police. Once her son was released into her custody and could figure out who the witness was, the calls started roughly 20 minutes after.
Andrade was charged with second-degree witness tampering. Initially, police asked Andrade to turn herself in, so she could be released the same day — an arrangement that was approved by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. However, despite many chances to do so, Andrade refused to turn herself in.
On July 10, Andrade was arrested by the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office and transported to the Kearny Police Department, on the tampering charges.
Andrade was also found to also have a $1,000 Kearny Municipal Court warrant, stemming from an NJSP incident on the NJ Turnpike.
And, instead of being released that day, she was lodged at the Hudson County Jail in South Kearny.
On July 6, the NJSP Drug Trafficking North Unit/Opioid Enforcement Task Force surveilled a drug deal near Bergen and Schuyler avenues and attempted to confronted two males involved when the deal was completed. They apprehended one, Lora-Duran; however, the second male ran/
Officer Jean-Paul Duran was in the area and assisted the troopers in confining the man to an area near Bergen and Kingsland avenues.
A perimeter was set up and the Secaucus K-9 unit responded. K-9 locked onto a scent and located the male hiding behind an air conditioner in someone’s back yard. Officer Duran recognized him as the fleeing male. Officer Duran detained him and then the NJSP arrested him. He was identified as Nile S. Wooten, 34, of Nutley. The same unit executed search warrant on Ivy Street related to this case and they recovered a 40 caliber Glock, three high-capacity magazines, 79 Oxycodone pills, nine Xanax pills and 32 unstamped pills pending lab analysis.
Wooten was charged with resisting arrest by flight, possession of Suboxone and trespassing.
Andy Lora-Duran, 31, of Kearny, meanwhile, was charged with possession of a weapon during commission of CDS offense, possession of high capacity magazines, possession with the intent to distribute CDS, possession of CDS, distribution within 500 feet of public property and distribution within 1,000 feet of a school.
On July 8 at around 7 p.m., Officers Jose Perez-Fonseca and Mike Santucci responded to a Newark Turnpike accident. There, they found an unresponsive male in the driver’s seat, drooling. Witnesses reported the man was swerving in and out of traffic before the crash.
The suspect reportedly traveled against the flow of traffic on the highway and nearly crashed head-on; however, the other party swerved and lessened the severity of the accident.
Police deployed NARCAN, and the man eventually woke up and became responsive after two doses. On-scene observations suggested impairment by opiates, including subject’s pupils and other indicators.
The vehicle was impounded and Mohamed A. Cornell-Lara, 33, of Union City, was arrested and charged with DWI.
A search warrant was obtained by Officer Perez-Fonseca (on the phone) for blood. The samples were obtained by medical professionals, after midnight, with the results pending analysis.
Cornell-Lara also had a few warrants: Saddle Brook Municipal Court Warrant for $1,000; Teaneck Municipal Court for $1,000; Miami-Dade PD, as a wanted person. And he got lucky — all three of the aforementioned agencies released him on his own recognizance.
On June 6, Officer Pedro Pina fielded a shoplifting call at Walgreens at 248 Kearny Ave. and the suspect reportedly fled on a bike with more than $400 in merchandise. In the interim, police obtained surveillance footage.
Det. Jordenson Jean followed up and sent out a bulletin distributed to nearby department.
Det. Jean identified the subject also learned of a previous arrest by the same suspect for shoplifting in Kearny.
In July, Det. Jean generated a complaint for an indictable shoplifting offense for Diego Rodriguez, 52, of Newark.
On June 23, Officer Nick Funk fielded a report of burglary at LA Fitness on Passaic Avenue. There, a victim’s locker was broken into, car keys taken, and then the vehicle was burglarized and his belongings were stolen, including cash.
But, the polite burglar left the car keys on the windshield of the victim’s car (how nice!)
Det. Jean followed up and obtained security camera footage from LA fitness and town cameras.
The burglar was caught on camera, and is later seen fleeing into the passenger side of a vehicle that was waiting for him. The vehicle’s license plate, meanwhile, was captured on cameras.
The registered owner was identified. Photos of the burglar were distributed to surrounding agencies.
Sgt. Phayre of the Maywood Police Department contacted Det. Jean. Phayre had arrested the suspect, Milton D. Brown, 53, of Philadelphia, on the same crime there and recognized him from the bulletin photos sent out earlier.
Jean followed up further and an investigation found the same suspect had a significant history of thefts and burglaries spanning many states from Utah to Massachusetts, , Pennsylvania, New York and Virgina.
The investigation corroborated that the Kearny suspect was the same person.
Jean charged Brown with burglary and theft.
After midnight July 9, Officers Thomas Collins, Bryan San Martin, Jose Castillo and Sgt. Dean Gasser responded to 22 Passaic Ave., the Exxon station, on a fight report. The responding officers spoke to multiple parties and determined the employees had finished work about six hours earlier and then remained, drinking.
A tangentially involved individual was taken to hospital for severe intoxication on alcohol.
Then the arrestee began arguing with his boss about being compensated appropriately for his work. The argument escalated and Eduardo A. Yanez-Balcazar assaulted and choked the boss and threatened to kill him. He was arrested, charged with making terroristic threats and was released on a summons, pending court.