KPD: Woman driving erratically because she was in a hurry to get to the MVC to restore her suspended license instead gets arrested

On Aug. 23, Det. John Fabula and Det. Sgt. Mike Gontarczuk were moving about slowly in traffic on Kearny Avenue near Midland Avenue when they saw a silver Toyota operating at a high rate of speed, passing cars (including their unmarked police vehicle) on the right to skip traffic.

Evelin Vittes, 58, of Kearny, was pulled over and the two detectives learned her driver’s license was both expired and suspended and she did not have a valid insurance card.

She told the detectives she was in a hurry to go to the NJMVC to fix her suspended license — and thus, this was her rationale for speeding and improperly passing vehicles, all while driving without a license.

She was arrested, taken to KPD HQ, charged with driving on suspended license, driving unlicensed, failure to possess an insurance card and improper passing and released with court date.

A properly licensed driver took custody of her vehicle.

A man who police say has been a somewhat regular nuisance to the Kearny Avenue business community in the southern end of town was arrested on an outstanding warrant Aug. 17, Det. Sgt. Michal Gontarczuk said.

Businesses on Kearny Avenue had been complaining about Stephen McCourt, 62, of Kearny, for quality of life violations for some time, Gontarczuk said.

Officers have been issuing summonses to McCourt for a period of time for public drinking, public urination and defecation and other issues.

On Aug. 17, bicycle Officers Mat Lopez and Cort Montanino observed McCourt on Kearny Avenue and were aware of a $1,000 warrant issued by Kearny Municipal Court for McCourt’s arrest and as such, he was taken into custody and remanded to the Hudson County Jail in South Kearny.

On Aug. 17, Officers Jean-Paul Duran and Jordan Miranda were dispatched to the Walmart store on a domestic dispute. On arrival, the officers say they met with a man who works for Walmart, who told them a woman he previously dated came to his job and reportedly started verbal argument, and when the man attempted to walk away, she began pulling his shirt.

She also knocked a soft drink bottle out of the man’s hands and took his cell phone, alighting to the bathrooms with it.

The man sustained a minor chest injury during the incident.

Jacqueline S. Villanueva, 24, of Newark, was arrested and taken to KPD HQ, where she was charged with assault and then transferred to the County.

On Aug. 18, DEA Task Force officers were conducting a surveillance operation on Hackensack Avenue in South Kearny when they reportedly observed individuals in possession of a firearm and seized a Glock 19, a high-capacity magazine, hollow-point rounds and regular rounds (some 40 caliber, some 9mm).

Officer Darwin Paulino, of the Kearny PD, assisted.

The two suspects, Keith L. Williams, 53, of Jersey City, and Carlos H. Malave Bonilla, 57, of North Arlington, were both arrested.

Williams was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a prohibited device (high capacity magazine) whilst Malave was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a prohibited device (high capacity magazine) and possession of a prohibited device (hollow point ammunition).

Both men remanded to the Hudson County Jail.

On Aug. 20, at 3:30 a.m., John Bunalski, 55, of Kearny was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes inside a Kearny residence.

Officers Bryan San Martin, David Vazquez and Sgt. Sean Kelly responded there on a report of a dispute. There, it was determined Bunalski had assaulted a person he resided with, using a cane as a weapon in the assault.

And, after being processed, Bunalski was released on his own recognizance, pending court.

On Aug. 20, just before 8 a.m., a man who is well known in town was arrested again after he reportedly wouldn’t leave a business where he wasn’t wanted.

Daniel P. McKeown, 55, of Kearny, was charged with making terroristic threats at a Kearny Avenue business.

Officer Alvaro Goncalves, Andre Fernandes and Sgt. Phil Finch responded to the business after getting a report the business did not want McKeown on the property, as he had been causing issues for them recently

An employee says while McKeown is usually just a nuisance to customers and staff, this time he threatened to kill an employee, called them racial slurs, swung a glass door aggressively at them and got in the employee’s face, threatening to kill her.

A witness, who was a customer in the store, corroborated the statement.

McKeown was arrested, taken to KPD HQ and charged. He was also found to have an active warrant out of Jersey City and so he was remanded to the County, (where this will unfortunately do absolutely nothing to deter future incidents.)

On Aug. 21, officers were dispatched to Kearny Avenue and Halstead Street on a report of man asleep at the wheel. Officer Tom Collins says he observed a white Jeep in the intersection, not moving, when the light cycled. Sgt. Kelly and Officer Vazquez backed Collins up.

One of the officers removed the key from its ignition, and officers say they had trouble rousing the individual, later identified as Holbein J. Gamboa, 46, of Kearny.

Officers say he appeared disoriented, with redness around the eyes and reeked of alcohol.

When he was asked to get out of the vehicle, he stumbled. When he did exit, a cup of brown alcoholic beverage was observed in the vehicle, which the man claimed was just “water.”

Gamboa reportedly refused to cooperate with field-sobriety testing and was arrested for DWI based on observations thus far.

Then at KPD HQ, he reportedly refused an Alco breath test.

In all, he was charged with drunken driving, reckless driving, possessing an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle and refusal to submit to a chemical breath test.

But, not to worry, after all of this uncooperative behavior, he was released on his own recognizance to responsible party when all was said and done.

On June 29, a victim reported $3,000 was withdrawn from her account at an ATM at Chase Bank at 11 Kearny Ave. The same actor, it was later learned, attempted the same crime in Bergenfield and was arrested there.

Det. Kyle Plaugic followed up and used communications-data warrants to prove the same actor was the one who stole the money from Kearny and who withdrew her money from the ATM.

Det. Plaugic then charged Dozzion Branch, 23, of Chicago, with receiving stolen property, theft and ID theft, on Aug. 21.

A complaint was issued and a court date scheduled, but it is not known whether Branch is still in Jersey. Gontarczuk says it is unlikely Branch would be extradited from Illinois for these offenses.

On Aug. 21 at 3 p.m., Officer Sean Podolski responded to Hamilton Avenue and the Pike on a two-car crash. One of the drivers, John M. Doran, 40, of Kearny, was found to have a suspended driver’s license. He was arrested and taken to KPD HQ where it was found warrants were active out of Lyndhurst ($500) and Newark ($100)

Both jurisdictions provided new court dates and Doran was released after being issued summonses for careless driving, driving unlicensed, driving on a suspended license and failure to surrender a suspended license.

After a recent domestic incident at a residence, a judge issued a temporary restraining order to the victim, which prohibited the perp, Dwayne T. Whaley, 48, of Kearny, from returning home. On Aug. 22, Officers Sean King and Nick Funk were dispatched to a Kearny residence and found Whaley at the residence from which he was banned. Since the TRO was still active, prohibiting him from being there, he was arrested, taken to KPD HQ, charged with contempt of court and remanded to the Hudson County Jail.

On Aug. 22, police say they nabbed a man who appears to be a habitual shoplifter.

That night, at 7:30, Elias Rodriguez, 40, of the Bronx, was arrested on a slew of shoplifting and theft charges in Bloomfield.

Rodriguez had been repeatedly shoplifting in Kearny and despite all of the court dates he’d been issued, never shows up for those appointments. So, Kearny police issued a warrant Aug. 17 for at least five shoplifting cases. And a few days later, he was caught by Bloomfield police.

Another warrant, this time for theft, was also active, having been issued by Det. Jonathan Dowie, of the Kearny PD. This stemmed from Rodriguez reportedly stealing a bicycle at LA Fitness on Passaic Avenue earlier this month.

Rodriguez was taken to Hudson County Jail and faces court dates for at least these six cases.

But as is often the case with similar incidents, he’ll likely be sprung well before his court dates, though as of Aug. 24, he was still in the County.

On Aug. 23 at around 7 p.m., Officer Anthony Oliveira was patrolling Passaic Avenue when he says he observed Valentino E. Rogers, 36, of Newark, whom he knew to have an outstanding arrest warrant. After he confirmed there was a HCSO want and Union warrant, Oliveira arrested Valentino.

A search incident to arrest yielded three items of drug paraphernalia, as well as stolen merchandise from multiple businesses in Kearny.

Officer Latka followed up with these businesses and confirmed through surveillance footage Valentino stole from them.

He was charged with theft, two counts of shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia before being taken to the County.

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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.

Det. Sgt. Michal Gontarczuk | Kearny Police Department