KPD: Woman with suspended license ignored school bus red lights & stop signs with children nearby

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A woman whose suspended license didn’t have too much of an effect on her — and whose regard for the safety of schoolchildren on Midland Avenue was far from stellar — was arrested by the Kearny Police Department after she also allegedly tried to pass an disembarking school bus that had activated its stop signs and red lights, Det. Sgt. Michal Gontarczuk, of the Kearny PD, said.

On Sept. 12, Officer Andre Fernandes says he was patrolling Midland Avenue near Lincoln School and the charter school at a busy time, with children all about the area. A yellow school bus was stopped, dropping off children with the lights engaged and the stop sign deployed out into the roadway, and it was clearly visible.

Then, a Toyota, driven by a person who must have valued her own time more than children’s safety, apparently decided to drive around the school bus and its extended stop sign.

Officer Fernandes conducted an MV stop and learned driver Sharon Wolffe, 43, of East Newark, didn’t have a valid driver’s license — it was suspended. She couldn’t produce insurance either.

She was arrested for driving while suspended, as well as failure to possess a driver’s license, failure to possess insurance, and passing a school bus while picking up or discharging passengers. Further, an active warrant was outstanding for her arrest, issued by Chesterfield (N.J.); however, they could not respond to take custody of her, so rather than having to take a trip to Chesterfield (we understand that’s in Burlington County) a new court date was issued and Wolffe was instead released on her own recognizance.

In July, a shoplifting at Walmart turned into a robbery when one of two actors allegedly used force against loss prevention staff while fleeing. The suspects loaded merchandise into a Dodge Durango with no license plates and took off.

Det. Kyle Plaugic investigated the matter and used security camera footage to identify the actors. Walmart staff were presented with a photo array and identified the suspects.

Det. Plaugic also used social media and digital investigative tools to confirm his findings.

When Plaugic called one of the suspects, Jonathan Rivera, 27, of Newark, to let him know that he was identified, the man hung up the phone and would not cooperate. Ultimately, warrants were issued for him and Tiffany A. Reyes, 27, also of Newark, charging each with conspiracy to commit robbery, but neither turned themselves in.

On Sept. 7, however, the Elizabeth Police Department picked up Rivera on the Kearny warrant, and custody of him was transferred to the KPD. He was processed and taken to the Hudson County Jail, South Kearny. Reyes remains at-large.

On Sept. 8 at 1 a.m., Officer Thomas Collins was patrolling Passaic Avenue near Johnston Avenue, when he observed a 2013 Fiat swerving out of its lane of travel and into oncoming traffic. The vehicle turned onto Belgrove Drive, except (again) into the oncoming lane of traffic rather than the right side of the road (driving on the left is OK in many British Commonwealth nations, but as you know, America is not a part of the commonwealth.)

This all continued, until Officer Collins initiated a motor-vehicle stop. When Collins contacted the driver, his eyes were bloodshot, his statements were incoherent and his speech was slurred. A strong odor of alcohol was detected and the driver, Marlon A. Cevallos, 41, of Newark, stated he was drinking wine in Newark.

Field-sobriety tests were conducted and Cevallos reportedly couldn’t place one foot in front of the other and could not safely perform the tests without losing his balance.

He was arrested, charged with DWI and his vehicle was impounded. After an alcotest, his BAC was registered as 0.2%, a clean 2.5x the legal limit.

He received summonses for DWI and reckless driving, after which he was released to a family member.

On Sept. 8 at nearly 2 a.m., Sgt. Sean Kelly and Officers Danny Maganinho and Matthew Knighton were called to the 600 block of Chestnut Street on a report of man breaking into vehicles. Dispatchers provided a description and officers found Jerry O. Castro, 20, of North Arlington, who matched the description.

The caller assisted police and positively identified Castro as the man they called about.

After further investigation, it was determined Castro reportedly broke into two vehicles and attempted to break into a third. He was arrested and then, a search incident to arrest yielded an opened and exposed blade, a Smith and Wesson knife, on his person.

Castro was charged with two counts of burglary, one count of attempted burglary and various weapons offenses and, of course, he was released with a court date and a knife seized.

It was a rather busy Sept. 7 into Sept. 8, including at 3:20 a.m., on the 8th, when Officer Luis Cazares and other Kearny units responded to an crash at the intersection of Harrison and Schuyler avenues, involving a pole.

Harrison PD assisted, as a pole was completely detached from its base. Additionally, some signs and pieces of a second pole were scattered about the roadway. A heavily damaged vehicle was found a short distance away.

The driver of that vehicle, David Mejias, 34, of Kearny, reportedly reeked of alcohol and admitted to falling asleep while driving. SFSTs were conducted and Mejias finished them poorly.

Mejias allegedly told Sgt. Kelly he fell asleep while driving home from a “gentleman’s club.” On his Alco test, Mejias reportedly blew twice the legal limit (.16%).

In late August, a victim reported their credit card was fraudulently used to purchase over $400 worth of merchandise at Target. Det. John Fabula obtained security-camera footage of the transaction and observed Ricky J. Matos, 24, of Kearny, to be the suspect. Matos is very familiar to the Kearny Police Department, as the KPD regularly interact with him and have charged or arrested him many times in the past. This go-round, Matos was charged with use of a stolen credit card, a third degree crime.

A court date was scheduled, and a summons was mailed to the residence of Matos.

On Sept. 8, Officers Jean Paul Duran, Jordan Miranda, Sean King & Jordan Anders responded on a domestic call. A boyfriend reportedly engaged in an expletive-laden tired against his girlfriend and threatened to “knock her out” and “take [her] head off.”

Jahmeke T. Primer, 20, of Kearny, was arrested, charged with harassment and a temporary restraining order was issued by the court. He was released after the terms of the restraining order were explained to him.

Then behold, almost immediately upon being released from custody, he went straight back to the residence, which the TRO prohibited. The victim called police and he was arrested again, this time, after being charged with contempt of a court order, he was remanded to the Hudson County Jail. (and likely released the next morning.)

On Sept. 9 at 3 p.m., Officer Derek Hemphill was working a security detail at ShopRite when Phillip Lively, 40, of East Orange, allegedly shoplifted. Specifically, he loaded a cart and simply exited the store without paying.

When Hemphill asked him for his receipt, he was not cooperative. ShopRite staff elected to pursue shoplifting complaints, so Lively was arrested, taken to HQ, charged with shoplifting and remanded to the County.

On Sept. 9 at around midnight, Sgt. Ben Wuelfing and Officers Travis Witt Ruben Rivera responded to a domestic complaint. Nelson Muniz, 33, of Kearny, reportedly engaged in a verbal argument with a woman and assaulted her, causing injury. Arrested, she was charged with simple assault, a TRO was issued, and Muniz was taken to the County.

On Sept. 10 at 2 p.m., Officers Miranda, Nick King, Funk and Cort Montanino responded to a residence on a domestic call. An investigation revealed Sean A. Callaghan, 57, of Kearny, had reportedly screamed in a woman’s face, put his head up against hers, then eventually assaulted her. The woman suffered visible injuries.

Callaghan was arrested, charged with simple assault and then released on a summons.

On Sept. 10 at 9:30 a.m., Officers John Fearon and Angel Baez responded to the Target store on a shoplifting call. William J. Silva-Ruiz, 35, of Elizabeth, had paid for $11.04 worth of goods at the self-checkout. However, his cart contained over $270 of other goods which were not paid for, which was obviously noticed by loss prevention staff. He was arrested, charged with shoplifting and released with court date.

Sometime after noon on Sept. 11, a victim reported to the police she was victimized by a man against whom she had a restraining order. The KPD obtained a statement from her and later arrested David E. Fritzky, 46, of North Arlington for contempt of court. Fritsky was remanded to jail and the extent of the allegations, which are serious, are under further investigation.

In August, Jose Granados, 39, of Kearny, reportedly shoplifted over $300 worth of products at the Kearny Walgreens near Bergen Avenue. The investigation was assigned to Det. Fabula, who obtained camera footage of the shoplifter.

While Fabula was still investigating the matter, on Sept. 11, the same shoplifter came back. Fabula observed him enter the same store and exit quickly with a full reusable bag of shoplifted goods.

Walgreens staff confirmed the man had not paid for any items.

Fabula followed the suspect to a location where he had stashed a backpack, into which he was now loading the fruits of his labor.

Walgreens elected to pursue complaints. Granados was arrested.

A warrant for Granados’ arrest was also found.

He was charged with both shoplifting incidents and taken to the County.

On Sept. 11, just as the sun set, Officer Thomas Collins responded to the Vermellas on Passaic Avenue on a report of a suspicious incident.

A caller explained a short white male was acting suspiciously near the garbage disposal area. Officer Collins found the man, later identified as Robert Cestari, 29, of Kearny, who had a T-shirt around his neck, obstructing his face.

Police also learnt Cestari had an active, no-bail warrant out of Newark Newark for unlicensed entry of structures. Cestari was arrested and later custody transferred into the custody of the Newark PD.

On Sept. 12, at 2 a.m., Officer Anthony Oliveira was patrolling the southwest end of Kearny when he observed Jose J. Sanchez, 26, of Kearny. The KPD is very familiar with Sanchez, as it has had more interactions with him than the KPD can count.

Oliveira was aware of an active warrant outstanding for Sanchez — $2,500 in the Roxbury Municipal Court.

So, Oliveira arrested Sanchez. Roxbury could not come to take custody, so Sanchez got extremely lucky — Kearny PD had to release him on his own recognizance with a new court date

Learn more about the writer ...

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.