This section is based on data provided to the Northern Valley Press by neighborhood police departments. Due to pending court appearances and other variations, the following information shall be read in “press time” context.
Man who reached out to American Legion investigated for theft, fraud
– On Jan. 25, a 73-year-old Demarest man went to headquarters in Cresskill to report an incident of theft by deception.
The man told police that on Jan. 17, he received a call at the Cresskill American Legion from a man who identified himself by name as a staff sergeant and veteran in need of financial assistance. The caller insisted that he purchased a home in Cresskill and was not able to move in because a certificate of occupancy was not issued. The caller added that he was staying at the Garden State Plaza Hotel in Saddle Brook because of this, but cannot afford to stay another night.
The caller told the Demarest man who reported this incident that he would repay him once he received his check from the government. The caller claimed he went to the Veterans Administration in Hackensack for assistance, but they told him to reach out to the Cresskill American Legion since he was moving to that community.
The Demarest man offered to help the caller, asking if the hotel accepted checks; after contacting the hotel manager on the phone, the man found out that the hotel only accepted cash or credit cards. The Demarest man told the caller to come to the Cresskill American Legion to meet with him. He gave him $71 for the hotel fee and another $50 for food and personal items. The caller then left the American Legion with his money.
After helping the caller, the Demarest man then contacted the Veterans Administration in Hackensack and was informed that an employee was in contact with a Bergen County Sheriff’s detective in reference to the same caller possibly scamming American Legions in the area. The man was informed that they believe the caller has an active arrest warrant out of Florida.
The police report lists the incident as a theft by deception and fraud, but it’s unclear if any charges were filed.
Driver had more than five pounds of marijuana, other paraphernalia
– On Monday, Jan. 15 at about 9:49 p.m., Patrolman Jorge Vela observed a Volkswagen Jetta with a license plate light out and the driver not wearing a seatbelt. The driver exhibited signs of apprehension as Vela followed him on County Road, hitting the brakes numerous times and driving under the speed limit.
Vela conducted a motor vehicle stop on East Madison Avenue off of County Road. As the driver—a 38-year-old man from Kearny—gathered his license, registration, and proof of insurance, the officer detected the strong odor of marijuana. The driver appeared to be extremely nervous.
When asked, the driver stated he was coming from a friend’s house in Demarest and was on his way home. Vela read the driver his Miranda rights, advised the driver of the strong odor of marijuana and said that he would search the vehicle once a backup officer arrived. The driver admitted that his car did smell a lot like marijuana. He was asked if there was anything illegal in the car, but did not answer nor make eye contact. The driver, asked to be truthful, sighed and stated that he had a large amount of marijuana in the car, including in the trunk.
Backup arrived, the driver was asked to step out of his car and was searched with negative results.
A search of the vehicle yielded: marijuana, found in many backpacks in the rear seat and trunk of the car; boxes containing cylinder containers, edibles, and zip lock bags all containing marijuana; a large sum of money was found in the center console; a glass pipe, digital scale, glassine bags, mason jars, and black cylinder containers. All evidence was secured to be brought to headquarters.
The driver was placed under arrest for possession with intent to distribute five or more pounds but less than 25 pounds of a controlled dangerous substance, as well as possession of CDS over 50 grams.
The driver was taken to headquarters and his vehicle was impounded. Sgt. Luciano contacted Hon. Judge Allen Bell to notify him of the complaint and a warrant was then issued. All of the money was seized and the United States Currency Seizure Report was completed and signed by the driver. All evidence was photographed and placed into evidence, including a cell phone for further investigation. The driver was processed and brought to Bergen County Jail.
Speeding driver charged with DWI
– On Sunday, Feb. 4 at about 1:30 a.m., a Norwood patrolman stopped a vehicle for speeding while heading south on Livingston Street. While speaking with the operator of the vehicle, a 57-year-old woman from Dumont, the officer noticed the odor of an alcoholic beverage.
The driver was asked to exit the vehicle to perform several field sobriety tests, which she failed. The motorist was placed under arrest and transported to Norwood Police Department where she recorded a 0.08 percent blood alcohol content.
The motorist was issued citations for speeding, careless driving and driving while intoxicated. This matter will be heard in the Norwood Municipal Court.
Police help arrest New York car theft suspect
– Borough police officers assisted the Orangetown Police Department in stopping and arresting a suspect who was fleeing across state lines in an allegedly stolen motor vehicle. The vehicle was allegedly stolen from a lot at Dominican College in Orangeburg.
At about 6:35 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3, Patrol Officer Eugene Wilkins and Patrol Officer Jason Rothenburger assisted the Orangetown Police Department with the driver’s arrest after the vehicle was stopped at Washington Avenue North and Little Mountain Road. The driver, who at first refused to give his name but later did, is charged with possession of a stolen vehicle, obstruction of apprehension, eluding police, resisting arrest, and assaulting officers.
The driver identified himself as Rah Ralla, 19, but refused to provide an address. Bergen County Sheriff’s officers transported Ralla to Bergen County Jail and are investigating his identity. Charges are also pending in Rockland County.
BERGEN COUNTY PROSECUTOR’S OFFICE
Tallying lives lost, saved from drug overdoses
– As the nation grapples with opioid addiction (heroin to prescription pills), the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office continues to report overdose fatalities and people saved from overdoses using Narcan, an antidote drug.
The prosecutor’s office shares news of the incidents on social media using the hashtag #StopTheODs.
• On Feb. 2, BCPO announced Lodi police revived a 23-year-old man, and Dedgewater police saved a 25-year-old female using Narcan.
• On Feb. 2, BCPO announced that a 29-year-old woman died of a suspected drug overdose, the seventh overdose fatality in Bergen County in 2018.
• On Feb. 6, BCPO said a 36-year-old man from Westwood and a 43-year-old man from Lyndhurst both died from drug overdoses, the eighth and ninth people to perish in 2018.
• On Feb. 6, BCPO said Lodi, Hasbrouck Heights, North Arlington and New Milford police departments all used Narcan to save five more people, bringing the total saved to 29 in 2018.
• On Feb. 6, BCPO said Lyndhurst, Paramus and Lodi police departments all saved overdose victims using Narcan, bringing the total number of saves in 2018 to 32.
Money laundering charge for driver with ‘suspicious currency‘
– On Jan. 31, during a narcotics investigation conducted by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, a motor vehicle stop was conducted in Fort Lee on a gold Honda Odyssey.
While speaking with the driver, Michael De Castro, 22, of Philadelphia, detectives noticed a large bag of suspiciously packaged U.S. currency in the vehicle. When detectives attempted to question De Castro about the money, he attempted to conceal it under the seat. A subsequent search revealed $34,960.
De Castro was arrested and charged with one count of money laundering.
Arrests made in alleged credit card, money laundering scheme
– County authorities say three Bergen County Jail inmates used their assigned inmate commissary accounts, and those of other inmates whom they enlisted, to receive illicit funds obtained through the use of stolen personal identifying information and credit cards.
Over $30,000 of illicit funds were transmitted to the suspected accounts via an internet-based commissary account system by three non-incarcerated “co-conspirators,” Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo said in a statement.
A portion of the funds were used by the inmates and the remainder was transferred back to the co-conspirators through checks issued at the inmates’ request through the jail commissary system.
Six people were charged in the “credit card and money laundering scheme,” Calo said.