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Man Arrested After Alleged Assault in Garfield Parking Lot
Posted on October 1, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

garfield agg. assault with knifeOfficers from the Garfield Police Department recently arrested a man who is now facing assault and weapons charges, after a female victim was injured during an alleged incident involving a knife.

According to Garfield Police Captain Darren Sucorowski, authorities were notified of a dispute between a man and a woman, which allegedly occurred in a parking lot located on Dolphine Parkway in Garfield just days ago.

Responding officers at the scene questioned the injured woman, who reported that her attacker hit her in the face multiple times and threatened her while holding a knife to her neck.

Upon further investigation, police arrested 23-year-old Fair Lawn resident Christopher Alia, charging him with aggravated assault, simple assault, and multiple weapons offenses. The specific weapons offenses for which Alia may have been charged include unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He remains in custody at the Bergen County Jail, with his bail set at $75,000 bail.

With regard to the alleged assault crimes, aggravated assault charges are considerably more serious than simple assault charges and as such, are addressed at the Superior Court in the county in which the alleged offense occurred. Governed under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b, aggravated assault can be graded as a second, third, or fourth degree crime, per the circumstances of the specific case. As a result, those convicted may be subject to state prison sentences ranging from 18 months (fourth degree) to 10 years (second degree).

Charges for simple assault, on the other hand, are handled at the municipal court level and are punishable by a maximum of 6 months to be served in the county jail. However, certain eligible defendants charged with these offenses may be eligible for acceptance into a diversionary program known as the Conditional Dismissal Program in Municipal Court. As its name indicates, those who successfully complete the program during a probationary period are able to achieve the dismissal of the charges and thus, to a avoid a charge on their criminal record.

Additional information pertaining to this case can be accessed through the following link: Fair Lawn man beat up woman, held knife to her neck, Garfield cops say

Convicted Sex Offender to Enter Treatment Facility in Lieu of Prison Sentence
Posted on September 30, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

bergen county superior courtA man from Leonia recently accepted a plea agreement from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office which will allow him to enter an in-patient facility for sex offender treatment in lieu of a state prison sentence.

The defendant, 19-year-old Leonia resident Darius E. Levine, spent over a year in jail pending the resolution of his case.  On Monday, September 29th, he was transported to an undisclosed facility where he is to receive psychological counseling under 24-hour supervision. Days earlier, Levine pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual assault in Bergen County Superior Court after reaching an agreement with prosecutors.

This case dates back to a 2013 incident at the Leonia firehouse involving a 3-year-old boy. The defendant was initially arrested in June of 2013, following a coordinated investigation conducted by officers from the Leonia Police Department as well as detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit. The victim’s father notified authorities of the incident after being informed by his son.

Per the terms of Levine’s plea agreement, he will be sentenced to a 5-year term of incarceration, which will be suspended, provided that he is receiving treatment in the aforementioned facility. The mandatory period during which Levine will be in residence at the facility is contingent upon his response to treatment; however, it cannot extend beyond the 5 years.

Levine’s specific treatment program, progress, etc. will be subject to judicial review two times per year after his sentencing on January 16th. If, for some reason, he chooses to exit the facility without the court’s consent, he could be required to complete his sentence in New Jersey State Prison.

Upon completion of his sentence, Levine will be subject to additional penalties, as second-degree sexual assault crimes are among those governed by New Jersey’s Megan’s Law. Sexual assault offenses, which are are addressed by N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2b and N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2c, are punishable by a 5 to 10-year prison term, 85% of which must be served before parole eligibility, per the No Early Release Act (“NERA”).

In addition, Megan’s Law requirements for those convicted of sexual assault in New Jersey include: registration as a sex offender, a psychosexual evaluation (also known as an “Avenel evaluation”), and life-long community supervision.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Leonia man, 19, to receive treatment as sexual offender in firehouse molestation

Man to be Deported After Prison Sentence in Edgewater Heroin Distribution Case
Posted on September 29, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

edgewater heroin distribution conviction sentencingA man was recently sentenced in Bergen County Superior Court in connection with a case out of Edgewater involving charges for heroin possession, heroin distribution, conspiracy, and money laundering. Due to the defendant’s current immigration status as a Columbian national, he will face deportation upon completion of his prison sentence.

Law enforcement officials initiated this investigation after a routine traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, which ultimately led to a large-scale search and seizure operation executed at the Edgewater residence of one of the defendants. Police discovered two kilograms of heroin, as well as $34,950 in cash during the search, subsequently arresting three men believed to be involved.

66-year-old Hoover Rodriguez, 49-year-old Miguel Angel Guzman-Nieves,  and Guzman-Nieves’ son, 26-year-old Jonathan Antistian Jackson were all indicted on the aforementioned charges as a result of the drug bust.

Of the three defendants, Miguel Angel Guzman-Nieves, now 50, was sentenced to a 10-year term of incarceration in New Jersey State Prison on Friday, September 27th. The time he has already served in jail, which amounts to 569 days, will be credited toward this sentence, and he will be subject to deportation following his release.

Charges for heroin distribution are considered very serious according to N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. The level of these charges can range from third to first degree crimes based on the amount of the substance allegedly involved in the specific case. In terms of the accusations against Guzman-Nieves, he was likely charged with first-degree heroin distribution, as the amount of heroin seized during the search exceeded 5 ounces.

For additional information regarding this case, access the following article: Heroin trafficker could face deportation months into 10-year prison term, report says

Attorney General’s Directive Alters NJ Gun Charge Sentencing Protocol
Posted on September 26, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

Gun And ConstitutionNew Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman recently issued a directive clarifying State law with regard to weapons charges issued against gun owners who obtain permits from other states.

New Jersey continues to be enthralled in a debate involving the acknowledgement of out-of-state gun permits, as individuals traveling in this state with firearms legally-obtained in other states can currently be subject to criminal charges. In addition, since these offenses are governed under New Jersey’s Graves Act, these charges undoubtedly result in a prison sentence for those convicted.

Cases of this kind are common in New Jersey and often result in severe consequences for unsuspecting visitors. However, the Attorney General’s statement will significantly impact current State protocol in prosecuting these individuals, with the potential to alleviate the previously dire consequences.

The directive comes on the heels of a case involving a mother from Pennsylvania who was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon for a gun that she legally owned in her home state. Philadelphia resident Shaneen Allen’s case garnered public scrutiny after she was charged in Atlantic County for a gun that she legally owned in Pennsylvania. With no prior criminal record, this mother would have been subject to a mandatory-minimum term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison if she was found guilty.

Following the Attorney General’s announcement, Allen was accepted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, a diversionary program available to eligible defendants tried in superior courts throughout the state. Pre-Trial Intervention, often called “PTI,” is essentially a probationary period during which the defendant must comply with the conditions of the program and avoid any further criminal charges. Upon successful completion of PTI, the underlying charges are dismissed.

PTI was previously restricted to those charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, as these offenses are among those subject to the stringent sentencing guidelines of the Graves Act. However, the recent announcement grants consideration for PTI to defendants who meet specific criteria and will potentially alter the fates of many individuals charged in similar cases throughout New Jersey.

According to the Attorney General, prosecutors will be now be expected to give PTI enrollment consideration under the following circumstances: the defendant is an out-of-state resident, has no previous criminal record, lawfully owns the gun in another state, notifies law enforcement of their possession of the firearm, has no knowledge of New Jersey’s limitations regarding guns, and otherwise believes that he or she is in compliance with the law.

In his statement, Attorney General Hoffman explained:

“While ignorance of the law is not a defense, prosecutors certainly may consider whether a defendant made an honest mistake in determining the level of defendant’s culpability for purposes of sentencing. In the absence of case-specific aggravating circumstances, these defendants should not be sentenced to incarceration.”

Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the Attorney General, discussed the implications of the aforementioned directive, stating that it will lead to the reconsideration of between 50 and 100 similar cases statewide. Further, this new interpretation of the law will serve to transform the prosecution of countless New Jersey gun cases in the future.

Additional information pertaining to this matter is available through the following link: How Philadelphia woman’s N.J. gun case could affect up to 100 similar cases

Former Paramus School Employees Take Sex Crimes Case to NJ Supreme Court
Posted on September 25, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

paramus catholic sex caseTwo defendants who were indicted in Bergen County for sex crimes including sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, submitted an appeal to justices at the New Jersey Supreme Court, to whom they presented arguments recently.

This case stems from a 25-count indictment issued against the two men for sexual offenses involving four of the defendants’ students that allegedly occurred while the group was on a school trip in Germany.

The two accused, Michael Sumulikoski and Artur Sopel, are former employees of Paramus Catholic High School and were originally charged after the alleged incidents occurred in February of 2011. Sumulikoski was 31 at the time and serving as an assistant football coach and substitute teacher at the school. Sopel, then 28, was employed as the school’s vice president of operations. The alleged victims in the case were 17 when the alleged events occurred.

Attorneys for the defendants initially argued for the dismissal of the charges before a New Jersey Appellate Court in June of 2013, at which time the panel ruled that there were grounds to proceed with prosecution in Bergen County. Following the Appellate decision, the defendants took their case to the State Supreme Court, where it is currently being heard.

On Wednesday, September 24th, defense attorneys submitted arguments to dismiss the charges against their clients, based primarily on two elements. The first involves whether the supervisory roles of the defendants apply if no conduct occurred prior to the trip. The second argument is founded upon the legal limitations of territorial jurisdiction, which defense counsel says prohibits the prosecution of defendants in New Jersey for alleged crimes committed outside of the state.

The central question is whether criminal conduct includes the events that precede it, as the defense claims that no planning or conspiracy to commit the alleged acts occurred prior to the supposed events in Germany. Conversely, Deputy Attorney General Brian Uzdavinis and Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor David A. Malfitano argue that the defendants’ consent to serve as chaperones for the trip occurred in New Jersey and that the subsequent events may never have taken place had they not made this initial decision.

Notably, Mr. Uzdavinis stated: “what happens in Germany stays in Germany” is “legally indefensible and morally reprehensible.” He also claimed that a ruling in favor of the defendants “Would create another chapter in sexual predatory history.”

Regardless of the outcome in this case, the determination made by these Superior Court Justices will set a legal precedent for future cases, spelling significant implications for defendants charged under similar circumstances in the State.

For more information regarding this matter, access the following article: N.J. Supreme Court hears arguments in Paramus Catholic sex case

Defendant Facing a Host of Charges in Various Bergen County Towns
Posted on September 24, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

homeless man with many charges in different townsA currently homeless former resident of Washington Township with a lengthy criminal history has been charged with a multitude of theft, drug, and weapons offenses in jurisdictions throughout Bergen County.

Law enforcement officials in Hackensack, Elmwood Park, Mahwah, Rochelle Park, Ho-Ho-Kus and Washington Township have reported arrests concerning the same man: 27-year-old Joseph Lisanti. Most recently, Lisanti was indicted by a Bergen County grand jury on a total of five charges, including burglary and armed robbery, in connection with an alleged incident that occurred at a Ho-Ho-Kus residence on April 14, 2012.

Records reveal that Lisanti has been arrested and subsequently released after posting bail numerous times over the course of the last two years. In addition to the aforementioned Bergen County indictment, the defendant has also been charged with burglary, drug, and weapons offenses in a variety of Bergen County municipalities. Among these alleged offenses, he is accused of heroin possession and possession of a hypodermic needle in Hackensack, as well as a burglary crime in Mahwah.

Considering Lisanti’s criminal background and the host of current charges against him, he may receive considerably harsher sentences if he is ultimately found guilty in any number of these cases. New Jersey statute N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1 provides an extensive list of “aggravating factors,” which a presiding judge will consider prior to issuing a sentence in a particular case.

Some of the criteria listed as “aggravating factors” according to this law include: the risk that the defendant will commit another offense, the extent of the defendant’s prior criminal record (if any) and the seriousness of the offenses for which he or she has been convicted, as well as the need for deterring the defendant from further violations of the law. Clearly, all of these factors will affect the sentences imposed in cases that result in Lisanti’s conviction.

For more information regarding this defendant, visit the following web page: Homeless burglar indicted in Ho-Ho-Kus break-in

Counterfeit Currency Case in Mahwah Leads to Theft, Fraud Charges for Three
Posted on September 23, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

mahwah counterfeit currency caseThree men were recently arrested for theft and fraud-related offenses, after officials from the Mahwah Police Department were notified that a local restaurant had received counterfeit currency from a group of patrons.

According to Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli, the incident occurred at a pizzeria located on Franklin Turnpike at approximately 8:15 p.m. on Monday, September 22nd. The owner of the establishment contacted police when three men exited the restaurant after supplying one of its employees with fraudulent bills.

Responding officers at the scene questioned the owner and soon located the vehicle in which the suspects were believed to be traveling at a CVS pharmacy in the vicinity of the restaurant. 27-year-old Christopher A. Moore, the supposed driver, as well as his two passengers, 28-year-old Bryan Guillermo and 29-year-old Youraj Baljit were taken into custody following a search of the vehicle.

Officers said they first received consent to search the car, at which time they discovered 10 counterfeit $100 bills, in addition to $2,000 in valid currency, suspected to be an accumulation of change received from different stores after a series of purchases. A number of recently purchased items were also found in the vehicle, prompting further investigation.

Mahwah officials subsequently identified two other individuals whom the three defendants allegedly encountered in recent days. One man reported exchanging five $20 bills for what turned out to be a counterfeit $100 bill with another customer at a local Dunkin Donuts. In addition, when consulting other businesses in the area, police spoke with an employee at a liquor store who said he sent three men away when they attempted to pay him with a fake $100.

As a result, the three defendants have been charged with theft by deception and criminal simulation. With regard to criminal simulation offenses, N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2 provides the following:

“A person commits a crime of the fourth degree if, with purpose to defraud anyone or with knowledge that he is facilitating a fraud to be perpetrated by anyone, he makes, alters or utters any object so that it appears to have value because of antiquity, rarity, source, or authorship which it does not possess.”

Fourth degree crimes are considered indictable felonies in New Jersey, entailing a New Jersey State Prison sentence of up to 18 months for those convicted. It is also important to note that both theft by deception and criminal simulation offenses are considered “crimes of moral turpitude.” As a result, defendants found guilty of these crimes may also face consequences related to their immigration status if they are not current citizens.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Mahwah police catch three with counterfeit $100 bills

Man Allegedly Robs 2 Victims With Knife During Supposed Sneaker Sale in Wyckoff
Posted on September 22, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

wyckoff armed robbery sneakersAfter a potential Internet-generated transaction involving sneakers resulted in the armed robbery of two young men in Wyckoff, one man has been charged with armed robbery and multiple weapons offenses.

According to Benjamin Fox, the Chief of the Wyckoff Police Department, 22-year-old Paterson resident Steven Cardona was recently identified as the suspect who robbed two teenage boys with a knife during a would-be sneaker sale generated through Facebook in August.

Per reports, two local 13-year-olds had scheduled to meet Cardona in the parking lot of Cedar Hill Shopping Center, at which time they believed he would be purchasing a pair of Air Jordan sneakers from them for $360. The victims had posted an advertisement for the sneakers on Facebook, to which Cardona allegedly responded.

After setting-up a meeting to purchase the sneakers, officials say Cardona arrived at the scene, threatened the boys with a knife, and fled with the sneakers. A detailed investigation involving computer forensic technology tied Cardona to the fraudulent sale arrangement and soon after, to the robbery itself. He is now under investigation in several other open cases involving robberies committed under similar circumstances in Bridgewater, Clifton, and Closter.

With regard to the aforementioned case, Cardona has been charged with robbery, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He is currently being held in the Bergen County Jail, with his set at $100,000.

The charges against Cardona could spell severe consequences if he is ultimately convicted, particularly for the alleged armed robbery. In New Jersey, robbery offenses are classified as first degree crimes under N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 if the actor is armed with, uses, or threatens the use a deadly weapon during the commission of the offense. First degree charges are considered the most serious under the New Jersey Criminal Code and are punishable by a state prison sentence ranging from 10 to 20 years.

In addition, Cardona is also facing a mandatory-minimum term of incarceration during which he will be ineligible for parole, as robbery crimes are subject to the sentencing guidelines mandated by the No Early Release Act. This act, also known as “NERA,” requires a defendant to serve 85% of the prison sentence imposed before becoming eligible for parole.

For more information related to this incident, access the following article: Paterson man robbed Wyckoff teens at knifepoint in Facebook sneaker deal, police say

Mahwah Man Charged with DUI & Assault by Auto, Bicyclist in Critical Condition
Posted on September 19, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

mahwah dui assault by autoA man from Mahwah is facing charges for driving under the influence as well as assault by auto, following a recent accident during which he allegedly crashed his vehicle into a man riding a bicycle.

According to officials from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office and the Chief James Batelli of the Mahwah Police Department, 64-year-old Mahwah resident Thomas Rinaldi is accused of driving a Dodge Ram truck while under the influence of alcohol or drugs on September 9th, at which time he struck a male victim riding a bicycle. Mahwah Police were notified of the accident at approximately 4:37 p.m. and immediately responded to the scene at the intersection of Ramapo Valley Road and North Railroad Avenue.

The bicyclist, 62-year-old Francisco Perez, was reportedly traveling home from his work prior to the incident. He sustained a significant head injury and was transported to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson in critical condition.

Officers at the scene subsequently questioned Rinaldi and conducted field sobriety tests, ultimately concluding that he was under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Rinaldi was then arrested and issued a blood test to determine whether he was indeed under the influence, and if so, the particular substance involved. Authorities have indicated that they expect to receive the results of the toxicology analysis within six weeks.

In the meantime, Rinaldi has been charged with driving under the influence and assault by auto. He was released after posting the 10% option included in his $25,000 bail amount. With regard to the potential consequences to which he may be subject if he is found guilty in this case, assault by auto is considered a very serious crime in New Jersey, particularly in cases in which the defendant is accused of driving under the influence and the victim sustains serious bodily injury as a result of the accident.

N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c) specifies: “Assault by auto or vessel is a crime of the third degree if the person drives the vehicle while in violation of 39:4-50 or 39:4-50.4a and serious bodily injury results.” (39:4-50 and 39:4-50.4a govern offenses for driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence). In addition to the penalties associated with these driving violations, which are contingent upon the circumstances of the specific case, Rinaldi could also be sentenced to a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison if convicted of the criminal charge for assault by auto.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Mahwah man arrested after truck hits bicyclist

Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Announce Drug Charges Against Officer
Posted on September 18, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

palisades int. parkway policeThe Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Department just announced the arrest of one of its officers for cocaine possession and prescription drug charges. According to Police Chief Michael Coppola, the arrest occurred two months ago, but this information was not disclosed due to an ongoing internal affairs investigation.

In a statement published through the department’s website on Wednesday, September 17th, officials notified the public of the arrest of Palisades Interstate Parkway Police Officer Lee Frazzano, who served the department for three years prior to the recent charges. Frazzano was reportedly arrested on July 16th, at which time he was suspended without pay.

According to Chief Coppola, the investigation of Frazzano was compelled by a tip provided to the internal affairs unit. Frazzano was subsequently subject to a Reasonable Suspicion Drug Test and supplementary investigation revealed that he was in possession of both cocaine and oxycodone. Authorities have not revealed the particulars of the case, as they have yet to conclude the criminal and internal affairs investigations.

Ultimately, Frazzano will appear in court on September 24th to face these charges, and he could be facing a variety of negative consequences if he is ultimately found guilty. In addition to losing his job, Frazzano could be sentenced to a term of incarceration and ordered to pay hefty fines. In addition, he will be left with a charge on his criminal record.

There are multiple potential outcomes in Frazzano’s case. For example, he could be found guilty, the charges could be dismissed, he could accept a plea agreement and plead guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for a reduced sentence, or he could be enrolled in a diversionary program like PTI (if he has been charged with indictable offenses) or Conditional Discharge (if he has been charged with disorderly persons offenses). Depending on the resolution, Frazzano may be eligible to expunge any record of his arrest and the underlying charges against him, following a waiting period mandated by New Jersey Law.

If the charges are ultimately dismissed, Frazzano will be immediately eligible for an expungement, which, if approved, will eliminate any evidence related to this case. However, it is important to note that an expungement will not prevent law enforcement agencies from accessing his criminal record if he attempts to apply for a job in law enforcement in the future, as the two exceptions associated with expungements apply to those seeking employment in law enforcement or the judicial branch of government.

For more information, view the following article: PIP police officer arrested for cocaine, oxycodone possession, chief says