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Lodi Teacher Indicted After Alleged DWI Leaves Bergen Police Officer Seriously Injured
Posted on August 29, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

lodi teacher bergen county dwi assault on pdFollowing an indictment issued in Bergen County Superior Court recently, a teacher at Lodi High School is facing charges including DWI, aggravated assault, and assault by auto, for allegedly causing a car accident that seriously injured a Bergen County Police Officer.

According to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, 37-year-old Michael Ettz was driving while intoxicated on Route 46 at approximately 2:00 a.m. on April 19th, when he crashed into a parked police SUV occupied by Bergen County Police Officer Daniel Breslin. The victim, who sustained injuries including a fractured skull and broken ribs, was hospitalized at Hackensack University Medical Center before returning home recently.

Mr. Ettz was not seriously injured during the accident and reportedly walked away before he was arrested. Per state documents, Ettz was convicted of his first DWI offense in Clifton in 2012 and was sentenced to a 240-day driver’s license suspension. He is now charged with a second DWI offense, as well as aggravated assault, assault by auto, and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in serious bodily injury.

Ettz pleaded “not guilty” to all of the aforementioned charges and was released from the Bergen County Jail after posting bail in the amount of $150,000. The Lodi teacher, whose employment was suspended pending the resolution of the case, could receive a lengthy prison sentence is he is ultimately convicted.

Among the offenses for which he has been charged, assault by auto, codified by N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c), is classified as a third degree crime if the defendant is driving while intoxicated during the alleged offense and the victim sustains serious bodily injury. Criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident, governed under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1, are also considered third degree crimes. Lastly, while aggravated assault charges are graded based on the circumstances of the specific case, these offenses are indictable felonies in New Jersey.

It is extremely important to note that New Jersey law imposes specific sentencing guidelines when charges for assault by auto are coupled with those for aggravated assault and criminal charges for leaving the scene of an accident. The State’s criminal code mandates that separate sentences must be imposed for each of these convictions, and in cases in which the defendant is convicted of multiple charges and receives a prison sentence for each offense, he or she is required to serve these sentences consecutively.

With this in mind, the recent indictment means that Mr. Ettz is facing a maximum term of 15 years in New Jersey State Prison.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Teacher indicted in DWI crash that left Bergen cop with traumatic brain injury, prosecutor says

Bergen County Officials Charge 2 With Prostitution-Related Offenses
Posted on August 28, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

paramus prostitution bustBergen County law enforcement authorities recently arrested a man and a woman on prostitution-related charges, following an investigation related to advertisements that were publicized through social media websites.

According to Paramus Police Deputy Chief Robert Guidetti, officials from the department, as well as a task force from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, arrested two people on the first floor of the #12 North Farview Avenue on the night of Wednesday, August 27th. Detectives reportedly coordinated the bust after multiple advertisements posted via social media sites sparked an investigation.

As a result of the recent arrests, 37-year-old Nanuet resident Mei Zhi Zheng is facing charges for promoting prostitution and hindering apprehension. In addition, 26-year-old Paramus resident Feng Qun Liu was charged with one count of prostitution.

Of the two defendants, Zheng is facing the more serious of the charges, and will be subject to more severe penalties if convicted. Although offenses involving prostitution and the promotion of prostitution are governed under the same statute (N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1), charges for promoting prostitution are classified as third degree indictable felonies, while those for prostitution alone are considered disorderly persons offenses.

In terms of the potential consequences for a defendant who is found guilty of one of the aforementioned crimes, a third degree promoting prostitution conviction is punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison. On the other hand, an individual convicted of simply engaging in prostitution is facing a maximum sentence of 6 months to be served in the county jail.

The seriousness of the alleged offenses associated with this case is reflected by the defendants’ respective bail amounts, which were determined by presiding Paramus Municipal Court Judge Joseph Mecca. While Mr. Zheng’s bail was set at $25,000, including a 10% option, Ms. Liu was released on her own recognizance. Further, Ms. Liu’s case will be tried at the municipal court-level, while Mr. Zheng’s will be adjudicated in the Bergen County Superior Court.

Man Facing Serious Drug Charges after Rochelle Park Traffic Stop
Posted on August 27, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

rochelle park traffic stop drug chargesA routine traffic stop in Rochelle Park recently resulted in serious drug charges involving crack cocaine, marijuana, and MDMA. The driver, a man from North Bergen, was arrested for numerous alleged offenses, including possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute.

According to Detective James DePreta of the Rochelle Park Police Department, 35-year-old North Bergen resident Miguel Ortiz III was initially stopped while driving his Toyota Corolla at approximately 11:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 26th. Officer Jared Shatkin reportedly witnessed Ortiz fail to signal before making a turn, at which time he followed Ortiz into a parking lot.

When the officer approached the vehicle, he allegedly smelled marijuana. He also reported noticing a bag containing what appeared to be marijuana located on the driver’s seat when he removed Ortiz from the car. Investigators from the Bergen County Sheriff’s K9 unit were then called to the scene.

While conducting a search of the vehicle, officials reportedly discovered 87 bags of crack cocaine, 7 bags of marijuana, and 5 units of MDMA (also known as Molly). Ortiz was then taken into custody and charged with multiple counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, failure to make lawful disposition of CDS, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The defendant is currently being held at the Bergen County Jail, with his bail set at $97,500. Among the crimes for which he is accused, those for possession of CDS with intent to distribute are the most serious and could result in severe penalties if Ortiz is convicted. For example, in New Jersey, offenses involving the possession of cocaine with intent to distribute are addressed in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5 and can be considered first, second, or third degree crimes.

The degree of the aforementioned charges is determined based on the amount of the substance involved in the alleged crime. Specifically, offenses involving 5 ounces of cocaine or more are classified as first degree crimes, punishable by a prison sentence ranging from 10 to 20 years. These charges also entail a mandatory-minimum term. On the other hand, second degree charges pertain to offenses involving quantities between one-half of an ounce and five ounces and are subject to a 5 to 10-year term of incarceration upon conviction.

Although the exact quantity of the cocaine in this case remains unknown, the bail amount set for Ortiz indicates the seriousness of his alleged offenses.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Rochelle Park stop turns up crack, pot, Molly

 

After Bergen County DWI Conviction Appeal, Judge Reduces Sentence
Posted on August 26, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

nj dui appealIn a recent case in Bergen County, a man was unsuccessful in seeking to have his DWI conviction overturned; however, the presiding judge did decide to reduce his sentence after reviewing the case.

The defendant, Pyong Chun Hwang, was initially arrested by an officer from the Edgewater Police Department on October 29, 2013 after consuming alcohol at the Crowne Plaza in Palisades Park. According to testimony from a friend of Hwang who was present on the night in question, he had called a car service on Hwang’s behalf after determining that Hwang was not in a condition to operate a vehicle.

Hwang admitted during his trial in Edgewater Municipal Court on April 24th that he did not have a clear recollection of the sequence of events; however, witnesses said that he left Crowne Plaza riding in the passenger side of his truck, with another individual driving the car. After falling asleep, the defendant says that he was awakened 16 minutes later and thought he had been kidnapped. Hwang testified to struggling with the driver, at which time he or she allegedly drove into the parking lot of a Chase Bank and fled the scene.

Edgewater Detective Sergeant Steve Tibus reportedly witnessed Hwang urinating by the side of his pickup truck after initially noticing him driving alone on River Road. Sergeant Tibus also said that he saw the same car drive over the curb while entering the parking lot of a Chase Bank at approximately 9:30 p.m, where Hwang was arrested.

Although the circumstances of the incident remain unclear, Hwang was ultimately convicted of driving while intoxicated, with a reported blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.21%. Due to the fact that this was his first DWI offense, he was sentenced to a 1-year driver’s license suspension, as well as a mandatory ignition interlock device to be installed in his vehicle for a period of 1 year upon license restoration.

Superior Court Judge James J. Guida, who recently reviewed the case in Bergen County Superior Court, stated that Hwang’s account of the events was not believable, ultimately deciding not to overturn the conviction. However, Judge Guida did reduce Hwang’s license suspension from 1 year to 7 months, as well as the required period for the ignition interlock from 1 year to 6 months. The Judge deemed this a reasonable sentence for a first DWI offense.

Considering the facts of the case, Hwang was initially charged with what is classified as a second-tier DWI first offense. According to N.J.S.A. 39:4-50, first offenses for DWI are divided into two categories: those involving a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of between 0.08% (the legal limit) and 0.10%, and those involving a BAC over 0.10%.

The penalties associated with a second-tier offense (BAC over 0.10%) include a maximum 1-year license suspension and up to 1 year mandatory ignition interlock device. With this in mind, Hwang was initially sentenced to the maximum penalties applicable to these charges. Judge Guida’s decision altered this significantly, ultimately sentencing Hwang to the minimum terms detailed under this statute.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: DWI conviction upheld for Edgewater man who said he thought he’d been kidnapped

Driver Accused of Causing GWB Car Accident Facing Assault Charges, Among Others
Posted on August 25, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

gwb aggravated assault on pdA man accused of causing a car accident and subsequently assaulting a Port Authority police officer, is now facing charges for aggravated assault on a police officer, assault by auto, resisting arrest, and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury.

According to Joe Pentangelo, a spokesperson for the Port Authority Police Department, 56-year-old Princeton resident Scott Parsons was arrested on the George Washington Bridge on Sunday, August 24th after allegedly causing an accident at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Parsons, who was driving a pickup truck at the time, reportedly crashed into a Chrysler containing two young girls before exiting his vehicle, climbing atop the other car, and kicking it. The cause of the incident remains unknown; however, law enforcement officials say that Parsons was extremely agitated when they arrived on the scene. In fact, he also is accused of attempting to climb over the barrier and assaulting one of the arresting officers, kicking and biting him while resisting his arrest.

Although no serious injuries occurred as a result of the accident and the alleged incident that followed, Parsons, the officer, and the two girls who were passengers in the Chrysler received medical treatment. Parsons is now charged with a number of significant criminal offenses, with multiple felony-level charges against him.

Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b, aggravated assault offenses can be classified as second, third, or fourth degree crimes, depending on the degree of injury sustained by the alleged victim, the identity of said victim, and the presence of a weapon during the commission of the alleged offense. Notably, what would typically constitute a simple assault charge, which is considered a lesser offense in New Jersey and involves less severe penalties, can be elevated to aggravated assault when the alleged victim is a law enforcement officer.

Charges for assault by auto (vehicular assault), the details of which are provided in N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(c), are also indictable felonies under New Jersey law. The degree of these charges are contingent upon the details of the alleged events, including the intent of the driver charged with causing the collision, the nature of the injuries sustained by the victim, and if the driver was intoxicated, driving recklessly, or attempting to elude police before the alleged incident occurred.

For more information regarding this case, access the following article: Road-rage driver jumps on hood after crash, bites cop on GWB, police say

Englewood Police Arrest Man for Allegedly Stabbing His Housemate
Posted on August 22, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

englewood stabbingc aseA man nearly lost his life after being stabbed in the heart at his Englewood home recently and authorities have arrested a fellow resident, who is believed to be responsible for the stabbing. The defendant is now facing charges for attempted murder as well as multiple weapons offenses in connection with the incident.

According to Detective Captain Timothy Torell of the Englewood Police Department, 23-year-old Jose Wilbur Hernandez, who is originally from El Salvador, was taken into custody shortly after police responded to a call received at 12:40 a.m. on Thursday, August 21st. Per reports, the 27-year-old victim, a resident of 242 West Palisade Avenue in Englewood, had been stabbed in the heart and was in critical condition when officers arrived at the scene.

Emergency medical personnel managed to stabilize the victim, who was subsequently transported to Hackensack University Medical Center and remains in critical condition. Police believe he was stabbed during a dispute with Hernandez; however, the cause of the argument has not been disclosed.

Hernandez was arrested near the house soon after on charges for attempted murder, unlawful possession of a weapon, and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. He was being held at the Bergen County Jail, with his bail set at $500,000 and is facing extremely severe penalties if convicted.

The weapon involved in this case has been identified as a knife that was recovered at the scene. In New Jersey, unlawful possession of a weapon offenses are governed under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5, which delineates the degree of the charges associated with specific weapons. According to this statute, knives are classified as “other weapons” under subsection (d) and these violations are considered fourth degree crimes.

Charges involving possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose are codified in N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4, and are also divided into categories based on the weapon involved in the alleged crime. Notably, possession of a knife for an unlawful purpose is classified as a third degree crime, which warrants increased penalties when compared with a crime of the fourth degree.

While these weapons charges may result in a prison sentence if Hernandez is found guilty, the most serious crime for which he is accused is obviously attempted murder. Not only will he be subject to a term of incarceration ranging from 10 to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison if convicted, he will also be facing deportation upon completion of his sentence, as he is not a legal resident of the United States.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Englewood police ID suspect in stabbing attack

 

Garfield Man With Criminal Past Arrested for Elmwood Park Armed Robbery
Posted on August 21, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

elmwood park armed robbery heroin addictAfter being hospitalized for a drug overdose, a Garfield man was arrested for allegedly committing an armed robbery at a convenience store in Elmwood Park recently. He is now facing charges including robbery and weapons offenses, and is reportedly connected to a number of other open cases in New Jersey.

Garfield resident Ariel Drapczynksi, who was treated for a heroin overdose at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson this weekend, is believed to have robbed the Seven Days convenience store, located in the 700 block of Boulevard in Elmwood Park. An employee at the store notified police  on Friday, August 15th after an individual wearing a motor cycle helmet entered the store and threatened her with a gun, before fleeing the scene with money and cigarettes.

Police confirmed the incident after viewing surveillance from the store. They subsequently released an image of the suspect to the public and received a number of calls providing information. As a result of the investigation, a warrant was issued for Drapczynksi’s arrest and he was taken into custody by detectives from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, as well as officers from the Garfield and Elmwood Park Police Departments, on Tuesday, August 19th. He was then transported to the Bergen County Jail, where he was being held on $150,000 bail.

Drapczynksi is now facing charges for robbery and weapons offenses, including a “certain persons” violation, which applies to convicted felons who are prohibited from possessing firearms under New Jersey law. Additionally, robbery is considered a first degree crime if committed while in possession of a firearm or other deadly weapon, per the dictates of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1. This is the most serious classification of offense in New Jersey, punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 10 to 20 years, 85% of which must be served before the possibility of parole.

According to authorities, Drapczynski is also a suspect in another open robbery case in Wanaque and there are pending charges against him in Garfield as well. In addition, a warrant was issued for his arrest in Bergen County when he failed to appear for a sentencing hearing related to a third-degree drug charge approximately two months ago.

Considering the defendant’s criminal record, which includes at least one prior felony conviction for aggravated assault, as well as parole and probation violations, and the seriousness of the crimes for which he has most recently been accused, he could be facing a lengthy term in prison if he is ultimately found guilty.

For more information regarding this case, access the following article: Heroin-addicted Garfield ex-con caught, charged with Elmwood Park convenience store robbery

Former Employees of Paramus Car Dealership Charged with Theft, Fraud Crimes
Posted on August 20, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

paramus car dealership theft chargesTwo former employees of a Paramus car dealership have been charged with a variety of theft and fraud crimes including theft by deception, forgery, and receiving stolen property, after allegedly stealing funds from the dealership’s clientele.

According to Kenneth Ehrenberg, the chief of the Paramus Police Department, authorities initially arrested 44-year-old Clifton resident Steven Amato and 43-year-old East Orange resident Robert Scott in June. The arrests followed an ongoing investigation prompted by complaints received from customers of the Hyundai dealership in Paramus.

These customers reportedly discovered differences between their initial sales contracts with the dealership and those provided to their lending companies, noting the absence of down payments, as well as forged signatures in these documents. Authorities have attributed the alterations to actions committed by Amato and Scott, who are accused of stealing customer down payments between 2011 and 2014.

Specifically, Amato has been charged with theft by deception, forgery, and computer criminal activity. He was released from the Bergen County Jail after posting bail in the amount of $75,000. Scott is facing charges for receiving stolen property and was released on $2,500 bail.

Under New Jersey law, both theft by deception and receiving stolen property charges are graded based on the alleged amount associated with these offenses. For example, if the alleged amount falls between $500 and $75,000, the defendant will be charged with a third degree felony, while a crime involving an amount exceeding $75,000 is considered a felony of the second degree.

The degree of the charges against a defendant significantly impacts the potential penalties associated with a conviction. For example, third degree crimes in New Jersey are punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison. On the other hand, a second degree felony conviction can result in a lengthier prison sentence of between 5 and 10 years.

In addition, third degree charges entail a presumption of non-incarceration, which may allow a defendant with no prior criminal record to avoid serving time in jail. Conversely, those charged with second degree crimes are not entitled to this option, as these charges are associated with a presumption of incarceration.

Paramus Police are continuing to investigate this case with the cooperation of the dealership. They have requested that any other individuals who believe they may have also been victimized notify Detective Doug Ohlendorf of the Paramus Department at 201-262-3400 ext. 403 or dohlendorf@paramuspolice.org.

For more information regarding this case, access the following article: Paramus car dealership employees stole down payments from customers, police say

 

Ongoing Debate over Armored Vehicles for Bergen County Law Enforcement
Posted on August 19, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

mrap vehicleIn an ongoing debate, Bergen County officials are drawing up sides with regard to the acquisition of armored vehicles, which have been made available to the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office through the Department of Defense.

Bergen County Sheriff Michael Saudino originally requested these resources, specifically known as mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAP’s, with the support of Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli. Sheriff Saudino has made clear that these vehicles will be utilized during emergency situations, such as natural disasters, and will not contain weaponry. Further, Molinelli said in a statement that the vehicles are being provided free of charge and thus, Bergen County should be obliged to accept them.

On the other side of this issue, New Jersey’s American Civil Liberties Union has argued that the acquisition of these vehicles may lead to increased incidences of violence, in addition to posing a threat to citizens’ civil liberties. Notably, Molinelli criticized the escalating violence between protesters and law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Missouri, which ensued after a police officer shot an unarmed 18-year-old.

Although Molinelli said he does not condone the military-like tactics employed by authorities in Ferguson, which included the use of armored vehicles, Bergen County officials have assured residents that the new MRAP’s are not intended for these purposes. Overall, the use of force by police has become a serious issue facing American society, garnering significant backlash in recent months. The way in which this question will ultimately be addressed in Bergen County remains to be seen.

For more information pertaing to this matter, access the following article: Prosecutor backs armored vehicles in Bergen, despite Ferguson backlash

Lodi Man Indicted for Alleged Sexual Assault in Paramus
Posted on August 18, 2014 by Travis Tormey | 0 Comments

lodi man charged with sexual assault in paramusA Lodi man was recently indicted in Bergen County in connection with the sexual assault of a female victim, which allegedly occurred in a parking lot located off of Route 17 in Paramus.

According to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, 39-year-old Lodi resident Akram G. Tadros, who is originally from Egypt, is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old woman in January. The assault allegedly occurred in vehicle parked in a parking lot on Route 17 in Paramus, not far from the restaurant where Tadros was employed at the time.

The victim contacted authorities about the alleged incident and Tadros was taken into custody by detectives from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office’s Special Victims Unit and officers from the Paramus Police Department shortly thereafter. He was being held at the Bergen County Jail with bail set at $200,000 but was released after posting said amount on January 23rd.

The indictment against Tadros now charges him with multiple counts of sexual assault, as well as criminal restraint, both of which are indictable felonies in New Jersey. Of these offenses, sexual assault is considered more serious, as it is classified as a second degree crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2b and N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2c.

Specifically, a sexual assault conviction warrants penalties including a term of incarceration, mandatory sex offender registration under Megan’s Law, and lifelong community supervision. With regard to the prison sentence associated with these charges, a defendant can be sentenced to serve between 5 and 10 years in New Jersey State Prison, with a period of parole ineligibility equal to 85% of the sentence imposed, as mandated by the No Early Release Act (“NERA”).

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Indictment says Lodi man restrained, sexually assaulted woman in car near Paramus restaurant