Bloods Member Arrested in Connection with Sept. 2010 Plainfield Homicide

A member of the Bloods street gang charged in the September 2010 shooting death of a Plainfield, NJ taxi driver surrendered to authorities over the weekend, announced Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Jonathan Morgan, aka “J-Rummy” was indicted in April for the death of Isidro Leonardo, a taxi driver. According to the investigation, around 5:50 a.m. on Tuesday, September 28, 2010 the victim was discovered in the driver’s seat of his taxi on the 200 Block of Spooner Avenue, said Romankow. Leonardo, 44 of Plainfield was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center in New Brunswick in grave condition. He was pronounced dead about six hours later, said Romankow.

The Union County Homicide Task Force worked closely with the Plainfield Police Department on the investigation.

A second defendant, Wallace Parrish of Plainfield was previously charged and arrested on October 02, 2010 and remains in custody. Both defendants are Blood gang members of the Sex, money murder sect.

Morgan’s bail was set at $750,000 by Judge Stuart Peim, said Romankow.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


Plainfield Woman Charged in Baby’s Death

A Plainfield woman is charged with 2nd Degree unlawfully disturbing, moving or concealing human remains, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:22-1(a)(1), said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Sylvia Rosana Lopez was charged after she gave birth inside her West Front Street apatment.

The woman had called for EMS complaining of Labdominal pain” at 144a.m. And an ambulance did not arrive at the house until 40 minutes later, said Romankow.

Upon their arrival, the woman had given birth to a full-term child, and had attempted to secret the baby in a knotted plastic garbage bag.

The results from an autopsy performed this morning are pending and additional charges may be filed.

The mother was taken to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

Lopez will make a court appearance in the coming days.

This remains an active investigation. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.


Teen Pleads Guilty in Skate 22 Shooting

The teenager charged in the December 26, 2008 homicide outside of Skate 22 in Union Township plead guilty in Superior Court this morning, announced Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Jaquan Bell DOB: 7/13/1992 pled guilty to manslaughter in the death of Jean D’Haiti, said Romankow.

Nearly 700 people had gathered at Skate 22 for a Christmas night party that was heavily promoted on websites like Myspace, said Romankow. The party which drew people between the ages of 13 and 25 was scheduled to go from 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. but ended early due to numerous fights that broke out inside the rink, said Romankow.

According to the investigation, around Midnight a fight between two groups of teenagers escalated, shots were fired and Jean D’Haiti, 16, of Elizabeth was struck and died at the scene at 12:29 a.m.

In an appearance before Union County Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim, Bell acknowledged that while a rival group was chasing him and others, he fired several shots from a handgun in the direction of his pursuers.

The victim died after being struck by a bullet fired from Bell’s handgun, said Romankow.

Bell was arrested on March 4, 2009 at his school around and was waived to adult court in May 2009.

Bell faces 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on October 14, 2011.


Elizabeth Man Convicted of Aggravated Sexual Assault

A Union County Jury convicted an Elizabeth man earlier today on two counts of 1st Degree aggravated sexual assault and two counts of 1st Degree robbery, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Jamal Coley DOB: 11/4/1969 faces life in prison when he is sentenced on September 30, 2011 before Judge Robert J. Mega said Assistant Prosecutor Michael Cleaver who prosecuted the case.

According to the investigation, on August 2, 2009, Coley, a registered sex offender, was on Union Avenue in Elizabeth when he approached a pickup truck containing a man and a woman. He robbed the man at gunpoint and then forced the woman into a nearby alley where he proceeded rob and rape her at gunpoint, said Cleaver.

Elizabeth Police Department Officers on routine patrol, noticed activity in the alley and discovered the woman being sexually assaulted. Officers Joseph Pevonis and Michael Carreto arrested Coley at the scene.

The jury convicted Coley after four-day trial and one day of deliberation. They also convicted him of 2nd Degree sexual assault and unlawful possession of a handgun.


Authorities Investigating Plainfield Homicide

The Union County Homicide Task Force and the Plainfield Police Department continue to investigate the homicide of a city man discovered on Sunday afternoon.

Officers were called to a residence on the 1300 block of West Front Street, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow. Inside they discovered the victim who appeared to have been deceased for several days. An autopsy conducted on Monday concluded that the manner of death was homicide.

Given the nature of the victim’s injuries authorities worked for several days to gain a positive identification. This afternoon, after using tattoos to identify the victim he was identified as Julio Matute DOB 1/24/1983 of Plainfield.

This case remains under investigation and no arrests have been made. Anyone with information is eligible for an up to $5,000 reward by calling Union County Crimestoppers at 908-654-TIPS or online at


Arrest made in Elizabeth Homicide

The Union County Homicide Task Force is currently investigating the beating death of a man that happened overnight in Elizabeth, said Prosecutor Theodore Romankow.

The homicide happened at 229 Broad Street Elizabeth (Royal Fried Chicken). According to the investigation, a physical altercation occurred inside the establishment between two male individuals. The fight continued onto the side walk where the suspect proceeded to beat victim to death. Victim was pronounced 3:23am and is identified as Donald Vankline (dob 9/11/67), suspect is identified as Mikel Anderson (4/22/65) and is currently in jail. Elizabeth Police Officers located suspect several minutes after the incident and made the arrest.

Anderson was charged with the murder and Judge Peim set the bail at $700,000.

Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.


Pizza Manager Convicted of Forgery and Theft

The 44-year-old manager of Primo Pizza & Grill in Woodbridge was convicted last week of forgery, theft by deception and two counts of identity theft after a jury trial before Judge Miriam Span in Elizabeth, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Last Thursday afternoon, a jury found that John Melchionna, a former Linden resident, had stolen over $30,000 from The Hamilton Group, a finance company in upstate New York. At the time, Melchionna and a friend were running a car carrier business out of Linden, said Assistant Prosecutor Ann Rubin who prosecuted the case.

Using the friend’s identity without his knowledge, Melchionna sold The Hamilton Group phony invoices for trucking services his company, Primo Auto Reflections, had never performed, said Rubin. Melchionna forged his friend’s name on the application for the financing agreement and the financing contract and pretended to be his friend during telephone conversations with the finance company’s owners.

The scheme was discovered when The Hamilton Group’s president contacted the company whose name was listed on the invoices and learned the invoices were fraudulent. Melchionna then tried to blame the fraud on the friend whose identity he stole, secretly tape recording one of their conversations to make it seem that the friend was responsible for committing the crimes, said Rubin.

During closing arguments, the assistant prosecutor compared the two men saying the friend “worked with his hands” while Melchionna “worked with his scams.”

According to Rubin, Melchionna kept most of the money he stole using the rest to repay other people to whom he owed money.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 26, 2011 before Judge Span.


Task Force Investigating Plainfield Shooting

The Union County Homicide Task Force and the Plainfield Police Department are investigating a shooting that gravely injured a Piscataway man in the early morning hours of April 27, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

According to the investigation Ricci Askew DOB: 5/21/1967 was inside a store located at 1348 West 3rd Street in Plainfield around 12:50a.m. when a gunman fired into the store from the doorway, said Romankow.

Askew was gravely injured in the shooting and transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Medical Center where he remains on life support. No arrests have been made.

This remains an active investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact Union County Crime Stoppers. A reward of up to $5,000 is available for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or people responsible for the shooting of Mr. Askew. Crime Stoppers may be reached via telephone at (908) 654-TIPS or through the Crime Stopper’s website,


Prosecutors Investigating Union Township Shooting Incident

The Union County Prosecutor’s Office is investigating a police involved shooting at 1853 Manor Dr. Union Township, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

So far the investigation has revealed that while on routine patrol this afternoon a uniformed member of the Union Township Police Department located a stolen car occupied by several suspects, said Romankow.

As he attempted to confront the suspects they began to flee the scene, dragging the officer along the road.

The officer fired his service weapon strinking one of the suspects.Both the officer and suspect were taken to local hospitals and are listed in stable condition, said Romankow.

This remains an active investigation and charges are pending against the suspects, said Romankow. As a matter of policy, the Prosecutor’s Office investigates whenever an officer fires a weapon while in the line of duty.

Additional information, including the officer’s name will be released when it becomes available.


Union Township Man Found Guilty

Last week a Union County Jury convicted a Union Township man for attempted burglary and unlawful possession of a weapon, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Following the jury trial, Andre Dawson DOB: 7/21/1989 was found guilty of receiving stolen property during a bench trial before Judge Joseph P. Perfilio, said Assistant Prosecutor Peter L. Benza who prosecuted the case. Dawson then pled guilty to a separate weapons charge.

Dawson was arrested on December 17, 2009 in Elizabeth after neighbors noticed him entering yards on Lincoln Avenue and casing various homes, said Benza. Police were called and they confronted Dawson a block away from where he was seen by the witnesses and he was found to have a knife and a number of pieces of jewelry on his person.

Dawson faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 29, 2011.