Task Force Investigating Rahway Homicide

The Union County Homicide Task Force is investigating the shooting death of a man that occurred on Monday, announced Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Rahway police were summoned to 311Wilson Ave. around 5 a.m. on Monday where they found the victim, Pierrelious Betchly DOB: 9/10/1970, suffering from gunshot wounds. He was transported to University Hospital where he died from his injuries around 2:50p.m. on Monday.

This remains an active investigation by the Homicide Task Force and the Rahway Police Department, said Romankow. No arrests have been made and detectives are working to identify a motive for the shooting. Additional information will be released when it becomes available.

Anyone with information relating to the case is asked to Detective Bradley at (908) 527-4125.


Sanitation Worker Pleads Guilty

A sanitation worker from Rahway, N.J. pled guilty last week after an investigation revealed that he was taking money from a resident on his route, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Over the course of several months, Jeremy Direnzo DOB: 11/6/1985, who was employed by the Rahway public works department, refused to remove garbage unless a resident on his route paid him cash, said Assistant Prosecutor Bart East who prosecuted the case.

The removal of the resident’s trash was part of Direnzo’s job responsibilities and he should not have asked for additional payments, said East.

The payments were brought to the attention of the Rahway Police Department in November 2010 after a resident came forward with information about the payments.

Direnzo was charged with 3rd Degree Accepting an Unlawful Benefit by Public Servant for Official Behavior. Under the terms of the plea, Direnzo had to forfeit his job with Rahway and will be sentenced to a probationary term on May 20, 2011.


Edison Man faces up to Life in Prison for Armed Robbery


Last Friday a Union County jury convicted an Edison, N.J. Man of 1st degree armed robbery, 2nd degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and 3rd degree unlawful possession of a weapon, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Darrell Blount DOB: 10/26/1976 faces life in prison when he is sentenced, said Assistant Prosecutor Colleen Ruppert who prosecuted the case.

According to the investigation on April 21, 2007 Blount entered Andy’s Twin Boro Liquor Store on Chestnut Street in Roselle Park, N.J. and pulled out a simulated handgun and demanded money. The clerk in the store activated a silent alarm, summoning police.

While in the store, Blount heard a police radio behind the counter alerting officers to the robbery in progress, said Ruppert. Blount fled the store, with the clerk giving chase and copying Blount’s license plate number and make and model of the car.

Police tracked the car to Edison and arrested Blount an hour after the robbery. Inside the car officers found clothes that Blount was wearing during the robbery, as described by the victim, as well as the replica handgun, said Ruppert.

The jury verdict came after a month-long trial before Superior Court Robert J. Mega. Blount is being held in the Union County Jail and will be sentenced on May 27, 2011.


Man found guilty in beating death

An Elizabeth man was found guilty today on a charge of 2nd reckless manslaughter in the beating death of 28-year-old man that occurred in 2006, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Following a three-week trial before Union County Superior Court Judge Scott J. Moynihan, a jury found Nadhir Dixon guilty on Friday afternoon. According to the investigation, on August 18, 2006 Dixon was part of a group that – following an initial altercation – beat Rhykime Richardson, 28, to death in Elizabeth.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutors Bruce Holmes and Jamel K. Semper.

Following a two-year investigation, Dixon was arrested in June 2008. Another man, Maurice Brack, was found guilty of murder in the death of Richardson last year. He remains in jail pending sentencing.

Dixon’s brother, Bizhante Dixon, pled guilty to a similar charge relating to the death of Richardson.

Nadhir Dixon faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in May 20, 2011.


Bloods member convicted in Elizabeth Homicide


A confirmed member of the Bloods Street Gang was found guilty today of a 2005 homicide that occurred in the city of Elizabeth, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Tyrell Jackson, 24, of New York, was found guilty of murder and weapon offences for the May 9, 2005 shooting death of Dana Reid, said Assistant Prosecutor Caroline Lawlor who prosecuted the case. According to the investigation, Reid was shot several times as he walked along Madison Avenue in Elizabeth. Jackson was arrested in December 2009 in Queens, New York, said Lawlor.

His arrest was the result of the formation of the Union County Homicide Task Force in late 2008. In addition to investigating current homicides in the county, the Task Force routinely investigates so-called “cold cases.” Detective Michael Manochio was instrumental in reviving the case and locating Jackson.

Jackson was convicted following a four-week trial before Union County Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on May 20, 2011.


Father and Son Arrested in Connection with Recent Plainfield Homicide

Members of the Union County Homicide Task Force arrested a father and son in connection with the January 17, 2011 stabbing death of a Plainfield man, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Following an investigation with the Plainfield Police Department, the Task Force arrested Pablo Garcia, 49 and his son Rodvin Garcia, 19, shortly after 8:00 p.m. Wednesday evening in Dutchess County, New York, said Romankow.

Pablo Garcia is charged in the death of 19-year-old Jose Feliciano Garcia Toj, a native of Guatemala who was discovered in a basement apartment at 318 E. Front St., in Plainfield on January 17. Rodvin Garcia is charged with hindering his father’s apprehension, said Romankow.

The arrests occurred in the hamlet of Dover Plains, N.Y. and were made with the assistance from the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Department, said Romankow.

According to the investigation, Pablo Garcia shared the apartment with the victim. He is being held on $3 million bail. Rodvin Garcia is being held on $100,000 bail, said Romankow. Both are being held at the Dutchess County jail pending extradition.

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


Middlesex County Man Convicted of Sexual Assault Against a Minor

A Middlesex County man was convicted yesterday of sexual assault against a minor, said Union County Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Jose Tavera (DOB: 11/6/71) of Sewaren, N.J. was found guilty following a trial in Union County Superior Court, said Assistant Prosecutor Melissa A. Spagnoli who prosecuted the case. Tavera was found guilty of 2nd degree Sexual Assault, 2nd Attempted Sexual Assault and 3rd degree Endangering the Welfare of A Child.

According to the investigation, Tavera assaulted the child of his girlfriend while the mother was at work. The assaults occurred between Sept. 2007 and Sept. 2009, said Spagnoli. The abuse was reported by the victim shortly after the mother and Tavera ended their relationship. The abuse took place in Union County when the victim was less than 13-years-old, said Spagnoli.

Following the verdict Tavera was remanded to the Union County Jail and faces up to 25 years in prison when sentenced on May 20, 2011 before Union County Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Perfilio.


Elizabeth Man Arrested in Texas

An Elizabeth man charged with 1st Degree Aggravated Sexual Assault against a minor was arrested in Houston, Tex. Wednesday afternoon by the United States Marshals Service, said Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow.

Roberto Villalta DOB: 10/18/1968 is charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl inside an Elizabeth apartment between May 2009 and December 2010, said Romankow. Villalta fled the area upon learning that the sexual assault had been reported by the victim.

He will be extradited to New Jersey where he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

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


Roselle Mayor Indicted for Insurance Fraud

View PDF for a copy of the Indictment

Mayor Garrett Smith of Roselle, N.J. was indicted by a Union County Grand Jury this afternoon on one count of 2nd Degree Insurance Fraud, announced Prosecutor Theodore J. Romankow. Smith has also been charged with one count of 4th Degree Filing a False Police Report.

Smith, DOB: 9/25/1961, of Jackson Avenue in Roselle is accused of leaving the scene of an accident that occurred on Locust Ave in Roselle in the early morning hours of Dec. 25, 2010. The accident severely damaged both a parked car and Smith’s vehicle. Pieces of Smith’s vehicle – a 2001 Lincoln Town Car – were left at the scene, said Romankow.

A copy of the indictment is attached to this press release.

Investigators also obtained videos from private businesses showing Smith leaving a local tavern at 2:10 a.m. on Dec. 25, 2010 a short distance from where the accident occurred, said Romankow.

Officers who responded to a 2:14 a.m. 9-1-1 call from a private citizen who witnessed the collision, followed a trail of automotive fluids that led to a garage door at Smith’s home, said Romankow.

Officers knocked on the door to Smith’s home but received no reply.

The following day, Dec. 26, 2010, according to prosecutors, Smith moved his car onto the street during the massive snowstorm. Smith later called police to report that his vehicle had been struck, alleging that it might have been a snowplow that caused the damage.

Smith subsequently notified his insurance company, New Jersey Manufactures Insurance Company, and reported the fraudulent claim. He would have several additional conversations with the insurance company regarding the fraudulent claim in the following days.

An investigation by the Union County Prosecutor’s Office Special Prosecutions Unit, the Roselle Police Department, the crime scene unit of the Union County Sheriff’s Department and an accident reconstruction unit from the Linden Police Department concluded that Smith was responsible for the initial accident and that his claims to the insurance company were false. Assistant Prosecutor James Tansey will handle the case.

Prosecutor Romankow commended Sgt. William Brennan and other members of the Roselle Police Department for their diligent and thorough investigation.

If found guilty of the charges Smith faces up to 10 years in prison and will be ineligible to hold public employment in the future.

“Nothing is accomplished by trying to cover up a wrongdoing,” said Prosecutor Romankow. “Mr. Smith had the opportunity to do the right thing from the beginning by stopping and reporting that he was involved in an accident. He only compounded his error by lying to the police and his insurance carrier by falsifying a claim. As a public servant, the people who elected him deserve the truth.”

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


Latin King Member Sentenced to 50 Years

A confirmed high-ranking member of the Latin Kings street gang was sentenced today to 50 years in state prison, said First Assistant Union County Prosecutor Albert Cernadas, Jr.

Francisco Demoscoso (DOB 04/24/74) of Plainfield was found guilty in September 2010 for 1st degree attempted murder, 2nd degree aggravated assault and various weapons offenses.

According to the investigation, Demoscoso and fellow gang member Jorge Acosta attacked a Plainfield man outside the Chez Marie nightclub in the early morning hours of January 26, 2008, said Assistant Prosecutor Joshua McMahon who prosecuted the case.

Following the assault, the victim fled the scene, only to be chased down in the area of Park Avenue and North Avenue by Demoscoso and Acosta. Demoscoso repeatedly stabbed the victim, leaving him for dead on the street corner.

An alert Good Samaritan approached the victim, who pleaded with him to “don’t let me die,” and flagged down a nearby police vehicle, said McMahon. After being airlifted to Robert Wood Johnson hospital and extensive trauma surgery, the victim eventually regained consciousness and survived.

Demoscoso, a high-ranking member of the Latin Kings street gang, and his co-defendant, Jorge Acosta (DOB 06/06/87), also a member of the Latin Kings, were arrested in 2009 following an extensive collaborative investigation between the Plainfield Police Department and Union County Prosecutor’s Office, said McMahon.

At sentencing on Tuesday morning Union County Superior Court Judge Joseph P. Perfilio said the public needed to be protected from Demoscoso because he is a “danger to society.”