Union County Sheriff’s Officers Arrest Fugitive Wanted Since 2008

Acting Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan announced today the capture of a longtime fugitive wanted by the Sheriff’s Office since 2008.

Sheriff’s Officers arrested Charles Riccio in the early hours Thursday morning in East Rutherford.

Riccio, 37, had been on the run since failing to appear for an arraignment 6 years ago after he was charged with computer theft by access in Elizabeth. He is accused of manipulating purchase receipts while he was the store manage at Value Furniture Mattress Warehouse during 2007 and 2008 and pocketing $36,000 in cash payments.

Sheriff’s Officers located Riccio by acting on a tip he had recently returned to New Jersey from Las Vegas. He was taken into custody without incident.

Acting Sheriff Cryan noted that Riccio has other New Jersey warrants in Hudson and Ocean Counties. He was booked into the Union County Jail without bail.

The Acting Sheriff credited Officers Richard Hugelmeyer and George Gyure and Sgt. Carlo Caparruva with making the arrest.


Freeholder Board Invites Community to Sept. 11 Memorial Next Week at Echo Lake Park, Mountainside in Recognition of Union County Residents Who Perished

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders would like to invite members of the community to honor the memory of the 60 Union County residents who perished in the 9/11 attacks by visiting the Union County September 11th Memorial next Thursday, Sept. 11th from the morning hours until 9 p.m. at Echo Lake Park in Mountainside.

Members of the Union County Prosecutor’s Office and Union County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with other law enforcement members throughout the County will provide a uniformed Honor Guard standing watch at the memorial and the public will be able to light candles in memory of those lost in the attacks.

“The Union County September 11th Memorial serves as a place of reverence for those who tragically perished and where we can bring the community together in a reflective setting to mark this day,” said Freeholder Chairman Christopher Hudak.

The Union County memorial honors those lost in the attacks using design elements that include two girders from the World Trade Center arranged within a five sided area representing the Pentagon, and an Eternal Flame representing those who died in Pennsylvania. The Flame also honors members of the Armed Services and emergency responders.

In addition to these elements, the names of the 60 deceased Union County residents are etched into the memorial.

Dedicated on Sept. 13, 2003 the memorial was constructed through private donations including in-kind work by labor unions and materials at cost.

The Freeholder Board worked with residents of Cranford, Elizabeth, Kenilworth, Linden, Mountainside, Rahway, Scotch Plains, Summit, Union and Westfield in planning and building the Memorial.

It is located near the Springfield Avenue entrance of Echo Lake Park on the border of Mountainside and Springfield.

For additional information on the Union County September 11th Memorial, or information on visitation hours, contact the Union County Office of Public Information at 877-424-1234 or visit online


September 11th is a National Day of Service and Remembrance

By Joseph Cryan

As we pause on the sad anniversary marking the horrific events on September 11, 2001, we remember the innocent victims and the heroes who perished that day.

We remember these fallen Americans and honor them in different ways. Some will pay a respectful, somber visit to lower Manhattan. Other people will attend a service in their home towns at a local memorial dedicated to those who died in the terror attacks. And for some it will be a quiet day of prayer and reflection.

September 11th is a National Day of Service and Remembrance. On the anniversary of the attacks, Americans should unite in service in the same remarkable way that so many came together following the attacks.

This is time and opportunity to volunteer in our communities and support and honor veterans, soldiers, military families and first responders.

Donating blood is a perfect example of service, giving back and pitching in just as thousands of Americans did in the days and weeks after the terror attacks.

Also, don’t forget our first responders. Many made the ultimate sacrifice that day and today all our firefighters, police officers and emergency service workers continue to strive to keep us safe. This includes the members of our armed forces. They deserve our thanks and support.

This September 11th reach out and be active in your community in honor of those Americans we lost that day and remember their families and the people who work to protect us every day.

We must never forget.

Joseph Cryan is the Acting Union County Sheriff.


Union County Sheriff’s Youth Academy Class Graduate

More than 100 teens recently graduated from the Union County Sheriff’s Youth Academy, a program designed to familiarize young people with the role of a police officer. Also, it operates similar to an actual police academy for teens interested in law enforcement.

“The Youth Academy aims to teach our kids about law enforcement and it is a great first step for those interested in the field,” Acting Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan said. “And from what I heard from these fine young women and men, we succeeded in all of our goals in this program.”

Acting Sheriff Cryan also thanked the officers from the various law enforcement agencies that participated in the program including, but not limited to, the Elizabeth Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, the Union County Police Department and the Union County Corrections.

“Along with all the effort from our Sheriff’s Officers, I’m grateful to all in law enforcement who supported this effort,” said Acting Sheriff Cryan.

Acting Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan congratulates (from left) Tamilore Fashae of Piscataway, Justyna Augustyn of Union, Tamiah Holmes of Elizabeth and Tyson Dukes of Elizabeth on receiving the Sheriff Froehlich Memorial Perseverance Award during the graduation ceremony for the Union County Sheriff’s Youth Academy held at Union County College in Cranford.

Participants in the Youth Academy received hands-on experience in a wide variety of emergency services and law enforcement functions and training.  In addition, youths have the opportunity to learn respect for law enforcement through positive interaction during their time in the program.

“Showing them the human element of law enforcement helps our young people connect with officers in a way they never thought they could,” the Acting Sheriff added.

The Sheriff’s Youth Academy is not a ‘boot camp’ for troubled youth. In order to enroll in the program, the youngsters must have a minimum GPA of 2.70 (B- average), letters of reference and write an essay explaining why the student would like to attend the Youth Academy.

During the two-week program, the teens engaged in a physical training regime twice a day while attending lectures on subjects such as crime scene investigations, K-9 and motor vehicle stops. They also received visits from representatives from the U.S. Army, New Jersey State Police and the F.B.I, the Kenilworth Police Department and the Kean University Police Department.

The Youth Academy also involved class trips to the Union County SWAT Range, the Union County Jail, the Elizabeth Police Department and the Union County Police Department.


New Undersheriff Sworn In

Union County Freeholders Vernell Wright and Bruce Bergen congratulate newly sworn-in Undersheriff Michael Frank of the Union County Sheriff’s Office during a ceremony in Elizabeth. Undersheriff Frank is a 27-year veteran of the UCSO who most recently served as a captain in the Administrative Division. As Undersheriff, he will oversee the Courts Division, the Complex Division, UCSO Security Guards and the Identification Bureau/Crime Scene Unit. (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)


Back to School Safety Reminder

As summer vacations come to an end and students return to school throughout the county, Acting Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan would like to remind residents to take extra care when driving as the roads become busier.

Drivers will again be sharing the streets with school buses and children walking and bicycling to and from school.

“Driving safely requires a person’s constant attention to the road and to everyone and everything outside of the car,” Acting Sheriff Cryan said. “A lack of attention or a distraction could be deadly.”

School buses will again be part of the morning commute and on the streets each afternoon. It is important to obey the law for the safety of children when buses are picking up or dropping off students.

School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm are signals to motorists that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus. Traffic in both directions is required to stop when the red lights are flashing on the bus.

Also, drivers should never pass a school bus. It is illegal and could have tragic consequences.

Children are unpredictable and often take risks, ignore hazards or fail to look both ways when crossing the street.

“Drivers need to be alert at all times. Don’t talk on a cell phone while driving and, more importantly, never text while behind the wheel,” the Acting Sheriff said. “Red lights are not a time to check emails or texts. A distracted driver can lead to accidents at any time, even coming out of a stop.”

Parents of teenagers who drive to school need to reinforce the rules of the road with the young drivers, especially about never texting while driving. They should set a good example with their own good driving habits. Teens learn to drive by watching their parents.

Texting while driving is not the only hazard when it comes to digital devices. Distracted walking can also be dangerous. Students should not text and walk, especially when crossing or walking in the street. Parents with children who walk to school need to remind their kids about the basics of pedestrian safety.

“If everyone, drivers and students, keep aware of their surroundings and pay attention, the new school year can be a safer one,” Acting Sheriff Cryan added.

For more back-to-school safety information, visit the National Safety Council website


Union County Undersheriff Detrolio Retires

Acting Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan (R) thanks Undersheriff Vincent Detrolio for his 36 years of dedicated service to the County of Union and wishes him well on his retirement. (Photo by Jim Lowney/County of Union)


Celebrate National Senior Citizens Day on August 21

As we continue to enjoy the days of summer busy with vacations and visits to the beach, thoughts are already turning to the kids going back to school and Labor Day.

But there is another important holiday this month we need to remember and celebrate.

August 21 is National Senior Citizens Day when we honor the achievements and accomplishments of older Americans everywhere.

There are more than 40 million senior citizens living in the United States today, and that number continues to grow. People are living longer than ever before and many senior citizens are proving that it isn’t about the years in your life but the life in your years.

President Ronald Reagan created National Senior Citizens Day in 1988 when he put forth a proclamation recognizing the establishment of a new national holiday. It is now celebrated with special events at senior and community centers across the country

We should all something do something special on the day. Giving back to our parents, grandparents and older neighbors is so important. We would not be here without the foundation they built for us and we should let them know they are appreciated.

There are many simple yet valuable ways to celebrate National Senior Citizens Day. Pick up the phone and call an older friend or loved one just to say hello. Pay a visit to your local veterans or senior citizens center. If you able, volunteer at a local nursing home.

Also, encourage your children and their friends to get involved and mark the day with a visit to the grandparents or an older neighbor.

Senior Citizens Day is an opportunity to acknowledge the long-term contribution and dedication of older people, and to ensure that we’re doing our best to give something back to older people.

The wellbeing and happiness of our senior citizens should be a priority and that’s why National Senior Citizens Day is so important.

Let’s us take the time to celebrate the older Americans in our lives. We wouldn’t be where were are today without them.

Joseph Cryan is the Acting Union County Sheriff.


Freeholder Board Honor Union County Undersheriff Vincent Detrolio

Union County Freeholder Chairman Christopher Hudak and the entire Freeholder Board present Union County Undersheriff Vincent Detrolio with a resolution thanking him for his 36 years of dedicated service to the County of Union and wish him well on his retirement


Union County Sheriff’s Officers Arrest Man Wanted in Stabbing

Members of the Union County Sheriff’s Fugitive Unit have apprehended a man wanted for allegedly stabbing a Union resident, acting Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan announced today.

A few days before Christmas last year the suspect, Todgie Smith, was reportedly playing cards with the victim in his Ohio Street residence when the men began fighting over the game. During the altercation Smith grabbed a 6-inch kitchen knife and stabbed the victim several times before fleeing, according the police report made at the time.

The victim survived the wounds.

Smith, 34, who was allegedly homeless before living with the victim for several months, had been on the run ever since. He was wanted on charges of aggravated assault, unlawful possession of weapons and possession of weapons for unlawful purpose.

Officers from the Sheriff’s Fugitive Unit recently tracked Smith to an address in Irvington where he was located and taken in custody without incident yesterday. He was transported to the Union County Jail.

“These officers did an outstanding job of finding and capturing a dangerous man and getting him off the street,” acting Sheriff Cryan said.