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Details of the three Hoboken employees arrested yesterday in a drug related sting by the Hudson County prosecutor’s office are:  Hoboken Fire Department Battalion Chief Henry Setkiewicz (Jersey City) top left, Hoboken police officer Ralph Gallo (10 Church Towers) pictured below, and Hoboken Parking Utility worker Monica Thorpe 
(1 Marine View), not pictured.


Hoboken has announced the suspension of all three, and at least two without pay.  (We’ll clarify shortly.)

The arrests were part of a much larger investigation, apparently its focus centered on a $35,000 a week narcotic (cocaine) distribution ring operating from the Calle Luna Restuarant in Jersey City.  The year and a half sting now totals 17 arrests, snaring Hoboken residents:  Felix Santiago III, 1 Marine View Plaza (below top) and Joseph Casiano, Jr., 70 Washington Street, Apartment 2N (below bottom).  Both are facing serious conspiracy to distribute charges.


The press release from the prosecutor detailing all 17 arrests, after the jump.
For all three Hoboken employee photos: see the Hudson Reporter.

All Photos: c/o of the Hudson County Prosecutor Office & Timothy Carroll / The Hudson Reporter.


















PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:  First Assistant Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory

DATE: Wednesday, October 7, 2009

17 CHARGED IN HUDSON COUNTY NARCOTICS INVESTIGATION INCLUDING TWO POLICE OFFICERS AND ONE FIREFIGHTER

The Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office announced criminal charges against 17 individuals for various narcotics and other criminal charges.  Three of those charged will be prosecuted federally by the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York. Among the other 14 facing State charges are a Police Officer from Jersey City, a Police Officer from Hoboken, and a Battalion Fire Chief from Hoboken.

The year and a half-long investigation was launched by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Task Force and centered on a cocaine trafficking network operating out of the Calle Luna restaurant, located on Varick Street in Jersey City. Early on in the investigation, the Prosecutor’s Task Force partnered with both the Jersey City Police Department and Drug Enforcement Administration, New Jersey Division.  Anthony Velez, Age 37, Manuel Reyes, Jr., Age 31 and Felix Santiago III, Age 34, were identified in the investigation as the alleged leaders. On September 22, 2009,  Velez, Reyes and Santiago were arrested and charged in the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, with Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute  500 grams and more of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.  Court-authorized search warrants were also executed at The “Calle Luna” Restaurant (also known as the “D. Hernandez” Restaurant) located at 356 Varick Street, Jersey City, New Jersey; 36 Perry Street, Jersey City, New Jersey; and 337 Claremont Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey.  Over 500 grams of cocaine and four firearms have been seized by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office Narcotics Task Force, the Jersey City Police Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Police believe the network distributed about $35,000 worth of cocaine per week.

On October 6, 2009, 14 other individuals were arrested or issued State criminal complaints in connection with the investigation.   Among those 14 that had State charges filed against them were Jersey City Police Officer Mark Medal and Hoboken Battalion Fire Chief Henry Setkiewicz, who were both believed to be regular cocaine customers of the network.  Medal is currently on suspension from the Jersey City Police Department.  The investigation revealed that Setkiewicz allegedly purchased the cocaine while he was on duty at a Hoboken firehouse. 

Hoboken Police Officer Ralph Gallo, Age 25, was charged with Official Misconduct and Computer-related criminal activity after he allegedly ran a law enforcement license plate in a government database as a favor for one of the targets of the investigation. Hoboken Parking Utility employee, Monica Thorpe, Age 42, was also charged with Computer-related criminal activity in a similar scheme.


The following is a list of the individuals charged thus far and their respective bails, if applicable:


1. Anthony Velez
36 Perry Street
Jersey City, New Jersey
Age 37
Federal Charge:  Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams and more of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.

2. Manuel Reyes, Jr.
337 Claremont Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey
Age 31
Federal Charge:  Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams and more of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.

3. Felix Santiago III
1 Marine View Plaza
Hoboken, New Jersey
Age 34
Federal Charge:  Conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams and more of mixtures and substances containing a detectable amount of cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 846.


4. Nirav B. Lakhani
36 Perry Street
Jersey City, New Jersey
Age 25                                     
State Charges:  Conspiracy to Distribute cocaine in an aggregate quantity of five ounces or more in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2 (second degree); Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Cocaine) in a quantity of five ounces or more in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and b(1) (first degree); Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Cocaine) while within 1000 feet of a school in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 (third degree);  and Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Cocaine) while within 500 feet of Public Property in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 (second degree).
Bail:  $400,000 cash/bond.


5. Joseph Casiano, Jr.
  70 Washington Street, Apartment 2N
Hoboken, New Jersey
Age 21
State Charge: Conspiracy to Distribute cocaine in an aggregate quantity of five ounces or more, and heroin in an aggregate quantity of less than one-half ounce in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2. (second degree).
Bail:  $150,000 cash/bond.


6. Maria Mestre
  337 Claremont Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey
Age 39
State Charge: Conspiracy to Distribute cocaine in an aggregate quantity of five ounces or more in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2 (second degree).
Bail: $125,000 cash/bond.


7. Carlos Rivera
  151 Williams Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey
Age 19
State Charges: Conspiracy to Distribute cocaine in an aggregate quantity of five ounces or more in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2 (second degree); and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon (handgun) in violation of N.J.S. 2C:39-5b (second degree).
Bail:  $150,000 cash/bond.


8. Tulio C. Lopez
185 Van Winkle Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey   
Age 51
State Charge: Conspiracy to Distribute cocaine in an aggregate quantity of five ounces or more in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2 (second degree).
Bail:  $75,000 cash/bond.


9. Will Camacho
36 Perry Street
Jersey City, New Jersey   
Age 18
State Charges: Conspiracy to Distribute cocaine in an aggregate quantity of five ounces or more in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2 (second degree); Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Cocaine) in a quantity of five ounces or more in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5a(1) and b(1) (first degree); Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Cocaine) while within 1000 feet of a school in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 (third degree);  and Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Dangerous Substance (Cocaine) while within 500 feet of Public Property in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7.1 (second degree).
Bail:  $350,000 cash/bond.


10. Carlos Burgos
152 New York Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey   
Age 32
State Charge: Conspiracy to Distribute cocaine in an aggregate quantity of five ounces or more in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2 (second degree).
Bail:  $200,000 cash.

11.           Pedro J. Torres
26 Corbin Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey
Age 49
State Charge: Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine in violation N.J.S. 2C: 5-2 (third degree).
Released on Summons Complaint


12.                                    Monica Thorpe
1 Marine View Plaza,
Hoboken, New Jersey
Age 42
State Charge: Computer Theft (computer criminal activity) in violation of N.J.S. 2C:20-25(a) (third degree).
Released on Summons Complaint

13.                                 Mark Medal
216 5th Street
Jersey City, New Jersey
Age 52
State Charge: Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine in violation N.J.S. 2C: 5-2 (third degree).
Released on Summons Complaint


14.   Henry Setkiewicz
965 Summit Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey
Age 59
State Charge: Conspiracy to Possess cocaine in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2  (third degree).
Released on Summons Complaint
 


15. Alicia Orrego
26 Corbin Avenue
Jersey City, New Jersey
Age 32
State Charge: Conspiracy to Possess cocaine in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2 (third degree).
Released on Summons Complaint

16.                                 Edward Bloncourt
723 County Avenue
Secaucus, New Jersey
Age 55
State Charge: Conspiracy to Possess Cocaine in violation of N.J.S. 2C:5-2 (third degree).
Released on Summons Complaint


17.                                   Ralph F. Gallo
10 Church Towers
Hoboken, New Jersey
Age 25
State Charge: Official Misconduct in violation of N.J.S. 2C:30-2 (second degree);  and Computer Theft (computer criminal activity) in violation of N.J.S. 2C:20-25(a) (third degree).
Released on Summons Complaint.
The first-degree State charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison and a $200,000 fine, while second-degree State charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $150,000 fine. Third-degree State charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

According to First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory, the investigation is on-going and additional arrests and charges are expected shortly.

First Assistant Gregory credited the following agencies that were instrumental in this successful investigation: the Jersey City Police Department under the leadership of Chief Thomas J. Comey; the United States Drug Enforcement Administration under the leadership of Special Agent in Charge Gerard P. McAleer; and the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York under the leadership of United States Attorney Preet Bharara.  Assistant United States Attorney Zachary Feingold will prosecute the federal case.
                       
The above charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).

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