Crime & Safety Local News

REWARD: $5,000 Offered To Help Capture Little Falls Bank Robbers

A $5,000 reward was offered Wednesday for help catching two masked men who robbed a Valley National Bank in Little Falls at gunpoint last Thursday.

One of the robbers held a handgun while the other went behind the counter at the at Main Street bank and removed money from the tellers’ drawers, authorities said.

Responders told Daily Voice the robbers then herded employees into the vault and took more cash.

Although authorities wouldn’t say how much the robbers got, it was believed to be substantial given their methods — which drew the attention of the FBI.

Both are Hispanic — possibly Dominican or Puerto Rican, authorities said Wednesday.

The gunman was described as 5-foot-9, with a medium build and wearing a dark-colored scarf around face, blue jeans, a black colored ‘Champion’ sweatshirt and black or gray shoes with white soles. The weapon was a black and silver semi-automatic handgun, the FBI and Little Falls police said.

The second bandit was described as 5-foot-7, also with a medium build and wearing a dark-colored scarf around his face, along with beige or gray pants, a black-colored peacoat-style jacket and black and red shoes. He was carrying a black-colored backpack, authorities said.

Anyone with information that can help them catch the robbers is asked to either:

  • call Little Falls police: (973) 256-0200;
  • leave a tip at (973) 256-2411;
  • email;
  • go to

Tipsters can remain anonymous.

RECOGNIZE THEM? Burglars broke into a Hackensack office building and stole $40,000 worth of collectible coins and a painting worth several thousand dollars, said police who released a surveillance video Wednesday.

Crime & Safety State News

Hoboken Woman Arrested For Embezzling Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars From Non-Profit

NEWARK, N.J. – A Hudson County, New Jersey, woman was arrested today for allegedly embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing affordable housing to residents of Englewood, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Yezenia Castillo, 44, of Hoboken, New Jersey, is charged by complaint with four counts of wire fraud. She is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph A. Dickson in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

From May 2015 to August 2016 Castillo used her position as the accountant for the non-profit company to issue unauthorized checks made payable to herself or entities she controlled. She forged the signature of the president of the company’s board of directors on those checks, representing to the company that the payments were for legitimate business expenses, including tax payments to be made on behalf of the company. A review of bank records during this period did not identify tax payments made by Castillo to the IRS or the State of New Jersey on behalf of the company.

The counts of wire fraud each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gross gain or loss from the offense.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of the Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Christina Scaringi, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark, with the investigation leading to today’s charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vijay Dewan and Sammi Malek of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Crime & Safety Local News

Paterson Police Raid: Two Loaded Guns, 161 Heroin Folds, 175 Cocaine Vials, Five Arrests

Paterson drug detectives responding to citizen complaints seized two guns, 161 heroin folds, 175 cocaine vials and more than a half-pound of pot while arresting two accused dealers during a raid, authorities said Tuesday.

Anthony Davis, 24, of Paterson, and ex-con Tyquawon Davis, 35, of East Orange, were charged with a variety of weapon and drug offenses, Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.

These included the elder Davis being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.

Seized were a 9mm Taurus Millennium G2 handgun loaded with 21 rounds and a .45-caliber Colt rail gun loaded with eight rounds, along with the drugs, which also included 25 Xanax tablets, Speziale said.

Police also found a high-capacity magazine, for which the Davises were also charged, and seized $1,521 in drug proceeds, the director said.

Also arrested in the raid were a trio of buyers – two from Paterson and one Ramsey, he said.

Local News

Passaic Sheriff: Detectives Nab Garfield Account Executive With 1½ Kilos Of Heroin, Fentanyl

A Garfield businesswoman wasn’t lying when she told Passaic County sheriff’s detectives who’d been tailing her that she was carrying “something illegal” in a large shopping bag.

Turns out it was more than five pounds of heroin and fentanyl, Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik said.

Drug investigators acting on a tip Monday night went to Belmont Avenue in Paterson, where they saw Yakania Polanco park and get out of a white BMW carrying a large blue and white shopping bag, Berdnik said.

When they stopped her and asked what was in the bag, the sheriff said, Polanco, a 33-year-old strategic account executive, responded, “something illegal.”

“For their safety, detectives opened the bag, which revealed…2.4 kilograms of suspected heroin and fentanyl inside of several vacuum-sealed bags and sandwich-type bags, along with a scale and glassine envelopes commonly used to package [drugs for sale],” he said.

The estimated street value, he said, was $160,000.

Polanco was charged with various drug possession counts and sent to the Passaic County Jail to await a detention hearing.


Prosecutor: Clifton Man Threatened New Paterson Police Chief Over His Race, Religion

UPDATE: Paterson’s first Muslim police chief wasn’t in the job long when he became the target of texted threats from a 28-year-old Clifton man because of what authorities said Monday are his race, religion and nationality.

Stefan Keco was arrested and charged after being identified by Paterson detectives following the threats to Police Chief Ibrahim “Mike” Baycora, Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale Jr. said.

Keco “sent threatening text messages to Chief Baycora with the purpose to intimidate him because of the chief’s religion, race and national origin,” Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia Valdes said Monday.

He remained held Monday at the Passaic County Jail pending a detention hearing Wednesday in Central Judicial Processing Court in Paterson.

This past Friday’s arrest came amid a City Council debate over whether to allow mosques and other places of worship to amplify prayer calls.

Keco “made threats to harm the chief, which caused a disruption to the day to day operations of the police department,” Speziale said. “He also made threats towards City Hall, causing the police department to institute security measures for both facilities.”

The FBI, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and other law enforcement agencies assisted in the investigation, which ended with Keco charged with two counts of threats and bias intimidation.

“Our new police chief has a very demanding job and the last thing he needs is his life threatened,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said.

Baycora was sworn to the position on Feb. 4.


Sensational Schneider Shut Out Anaheim Ducks in 3-0 New Jersey Devils Win

As the New Jersey Devils played (and lost) in Los Angeles last night, Cory Schneider was the appropriate choice to start tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. Since his return to the New Jersey roster, Schneider has been great. It has been just two appearances but you cannot knock just three goals allowed in two games. Schneider was even better tonight. He was locked in from the get-go and stopped all 34 shots the Ducks placed on net. Schneider shut out Anaheim as the Devils end their games against California teams this season with a 3-0 victory.

Much of what has plagued Schneider earlier this season and in past seasons was not present tonight. He made no real mistakes handling the puck on his stick. He was not guessing very much in the crease. He did not try to overcompensate with a hard push to one side when a play went that way, with one notable exception in the third period. His glove was well placed. His rebound control was quite good. This was very much a vintage Schneider performance whereupon he demonstrated how good he could be. Outside of one opportunity, he was not going to be beaten tonight. And on that one opportunity, Jack Hughes denied Rickard Rakell an empty net attempt after Schneider slid out of the crease from a Getzlaf deke. But that was the only time Schneider was out of control. All other times, he was very much in control of the game.

Schneider also faced a variety of shots. As the game went on and the Ducks became more desperate, they tilted the ice more and more against the Devils. Unlike previous games last month (or all season), this was somewhat expected as opposed to a result of just inept play. Even so, Schneider came up big on several opportunities. A blocked shot yielded a breakaway for Ryan Getzlaf in the second period; Schneider tracked him and denied him on a shot deflected high. A one-on-one for Rakell after Damon Severson was picked at his blueline also in the second period led to Schneider following Rakell and forcing his shot wide. Just before Josh Jacobs was whistled for a high sticking penalty, Jakob Silfverberg set up Christian Djoos for a shot in traffic and Schneider robbed him with the glove. During said penalty kill, Schneider stayed calm and collected when chaos happened on his doorstep amid a rebound. Schneider stopped the routine shots, the open chances, and everything in between. He was sensational. I was pleased to see it.

I was also pleased with how the Devils carried themselves in this game. As opposed to previous efforts in the past few weeks where the goalie had to stand on his head because the skaters were not going to help him, the Devils skaters offered support. They battled Ducks for pucks many times and forced several turnovers. They never really stopped attacking until the final ten minutes or so, which helped lighten some of the pressure. While the on-ice attempt differentials for much of the Devils were not good by the end of regulation, there were fewer horrible miscues than usual. Their special teams really helped them out. They converted their first two power play goals; both from great zone entries and passes by Jesper Bratt to Pavel Zacha for the finish. They killed back-to-back penalties and even scored – Nico Hischier tipping in a Connor Carrick shot – right after the second one ended. This was not like previous games where the goalie stood on his head and the Devils got fortunate a few times to score. No, they played a competitive game and earned this win.

As I noted on Friday, the schedule is going to get much harder from here on out. To that end, I am happy the Devils were able to put in this kind of performance and support their goaltender for a decisive win.

The Game Stats: The Game Summary | The Event Summary | The Play by Play Log | The Shot Summary | The Natural Stat Trick Game Stats

The Opposition Opinion: Check out Anaheim Calling for their take on tonight’s game.

Two Goals, Five Shots, Six Attempts, Less than 14 Minutes: Pavel Zacha finished two great passes for two power play goals this evening. He had a couple of opportunities for the hat trick, which would have been awesome for him. A Ducks turnover in their own zone led to Bratt setting up Zacha in the slot. Zacha sent the puck across to Gusev, who was robbed by John Gibson on the shot. Selfishly, I wanted Zacha to try his luck and fire at the goalie straight-up. Unselfishly, I respect that Zacha made the right call as setting up a one-timer to make the goalie move is generally a good play. Later in the second, he was found at the crease in close and Gibson had to scramble to deny him.

Unfortunately, it appears that Zacha was hurt at some point in the game. He only played three shifts for 1:50 in the third period according to the NHL’s time on ice report. When he left the ice with 8:55 left to play, that was his last shift. It is bad news as Zacha was having a very good game and it was continued evidence that Gusev, Bratt, and Zacha should be kept together. Even with the early exit, Zacha led the Devils in shots with five and attempts with six. That speaks to how well Zacha was performing this evening in Anaheim.

There is some good news. After the game, interim head coach Alain Nasreddine said Zacha had a minor injury as reported in this tweet by Corey Masisak. That should mean if he misses some time, then it would not be for long.

Consistency, Nasreddine, Consistency: Jesper Bratt’s two (primary) assists night means he now has four goals and three assists since his silly healthy scratch.

As far as other streaks, Nikita Gusev’s point streak is still alive too. He picked up the secondary on Zacha’s second power play goal, making it a six-game run of nine points now. The run of play was slightly against the Zacha line in 5-on-5, but they were not pinned back a lot. They did their damage in the first two periods and ended up slightly below 50%. It was a good night in 5-on-5 and they shined on the power play.

A Streak Breaker: Nico Hischier’s tip-in of Carrick’s shot ended a nine-game goalless drought for the center. It was his first since his injury from the Dallas game on February 1. It helped seal the game and it definitely drained the intensity of the Ducks after being denied on two straight power plays.

The combination of Kyle Palmieri, Jack Hughes, and Hischier has not worked out all that well. The line was forced to play a lot of defense tonight. Whatever few opportunities they created, they could not finish. Most memorably was a great pass by Hughes to Palmieri where Palmieri had Gibson beat on the backhand but he missed the net. Perhaps the goal will help Hischier get going. I suspect this line needs a change soon because while it may make sense in theory, it has not worked in reality over the past two weeks.

An Under-the-Radar Comeback: Joey Anderson had a bad game in Los Angeles. He had a very good game in Anaheim. The line of Anderson, Travis Zajac, and Miles Wood was New Jersey’s best from the perspective of on-ice attempt differential and expected goals differential. The Devils were behind the Ducks in attempts, 54-66, and expected goals, 2.39 to 2.98 in 5-on-5 play. But when Zajac’s line hit the ice, they were constantly going forward. Anderson had the best line; the Devils out-attempted the Ducks 19-7 and out-shot them 12-3 when he was on the ice. Anderson himself had four shots, including two scoring chances in the third period. He was not far from scoring himself but John Gibson denied him. On special teams, Anderson put in some good work on the penalty kill including a very important stick-check during the Kevin Rooney minor penalty. After an invisible night in L.A., Anderson did rather well in the O.C.

The Season Debut: Josh Jacobs was called up earlier in this trip and he was dressed tonight. Fredrik Claesson was ruled out as he was banged up. Jacobs made his season debut with New Jersey and he had an active one. His mobility was apparent as a replacement of Claesson. He was paired with Carrick, which made for a pairing of two right-handed shots. Jacobs showed no resistence to pinching in down low as he did so a number of times this evening. He was OK in his own end and when he was on the ice, the Devils were out-attempted just 21-24 and the Devils out-shot the Ducks 12-9. By no means was he or the pairing with Carrick a detriment to the Devils’ cause this evening. He made no memorably bad errors in judgment (you may correct me on this). In terms of the scoresheet, Jacobs registered two shots, one missed shot, and a high-sticking penalty on Andrew Agozzino as Schneider made that sweet glove save on Djoos. I would not go as far as to say that Jacobs should stay in the lineup for very long. However, I would say I prefer him over Claesson and I thought he did well enough in his debut.

You Wish You Were Carey PriceLate in the second period, Kevin Rooney was chasing a dumped in puck as John Gibson was behind the net to play it. Gibson moved the puck and then pretty much dropped Rooney with a hit. As Rooney was on the ice, Gibson gave him another shot as two more Ducks went in to vent their disagreement. Gibson was appropriately given an interference penalty as he did literally deny Rooney a chance to go after the puck legally. I thought he should have been given more for that additional and unnecessary shot. At least he was not trying to punch him in the head multiple times like The Puglist, Carey Price.

Alas, out of the three power plays tonight, this was the one where the Devils did the least. They registered no shots on net, much less a goal to punish the goaltender for his crime. Still, I have little to complain about with the power play tonight. They did go 2-for-3 on their situations and 2-for-2 on shots. You cannot ask for much better in terms of performance. Given how slick Bratt’s passes to Zacha were, you cannot ask for much better in terms of aesthetics either.

Why?: Prior to this game, the Devils announced they called up Jesper Boqvist from Binghamton. Boqvist did not play. I get that traveling cross-country on short notice is difficult and tiring. But if he was not meant to play, then why not call him up on an off-day? Would he not have been more useful playing in a big game in Binghamton today instead? Between this and Jacobs being called up to be a scratch before tonight, I believe the Devils used two of their four non-emergency call-ups. I do not get it unless there are more players hurt than they are letting on. Even so, wait until there is someone out and then the Devils could use an emergency call up instead of burning of one of their four call ups. In the bigger scheme of things, this may not mean much. It certainly had no impact on tonight’s game. It is still something that irked me prior to the puck dropping tonight.

Turnover, Turnover, Turnover: The Devils helped themselves quite a bit by forcing plenty of turnovers from the Ducks. While the Devils were certainly guilty of those, the Ducks were as loose with possession if not moreso. This meant a lot of opportunities for Hughes to steal pucks, Devils defensemen to keep attacking movements alive at the blueline, and find some surprising spaces for fast skaters like Bratt and Wood. Having both the Devils and Ducks scramble for pucks in the corners even in their own end was a benefit for the Devils as it meant they were not just teeing up great shot after shot on Schneider. Gibson played fairly well as the guys in front of him were not that cool under pressure at points. I would have like the Devils to have kept that pressure going more in the third period, but it was what it was.

Follow Jeff & Binghamton: Binghamton had a huge weekend. Earlier today, the recently acquired Zane McIntyre shut out Bridgeport and the recently acquired Janne Kuokkanen scored the game’s only goal. Check out Jeff’s recap of the game here. You can view all of the Binghamton-specific coverage on our site here. New Jersey does not have anything to really play for. Binghamton does. Plus, it is serendipitous that both the New Jersey and Binghamton teams won with shutouts today.

One Last Thought: The last time Schneider had a shutout was on February 21, 2019 against Ottawa. Another year-plus long drought was broken for Schneider. Thankfully, no one on New Jersey tried to score on him unlike the last time in Anaheim. Although an accidental deflection by Severson in front did happen, Schneider swallowed that up and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Your Take: The Devils won 3-0 against Anaheim and did not play poorly. Schneider was great. Zacha had a very strong game prior to his exit. Bratt made a big impact again as a part of the power play. The penalty kill was solid again. The Devils should feel good about this one.

Now that you know my take on this evening’s win, I want to know yours. What is your take about this win? Who do you think played the best among the skaters today? How well do you think Jacobs did this evening? What should the Devils learn from this game before they play their last game of this road trip on Tuesday in Las Vegas? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about tonight’s win in the comments.


Want to have a healthy weight? Eat breakfast, not late-night snacks

There are a million diets out there — some more effective than others. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to one thing: if you want to lose weight, calories in must be lower than calories out. It’s as simple as that. Or… is it?

Simple math?

The calories in vs calories out calculation is essentially correct, but it leaves out a few things. For starters, having a healthy diet isn’t only about calories — ignoring nutrient intake is not a wise thing to do, and many diets sacrifice healthiness for the same of losing weight (I’m looking at you, keto).


Secondly, there’s the human aspect: we’re not exactly good at controlling ourselves, and the odds are that simply making a calorie plan isn’t going to work out. It needs to consider our lifestyle and preferences in order to be successful. A diet needs to become a lifestyle in order for it to work.

Lastly, it’s also not only about what we eat and how much we eat, but also about when we eat, as a new study has shown.

Our bodies are not machines that you can program and expect to function in the same way day in and day out. Our biological clocks and sleep patterns (the circadian rhythm) regulate how the food we eat is metabolized. Our bodies do burn fat when we sleep, but our metabolism generally tends to slow down at night, so eating right before going to sleep is rarely a good idea.


In the new study, researchers monitored the metabolism of mid-aged and older subjects in a whole-room respiratory chamber (essentially a calorie-measuring room) over two separate 56-hour sessions.

In each session, lunch and dinner were offered at the same time: 12:30 and 17:45, respectively — but the timing of the third meal was changed. For one half of the study, the additional meal was presented as breakfast (8:00), and the other as a late-evening snack (22:00).

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The duration of the overnight fast was the same overall, it was just the time of eating that was changed.

The two sessions did not differ in overall energy expenditure, but the respiratory exchange ratio was different during sleep.

Essentially, while the subjects were consuming the same amount of energy during sleep, they were metabolizing nutrients differently. Specifically, they were less likely to burn fat during sleep when they had the late-night snack

“Therefore, the timing of meals during the day/night cycle affects how ingested food is oxidized or stored in humans, with important implications for optimal eating habits,” the researchers write.

Previous research has suggested that this downside is negated by an intensive training regime, but for most of the population, the takeaway is pretty clear: if you want to get rid of that extra fat, you might want to stop having late-night snacks.

Crime & Safety Local News

Authorities: Clifton Woman Steals Pick-Up With Owner In Bed, Crashes Stolen Minivan

A 35-year-old Clifton woman is facing several charges after carjacking two vehicles — one a pick-up truck with its owner in the bed, the other a minivan that she crashed in Phillipsburg, authorities said.

The incidents began around 11 a.m. Friday when a passerby spotted a man in he bed of a blue, Ford pick-up truck headed westbound on Route 46 in Washington Township (Morris County), police said.

The man, later identified as the truck’s owner, was trying to get other driver’s attention with Ammany Jafar behind the wheel of his vehicle, according to police.

When the truck reached the intersection of East Avenue and Route 46, Jafar started yelling she needed help, reports say.

A minivan driver got out to try to help, but Jafar jumped inside of his van and headed southbound on East Avenue — a female passenger inside, authorities said.

Jafar stopped after driving a few hundred feet and ordered the passenger out of the vehicle, police said.

Warren County police were notified of a pursuit with a minivan heading west on Route 57 just before 11:30 a.m.

Moments later, Jafar crashed the vehicle into a deli and minimart on South Main Street in Phillipsburg.

Jafar got on the ground and was taken into police custody.


Different types of foods are associated with different types of stroke

A large European study reports intriguing associations between diet and heart health.

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissues from oxygenating properly.

There are two main causes of stroke: ischemic strokes (caused by a blocked artery) and hemorrhagic strokes, caused by leaking or bursting of a blood vessel.


About 85% of strokes are ischaemic and 15% are hemorrhagic, and both are associated with lifestyle choices (high blood pressure, smoking, and unhealthy dieting).

Most studies look at total stroke risk, and don’t analyze the separate effects of hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes (or just focus on the latter, which is more common). In a new study, however, the dietary habits of more than 418,000 people in nine European countries were correlated to the separate types of stroke risk.

Fruits, vegetables, and fibers

Unsurprisingly, people with higher consumption of fruit, vegetables, fiber were less likely to suffer from strokes — but only when it comes to ischaemic strokes; there was no significant association with a lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke.


Dr. Tammy Tong, the first author of the paper and a nutritional epidemiologist at the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford (UK), said:

“The most important finding is that higher consumption of both dietary fiber and fruit and vegetables was strongly associated with lower risks of ischaemic stroke, which supports current European guidelines. The general public should be recommended to increase their fiber and fruit and vegetable consumption if they are not already meeting these guidelines.

According to the study, every 10 grams of fiber a day was associated with a 23% lower risk of ischemic stroke — equivalent to 2 fewer cases per 1,000 people over 10 years. For fruits and vegetables, there was a 13% lower risk for every 200g.

So you can get an idea how much that means, three slices of wholemeal toast provide around 10 grams of fibers, a portion of broccoli provides around 3 grams, and an apple has under 2 grams. According to the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the World Health Organization, you should consume at least 400g of fruit and vegetables a day, and 30-40 grams of fiber.

Eggs and cheese

Surprisingly, cheese and yogurt were also linked to a lower risk of ischaemic stroke and had no significant association with hemorrhagic stroke. While unsweetened yogurt is generally considered to be healthy, the connection between cheese and heart health is still controversial.

Speaking of controversial, the study also looked at the correlation between eggs and stroke risk. Eggs have long been a controversial topic when it comes to heart health. Traditionally, they were considered to be bad, as they raise the level of cholesterol. But recent studies have found conflicting evidence, with some even suggesting that in moderation, eggs can improve heart health. This latest study suggests that while a greater consumption of eggs is associated with a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke, it does not affect the risk of the much more common ischemic stroke.

Strengths and limitations

Isolating the impact of diet alone remains an extremely challenging matter. This study only analyzed correlation and did not look at the causation, which would require a completely different type of study altogether.

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The study also assessed people’s food consumption at only one point in time, when they joined the study — so no information can be drawn about diet changes that would cause an increase or decrease in stroke risk.

However, the study’s strengths lie in its large sample size and follow-up period. Over 400,000 men and women from nine countries (Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom) were recruited to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study between 1992 and 2000, filling out questionnaires about their diet, lifestyle, and medical history. They were followed up for an average of 12.7 years, during which there were 4,281 cases of ischaemic stroke and 1,430 cases of hemorrhagic stroke.

“Our study also highlights the importance of examining stroke subtypes separately, as the dietary associations differ for ischaemic and hemorrhagic stroke, and is consistent with other evidence, which shows that other risk factors, such as cholesterol levels or obesity, also influence the two stroke subtypes differently,” concludes Tong.

Journal Reference: “The associations of major foods and fibre with risks of ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke: a prospective study of 418,329 participants in the EPIC cohort across nine European countries”, by Tammy Tong et al. European Heart Journal. doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa007.

Crime & Safety State News

Two New Jersey Men Charged with Theft of $6 Million in Postage for Online E-Commerce Business

NEWARK, N.J. – Two New Jersey men were charged with theft of government property and fraudulently altering United States Postal Service (USPS) postage stamps, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.

Jack Koch a/k/a/ “Ismail Yilmaz,”44, of Elmwood Park, New Jersey, and Steven Koch, a/k/a “Selim Memis,” 43, of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, are each charged by complaint with one count of theft of government funds and one count of postage stamp fraud. Both defendants are scheduled to appear by videoconference this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer.

According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

Jack Koch and Stephen Koch, owners of a high volume e-commerce Amazon seller, Fresh N Clear LLC (Fresh N Clear), altered postage labels in a manner designed to benefit their business, causing losses in revenue to USPS in excess of $6 million.

The defendants purchased Flat Rate Envelope postage labels meant for USPS-produced compact envelopes, and altered those labels to send their merchandise in larger boxes at discounted flat rates. The Kochs were able to perpetrate the fraud by removing the required USPS visual endorsement “FLAT RATE ENV” from the postage label. Unlike other mail pieces, whose labels need not show the postage paid in a readable format, USPS policy requires the visual endorsement “FLAT RATE ENV” to appear on all mail pieces sent using the “Flat Rate Envelope” discounted rate, allowing USPS employees to determine whether the appropriate postage was, in fact, paid, and that each mail piece sent using that discounted rate does, in fact, weigh 70 pounds or less and fit into the special USPS compact envelope.

Between January 2020 and September 2020, the Kochs caused Fresh N Clear to purchase 240,471 USPS Priority Mail postage labels – almost all for Flat Rate Envelopes. They altered the postage labels in order to send large household items that would not ordinarily fit into a Flat Rate Envelope (such as cases of bottled water, laundry detergent, and cases of soda) at the discounted flat rate.

Theft of government property carries a maximum penalty of 10 years; postage stamp fraud carries a maximum of five years. Both offenses also carry a maximum fine $250,000, or twice the gain derived from the offense or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Raimundo Marrero, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Farhat of the Government Fraud Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.

The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.