Three teens charged in gunpoint mugging and credit card theft

Three teens have been arrested and charged in connection with the gunpoint mugging of a cyclist in New Milford and what at first appeared to be the unrelated theft of a handbag that contained a credit card later used to ring up several hundred dollars worth of merchandise.

The 18-year-old cyclist told police that one of four people who hopped out of a black vehicle that pulled up alongside him while he was riding the night of Sept. 18 pointed a silver handgun and told him to put his money on the ground.

A second man then punched and kicked him, he said.

Watching nearby, he said, were two women who were with the muggers.

Nearly two weeks later, a woman’s handbag was swiped from a vehicle parked in a driveway on Myrtle Avenue, New Milford Police Chief Frank Papapietro said. Her credit card was used in several stores, including a local 7-Eleven, the chief said.

Officer John Russino traced the transactions and obtained video of the one of the thieves. He gave the information to Detective Brian Long, who then began building the case, Papapietro said.

After working informants, Sgt, Frank Ramaci hooked up with a pair of Dumont detectives — and, before long, the two seemingly unrelated incidents were connected and a trio of arrests was made.

“It was only through old-fashioned in-the-streets police work that these two unrelated cases were solved,” said Papapietro said. “The result is truly a credit to the officers involved.”

Vincent Ortenzio, 18, of Dumont, is accused of both robbing the cyclist and swiping the bag. He’s being held on $100,000 bail, charged with robbery.

The man who beat the cyclist was identified as Daniel Laviola, 18, of New Milford. He is being held on robbery charges, at $50,000 bail.

Same for 18-year-old Kristen Kohlhase, 18, of Dumont, who is also being held on $50,000 bail. Police are still looking for the second woman, Papapietro said.

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