Ray Greenwald, 27, of Ardsley, NY, and the supervisor at BioReference Laboratories just off Route 80 in Elmwood didn't know one another and apparently had never met before, Police Chief Michael Foligno said.
However, Greenwald, who works in another building, told police she'd heard that the female boss was a "hard ass," so she decided to pull a stunt that "would make her feel uncomfortable," Foligno said following the 9 a.m. March 31 incident.
The commercially-produced salsa was harmless, the chief said. But the supervisor didn't know that.
Nor did a throng of emergency responders -- among them, a Bergen County Hazardous Materials Unit, the county Bomb Squad and borough police and firefighters -- who converged on the BioReference campus while the building was being evacuated of 125 or so employees.
"How would YOU react if that happened to you?" Foligno asked.
As the experts were determining that the spicy mixture was harmless -- save for a potential pang of heartburn -- police went looking for the masked stranger.
Turned out to be relatively easy.
Greenwald had used her swipe card to enter the building, Foligno explained. The company also had sharp surveillance footage, he said.
From there it was simply a matter of identifying Greenwald, with help from BioReference's human resources folks, and then pinging her cellphone, the chief said.
Greenwald was picked up a short time later in Clifton, he said.
Foligno said he and his staff considered charging her with causing a false public alarm. They went with harassment and disorderly persons, however, after consulting the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.
Greenwald received summonses for both and was released pending a court appearance.
BioReference Laboratories is the largest independent clinical laboratory in the Northeast and one of the biggest full-service specialty laboratories in all of the U.S., servicing an estimated 11 million patients a year.
In Elmwood Park for 35 years, the company focuses primarily on clinical testing for physicians offices but also services hospitals and health systems, correctional institutions, government agencies and sports leagues.
BioReference conducts drug testing for major corporations, drug treatment centers and psychiatric hospitals nationwide, among other specialties.
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