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Prosecutor warned activist against trespassing prior to arrests

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

EXCLUSIVE: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said he warned a community activist demanding answers in the shooting death of a Garfield teen in writing that he risked arrest if he came to county offices unannounced and refused to leave — which is what happened earlier today. CLIFFVIEW PILOT has obtained a copy of the warning letter sent by the prosecutor:

Rivera sent CLIFFVIEW PILOT a fax transmittal form that he said “demonstrates the fax the prosecutor claimed to have sent me ahead of our meeting was never transmitted…. I only received a copy of the letter when I appeared at his office on [Friday].”

Dear Mr. Rivera:

This letter will serve to confirm your telephone conversation of today with my Assistant, Patricia Scanlon, wherein I advised you I could not nor can I meet with you or any representative from your Alliance while our Office Continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the police shooting in Garfield, New Jersey.

I would not meet with any individual or organization to discuss even issues as raised in your letter to me dated today while such a matter is pending. The purpose for this position is to ensure the integrity of any charging decision or decision relative to Grand Jury presentations which we may make and which could affect persons that may be subject to such Grand Jury investigation. I am sure that you recognize and understand the need for our
Office to maintain neutrality in that regard.

I note that you somehow take exception to my meeting with Anthony Cureton, who is the President ofthe Bergen Chapter of the NAACP. Be advised it was Mr. Cureton who first reached out to me so as to facilitate a meeting with the victim’s family, which I felt was important for our Office

John Molinelli (CLIFFVIEW PILOT photo)

to engage in and which is substantially different from the agenda you indicated you wished to discuss when you first contacted our Office after the shooting.

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli accused The Bergen Record newspaper and a community activisit protesting the police shooting death of a Garfield escapee of “trying to MAKE news and not REPORT it” by showing up unannounced today and refusing to leave a private area of his office. READ MORE….

I have met previously with Mr. Cureton as well as prior presidents of the NAACP and often meet with community groups in an effort to have them understand the roll our Office takes in these matters. I have read your quotes and the positions you have taken in the newspaper concerning this shooting and, frankly, I am concerned that you have prejudged it and that you have positions based upon facts that you are not aware of.

So as to maintain a fair and even balance in the manner in which our Office undertakes this investigation, it would not be appropriate for us to meet at this time. However, and as indicated to you by phone, once we are complete with the investigation and the entire matter, I would be happy to meet with you to discuss issues of common interest concerning law enforcement.

As an aside, your Ietter of today seemed to confirm a meeting that somehow had been scheduled between us for tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. Be advised that at no time was there any discussion between us with respect to this meeting. I thought I would advise you of this, as one message I received today somehow suggested that, notwithstanding the fact that we did not have any meeting scheduled, that you intended to show up at my Office to “protest”.

Be advised that my Office is located within the Bergen County Justice Center Complex and that the County and Sheriffs office have rather stringent rules with regard to conducting protests at the Justìce Center.

1 do not control those decisions but would strongly urge you to make the necessary inquiries with those agencies prior to your showing up here unannounced to engage in some such protest.

Thank you. I remain

Very truly yours,


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