ANOTHER CVP SCOOP: Port Authority police are still scratching their heads after charging three members of the same family with a variety of crimes in separate instances in Fort Lee. One of them was caught on videotape stealing standpipe caps right outside the authority’s administration building on Lemoine Avenue, an agency spokesman told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
The stunning yarn began on Nov. 26, when Port Authority Police Officer Ray Rodriguez spotted a tan 1991 Honda cut across five lanes of traffic at the George Washington Bridge’s lower level tollbooths, authority spokesman Al Della Fave said.
The driver was going from a full-service booth to an EZPass lane even though he didn’t have the electronic device and the car was missing a front license plate, he said.
After trying to use a fake name, the driver gave Rodriguez a Social Security number with 10 digits instead of nine, Della Fave said. Asked to repeat the number, the driver couldn’t, he said. It was around that time that the officer discovered that the license plate on the back of the Honda didn’t match the number on the windshield registration sticker.
By then, Port Authority Police Officer Ronie Escobar joined the group — and noticed a set of license plates on the floor of the passenger side, along with a wallet on the front seat.
The plates belonged to the Honda and the wallet had the driver’s proper credentials, Della Fave said. Jeffrey Morabito, 34, of White Plains, was arrested and charged with theft, receiving stolen property, driving on the suspended list and with fictitious plates, toll evasion and making an unsafe lane change, among other counts.
The day after Morabito’s arrest, his father showed up at the Port Authority administration building near the bridge, ostensibly to retrieve the car and hopefully get his son out of the Bergen County Jail.
But the desk sergeant who entered the information in the computer discovered that 57-year-old Ray Morabito, also of White Plains, was wanted for jumping bail following a drug-related arrest in Fort Lee back in March 2003, Della Fave said.
At that moment, the fugitive reportedly responded: “I want to kill myself.”
The sergeant summoned an ambulance and the elder Morabito was taken to Bergen Regional Medical Center, Della Fave said.
But the story doesn’t end there.
On Monday, Ray’s 62-year-old brother, Michael Morabito, showed up at the administration building. Before going inside, Della Fave said, Morabito saw and swiped brass caps off a couple of standpipes — in front of surveillance cameras trained on the area outside the building.
Officers chased him to the parking lot nearby, where he told them he took the four caps he was carrying — worth $168 — to sell for scrap. They charged him with theft and released him on a summons to appear in Fort Lee Municipal Court.
Jeffrey Morabito, meanwhile, remains held on $5,000 bail at the county jail.
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