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Mahwah police grab four, seize 13 pounds of pot, $22,000 cash

Photo Credit: Courtesy MAHWAH PD

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Mahwah police seized 13 pounds of marijuana and $22,000 in cash while arresting four men — two of them from Nyack — on drug distribution charges after stopping one of them for veering into oncoming traffic yesterday.

Detectives Michael Grassi and Eric Larsen were on a special detail when they saw the black Chevy Tahoe with New York license plates swerve into westbound traffic on eastbound Lydia Lane, “nearly causing a collision with another vehicle,” Police Chief James N. Batelli said this morning.

After stopping him, the detectives said the driver — identified as 26-year-old Dominic Berlingeri — told them he’d just moved to Mahwah from California and lived nearby with his brother and others.

Larsen searched the vehicle, with Berlingeri’s consent, while Grassi and Detective Lt. Guido Bussinelli and Detective Kevin Hebert other officers went to his home, where “individuals spoke to them through a glass window,” Batelli said.

Detecting “an extremely strong odor of marijuana,” the detectives requested entry and were denied, so they forced their way in through the front door, the chief said.

They found the pot, cash, paraphernalia and “other items consistent with the distribution of marijuana” and took three men inside into custody, Batelli said.

Charged with possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute the drug within 1,000 feet of a school, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia and a hypodermic needle were Vincent Berlingeri, 28 (photo above, top left), and Dominic Berlingeri, 26 (top, right), both of Nyack; Luis Vilela, 26 (photo above, bottom left) of Richmond, CA; and Robert Southard, 29 (bottom, right), of Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Vincent Berlingeri also was charged with destruction of evidence.

All four were being held on $100,000 bail each in the Bergen County Jail, with initial court appearances set for this Tuesday.


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