A Wood-Ridge police sergeant was injured during a furious struggle with an accused mail thief from Union City who was quickly back on the street following his arrest.
Responding to a 911 call, Sgt. Joseph Rutigliano found Jimmy Yepez, 36, while searching the area of the thefts near Bergen Street and Industrial Road, Detective Lt. Joseph Biamonte said.
As the sergeant pulled up, Yepez ran around his vehicle and threw mail and other evidence into Berry’s Creek, Biamonte said.
Rutigliano got out and ordered him to the ground several times, but Yepez – who has a prior arrest history -- fought him instead, kicking the sergeant and biting him on the hand, the lieutenant said.
Backup Officers Timothy Janz and Robert Francis, along with officers from surrounding towns, helped take Yepez into custody, Biamonte said.
Yepez, who was wearing a backpack, was carrying several stolen credit cards, a crack pipe, several hypodermic needles and mail stolen from victims in several towns, the lieutenant said.
Police in those jurisdictions were notified and were pursuing charges.
A U.S. Postal Inspection Service agent also came to headquarters to begin a federal investigation.
Wood-Ridge police, meanwhile, charged Yepez with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and receiving stolen property, among other counts.
They sent him to the Bergen County Jail only to have a judge in Hackensack order Yepez released less than 24 hours later under New Jersey’s bail reform law.
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