Phil Sent Me: Paterson PD Raids After-Hours Joints That Defied COVID Curfew

The doors were locked and the windows tinted or covered up while parties inside raged hours past the 10 p.m. COVID curfew.

Drinking. Photo Credit:

Paterson vice squad detectives raided three legitimate businesses-turned-speakeasies whose operators apparently thought no one was looking, authorities said Saturday.

One of them wasn't even a bar, they said.

Another, La Fuente Bar on Ellison Street, had its front security gates down and patrons ducking in through a back door after being cleared by the manager, city Public Safety Director Jerry Speziale said.

Detectives knocked more than once, but the manager, 49-year-old Janet Mendoza, ignored them before they finally got in, Speziale said.

The investigators found several patrons, along with four hookahs, four hoses, 36 bottles of beer and three bottles of booze that were seized, he said.

Fire inspectors followed them in and found a trio of safety violations, the director added.

Police charged Mendoza with:

  • causing and risking widespread injury or damage;
  • maintaining a nuisance that risked public health and safety;
  • selling alcohol after legal hours;
  • not having a pool table license;
  • operating a premises closed from view.

Several citations were issued to the business, Speziale said.

Also raided was Vanessa’s Restaurant on Cianci Street. Owner Vanessa Terry, 38, was charged with several alcohol other than beer and wine, the director said. Fire inspectors also issued five violation notices, he said.

Under an executive order signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, bars and restaurants in New Jersey cannot serve food or beverages past 10 p.m. as part of an attempt to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Addressing businesses that violate curfew isn’t only about stemming COVID’s spread, city officials say: It’s also a quality-of-life and regulatory issue.

Then there’s Makumba Window Tinting.

Police found patrons inside the shop at the corner of 12th Avenue and 19th Street “drinking, smoking hookah and playing loud music that was heard from halfway down the block,” Speziale said.

Carlos Rosario-Fermin, 28, and Tomas Lara, 29, were charged with maintaining a nuisance that endangered “the safety or health of a considerable number of people,” illegally serving alcohol, playing loud music and smoking indoors, the director said.

Fire inspectors also found a pair of violations, he said.

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