CLIFFVIEW PILOT INVESTIGATION: A North Bergen patrol officer has become a key figure in Chief William Galvin’s order to release a drunk and disorderly high school vice-principal brought to headquarters in handcuffs and put into a holding cell after calling a neighbor a racial epithet and then abusing police who responded, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Officer Michelle Bartoli could be interviewed by investigators, now that detailed information has been obtained by the U.S. Justice Department, the FBI, the state Attorney General’s Office and Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, the website has found.
Bartoli was dispatched to the Durham Avenue home of NBHS Vice Principal Edward Somick — whose mother is dating Mayor Nicholas Sacco — around midnight May 14, records show.
A short time earlier, Somick arrived home from the senior prom, found a car blocking his driveway and called the owner a racial epithet, witnesses told police.
Bartoli summoned backup more than once, at which point all available township units responded — in addition to two police cars from Fairview.
As neighbors and several officers from both towns looked on, Sgt. Marco Rovelo ordered an apparently intoxicated and abusive Somick arrested, several witnesses told CLIFFVIEW PILOT. Somick was handcuffed and placed into a township police cruiser, where, they said, he began banging his head against the window.
At headquarters, he was put in a holding cell.Somick at the NBHS Senior Prom
Proving the sequence of events is simple, township police officers say.
“All radio transmissions are recorded, the main line to the police department is recorded and there is a camera in the garage of the police department, as well as in the elevator used for prisoner transport and in the processing room,” a source with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
Around 1 a.m., roughly 20 minutes after Somick had been taken into custody, the chief and his right-hand man, Capt. Robert Dowd, showed up at headquarters. To this point, it’s unclear how the chief knew what happened, why Dowd showed up, as well, and whether either contacted anyone else regarding the incident.
Galvin spoke with Somick — again, an exchange that would show up on police video surveillance tapes. Soon after, Galvin ordered that Somick be released without charges, several sources with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
Dowd eventually drove Somick home — with Galvin going along for the ride.
The question now is whether Bartoli’s original report was changed to read that Somick was handcuffed “for his own protection” and taken to headquarters for questioning before being released.
The final report was authorized by Sgt. David Corbisiero, who operates a street crimes unit, and not by Rovelo, the superior officer in charge of the scene — and the one who ordered the arrest.
However, one source with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT: “Both [sergeants] were told they would be skipped on [the lieutenant’s] list if any word got out.”
Records show that Rovelo is #5 on the list to become a lieutenant. Corbisiero is listed #1.
THE CLIFFVIEW PILOT INVESTIGATION:
*Prosecutor to NB cops: Talk to us
*Township spokesman’s answers raise questions
*Cops ready to talk to investigators
*Chief orders disorderly VP freed with no charges
*Dispatches tell if school VP got special treatment
*NBHS official not accused in neighborhood spat
Galvin and Dowd, considered the chief’s heir apparent, are intensely loyal to Sacco, 64, who, besides serving as mayor more than 20 years, is also a state Senator — and assistant superintendent of schools of the North Bergen Board of Education.
To this point, some police in North Bergen say, they had been “afraid to fight the machine” — until CLIFFVIEW PILOT began investigating the Somick incident. They say there is more than enough evidence to prove official misconduct, if only an outside agency would investigate.
On Thursday, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that any officers who are “disturbed in any way” by the incident should immediately contact either his detectives or investigators from the state Attorney General’s Office.
All it takes is one officer, he said, and his department would begin asking questions.
“In the best of all worlds, we’d have a copy of the original [arrest] report,” DeFazio emphasized. “THAT would be interesting.”
In addition, the Newark field office of the FBI and the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., have been contacted, as have law enforcement authorities in Trenton.
Despite requests from CLIFFVIEW PILOT, Sacco, Galvin and other township officials have refused comment, other than to say that Somick wasn’t arrested. Bartoli couldn’t be reached for comment. Nor could Rovelo or Corbisiero— whose wife works for the North Bergen Board of Education as a grade-school teacher.
ANYONE WITH INFORMATION ABOUT THE INCIDENT IS ASKED TO CALL CLIFFVIEW PILOT (201.943.2794) OR TO WRITE TO THE SITE AT
. THE IDENTITIES OF ALL SOURCES WILL BE STRICTLY SAFEGUARDED, UNDER THE LAW, AS GUARANTEED BY JUSTICE AUTHORITIES.
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