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Prosecutor hopes to send ‘appropriate message’ to police in North Bergen school official’s crash

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

EXCLUSIVE: Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio told CLIFFVIEW PILOT he hopes “an appropriate message will be sent” to North Bergen police by his recommendation that officials bring administrative charges against P.O. Frank Mena for giving High School Vice-Principal Edward Somick a ride home without a sobriety test after his Jeep smashed at least two cars and rolled over.

The investigation began after CLIFFVIEW PILOT uncovered details of the Dec. 18, 2010 crash and its aftermath, including Mena arriving on the scene at Kennedy Boulevard and 70th Street after other officers responded — and immediately taking Somick home minutes before EMS arrived.

This followed a series of incidents involving the police and Somick, whose mother has been the long-time girlfriend of North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, who is also a state Senator and the township’s assistant schools superintendent. Kathryn Somick works for the North Bergen Board of Education, as do her four sons.

DeFazio told CLIFFVIEW PILOT on Tuesday that he “had discussions with members of my office concerning this case on a number of occasions. We recommend that administrative charges be filed…. What the result is and what the punishment is we cannot control.”

DeFazio declined comment on the series of events, noting that “no criminal charges have been brought against anybody in this case” and it is now a personnel matter.

However, the prosecutor added: “I hope that an appropriate message will be sent.”

The day after the incident, Mena told CLIFFVIEW PILOT through desk Sgt. Thomas Ferrari that Somick swerved “to avoid an animal” when his vehicle “struck a parked car” at the corner of 70th Street and Kennedy Boulevard at 1:50 a.m.

Details of an accident report subsequently obtained by CLIFFVIEW PILOT determined that Somick was headed south on Kennedy Boulevard, in the opposite direction of his Durham Avenue home off 90th Street, when his Jeep struck a car that crashed into another.

Mena also confirmed through Ferrari, the shift commander the night after the crash, that he gave Somick a ride home in his township police car after working a pre-Christmas DWI detail. Somick lives a little over a mile from the accident site, which is only four blocks down Kennedy Boulevard from the high school.

“It was pretty cold out,” Ferrari told CLIFFVIEW PILOT , less than 24 hours after the incident. Asked why an ambulance wasn’t summoned, Ferrari said Somick apparently didn’t need one.

Edward Somick


A week earlier, Port Authority Police Chief Robert H. Belfiore resigned amid charges that he got a uniformed officer to give daughter a ride from JFK Airport to their Jersey Shore home after her flight got diverted from Newark. CLICK HERE FOR THAT STORY .

A little over a year ago, Somick tangled with a student from the high school — leaving the boy with a ripped shirt after being dragged in a headlock — outside a sports dinner at a township facility near police headquarters.

Nicholas Sacco


Somick, 40, drew police attention weeks before that when he was accused of calling a neighbor a racial epithet and then scuffled with officers sent to keep the peace.

The incident began when Somick returned from the school’s senior prom in May to find a neighbor’s car blocking his Durham Avenue driveway.

Several witnesses told police that Somick called the 18-year-old Hispanic NBHS student a racial epithet, then went after officers sent to calm things down. Somick was handcuffed and put in the back of a patrol car, where, witnesses said, he repeatedly banged his head against the window.

( CONTINUED BELOW )


CLIFFVIEW PILOT ‘s investigations of North Bergen High School Vice-Principal Edward Somick’s involvement with North Bergen police:


*Evidence of NBHS vice-principal’s crash, police response recorded, officer says

*North Bergen police officer gave NBHS VP ride home after crash


*New trouble involving NBHS vice-principal


*Sacco calls chief’s order to free disorderly VP ‘non story’

*Key figure emerges in case of disorderly school official linked to Sacco


*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



Police put Somick in a holding cell, but
Police Chief William Galvin showed up at headquarters at 1 a.m. and ordered him released without charges. Capt. William Dowd, who also came to headquarters, then drove Somick home, with Galvin going along for the ride, several witnesses told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

Confronted briefly at G.P.’s restaurant in Guttenberg two weeks later, Sacco called CLIFFVIEW PILOT ‘s reporting nothing more than its publisher/editor’s “interpretation of the facts.”

“If I didn’t call you back,” Sacco, added, referring to unreturned phone calls and emails, “why would I talk to you now?”

He also said that the fact no other media had covered the incident was proof that it wasn’t newsworthy.

“It’s passé,” Sacco said, dismissively. “Maybe if there’s another issue you want to talk about….”

Authorities from both the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Justice Department told CLIFFVIEW PILOT they would investigate if any police personnel agreed to talk. As a result of that story, officers with knowledge of the incident came forward, several sources said.



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