21 Not-So-Great Moments from 2015
By Ty BoatmanOne of our most popular features in 2014 was Dumb New Jersey, a compendium of head-scratching local news stories that would be pretty funny if they weren’t true. Back by popular demand, we present the worst of 2015…
When Ron Rossi reeled in his 20-plus pound catch at Swedes Lake in Delran, a big smile stretched across his face—until the fish smiled back at him. Someone had dumped a Pacu into the freshwater lake, and Rossi had hooked it. Pacus, which belong to the same family of fish as piranhas, are native to South America and famous for two things—eerily human-like teeth and biting men’s testicles with jaws powerful enough to crack tree nuts. The fish hobbyist responsible for introducing the Pacu to Swedes Lake probably abandoned it after it neared its mature size of two to three feet.
GO TO YOUR CELL, JUNIOR
Misbehaving tikes + lazy parents + summer heat = a recipe for stupid. Wildwood police actually found it necessary to post signs on the boardwalk this summer urging parents to “stop telling your children that we will haul them off to jail if they are bad.” As the WPD chief explained, they want children “running to us, not away from us,” when they are in real trouble.
Jorge Ramirez-Sierra of Riverdale was without transportation and afraid of missing a court appearance in Paterson, so he swiped a friend’s car to make the trip. The thief returned while police were taking his friend’s stolen car statement. They arrested Ramirez-Sierra, who was driving with an open container and a suspended license. The cops also found drug paraphernalia in the car that belonged to him.
THE POWER OF RED
Kean University, which operates a campus in China, advertised an employment opening for Specialist for Residence Life. Kean, a taxpayer-funded school, included in the job description that membership in the Communist Party “is preferred.”
CRIME & PUNISHMENT
A woman caught stealing vitamins at a Mount Olive Walmart received the shoplifting equivalent of the death penalty. Judge Brian Levine ordered Johanna Cassimore to pay a fine, do 15 days of community service…and banned her from ever entering another Walmart anywhere again. Levine later vacated that part of the sentence, but Cassimore is still subject to the nationwide ban because she already signed an agreement with Walmart to that effect.
Minutes after Scott Esser robbed a Stafford Township home, he was pulled over by state troopers while making his getaway on the GSP. Earlier that day, Esser had butt-dialed police, inadvertently patching them into a phone call with another man as they made plans to break into the home.
WE SMELL A SETLLEMENT
A comptroller fired in 2014 by a Trenton Pork Roll producer filed suit this year under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Richard Clem is claiming that his former employer, the Case Pork Roll Company, terminated him for excessive flatulence. Clem, who weighed over 400 pounds when he was hired, went on a crash diet that had some gassy side effects. The Case president allegedly stated that the company could not “ have visitors with the odor in the office.” Obesity is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
SHOULDER TO CRY ON
Passing cars in the breakdown lane at high speed is never a good idea, as Sam Bompane learned when he was involved in an accident on the Garden State Parkway that was serious enough to require medical attention. Things got worse when police searched his car and found more than $100,000 worth of marijuana candy, hash oil and prescription painkillers. Bompane was charged with a DUI, assault with a vehicle and possession with intent to distribute.
DUMB & DUMBER
Two ATMforUS employees had a major brain freeze and left a bag containing $150,000 in cash outside a Mahwah business. It was promptly scooped up by a pair of thieves who had recently stolen used tires from a nearby auto repair shop. The crooks were caught after buying a Chevy Tahoe for cash a couple of hours later.
GUILTY AS CHARGED
A thief snuck into a home in Spotswood while the owner was taking out the garbage, then hid beneath a bed for three days waiting for the owner to leave. Jason Hubbard was arrested and charged with, among other things, theft of services because he charged the four cell phones he was carrying on a wall outlet under the bed.
BABY MAKES 90
A pregnant woman arrested on suspicion of drug possession by Glen Rock police managed to hide 89 packets of heroin while being transported to the police station. Cops followed protocol for pregnant detainees and handcuffed Marina McCarthy with her hands in front of her. This enabled her to hide the huge stash “in a body cavity.” A review of the patrol car video tipped off police to what McCarthy was up to.
Most eight-year-olds would welcome a day off from the relentless grind of third grade—but not for wearing the wrong-colored shirt to school. That was the reason cited by Winslow Township Elementary officials when they summoned the mother of the girl to retrieve her for wearing a kelly-green polo shirt instead of a dark green shirt. The township is sticking to its position that “school attire can influence a pupil’s behavior and potentially impact the academic environment.”
THE STUPID DIET
In her 2015 book Strong Is the New Sexy, reality star Snooki Polizzi of Jersey Shore offered a scientific excuse for her famously idiotic behavior: “Although I was consuming thousands of calories a day during the party years, I was actually starving myself of healthy food. The more crap I ate, the stupider I got.”
OH, AND GET ANOTHER SHOT
A licensed nurse hired to give flu shots to employees of a Princeton pharmaceutical company reused the same syringe more than five dozen times. Workers found out after being alerted to the fact that they may have been “exposed to infected blood.” The same nurse also messed up the dosage, injecting less than the recommended amount of vaccine.
SHOUDLA KEPT RUNNIN’ (PAST DUNKIN)
After Michael Cassano robbed the Hudson City Savings Bank in Lodi of $4,000, he decided to play it cool and stop for a cup of coffee at the Dunkin Donuts down the block. Police stopped him because he matched the teller’s general description, including the fedora he was wearing. They found the cash and a BB gun and arrested him.
PHONING IT IN
Justin Tran, an 18-year-old volunteer firefighter in Piscataway, needed more experience responding to emergency calls. His solution was to phone in more than a dozen false reports of suspicious odors and smoke conditions. He was arrested and released on $50,000 bail.
After serving nearly five years on a bank robbery conviction, Keith Ney was set free under a supervised release program in December 2014. Old habits die hard, however, and just four months out of the joint, he returned to his larcenous ways. Ney was arrested minutes after robbing a branch of Cape Bank in Atlantic City. It was the same bank he had robbed in 2010.
SNIG FO THE TMIES
A Paterson principal found herself out of work earlier this year after failing to notice several misspellings on a sign outside her school. Antoinette Young was demoted to vice principal after photos of the sign (which got the words December and Reports wrong) went viral, and she was later dismissed.
Joseph Greenwood did what we’ve all secretly dreamed of doing when he wiped his butt with a municipal court summons. The mistake he made was flinging it back at the Readington police officer who wrote it out. Greenwood was indicted for throwing bodily fluid, which, it turns out, is illegal in New Jersey.
Police arrested a Madison teen for assault after he got into a dispute over a piece of sausage. His name was Thomas Bacon.
DO LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT
When Brian Fletcher and his North Carolina tower-climbing crew were dispatched to repair a cell tower high above Trenton, Fletcher decided to take a pistol with him. After completing repairs to one tower, he began talking shop with a local police officer. When he mentioned he had a gun in the truck, Fletcher was arrested. New Jersey doesn’t recognize gun permits from other states; he was charged with a class 2 felony.