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Pizza, a party, and spit

A view of the restaurant in violation from Google Maps
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A view of the restaurant in violation from Google Maps

To curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy restricted restaurants to takeout only and implemented sanitation guidelines. However, some Hudson County pizzerias are not going with the program.

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, recently released incidents from the end of May. Included in the roundup were two pizzerias in Hudson County that allegedly violated emergency orders in some instances by allegedly not wearing masks and opening onsite dining.

Iris Diaz, 51, was charged on May 24 by the Union City Police for not requiring that masks be worn by employees at her restaurant. Diaz owns Punto de la Baleada on 37th Street.

Responding officers saw Diaz and an employee preparing food without wearing face coverings. The business had been warned earlier that day for the same violations.

Previously, a pizzeria in Union City got busted by Union City police for a similar violation.

And the beat goes on

Jonathan Cozzino, 21, was charged on May 19 by the Union City Police with violating the emergency orders. Cozzino was the manager on duty at the Dominos Pizzeria in Union City at 524 31st Street.

At the Dominos, officers observed two employees who were not wearing face masks, one who was making pizza and another at the cash register.

This location had been warned a number of times in the past month regarding similar conduct, according to Attorney General Grewal.

Mario Albunia, 63, was charged on May 21 by the Hoboken Police Department with violating the emergency orders. Albunia allegedly opened the restaurant he owns, Mario’s Pizza on Garden Street, for onsite dining.

Police observed several patrons dining at tables both outside and inside the restaurant. The patrons were seated less than six feet from one another and restaurant employees. Albunia was warned but refused to fix the violations, Grewal said.

Violation of the emergency orders is a disorderly persons offense carrying a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Such violations are charged by summons, without arrest.

Corona party in Guttenberg

One resident was charged with violating the emergency order and various drug charges after police busted an apartment party.

This makes four such instances of this occurring in Hudson County after recent incidents involving residents spitting at Secaucus Police during arrest.

“We’re cracking down on those who jeopardize public health and undermine public safety,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We have zero patience for those who spit on cops, gouge prices, or try to exploit this pandemic for their personal gain.”

Guillermo Garcia-Guzman, 27, from Guttenberg, was charged on May 18 by the Guttenberg Police with possession of the controlled substance ketamine and violating the emergency orders.

Police responded to Garcia-Guzman’s apartment in the 100 block of 70th Street on a noise complaint, according to Attorney General Grewal. Upon arrival, officers observed 15 to 20 people inside allegedly with a DJ, ketamine, and alcoholic beverages.

Spitting on officers

Elsewhere in Hudson County, two other residents were charged after coughing or spitting on police officers during arrest while claiming they have COVID-19.

Jose Ruiz, 51, Jersey City, was charged on May 15 with making terroristic threats during an emergency aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, throwing bodily fluids at an officer, and violating the emergency orders after he was arrested by the Jersey City police for allegedly committing three separate armed robberies in Jersey City.

At the time of his arrest, Ruiz allegedly asked police how they could be sure he was not infected with COVID-19. When questioned further, he allegedly told police they would find out shortly and then spat in an officer’s face.

In connection with three armed robberies, Ruiz was also charged with three counts of robbery, two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm, two counts of possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and unlawful possession of a weapon. Ruiz allegedly committed a single armed robbery in Jersey City on May 2, and two armed robberies in Jersey City on May 9.

Jose Morales, Jr., 24, from Kearny, was charged with making terroristic threats during an emergency, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, and throwing bodily fluids in Kearny on May 16.

Morales was also charged with receiving stolen property, a vehicle, in connection with the incident, and violating the emergency orders. When Morales was taken into custody by Kearny Police, he allegedly twice indicated that he had COVID-19 and spat at a Kearny police officer.

The charges are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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