The Courier-News from Bridgewater, New Jersey on October 20, 1996 · Page 15
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The Courier-News from Bridgewater, New Jersey · Page 15

Bridgewater, New Jersey
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 20, 1996
Page 15
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The Sunday Gour ier-Neujs Mndk inside . taucation, B-4,6 'Trflncnnrtatinn RC Q&A, B-2 Obituaries, B-3 vLJ llllHUillll13 LOCAL B01EFS Police charge 10 in prostitution probe Police have arrested 10 sus-- pects at an alleged brothel at 302 : E. Sixth St. in Plainfield after in vestigating complaints. Juan Matias, 31-year-old resi- . dent of the house was rharuert . ' D . Friday with promoting a house of prostitution, maintaining a nuisance and selling alcohol without a license. Matias is being held on $7 (inn nash hail Also arrested at the same lo- cation Friday and charged with r nrncf if lltmn mora, iKr-iil 1 1 l?S - Wierna :1 of V laintio rt- Kathv Almonte, 19, of New York City; Maritza Lopez, 33, of the Bronx, N.Y.; Katerin Valencia, 36, of New Brunswick; Marizol Tamarez, 26, of Plainfield; a 14-year-old girl from New York City; Migullina Pere, 26, of Plainfield; and Luis Paiz Rivas, 24, of North Plainfield. ' All are being held on $500 cash : bail. I '-: Also, Nelson Portillo, 20, of - O - -- J ; with obstructing the administra- - uon ot tne law ana resisting arrest. He is being held on $500 cash bail. City working to help the needy at holidays The city's anti-poverty agency will be collecting Thanksgiving food for needy people and holiday . gifts for needy children, Mayor Mark Knrv sain ' Plainfield Action Services will pegin lis annual joy oi uivmg non- day season activities with the food drive now through Nov. 8. Anyone wishing to provide food should contact the agency at (908) 753-3519. Needy children up to age 13 will be the focus of the December Holiday Project. The agency is accepting nonperishable foods, toys, books and clothing, especially socks, gloves, undergarments and sweaters. Disposable diapers are also needed. For more information, call Betty Blake at (908) 753-3518 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. Fanwood fund-raiser may save cops' lives A nifi rrj-nci nnmmiffnn i r nnn O t j buy new bulletproof vests for the ; Police Department. : - One of the drive organizers, Fred Chemidlin, said $4,000 al- - ready has been raised through contributions from several service clubs and businesses. He said the committee will appeal soon to the public. A group of Fanwood business -people raisea money 10 Duy i ' vests about seven years ago. ; Police Capt. Robert Carboy ; said the vests need to be upgraded periodically, and the 20 new vests would give each member of the department additional protection while on duty. Carboy said the department does not purchase vests for police . officers as part of their uniform. : :Under borough policy, police offi-: -Cers do not receive a uniform ""allowance which they could use to buy their own vests, as some departments do. Tek Talmont Last debates approach in Courier-News series The Courier-News is sponsoring a series of debates for candidates . -running in county and con-vgressional races. The debates, which are open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday: Somerset County freeholder candidates Daniel Glicklich and Joseph Pranzatelli, the Democrats, and Rose McCon-nell and Peter Palmer, the Republicans. The debate will be at the Somerset County Library, Nnrth Rrirtue Street and Vort Drive, Bridgewater. . Oct. 28: 7th Congressional District candidates Bob Franks, a Democrat; Dorothy De Laura, a Conservative; and Robert G. Robertson of Socialist Workers Party. The debate will be at the Italian-American Club, 403 Somerset St. in North Plainfield. TOOAY The New Jersey Literary flail of Fame dedicates a permanent display area at New Jersey Institute of Technology; 4 p.m., First Floor, University Hall, Newark. EOT A TIP? For questions or comments, you can e-mail us at or can reach Metro Editor Joe McDonald at (908)707-3123 Juarbe Osbaldo of North Plainfield tries to jump start his car on Grove Street. The storm caused at Dunellen declares state of emeraencv By MICHAEL DAIGLE and ROSA CIRIANNI Courier-News Staff Writer For the second time this year, public safety officials had to deal with flooded streets, evacuated families and the danger that the water would be even higher this morning. A drenching storm dumped nearly 6 inches of rain on Central Jersey Saturday, much of it falling over 16 hours. By Saturday evening, 5.65 inches of rain had fallen on the region with the heaviest amounts recorded between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m,, said Vivian Scher-er, U.S. Cooperative Weather Observer in Plainfield. This was almost twice the normal rainfall for the month of October 3.4 inches Scherer said. The record rainfall for any 24-hour period was set Aug. 15, 1969, when 7.14 inches fell in Central Jersey, nearly all of it within a 2 12 hour Isaac Wright ... says case is 'about courage' At the 1 1 No matter what, former Somerset County Prosecutor Nick Bissell is going to greet the 21st century in prison. That's been a given since he was convicted on federal tax evasion, fraud and misconduct charges last spring. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark is recommending a 10-year-sentence for Bissell. Federal Judge Alfred J. Lechner Jr. is not likely to go easy on him. Less certain is the fate of Barbara Bissell, who, like her husband, was convicted on all charges against her. Mrs. Bissell faces a prison term of 2-34 years to almost 3-12 years since the jury did not buy her defense that she was sucked unwittingly into her husband's vortex of criminal deceit. With the hope of sparing his wife and two daughters from further hardship, Nick Bissell has written two letters to Judge Lechner. In both letters, which were printed , ,x. . ,1.. .' period. .-, Less than four years later, on Aug. 2, 1973, storms dumped 7.09 inches on already saturated ground in just a few hours, spawning flash floods that killed six people in Somerset and Union counties. In Dunellen, Mayor James Sheenan said the borough, "had a rough go of it." Families along North Washington Street and Lower Mountainview Terrace were evacuated. Sheenan said the Presbyterian Church set up a temporary shelter. Most families stayed with relatives or families, he said. The borough declared a state of emergency at 2:30 p.m. Sheenan said the worst section for flooding was at North Washington Street and Lower Mountainview Terrace, near the bridge to Green Brook. He said the borough received help from several neighboring municipalities. See WET on Page B-2 This week, By ANNA FARNESKI Courier-News Staff Writer A judge could decide this week whether a man authorities pegged as one of Central Jersey's biggest drug dealers deserves a new trial because of police and prosecutorial misconduct. Armed with a new, high-powered criminal defense attorney, and heartened by dramatic courtroom admissions by police officers in hearings last month Isaac Wright plans this th hour, Bissell pleads case W Tom f Perry -mm 1 I I . . Saturday in The Courier-News, he pleads with the judge to throw the book at him, but go easy on bis wife. In a sense, Nick Bissell has fallen on his sword belatedly for his family. Mrs. Bissell's attorney, Rita Donnelly, noted that "it is the first time that Nick Bissell admitted that she was not involved. I think it's a long time in coming...." Since Bissell is confined to his Montgomery home and probably doesn't have much to do, this was the least the guy could do. Based on the information contained in Bissell's letters, there are mmmmmm i jii ii m 11 i .,. im hiiuj.ii m iu!..mmx i 11 n p.miwji i!w ...ait.. m 1. 111 i . i.i i ..ui " ... . (: . .. r i-.y . ' i.'v A - w . - , . . ... .. . . Courier-News photo by Ed Pagliarinl North Branch residents carry belongings on Route 28 after being evacuated. The North Branch of the Raritan was reported to be at its second-highest level ever. The record of 1 5.5 feet was set in 1 971 . scales may tip in Wright's favor week to call more than a dozen law enforcement officers to testify in state Superior Court in Somerville. In telephone interviews last week, the 34-year-old record producer turned convict and jailhouse attorney said he also will attempt to recall former Somerset County Prosecutor Nicholas L. Bissell Jr. to the witness stand on Monday. Wright claims Bissell and his detectives conducted illegal searches and wiretaps in his case, and coerced his co-defendants into giving orchestrated testimony during his 1991 trial two ways to look at this saga of criminal malfeasance. First, if federal authorities offered Mrs. Bissell two chances to avoid prosecution, as her husband wrote in a letter published for the first time Saturday, she probably should have jumped at the offer. Bissell wrote that his wife could not take the plea-bargain offers due to "her lack of knowledge of any criminal activity." "She would have done anything to avoid a trial and to save the girls from what they now face if she could have," he wrote. Judge Lechner could have read this and wondered, "Well, she had two chances to avoid indictment and passed on them both. Why didn't she just play ball, as well as she could, with the government?" One can also reason that even if she were unaware of the crimes and gravity of the situation, certainly her husband, a skilled prosecutor and lawyer, had to realize ihe risks 4 least four accidents in the borough for drug trafficking. Wright was convicted under the state's drug kingpin statute, as well as a host of other first-degree drug charges, and sentenced to life in prison. The state's highest courts reversed the kingpin conviction and Wright alleges that the gross misconduct by the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office entitles him to a new trial. "Regardless of the merits of all the other issues, just on that search issue alone he'd have to grant a new trial," Wright said, referring to compelling inherent in rolling the dice against the federal government's crack team of prosecutors. Perhaps Bissell was blinded by his own hubris and arrogance. Perhaps he was so convinced that he could beat this rap that he persuaded his wife to join the crap shoot. The second way to look at it is to accept the letters at face value and buy into Bissell's position that his "unsophisticated" wife was a victim and not a co-conspirator. For Judge Lechner to embrace that view, he would have to believe that Nick Bissell is one of the most despicable, manipulative and uncaring husbands and fathers ever to be convicted of a nonviolent crime. The Bissells are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 13, though that date may be pushed back again, according to those following the case. Whenever he stands before Judge Lechner again, Nick Bissell is likely to be sent off with a stiff sentence and harsh words from the court. ) ITgDrQ iiwhu-li mnwnjHiijt in tmm jigp. . j-w'M-viyMi''!" " 11 11 1 Courier-News photo by Kenny Pang and several people were injured. and disturbing testimony in September from Det. James Dugan and retired Chief of Detectives Richard Thornburg. Wright contends the wrongdoing, an inconsequential legal blip accord-, ing to the state, sufficiently tainted the entire investigation of him and" entitles him to a new trial. "It's very, very hard to prove allegations against the police," Wright said. "When you see this stuff coming out you have to say, 'Damn, there's See WRIGHT on Page B-3 for wife But the most accurate reading of Lechner's judicial disdain for the former prosecutor might well be found in Mrs. Bissell's sentence. If she's jailed, it will be a pretty good sign that the judge believes she's something more than a dutiful housewife who had the bad fortune to be married to Nick Bissell. If Lechner goes easy on her, it may be because he believes she was manipulated by her husband's self-interest in doing anything possible to save his own skin. Either way, if Mrs. Bissell is imprisoned, it would amount to yet another failure for her husband. He may have fallen on his sword for his family, but in this case, the adage of "better late than never" just does not apply. Q :: Tom Perry's commentary ap- ' pears on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Phone: (908) 707-3146. Send e-mail to:

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