BENNY MOVES TO THE COUNTRY

Farmer Benny

Farmer Benny

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Well folks, we moved to the “sticks.” Who would ever believe that Benny would trade in the sounds of deafening car alarms, gunshots, streets filled with drugs and crime for the sweet sounds of song birds, polite people, corn fields, easy flowing traffic and plush green mountains. Yes folks, we moved to the woods in early July.
The move was great but not uneventful . As usual, there is always a good Benny story to be told.
I hired a local moving company based on my own trust for people and the best price. Benny of course, does not trust anyone and is very much a pro at recognizing trouble before it hits. I hate to say this but he is RIGHT most of the time. Yes, I said it, He’s RIGHT.
A crew of 4 men arrived early on Monday in a Ryder truck that obviously was not large enough to accommodate our belongings. That set Benny off in a tirade, I on the other hand believed they would find a way to make everything fit. Benny grabbed a folding chair and carefully supervised each guys every move. The men were very respectful of our things and were getting the job done in record time. The foreman was a quite man, dressed very shabby, his pants were short, worn and frayed at the bottom with no belt to hold them up. I felt sad for him. The other 3 men were young, strong and fast moving Guatamalians. They spoke mostly Spanish and Benny understood everything they said. They moved on to the garage while Benny joined them sitting on his folding chair in his supervisory role. Almost everything fit. I was willing to leave the rest and return with my car for remaining goods but Benny made a stink. The poor guys were only doing their job to the best of their ability. Benny then told them to follow them up to Hackettstown. Following Benny under normal circumstances can be a nightmare, since he drives like a cop with a purpose and he changes lanes without notice. They were almost at our new home when the truck’s brakes failed at the bottom of the hill in Hackettstown and BOOM they smashed into the back of Benny’s car. Oh my, was this the supervisor’s punishment? The car was almost totaled, he was okay but needed to call the police and fill out a police report. He then told the driver and the 3 workers of his intent and asked them one question, “ are any of you wanted by the law or illegal in this country?” The driver told him he just got out of prison from a drug charge which explained the worn pants and no belt. Then the 3 Guatamalians ran away as fast as they could. Now what !! Our movers are gone, no muscle to move us in. The driver made it to our new home with Benny’s banged up car but no one else. So us old folks started carrying boxes until my son Dave showed up with his friend and within an hour the Guatemalians found their way here on foot. It was a wild and crazy day but we settled in and each day gets better and better.
Benny is making himself known in this neck of the woods. His rough and tough personality, his foul mouth but good heart and generosity is getting a lot of attention. Oh course, he has found many new places to eat and make himself an icon. His first stop every day is the Hackettstown Health Food Store on Main Street where he has a fresh squeezed carrot juice or fruit smoothie, he sometimes helps himself to the vegan buffet if he’s not in the mood for a big Italian Hot Dog. Uzma and Lenore knew right off that Benny likes to be waited on and have a little attention so they serve him just like his Mom did. His other new place is Enzo’s in Budd Lake where he does have that Juicy Italian Hot Dog. It’s a place that feels like home with robust women in full aprons cooking in the back, filling the place with aromas from his childhood. Oh yes and the women at Candy’s Café on Route 57 are waiting on him hand and foot and filling his belly with warm homemade soups and delicious rice pudding. They see him pulling into the parking lot and they scurry to the kitchen to get him something hot, hot food that is. No wonder he’s not hungry when he gets home.
He does come home to eat often but only after a stop at Donaldson’s Farm known for the best corn in New Jersey.He’s addicted to thieir fresh corn and , gigantic Jersey tomatoes, fresh grown garlic and the best peach pie in the world.
He also found a new gym in Ledgewood, he has no choice but to go often or he’d weight 400 lbs.
He also has every opportunity to spend time with our grandson Julius. The only one who can boss him around and tell him NO. He’s playing ball outside, going down slides in the playgrounds and just enjoying being a Papa. He sat in the parking lot of Julius’s Preschool and cried when he saw him on the first day of school. He’s such a Mush. Hackettstown will never be the same since Benny has arrived. I’m sure there will be many stories to tell but next time I will go back to the days in Newark when Benny Abruzzo, Al Spearman and Eddie Jones better known as the ZTEAM conquer crime in Newark with their bold and unconventional heroism.

THE POWER OF CLEAVAGE

Benny, Al Spearman and Eddie Jones worked together in the narcotics squad for several years along with Sgt. John Arnold.  Al was the undercover guy doing most of the drug buys, Eddie was the driver in the busts, did surveillance and recorded the intake of drugs, Benny was the search & seizure guy although they were all capable of any part of the job.

They were proudly called the Z-TEAM because they did the job from A to Z, never leaving a stone unturned.  They would arrest the small time drug dealer and push forwarded until they caught the main supplier.  There are years of stories to be told about the Z-Team, their efforts and achievement in the capture and arrests of many, many opportune drug dealers.  Those stories will be told in future posts so don’t miss them.

Al Spearman was an Academy Award winning undercover cop.  He could play any role needed in the pursuit of narcotic offenders. Dressing the part, looking the part and putting his life on the line every day while posing as a drug addict in pursuit of drug dealers.  He often provoked Benny for being a recognizable cop and said he would never be able to do a buy undercover.  Benny liking a challenge told Al he could disguise himself enough to make a buy.  Benny was known on the streets amongst the criminals as “Kojak” with his bald head, short pants, white socks, physically fit stature and a cigar hanging out of his mouth.  He had that COP look.

His plan was to use his own vehicle which at this time was a 1100CC Honda Motorcycle and take along his very busty girlfriend for the ride.  He loved his women hot and sexy as long as they enjoyed food as much as he did.  So she hops on the back of his bike with her well-endowed breasts showing lots of cleavage.  A definite show stopper and great distraction for any man.  Benny was wearing a full helmet with dark goggles when he drove up to the informed location of a new bunch of street dealers.   The drug dealers would sell to anyone who came buy, they kept the drugs under benches in empty cigarette packs and small paper bags so they wouldn’t be holding if the police stopped by.

Benny pulled up on his impressive motorcycle with his busty babe on the back of the bike and asked the dealer if he had cocaine for sale.  The guy was seduced by the woman’s voluptuous breasts which caused him not to notice that Benny just could be a cop.  He sold Benny a $10 tin of cocaine.  Benny knowing he had this guy, then told him he had guns to sell and wanted to know if he was interested.  Oh course, drug dealers need guns too.  He was interested so they exchanged contact information to make arrangements for another meet.

The next meeting with the dealer and his supplier came a few weeks later because other cases took priority.  Benny showed up on crutches using them as his new distraction. He gave the dealer some cockamamey story about being in a bad motorcycle accident.  He explained this was why he was eager to get on with the gun deal and hoped he could buy more drugs because their cocaine was the best around.  This was just the set up to buy more drugs from not only the dealer but now the supplier.  He bought another supply of cocaine and had enough evidence to arrest them.  They were arrested for the sale of cocaine and conspiracy to violate the narcotics laws.

Al and Eddie never challenged Benny again.  They continued to do their jobs with the best of their abilities and antics and would continue to remain everlasting friends.

I don’t think any hot young babes will be be hopping on the back of his bike anymore but just maybe a few old broads will go for a short ride and a cheap thrill.

 

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Photo of Benny and Mary Iadonisi (his mother-in-law)  a few years ago.

Character Drawing of Benny & Kathy…in our hay day…

 

 

HOW MANY PULL-UPS ???

In August 1969 Benny was transferred to the Narcotics squad along with 11 other tough guys who would dedicate their lives and careers to the job of cleaning up the streets of Newark.  After bouncing around with different partners, Benny teamed up with Mitch McGuire as a regular partner.  The two were relentless in their pursuit of criminal activity and did whatever it took to get the job done.  The job called for some creative ideas, fast thinking, sharp awareness and their own personal strength to keep going.  The two knew the game of “good cop – bad cop”, and were able to engage a handful of informants.  With informants, you give them a deal too good to refuse and they give you information on criminal activity.  I can’t tell you what those deals where so use your imagination.

It was getting close to the end of their shift on Jan. 21, 1972 when they made the rounds stopping to talk to their informants.  This particular night, one informant told them there was a drug deal going down around 8PM on Elizabeth Ave.  Working late was never an issue with either cop, they were addicted to the job, so they called the captain in order to set up a surveillance team at the address on Elizabeth Ave.  Benny and Mitch reached the address first and scoped out the place.  They knew the apartment with the drugs was on the second floor, moving around to the back of the building, the second floor was easier access because each window had a brick ledge which could be used to maneuver from one apartment window to another.  Benny shimmied from one window to another until he reached the right apartment, he pulled himself up to the open window and saw in clear view a table loaded with drugs ready to be bagged up.  He then walkie-talkied the surveillance team to go in through the front while he covered the back window.  He kept himself pulled up to watch any activity inside.  The cops rang the front door bell, the suspects opened the door not expecting the police. The drugs where in plain view and it was too late to hide them.  The five suspects were arrested for possession of over $25,000 worth of heroin and narcotics paraphernalia. 

A court case was to be assigned but only after a Suppression Hearing which was held by a liberal Judge and liberal Public Defender who never believed the cops and often sided with the criminals.  The hearing was to see if the evidence was gained legally and the actions of the police were believable. 

The smart-ass public defender did not believe that Benny was able to see the drugs from the window because he just couldn’t see how he could have held himself up in a pull-up position for any length of time. So the public defender tried to pull himself up using the judge’s bench with his legs folded.  He could not budge himself one inch so he then challenged Benny to do the same.  So Benny walked up to the Judge’s bench, asked how many pull-ups he wanted him to do and proceeded to do many pull-ups staring the judge in the eyes with each pull-up.  The judge said “Okay, okay,” Officer Abruzzo, you can stop now as the people in the court room chuckled.

The case was eventually brought to trial and the 5 defendants where found guilty of all charges.

This was a case to be celebrated by all the officers involved, Mitch McGuire, Eddie Bimbo, Louis Martins, Joseph Costa,  Alfred Pepe, Angelo D’Onofrio, Bobby Scott, Jack O’Leary and Benny Abruzzo, not just because they locked up these guys but because justice had been served.

 

end of the law.ImageImageImageThat really is Benny hanging on the window ledge..Check out the white socks and the balding head….

THE ENFORCERS – TACTICAL FORCE TEAM

In early 1969 a new Tactical Force was developed in the Newark Police Department.  The city was in desperate need of new methods to combat the increase in violent crimes. Captain Chris Volz was to head up the Tactical Squad with 36 highly trained men who would be on call 24 hours working in plain clothes, uniforms, on foot and in patrol cars.  Over 200 men where screened for this dangerous and very intense job.  The preferential men were as follows:  Robert Scarpone, Thomas Rizzo, Richard Capobianco, James Pittaro, Baldesario (Benny) Abruzzo, William Richardson, David Gordon, Stanley Ford, William Leone, George Lytwin, Robert Rankin, John Baird, James Moretti, Peter Leone, Nicholas Guarino, Gary Egan, Patrick Dullaghan, Alberico Alfano, Joseph Ward, Donald Walsh, Phillip Walker, Eugene Nicholson, William Coley, Richard Schmalz, Daniel Blue, James Ventola,, Joseph Mosca, Charles Conte, Joseph Curran, Charles Kelly Jr., & William Clark.  They were the new enforcers,  young, strong, eager, sharp and dedicated men ready to aggressively attack the city’s criminal activity.

The three new sergeants assigned to the force were Chester Popek, Antonio Bonavita and Richard Masterson, better know as “Bat” Masterson.

Sergeant Popek chose Benny Abruzzo as his driver and partner knowing of Benny’s previous reputation as a police officer.  The first week they drove together in their unmarked car they were called by the dispatcher of a robbery in progress at a gas station. They were given the description of the suspects and told they were both armed with guns.  Sergeant Manghisi was also in an unmarked car and was able to track and follow the suspects until Popek and Benny were in close proximitry, both cars then blocked each end of the street trapping their suspects.  Knowing they were armed and dangerous, they drew their weapons and captures both robbers.  they were in possession of .25 caliber automatics and marijuana.

There wasn’t a night that went by without several arrest from these Enforcers but Benny and the Department knew there was more to be done.  Benny knew that the Narcotics Squad was in desperate need of new blood, new direction and giving top priority in cutting down crimes being fueled by drugs.  He complained constantly to Sergeant Popek not knowing that his brother-in-law Lt. Al Gomes ran the Narcotics Unit.  He asked Benny what would you do if you were assigned to the Narcotics Unit and he said, ” I’ll show you what can be done, just give it to me.”  And that was the first step into his transfer to Narcotics where he would stay for the next 17 years and make a huge difference in the city of Newark and the state of New Jersey.

You won’t want to miss the action coming up.  They didn’t call him Kojak for nothing.ImageImage

CLARK KENT OR SUPERMAN

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Another days work on the streets of Newark.  Benny’s still working as a plain clothes police officer but now he’s driving his own personal beat up car.  He knew the criminals knew the cops by their unmarked cars and he wanted to sneak up on them with his own rusty car with a smashed bumper.  He talked the department into giving him a police radio in the car so he could be on the scene as fast as his 54 Dodge would get him there.  He was finally off duty and on his way home when a call came over the radio of a robbery in progress at Hopp’s Drug Store only 2 blocks from his house.  He was at the scene in a flash with his hand on his revolver as he entered the drug store and announced he was a cop.  He observed 2 criminals with stockings over their head, one holding a .38 caliber revolver and one with a bloody knife. He then witnessed one victim  bleeding from his head which was slashed from a knife as he struggled with the outlaw, the other victim was on the floor bleeding from a gun shot to his leg.  Benny quickly apprehended both bandits single handed with his gun drawn on them and disarming both men. He then secured them both up against the wall until the calvary arrived.

He was awarded  an official commendation :  Class B, Medal of Merit, for his dedicated police work, alertness, quick response, courage, devotion and the prevention of more serious injuries.

He sounds like Superman to me…Wikipedia lists Superman’s abilities as SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH, SPEED, INTELLIGENCE, INVULNERABILITY, FLIGHT, FREEZING BREATH, MULTIPLE EXTRASENSORY AND VISION POWERS, HEALING FACTOR ..

Look up in the sky, it’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, NOOOO it’s Benny Abruzzo…faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall fences in a single bound.  Often disguised as a mild mannered guy fights the unending battle for truth, justice and the American Way…

SUSPICION AND INTUITION

Shortly after walking the beat, Benny was assigned to work as a plain clothes police officer in an unmarked car.  The job of the unmarked car was to look for suspicious characters, questionable activity and to respond to crimes in progress.  He was assigned to work with John Marshall and John Arnold on rotation.  Trusting in your partners to cover your back is an essential part of the job.

Benny’s only quandary was dressing in plain clothes.  He definitely has his quirks, one being that he liked to wear his pants a little short in case he had to run fast or jump a fence, the other being that he would only wear short white socks.  He just didn’t like his feet to sweat in dark socks so he actually had a doctor’s note saying he couldn’t wear black socks which were required by the police department.  He always found a way to get his way.

One night while on routine patrol they spotted a suspicious looking guy, just cops intuition.  As they all exchanged looks, the guy then took off like a bat out of hell, the two sharp-eyed, fleet footed cops jumped out of the car and chased the suspect into a building,  onto the roof where they where sharply aware that he fit the description a man wanted for the murder of a retired police officer. They had memorized his photo on a wanted poster in the precinct.

Retired Police Officer Arthur E. Henry was shot to death while interrupting a hold up of a clothing store on Market St. in Newark.  The suspects got away with $35 from the customers in the store.  A great man and hero lost his life over that.

The suspect was arrested and arraigned on murder charges.

The 2 men involved in his murder has not been caught until Benny and Arnold caught up with one guy and he then gave up his partner in crime who was then apprehended in Florida.

Now I think we all understand why he wears short pants.  Hate to think he couldn’t catch the bad guy if he was tripping over his pants.  40 Years later he’s still wearing his pants too short, just in case….Image

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REAL COPS AND ROBBERS

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So we left off at Benny twirling his night stick while walking the beat and now the real action starts.

He’s been a walking the beat for about 7 months along with another rookie cop Robert Briganti, both being city boys they are keenly aware of their surroundings.  They are on foot patrol on a cold winter night in February  when they observed some unusual behavior from the shoppers and store clerks at the A & P Supermarket.  The people in the store were all motionless with the look of fear on their faces.  Both rookies feared that if a hold-up was in progress there could be serious injuries if  weapons were involved.   Benny went into the store while his partner stayed outside . As soon as he entered the store a store clerk knowing Benny spoke Italian, yelled out in Italian that the men just robbed them at gun point.   He quickly ran out after them and  then heard 3 shots fired towards his partner.  He was aware that his partner was not hit and he had a clear target of one of the suspects running into an alley way,  he pulled the trigger of his .38 revolver and hit the robber in the buttocks sending him down to the ground.  He then apprehending the robber who was holding a .45 caliber revolver and the stolen money.  The other suspect was chased and apprehended on a rooftop by the responding police officers.

He and his partner were both given a Medal of Honor for their courage in the face of extreme danger and their concern for the lives of many innocent citizens as they refrained from using their weapons until an opportunity prevailed.

They were also awarded a Certificate of Merit- Police Officer of the Month for the commendable service performed.

This is only in the beginning…He has a long career with many dangerous criminals just waiting to get caught by this  true life character Benny who fights  for TRUTH-JUSTICE and THE AMERICAN WAY.

Oh and by the way, he still has dreams of chasing bad guys as I often witness him thrashing in his sleep.  He always catches the bad guy even in his dreams.

ONCE A COP ALWAYS A COP

I’m so glad my Papa is retired because we get to play all the time except the days he is still catching bad guys and bad women.

Grandma told me a story about the day he was taking his usual nap in his car in the parking lot at his gym which is also the same parking lot of grandma’s favorite store, Marshalls.  He wasn’t happy that he was woken up by a man and a woman yelling in the parking lot so he peeked out from under his leopard lined eye mask to witness a struggle between two people.  He quickly jumped out of the car to check out the situation and quickly found out that the man was an off-duty police officer and the woman just walked out of Marshalls with a cart filled with stolen items.  The man was trying to stop her to no avail until Papa stepped in.  Papa told grandma that the lady then fell down but grandma asked “did she fall down near you or the other guy?”  Hmm, Grandma knows Papa very well.  He admitted the lady fell near him so he tried to hold her until the police arrived, she screamed at him saying she had Aids, Sars and that she was pregnant, (all untrue) it didn’t stop Papa from trying to handcuff her while he sat on her.  She tried to bite him but he said some bad words to her, ” if you bite me, I’ll knock your F******* teeth out.”  You see, Papa always has his handcuffs on him, just in case he runs into a bad guy or lady and it seems like he always runs into trouble.

The police finally arrived and it took 4 police officers to put her into the police car.

It was determined that she stole over $2500 worth of stuff which is considered Grand Larceny, she was also Wanted for robbery and giving a false name.

Papa only wanted to go to the gym and get his handcuffs back.

That’s why, my Papa is my hero…I am so proud of him.

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The twirling Night Stick (Baton)- ” You’ll knock your eye out kid.”

In the police academy, each new police officer had to learn how to twirl their night stick..Not sure what the twirling meant but I can see why their are few or no baton twirlers at the football games.  Anyway, Benny’s first job out of the police academy was to walk a 4 mile beat on South Orange Avenue in Newark.  He didn’t mind because he loved the exercise, being outside and he had a chance to look at all the sexy women.  Well, to look cool on the beat, he twirled his night stick, not being very good at it he still kept it moving.  He came across a”hot babe” (his words), and being distracted, he hit himself in the head over his eye with the stick..Back at the station and bleeding from his eye brow he had his first and only “on the job” injury.

I’d say, he would still hit himself with the night stick if a “Hot” woman walked by…ImageImage