WHAT’S FOR LUNCH ?

The Z Team, Benny Abruzzo, Al Spearman and Eddie Jones were on a role busting drug offenders almost every day.  They enjoyed their jobs and knew that they were making a dent in cleaning up the streets of Newark.  They worked hard and lived on the edge every day.

They rewarded themselves with the days they could just sit, relax and have lunch together with a few laughs.  Lunch was a big deal, you might find them in some of the best local restaurants in town although a slice of good pizza or a hot dog smothered in onions and potatoes were favorites too.

Lunch was Benny’s favorite time of day.  As a young boy, his mother Katherine would send him to school with a pepper and egg sandwich on 1/2 a loaf of Italian bread in a paper bag oozing with olive oil or sausage and pepper sandwich dripping in oil and running down onto to pants.  He didn’t care, he was envied by everyone in school carrying their boring peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

To this day, Benny is still in search of his mother’s authentic homestyle cooking and you can find him any day of the week having lunch at his favorites joints like Top of the Park in Boonton where they serve him some favorites like escarole and beans with a side of juicy meatballs or their signature dish,  cod fish oregano.  He’ll travel to Casa DiNapoli in Union City for Scungilli in a spicy tomato sauce or bacalla salad just like his mother made or to Parsippany’s Reservior Tavern for homemade sausage with potatoes with a cold beer. He’ll travel to Lu Cas in Edison, NJ any day of the week to enjoy the best Seafood Fra Diavolo you’ll ever taste.   It’s no wonder why he’s developed the gout in his retirement years.   His car has never left New Jersey but he manages to go over the allotted mileage every year just going to lunch.

I can’t help myself getting sidetracked with food and Benny’s love for food but back to the Z TEAM and their stories.

Sargent Peter Nevargic from the narcotics squad received a tip that drugs were being sold outside the Federal Building in Newark from a hot dog vendor.  The Z Team was informed to set up surveillance on the vendor.  The vendor had a booming business, selling dogs to many of the employees from the Federal Building and passers by.   The tip was that if you had the code word and an extra $10 you could buy a deck of heroin with your loaded dog.  Eddie went in for the buy, it was easy, he walked away with a loaded hot dog and a deck of heroin on the side.  Al and Benny came in for the bust.  The vendor had over 240 decks of heroin ready to go with your order.

Thank God that job was over quick.  They almost missed lunch.

The hot dog vendor wasn’t the only guy in town selling “lunch with a punch.”  Charley’s University Pizzeria and Restaurant located near the Newark College of Engineering was known for selling marijuana to students and many locals.  The owner of the pizzeria was the supplier of the controlled substance and his business was booming.  Order a slice of pizza, with the special side sauce and an extra $5 and everyone was happy.  After a few days of surveillance and a few slices of  terrible pizza without the special sauce the Z Team made their move and arrested Charley for the sale of drugs, intent to sell and possession of a loaded 38 revolver.

So remember if the business is booming and the food is not so good, it might be a front for elicit activity. ImageImageImageImage

 

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