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 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…

 

 

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

SUPERHERO – FOOD DEVIL – TROUBLESHOOTER – PAPA

So what ABOUT BENNY..Superhero, Food Devil, Troubleshooter, Grand-Papa  Well if you been lucky or unlucky enough to know Benny, you will have your own story to tell about him and we want you to POST your story right here.

First why this blog about him.  Well, he and I were crazy enough to end up as guests on the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb on November 25, 2013 in a segment called “Cut the Creep”, in regards to keeping off the added weight gain during the holidays. I’m a fan of the show and it resonated with me not only because of holiday weight gain but the truth that Benny romances me with food all year and in the 20 years we’ve been together, I’ve gained over 30 pounds.  Anyway, enough about me. Benny was invited on to the show with me because I called him my “Food Devil.”  All he did was sit in the background on the set of the Today Show and eat a piece of pumpkin pie and he quickly had a fan club of many followers.  All he had to do was EAT A PIECE OF PIE…Anyway, I knew he was a STAR to begin with.  He’s been more than a STAR in my life and the lives of many others.  You see, Benny was and is a HERO, rather SUPERHERO Retired cop with lots of stories to tell including the most famous case of the arrest of the Frank Lucas family and gang in the early 1970’s.  You may have seen the movie, American Gangster starring Denzil Washington and Russell Crowe.  That movie was loosely based on the story of Frank Lucas and the Country Boys and their arrests by 3 hero undercover detectives, Benny Abruzzo, Alvin Spearman and Eddie Jones also known as the Z TEAM.

What does this story and Benny eating a piece of pie have to do with one another, well keep coming back for more true stories ABOUT BENNY.