Wednesday, July 26, 2017

James Cardinali, 38, of Jersey City; Victor Sanchez, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights; and Christopher Ortega, 29, of Brick, entered guilty pleas in Newark federal court Tuesday morning for corruption

Three Jersey City police officers have pleaded guilty to corruption charges in federal court, months after the I-Team broke the story of the investigation into an alleged private security and no-show job scandal.

James Cardinali, 38, of Jersey City; Victor Sanchez, 37, of Hasbrouck Heights; and Christopher Ortega, 29, of Brick, entered guilty pleas in Newark federal court Tuesday morning.

The three officers face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when sentenced in November. As part of their plea agreement, Cardinali will forfeit nearly $40,000, Sanchez $21,000 and Ortega $18,000, prosecutors say.

Messages were left with their defense attorneys.

In January, the I-Team reported 11 officers with the Jersey City Police Department were put on restricted duty after investigators alleged they were running their own security operation, which is not permitted while on duty. At times, the officers demanded cash payments from construction firms to avoid city rules and administrative fees, officials said.

Officials familiar with the probe say that in many cases, off-duty officers were paid even though they did not show up at sites where private security is required, including construction zones and utility work. Cardinali, Sanchez and Ortega were among those accused of not showing up to their assignments and falsely signing paperwork indicating that they did.

Some cops also allegedly told drivers of oversized vehicles that they had to pay off-duty officers directly in order to get escorted through city streets.

One officer previously pleaded guilty to helping run the scheme: former Jersey City police officer Juan Romaniello pleaded guilty in federal court last year, admitting that he took over $200,000 in impromper payments and never paid taxes on that money, and that his illegal security scheme ran for about six years. What was not known at the time was how many other officers were allegedly involved.

The investigation comes after four other Jersey City officers were arrested in a separate county case involving alleged overtime abuse and no-show jobs, including for work assignments at the Pulaski Skyway. Former Captain Joseph Ascolese, Lt. Kelly Chesler and officers Michael Maietti and Michael O’Neil deny any wrongdoing.

Investigators say off-duty officers can earn up to $120 an hour for private security work, with the city getting extra service fees to cover administrative costs, overhead and out-of-pocket expenses.

Officials did not say if any developers and business owners are facing scrutiny or if they were victims allegedly shaken down by the officers allegedly involved.

Irvine Auto Towing, Inc. dba Pride Towing and Recovery in Anaheim, and Yaco Investments Inc. dba Stride Towing and Recovery in Oakland fined $4,874,661 for multiple wage theft violations affecting 187 workers including tow truck drivers, dispatchers and mechanics.

Labor Commissioner’s Office Cites Two Towing Companies over $4.8 Million for Wage Theft Violations

Santa Ana—The Labor Commissioner’s Office has cited two California towing companies in Anaheim and Oakland $4,874,661 for multiple wage theft violations affecting 187 workers including tow truck drivers, dispatchers and mechanics.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office last December launched an investigation into Irvine Auto Towing, Inc. dba Pride Towing and Recovery in Anaheim, and Yaco Investments Inc. dba Stride Towing and Recovery in Oakland, after a former worker at Pride Towing filed a wage claim and reported labor law violations. Noel Yaqo and his son Aram Yaco own and operate both towing companies through their corporations, Irvine Auto Towing, Inc. and Yaco Investments Inc.

Employees generally worked 12-hour shifts with no meal or rest breaks, and some worked seven days a week. Pride Towing typically paid workers $110 per day, resulting in an underpayment of regular wages, and Stride Towing failed to pay workers for all overtime hours worked. Drivers and mechanics also incurred unlawful deductions and were charged for uniforms and for any accidents or damages incurred while working in the field.

“This is an egregious case of wage theft affecting a large group of workers who were denied a just day’s pay and forced to work without meal or rest breaks,” said Labor Commissioner Julie A. Su. “My office enforces California’s labor laws to prevent employers from cheating workers as a means to gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors.”

The Labor Commissioner’s Office issued citations to Irvine Auto Towing, Inc. and Yaco Investments Inc. for violations of minimum wage, overtime and meal and rest period provisions for 129 workers at Pride Towing from June 15, 2014 to February 16, 2017, and for 58 workers at Stride Towing from August 15, 2015 to February 16, 2017. The citations include liquidated damages and waiting time penalties, as well as itemized wage statement violations. Both employers have appealed the citations.

When workers are paid less than minimum wage, they are entitled to liquidated damages that equal the amount of underpaid wages plus interest. Waiting time penalties are imposed when the employer fails to provide workers their final paycheck after separation. This penalty is calculated by taking the employee’s daily rate of pay and multiplying it by the number of days the employee was not paid, up to a maximum of 30 days.

The Labor Commissioner’s Office, officially known as the Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, inspects workplaces for wage and hour violations, adjudicates wage claims, investigates retaliation complaints, issues licenses and registrations for businesses, enforces prevailing wage rates and apprenticeship standards in public works projects, and educates the public on labor laws. Its Wage Theft is a Crime multilingual public awareness campaign was launched in 2014 to help inform workers of their rights and employers of their responsibilities. Employees with work-related questions or complaints may contact DIR’s Call Center in English or Spanish at 844-LABOR-DIR (844-522-6734).


Asphalt shingles are the most popular choice in North America for water-shedding roofs. They are relatively inexpensive, easily applied and durable in all weather conditions. There are two basic types: organic and fiberglass. Both of these types are available in a variety of styles such as tab and laminate.  Most asphalt shingles manufactured today have a fiberglass core.
The majority of the people attribute the cause of damage to asphalt shingles to the wind force.  However, we find that the majority of roof shingle failures are caused by factors other than the wind.  
Many factors are affecting wind damage to asphalt shingles.  They include, but are not limited to, the age of the shingle, installation errors (high nailing, poor sealing, etc.), handling/storage errors, premature aging of the shingle, the design of the shingle, and the quality control of the shingle when manufactured (sealant failure, etc.).

FEMA’s post-storm assessments during the past fifteen years have shown asphalt shingle roof systems with six years or more of service were more than 50 percent likely to incur some form of wind damage than their newer counterparts.  We have also seen shingles rapidly deteriorating in roofs that are not well ventilated such as gross gable roofs and cathedral ceiling roofs.  The water condensation in these poorly ventilated roofs led to major water damage issues that were attributed to the leaking roof and damaged shingles.  Our investigations found otherwise.
Regarding the errors during shingle installation, the leading cause of shingle damage, we have observed shingle fastening errors, incorrect fastener placement, poor attachment at the eaves, and so on.
Here is the installation instruction from a leading asphalt shingle manufacturer:
Fastening Instructions
Place fasteners 5/8" above the tab cut-out and below the sealant strip.  Fastening into the sealant strip interferes with sealing and contributes to blow-offs
Use four fasteners in normal wind areas.
Despite these instructions, during our inspections we found that many times the fastener is placed directly through the sealant strip as is illustrated in the attached photo.  This will interfere with the proper adhesion of the top shingle tab to the adhesive strip below.  Many times we observe high-nailing the shingles which prevents the seal strips from coming into contact with the overlying shingle tab, thus preventing it from sealing.  It can also interfere with the complete sealing, resulting in a partial seal.  Other times we observe over-driven or under driven nails.  Many times, the lack of adhesion is evidenced at the edges of the tab, as this is where the incorrectly-placed fastener interference is the greatest.

Sometimes we find a limited number of shingles on a roof did not seal because the cellophane strips have attached to the seal strips instead of staying on the underside of the shingles in the package.  That way, the solar heat could not activate the sealing strip.  It is not unusual to find 15-20 shingles that failed to seal on an average size roof.

Forensic Investigation of Property Damage Claims
Metropolitan Consulting, Engineering & Forensics understands your need to complete a claim investigation accurately and efficiently as possible.  Whether it is accident reconstruction, damage due to environmental forces such as wind, water, hail, snow, tornado, etc.; fire origin and cause investigation or any other claim, the engineers at Metropolitan understand both you and your client want to resolve the claim.  The analysis you receive from Metropolitan will be accurate, complete, timely and cost-effective, giving you the information needed in the claim adjustment and analysis.
Our services have extended beyond the forensic analysis phase into the remediation and repair phase of many large loss claims.  Upon the completion of the cause and origin (C&O) investigation, Metropolitan can provide our clients with complete working drawings and specifications needed to repair or rebuilt damaged buildings or other structures.  Metropolitan Consulting & Engineering’ staff possesses many-many years of experience in rehabilitation design, construction management, and project oversight to ensure the loss is restored in a timely and cost-effective manner without sacrificing quality.  Building code knowledge allows us to identify possible code upgrades as needed.  Metropolitan understands constructability and realizes making an insured whole goes beyond forensic investigation and design. We pride ourselves in providing practical solutions contractors can understand and follow.

Metropolitan Engineering, Consulting & Forensics (MECF)

Providing Competent, Expert and Objective Investigative Engineering and Consulting Services
P.O. Box 520
Tenafly, NJ 07670-0520
Tel.: (973) 897-8162
Fax: (973) 810-0440
Web pages:
We are happy to announce the launch of our twitter account. Please make sure to follow us at @MetropForensics or @metroforensics

Metropolitan appreciates your business.
Feel free to recommend our services to your friends and colleagues.

A 46-year-old worker, Noel Oquendo Noel Oquendo with Berry Plastics was struck in the head and died in Lopatcong Township, NJ

Noel Oquendo (right) with his wife

Lopatcong Township police on Wednesday morning identified the man who died Tuesday at a township plastics manufacturing business.

Noel Oquendo, 46, of Washington, died after an incident involving him trying to resolve an issue with a machine he was using, police Chief Jason Garcia said.

Oquendo was struck in the head, but Garcia didn't have a cause and manner of the Berry Plastics employee's death. The Morris County medical examiner will make that determination.

The company employee was from Washington, police say.

Oquendo was working at a machine that printed labels for plastic bottles before they were shipped, Garcia said Tuesday.

What Garcia termed an industrial accident inside the business at 190 Stryker Road is being investigated by OSHA.

A local manager for the Evansville, Indiana-based corporation didn't return a phone call on Tuesday.

Here is some info on Noel Oquendo form his Facebook page:

Operator at Berry Global
Lives in Washington, New Jersey
From Hoboken, New Jersey


By Tony Rhodin,


A 46-year-old Washington man died Tuesday in an industrial accident at a Lopatcong Township manufacturing company, police report.

The man was working in an area with numerous machines at Berry Plastics, 190 Stryker Road, police Chief Jason Garcia said at the scene.

A preliminary investigation indicates the man was struck in the head just after 11:30 a.m. "as he was tending to a possible problem with the machine he was manning," Garcia said later in a news release. The machine printed labels for plastic bottles before they were shipped, the chief added.

The man was a company employee, Garcia said.

The Morris County medical examiner will determine the cause and manner of death and the man's identity will be released once family is notified, Garcia confirmed.

OSHA sent personnel to investigate the workplace incident at the specialty plastics maker, according to the Avenel, New Jersey, office.

A local plant manager didn't immediately return a phone call seeking more information. The company is based in Evansville, Indiana, with several plants throughout the world.

As a light rain fell early Tuesday afternoon, a few employees quietly got in their cars and drove off, but outside of police vehicles, it was hard to tell something had happened.

A sign outside an entrance says, "Safety's not a job it's our way of life."