EXCLUSIVE: One of three Hudson County men who North Arlington police said had a loaded gun in their car when they were stopped going through town was out on parole after serving 33 months behind bars — his second state prison stretch in the past five years, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has found.
At 25 years old, he’s looking at an even longer sentence now if convicted of the gun charge.
While companions Christian Torruellas and Bernardo Guzman, both of Jersey City, were released Tuesday after posting $21,000 bail each, ex-con Jonathan Zayas of Union City remained held this morning in the Bergen County Jail pending a hearing.
He, like the others, is charged with illegal weapons possession (by a felon), receiving stolen property (the gun) and possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Zayas spent 14 months in state prison beginning in late November after being convicted of creating a risk by leading police on a car chase when they tried to arrest him for selling drugs.
He was released in January 2010 but was returned in March 2011 for robbery, records show. He was then released from a Newark halfway house in December of last year.
North Arlington police notified Newark’s Homicide Unit after taking the three men into custody Monday night.
“Given all the shootings there, we wanted to be sure just in case this weapon is connected to any of them,” Police Chief Louis Ghione told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
The incident began when Officer Christopher Redmond stopped a car for a routine traffic violation on the Belleville Turnpike at River Road around 7 p.m.
He and assisting Officer David Hudak “spotted a bag of marijuana in plain view,” Ghione said.
“They asked the three occupants of the car questions and got evasive answers,” the chief said. “This heightened their suspicions.”
The officer called for a K9 unit from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office and quickly got a hit on the car, Ghione said.
They then found a 9mm Luger reported stolen out of Illinois, he said.
The three men were taken into custody.
MUGSHOT: Courtesy NJ DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS