EXCLUSIVE (ONLY ON CVP): A 23-year-old Lodi man awaiting trial on a slew of drug charges from different towns led police on a pre-dawn car chase that began with him barreling across a side-street lawn in Englewood Cliffs and ended with him trying to smash a Moonachie police cruiser on Route 46, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Felix Benitez had been arrested by Lodi police on drug charges and bailed out less than a week ago when Englewood Cliffs Officer Ronald Waldt spotted his black Toyota speeding south on Route 9W just after midnight this morning, Chief Michael Cioffi told CLIFFVIEW PILOT.
The car suddenly turned right onto Middlesex Avenue, a quiet side street, where it began slowing down, apparently to stop, the chief said.
As Waldt drew closer, the car suddenly roared off, breaking 60 miles an hour, before turning onto McDermott Way, he said.
Waldt turned onto the dead end street, as well, when the Toyota suddenly came barreling down the block toward him, headlights off, before veering onto and across a snow-covered lawn, Cioffi told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight.
Rather than risk a chase in a crowded area, Waldt issued an alert on the State Police network, he said.
Moments later, Moonachie Officers Chris Inserra and Victor Migliorino saw the car blow a red light at Route 46 and Highway Street.
Inserra activated his cruiser’s lights and sirens and began chasing the Toyota, which “swerved and braked, trying to hit the police car,” Moonachie Police Chief Michael J. Maguire told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight.
A short distance away, Benitez stopped the car, got out and tried to run, the chief said. The officers quickly grabbed him, however.
Benitez, who turned 23 last month, was being held on a combined $85,000 bail from the two jurisdictions.
Moonachie police charged him with resisting arrest and eluding “with substantial risk of physical injury,” among other counts.
Englewood Cliffs police charged him with assaulting police and eluding. He also received a host of traffic summonses for, among other offenses, reckless driving, speeding and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.
Benitiz, who also was wanted out of Paterson, is awaiting trial on a host of drug-related charges out of Lodi following his arrest there in mid-November, which occurred while he was free on bail from similar charges out of Little Ferry in May.
That same month, Elmwood Park police busted him for driving while on the suspended list.
He is also wanted on a warrant out of Union Township, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.
Besides drug possession and distribution charges, Benitez’s adult record includes a huge list of motor vehicle summonses in East Rutherford, Hackensack and elsewhere dating back to 2007.
MUGSHOT: Moonachie PD