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Essex County Sheriff’s Office


April 24, 2018

Contact: Sheriff Armando Fontoura (973) 621-4105



 Law Enforcement Officers and Firefighters

from Irvington, Newark, Nutley, Verona,

the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office,

and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office,

Will Be Presented with Medals for Bravery

 New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

Invited as Guest Speaker

Newark – The 200 Club of Essex County, founded to assist the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty and the oldest such organization of its kind, will hold its 52nd Anniversary Valor Awards luncheon on Thursday, May 10th at Nanina’s In The Park, located at 540 Mill St, Belleville, New Jersey.  The event begins at 11:30 a.m.

Established in 1966, The 200 Club of Essex County has raised nearly $2 million to support the spouses of fallen officers and to fund scholarships for their children through membership dues and the annual luncheon.

The 200 Club of Essex County, comprised of regional business and civic leaders, has spawned 18 similar organizations throughout New Jersey.  Lori Hennon – Bell, vice president and chief security officer for Prudential Financial and The 200 Club president said, “This special organization is dedicated to the principle of caring for those who care for us.  Each year, our support from business and community leaders has dramatically increased.”

“The job of a police officer or firefighter is tougher today than ever before,” stated Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, a member of The 200 Club’s board of trustees.  “Law enforcement and firefighting are extremely hazardous professions which are performed at tremendous personal risk.  The work of The 200 Club of Essex County is greatly appreciated by the entire public safety community and their families.”

According to Hennon – Bell, 12 local law enforcement officers and 9 local firefighters will be recognized for bravery, dedication to duty, courageous vigilance and selflessness with individual Valor Awards and Meritorious Service Awards during the luncheon.

The event’s keynote speaker is scheduled to be Governor Phil Murphy, one of our nation’s leading advocates for reducing gun violence and strengthening New Jersey common-sense gun safety measures.

Nominations for The 200 Club’s Valor Award are made by chiefs of Essex County’s municipal fire and police departments and the commanding officers of federal, state and regional

public safety agencies.  Valor Award recipients are selected by The 200 Club’s Executive Committee.

This year’s individual Valor Award recipients are:

Irvington Police Officer Frederick McDuffie and Newark Police Officer Moises Vasquez for the capture of four heavily armed suspects;

Newark Police Officers Gerard Freeman and Emily Santiago who were compelled to engage in a gun battle with a shotgun-wielding suspect who was arrested following the encounter;

Newark Police Sergeant Juan Gonzalez who risked his own life by jumping into the icy waters of the Passaic River to save and capture a suspect who had tried to elude police;

Newark Police Detective Joseph Soares who, as the point man on a high risk, SWAT team warrant entry into a drug distribution plant, was shot in the chest;

Essex County Prosecutor’s Detective David Fontoura and Nutley Police Sergeant Jeffrey Polewka for the capture of an armed homicide suspect who had just shot and killed a man on the streets of Nutley;

Verona Police Detective Timmy Banta who suffered knife wounds while making a forced entry into the apartment of an armed and severely distraught suspect who had set fire to her unit and threatened to burn down the entire multi-family building;

Essex County Sheriff’s Detective Angel Colon who was compelled to use deadly force on an armed bank robbery suspect who threatened his life and the lives of scores of bystanders;

Essex County Sheriff’s Detectives Yusef Ellis and Jimmy Rodriguez for the capture an armed suspect who was firing his weapon wildly at dozens of terrorized local residents near a housing complex;

Irvington Fire Lieutenant Thomas Dzuna and Firefighter Collis Martin for the rescue of a male victim of a residential fire;

Newark Fire Firefighter Jacob Ramos for the high angle, rope and ladder rescue of 8 victims trapped in an inoperable blind shaft elevator;

Newark Fire Captain Mark Furka for the rescue of a semi-conscious and disoriented male victim of a multi-dwelling residential fire;

Newark Fire Captain Daniel Iberer* and Firefighter Dean Scalfani for the rooftop rescue of an unconscious male victim of a fire engulfed residential fire that was compounded by extreme heavy smoke conditions and downed power lines;

and, Newark Fire Battalion Chief William Weidele, Captains Daniel Iberer* and Steven LaPenta and Firefighter Paul Leber for the rescue of a firefighter trapped inside a commercial tire shop enveloped in flames, heavy smoke conditions and extreme heat.


Individual tickets for the 52nd Anniversary 200 Club Valor Awards luncheon are available at $75 each.  For more information and to purchase tickets contact 973-694-4982.