Law enforcement officers and firefighters to be presented with medals for bravery

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The 200 Club of Essex County, which was founded in 1966 to assist the families of police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty, will hold its 56th annual Valor Awards luncheon on Tuesday, May 10, at Nanina’s in the Park, 540 Mill St. in Belleville. The cocktail reception will begin at 11:30 a.m. For more information and to purchase tickets, contact 973-694-4982.

Since its inception, the 200 Club of Essex County has raised more than $2 million to support the spouses of fallen first responders and fund college scholarships for their children.

According to 200 Club President Lori A. Hennon-Bell, 28 police officers and 16 firefighters will be recognized this year for bravery, dedication to duty, courageous vigilance and selflessness.

“While everyone was at home working virtually for the past two years because of the pandemic, these fine police officers, firefighters and first responders did not have that luxury. They had to show up — the public expected them to show up, protect and respond to their calls for service. Thankfully, and without regard to their own safety, they responded magnificently,” said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura, who is a member of the 200 Club’s board of trustees.

Nominations for the 200 Club’s Valor Awards are made by the chiefs of Essex County’s municipal police and fire 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.

Since the Valor Awards were not awarded in 2020 due to the pandemic, this year’s Valor Awards will include actions taken in 2020 and 2021. 

The following first responders will be recognized at this year’s luncheon:

  • Bloomfield Fire Department Firefighters Thomas Laiacona and Jacob Nicolaou, and Capt. David Parsons for jumping into approximately 5 feet of rapidly rising floodwaters in full turnout gear to rescue a victim stuck in a car that was within 6 inches of being fully submerged.
  • East Orange Police Lt. Marilyn Berrouet and Sgt. Keanna Thorne for their initiative, immediate reaction and coordinated effort to save a suicidal male, who was ultimately referred to an appropriate crisis center;
  • Essex County Sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Bozios Jr., and Detectives Dominick Petrucci and Erik Udvarhely for their total disregard for their own safety when they chased a stolen vehicle, and subdued and disarmed the driver and passenger. The officers recovered a weapon and monetary proceeds from prior robberies. Their actions were hailed as thwarting a drive-by shooting and robbery crime wave the defendants were perpetuating.
  • Essex County Sheriff’s Detectives Victor Brown and Habbaah Evans for using their keen observation to immediately intercede and thwart serious injury and potential loss of life due to a road-rage incident involving weapons.
  • Fairfield Police Lt. Frank Tracey, and Officers Kevin Chen and James Ciampi, along with Wayne Police Lt. Robert Franco, for heroically chasing from Mountain Lakes to Wayne a defendant, who later exited the vehicle and pointed a gun at the officers, who acted immediately by firing at the threat.
  • Glen Ridge Police Detective Matthew Perigo for his quick response and restraint in stopping a fight involving weapons, ultimately saving the lives of two victims and resulting in the capture of the assailant.
  • Irvington Police Sgt. Stanton Holder and Detective Juan Owens for showing great restraint while facing an armed individual as they recovered narcotics and a weapon.
  • Irvington Fire Lt. Glen Sheaffer for entering a smoke-filled basement, prior to the hose line being charged, to rescue a disoriented victim. He brought her up the stairs and over to EMS for transport to the hospital.
  • Livingston Fire Chief Christopher C. Mullin and Livingston Police Officer Matthew DeBiasse for saving multiple people, including two civilians, three police officers and one assistant fire chief, from raging waters caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, without the benefit of any formal rapid water rescue training, equipment or specialized gear.
  • Maplewood Firefighters Anthony Marinello, Anthony Pafumi and James P. Richardella for saving a life after taking swift action under very dangerous fire conditions.
  • Maplewood Police Officer Adrian Verdun for exhibiting complete disregard for his own safety and well-being while saving others from a house fire.
  • Newark Fire Capts. Jose Cantara and Dayon Cobbs for displaying bravery when they conducted a quick and thorough primary search during an apartment fire under worsening conditions, all before hose lines and water were applied to the fire, and safely removed a victim, transferring him to EMS for transport to the hospital.
  • Newark Fire Capt. Francisco DeOliveira, and Firefighters Eduardo Pinto and Joseph Ventura for walking up to a seventh-floor fire with near-zero visibility, while wearing full turnout gear, without a protective hose line, and rescuing a badly burned man by carrying him down seven floors, where he was turned over to EMTs for treatment.
  • Newark Firefighters James Hubbard and Rashon Loggins for saving a life and transferring the victim to EMS under extremely hazardous fire conditions.
  • Newark Police Detectives Gabriel Serrano, Nicholas Edert, Ricardo Macieira, Dwayne Mays Jr., Jared Mickens and Qadiryyah Marshall of the Criminal Intelligence Section for showing courage and diligence when working as a cohesive unit to disarm an individual who was shooting at them, while never drawing their own weapons because of the close proximity of civilians.
  • Nutley Firefighter Vincent Lehman and Fire Capt. William Vonroth for exemplifying extreme courage by going straight into the flow path to search for victims trapped due to a fire; they saved a life.
  • West Orange Police Officer Christopher Hernandez for his selfless actions when, while off-duty, he tried to stop a robbery, where he sustained a head injury. A countywide description of the perpetrator resulted in capture.