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Re: Lady That Guilty, Drunk JCPD "officer" Hit, Dies Today... : (
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http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2010/04/post_82.html


Cops, Crime, RTN ?
Second victim of drunk driving Jersey City cop dies
By Michaelangelo Conte/The Jersey Journal
April 26, 2010, 2:50PM
Ruth Zelaya and Carlo.JPGRuth Zelaya, shown here with her son Jose Carlo, 2, has died from injuries she suffered when off-duty Jersey City police officer Kevin Freibott slammed into the vehicle she was in on the Pulaski Skyway in 2007. Jose Carlo died in the crash.
Complications have claimed the life of the woman left in a nearly vegetative state the vehicle she rode in was struck by a drunk, off-duty Jersey City police officer in a Pulaski Skyway crash that claimed the life of her 2-year-old son, officials confirmed today.

Ruth Zelaya, 40, of Jersey City and San Pedro Sula, Honduras, died on March 24 as a result of "complications from the motor vehicle collision," said Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Michael D'Andrea this morning.

Zelaya's death is not expected to result in additional charges against former Jersey City Police Officer Kevin Freibott, 42, of Red Bank, who is serving an 11-year sentence for the Jan. 23, 2007 crash that killed young Jose Carlos Zelaya.

Freibott pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, assault by auto and drunk driving in a plea deal which included language saying the "state agrees that the plea resolves all charges from the incident and will not pursue any additional charges in the event Ruth Zelaya succumbs to her injuries..."

"Certainly my thoughts and prayers are with the Zelaya family and I think Mr. Freibott is very fortunate that we had the foresight when we negotiated this plea on his behalf to make sure the agreement protected him in the event that Mrs. Zelaya was to succumb to her injuries," said Freibott's attorney, John Young, of the Jersey City firm of Willis and Young.

In January 2008 Freibott was sentenced to seven years for vehicular homicide, 4 years for assault by auto, and 30 days for drunk driving. If the former officer serves his entire sentence he will be released on May 11, 2016, but he becomes eligible for parole on May 13, 2014, according to state corrections records.

Ruth Zelaya in critical condition.JPGJournal file photoRuth Zelaya shown here in critical condition at Jersey City Medical CenterOn the day of the crash Ruth Zelaya and her son were in the back seat of a Pontiac Grand Prix; her husband, Carlos Zelaya, was the front seat passenger, and her brother, Raul Posas-Penada of Jersey City, was driving.

Freibott's speeding Jeep Cherokee slammed into the back of the Grand Prix - hitting it with so much force that his SUV went over the car, flipped onto it's roof and came to rest some distance ahead of the car. Freibott's blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit.

Little Jose Carlo suffered severe head trauma and died a few days later. Ruth Zelaya had been semi-comatose spent the time since the crash in various hospitals and rehabilitation centers contending with numerous complications of her injuries.

Freibott was hired by Jersey City in December 2005 as a transfer from another police department, despite a record including a previous DWI, seven car accidents, seven moving violations and three license suspensions. He is a cousin of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy.

The Zelaya family is being represented in a civil suit by attorney Sam Davis who also sued Madison Square Garden for $18 million, alleging Freibott was served alcohol at the arena prior to the crash even though the former officer was already intoxicated.

"You are not to make a sale to a intoxicated individual" under New York state law, said Davis at the time. The lawyer, who could not be reached today, accused the Garden of giving Freibott enough beers to "stop a Clydesdale." It's not clear how Ruth Zelaya's death will affect the suits.

Kevin Freibott.JPGJournal file photoFormer Jersey City Police Officer Kevin Freibott faces additional charges with the death of Ruth Zelayas Ruth Zelaya and her son had come from Honduras to the United States with her husband who is an airline worker and was receiving training at Newark Liberty International Airport at the time of the fatal crash.

Carlos Zelaya could not be reached for comment today. It's not clear if he is in the United States or if he has returned to Honduras.

Posted on: 2010/4/26 19:49
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Re: Lady That Guilty, Drunk JCPD "officer" Hit, Dies Today... : (
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My eyes are filled with tears and my heart heavy with sorrow for this poor family..this latest news is so sad... May she find that rainbow where her son is.

Posted on: 2010/3/24 23:03
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Re: Lady That Guilty, Drunk JCPD "officer" Hit, Dies Today... : (
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Very sad. RIP.

Posted on: 2010/3/24 21:46
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Re: Lady That Guilty, Drunk JCPD "officer" Hit, Dies Today... : (
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BassFace wrote:
A good friend of mines sister, Ruth Zelaya, passed away today from injuries she received 3 years ago, when a drunk "cop", the mayors cousin, who had 3 suspended license violations from the Jersey City Police Dept., crashed into the back of her vehicle at high speed. The crash had previously killed her 2 year son. Please keep the family in your prayers!

I presume the constant thoughts of her dead son along with the tragedy drained all possibile life out of her.

Posted on: 2010/3/24 21:44
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Lady That Guilty, Drunk JCPD "officer" Hit, Dies Today... : (
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A good friend of mines sister, Ruth Zelaya, passed away today from injuries she received 3 years ago, when a drunk "cop", the mayors cousin, who had 3 suspended license violations from the Jersey City Police Dept., crashed into the back of her vehicle at high speed. The crash had previously killed her 2 year son. Please keep the family in your prayers! Just a quick note. It says here that the guilty party will not be given any additional criminal charges due to a prior agreement in the plea bargain. I am looking for similar cases everywhere online and I can't seem to find anything like this type of agreement where a prosecutor says there will be no additional charges if the "person dies". That to me is INSANE!!!!!!!!!! Can we just call this "Corrupt, Hudson County Justice"? It sure doesn't appear to have happened anywhere else! He will only serve at least 6 years for the death of 2 people??? It's UNREAL!!!!!!! http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/20 ... _guilty_to_killing_2.html

Posted on: 2010/3/24 21:35
>>> IT'S TOO LATE.....<<<
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Re: Madison Square Garden Allegedly Enabled Lethal DUI Accident
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Tankstelle wrote:
ugh - I hate lawsuits like that. Seriously, how can MSG be responsible. What if he smuggled in some liquor or had 6 beers before he even got to the game. Now they're gonna stop serving beer after the first timeout. Way to ruin it for the rest of us.


It's not the lawsuit that's the problem it's the idiots who drink and drive.

Hey, what job will Freibot land with the city once he is released?

Posted on: 2008/3/16 0:04
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Re: Madison Square Garden Allegedly Enabled Lethal DUI Accident
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Tankstelle wrote:
ugh - I hate lawsuits like that. Seriously, how can MSG be responsible.


Under traditional theories of the liability of dram shops, if a seller of intoxicating beverages knows that someone has had one too many, they have to put a stop to it.



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What if he smuggled in some liquor or had 6 beers before he even got to the game.


Then that would be a decent defense to the lawsuit, or at least mitigate liability.

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Now they're gonna stop serving beer after the first timeout. Way to ruin it for the rest of us.


I know, because there's nothing I like more than paying $9.50 for a beer while I'm watching the Knicks lose by 40. What happened to life's little pleasures?

Posted on: 2008/3/15 18:55
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Re: Madison Square Garden Allegedly Enabled Lethal DUI Accident
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ugh - I hate lawsuits like that. Seriously, how can MSG be responsible. What if he smuggled in some liquor or had 6 beers before he even got to the game. Now they're gonna stop serving beer after the first timeout. Way to ruin it for the rest of us.

Posted on: 2008/3/15 18:06
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Madison Square Garden Allegedly Enabled Lethal DUI Accident
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Madison Square Garden Allegedly Enabled Lethal DUI Accident

http://www.ny1.com
March 15, 2008

Madison Square Garden will be targeted with a lawsuit over serving alcohol to an already intoxicated fan who later killed a young boy in a drunk driving accident.

The family of two-year-old Jose Carlo Zelaya, who was killed in the January 2007 car crash, intends to file a $20 million lawsuit against Madison Square Garden for allowing 10 to 12 beers to be served during a basketball game to off-duty Jersey City policeman Kevin Freibott, according to the New York Post.

Upon leaving the game, Freibott crashed into the rear of a Pontiac Grand Am on New Jersey?s Pulaski Skyway, giving Zelaya deadly injuries and leaving the boy?s mother, 38-year-old Ruth Zelaya, in a permanent vegetative state.

Freibott was convicted of vehicular homicide.

Madison Square Garden officials told the New York Post that they have not seen the lawsuit.

The arena was subject to a sexual harassment suit last year.

Posted on: 2008/3/15 15:59
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KILLER COP CRIES FOR VICTIMS
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KILLER COP CRIES FOR VICTIMS
Gets 11 years for killing boy in DWI crash on Skyway

Friday, February 29, 2008
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Former Jersey City Police Officer Kevin Freibott made an emotional apology to the family he destroyed and then was given the maximum sentence - 11 years - for killing a 2-year-old and severely injuring the boy's mother in a drunken crash on the Pulaski Skyway a year ago.

"This is my son you took away from me," Carlos Zelaya said to Freibott while holding up a large photograph of his dead son, Jose Carlo Zelaya, 2, in court yesterday morning.

Freibott remained calm when he spoke, but cried at the pictures of the Zelaya family.

"Now this is my family," Zelaya said holding up a photo of his brain-damaged wife in a hospital bed on a ventilator and with two visitors at her side. "This is my wife now. This is what he left me. I miss her too much," said the father, holding up a close-up of Ruth Zelaya's scarred face.

Ruth Zelaya has been semi-comatose and hospitalized since the crash in January 2007 when Freibott's speeding Jeep Cherokee slammed into the back of a Pontiac Grand Prix - hitting it with so much force that the SUV went over the car and came to rest some distance in front of it.

Freibott's blood-alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit. He was off-duty at the time.

Freibott was hired by Jersey City in December 2005, despite a record including a previous DWI, seven car accidents, seven moving violations and three license suspensions.

Freibott's lawyer, John Young, said of Freibott that " . beyond being a caring, loving father, husband, son, brother, he is also an alcoholic." Young said Freibott's alcoholism spiraled after his daughter died of cancer in 2004.

"I am, with all my heart, sorry for the loss of your son," Freibott told Carlos Zelaya in court. "Having lost a child myself puts me in the sad position of understanding the grief and how your life can be changed forever.

"So I say to you from the bottom of my heart, please accept my sincere heartfelt apology. Please accept my continued thoughts and prayers and those of everyone I know, that you and your family are in peace and Mrs. Zelaya has a full recovery."

Freibott, a cousin of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, finished his statement by saying he would accept his sentence and try to be a better person when released.

Ruth Zelaya and her son were in the back seat of the Grand Prix; her husband, Carlos Zelaya, was the front seat passenger, and her brother, Raul Posas-Penada, was driving. Little Jose Carlo suffered severe head trauma and died a few days later.

This January, Freibott pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, assault by auto and driving while intoxicated in a deal that resulted in dismissal of other charges, including an aggravated manslaughter charge that carried a possible 30-year sentence.

The deal also makes him immune to additional charges should Ruth Zelaya die as a result of her injuries. He was fired from the Police Department shortly after the plea.

Carlos Zelaya said Freibott got off light, and he's looking forward to the civil case because he needs money to pay his wife's $1 million-a-year medical bills.

Young said Freibott will not be placed in general population at Hudson County jail because being a former cop might put him in danger. When moved to federal prison, state corrections officials will make a determination on his housing.

Posted on: 2008/2/29 9:19
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Re: Cop going to Jail for killing
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I wish the judge would have given him 25 years but asking for the Death Penalty on this one is a bit silly.



The questions still remain:

How did Kevin Freibott get on the JC Police Dept. without a background check ?

Did Healy use any influence to get this piece of garbage (HIS COUSIN ) on to the Department ?

DTG

Posted on: 2008/2/28 23:52
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Re: Cop going to Jail for killing
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Hard to give life/death penalty when there is no pre-motivation to commit the act.

Past history of drink driving should have raised it past 11 years though.


edit: Just read that he was given the max sentence of 11 years. So the judge did the best he could within the law.

Posted on: 2008/2/28 22:55
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Re: Cop going to Jail for killing
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11 years is definitely not enough. It should be life without parole. He killed a kid and the mother is still in a coma.

How come none of you jclist rightwingers are calling for the death penalty here?

Posted on: 2008/2/28 22:45
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Re: Cop going to Jail for killing
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Oh I remember this. 11 years isn't enough for killing a child and destroying a family.

Posted on: 2008/2/28 21:52
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Cop going to Jail for killing
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N.J. Officer Gets 11 Years For Deadly DUI Crash
from wnbc.com
POSTED: 11:19 am EST February 28, 2008
UPDATED: 12:10 pm EST February 28, 2008


A Jersey City police officer has been sentenced to 11 years in prison after driving drunk in a car crash that led to the death of a 2-year-old boy and left the boy's mother in a vegetative state.

Kevin Freibott's alcohol blood level was three times the legal limit when the car he was driving slammed into another car on the Pulaski Skyway on the night of Jan. 23, 2007. Killed in the crash was toddler Juan Carlos Zelaya. The boy's mother, Ruth Zelaya, remains incapacitated.

Freibott received 7 years for vehicular homicide for the death of the boy and 4 years for aggravated assault for the injuries suffered by the mother.


Freibott had been a member of the Jersey City Police Department since Dec. 2005.

The officer had been in trouble before over a traffic accident. He was fired from the Middletown Township Police Department in 2001 after a minor accident outside an Atlantic Highlands tavern for failure to have a valid driver's license, but the state Merit System Board later ordered him reinstated.



http://www.wnbc.com/news/15437318/detail.html?dl=mainclick

Posted on: 2008/2/28 18:04
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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runs in the family?

Posted on: 2008/2/12 15:38
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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fat-ass-bike wrote:


WTF is a deal even being offered..............What a #OOPS#ing joke


This is really disgusting. And if I remember correctly this guy is a repeat offender when it comes to DWI. Being a police officer he should have known better. He took a person's life and put another person in a coma (and they are still there) and only gets 7 years?

Posted on: 2008/2/12 14:26
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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Let me know of any updates on this please. I went to HS with Kevin, knew his father very well and his family. I do not condone any of his actions in life and feel it is very sad. I actually just heard about this about 6 months ago and do not live in state anymore and did a search about it tonight and this is all I can find. Please inform me on anything.

Posted on: 2008/2/12 5:49
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Peter Stoma said he would ask for a sentence of seven years on the vehicular homicide charge and four years on the assault by auto charge, to be served consecutively. Freibott would have to serve nearly six years in prison on the vehicular homicide count before being eligible for parole if he accepts the deal, Stoma said.

In return, the prosecution would drop a charge of aggravated manslaughter, which carries a possible prison sentence of up to 30 years upon conviction, Stoma said.






I guess if you are related to Healy you can kill a person of color with minimum consequences in JC !!!

7 years vs. 30 years

It must be nice to be the KING of the Political Mafia of Hudson County !!!



DTG

Posted on: 2007/10/24 2:29
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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DEAL OFFERED

In return, the prosecution would drop a charge of aggravated manslaughter, which carries a possible prison sentence of up to 30 years upon conviction, Stoma said.



WTF is a deal even being offered..............What a #OOPS#ing joke

Posted on: 2007/10/22 10:51
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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DEAL OFFERED

Monday, October 22, 2007
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Cop's SUV struck car, killing 2-year-old

Prosecutors have offered an 11-year plea deal to the Jersey City police officer who was allegedly driving drunk when his sport utility vehicle rear-ended a car, leaving a toddler dead and his mother in a coma, officials said.

In court last week, prosecutors offered Officer Kevin Freibott, 40, a chance to plead guilty to vehicular homicide in connection to the Jan. 23 crash on the Pulaski Skyway that killed Jose Carlo Zelaya, 2, and to a charge of assault by auto of the boy's mother, Ruth Zelaya, who has remained in a coma since the accident, officials said.

Hudson County Assistant Prosecutor Peter Stoma said he would ask for a sentence of seven years on the vehicular homicide charge and four years on the assault by auto charge, to be served consecutively. Freibott would have to serve nearly six years in prison on the vehicular homicide count before being eligible for parole if he accepts the deal, Stoma said.

In return, the prosecution would drop a charge of aggravated manslaughter, which carries a possible prison sentence of up to 30 years upon conviction, Stoma said.

As of Friday, Stoma said, the deal had not been accepted.

Freibott's attorney, John Young of Jersey City, said he is waiting for prosecutors to turn over additional evidence in the discovery process, "so my client and I can have meaningful discussions on the plea."

On the night of Jan. 23, just west of the Skyway's Broadway entrance, Freibott's Jeep Cherokee slammed into the back of a Pontiac Grand Prix - hitting it with so much force that the SUV went over the car and came to rest some distance in front of it, authorities said.

Ruth Zelaya and her son were in the back seat of the Grand Prix; her husband, Carlos Zelaya, was the front seat passenger, and her brother, Raul Posas-Penada, was driving, officials said. The mother and child suffered severe head trauma and the boy died a few days later.

Freibott was suspended without pay after the crash and he is currently out on bail.

Posted on: 2007/10/22 7:21
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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Civil suit targets city for Dr. bills
Thursday, September 13, 2007

The father of the 2-year-old boy killed in a crash on the Pulaski Skyway involving an allegedly drunken Jersey City cop is making a plea for help paying the $1.75 million hospital bill his comatose wife has incurred since January.

"I would like to have my family, but I can't, so I just want someone to help for my wife," said Carlos Zelaya, whose wife Ruth has been in a coma since the crash on Jan. 23. His son, Jose Carlo, 2, died as a result of massive head injuries suffered when off-duty Police Officer Kevin Freibott's Jeep Cherokee slammed into their vehicle just west of the Skyway's Broadway entrance, officials said.

Ruth Zelaya's medical bills have exceeded her medical coverage by $500,000. She remains in University Hospital in Newark, even though she should be moved to a nursing home, because there is no money, said attorney Sam Davis, who is representing the family in a civil suit against Freibott, the city of Jersey City, its police department and former Police Chief Robert Troy.

Last month, a grand jury indicted Freibott on the charges of aggravated manslaughter, vehicular homicide and two counts of aggravated assault, officials said. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charge.

Freibott is a cousin of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy and was hired in December 2005, despite a record including a previous DWI, seven car accidents, seven moving violations and three license suspensions.

Davis argued that the city should start paying for Zelaya's medical bills because "He (Freibott) was an alcoholic when he was hired and his cousin (Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy) knew about his problem, but pushed to hire him anyway," Davis said. "The JCPD knew it but did nothing."

Speaking for Healy, city spokesman Stan Eason said: "We pray for the full recovery of Ruth Zelaya. However, the city at no time is responsible for this horrible tragedy."

Speaking for Police Chief Tom Comey, Lt. Edgar Martinez said: "The driver in question was on his own time, he was not in a city vehicle, he was not on his way to or returning from his place of work, and he was in no way representing the city or the Jersey City or the Police Department at the time of this unfortunate accident."

MICHAELANGELO CONTE

Posted on: 2007/9/13 7:12
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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SKYWAY READY FOR A SLAY RIDE
Design flaws - plus speed

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

You merge onto the roadway in the fast lane, there's no shoulder, the sun may be in your eyes, and people speed because there's nowhere for a police car to hide. Navigating the Pulaski Skyway can be a daunting task. But is it safe?

"With today's speed of vehicles, I would say it has to be looked at," said Jersey City Police Deputy Chief Peter Nalbach, who spent a week in the hospital after his patrol car was totaled - with him inside - after responding to an accident on the Skyway in 1983.

"You are entering from a full stop into a speed lane, and the divider and railing system also inhibit your view as you enter," said Nalbach of the Skyway's Broadway and South Kearny entrance ramps. "The Skyway in general is a frequent accident spot."

On Jan. 23, off-duty Jersey City Police Officer Kevin Freibott, 39, was drunk, authorities say, when his Jeep Cherokee rammed into the back of a Pontiac Grand Prix that had just entered from the Broadway ramp and had crossed over to the right lane.

Jose Carlo Zelaya, 2, was in the back seat of the Pontiac and he suffered head trauma that took his life four days later, officials said. His mother, Ruth Zelaya, 37, was also in the back seat and she remains in a coma and in critical condition. His father, Carlos Zelaya, 35, and his brother-in-law, Raul Posas-Pineda, who was driving, were not seriously injured.

Freibott has been suspended without pay and is charged with aggravated manslaughter, assault by auto and DWI, official said. He is free on $350,000 bail.

Freibott, who is a cousin of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, transferred from the Middletown Police Department in December 2005. After the crash, accusations of nepotism surfaced when it was learned Freibott had a prior DWI, numerous traffic violations, and a lousy record in Middletown, where he was once on "charges of incompetence, insubordination and conduct unbecoming a public employee."

He was reinstated on appeal, but was suspended six months.

Although the sun was not a factor at the time of Freibott's accident on the Skyway, commuters on the elevated roadway drive with the sunrise in their faces when heading east in the morning and the sun in their faces in the late afternoon.

After a series of accidents in the 1970s, the Skyway was closed to trucks, forcing them onto Communipaw Avenue, which was later designated the Routes 1 & 9 truck route, according to a New Jersey City University Web site. To further improve safety, a barrier was installed to separate the Skyway's east and westbound lanes.

Work on the Skyway began in 1930 and 15 people died during construction.

=======================================================

Mom in crash to start reconstructive surgery
Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Honduran woman who's been in a coma since a vehicle crash with an off-duty Jersey City police officer will begin undergoing reconstructive surgery to repair damage to her head and eyes, her attorney said.

Ruth Zelaya, 37, was to be moved from the Jersey City Medical Center to the Kessler Rehabilitation Center in West Orange yesterday to begin rehabilitation, but the move was postponed because she had been running a fever, said her attorney, Samuel Davis.

Zelaya has been moved back into the Medical Center's intensive care unit and she will instead begin undergoing reconstructive surgery, Davis said yesterday.

Ruth Zelaya and her son, Jose Carlo Zelaya, 2, suffered severe head trauma when, police say, Kevin Freibott slammed his Jeep Cherokee into the back of the car they were in. Jose Carlo died four days later and his mother has been in a coma and in critical condition since the accident.

With his wife in a coma in Jersey City, Carlos Zelaya flew back to Honduras with the body of his son and buried him on Feb. 3.

"I promise that we will meet again and we will play again, my love," Carlos Zelaya told La Prensa newspaper in Honduras at the funeral. The father placed some of the child's favorite stuffed animals inside the casket, the newspaper reported.

Before the burial, Carlos Zelaya put three white roses on the casket, one for himself, one for his wife and one for their 13-year-old daughter, Karla.

The father said he got no support from authorities here following the tragedy.

"All my thanks go to my friends and family, to the medical personnel who cared for my son and wife," said Carlos Zelaya who has returned to the United States. "The only thing I can do now is to ask God to help my wife. I need a miracle."

MICHAELANGELO CONTE

Posted on: 2007/2/13 12:14
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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Bought a 6-pack before the crash, prosecutor says
Saturday, February 03, 2007
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

When he crashed into another car on the Pulaski Skyway the night of Jan. 23, not only was Police Officer Kevin Freibott's blood alcohol level three times the legal limit for driving, but he had a six-pack of beer in the car with him, prosecutors say.

He had stopped at a Jersey City tavern, most likely near the Tonnelle Circle, to pick up the beer, said Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio.

In addition to the six unopened beers, investigators found a parking ticket inside Freibott's Jeep Cherokee that he had received earlier that night on West 37th Street in Manhattan, DeFazio said yesterday.

Authorities believe he was at a college basketball game at Madison Square Garden. Investigators also have videotape showing him at a tavern in the same area that night, DeFazio said.

Freibott, 39, went on sick leave for strep throat on Jan. 13 and was cleared to go back on duty on the day of the accident, but it was one of his regularly scheduled days off, police said.

He was to work his next shift about 24 hours after the 11:01 p.m. crash, in which 2-year-old Jose Carlo Zelaya received fatal injuries and his mother, Ruth Zelaya, was critically injured. She remained in a coma yesterday at the Jersey City Medical Center.

On the night of the crash, Ruth Zelaya's brother Raul Posas was driving the family - Carlos Zelaya, the boy's father and Ruth's husband, was in the front seat - in a Pontiac Grand Am when the car entered the Skyway at the Broadway ramp, said the family's attorney, Samuel Davis.

Davis said the car drove for 350 feet in the left lane and then merged right, where it was rear-ended by Freibott's Jeep Cherokee, which authorities say was going 75 miles per hour.

Davis said all four people in the car were wearing seat belts and that he believes Freibott's Jeep was going as fast as 90 miles per hour.

Freibott, a cousin of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, was hired in December 2005 despite a record that included a previous DWI, seven car accidents, seven moving violations and three license suspensions. He is now suspended without pay from the force and faces administrative charges as well.

He was a Middletown police officer from 1996 to 2005 and then received a "lateral transfer" to Jersey City, a process by which a police officer can join a new department without losing rank or taking a new Civil Service test.

He was fired during his tenure in Middletown after authorities determined he'd been driving his own car and his patrol car on an expired driver's license for nearly three months. The state Merit System Board later ordered him reinstated.

========================================================

After Crash, Police Hiring in Jersey City Is Questioned

JONATHAN MILLER -- New York Times -- February 3, 2007

JERSEY CITY, Feb. 2 ? Jersey City was in need of police officers in December 2005, and the news had filtered down to an officer in Middletown Township, N.J., who was looking for a fresh start.

The officer, Kevin Freibott, approached his chief in Middletown with a transfer form, a gesture that was met with little surprise. Officer Freibott was fired from the department there in 2001 after a car accident outside a bar and grill in Atlantic Highlands in which he was driving with an expired license. Although he was reinstated after petitioning the state, he received a six-month suspension.

?He took a big, whopping suspension,? said his former chief, Robert Oches. ?I bet in his mind he felt his career dead-ended here.?

That was not the only blot on Officer Freibott?s record. In an interview this week, a former police chief in Jersey City said that investigators were aware of the spotty record of Officer Freibott ? who now faces charges of aggravated manslaughter, assault by auto and drunken driving from a crash last month on the Pulaski Skyway ? but saw no reason not to hire him. The city?s business administrator, who had the authority to block the hire, has since said that if he had known about the officer?s past, he might have raised questions about putting him on the force.

Officer Freibott?s history included seven accidents, six moving violations and three license suspensions, including a drunken-driving violation in 1988 and the revocation of his license for failure to comply with a drug and alcohol program.

But Jerramiah T. Healy, the mayor of Jersey City and a second cousin of Mr. Freibott?s, had just won a four-year term and was in the middle of an effort to put more officers on the streets of his rapidly gentrifying city.

In the past two years he has added 250 officers, bringing the force to more than 1,000.

Most of those officers have been new recruits, but officials say that since 2001, 12 officers, including Officer Freibott, have been hired through a process known in New Jersey as ?intergovernmental transfers? ? moves from one municipality to another.

?The staffing levels had reached historic lows,? said the former Jersey City chief, Robert A. Troy, who lives about a half-mile from Mr. Freibott in Middletown. ?The situation was critical. Beyond critical.?

Mayor Healy said the city benefited from hiring officers who wanted to transfer. ?You get an experienced police officer who?s gone through the training, who?s already ready to hit the streets running, and we don?t have to take the time, effort or money to send those officers through the academy,? he said.

So in December 2005, Officer Freibott was hired in spite of his spotty record. He was placed on the midnight shift in the North District.

Officer Freibott seemed to be doing fine until this year, on Jan. 23, when after an evening in New York and a stop in Jersey City, he pulled his Jeep Cherokee onto the Pulaski Skyway, the highway that connects Jersey City with Newark.

It was 11 p.m., and he was traveling about 70 miles per hour, about 25 m.p.h. over the speed limit, the authorities said. And, they said, his blood-alcohol level was at least three times the legal drinking limit. About 500 feet beyond the Broadway on-ramp, he rear-ended a Pontiac Grand Am carrying four people, crashing it into the median, where it flipped, killing a 2-year-old boy and critically injuring his mother. The boy, his mother and his father were visiting from Honduras, and a Jersey City man was driving the Grand Am. The two men in the car were not hurt.

Officer Freibott, 39, was charged with aggravated manslaughter, assault by automobile and driving while intoxicated. He could face a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted. For now he has been suspended without pay. He is also being investigated by his own department, since he was out on sick leave when the crash occurred.

Now questions are being asked about how an officer with such a spotty history could end up on the police force of the second-largest city in New Jersey.

On Friday, the family of the 2-year-old victim, Jos? Carlos Zelaya, had legal papers served on officials here in the first step of a plan to sue the mayor, Jersey City and the police chief. The child?s mother, Ruth Zelaya, 37, remains in a coma at Jersey City Medical Center. In a news conference, the family?s lawyer, Samuel L. Davis, said Officer Freibott ?should have never been allowed to be on the Jersey City Police Department.?

?They did not do certain tests that were required,? Mr. Davis said, adding that some Jersey City police officers whom he declined to identify said they had advised superiors not to hire Officer Freibott after seeing his file.

A spokesman for Jersey City said that the city should not be held responsible for the actions of an off-duty officer.

John A. Young Jr., the lawyer for Officer Freibott, said, ?I?m not going even to begin to respond to another lawyer?s allegation regarding unnamed sources.?

Michael D. White, an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, and a former deputy sheriff, said: ?Most police departments throughout the country are short-handed, and they?re in the process of having to actively recruit. If you have a thin applicant pool, and you have someone to fill, you might need to be a little more lenient than if you had a bigger applicant pool.?

But many officials in Jersey City insist that despite his record, Officer Freibott was right for the job. ?Good hire? Yes,? said Mr. Troy, the former chief, who retired in July. ?I think he was a good cop.?

He added that ?there was no legal reason or moral reason not to allow Officer Freibott to serve in Jersey City,? and that the mayor had exerted no pressure to hire him.

Mayor Healy said he was unaware of the officer?s driving record and his dismissal from the Middletown force. ?I really don?t see the officer often at all,? he said. ?Maybe once a year at a wedding.?

But in the end, the business administrator in Jersey City, Brian O?Reilly, who is responsible for signing off on all municipal hires and who approved Officer Freibott?s application, said he never saw the officer?s record, even though he should have, nor was he aware of his relationship with the mayor.

?If those findings were attached ? or his driving record or his revocation of driving record, or his revocation of employment ? was attached,? Mr. O?Reilly said, ?one question I would directly ask to the person who did the interview: ?Is this a person we would want in our organization?? ?

Posted on: 2007/2/3 12:15
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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Family of boy killed in crash to sue city

Off-duty cop was drunk, test shows
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 02/3/07

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEWARK ? The family of a 2-year-old boy killed in an auto accident involving an off-duty Jersey City police officer has retained a lawyer and said it plans to sue Jersey City, its mayor and police chief.

The notice of intent to sue was filed Friday by Teaneck attorney Samuel Davis on behalf of the family of Jose Carlo Zelaya, who died late Saturday from injuries suffered in the Jan. 23 crash on the Pulaski Skyway in Jersey City.

Officer Kevin Freibott, 39, of Middletown has been charged with aggravated manslaughter, assault by auto and drunken driving. A blood test taken hours after the accident revealed that his blood-alcohol level was about three times the legal limit.

Freibott was released Monday afternoon on $350,000 bail and has been suspended without pay.

The toddler's mother, Ruth Zelaya, remained in critical condition at Jersey City Medical Center.

Authorities said Freibott was driving at an excessive rate of speed on the skyway when he slammed his Jeep into the Zelayas' Pontiac Grand Am from behind. The two other people in the car ? the child's father, Carlos Zelaya, and his wife's brother ? were not seriously injured.

Under state law, the family must wait at least six months after it files a notice of intent to sue before it can file a lawsuit.

Through a spokesman, the police department did not comment on the filing.
==================================

LAWSUIT: COPS, CITY MUST PAY
Saturday, February 03, 2007
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

The family of the 2-year-old boy who died after a crash on the Pulaski Skyway in which a Jersey City police officer is charged with drunken driving will sue the city, the department and both the mayor and former police chief, their attorney said yesterday, calling the hiring of the cop, a cousin of Mayor Jerramiah Healy, "nepotism."

The lawyer, Samuel Davis, said Jersey City and its Police Department are liable because they negligently hired Kevin Freibott and gave him "the rights, privileges and appurtenances of a police officer in their own town and ignored a very dark side."

Freibott, 39, has a history of driving problems, including three license suspensions, a DWI conviction in 1988 and seven accidents, according to state records. He is the son of Healy's first cousin and was hired from the Middletown Police Department as a "lateral transfer," which allows a cop to switch departments without losing rank and without having to take a new Civil Service test.

Davis cited "drunk driving, speeding, negligent hiring and supervision of a known motor vehicle habitual offender and political nepotism" as the reasons for the family's claims.

Jersey City Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis dismissed Davis' arguments.

"This tragic incident, which occurred while Officer Freibott was off duty and in his private vehicle, has no relationship to the Jersey City Police Department or the city of Jersey City," he said. "Moreover, this hire was done in accord with the regulations of the state Department of Personnel and was one of many police officers from other police forces to address a serious shortage in manpower."

Members of 2-year-old Jose Carlo Zelaya's family spoke tearfully yesterday at a press conference at Davis' Teaneck law firm, Davis, Saperstein and Salomon. Jose Carlo's mother, Ruth Zelaya, 37, was also injured in the crash and is in a coma at the Jersey City Medical Center, family members said.

Carlos Zelaya, the father of the dead boy and the husband of Ruth Zelaya, yesterday joined Ruth's brothers, Raul and Carlo Posas. Raul Posas was driving the Pontiac Grand Prix at 11 p.m. on Jan. 23 when the accident happened.

"I don't know how I will live this life without my son, and I love my wife," Carlos Zelaya said.

He said he hired Davis to find out why a "bad cop is responsible for this and who is behind him."

"I want justice," he added.

Davis also displayed photos of the smashed Pontiac Grand Am, whose rear was totaled, and Freibott's Jeep Cherokee, whose front end was crumpled.

Freibott, 39, had a blood alcohol level three times the legal limit for driving and was going 75 miles per hour, according to police.

He is charged with DWI and assault by auto, but that charge was upgraded to aggravated manslaughter when Jose Carlo died last Saturday.

Public entities must be named in a claim notice within 90 days of an incident and the lawsuit must be filed within two years. Freibott was not named in the notice of claim, but Davis said he will be named in the suit. Davis said others will likely be named in the suit as well, though he did not name them.

Freibott's lawyer, John Young of Jersey City, said he did not want to comment on the notice of claim but that he was surprised that Davis had made public the images of the vehicles in the accidents.

"I'm shocked to learn there are pictures of the cars out there because we made an inquiry and we were told there was a prosecutorial hold on them and that no one is to have access on them," Young said.

Carlos Zelaya said he would fly home to Honduras with his son's body. The boy is to be buried today.

Posted on: 2007/2/3 11:42
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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I hope they throw the book at this guy -- but I do want to point out that Freibott's prior DWI arrest was from twenty years ago in 1988 and many years prior to him becoming a Middletown cop in 1996. I am not supporting this guy in any way but just pointing out something that seems misunderstood.

The fact that the child was not in a safety seat thought it speaks poorly of the family should not get Freibott off in anyway -- his blood alcohol was 3 times the legal limit -- but where he drank last in Jersey City will likely become an issue in the future.

I don't see how the city can be held responsible for this guy in any way.

Posted on: 2007/2/2 16:05
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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In todays JJ theres a photo of this little precious soul on the cover laying in a casket with an angelic face .

I know we all have our differences on this blog/site and all for various reasons, but I for one being a parent of a toddler can not and will not except any excuses for what lead up to this tragedy .

We as Humans and as a civilized society can not become complacient over this and just blow it off as a failure in the system that needs correcting, its time to make changes and it starts at the voting polls, get rid of these bums that run yr city and allow for these creeps to create such mayhem !

I know you can;t blame the city since this guy was offduty when he commited this tragedy, but the irony in this is that his job is to "Serve and Protect", I.E. Locking up people who get behind the wheel 3 sheets to the wind and we as a society need to stop writting things of as "we're all human and have faults and weaknesses", ??? WTF is that going to do in terms of bringing consolation to these grieving parents ?????

If anything good were to come out of this, it would be in the form of major reform in Hiring practices and an end to the status quo that has kept this great city of ours in the dark ages well into the 21st century .

If anyone on this site has children, take a look into their bright eyes tonight before they go to sleep and thank God that you can do so !

CK

Posted on: 2007/2/2 14:52
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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Crash victim's wake draws scores
Friday, February 02, 2007
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

NEWARK - Friends and family gathered at a Newark funeral home last night to mourn a 2-year-old boy who died of injuries he received when a Jeep driven by an allegedly drunk Jersey City cop slammed into the car he and his parents were in as passengers.

Jose Carlo Zelaya, dressed all in white, lay in a small silver casket in front of a sky-blue wall of clouds and doves. His father, Carlos Zelaya, stood to the side of the casket, appearing exhausted and heartbroken as he stared at his son's face.

The funeral home on Bergen Street had scores of people inside, with a half-dozen large flower arrangements in the viewing room.

The boy's mother, Ruth Zelaya, 37, remained in critical condition at the Jersey City Medical Center last night.

The Zelayas, who are from Honduras, were living in a Newark hotel while visiting the United States. Police say the car, driven by Raul Posas-Pineda - Carlos Zelaya's brother-in-law - was rear-ended Jan. 23 by off-duty Jersey City Police Officer Kevin Freibott on the Pulaski Skyway just after they'd entered the elevated highway via the Broadway entrance ramp.

Among those waiting to pay his respects was Javier Hernandez, Honduras's consulate general for New York.

"We are aware of the officer's record now. Why didn't it matter before someone got killed?" he asked.

Freibott was originally charged with driving while intoxicated and assault by auto; he was additionally charged with aggravated manslaughter after Jose Carlo died Saturday. Freibott's blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit for driving, Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio has said.

Jose Carlo's body will be flown home to Honduras for burial, relatives said.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Crash dad's civil suit to target Freibott, JCPD
Friday, February 02, 2007
By MICHAELANGELO CONTE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

The father of a 2-year-old boy fatally injured when the car he was in was rear-ended by an off-duty Jersey City cop who was allegedly driving drunk has hired a lawyer to file a civil suit.

Samuel Davis, of the Teaneck law firm of Davis, Saperstein and Salomon, will hold a press conference today to announce he will file a notice of tort claim - the first step in a civil suit.

Davis was hired Wednesday by Carlos Zelaya, whose 2-year-old son, Jose Carlo, died four days after the Jan. 23 wreck on the Pulaski Skyway. The toddler's mother, Ruth Zelaya, 37, has been in critical condition at the Jersey City Medical Center since the night of the accident.

The attorney said the defendants in the suit will be the Jersey City Police Department, Officer Kevin Freibott, 39, and others he said he could not name because it would compromise his investigation.

Davis would not give a figure but said the suit would seek damages sufficient to compensate Ruth Zelaya for her injuries and both parents for the loss of their son, as well as punitive damages.

"I believe that after all the facts are in, the Jersey City Police Department knew about many of (Freibott's) prior incidents of alcohol-related misconduct and went ahead and negligently hired him," Davis said.

"As such, the city of Jersey City and the Police Department which hired him enabled him to be a gun-and badge-carrying menace, a danger to the people of Jersey City, the people who live and work and ride the roads of the city," the attorney said.

Freibott's Jersey City lawyer, John Young, said it is irresponsible for Davis to make accusations - and also objected to his client being called a "menace" - before all the facts are in.

"I have yet to see how this accident in any way relates to the fact that Officer Freibott was a member of the Jersey City Police Department," Young said yesterday. "The evidence that we are aware of is as of the time of the accident he wasn't on duty, wasn't on his way to or from work."

Jersey City Corporation Counsel William Matsikoudis did not return a phone call for comment.

After the accident, Freibott was charged with driving while intoxicated and assault by auto, and then was charged with aggravated manslaughter after Jose Carlo died. He is free on $350,000 bail.

Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said yesterday that Carlos Zelaya and the driver of the car the family was in, Raul Posas-Pineda, gave statements to prosecutors yesterday to be used in the criminal case against Freibott.

Freibott is a cousin of Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy and was hired in December 2005 despite a record that included a previous DWI, seven car accidents, seven moving violations and three license suspensions. Freibott has been suspended without pay and faces administrative charges as well, officials have said.

Freibott was a Middletown police officer from 1996 to 2005 and then received a "lateral transfer" to Jersey City.

He was fired during his tenure in Middletown after he hit another car in a restaurant parking lot and authorities determined he'd been driving his own car and his patrol car on an expired driver's license for nearly three months. The state Merit System Board later ordered him reinstated, and officials in Middletown said he was in "good standing" at the time of his lateral transfer.

He worked in Jersey City's North District as a patrolman on the midnight shift, but had been on sick leave since Jan. 13, according to city officials.

Posted on: 2007/2/2 14:06
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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How about the fact that Freibot took a pay cut to come here and added 1 hour to his commute to work.But naa nobody knew him.

He came here because he knew Middletown would not put up with his being a drunken jerk off but in J.C. that's a prerequisite to being hired.

Posted on: 2007/2/1 17:10
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Re: JC Cop in DWI Accident is also the Mayor's cousin
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Healy says he didn't interfere in getting him hired... well, OK, but do you think Freibott a) just randomly applied to work in Jersey City because he wanted to commute from Middletown every day? or b) didn't mention to the police chief during his interview that he knew Healy?

Why do politicians think we are so stupid?

Posted on: 2007/2/1 14:36
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