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North Bergen prosecutor among those charged in Edgewater-based high-grade pot operation

Photo Credit: Bergen County Prosecutor
Photo Credit: Bergen County Prosecutor
Photo Credit: Bergen County Prosecutor

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A North Bergen municipal prosecutor whose law partner is Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich was one of several men arrested when a strike team led by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office took down a high-level, high-grade marijuana network that shipped nearly $4 million of product to Edgewater, Brooklyn and elsewhere the past three months from a region of northern California known as the Emerald Triangle.

Marcanton Macri, Matthew Martin, Richard Lozado (MUGSHOTS courtesy Bergen County Prosecutor)

Investigators seized six handguns — two that were stolen — vehicles that include a Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Mercedes Benz, $250,000 in cash and designer watches, as well as pot and two ounces of cocaine.

Those arrested include Marcanton “Marc” Macri, a 44-year-old lawyer who works as municipal prosecutor in North Bergen.

“Obviously, no one in North Bergen had any indication that Mr. Macri was involved in anything like this,” said Phil Swibinski, the North Bergen township spokesman. “He will be suspended without pay immediately.”

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Cliffside Park man identified as one of the ringleaders of a high-level, high-grade marijuana network that shipped nearly $4 million of product to Edgewater, Brooklyn and elsewhere the past three months from a region of northern California known as the Emerald Triangle turned himself in to authorities today. READ MORE….

One half of Sokolich and Macri,
he is charged with three counts of money laundering and financial facilitation. He posted $50,000 bail through a bondsman and was released this morning after spending the night in the county jail, records show.

Macri, a 1985 Paramus Catholic graduate who is considered a major player in North Jersey Democratic politics, attended the Giants’ Super Bowl in Indianapolis in February and supplied photos from the stands to a local site.

Macri has also been the driving force behind Fort Lee’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony: Last year he enlisted help from Robert and David Caffaso of Cafasso’s Fairway Market, who donated the tree, bought at discount from Metropolitan Plant Exchange; Fort Lee American Little League president Rich Radoian; and school district administrators who got the high school’s drum line and color guard to escort Santa Claus to the event.

Arrested along with Macri was 43-year-old Matthew P. Martin, reportedly known as the “Federali,” in part because of a tinted-windowed vehicle he drove with law enforcement license plates , Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said . Both Martin and Macri live in separate apartments at the St. Moritz high-rise in Edgewater .

Martin was being held on $250,000 bail in the Bergen County Jail, charged with conspiring to distribute large quantities of marijuana, among other counts.

Charged, as well, were Anthony Alberga, a 23-year-old assistant banker with the Bank of New Jersey in Fort Lee. The Cliffside Park High School and Montclair State University graduate lives on Summit Terrace in Cliffside Park, the prosecutor said.

Also charged were Lee Aviles Jr., 35, of New Milford, and Richard Lozada, of 36 of Old Bridge — who, in addition to a similar drug charge, also faces illegal weapons possession counts. Lozado was also being held on $250,000 bail.

Authorities were still searching for Danny Saleh, 34, also of the St. Moritz, who wasn’t home when the arrests were made, Molinelli said tonight.

Anthony Alberga

“For the past two months, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office has been developing intelligence and information regarding the marijuana distribution activities of Matthew Martin and Danny Saleh,” the prosecutor said.

“Detectives learned that Martin and Saleh were travelling to Northern California into areas known in the drug world as the Emerald Triangle, so named because of the thick forests hidden in Mendocino County, Humboldt County, and Trinity County,” he said.

“This region is the largest area in the United States that produces cannabis for legal use by California residents.”

“Martin and Saleh were travelling to this region on a bi-monthly basis and taking 1-2 day trips, then returning to their residences in Edgewater,” Molinelli said. “While in Northern California, Martin and Saleh are suspected of meeting with their suppliers to purchase bulk marijuana.

“Martin and Saleh would then package and mask the high grade marijuana and proceed to overnight mail the packages utilizing numerous post offices in towns north of San Francisco,” the prosecutor said.

“Martin was utilizing addresses of associates of his that resided in Linden and Rahway to send his packages, while Saleh was sending his packages to associates of his in Edgewater and Brooklyn.”

Investigators believe Martin and Saleh shipped nearly 1,000 pounds of marijuana cross-country to themselves since the beginning of the year.

U.S. Postal Inspectors intercepted 100 pounds of high-grade mariunana with a street value of $400,000, Molinelli said.

“The high-grade marijuana they were purchasing appeared extremely profitable for Martin and Saleh, as they would then re-distribute it to their associates in the tri-state area, the prosecutor said.

Both kept apartments off Gorge Road in Edgewater that rented for $5,000 a month, he said.

They also used Alberga, a local banker, to covert smaller denominations of cash to $100 bills, Molinelli said.

“Detectives believe the purpose of this exchange was to reduce the weight and bulk of the currency that Martin and Saleh were transporting through the airport during the trips to Northern California,” he said.

Lozada and Aviles, meanwhile, were customers, Molinelli said.

Alberga was released without bail, charged with money laundering and financial facilitation. Detectives were still seaching for Aviles.

Participating in the massive investigation and takedown, the prosecutor said, were:

the Bergen County Police Department;
the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department;
the Edgewater, Cliffside Park, New Milford, Linden, Old Bridge and Rahway police departments;
the Union and Middlesex County prosecutor’s offices;

the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

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