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The Monthly Top 10: Teacher Has Sex With Student, Truck Drives Through Building, and Pharmacist Arrested

Here is your monthly rundown of the most read stories in West Orange.


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In this monthly column, the West Orange Patch gives you the top 10 most popular articles of the month. If you don't log on to the Patch regularly, here is your chance to catch up!

Prosecutor: Teacher Arrested for Alleged Sex With Student

Erica Depalo, 33, of Montclair, was arrested at the start of Labor Day weekend and charged with having a sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy, who is a student at the high school. The relationship allegedly began in June and ended in late August, according to the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.


West Orange Teacher Pleads Not Guilty to Sex With Student

Erica DePalo pleaded not guilty to charges that she had a sex with a 15-year-old male student who attended her honors English class at the high school, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.  


Local Pharmacist Charged With Selling Drugs Without Prescriptions

A West Orange pharmacist has been arrested and charged for selling oxycodone to those without a prescription, according to authorities. 

Leonard “Lenny” Stefanelli, 48, of East Hanover, is part-owner and head pharmacist of the West Orange Pharmacy Inc., at 443 Main St. He was arrested earlier this month by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. 


Building 'Unsafe' After Tow Truck Drives Through It

This was the second article covering a tow truck that crashed through two first-floor businesses in a Main Street building. 

Township officials inspected the Tory Corner building, at 285 Main St., and said it was an “unsafe structure" and an "imminent hazard,” according to Thomas Tracey, the construction official for the township. It will be closed until repairs are made. 


Changes to Redevelopment Plan Approved

After two delayed votes by the board in July and August, Prism Green Urban Renewal Associates IV LLC, a subsidiary of the redeveloper, finally got approval to nix high-end features,  including changing the total number of units, from the original plan approved in 2007.  

Conditions to get permits and begin construction remain to be finalized, said Planning Board President Robert Bagoff at the meeting at the start of the month. These will be drawn up and formally agreed upon at the board’s next meeting on Oct. 10.  


Three Armed Robberies Strike Four at the end of September

Four people were robbed at gunpoint in three separate instances during the last week of September, according to the West Orange Police Department. 


Candidates for the West Orange Board of Education gave their qualifications and debated recent action around suspending the district superintendent at a candidate’s forum this month. 

Incumbent Michelle Casalino, challenger Adam Kraemer and challenger Joseph Sorbino addressed voters in a question-and-answer session sponsored by the West Orange African Heritage Organization at the Thomas Edison Middle School.

Challenger Ronald Charles was the only candidate not at the forum due to a scheduling conflict.


69-Year-Old Woman Robbed in Kmart Parking Lot

An elderly woman was robbed Sept. 3 while in the Kmart parking lot, according to police. 

The 69-year-old woman was going through the trunk of her car parked at Kmart, 295 Prospect Ave., at around 3 p.m. that day when a man approached her from behind and grabbed her purse.


Incumbent School Board Member Will Not Seek Re-election

Longtime Board of Education member Paul Petigrow has withdrawn his name from the ballot this November, and said he will not run again. 

Petigrow changed his mind because he feels the district is in stable hands, now that an interim superintendent has been named. Interim Superintendent James O’Neill was appointed in August.


West Orange Man Found Guilty of Murder

The West Orange man accused of stabbing a man to death in a Newark liquor store in 2011 has been found guilty, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Jamar Holmes, 32, of West Orange, was found guilty this month of the murder of Donald Andrews, 40, of East Orange, in Superior Court in Newark. Holmes was also found guilty of various weapons charges.  

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