Menendez intern, alleged illegal immigrant and sex offender, arrested
An unpaid intern working in the offices of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was arrested by agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office on Election Day, Nov. 6, outside his New Jersey home, according to an AP report. The intern, Luis Sanchez Zavaleta, 18, was originally working in the United States on a work visa from Peru, but allegedly remained in the country after his visa had expired. Zavaleta was reportedly required by the Hudson County prosecutor’s office to register as a sex offender in 2010, although the reasons are unclear as Zavaleta was a minor at the time.
Sen. Menendez, a Hoboken resident and former Union City mayor, told the AP that his staff was notified of the arrest on Monday, and had no previous knowledge of Sanchez’s legal status as an immigrant or a sex offender. The senator himself was notified on Tuesday, said his communications director, Tricia Enright, and that he was “appalled” by the news.
Sen. Menendez addressed the issue in an interview with MSNBC, which was planned as an opportunity for him to discuss his vehement pro-immigration policy views.
“We certainly wouldn’t have known through any background checks, since he is a minor, about any sex offender status,” he told MSNBC. “It does speak volumes about why we need comprehensive immigration reform. I can’t know who is here to pursue the American dream versus who is here to do it damage if I cannot get people to come forth out of the shadows.”
In a statement issued to The Hudson Reporter, Enright said that ties between Sanchez and the Senator’s office were immediately severed upon Sanchez’s arrest.
“Luis Sanchez was an unpaid college intern in our Newark office for approximately two months. No staff member responsible for managing the internship program had reason to believe, based on their interview process, that Sanchez had any criminal background or immigration issues,” said the statement. “Clearly Mr. Sanchez [allegedly] sought to deceive our staff.”
Enright also speculated that a possible reason for the confusion was due to Zavaleta’s last name. On his application and resumes sent to Sen. Menendez’s office, he listed his last name as Sanchez, rather than Zavaleta.
“No one in our office ever knew him as anyone other than Luis Sanchez,” she said.
The AP report alleged that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had directed ICE agents to wait until after the election to make the arrest, but Peter Boogaard, a spokesman for DHS, stated that the AP’s report was “categorically false.” According to the AP, he did not specify which aspects of their story were false.
Zavaleta is currently imprisoned and could face deportation, the AP says. – Dean DeChiaro
Julio Morejon, North Bergen prosecutor, is new Union City housing attorney
North Bergen municipal prosecutor and former West New York town attorney Julio Morejon was confirmed as the new attorney for the Union City Housing Authority at a meeting Tuesday night. Morejon was confirmed unanimously by the Housing Authority board, with Martin Martinetti, abstaining.
Mr. Morejon will maintain employment in North Bergen, he said after the meeting tonight, as well as at his private practice in Guttenberg.
“My position in North Bergen is part-time,” he said, “and the position in Union City will be billed based on how much I work. It is not salaried.”
Morejon hoped to become county prosecutor earlier this year.
Morejon worked as West New York’s town attorney from May 2011 until December 2011, and has been working in North Bergen since July of this year, according to his LinkedIn account. – Dean DeChiaro
Look for a full story on Mr. Morejon’s appointment in next week’s Union City Reporter.
Clarification on last week’s Union City Music Project story
In the Sunday, Dec. 9 editions of The Union City Reporter and The West New York Reporter, the article entitled “Practice, practice, practice!” about the Union City Music Project contained two errors. The article erroneously said that students from the Union City Music Project would be performing at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, Dec. 8, while in reality they performed at the Dimenna Center in New York City on Wednesday, Dec. 12, as part of a concert series organized by Carnegie Hall. The confusion was due to the fact that the students attended a performance by The Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall on Saturday, Dec. 8. Additionally the article stated that members of the orchestra visited the students in Union City on Friday, Dec. 7 to prepare them for their performance, when they actually visited Tuesday, Dec. 11.