Police seize 13 pounds of marijuana in Mahwah home, chief says

In Mahwah four men are facing drug distribution charges after police found 13 pounds of marijuana and $22,000 in the rental property authorities stated this Saturday.

The detectives Michael Grassi and Eric Larsen came across the large amount of drugs while working a special detail late Friday afternoon. They spotted a black Chevrolet Tahoe swerve into the opposite lane of traffic on Lydia Lane, nearly causing a crash, according to police Chief James N. Batelli.

The driver of the vehicle was Dominic Berlingeri 26, of Nyack, NY but when officers stopped him he gave the officers a California license, the chief said in a statement. Berlingeri told the detectives he recently moved to Mahwah and lived nearby.

According to the statements Berlingeri made during the stop, detectives went to his house while he stayed with the Tahoe, according to Batelli. They spoke with three others through a window at the rental property.

“Detectives detected an extremely strong odor of marijuana emanating from the residence,” the chief said.
Police asked for permission to come inside based on “the actions of the occupants that could be observed through the window and concern for the health of one of the individuals,” Batelli added.

When those in the home refused, the detectives forced their way inside to prevent any evidence being destroyed and secured the residence before obtaining a search warrant, according to the chief.

The occupants of the house – Luis Vilela, 26, of Richmond, California, Robert Southard III, 29, of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and Vincent Berlingeri, 28, of Nyack, New York, – were taken to police headquarters along with Dominic Berlingeri and later charged with various drug offenses, authorities said.

Bail was set at $100,000, with no 10 percent option and the four were ordered held at the Bergen County Jail ahead of a court hearing Tuesday.

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