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Dirty Pool? New Jersey Tree Felled in Business Dispute, Police Say

Wyckoff, NJ police say four men were arrested in a crime the police chief is calling "bizarre"—cutting down a tree and smashing logs through the car of a customer in dispute with a swimming pool business.

Four Oakland, NJ men were arrested after an incident last week in which a 25-foot-tall, eight-inch diameter tree was cut down and logs were thrown through the window of a car, according to local police.

“This is without a doubt one of the most bizarre crimes we have seen in some time,” said Wyckoff Police Chief Benjamin Fox.      

Wyckoff Police responded to a Burma Road home shortly after 11 p.m. on Nov. 28 after a homeowner there called police to report that she had heard a chainsaw running and saw one of her trees cut down.

Sgt. Jack McEwan responded and discovered that in addition to the tree being felled, three 60-lb. logs, each about 12-16 inches in diameter, about two feet in length, had been used to cause damage to a car in the driveway, police said.

One log was thrown through the rear window of a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta which also damaged the interior of the car. Two other logs were thrown at the rear taillights smashing them and damaging the vehicle exterior.

Wyckoff Police Detective Sgt. Joseph Soto investigated and was initially lead by the homeowner to consider the owner of Tyger Pools of Oakland as a possible suspect. Earlier that same day the homeowner had a "heated" telephone discussion regarding an unpaid bill of about $300 that was in dispute, according to Wyckoff Police.

A short time later this individual from the pool company showed up at her home and they continued to argue about the bill. He was turned away without receiving payment, cops said.

Det. Sgt. Soto with the assistance of the Oakland Police Department identified the co-owners of Tyger Pools as Jonathan M. Capparelli, of Pawnee Drive, age 22; and Matthew Usherenko, of Oswego Avenue, age 21.

Usherenko was identified as the person that had called the homeowner and disputed the unpaid bill and later showed up at the home, according to police.

Sgt. Soto was further able to identify friends of both men, one of whom had a truck that was seen by the homeowner fleeing the scene after the damage.

The investigation further disclosed that the men had enlisted the help of Christopher R. Turton, of McNomee Street, age 22; and Sebastian J. Wolff, of Grandview Avenue, age 18, Chief Fox said.

Capparelli and Usherenko turned themselves into police and provided a statement regarding the involvement of everyone in the crime, he added. Each man was charged with third-degree criminal mischief.

The men allegedly conspired together to seek revenge of the unpaid pool bill, with a plan that one of them would cut down the tree in the front yard, while the others would throw the large logs at the car, police said.

The logs used were not from the tree that was cut down but were brought with them for the purpose they intended, according to Fox.

Each of the men was charged with one count of third degree criminal mischief with an estimated value of the tree replacement and car damage at $5,500. They were released in their own recognizance and the indictable offense will be referred to Bergen County Superior Court.

Fox expressed thanks to the Oakland Police for their assistance, and praised Sgt. Soto for his investigative skills.

“Their actions are beyond stupid," Fox said of the four men arrested. "They caused a significant amount of damage, they used a chainsaw at 11 o'clock at night, and to think that between these four men, not a single one of them suggested to the others that this might not be a good idea over a disputed $300 bill defies all common sense.”

There was no answer at the offices of Tyger Pools on Monday afternoon.

Editor's note: This article originally was published by Wyckoff Patch in New Jersey.

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