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Wednesday, 22 June 2011

The man who ordered the hit on Penalba was Juan Rosario, also known as "King Black Rose," a reputed top leader in the Passaic chapter of the Latin Kings

10:11 |

Latin Kings boss ordered his underlings to kill a Lodi woman so she couldn't testify in the shooting death of a Hasbrouck Heights teen six years ago, an assistant Bergen County prosecutor said Monday.

Juan Rosario of Passaic being led into a courtroom in Hackensack for the start of his attempted-murder trial in the 2005 attack on Monica Penalba of Lodi.
Gang members and wannabe gang members then stabbed the woman, Monica Penalba, more than 30 times and ran her over twice with her own car, said Catherine Fantuzzi, the assistant prosecutor.

Penalba survived the attack, although she lost an eye and partial use of her arm.

The man who ordered the hit on Penalba was Juan Rosario, also known as "King Black Rose," a top leader in the Passaic chapter of the notorious street gang, Fantuzzi said.

"He was an active participant in the planning and attempted killing of Monica Penalba," Fantuzzi said as Rosario's attempted-murder trial opened Monday in state Superior Court in Hackensack.

Rosario, 50, was one of 17 defendants accused of taking part in a violent chain of gang-related events in February 2005 — a case that underscored concerns by local authorities that gangs were active in suburban communities, not just in cities.

Fantuzzi said it all began when 18-year-old Ralph Pinto of Hasbrouck Heights and a friend went to the South Hackensack home of Jose Vega to buy drugs on Feb. 17, 2005.

The two men later returned to Vega's home, beat him with a metal pipe and robbed him of his drugs, money and jewelry, Fantuzzi said.

Vega, who turned out to be a Latin Kings leader who went by the name "King June," then conspired with Rosario and recruited several underlings to kidnap Pinto the next day, she said.

The crew set up a fake drug deal, lured Pinto and his friend to a Lodi parking lot and tried to kidnap him at gunpoint, she said.

Penalba, who was 19 at the time, participated in the attempted kidnapping as a driver, Fantuzzi said.

"She was simply there because she had a car," Fantuzzi said.

Pinto, however, resisted and got into a fight with Juan Veras of Lodi, who was holding the gun, Fantuzzi said.

Veras testified in previous court proceedings that he managed to grab the gun and shoot Pinto five times.

The crew then fled, but Rosario was worried that Penalba, who was not a gang member, might talk to police about the shooting and ordered his men to kill her, Fantuzzi said.

Rosario's underlings then drove Penalba to a carwash in Paterson, where they stabbed her 32 times until she played dead, Fantuzzi said.

Penalba, who also testified in previous court proceedings, said she later opened the back door of the car and fell out as her attackers were driving around to find a place to dump her body.

One of the gang members, Veanzeil Roberts, then made a U-turn and ran her over twice, she said.

Rosario's attorney, Donald Liberman, told jurors during his opening statement that the prosecution's case against his client "doesn't make sense."

He said Rosario was not present at the time Pinto was killed and was not present when Penalba was attacked.

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