TO: ALL NEWS MEDIA
FROM: ACTING PROSECUTOR DENNIS CALO
DATE: MARCH 13, 2019
Acting Bergen County Prosecutor Dennis Calo announced the arrest of STEVE ORTIZ (DOB: 6/21/1974; separated; and employed as an entrepreneur) of 319 18th Street, Union City, New Jersey on charges of Bias Intimidation, Terroristic Threats, False Public Alarm, and Stalking. The arrest is the result of an investigation conducted by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office under the direction of Chief Robert Anzilotti, the Edgewater Police Department under the direction of Chief Donald Martin, and the Nassau County Police Department under the direction of Police Commissioner Patrick J. Ryder.
Between December 2018 and February 2019, members of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit investigated a pattern of phone calls placed to government officials and a private business in Edgewater by an unknown caller who threatened violence. During many of these calls, the unknown caller referenced people of Jewish and African-American descent. The ensuing investigation led by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Cyber Crimes Unit revealed that Steve ORTIZ used technology to anonymize his calling line identity and placed the calls, as well as other similar calls, to other jurisdictions including River Edge and West New York. In addition, telephone calls placed to jurisdictions out-of-state in the past, including North Carolina, as well as recent telephone calls to jurisdictions such as New Mexico and New York, were also traced to ORTIZ by the Cyber Crimes Unit. Ultimately, detectives determined that ORTIZ was transient and traveling across the United States by car while making approximately 25 such calls to victims in and around Bergen County during and between December 2018 through February 2019.
As a result of the investigation, an arrest warrant was issued for Steve ORTIZ on Friday, February 22, 2019 charging him with one count of Bias Intimidation, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1A(1), a 2nd degree crime; one count of False Public Alarm, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-3A(2), a 3rd degree crime; one count of Terroristic Threats, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3A, a 3rd degree crime; and one count of Stalking, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-10B, a 4th degree crime. ORTIZ was subsequently located by the Nassau County Police Department on Wednesday, February 27, 2019 in Hicksville, New York and taken into custody pursuant to the aforesaid arrest warrant. ORTIZ was extradited from Nassau County to the Bergen County Jail on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, where ORTIZ will be held pending a first appearance and detention hearing in this matter.
Acting Prosecutor Calo states that the charges are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Acting Prosecutor Calo thanks the Nassau County Police Department, Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, Edgewater Police Department, River Edge Police Department, and West New York Police Department for their assistance. In addition, Acting Prosecutor Calo would like to thank all the agencies that provided investigative leads in this matter, including:
Edgewater Police Department
River Edge Police Department
Union City Police Department
West New York Police Department
Suffolk County, NY Police Department
Union County, NC Sheriff’s Office
Waxhaw, NC Police Department
Billings, MT Police Department
Montana State Police
F.B.I. – New Jersey
F.B.I. – Montana
U.S. Marshals – Montana