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Brothers charged with stealing 65-year-old tenant’s checks, jewelry

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

“I’ve known them since they were babies. I’m in shock,” an elderly Cliffside Park woman told detectives after two brothers — one of whom is awaiting sentencing for selling prescription pain killers on the black market — were charged with breaking into her apartment and swiping checks that police said they cashed for themselves.

John and Paul Bussanich

Paul and John Bussanich had already drained more than $5,000 from their 65-year-old tenant’s account before a drive-up bank teller spotted a forgery, Detective Capt. Michael Russo told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

The keen-eyed teller got a plate number, called the woman, then got hold of police, the captain said.

The teller “was very observant and took the time to go with her hunch,” Russo told CLIFFVIEW PILOT . “She not only helped solve a fraudulent check cashing scheme. [She] solved a burglary.”

Paul Bussanich, 23, pulled up to the TD Bank on Anderson Avenue Monday afternoon and passed a $350 check, Russo said.

The teller, smelling something fishy, pulled the  woman’s signature card and called her while Bussanich sat outside, the captain said.

The angry victim, who has lived in the family house more than 20 years, immediately called Bussanich as she sat in his car outside the drive-up.

He immediately took off — leaving behind not only the check but his ID, Russo said.

Detectives picked up Bussanich at the family home, then nabbed his brother, John, after finding checks purportedly written out to him, as well.

They charged Paul Bussanich with burglary, for allegedly using a key to the victim’s apartment to break in when she wasn’t home and taking jewelry and a checkbook. He is also charged with attempted theft, in connection with Monday‘s incident.

John Bussanich, 24, is charged with swiping another checkbook while doing maintenance work in the upstairs apartment.

Both brothers are free on bail pending a Municipal Court hearing in Cliffside Park.

Records show John Bussanich was one of three Bergen County locals — including doctors and pharmacists — charged with participating in the black market distribution of thousands of prescription drugs less than two years ago. State authorities pegged Bussanich as a street-level distributor, selling OxyContin and Percocet.

He has pleaded guilty, along with several others arrested in the case, and is awaiting sentencing.

State investigators said the ringleaders paid Medicaid beneficiaries to obtain fake prescriptions for painkillers and other drugs from two Jersey City doctors, who were also charged. The drugs were then sold on the streets of which distributed thousands of prescription painkillers in Fairview, Cliffside Park, Jersey City, Union City, Hoboken, and towns at the Jersey Shore.

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