Sometime in 2004, a teenage Al Abdelaziz crossed Main Street to the Valero Gas Station, when suddenly two police officers appeared on the scene, according to sources.
The officers arrested Abdelaziz and Nail Yalcinlar, a neighborhood friend, according to the latter. In an interview on Sunday, April 10th, 2016, Yalcinlar said he was arrested because he had a long dagger in his possession, but neglected to mention having drugs.
“I had a big ass knife,” said Yalcinlar, 26. He attended John F. Kennedy High School at the time. He must have been no more than 15 years old in 2004. His friend at the time Abdelaziz was attending Passaic County Technical Institute (PCTI).
Abdelaziz, who could not have been any more than 17 years old, was ensnared the moment he crossed the street to shake the younger boy’s hand.
“I’m not going to entertain allegations from sources,” said Abdelaziz on April 1st, 2016. “I’ve never been convicted of a crime.” He described the incident outside the gas station in 2004 as “hearsay.”
Abdelaziz said he went through a background check as recently as last year, he said. However, a background check does not turn up sealed juvenile records. While the case went through family court, he firmly asserted his innocence, according to sources.
Yalcinlar, who said the cocaine that police recovered from the ground belonged to him, pleaded guilty to all the charges, according to sources.
Yalcinlar said he received six-month probation. Abdelaziz fought the charges. He even lined up three people to testify in his favor. Shadi Taha, who was among the three, denied ever testifying in court on March 6th, 2016 when a reporter visited his Clifton home.
Taha and Abdelaziz are close friends. Taha is working on Abdelaziz’s campaign for the 6th Ward council seat.
Incumbent Andre Sayegh, who is defending his seat against Abdelaziz, declined to comment on Monday afternoon.
The two others individuals could not be reached for comments for this report. Abdelaziz was ultimately found guilty of the charges and received at least one-year probation, according to sources.
Juvenile criminal records are not public records, according to court rules and state regulations.
Yalcinlar, who continues to live in the same neighborhood, confirmed both were charged with cocaine possession, in a subsequent interview on April 17th, 2016. He said the drugs and the weapons belonged to him.
“It was mine,” said Yalcinlar. “He [Abdelaziz] had nothing to do with anything.”
Abdelaziz on Tuesday evening questioned Yalcinlar’s credibility and motivation. He mentioned Yalcinlar’s criminal past to cast aspersions on his character.
Yalcinlar in the initial interview outside his home admitted to have criminal records.
Abdelaziz also called a document, which lists the case as “Alat Abdelaziz v. State” and contains a “FJ” family court docket number, as a “fabrication.”
Yalcinlar, who said his path no longer crosses with that of Abdelaziz’s, took the fall for the entire episode, according to sources.
“I hope this guy wins, bro,” said Yalcinlar of his childhood friend. “I hope he wins. He’ll make this place better than what it is.”
Abdelaziz disavowed having any friendship with Yalcinlar now or in his youth.