Councilman Alex Mendez, who is running for mayor, allegedly threatened a freelance reporter at the courthouse earlier in the month, according to a law enforcement report.
Mendez and his lieutenant Omar Ledesma allegedly threatened freelance reporter Mario Rondon.
Rondon was at the courthouse on Friday, April 8 recording the proceeding where a supporter of incumbent mayor Andre Sayegh attempted to get Mendez removed from the ballot by objecting to his petitions.
“You’re a little piece of garbage. F—— rat, we’re going to get you,” Mendez allegedly told Rondon on the third floor of the Passaic County Courthouse.
Ledesma allegedly called Rondon a “piece of shit.”
“I let it slide cause we were in the chambers, but I know where you at and where you live,” Ledesma allegedly told Rondon.
Rondon said Mendez and Ledesma were upset because he was taking pictures at the courthouse. “They were angry,” he said. He also showed an image where Mendez’s wife is making faces at him because he was snapping pictures in the courtroom.
Mendez denied ever making any comments towards Rondon. He also said he never made any threats against Rondon.
“That’s a total lie. I never talked to him in court,” said Mendez. “It’s political. He’s trying to create some problems. It’s all a distraction.”
Rondon said after he was threatened, he went to the judge who called for one of the sheriff’s officers. He said an officer looked at recordings from one of the court cameras that appeared to show Mendez’s team making gestures at Rondon.
Ledesma also denied the allegations.
Both Mendez and Ledesma also told the Passaic County sheriff’s officer they never made any threats against Rondon. Both also refused to provide their identification information, according to the incident report.
Mendez said sheriff’s officers did not ask him for his identity. He said Ledesma told the officers he had to speak to his lawyer before providing his identification information.
Both Mendez and Ledesma were unhappy with Rondon outside the courtroom. Mendez said Rondon got too close to his face to try to take a picture. Ledesma said he told Rondon the latter had permission to take pictures inside the courtroom, but not outside of it.
“They don’t want people to know what’s going on in the courtroom,” said Rondon.
Mendez also alleged Rondon is linked to Sayegh. He alleged Rondon worked for Sayegh’s campaign in 2018, but Rondon denied the allegation.
Rondon said he never worked for the Sayegh campaign.
Rondon has contributed videos and photographs to the Paterson Times over the years. He also contributed recordings of the Mendez case that gave the public a window into the court proceedings.
Rondon said he has filed terroristic threats charges against Mendez over the incident.