MILLTOWN, NEW JERSEY – Police arrested volunteer Fire Chief Peter Belonis, his son and five others after a raid on the Belonis’ Harrison Avenue home that revealed drug activity, police said.
Belonis, 50, was charged with possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana. His son, Andreas Belonis, 26, and another man face more serious charges of distribution of cocaine, distribution of prescription painkillers, distribution within a school zone and conspiracy to distribute, police said.
The raid occurred Friday night, when about 13 officers from Milltown and North Brunswick searched the Belonis house. The search was the culmination of a three-month investigation into suspicious traffic at the property, initiated by complaints from neighbors, police said.
“Obviously it was extremely surprising,” acting Mayor Lawrence Citro said of the chief’s arrest.
Citro said Belonis has been suspended indefinitely pending resolution of the charges. Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Scott Janssens will serve as acting chief of Milltown’s volunteer fire department.
Six people were arrested Friday evening. Matthew Jonas, 26, faces the same charges as Andreas Belonis. Bret Brown, 20, of Edison; Rocco Genovesi, 21, of Milltown; Justin Archer, 19, of Milltown; and Kenneth Szabo, 20, of Spotswood were charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and loitering to obtain controlled dangerous substances, police said.
Jonas and the younger Belonis live at the house, while the other men were visiting, police said.
Police said they found the house in such deplorable condition, with floors permeated with dog waste, that it was deemed uninhabitable and was condemned.
Authorities returned to the house on Saturday along with representatives of the health department, the fire official and code enforcement. Peter Belonis, who was not home at the time of the Friday night search, was arrested when he came to the house Saturday.
His arrest stemmed from a small amount of marijuana found in his bedroom, police said.
During the search, police shot and killed a dog belonging to Andreas Belonis when it attacked and slightly injured an officer. Two other dogs already were secured in a separate part of the house, and animal control removed them, police said.
The younger Belonis and Jonas were being held at the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail, police said. The other men were released pending their appearance in court.
More charges are possible, police said. Three days before the search, in an apparently unrelated incident, the body of a man was found in a boat parked in the house’s backyard. The man had been living on the boat with permission from the homeowners, and another resident found him about 24 hours after he died, police said. There were no signs of foul play, police said. Toxicology reports are pending.