Prosecutor Downgrades Prank Charges Against Teaneck Teens

Prosecutor says a local investigation into how students obtained master keys to break into the school building for the prank remains ongoing.

Twenty-four Teaneck High School students who were over 18 when they allegedly broke into their school for a senior prank earlier this month will not be tried as adults, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli announced in a release Wednesday.

The teens had been charged with burglary and criminal mischief, authorities said. Molinelli said his office will refer downgraded charges of criminal trespass and criminal mischief to the Teaneck Municipal Court.

The trials will likely not end in criminal convictions, he said.

The 39 students who were under 18 when they were arrested in connection with the senior prank will likely be eligible for a "station house adjustment," Molinelli said, in which the students will receive consequences like community service, but will not receive permanent marks on their juvenile records. 

In his statement, Molinelli also commended the Teaneck Police officers, who have come under fire in the community for their response to the incident. Molinelli said locals should recognize the "restraint and admirable behavior" of the officers when responding to the school on May 1, where he said more than 100 students were running around dark hallways.

Molinelli also said the investigation into the incident is ongoing, as he said students obtained master keys to the building, which is how they got in for the prank. The school and law enforcement officials are looking into how the students got the keys, which he called a major security concern, especially as schools are now considered "soft targets" after recent school shootings across the country.

Molinelli's announcement comes after the Teaneck town council officially backed a group of township parents in asking the prosecutor for leniency when considering charges filed against the 63 Teaneck high schoolers accused of breaking into and vandalizing the school as a senior prank, NorthJersey.com reported.

The council unanimously passed a resolution urging Molinelli to consider the incident a “youthful transgression,” the report said.

Jacob May 23, 2014 at 09:27 AM
John, I was born in this town and have seen alot. But probably not as much as some of the other overseers around town.
Teaneck_Resident May 23, 2014 at 11:31 AM
Here is next years "senior park" due to the liberal tears the Town Council and Mayor shed. http://www.nj.com/passaic-county/index.ssf/2014/05/community_rallies_boys_that_saved_cat_tortured_killed_by_paterson_kids.html
TomW May 23, 2014 at 01:24 PM
At the end of the day, it can clearly be seen there are two main irresponsible culprits to this whole incident and the kids are not them. The kids are immature kids acting like kids with lack of guidance. Your culprits are the individuals that allowed the keys to be taken or given to and I think we all know who that is. That is why there is no claim to vandalism and statements of simple clean up and time donated to the cleanup. The second culprits are the parents of the kids that allowed this idiotic prank to occur. There is no acceptable excuse for a parent to allow their child to be out and about at those hours. I grew up with a curfew and my kids grew up with a curfew of not being allowed out past 9 or 10 PM on a school night. School officials and town consuls are all just fools scrounging for votes. Let’s all hope lessons have been learned and these kids develop into productive and respectful citizens. Guess we’ll know in 4+ years. “That’s all I have to say about that” – Forrest Gump. The smartest person in this 3 ring circus.
zizi May 23, 2014 at 10:10 PM
By federal law (10 U.S.C., 505), the minimum age for enlistment in the United States Military is 17 (with parental consent) and 18 (without parental consent). The criminals (18 years and older) in this case are not kids.... and they should be treated as adults.....
zizi May 25, 2014 at 11:14 PM
@John: I am all for spending money when it comes to prosecuting criminals......


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