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Hackensack PD: Tow-Truck Chase Driver Was Freed In Car, Tomahawk Thefts

Paul T. Gudanowski
Paul T. Gudanowski Photo Credit: New York State Police
Police chase the stolen tow truck up Route 17 in Paramus.
Police chase the stolen tow truck up Route 17 in Paramus. Video Credit: Sean Slattery for Daily Voice
East Rutherford police cruiser dragged by stolen flatbed.
East Rutherford police cruiser dragged by stolen flatbed. Photo Credit: Suffern Police

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- An ex-con arrested after damaging three police cars in a stolen tow truck during a chase up Route 17 early Monday had been freed after Hackensack police said he stole a car on New Year's Eve and a tomahawk from a famed statue at the public library nine days earlier, Daily Voice has learned.

Barely a day and a half after a judge freed 50-year-old Paul T. Gudanowski without bail in the car theft, police Monday morning chased a stolen tow truck he was driving from East Rutherford across the New York state line .

Gudanowski, who has a criminal record stretching back more than two decades, was drunk, authorities said.

"So much for bail reform," one Bergen County officer told Daily Voice.

Gudanowski, who sources told Daily Voice has in the past resided at the Bergen County homeless shelter on South River Street, was ordered held on $50,000 cash bail in the Orange County (NY) Jail pending a hearing this Friday in connection with Monday's chase.

This comes after Hackensack police said he stole the tomahawk from the statue of Chief Oratam at the Johnson Library on Dec. 22.

A little over a week earlier, records show, Hackensack police arrested Gudanowski for panhandling outside a Wawa convenience store on South River Street.

Gudanowski claimed to be "a serviceman down on luck," an officer said.

On New Year's Eve, records show, he was charged with stealing a car at a 7-Eleven on Main Street. Police arrested Gudanowski at the Wawa after the victim identified him.

Overall, Gudanowski had been arrested no fewer than a half-dozen times in a little over a year, records show. Bail -- when it was set -- was usually no more than $5,000.

Charges against Gudanowski from arrests over the past 20 years have included weapons possession, aggravated assault with a weapon, harassment and probation violations -- mostly in Hackensack and Wood-Ridge, records show

East Rutherford Police Chief Larry Minda said his officers began chasing the Bergen Brookside Auto Body & Towing 2004 International flatbed -- which had been reported stolen out of Hackensack sometime around midnight -- after spotting it on Route 120 (Paterson Plank Road) near MetLife Stadium just before 9 a.m. Monday.

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