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State doctor says Ridgewood physician fit to stand trial in weapons, explosives case

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

ONLY ON CVP: A state expert has deemed a Ridgewood physician found with explosive chemicals and firearms in his basement apartment nearly two years ago mentally fit to stand trial.

The prosecution of 62-year-old Roberto Rivera following a November 2012 raid was temporarily delayed while the psychiatrist at the Anne Klein Forensic Center in West Trenton evaluated him for mental illness.

However, Rivera returned to court in Hackensack today for the first time in several months, and and the prosecutor in the case asked a judge for permission to bring the doctor to court.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Martin Delaney (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

“Whatever political beliefs he may have had, and whatever motives he may have had, have nothing to do with mental illness,”Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Martin Delaney told Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian, reading from the forensic psychiatrist’s report.

“I have no reason to dispute this,” Delaney said, “but neither have I seen all the documents she relied on in making her opinion.

“I want her to come in with all the documents, in person, for a competency hearing, for final determination — that he is indeed competent to proceed and was sane at the time of the alleged offense,” he told the judge.

Jerejian, in turn, set a tentative Sept. 3 hearing date, subject to the availability of the doctor and attorneys for both sides.

After the judge issues a final determination of competency, Delaney said he will ask whether Rivera will be allowed to represent himself — a wish the defendant expressed in court several months ago.

Rivera — who previously spent time in a mental institution, according to an indictment — remained held on $1 million bail in the Bergen County Jail.

As CLIFFVIEW PILOT first reported exclusively, authorities feared domestic terrorism after Rivera confided to someone that he was concerned what effect a power outage from Hurricane Sandy would have on explosive chemicals he’d allegedly been refrigerating.

Roberto Rivera (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

Those concerns drew various members of the FBI, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, the Bergen County Police Bomb Squad and Hazardous Materials Team, Ridgewood police and the Bergen County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Identification to the Union Street two-family home, where Rivera lived in a converted basement.

They reported finding:

  • a basement freezer containing 2.5 liters of nitric acid, which can be used to create explosive devices;
  • attic containers that included hydrogen peroxide, glycerin, sulfuric acid, calcium hypochlorite, and potassium perchlorate, which can also be used to create bombs;
  • 10 pounds of thermite, and 10 thermite lighters, which can be used to detonate bombs;
  • several weapons, including two Cobray M11 assault pistols and a .40-caliber handgun, which weren’t registered and he wasn’t allowed to have;
  • a Hellfire trigger mechanism that can allow a firearm to fire at an extremely high rate;
  • several high-capacity magazines; a stun gun;
  • assorted boxes of ammunition.

State authorities said the search also turned up folders marked “Revolution” and “Anarchism,” which they said included instructions for creating homemade explosives, a military improvised munitions manual and documents on how to convert firearms into fully-automatic machine guns.

Although he didn’t maintain a medical office here, Rivera was licensed to practice in New York and New Jersey, they said.

He also occasionally lived and worked out of his 2007 Nissan Xterra, from which he provided medical examinations on Long Island, Ridgewood police said at the time. The car contained bottles of medication, medical equipment, and prescription pads bearing Rivera’s name and New York license number, they said.

Prior to the start of today’s hearing, the judge and attorneys read through a list of seized chemicals, weapons and other items — including Mace, a wig, and fake sideburns.

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