ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO CELEBRATES ITALIAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH
Anthony F. Ambrose, Chief of Detectives in the Essex County Prosecutor's Office; Robert D. Laurino, First Assistant Prosecutor in the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, and Deborah Q. Belfatto, Founder of the North Jersey Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Are Honored as ‘Stellas della Contea di Essex'
Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. celebrated the 2011 Essex County Italian-American Heritage Month observance on Thursday, October 27th in the Hall of Records. Decorated in the festive Italian colors of red, white and green, the lobby was a standing-room only backdrop for the cultural festivities.
During the cultural celebration, DiVincenzo honored Chief of Detectives Anthony F. Ambrose and First Assistant Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino, both from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, and Deborah Q. Belfatto, Founder of the North Jersey Affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, as “Stellas della Contea di Essex” (Stars of Essex County).
“Our celebration is an opportunity to recognize the contributions that Italian Americans have made to the history and culture of Essex County. Today, we are honoring three proud Italian-Americans who have positively impacted our world,” DiVincenzo said. “Both Anthony Ambrose and Robert Laurino are well-respected and accomplished professionals in their fields and Deborah Q. Belfatto continues to make a difference in the world we live in providing hope and resources to those affected by Brest Cancer,” he added.
Anthony F. Ambrose was appointed Chief of Detectives by the former Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow on January 28, 2008. This appointment called upon his many years of experience in law enforcement and broad range of managerial and investigative skills. As Chief of Detectives, he supervises the 140 detectives who investigate and prepare cases for criminal trials in Essex County. Prior to joining the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, Chief Ambrose served as Undersheriff in the Essex County Sheriff's Office.
Chief Ambrose started his law enforcement career over 25 years ago with the Newark Police Department, where he rose through the ranks to become Chief of Police and Police Director. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Public Administration from Fairleigh Dickinson University and graduated from the FBI National Academy. Chief Ambrose is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Administrative Science.
“The work all three of us do each day to touch the lives of people pertains to justice and health, which are very important,” said Ambrose. “I want to thank the County Executive for this award and for continually celebrating the diversity in Essex County,” he added.
Robert D. Laurino joined the Essex County Prosecutor's Office in 1980 as a trial attorney. He immediately distinguished himself and rose to become a Director in the office and later the Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor. In 2004, he began serving as the Chief Assistant Prosecutor, where he was responsible for the Special Victims Division and oversaw a staff of more than 70 people in the Special Victims, Megan's Law, Juvenile, Cold Case, Professional Standards and Public Corruption Units. First Assistant Prosecutor Laurino has tried over 100 jury trials and handled thousands of cases involving sexual violence. When former Prosecutor Paula Dow was appointed to serve as the Attorney General, he served in as Acting Prosecutor for 13 months prior to becoming the First Assistant Prosecutor under current Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray.
For over 25 years, First Assistant Prosecutor Laurino has been an advocate for victims of sexual violence. He was instrumental in the establishment of Wynona's House, the State's largest child advocacy center, located in Newark. He served on the NJ Sexual Assault Protocol Council and was one of only eight prosecutors chosen nationally to participate in the US Department of Justice's focus group for the development of a national Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) protocol. He was also the subject of the book Our Guys by Bernard Lefkowitz and the movie "Our Guys: Outrage in Glen Ridge," which was based on the successful trial of several high school athletes who sexually assaulted a developmentally disabled young woman.
First Assistant Prosecutor Laurino received his Bachelor's Degree from Villanova University, a Master's Degree from Rutgers University and his Juris Doctorate Degree from Seton Hall University School of Law, where he was an editor of the law review. He is a national expert on DNA and worked with the National District Attorneys Association to create a national training course for prosecutors, entitled “DNA: A Prosecutor's Practice Notebook.” He also co-authored a chapter entitled “Biological Evidence: Identification, Collection, Preservations and Use in Court Testimony” for the book Sexual Abuse and Assault: Adult Victims.
“This is a wonderful award and I thank the County Executive for recognizing all of the honorees today for our contributions as Italian-Americans over the years,” said Laurino. “As the child of two Italian parents and a life-long Essex County resident, it is truly an honor to accept this award today,” he added.
Deborah Q. Belfatto is a Founder of the North Jersey Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. A 24-year breast cancer survivor, Ms. Belfatto co-founded the Affiliate in 1997 on the promise to "make a difference" to a 10-year old girl who lost her mother to breast cancer. Under her leadership and guidance, the Affiliate has grown tremendously, from a small organization operating from her basement to a staff of 10 and hundreds of volunteers. She served as the Affiliate's Executive Director from its inception until November 2009, and still remains heavily involved in a leadership capacity. With Ms. Belfatto at the helm, the Susan G. Komen North Jersey Affiliate Race for the Cure has been a tremendous success each year in Essex County. Initially the race was held at Essex County Branch Brook Park and has since relocated to Essex County South Mountain Reservation.
Ms. Belfatto has been recognized for her leadership and contributions to the community several times. Most recently, the College of Saint Elizabeth honored her at its 10th Annual Scholarship Benefit. She was named the 2008 Patriots Path Council of the Boys Scouts of America Honoree. She was the recipient of the 2006 New Jersey Monthly Garden State Seeds of Hope Award and the 2005 Jean Hudson Gano Community Service Award presented by the Junior League of Summit. In addition, in 2005, Belfatto was named as one of 12 women selected to be part of “The Women of Summit” calendar, portraying women who understand putting the “Other Fellow First”. In the spring of 2004, she received the “Woman of Vision” Award from the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills. In the October 2003 issue of New Jersey Life, she was identified as one of 40 New Jersey People “Those-In-The-Know Know,” and in May of 2003 she was honored by the New Jersey Institute for Nursing as a recipient of their “Exceptional People Impacting The Community Award.” NJBIZ also recognized her as one of New Jersey's 25 “Women of Influence” in December 2002, and in April of that same year, she received the “Jean Harris Award” for exemplary community service and leadership from Rotary International. Marylawn of the Oranges recognized Ms. Belfatto with their “Spirit of Achievement Award” in April 2001, and in June of 2000, she was the recipient of Shape Magazine's “Circle of Life Award” for her dedication to the Komen promise to save lives and end breast cancer forever.
Ms. Belfatto is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Eating Disorders Association and served as Committee Chair for NEDA's 2010 fundraising galaand Vice Chair of its 2008 gala. She has also served on the committees of various charitable events and has chaired the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation/North Jersey Chapter's Fall Fashion Show and Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child's major fundraiser, The Grand Prix. She has been actively involved in the Alumni Association ofMarylawn of the Oranges and was a member of its Board of Trustees. She attended Cabrini College in Pennsylvania. She is the proud mother of one daughter, Lindsay, and wife of Joseph Belfatto.
“Deborah is so honored to be selected for this award and she would like to thank Joe DiVincenzo, Jr. and the entire County for this and for all of their support for Susan G. Komen,” said her husband Joseph Belfatto, who accepted the award on her behalf. “My life has been enriched by her journey with breast cancer and I am thankful for all the support Essex County has given her because on the day of the last race held in Essex County South Mountain Reservation, $1.5 million was raised for breast cancer research,” he added.
The Essex County Italian Heritage Celebration is part of a yearlong series of programs initiated by County Executive DiVincenzo to raise awareness about and celebrate the diversity of Essex County.