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VIDEO: Charges Mount Against Bergen Ex-Con In Stolen Tow Truck Chase

Video Credit: Sean Slattery for Daily Voice
Paul T. Gudanowski
Paul T. Gudanowski Photo Credit: New York State Police
East Rutherford police cruiser dragged by stolen flatbed.
East Rutherford police cruiser dragged by stolen flatbed. Photo Credit: Suffern Police

PARAMUS, N.J. -- A brief video shows a s tolen flatbed tow truck being pursued by police up Route 17 through Paramus Monday morning on its way to Rockland, where it hit three of their vehicles before authorities said they seized the intoxicated driver -- an ex-con who'd been arrested no fewer than four times last year.

Paul T. Gudanowski, a 50-year-old transient who listed recent addresses as Wood-Ridge and Hackensack, was being held pending extradition to New Jersey.

Gudanowski, who sources told Daily Voice has in the past resided at the Bergen County homeless shelter on South River Street in Hackensack, has a criminal record stretching back more than two decades.

It includes arrests on charges of weapons possession, aggravated assault with a weapon, harassment, probation violations -- mostly in Hackensack and Wood-Ridge.

Three weeks ago, Gudanowski was arrested in Hackensack on burglary charges and released after posting $5,000 bail hours later, 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 Monday -- after spotting it on Route 120 (Paterson Plank Road) near MetLife Stadium just before 9 a.m.

Another Brookside driver tried stopping Gudanowski, who Minda said veered the truck toward him.

"The employee was able to jump away without being injured," he said.

The stolen flatbed continued moving erratically on Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights before reaching northbound Route 17, the chief said.

Sean Slattery shot a brief video of the pursuit (above).

Two East Rutherford units continued pursuing the truck into New York "due to the erratic manner it was operated...in order to minimize any danger to the public," Minda said.

Police from various other jurisdictions joined in.

After they'd crossed the state line, Gudanowski made an illegal U-turn on the New York Thruway near the Woodbury Common mall and the truck hit two New York State Police trooper vehicles, authorities said.

He got back onto Route 17, where an East Rutherford police cruiser was dragged after getting hooked onto the back of the flatbed, Minda said.

Gudanowski eventually stopped and was grabbed by police on Route 59 in Hillburn.

Two troopers in the struck cars sustained neck and back, injuries for which they were treated at St. Luke's Hospital before being released, state police said.

The East Rutherford officer wasn't injured, Minda said.

Charges against Gudanowski in East Rutherford alone include two counts of aggravated assault, possession of stolen property and eluding police.

He also received several traffic summonses. For the rundown of charges, click here.

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