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Bogota police chase leads to arrest of Carlstadt cheese ball company co-founder

Photo Credit: Bogota PD

ONLY ON THE PILOT: Uri Elam seemed to have the world on a string after emigrating to the U.S. from Brazil and building a multimillion Carlstadt company that makes gluten cheese snacks –until he led Bogota police on a five-mile chase with his pickup truck last night.

With his father as a passenger, Elam hit an estimated speed of 70 miles an hour on a Bogota street, nearly flipped the truck making a turn, then almost made it to George Washington Bridge before getting caught in traffic where I-95 meets several other highways in Fort Lee just after 5:30 p.m., Detective Jon Misskerg told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

His father told the detectives who stopped him that Elam was distraught because his wife and child had just left him, Misskerg said.

However, the danger that police said he caused led to charges of reckless driving, eluding and failing to yield.

Elam, 26, and his 23-year-old brother David Elam, 23, four years ago took what was essentially a snack stand and turned it into a gourmet business.

They came to the U.S. several years ago seeking fortune on Wall Street, only to find an unforgiving economy, according to published reports. So the Elam brothers aimed for a niche market and – with an initial $60,000 investment — began mass-producing their favorite childhood snack, “Pão de Queijo” for supermarkets and other retail food stores.

Uri Elam, a Yeshiva University graduate, and his brother worked long hours to create their company, which they call Kessem.

By his estimation, they did nearly 2,000 demonstrations at various food markets and grocery stores of their Pondi Kesso cheese balls. Made of the tapioca root, the gluten-free, golf-ball-sized snacks come in five flavors and don’t have any preservatives or artificial ingredients.

The snacks caught on quickly at ShopRite in New Jersey, D’Agostino’s in New York and several stores in Florida that stock their shelves with gluten-free products.

Trade show business alone brought the Elam brothers an estimated $250,000, according to .

It also allowed them to take over the Washington Avenue Twinkies/Wonder Bread factory abandoned by Hostess in Carlstadt and secure a federal small business loan.

This year, they told Epoch Times, the brothers expect to do $5 million in sales.

First, however, Uri Elam must go to Bogota Municipal Court.

Borough detectives began pursuing his truck after citizens reported that it hit an estimated speed of 70 miles an hour on Larch Avenue. The vehicle quickly pulled onto Route 95 east and didn’t stop until Exit 72 in Fort Lee, where Routes 4, 46 and 95 all converge, said Misskerg, the Bogota investigator.

Elam was quickly taken into custody. The detectives also spoke with his father, who said his son was distraught over his wife and child leaving him, Misskerg said.

Elam posted $10,000 bail last night, along with $400 due from an outstanding ticket in Teaneck. He was released pending a hearing.


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