Developmentally disabled man jailed for allegedly shoplifting

September 19, 2013 3:58:33 PM PDT
A developmentally disabled young man spent six days in the Bergen County Jail before being released.

His parents are now saying he should not have been sent there in the first place.

"I am completely frustrated. I can't believe this happened to him," said Joanie Bartolomucci, Walter's mother.

Joanie Bartolomucci's anger and frustration only grows, the more she thinks about what her son Walter, Junior had to endure recently.

Walter has a developmental level of 8 or 9 years old.

"So they arrested a kid in a sense in his mind," Joanie Bartolomucci said.

Walter was arrested a week ago last Wednesday after police in Bergenfield answered a shoplifting call at the Pathmark store.

According to police, Walter is accused of taking several DVD's worth $104 and trying to leave the store.

He's also accused of striking an employee with his book bag and his open hand.

Walter was then brought to the Bergenfield Police Department.

"My husband was so upset. He couldn't talk to his son. He couldn't see him. He even brought his medication. And they didn't want to have anything to do with what he was saying," Joanie Bartolomucci said.

"I passed out in the police station because they refused to give me some food," said Walter Bartolomucci, the accused shoplifter.

Bergenfield Police Chief Michael Carr says he cannot discuss the case beyond what was put out in a press release; that Walter was charged with robbery and bail set at $50,000.

He was then transferred to the Bergen County Jail.

"Bergen County Jail? Totally inappropriate," Joanie Bartolomucci said.

After six days he was released when the Bergen County Prosecutors Office says it downgraded the charge, sending the case back to Bergenfield.

"All the way around it was not appropriate, and we're very concerned about how it was handled," Joanie Bartolomucci said.

The family is now considering further legal action.