Clad in an baggy orange jail jumpsuit, a medical doctor accused of stockpiling bomb-making chemicals and a bevy of weapons at a Ridgewood home expressed little emotion at his first court appearance Tuesday morning.
Roberto Rivera, 60, appeared in front of Bergen County Central Municipal Court Judge Jae Y. Kim on charges he posed a public threat by storing “a large amount of a highly volatile chemical commonly used for bomb-making” while also possessing several assault weapons and a stun gun.
During the ten minute hearing held at the Hackensack jail’s courtroom, the doctor said little but to tell Judge Kim he understood the nature of his charges and had not determined who, if anyone, would represent him legally.
Kim entered a plea of not guilty on Rivera’s behalf and suggested he consult a public defender until he’s found a legal representative. The judge told the doctor he could appeal the $1 million bond he’s held on and also file for a probable cause hearing.
Law enforcement authorities have released few details as to what alleged chemicals local, county and FBI officials found Friday night on Union Street in Ridgewood, the quantity of chemicals, what level of potential danger the public faced or how exactly they became aware of the alleged cache.
Rivera, who has a valid license to practice medicine in New York, has not been charged in any plot. Prosecutor John L. Molinelli has not responded to requests for comment but says the investigation is continuing.
A conflicting picture of Rivera has emerged since he was arrested over the weekend.
Neighbors told Patch the doctor showed little interest in social interaction, was active in the Occupy Wall Street movement and appeared to be a survivalist, sometimes erecting tents in the backyard at strange hours. They were surprised – but not shocked – when Hazmat units, bomb squad vehicles and black SUVs cordoned off the street and removed evidence in paper bags, they told Patch. Rivera was fired from his job at St. Vincent's Hospital in Manhattan in 2006 after a colleague accused him of stalking. He sued the hospital but the suit was dismissed.
Rivera’s Union Street roommate, Shannon Mulligan, described the NRA card-carrying member in a report on NorthJersey.com as an anti-violence loner who“wouldn’t hurt a fly,” volunteered for humanitarian causes and was self-diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
It’s not clear when Rivera’s next court hearing will be held.