JC Times ‘Unsung Hero’ arrested after homeless donation dispute exposes alleged DV

Though he wasn’t charged with theft, Hector Vargas faces multiple charges due to a JCPD investigation that stems from accusations he stole donations meant to feed the homeless.

Hector Vargas - Councilman Daniel Rivera - Sali Ali - Jersey City Times

Left to right: Hector Vargas, Councilman Daniel Rivera, and Sali Ali. (PHOTOS: Facebook)

The Jersey City Times might’ve declared Hector Vargas an “Unsung Hero,” but that didn’t stop one Jersey City activist, Sali Ali, from blasting him on social media for allegedly stealing donations meant for the homeless. Even worse, their dispute ultimately exposed accusations of domestic violence in Vargas’ home.

To be clear, Vargas and Ali seemed to be friendly just a week ago, based on their Facebook pages containing images of them posing for pictures, yet Ali states she never knew of Vargas until he recently came to Journal Square while she was feeding the homeless.

Ali told Real Garden State that Vargas asked her to help with similar efforts on Martin Luther King Drive in Jersey City, but that he was “just taking pictures the entire time to fraudulently collect donations for his personal use without investing in these events.”

Things soured quickly between Vargas and Ali after someone alerted her of a donation and asked for a receipt, which is how she supposedly learned he was using his personal Venmo and Cash App to allegedly steal donations. For more details about Ali’s accusation against Vargas, watch video below:

Hector Vargas and Sali Ali dispute escalates, exposes alleged domestic violence

No more than a few hours after Ali went public with her allegations on July 26, 2020, the situation escalated when she confronted Vargas at his Woodlawn Ave. home. The encounter was recorded on Facebook live, but that video was eventually deleted off Ali’s Facebook page. Nevertheless, Real Garden State posted the video to Instagram prior to it being removed.

After the video was posted to Instagram, Vargas sent Real Garden State a message stating “Going to court for this video tomorrow. I already have been advice by legal advisers so I suggest you to take this down immediately and we will find out who you are and add you to the investigation for spreading false accusations and lies.” WATCH VIDEO BELOW:

View this post on Instagram

Over the past few months, several complaints – especially from women – have been made against Jersey City resident Hector Vargas for allegedly stealing donations meant for the homeless. Today, local political activist Sali Ali walked into Vargas' home and confronted him regarding the controversy. UPDATE: Ali tells @realgardenstate that she told Vargas "I'm coming to get the donations from your house," which he said ok. Upon arriving, all doors were "wide open." When Ali knocked, Vargas' son supposedly said to "come up," and then the confrontation began. Did she go to far? Did you have a similar experience with @hectorforjerseycity? Let me know your #thoughts. #JerseyCity #HudsonCounty #NewJersey #GardenState

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Indeed, after the video was shared to the Facebook group One Jersey City, Vargas’ girlfriend posted a picture in the comment section indicating a police report was filed regarding Ali’s actions.

Furthermore, the girlfriend and Ali engaged in a hostile exchange; however, through the course of their dialogue, the two women supposedly realized that Vargas was manipulating the situation to make it seem like the girlfriend was stealing money (when she had nothing to do with any charitable activity whatsoever).

According to sources with knowledge, after Ali and the girlfriend ceased their hostilities and began to communicate, Vargas threatened his girlfriend and told her not to speak with Ali. Additionally, through the course of their communication, Ali learned that Vargas allegedly hurt his girlfriend in separate domestic violence incidents (including a serious injury dating back to November 2019).

By Tuesday, July 28, 2020, Jersey City Police Department (JCPD) sources say Ali brought Vargas’ girlfriend to the city’s South District to report the alleged domestic violence. Shortly thereafter, the JCPD searched the Woodlawn Ave. property and recovered a legally owned firearm, plus marijuana, as part of their investigation. Later that evening Vargas was arrested for harassment, terroristic threats, and marijuana charges.

Despite complaints from women, Jersey City Times declared Hector Vargas an ‘Unsung Hero’

For Vargas, accusations of malfeasance related to donations meant for the homeless isn’t unchartered territory. In fact, an article from the Jersey City Times (JCT) regarding local heroes of the COVID-19 crisis stirred so much controversy it needed to be taken down after numerous complaints – particularly from women.

Eventually the story was republished with quotes from Councilman Daniel Rivera supporting Vargas. Specifically, the article states:

It appears that Vargas has alienated some of his neighbors who contributed to his efforts.  In text messages to JCT, some questioned his sincerity and temperament.

Councilman Rivera, however, chalks it up to style.  “He can be rough around the edges and very outspoken but his heart is genuine.”

According to Daniel Levin, Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher at JCT, the complaints were “mostly all second and third hand information and no one was willing to go on the record,” and that the article “was intended as a feel good piece about people helping others during the pandemic crises.”

Of note, Rivera did not respond to an email seeking comment on this story. Video of him supporting Vargas amid the JCT article controversy can be watched below:

Nevertheless, after news of Vargas’ arrest spread on social media today, some women expressed frustration that their concerns were dismissed.

“He was called out, reported and denounced by at least a dozen women on several social platforms in Jersey City and Bayonne,” Ana Whitaker wrote on Facebook.

Whitaker stated “we were often dismissed, not taken seriously and our accusations brushed off by other male “community leaders,” adding that those “leaders” hold important positions and a lot of people could “potentially be affected by their inaction on situations like this one.”

Vargas did not respond to an Instagram message seeking comment on his arrest. In his original message to Real Garden State, Vargas stated “I don’t answer questions to you or no one or give explanations to no one.”

In a Facebook post that included video of Vargas’ arrest, Ali wrote “You will reap what you sow. End of story. You have been scamming for years but you wont do that shit here in Jersey City.”

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