NEWARK – The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, within the State Division of Consumer Affairs, today temporarily suspended the license of a Ridgewood physician who was arrested in November and remains incarcerated at the Bergen County Jail, charged with the possession of large quantities of bomb-making materials, including detonators. He was also charged with the unlicensed possession of multiple assault weapons and several high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The temporary suspension of Dr. Roberto E. Rivera’s license to practice medicine in New Jersey will remain in effect until the Board reviews the outcome of plenary hearings in the matter, after which the Board can impose further discipline. Rivera may appeal the Board’s decision to the Superior Court. The criminal case against him in Bergen County is pending.
“Though he is unlicensed to own a firearm, this doctor allegedly amassed an arsenal of unregistered assault weapons, illegal high-capacity magazines, and dangerous, volatile chemicals that can be used to create explosives,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said. “This demonstrates an extreme lack of judgment and a complete disregard for the safety of others. It also compels the Board’s swift and responsible action to protect patients in New Jersey from a dangerous practitioner.”
The Ridgewood Police Department arrested Rivera on Nov. 16. Officers searched his bedroom as well as basement and storage areas in the home in which he rented an apartment. Police allegedly found a basement freezer containing 2.5 liters of nitric acid, which can be used to create explosive devices. Police also allegedly found containers in the attic that were addressed to Rivera and that included hydrogen peroxide, glycerin, sulfuric acid, calcium hypochlorite, and potassium perchlorate, which can also be used to create bombs. Police allegedly found 10 pounds of thermite, and 10 thermite lighters, which can be used to detonate bombs.
In addition, police also allegedly found numerous weapons in Rivera’s residence, including two Cobray M11 assault pistols, which are not registered and which he is not licensed to own, a Hellfire trigger mechanism that can allow a firearm to fire at an extremely high rate, several high-capacity magazines, a stun gun, assorted boxes of ammunition, and other firearms and items.
Police also allegedly found folders in Rivera’s residence which were marked “Revolution” and “Anarchism,” documents on how to create homemade explosives, a military improvised munitions manual, and documents on how to convert firearms into fully automatic machine guns. They also allegedly found a canister of mace, a wig, fake sideburns, and other items.
“A physician’s first, overriding responsibility is to provide for the health and well-being of the public. We must be able to trust doctors to have good judgment, and to care for the safety of others,” Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, said. “A doctor who collects an arsenal of assault weapons without a license, along with instructions on how to turn them into fully automatic weapons, and who collects bomb-making materials along with instructions on how to create explosive devices, cannot be trusted to safely and reliably practice medicine, assess vulnerable patients, and prescribe medications. The Board of Medical Examiners is right to act decisively for the protection of the public.”
Rivera does not maintain a medical office in New Jersey, but was licensed to practice here and in New York. While residing at his Ridgewood residence, Rivera also allegedly occasionally lived and worked out of his vehicle, a 2007 Nissan Xterra, from which he provided medical examinations in Long Island, New York. The Ridgewood Police Department found that his car contained bottles of medication, medical equipment, and prescription pads bearing Rivera’s name and New York license number.
Ridgewood Police charged Rivera with knowingly and/or recklessly creating a risk of widespread injury or damage by creating a risk of serious bodily injury to five or more persons; the unlicensed possession of assault firearms which were not registered or rendered inoperable; possession of a destructive device; failure to take reasonable measures to prevent or mitigate widespread injury or damage; possession of a stun gun; and possession of a large capacity ammunition magazine.
The Board, in temporarily suspending Rivera’s license, found that his alleged conduct demonstrates his continued practice of medicine would present a clear and imminent danger to the public health, safety and welfare. Rivera remains in Bergen County Jail from where he testified via teleconference in a Dec. 20 hearing of the Board of Medical Examiners.
The criminal charges against Rivera are merely accusations; he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.