20-Year Sentence for Motorist Who Killed Mt. Arlington Cop
Michael Cassella of Howell pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and driving while intoxicated.
A Howell man was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the death of Mount Arlington police Officer Joseph Wargo.
Michael Cassella, 32, was sentenced after pleading guilty Jan. 4 to one count each of aggravated manslaughter and driving while intoxicated, acting Morris Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp said.
“This sentence is consistent with the plea agreement and the attendant law. Nothing will bring Officer Wargo back to his wife, his family, the community and his brothers in law enforcement. The defendant’s drug addiction, while tragic, does not mitigate the seriousness of his crime. We mourn Joe Wargo’s loss and hope his family has some degree of solace from the conclusion of this tragic case," Knapp said in a release.
Cassella was intoxicated after midnight Oct. 16, 2011, while driving on I-80 West in Roxbury. He lost control of his 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer, slid across the median into eastbound traffic and and smashed into Wargo's police cruiser.
The officer, who was 38 years old, died from injuries sustained in the crash. He left behind a wife.
Mount Arlington Mayor Art Ondish had called the death "a tragedy for Mount Arlington."
"We lost one of our family," Ondish said.
Cassella is required to serve 85 percent of his sentence under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act before he is eligible for parole. Upon release, Cassella will have to submit to five years of parole.