Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Aggravated Manslaughter in Death of Mount Arlington Police Officer Joseph Wargo

Acting Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp announced today that the Honorable Robert Gilson, J.S.C. sentenced Michael Cassella, age 32 of Howell, New Jersey, to 20 years in State Prison in connection with the death of Mount Arlington Police Officer Joseph Wargo.

On January 4, 2013, Cassella pled guilty to one count of Aggravated Manslaughter, a crime of the First Degree. At the same time, the defendant pled guilty to Driving While Intoxicated.

On October 16, 2011, the defendant, driving while intoxicated shortly after midnight on Interstate Route 80 West in the Township of Roxbury, lost control of his vehicle, crossed the center line and crashed into the marked police vehicle of veteran Mount Arlington Police Officer Joseph Wargo. Officer Wargo was 38 years old at the time of the accident. Officer Wargo died as a result of injuries sustained during the collision.

Judge Gilson sentenced Cassella to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison. He is required to serve 85% percent of his sentence under New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA) before becoming eligible for parole. The defendant will also be subject to 5 years of parole supervision, and is responsible for all fines, assessments and penalties. Senior Trial Counsel John McNamara, Jr. and Assistant Prosecutor/SDAG Julie Serfess represented the State at the sentencing.

Acting Morris County Prosecutor Knapp stated, “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.”

Acting Morris County Prosecutor Knapp thanked the New Jersey State Police, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office, Mount Arlington Police Chief Keith Licata, the Mount Arlington Police Department, the Roxbury Police Department and the Assistant Prosecutors and Investigators from the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office for the efforts resulting in today’s sentence.

Any inquiries can be directed to First Assistant Morris County Prosecutor/SDAG Thomas Zelante at 973-285-6252 or [email protected].