Acting Prosecutor Knapp Names John R. Speirs Morris County Chief of Investigations

Morris County Acting Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp has announced that Randolph resident, John R. Speirs will be appointed the Chief of Investigations officially effective April 1, 2013. He will be assuming the title on the retirement date of Chief William Schievella.

Speirs joined the Township of Boonton Police Department in August 1977 and attended the Morris County Police Academy, completing the Police Training Commission basic courses. He served the Township for 33 years as a law enforcement professional, rising through the ranks to the position of Police Chief in 2004. Chief Speirs was responsible for the leadership, management, budget, labor relations and risk management of the police department. As the lead member of the department, he maintained a cooperative and professional working relationship with the Township Administration, Departments and Divisions.

Chief Speirs, while a member of the Boonton Township Police Department, attended the County College of Morris, pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice.

Throughout Chief Speirs’ career, he held the following professional positions and responsibilities: NJ First Responder, Incident Command, Internal Affairs, OSHA, CERT Trainer, Crisis Negotiator, Bias Crimes Investigator, Interview and Interrogators of NJ, Morris County Crisis County Debriefing Team, Firearms Instructor, Motor Vehicle Accident Master Traffic Analyst, OC Aerosol Weapons Instructors Course, Police Work Zone Instructor, Crisis Negotiation, Accident Review Panel, MC Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Response Team, Pre-Event Planning, OEM Incident Command System 100-800, 2012 HSEEP Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program.

In June of 1998, then Lieutenant Speirs was selected as a Commissioner to the Morris County Joint Insurance Fund, which is responsible for the oversight of all insurance matters for over 42 municipalities. His responsibilities included claims review, legal assignment and fund administration. Chief Speirs has successfully implemented numerous programs, workshops and seminars to reduce risk and train fund participants on safe and legal employment practices. The Chief established the LEIP (Law Enforcement Incentive Program) to provide grant funds to municipal departments interested in participating in the accreditation process, and in bringing best practice tools to their management team. Chief Speirs was also assigned as the liaison between the Morris County Joint Insurance Fund and the Morris County Chief’s Association.

The Chief retired in December 2010 from the Boonton Township Police Department. Since his retirement John Speirs worked briefly for LeadingAge New Jersey (Princeton) as the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for 241 members under a grant with Health Infrastructure and Preparedness System NJ Department of Health and Senior Services.

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

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].

Roxbury Township Man Arrested on Charges That He Sexually Assaulted a Juvenile

Acting Morris County Prosecutor Frederic M. Knapp and Roxbury Township Police Chief James Simonetti announce the arrest of Ricky Belza, 21 years old, of Landing, New Jersey for the alleged sexual assault of a juvenile.

Through a lengthy criminal investigation conducted by the Roxbury Township Police Department along with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, the defendant was arrested on February 26, 2013 in Roxbury Township, New Jersey, by detectives from both agencies.

Mr. Belza is charged with two counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault, one count of Second Degree Attempted Sexual Assault, one count of Third Degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child and one count of Fourth Degree Criminal Sexual Contact.

The Honorable Mary Whipple held an emergent bail hearing today and set bail at $100,000 without 10% Cash, Bond or Property. The defendant is not to have contact with the victim or the victim’s family and is also not to have contact with children under 16. The defendant must also surrender his passport if he has one.

Acting Prosecutor Knapp and Chief Simonetti wish to thank, in particular, Detective Adam DelGuercio of the Roxbury Township Police Department for his excellent work on this case.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. Despite this accusation, the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until he or she has been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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