Newly Hired Garfield Cop Faces DWI And Assault By Auto Charge

CHESTER BOROUGH – A newly hired Garfield policeman was charged with driving while intoxicated and assault by auto after he crashed into a building on Main Street in Chester.

Patrick R. Sajewicz was appointed as a patrolman on Oct. 7, just eight days before the incident happened. According to police reports, Sajewicz was driving a 2014 Infinity on 15 October when he allegedly failed to maintain control of the vehicle and crashed into a building. Details of the incident were released by Morris County Prosecutor Fredric M. Knapp and Chester Borough Police Chief David Jara on Wednesday morning.

A passenger was riding in the vehicle with Sajewicz who was hurt in the crash. However, it was not clear how badly the passenger was hurt. Sajewicz was taken to the hospital after the crash and was not arrested at the scene.

The accident report stated that Sajewicz was allegedly driving while intoxicated but details are not available whether he showed any signs of impairment at the time he was arrested. His BAC level was also not available.

According to the prosecutor’s office, the incident was being investigated and further details were not released at the time.

Sajewicz was arrested five days after the crash, on Monday, when he was released from the hospital.

He is facing multiple charges including DWI (driving while intoxicated), assault by auto, reckless driving and careless motor vehicle operation causing property destruction.

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Pennsylvania Senate Passes Legislation For Repeat Drunken Drivers

For years, the state of Pennsylvania has allowed repeat drunken drivers to legally stay behind the wheel, causing a huge threat to drivers on the roadways. However, a recently passed legislation will bring an end to this loophole.

The legislation was unanimously passed by the Pennsylvania Senate on Thursday . The bill was sponsored by Sen. John Rafferty (R., Montgomery), and it will be signed by Gov. Corbett.

According to Rafferty, an Inquirer article published last month shed light on the loophole, which moved him to act. The loophole actually allows repeat drunk drivers to escape harsh penalties and keep driving legally. The newspaper reported that according to a 2009 state Supreme Court decision, a driver could not be treated as a repeat offender until he or she was sentenced in the first DUI case.

The current state law prevented prosecutors to press for harsher penalties when an offender has a prior DUI record. As a result, the prosecutors had to accept deals that would bundle the cases of chronic offenders and treat each case as a first-time offense.

The passing of the bill was applauded by the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. The association’s legislative liaison, Greg Rowe, said, “It is always gratifying when the legislature comes together on a bipartisan basis and takes steps to protect the public, and that is exactly what happened here.”

The new legislation allows judges to consider previous cases to be repeat offenses even if the offender was not sentenced in the earlier incidents. It would therefore trigger harsher penalties for repeat offenders.

The case of Villanova lawyer Joseph Lawless was cited by the newspaper stating that he had five separate drunken driving arrests in less than a year, each recording exceptionally high levels of intoxication. He was only sentenced to 10 days in jail because each conviction was treated as a first-time offense. He should have received a longer sentence had the law been different.

According to the DUI changes adopted in 2003, any defendant with such high levels of intoxication should get 90 days in prison for a second offense, and a year in jail for each subsequent conviction.

Rafferty said that his bill will correct this issue and it will ensure that drivers who repeatedly drive drunk are held accountable for each offense, making the roads safer.

Apart from increasing punishments for repeat offenders, the bill also closed a second loophole which would lead to a stricter penalty for someone who refused to take a field sobriety test. Under the current law, any repeat offender who refused to take a sobriety test could receive a lesser sentence. Now, if the offender took the test and failed, it would lead to a maximum of six months in prison.

An amendment was also made to the bill to give a conditional driver’s license to convicted drug users and drug dealers who had their driving privileges recently suspended. There are as many as 15,000 cases, most of them in Philadelphia. The conditional license would allow them to drive to school or work.

Another article published by The Inquirer in February talked about the part of the bill whereby Philadelphia courts ignored a state law for a decade that called for suspension of driving licenses of drug convicts. Court officials were contacted by The Inquirer who acknowledged that they had failed to properly report drug convictions to the state Department of Transportation. Prosecutors also confirmed that they started sending PennDot the required paperwork to suspend the licenses of about 11,000 people convicted in drug cases.

After the article was published, similar belated notifications started coming from court officials in York County which involved as many as 4,000 drivers.

Some House members argued that old cases, dating as back as 10 years, should not have suspensions imposed after so many years. They stressed that a lot of people who were involved in drugs previously have reformed over the years.

The Senate agreed to pass the bill before the current legislative session that ended Thursday.

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Head Of Security For An Atlantic County School District Charged With DWI

LINWOOD – 52-year-old Chuck Carter, head of security for an Atlantic County school district, was arrested on drunken driving charges after he crashed a board of education car.

According to a police report, Carter slammed into a telephone pole on Shore Road at about 11:45 p.m. Friday, after which he was taken into custody. His vehicle spun several times before it stopped in front of a cemetery.

The car was damaged beyond repair in the accident, but Carter only sustained minor injuries.

According to public records, Carter was paid $95,962 in 2013. He was also the district’s director of facilities.

Additional information was not provided by the Linwood police department regarding the incident.

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Man Arrested Twice In Same Day On Separate Charges

STAFFORD – A 28-year-old township man was taken into the custody for DUI again minutes after being released from custody following a DUI arrest Friday morning.

Joshua Van Dyke of the Manahawkin section of town allegedly became aggressive as he was being walked out of the police station at about 2 a.m. He threw his summonses to the ground, punched a glass window and kicked a metal garbage can, according to the police.

Authorities told that police officers then took him into custody again. As he was brought to a holding cell, Van Dyke continued to act hostile, resisting and attempting to escape from the police.

During the fight, a police officer sustained a minor injury on his elbow.

Police charged Van Dyke for resisting arrest, disorderly conduct and aggravated assault on a police officer. He was sent to the Ocean County jail, where he was held in lieu of $20,000 bail.

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25-Year-Old Elizabeth Man Pleads Guilty To A Charge Stemming From A Drunk Driving Incident

A 25-year-old city man pleaded guilty to a charge which arose from a DUI accident almost a year ago due to which a New York City firefighter died.

According to acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park, Anthony Marsal appeared before Superior Court Judge Stuart Peim and pleaded guilty to a single count of death by auto for the 11th of October 2013 accident in Union Township due to which 57-year-old John Monteverde died.

The toxicology tests showed that Marsal’s BAC level was more than twice the legal limit shortly after he was taken into custody and that he had ingested cocaine in the hours leading to the accident.

The prosecutor’s office will recommend as part of a plea agreement that Marsal, who has no criminal history or committed any offense before, receive a 5-year prison term when he is sentenced later this year.

According to the prosecutor, Monteverde was going back to work from his Pennsylvania vacation home when his motorcycle was hit by Marsal’s 1996 Honda Accord.

Authorities came to know that Marsal made a left turn from Vivian Terrace onto North Avenue and cut off Monteverde’s 2004 Suzuki motorcycle.

Monteverde, who was wearing a bright reflective vest when the accident happened was ejected from his motorcycle and died because of multiple life-threatening internal and external injuries, Park said. She said Monteverde was travelling to his firehouse in Staten Island when the collision happened.

Marsal will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he will become eligible for parole. After his released, he will be on parole for 3 years and his driver’s license will be suspended for 5 years, the prosecutor’s office told.

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Two City Police Officers Ticketed For DUI In Crash At Millville Church

MILLVILLE – In early September, 2 city police officers were charged for DUI following an accident on a Carmel Road church and now the case is under criminal review by the Prosecutor’s Office.

On the evening of 3rd of September, officers Michael McLaughlin Jr. and Charles Twigg were not on duty when the green 1974 Chevrolet Corvette they were riding in veered off the roadway at about 9 p.m. and crashed into St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church.

A crash report provided to The Daily Journal showed that both men were thrown out from the vehicle.

The motor vehicle belonged to Twigg but he permitted McLaughlin to drive it that night, according to police. Authorities told that both were under drunk.

29-year-old McLaughlin had a BAC level of .092 percent, according to police Chief Thomas Haas. Twigg’s BAC level was not measured as he was a passenger.

Both men were charged for DUI and not wearing a seat belt while riding in a motor vehicle.

The accident report showed that high rate of speed played a factor in the accident, though it is not known how fast McLaughlin was driving.

Officials have no information from where the 2 men were coming from or travelling to that night. Twigg lives on Carmel Road almost a mile east of the accident spot, according to property records.

According to Haas, the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing whether Twigg will face criminal charges connected with enabling an impaired driver to operate his vehicle.

Her office is reviewing the issue and declined to comment when asked if a criminal investigation was being conducted, Cumberland County Prosecutor Jennifer Webb-McRae said.

The report showed that McLaughlin sustained serious injuries in which a fracture or dislocation in his back was also included. He was taken to Inspira Medical Center Vineland for treatment. Haas said the officer is recovering at home. Twigg complained of pain, but had no noticeable serious injuries. He has since returned to work.

The report shows that McLaughlin was travelling east when he lost control after rounding a curve and grade change in the road. The Corvette spun into the westbound lane with its face on the north and eventually went onto the grass and a dirt driveway.

The motor vehicle was airborne for almost 20 feet after the passenger-side tires dug into the ground on an incline. McLaughlin and Twigg were ejected from the Corvette, which continued sideways until hitting the church.

According to the church members, when the motor vehicle crashed in the building, Vinyl siding, an outdoor electrical box, a security alarm box and a brick retaining wall on the church were damaged.

City police, fire and emergency responders reported to the accident spot. Sgt. Kevin McLaughlin handled the investigation of the incident.

On 6th of October, the officers are summoned to Millville Municipal Court but there are chances that Michael McLaughlin may not be able to attend because of his serious condition.

Mayor Mike Santiago, the city’s director of public safety, said he didn’t have any information about the DUI charges until Tuesday afternoon.

Santiago, chief warrant officer for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said, “I did know about the crash and that it was being investigated. This is very unfortunate. But fortunately their injuries weren’t life-threatening”.

Catherine Romanik, a member of St. Nicholas who lives in the area, said she didn’t see the accident when it happened. But she said speeding has been a problem in the area in recent years. “Cars constantly speed down this section of the road and don’t slow down. It happens all day and night. Going 50 miles an hour isn’t even enough”.

The posted speed limit in the area of the church is 50 mph which the people should not exceed for safety reasons.

According to Romanik, the amount of damage done to the church due to the crash has not yet been known by investigators.

Michael McLaughlin has been with the police department for more than a year and a half, while Twigg has been a Millville officer and working for the department for almost 20 years.

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