YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Jurors in Hackensack today found a former Haworth police officer not guilty of deliberately omitting his resignation from the borough when he later applied to work for the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office. They couldn’t reach a verdict and were declared hung on the same charge involving his application to Waldwick police.
Anthony Castronova, 34, of Maywood ( above, right ), appeared to exhale as the jury foreman read the verdicts to two counts of false swearing. His wife, Washington Township Police Officer Heather Castronova, wept silently as she sat among family members, friends and loved ones.
Superior Court Judge Patrick J. Roma said the jurors were “hopelessly deadlocked” on the charge against Castronova of lying on his Waldwick application.
But after nearly two full days of deliberations, they were definitive that he wasn’t guilty of the other charge. A conviction for either fourth-degree crime could have brought a prison sentence of up to 18 months.
Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli told CLIFFVIEW PILOT tonight that he intends to retry Castronova.
Defense attorney Eric Kleiner insisted: “There is no appreciable difference between the two charges. He is absolutely innocent of the Waldwick charge.”
Kleiner pointed to the testimony of Haworth Police Chief Chris Campbell, who told jurors that borough officials tried to rehire Castronova in 2004 because they considered the allegations that led to the resignation “a miscarriage of justice.”
“We are confident that justice will be done ultimately and he will be cleared,” he said.
Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Natalie Candela said during the trial that Castronova omitted his December 2004 resignation from Haworth on job applications with both agencies because he “thought he could get away with it.”
Kleiner countered that his client told both verbally, rather than on the written applications, after being laid off as a detective with the Paterson Police Department.
He emphasized that Castronova used Campbell and former Haworth Police Chief Patrick O’Dea, who also testified during the trial, as references.
Others who testified about screening and interview procedures included: Lt. Anthony Gentile, Inspector Mickey Bradley and Detective Daryl Bagnuolo of the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, and Chief Mark Messner, Lt. Douglas Moore and Borough Administrator Gary Kratz of Waldwick.
While working for Haworth, Castronova was heard on a wiretap discussing illegal activity with a relative, Donald Dinelle. When investigators realized the conversation was with a police officer, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office negotiated a settlement that included the resignation.
Dinelle was one of dozens of people arrested in a crackdown on illegal gambling by organized crime — in particular, the Lucchese family.
In his resignation letter, Castronova agreed to step down “to avoid prosecution.” He also agreed to let Haworth release the letter if another law enforcement agency requested it and to indemnify the borough against any legal action for doing so.
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
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