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Northern Highlands Daily Voice serves Allendale, Ho-Ho-Kus, Midland Park, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River & Waldwick

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Freedom for drunken killer Benedetto as Bergen victim Scordato is laid to rest


EDITORIAL : Devastated loved ones are burying Dorothy E. Scordato of Allendale today — and at the very same time, the man who was drunk and on drugs when he smashed his car into hers, causing her death on Friday, will be free to get behind the wheel again, if he wants to.

Oh, he isn’t allowed to, under a court order. But that’s no iron-clad guarantee that Rocco Benedetto, 36, won’t try it again. So while those who
knew the beloved great-grandmother try to find understanding in her horrific death, an even more frightening prospect looms out there somewhere.

Jerry DeMarco / Publisher.Editor

“My sister Dot was a very caring person and had a heart as big as a mountain,” Eleanor English told CLIFFVIEW PILO T. “This is so very hard on all of us, and it is not over yet.”

Not by a long shot.

Dot, 80, was on her way to pick up her mentally challenged son for the weekend, the way she did every Friday, when Benedetto came barreling down Route 17, in the same direction, and plowed his Mercedes into her Honda Element.

She was still behind the wheel of her vehicle when emergency workers carefully removed her and rushed her to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, where she died of her injuries a short time later, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

Benedetto, 36, of Mahwah, continued on for about a half-mile before he stopped and called police, the prosecutor said.

Benedetto remained where he was before investigators arrived and took him to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in Paramus, where it was determined that he was under the influence of alcohol, Molinelli said.  He was taken to Valley Hospital where a blood sample was drawn., the prosecutor added.


But is he behind bars now? Nope.

Benedetto was able to post a relatively low $150,000 bail, despite being charged with vehicular homicide, driving while intoxicated and being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance.

What his future holds — or ours, given that he is back out there — is anyone’s guess. There’s no house arrest. No monitoring. No detox or AA meetings.

Half a lifetime ago, an 18-year-old Rocco John Benedetto was arrested in Pennsylvania on charges of making terroristic threats, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and harassment.

He spit on and threatened to kill a judge, authorities there confirmed Monday.

Benedetto made bail then, too. A short time later, prosecutors withdrew the entire case.

Authorities there can’t say with certainty what happened. They’re actually trying to figure it out now. All they know is that Benedetto walked away a free man.

Beat the rap, you could say.

So what happens now? How does a loved one travel in the area of Route 17 and East Saddle River Road — a short hop from the cemetery where Dorothy Scosato is being buried — without wondering whether “he’s”out there on the road once more?

Come to think of it, how do we do it?

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