A man who was under the influence of drugs when he caused a crash that killed a northern New Jersey police officer was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison.
Michael Cassella, 30, of Howell, had pleaded guilty in January to aggravated manslaughter in the death of Mount Arlington police Officer Joseph Wargo.
Authorities said Cassella was under the influence of heroin and other drugs in October 2011 when he lost control of his vehicle on Route 80 in Roxbury. He crossed the median and crashed into the marked cruiser being driven by Wargo, an 18-year law enforcement veteran.
The 38-year-old officer, who had spent 10 years on the Mount Arlington force, was on routine patrol at the time.
“Joe was my rock, who encouraged, supported and cared for me like no one else,” his widow, Amy Wargo, said Friday at the sentencing in Morris County. “His passion for life, positive nature and generosity to others was nothing short of exceptional.”
Cassella must serve 17 years of his sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. He chose not to address the court.