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Angry Bergen judge sends child sex offender to jail for being late to court

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

EXCLUSIVE: An angered judge in Hackensack today put a former North Arlington cemetery worker behind bars to await sentencing for child sex assault after he showed up 2½ hours late for court.

“I’m going to revoke bail and revoke his ankle bracelet and remand him to the Passaic County Jail,” Superior Court Judge James J. Guida said of 44-year-old John Minervini.

Superior Court Judge James J. Guida (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

After waiting nearly three hours, members of the victim’s family were told they have to return for the sentencing on March 7.

The victim, now a teenager, was 10 when Minervini assaulted her seven years ago.

“He’s been home for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween,” Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kritin DeMarco said. “What is it now — he wants to be home for the Super Bowl?

“This is outrageous. My victim’s family has been here since 8:45.  It was scheduled for 9 a.m.”

DeMarco was about to request a warrant for Minervini’s arrest when he showed up at 11:30.

Attorney Jane Personette told Guida that Minervini’s defense team didn’t know that the sentencing, originally scheduled for Jan. 10, was being held this morning. Then she said the team was waiting for lead attorney Brian Neary but he couldn’t make it.

Personette also said that Minervini had complied with all the conditions of his bail up to now.

That angered the judge.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Kristin DeMarco (STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

“Mr. Neary was here yesterday, and advised me he couldn’t be here and would send someone,” Guida shot back.

“The fact that [Minervini’s] been compliant doesn’t impress me that much,” the judge added. “There’s a high probability the defendant faces significant state prison time.”

Prosecutors are asking for a 20-year sentence, 17 years of which Minervini would have to serve without parole, said Guida Guida also noted that Minervini will be sentenced to prison and not to the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center for sex offenders in Avenel.

He said he’ll allow the defense to argue for jail credits to represent the time he was under home detention, but “I don’t know if it qualifies or not.”

Following a bench trial in October, Guida convicted Minervini of three second-degree counts: touching the girl’s breasts, touching her vagina through her clothing and impairing the morals of a minor. He ordered him to remain under house arrest with the bracelet until sentencing.

Minervini was arrested by members of the North Arlington Police and the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Special Victims Unit in 2012 after the girl’s family contacted police. He immediately made the $100,000 bail and was released.

Married at the time, he worked at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington.

Guida sent Minervini to the Passaic County Jail because a member of the victim’s family is with the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the county jail in Hackensack.

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