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3 Hackensack officers plead guilty in beating case, two resign

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

A former Hackensack PBA chief and an officer involved in scuffles that led to charges and suspensions quit their jobs today after pleading guilty in connection with the beating of a resident – which also drew a guilty plea from a third officer who remains on the force.

Anthony Ferraioli, 48, admitted in Superior Court in Hackensack that he went after the man following an earlier assault at a Paramus restaurant involving colleague Richard Sellitto, 28.

Sellitto, meanwhile, admitted that he lied to investigators in an effort to cover up for Ferraioli.

A third officer, 22-year veteran Alberto Gutierrez, admitted making several harassing phone calls to officers who’d gone to the victim’s Hackensack apartment.

Ferraioli, who pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, is banned for life from public service work in New Jersey. He originally was charged with official misconduct, aggravated assault and falsifying police records before taking a plea deal.

Sellitto, whose guilty plea was to providing false information to police, can work as a cop outside the city – but his application must include the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office case against him. He originally was charged with retaliating against a witness, lying to investigators and hindering his own arrest and prosecution before reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Both resignations took effect today.

Gutierrez pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense.

Sellitto’s sister, Dana, is due in court tomorrow in connection with her arrest on charges of providing false information to police.

Her brother was first involved in a scuffle in December 2010 with a bartender at the Pointin Still in Hackensack who broke his jaw.

The second fight broke out several months later, this one at the Houlihan’s on Route 4 in Paramus.

It was near closing time on June 7, 2011 when Sellitto dialed 911 to report that he, his sister and a friend were assaulted by a group of people who fled the scene in a BMW, a Range Rover, and a motorcycle, authorities said.

Based on bad information, several Hackensack officers — along with a pair of Paramus colleagues — rushed to the apartment of Andrew Milberg seeking revenge, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli told CLIFFVIEW PILOT at the time. Milberg wasn’t at the restaurant that night, the prosecutor said.

Ferraioli bashed Milberg in the head, sending him to the hospital with an ear injury, then “filed a police report containing false information,” Molinelli said.

Detectives also arrested Gutierrez and charged him with obstructing justice and witness tampering for allegedly “coaching” younger officers there on what to say to the prosecutor’s investigators, the prosecutor said.

Milberg was arrested on charges of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia, two law enforcement sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT at the time. Initial reports were then changed in an attempt to indicate he resisted arrest, they said.

Molinelli then  confirmed that his investigators found that Silletto “purposefully, falsely identified Milberg as being involved in the assault at Houlihan’s in order to hinder the prosecution of Anthony Ferraioli for allegedly assaulting Milberg.“

Ferraioli, a former union president from Paramus, was one of more than a dozen officers who brought civil rights charges against now-suspended Police Chief Charles “Ken” Zisa, claiming he retaliated against them for various reasons.

Zisa was convicted last year of official misconduct.

After a period of transition, in which retired Capt. Tomas Padilla was the department commander, the city appointed highly-regarded veteran crimefighter Michael Mordaga as police director. He began the job last month.

Sentencing on the guilty pleas is set for April 19.

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