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Bergen prosecutor opposes pre-trial intervention for Lodi fire marshal in elder abuse case

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

EXCLUSIVE: A judge in Hackensack today set a Dec. 19 hearing to hear an appeal by Lodi Fire Marshal Paul Wanco of his rejection from a pre-trial intervention program following his indictment on charges of leaving his fallen 85-year-old mother on the floor in her own waste for nearly 15 hours.

Wanco and his niece, Jennifer Wanco, were both indicted by a grand jury in Hackensack on elder abuse and attempted serious bodily injury counts in July in connection with the incident four months earlier.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Jessica Gomperts told Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian this morning that she didn’t oppose Jennifer Wanco’s acceptance into the diversionary PTI program. If she follows its requirements, the younger Wanco will be cleared of the charges.

At the same time, Gomperts insisted that Paul Wanco face prosecution in the neglect of his mother, Florence. Based on her objection, he was denied PTI.

Jerejian scheduled the hearing for a month from now after Wanco appealed the denial.

Gomperts told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that Florence Wanco, who spent time in the hospital after the incident, “is not doing well.” After her discharge back home with her son and granddaughter, she said, the elderly woman had to be transferred to a rehabilitation facility, where she has remained.

According to Gomperts, Jennifer Wanco telephoned her uncle at work on March 5 to tell him that she couldn’t get her grandmother off the floor in the home that the three shared.

The 20-year firefighting told her to leave her there, and that he would handle it when he got back, the prosecutor said.

Under PTI, as it’s known, defendants without prior criminal records can have charges removed if they follow certain conditions for a specified time period, ordinarily a year. Depending on the offense, PTI can require community service, restitution and/or fines, psychological testing, urine monitoring and alcohol evaluations.

If a participant fails to complete the program, the charges go to a grand jury in Hackensack.

STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

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