YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A judge in Hackensack today set a June 2 trial date for a Lodi fire marshal on charges of abusing his elderly mother.
With the deadline for a plea deal expired, Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi scheduled 58-year-old Paul Wanco for trial.
Wanco is accused of deliberately leaving his mother lying on the floor in her own urine and feces for nearly 15 hours.
Florence Wanco, 90, died last month, a little over a year after the March 5, 2013 incident.
An indictment returned by a grand jury in Hackensack charges Wanco with elder abuse and aggravated assault “for attempted serious bodily injury with indifference to the value of human life.”
A previous defense attorney argued that prosecutors failed to prove that he was legally responsible for the care of his mother, whose home he lived in with his family.
He also contended that there was no evidence that Wanco was responsible for his mother’s fall and or that he had “formed the intent” to harm her. Wanco’s niece, Jennifer, was taking care of her, he said.
The attorney who accompanied Wanco today, Marlo Hittman, asked about motions in the case. Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Jessica Gomperts said these have already been “extensive.”
Gomperts has said that Wanco’s own statement to responding police officers who called emergency services to take his mother to the hospital proved that he was aware of her circumstances “and came home and went to sleep anyway.” She said he also told his niece that he would take care of his mother when he returned home.
When Florence Wanco arrived at the hospital she was dehydrated, had significant bruises and bed sores, and burns, caused byeither the fecal matter she was lying in or from the plywood floor, Gomperts said reports show. She also had four broken ribs, the assistant prosecutor said.
During a previous hearing, Superior Court Judge Edward Jerejian said: “The police told the grand jury conditions in the apartment were deplorable. There were fecal stains, urine, sores, the victim was lying on the floor, on her side in discomfort, and was left for an extended period of time.
“He is the son, he lives in the house, the niece had just turned 18. To say she was completely responsible for the woman’s care – this is for a jury to decide.”
Jennifer Wanco, who was indicted along with her uncle last summer, entered Pre-Trial Intervention, a move that Bergen County prosecutors didn’t oppose. If she follows its requirements, she will be cleared of the charges.
They refused to sign off on the same arrangement for Paul Wanco.
FILE PHOTO (ABOVE): Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
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