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NJ Deputy Mayor arrested after hitting officer with his car, demanding to speak with police chief

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Melanie Burney
Philly.com

Haddonfield Deputy Mayor Jeff Kasko has been charged with assaulting a borough police officer in an incident that began after a confrontation with a process server who tried to deliver divorce papers to him at his home, authorities said Friday.

The incident began Wednesday around 8:30 a.m. when police responded to a report of an accident at Kasko’s home, said Police Chief Jason Cutler. Kasko backed his Volkswagen Passat out of his driveway, striking the process server’s 2013 white BMW, which was partially blocking the driveway, police records show.

Kasko left the scene and the process server called police, the chief said. According to police records, the process server had gone to Kasko’s home to deliver divorce papers. Kasko crashed into the process server’s car “in an attempt to get away from being served the legal documents,” according to the affidavit of probable cause for his arrest.

Kasko was not there when police arrived but returned while Patrolman Joni Frangieh was investigating the earlier crash, Cutler said. Frangieh was struck by the mirror on Kasko’s car, the chief said.

Frangieh was trying to get Kasko to stop as the commissioner entered the driveway blowing his horn, but to no avail, Cutler said. The officer suffered minor injuries, the chief said Friday.

Frangieh, who joined the department six months ago, said Kasko told him he had left the scene of the accident because he had errands to run. He said Kasko berated him and accused him of not maintaining a professional demeanor. Frangieh called for back-up and Kasko asked for the police chief.

“It obviously put the Haddonfield Police department in an awkward position,” Cutler said. “My officers handled themselves as they would treat any other resident. ”

Kasko was charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, assault with a motor vehicle, criminal mischief and numerous motor vehicle charges, including reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report an accident. He was held overnight in the Camden County Jail and released Thursday. He faces a hearing in Haddonfield municipal court on Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Kasko, 54, and his wife, Theresa, did not respond to a message left at their home.

Mayor Neal Rochford, who is on a medical leave, did not respond to an email message seeking comment.

Kasko, a Republican, is one of three borough commissioners in the affluent Camden County community of about 11,000 residents. The commissioners select the mayor and deputy mayor. Kasko is now serving his third four-year term in office. First elected in 2009, Kasko served a stint as mayor and currently is the deputy mayor and the commissioner for revenue and finance.

Camden County GOP Chairman Richard Ambrosino did not respond to messages Friday.

In 2013, Kasko was reelected to a second on the Board of Commissioners and was tapped by his fellow commissioners to be mayor. He became Haddonfield’s first new mayor in 12 years, replacing Letitia “Tish” Colombi, who decided not to seek another term.

Kasko, a public relations manager, made an unsuccessful bid for the county Freeholder Board in 2002, but was easily defeated by the Democrats. He served as an aide to former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman and was a legislative aide in the state Assembly.

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