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Mahwah police charge fugitive in DWI hit-and-run, assault on officers

Photo Credit: Courtesy MAHWAH PD
Photo Credit: Courtesy MAHWAH PD

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A woman tried to take responsibility for a hit-and-run crash involving her fugitive boyfriend, who was drunk when Mahwah police found him, then kicked and spit at officers at headquarters, Chief James Batelli said this afternoon.

A caller alerted police to the hit and run earlier today on Halstead Way, a cul-de-sac, after a car struck a tree and the driver took off, Batelli said.

Responding officers almost immediately found a green Mercury parked on nearby Dodge Court with fresh front-end damage, the chief said.

Andrea D’Anton (FACEBOOK photo)

The owner, 23-year-old Andrea D’Anton, told them she was driving and lost control of the car, which hit a tree in front of her house.

Trouble was: That wasn’t the tree that was hit, Batelli said. What’s more, a witness told police there was a man behind the wheel.

Eventually, D’Anton “admitted she was not driving and that her boyfriend, John K. Sassaman, was actually driving the vehicle,” the chief said.

Sassaman, 26, most recently of Allentown, PA, emerged from the house moments later and failed a field sobriety test, after which he was arrested by Officer Matthew Lombardo, Batelli said.

A criminal check at headquarters found that Sassaman, who works at an area supermarket, was wanted on an outstanding warrant — with possible extradition — out of Bucks County, PA.

After processing, officers took him out of his cell for transfer to the Bergen County Jail, but Batelli said Sassaman “became extremely combative and argumentative and began arguing with the officers.”

The 6-foot-1-inch, 275-pound Sassaman He then kicked Officer Jonathan Lange before being subdued by Sgt. Michael Blondin and Lombardo, the chief said.

Put back in the cell, he “urinated on the floor in the cell and attempted to urinate on the officers, all the while spitting in [their] general direction,” he said.

Sassaman was being held without bail on the fugitive warrant in the Bergen County Jail.

He is charged with aggravated assault on a police officer and a disorderly persons offense. Police also issued summonses for DWI, reckless driving, leaving the scene of a crash, failing to report a crash — and driving on a suspended license.

D’Anton was charged criminally with providing false information to police and issued a summons for allowing a suspended driver to operate a motor vehicle.


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