UPDATE: Bergen County’s presiding municipal judge today convicted the 80-year-old father of one of Bogota Mayor Tito Jackson’s political rivals of simple assault for punching the mayor during the June 3 primary election.
Judge Roy McGeady, who also dismissed a harassment counter-claim against Jackson, said the evidence against Salvatore Trotta was irrefutable.
“Having heard the 911 tape multiple times, the punch took place while the mayor was on the phone with the Bogota police,” the judge said.
“If I accept Mr. Trotta’s version of what happened, when was that phone call made in that sequence of events?” McGeady said. ““I don’t see how the punch could have occurred during the phone call if Mr. Trotta’s version is true.”
Trotta, who lives in Florida and whose daughter is Tina Trotta, testified that the mayor shoved him in the parking lot after first introducing himself and that he hit Jackson with a partially closed fist to defend himself.
Trotta’s daughter, a candidate in the Democratic primary election, had sued the borough over trees that were removed behind her house to make room for a parking lot next to an athletic field.
According to witness Alexander Perpepaj, election workers inside the polling place heard yelling “that sounded like a woman was being assaulted outside.”
Several people ran outside, Perpepaj.
“The ones at the table there were totally engaged,” he said, pointing to Trotta and Jackson. “They were both touching each other.”
McGeady found little likelihood that Trotta, who lives out of state, would commit another offense and fined him $400.
Earlier, the judge dismissed harassment charges by Bogota Borough Clerk Frances Garlicki and Deputy Borough Clerk Jean Cook against Jackson.
“It sounds like piling on,” the judge said. “I hear so many cases out of Bogota.”
Jackson also has a hearing coming up in connection with an incident with Councilman Evaristo Burdiez Jr. during budget discussions in council chambers last month ( SEE: Bogota mayor says councilman whacked him during borough meeting ).
It was the second time in nine weeks that Jackson reported being hit.
Like Trotta, Burdiez accused Jackson of harassment, for which he will be tried in conjunction with the mayor’s assault charges against him.
Burdiez said he pushed Jackson with an open hand to remove the mayor’s finger from his face after Jackson poked him in the chest.
McGeady previously dismissed Burdiez’s assault claim against the mayor because there was no evidence of injury.
The judge set a Dec. 18 trial date in that case.
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