An off-duty Saddle Brook police officer was drunk when he fled the scene of a utility pole crash a few blocks from his home, authorities charged.
Attilio Dente Sr., 39, had to be separated from an unidentified person he was arguing with when township officers showed up at his home around 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, an accident report obtained by Daily Voice says.
Moments earlier, a 2013 Chevy Avalanche driven by the five-year department veteran struck a utility pole outside a home on Market Street between Miller and Coger streets, up the block from the local 7-Eleven and the Wine Country liquor store, it says.
Dente smelled of alcohol when his fellow officers broke up the argument, according to the report prepared by a Bergen County sheriff's officer and approved by a sergeant who accompanied him to the scene.
His colleagues impounded the truck, which records show is owned by his wife.
The officers took Dente into custody and alerted the Bergen County Sheriff's Office, which handles such incidents to eliminate any appearance of a conflict of interest.
Dente told the sheriff's officer who responded to the call that he'd been drinking on Lake Hopatcong earlier in the day and fell asleep behind the wheel while returning from a friend's house in Saddle Brook, the report says.
He stumbled a bit through the sobriety field test and was taken to the sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Identification facility behind the county jail in Hackensack, it says.
A U.S. Navy veteran (2001-2005), Dente previously worked as a state senior corrections officer assigned to Northern State Prison in Newark for 10 years.
After waiving his Miranda rights, Dente told the sheriff's officer that he'd "consumed beer and a few shots on a friend's boat in Lake Hopatcong," according to the report.
He then registered a .08% blood-alcohol level on a breath test, for which he was charged with DWI, the report says. He was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident, it says.
No injuries were reported.
David's Towning brought the pickup to the impound lot with damage to the front bumper, hood, and both headlights, the report says.
PSE&E was called to repair the pole.
Dente collected the summonses and was picked up by his wife, under the provisions of John's Law, shortly after 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
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