The audio and video don’t lie. Erika Jacho, the Belleville School Board trustee, who was charged with drunken driving last year, was found guilty by a judge in Verona. And what we learned from her four-hour trial is that she used deception, threats, arrogance and outright lies to try to get herself out of the charges on the day of the arrest and in the trial. She lied on the stand — blatantly. Based on that alone, she must resign her position immediately.
But first, here are some of the indisputable, most outrageous facts, we learned at trial:
– On the night she was arrested, Jacho pretended not to understand English at several points, including when she was being tested for her sobriety. She is fluent in English.
– On the night she was arrested, Jacho acted in a most shameful manner, in a way that would not be tolerated of the students in the Belleville school district. Drunk or otherwise, her petty, obnoxious words spoken to police officers and her behavior and words on the stand — in English, mind you — would not be tolerated by many officers (or judges) and as such, the cops who were the unfortunate ones to have to arrest her should be commended for demonstrating such remarkable restraint.
– The night she was arrested, she dropped the name “Vinny. Call Vinny,” she said. It doesn’t take much to know who she referred to, but since “Vinny” has no connection to this case whatsoever, there’s no point in dragging his surname into this any further.
– Lastly, her perjury on the stand was sickening. Jacho clearly doesn’t know her community well, either, if she believes this newspaper is from another county, because we’ve been covering Belleville longer than she’s been on this planet. Her lies about how we covered her arrest should have been known in that courtroom, but they weren’t. She couldn’t have been further from the truth in how she said it happened.
And for her to suggest this newspaper and the off-duty Kearny police officer who was there that night were in cahoots with each other is about the most ridiculous thing we’ve ever heard from a local so-called “leader.” We know this Kearny police officer and he is a textbook example of integrity.
These are just some of the things the judge heard at trial and that led him to convict Jacho. Somehow, however, despite all the attempts she made to avoid arrest, Jacho wasn’t charged with resisting — and she should have been. That’s a story for another day.
Meanwhile, in trial, for whatever the unfathomable reason, Jacho, a school board trustee, was able to use a public defender. And so, on top of her conviction, we now know someone who oversees a multi-million dollar budget and who is a teacher was granted a public defender? What the?
None of this bodes well. At all. And as such, Jacho must resign her position today. That she hasn’t yet and that her colleagues haven’t demanded she do so is mind-boggling.
And speaking of her colleagues on the board — they must all take a stance immediately and insist Jacho resign. If they choose to do otherwise, they will be just as complicit in this hideous travesty as she is.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.