NEWARK, NJ – Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Verona Police Chief Mitchell Stern announced today that the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Anthony V. Casale, Jr., 25, of Belleville with first degree death by auto in connection with the death of Megan E. Villanella, 34, of Verona.
Casale is also charged with second degree assault by auto and possession of controlled dangerous substance paraphernalia. In addition, Casale was also issued traffic summonses for driving while under the influence, driving while under the influence within 1,000 feet of a school, careless driving, reckless driving and failure to maintain his lane.
It is alleged that at approximately 7:45 AM on Friday March 3, Villanella and her 30-year-old brother were waiting at a bus stop at Lakeside Avenue and Pease Avenue when a 2006 white Mitsubishi driven by Casale struck the sister and brother.
Ms. Villanella sustained fatal injuries. Her brother was critically injured. He remains hospitalized in stable condition.
Casale is scheduled to make his first court appearance tomorrow in Central Judicial Processing.
He is currently being held in the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark pending arraignment.
These are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they enter a guilty plea or are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The investigation is active and ongoing. It is being conducted by the Verona Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes/ Crash Investigative Unit.
Assistant Prosecutor Tara Creegan is handling the case. Additional information will be released as it becomes available.