Secaucus councilman, teacher accused of lying to cops about car crash

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A Secaucus councilman and a local teacher have been charged with lying to police about who was driving during a car crash that occurred last month, according to court documents.

1st Ward Councilman Robert Constantino. Screenshot via Vimeo.
1st Ward Councilman Robert Constantino. Screenshot via Vimeo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

1st Ward Councilman Robert Constantino, 49, of Secaucus and Dawn Leon, 37, both of Secaucus, were charged with hindering by providing false information to a law enforcement officer on September 23rd, the criminal complaints say.

Hudson County View obtained the police reports and criminal complaints associated with the incident through an Open Public Records Act request to the Secaucus Clerk’s Office.

On September 23rd at about 10:30 a.m., a White Ford SUV crashed into a cement mixer near 701 3rd St. Leon, a teacher at Huber Street Elementary School said she was driving when the accident happened, according to a police report written by Officer Petrov Kiril.

Constantino identified himself as the passenger during the accident, but three witnesses, all from the construction site, identified a white, middle-aged man wearing a white t-shirt as the driver, the report says.

At the time, Kiril noted that there was a surveillance camera at 724 3rd St., which he obtained a copy of on October 1st, according to a property report filed with the department.

“The footage does not show the motor vehicle crash, however, it does show the driver, who was wearing a white colored short sleeve shirt which the witnesses on scene did describe to me and who identified as Mr. Constantino,” reads an October 2nd supplementary incident report written by Kiril.

According to the aforementioned report, Constantino continued to claim Leon was the driver during the accident, alleging that she was so shaken up from the accident she jumped into his lap and somehow climbed into the back seat.

When Petrov pressed Constantino as to why three people would identify him as the driver, he said “they only speak Spanish” and didn’t know what they’re talking about, the report says.

In a follow-up call to Leon, she continued to take responsibility for the accident, stating Constantino moved to the driver’s seat from the passenger’s seat after the accident.

“Due to the inconsistent statements from Mr. Constantino and Ms. Leon from the day of the incident and today’s conversation, along with the video footage collected from the scene which clearly shows Mr. Constantino operating the vehicle within moments prior to the crash … I believe the driver during the crash was Mr. Constantino, according to the report.

A councilman since 2010, Constantino is up for re-election on November 7th. He faces opposition in the form of Steven Kilawattie, a recent Secaucus High School graduate who unsuccessfully sought a seat on the school board last year.

A message sent to Constantino’s town email bounced back and he could not be reached at his office on Thursday, while Leon could not be reached for comment.

 

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