A former Hasbrouck Heights police officer was charged Monday with the murder of a Wood-Ridge man, authorities said.
Scott Smith, 33, of Washington Place in Heights, was charged with first degree murder in the death of John Amendola, who was found stabbed to death Sunday afternoon in his Wood-Ridge home.
Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli described the two as long-time friends who had known each other for 20 years.
Molinelli said that Smith was socializing at Amendola's house during the early morning hours of Sunday when the two became embroiled in an argument. Smith then allegedly stabbed Amendola "multiple times with a knife that he carried regularly on his person," Molinelli said in a release.
Nobody else was in the house and Smith fled the scene, the prosecutor said.
Detectives executed warrants at Smith's house and at his girlfriend's house in Wallington throughout Sunday night, Molinelli said. The prosecutor said authorities found what they believe to be the murder weapon.
Smith joined the in 2000 and left the force in 2008, according to state employment records. It is not clear why he left the department.
Smith was being held on $2 million bail Monday at the Bergen County Jail. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
NorthJersey.com, citing county jail records, reported that Smith was previously arrested in January 2010 on forgery, stolen property and obtaining drugs by fraud charges. The site reported that part of the case against him was dismissed.
Rest in peace messages continue to pour in from friends and family members on Amendola’s Facebook page. Liz Fass of Hasbrouck Heights said she can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to hurt Amendola.
“He didn’t deserve this,” she said, adding that she and her husband Pat will always remember him as a genuinely nice guy with a love for the Dallas Cowboys and Camaros. “I never knew anyone who had a bad word to say about him. He adored his dogs and was a down to earth really nice person."
Amendola owned and operated Amendola Deli on the Boulevard in Heights for about two years. The shop, which closed about two years ago, was located next door to .
Owner Ray Vorisek, who knew Amendola for 25 years, said he was saddened by the news and had just seen Amendola in his shop last week.
"He was more than an employee, he was a friend," said Mauro Visentini, owner of Visentini Bros on Union Street in Lodi, where Amendola currently worked. He remembered Amendola for his great sense of humor and a big heart. He said he was the type of person that was willing to help anyone he could.