Jail guard arrested in hit-and-run that killed Jersey City GOP chairman, candidate
NORTH BERGEN — A Hudson County corrections officer has been charged with leaving the scene of a Sunday night crash that killed two prominent Republican officials from Jersey City
Michael J. Hansen, 38, of North Bergen, was arrested before 4 a.m. Monday and charged with second-degree leaving the scene of a fatal accident and resisting arrest.
The crash killed Jersey City Republican Party Chairman Russell Maffei, 57, and Assembly candidate Marie Tauro, 80, at the intersection of Paterson Plank Road and Kennedy Boulevard about 8:05 p.m.
According to a report on NJ.com, Maffei and Tauro were meeting at the Coach House restaurant with other members of the party to plan for the upcoming primaries. It was believed that Tauro, a Municipal Utilities Authority commissioner, would be trying for the 31st district seat in the assembly.
"He lived, slept and breathed party politics," Freeholder Bill O'Dea said of Maffei.
Gov. Chris Christie described Maffei as "a dear friend" and vowed that "we will do all we can to make sure that justice is done."
“Mary Pat and I were deeply saddened and disturbed to learn of the tragic deaths of Russell Maffei and Marie Tauro in what police are reporting to be a hit-and-run incident in North Bergen last night," Christie said in a statement Monday. "More than just a long-time Republican colleague, Russ was a dear friend who I had known for many years and who I could always rely upon. As the full details of this tragedy continue to unfold, Mary Pat and I want the families and friends of both Russ and Marie to know that we will do all we can to make sure that justice is done. The victims and their loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers.”
Lt. Kim Guadagno also commented on the tragedy.
Officials ask anyone with information about the crash to call the Hudson County Sheriff's Office at 201-915-1300 ext. 7050.
Hansen has had disciplinary troubles before, New Jersey 101.5 has learned.
Hansen was suspended for 60 days in 2016 for insubordination, conduct unbecoming a public employee, neglect of duty and chronic or excessive absenteeism stemming from unapproved absences in 2015.
According to the Civil Service Commission, the suspension was reduced to 20 days this January and Hansen was awarded back pay.
The reason for the Family Medical Leave, according to documents, was "episodic flare-ups of cluster migraine headaches, and had been approved to run from March 5 until Sept. 5, 2015. Hansen, who had exhausted all his sick time for the year, continued to call out from Sept. 7 to 16.
He also faced disciplinary action for not reporting an address change within the required 48 hour period.
Pension records show Hansen has nearly seven years of experience and collects a salary of more than $28,000.
A county spokesman was not able to comment on the status of Hansen's job Monday afternoon.
It was not clear Monday afternoon whether Hansen had an attorney, and a phone number for Hansen could not be located.
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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com