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Belleville School Board Trustee Erika Jacho.

Belleville School Board member told officers to call councilman during DWI arrest

‘Vinnie Cozarelli, call him,’ Erika Jacho said while refusing to exit a police vehicle

By Nikita Biryukov, October 28 2020 2:00 pm

A Belleville School Board member who is up for re-election this year repeatedly told officers to call Councilman Vincent Cozzarelli during a DWI arrest last week, according to dashboard camera footage of the incident.

“Call Vinnie. Call Vinnie. Vinnie Cozzarelli, call him,” Erika Jacho said, continuing after officers said they wouldn’t. “No, call him, because if he stands for this — if he stands for you pulling me like I’m fucking a piece of shit. I am not a piece of shit.”

Jacho was arrested after she was found asleep in her car in front of a bar early last Tuesday morning.

She was non-compliant through much of her encounter with police, refusing to enter a police cruiser at the scene and refusing to exit the same vehicle for more than more than 50 minutes.

“I am so sad, sad, sad, sad. Sad, absolutely sad, sad, sad, sad. Oh my god, I’m so sad for this and everything that has been done to me. Sad,” she said in a minutes-long diatribe from the back of the police vehicle. “Oh my god, I am so sad. Sad. Sad, sad, sad. Sad, sad, sad. Oh my god, I am so sad. Sad. Sad, absolutely disgraced. Sad. Sad because, sad. This is a disgrace. Disgrace, disgrace. I am sad. Sad. Sad.”

NJ101.5 first reported Jacho’s arrest.

She appeared to blame Belleville Mayor Michael Melham for the incident.

“I will remember this,” she said. “I will remember Michael Melham.”

There’s nothing that indicates Melham was involved in Jacho’s early morning arrest in any way.

The officers were cordial, if frustrated, throughout the incident.

Jacho’s re-election campaign is ongoing. Her Facebook page still uses a photo of a Building Belleville’s Future campaign sign.

It’s not clear what effect her arrest will have on the race. Because of the state’s mostly-mail election, 7,500 Belleville residents have already voted.

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