Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Assault alleged against Wildwood employee and Mayor's son's brother in law

Update: I received a call from Mayor Troiano on 02/11/14 at 4 p.m. asking for a correction to the article below.  Mayor Troiano took exception to the statement that Michael A. Blanda was his relative.  The mayor told me that Blanda is his son's brother-in-law and for that reason he is not related to the mayor.
A July 25, 2013 altercation between two men at a local electrical supply store has led to cross complaints against the two participants.  According the the police reports (on-line here) one of the men is a city employee and a relative of Mayor Ernest Troiano Jr.

The incident occurred at about 10:15 a.m. at Billows Electric at 3901 New Jersey Avenue, Wildwood.  Jack Gallagher, 55, called police and reported that he had been assaulted.  According to police records, he was in Billows speaking to Mike Marsden "about the City of Wildwood" when their conversation was overhead by Michael A. Blanda, 41, who works as a Senior Electrician for the City of Wildwood and who is a "relative of" Mayor Troiano. 

According to Gallagher's statement to police, Blanda reached out and grabbed Gallagher's throat and stated "I am going to kill you."  Blanda then reportedly pushed Gallagher against the wall.  At this point, a witness had to get between the two men to get Blanda to release his grip on Gallagher's throat.

According to Blanda's statement, Blanda, who wasn't at Billows when police arrived, walked into police headquarters at about 4:23 p.m. the next day, July 26, 2013, and complained that Gallagher had been speaking in an "verbally aggressive" and obscene manner about Mayor Troiano.  Blanda said that he asked Gallagher several times to stop talking about his family, but Gallagher "refused to comply."  Blanda said that he "grabbed Gallagher by the shirt and pushed him against the store back" but eventually "let go of Gallagher and walked out."

According to Patrolman Shawn A. Toffoli, who was dispatched to Billows and took Gallagher's and two witnesses' statements, he met with Blanda a short time later at the office of Wildwood Public Works Director Mark D'Amico.  According to Toffoli, Blanda "admitted he was wrong and should not have grabbed Gallagher" and admitted to being on City time at the time of this incident."

The incidents resulted in two municipal court complaints (on-line here), both of which have been transferred to the Stone Harbor Municipal Court. Docket No. 0514-S-2013-000892 charges Gallagher with harassment and Docket No. 0514-S-2013-000889 charges Blanda with simple assault.  According to my February 11, 2014 conversation with a Wildwood Municipal Court Deputy Administrator the courts are attempting to get both Blanda and Gallagher to participate in court supervised mediation.

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