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Former Hasbrouck Heights Officer Gets 25 Years For Killing Childhood Friend

Scott Smith with defense attorney Steven E. Wukovits
Scott Smith with defense attorney Steven E. Wukovits Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia
John Amendola
John Amendola Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT

WOOD-RIDGE, N.J. -- A former Hasbrouck Heights police officer was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison for killing his childhood pal with a knife and a hammer four years ago in Wood-Ridge in a dispute over money.

Scott Smith, 37, must serve a little over 21 years before being eligible for parole, having pleaded guilty last fall to aggravated manslaughter for killing 39-year-old John Amendola in his home.

Smith has four years worth of jail credit, meaning he can be freed in 17 years, when he's 54.

More than 20 family members and friends of Amendola's, and eight or so from Smith's side, attended Wednesday's sentencing in Hackensack.

Turning to the survivors, Smith said: "Your loss is great and I'm sorry for it. I learned the hard way and I hope you can move on."

He also asked for leniency, based on his parents' ages. Both are in their late 60s.

Presiding Judge Susan J. Steele rejected his bid, citing the "depraved and indifferent" attack in Amendola's home on Dec. 11, 2011.

Michael Amendola spoke of his slain brother's "will to do good for others," which he said "made him the opposite of the person to be sentenced here today."

Amendola was related to Anthony Scardino, a former state senator, Lyndhurst mayor and NJSEA commissioner from Bergen County, who also has been a Board of Education trustee, a Felician College trustee, a board member of the Bergen County Law and Public Safety Institute and president of the 200 Club of Bergen County.

A Hasbrouck High School graduate, Amendola worked at his family's deli.

Smith had worked as an officer for seven years before retiring from the department in 2008 at 29 years old. Two years later, he was charged in a massive prescription drug scam.

The day of the killing, authorities said Smith visited Amendola's Union Avenue home, got into an argument with him, then stabbed him repeatedly with a knife he "regularly" carried with him.

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