Bail set for woman in trooper's death

June 8, 2010 10:19:27 PM PDT
A woman who touched off a search that resulted in the death of a 29-year-old New Jersey state trooper has had her bail raised to $500,000.

Diana Hoffman, of Blackwood, has a prior criminal record and a judge on Monday determined she was a flight risk.

Authorities said Hoffman abandoned her car Sunday morning on Interstate 195 in Howell. Trooper Marc Castellano was searching for her on foot when he was hit by another vehicle.

Authorities have not said who hit Castellano. The investigation into the accident was continuing.

Hoffman, 30, has been charged with eluding police, resisting arrest, hindering apprehension and possession of cocaine and heroin. Monmouth County Executive Assistant Prosecutor Richard Incremona said a charge of false public alarm will be added. In that charge, prosecutors allege that Hoffman's actions led to Castellano's death.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Scully increased bail from $350,000 after Incremona said that Hoffman had eluded officers days ago in Tuckerton, had been cited three times in the past five years for failing to appear in court and was currently unemployed.

Dressed in a maroon jumpsuit with her hands cuffed in front of her, Hoffman yawned throughout the 10-minute hearing.

Castellano suffered multiple injuries. He was taken to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune New Jersey, where he later died.

The abandoned vehicle was found on Interstate 195 westbound on the ramp at exit 31 in Howell Township.

Hoffman was later found hiding nearby in the woods and was taken into custody.

Hoffman told authorities that a man was riding with her, and dozens of troopers, local police and other law enforcement personnel spent hours looking for him.

Investigators were "questioning the validity" of Hoffman's claims, and charges against her were pending.

Hoffman's auto was not the vehicle that hit Castellano, a married father of two young children who had been a trooper for five years and was a member of the Troop "C" Tactical Patrol Unit.

Trooper Castellano was a five year New Jersey State Police veteran, graduating as a member of the 136th New Jersey State Police Academy Training Class in September of 2004.

"The loss of Trooper Castellano is a difficult blow to absorb," said State Police Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes. "The New Jersey State Police prides itself on being a family and the loss of our brother will be felt throughout the entire Division of State Police."

Fuentes said Castellano was "the embodiment of the finest ideals" of the state police force.

UPDATE: A funeral for New Jersey State Trooper Marc Castellano is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. this Saturday, June 12, at St. Veronica's Church on Route 9 North in Howell Township. Visiting hours are from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Lakewood Funeral Home, also on Route 9, in Castellano's Lakewood hometown.


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