Former Fourth District Coroner Russell Jackman and Cambria Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Vincent Salerno will each pay a fine totaling $1,000 and perform 100 hours of community service for their handling of human remains after a traffic fatality last month.
Both men appeared Tuesday in Cambria Town Court to be arraigned on second-degree obstruction of governmental administration, a class A misdemeanor. After a conference with Justice Amel S. Jowdy, Jackman and Salerno agreed to a deal, pleading guilty to the obstruction charge.
As part of the sentence, the men will each write a letter of apology to the victim’s family. Salerno will resign as fire chief. Jackman resigned as coroner on Monday, his status as fire chief of the Wilson Fire Co. was not discussed in court. Jackman should remain a firefighter, said his attorney James Faso.
“We did not talk about that,” Faso said.
When standing before Jowdy on Tuesday, both Jackman and Salerno apologized for their actions.
Jackman, 45, of Wilson, and Salerno, 50, of Lockport, were charged last week in connection to the handling of human remains after a traffic fatality in Cambria. Lockport resident Richard Dunn, 32, was killed when his vehicle collided with another April 13 on Saunders Settlement Road near Campbell Boulevard.
Jackman and Salerno both responded to the accident scene in the course of performing their duties, when Salerno requested Jackman to take possession of a portion of the victim’s remains. The porition would be used to train Salerno’s cadaver dog, Niagara County Sheriff James R. Voutour told the US&J last week.
Faso said no body parts were taken, instead it was a small portion of tissue. There was no criminal intent on Jackman or Salerno’s part, Faso said.
“I don’t think Russell intended to break the law,” Faso said.
Jackman was elected to one of the county’s four coroner posts in November 2011, on the Republican, Conservative and Independence ballot lines. He previously served a four-year term as coroner, from 2004 through 2007. Faso said this was first time Jackman had allowed human remains to be removed from an accident or crime scene.
“The first and only time,” Faso said.
The fines consist of a $795 fine and a $205 surcharge. Jackman and Salerno will have to perform their community service at Niagara County SPCA by the fall.