RED BANK: BALLARD REPORTS WIFE’S ‘ARREST’

red bank council zoom 060320 Red Bank Councilman Michael Ballard, highlighted at upper right during Wednesday’s council meeting via Zoom. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

[See UPDATE below]

By JOHN T. WARD

To the growing list of embarrassing videoconferencing moments in the COVID-19 era – energetic children running through home offices, cats on keyboards, spilled coffee – a Red Bank councilman added another: a report of spousal arrest in progress.

red bank rose sestito 081116 2.JPGRose Sestito working as a summer camp supervisor for the borough in 2016. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

“My apologies – my wife is outside being handcuffed and she’s in a police car for being disorderly,” a clearly agitated Councilman Michael Ballard said near the end of a two-hour-plus council workshop session conducted online Wednesday night.

“Rose is outside, handcuffed in a police car,” Ballard said, after another council member asked him to repeat himself because she hadn’t understood what he’d said.

An awkward silence followed before Business Administrator Ziad Shehady spoke.

“Um, okay,” he said. “That concludes, I mean, I think you have to deal with that, concludes my portion of the meeting.”

Ballard, who chaired the session in the absence of Mayor Pasquale Menna, then returned to the agenda, asking if any members of the public had questions. None were raised.

Ballard is married to Rose Sestito, who in the past has worked part-time as a camp supervisor in the borough Parks & Rec department. She did not apply to return this year, according to a borough official.

Afterward, police Chief Darren McConnell told redbankgreen he did not yet have information he could release about the incident.

Early Thursday morning, Ballard responded to a redbankgreen inquiry with this email message:

“No, Rose was not officially arrested, but she was handcuffed and placed in a police car for a brief period. She was not charged with any violations.”

Sestito could not immediately be reached for comment. The couple reside on East Bergen Place.

Earlier, the meeting was briefly hacked by someone who posted antisemitic messages at the bottom of the Zoom frame (deleted in the above screenshot).

UPDATE: Ballard sent redbankgreen the following statement Thursday morning:

Rose says as she was walking away from a traffic stop in front of our home involving her relative, she yelled out how she was sick of the cops in Red Bank being rude to residents due to what she found to be overly aggressive behavior during the stop. Two officers then ran up behind her, grabbed her as she walked away, handcuffed her, and placed her in the police car.  Lt. Juan Sardo arrived on the scene, immediately removed Rose from the police car, uncuffed her and walked into our house to discuss what had transpired. Chief McConnell also arrived on the scene, joining Rose’s and Lt. Sardo’s discussion in our home.  Chief McConnell is reviewing tape in conducting his investigation into why and how Rose was detained.  I may have an additional statement later.