Cop morphs into murder suspect

Bergen County prosecutors say Scott J. Smith stabbed his friend John Amendola to death.

Acquaintances described deli owner John Amendola as friendly, outgoing with plenty of personality.

But one man who’d known Amendola for nearly 20 years didn’t apparently think so.

Scott J. Smith, 33, a former Hasbrouck Heights police officer, got into an argument with Amendola inside a small home the victim owned at 331 Union Ave. in Wood-Ridge on Dec. 11, 2011.

Amendola, 39, was stabbed multiple times, according to the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office.

Obituary photo

The prosecutor’s office said Smith and Amendola had been socializing in the early morning hours when the argument erupted. According to media reports, the men argued over money or drugs — possibly both.

Here’s the house, inside and out:

“It is alleged that Smith stabbed the victim numerous times with a knife that he carried regularly on his person,” the prosecutor’s office stated in a press release.

Smith fled, but authorities later searched his home turning up what they believe to be the murder weapon.

The unemployed suspect was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, second-degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and third-degree hindering apprehension.

He was held on $2 million bail.

When he made an appearance in court (in an orange jumpsuit), it was revealed Smith had left the Hasbrouck Heights Police Department on disability after seven years when he suffered a back injury in a car accident.

He received a $3,471 a month in pension.

According to his obituary, Amendola lived at the home with his three dogs — Roxy, Bella and Avery. He was an avid fan of the Rangers and Cowboys. “John was a caring and giving man who was loved by many people,” the obituary states.

He had owned Amendolas Italian Deli, 205 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights. The business had closed within a year of Amendola’s death, according to published reports.

Amendolas Italian Deli, 205 Boulevard, Hasbrouck Heights.


A wake was held Dec. 17-18 at the Ippolito-Stellato Funeral Home in Lyndhurst. After a church service on Monday, Dec. 19, the body was cremated.

Amendola's wake was held at the Ippolito-Stellato Funeral Home in Lyndhurst.

Mourners gather outside the Ippolito-Stellato funeral home on Dec. 17 for the wake of John Amendola.