just_in1A Little Silver police officer was indicted by a Monmouth County Grand Jury this morning for his alleged actions in a purported stationhouse assault of a handcuffed defendant in January.

The 11-count indictment of Patrolman Steven Solari was announced by the Monmouth County Prosecutor.

From the announcement:

On September 13, 2010, a Monmouth County Grand Jury returned an eleven count indictment charging Steven Solari, 37, of Little Silver, N.J., with four counts of second degree Official Misconduct, two counts of fourth degree Obstruction of Justice, one count of third degree Witness Tampering, two counts of third degree Hindering His Own Apprehension, one count of third degree Aggravated Assault and one count of second degree Aggravated Assault.

The charges result from a joint investigation which was conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Little Silver Police Department. The investigation began after the Little  Silver Police Department became aware of an allegation that Solari, a Patrolman with the Little Silver Police Department, had employed excessive force during the course of an arrest. The Little Silver Police Department immediately began an internal affairs investigation, suspended Solari “with pay” pending the results of the investigation, and notified the Monmouth County  Prosecutor’s Office of the allegation as they are required to do pursuant to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Guidelines.

The joint investigation revealed that Solari, an eleven-year veteran of the police department, accompanied by another Little Silver police officer, responded to a call at a private residence in Little Silver on December 20, 2009. During the course of the response to that call, Solari arrested an adult male who resided at that location. Solari and the other officer also engaged in a physical struggle with the adult male whom Solari had arrested. The adult male was then handcuffed and transported to the Little Silver Police Department’s headquarters.

At headquarters, while the adult male was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, Solari struck the adult male several times, causing the adult male’s head to strike a metal filing cabinet  and causing him injury. The adult male was eventually transported to Riverview Medical Center where he was treated and admitted. He was released the next day. The adult male was charged with the disorderly persons offenses of Disorderly Conduct and Resisting Arrest.

The investigation also revealed that there were individuals who witnessed Solari’s assault upon the adult male inside police headquarters, and that within two days of the
assault, while Solari was in full uniform and on duty, Solari approached one of the witnesses and attempted to induce the witness to lie to or withhold the truth from the law enforcement  authorities who were investigating Solari’s assault of the adult male.

If convicted of any of the second degree crimes contained in the indictment, Solari faces a maximum potential custodial sentence of up to a ten year State Prison term. The second degree crime of Aggravated Assault is subject to the No Early Release Act, which means that if Solari is convicted, he must serve 85% of the sentence imposed before he becomes eligible for release on parole. If found guilty of committing the crime of second degree Official Misconduct while acting in his capacity as a public official, Solari would also be subject to a mandatory five year period of parole ineligibility. If convicted of any of the third degree crimes contained in the indictment, Solari faces a maximum potential custodial sentence of up to a 5 year State Prison term. If convicted of a fourth degree crime, Solari faces a maximum custodial sentence of up to an 18 month term. Additionally, pursuant to New Jersey law, if convicted of any of the third or second degree crimes contained in the indictment, Solari must automatically forfeit his current public employment, and he will also be permanently barred from any future public employment within the State of New Jersey. If convicted of Official Misconduct or Witness Tampering, Solari would also be subject to a mandatory forfeiture of his New Jersey public employee pension benefits.

Following Solari’s arrest, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Thomas F. Scully set bail for Solari at $81,000. Solari was initially lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution  in lieu of bail, but he was released the following day after he posted bail.

Following Solari’s arrest, the Little Silver Police Department changed Solari’s suspension status from “with pay” to “without pay.”

The charges against the adult male are pending disposition in the Little Silver Municipal Court.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

The case is assigned to Executive Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Richard E. Incremona. Solari is represented by Robert L. Galantucci, Esquire, of Hackensack, N.J.