By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
When Sea Bright’s government held its annual reorganization meeting at the beginning of the year, notably missing from the appointments were two slots for line officers on the fire department.
Five months later, the assistant chief and second lieutenant roles have yet to be filled.
That’s because the two volunteers in line for those positions, a pair of brothers, are awaiting a court hearing for an alleged assault against a fellow firefighter, who also has charges against him.
On Thursday, Steven Lang (shown right) and Peter Lang IV are scheduled to appear in Little Silver court on charges stemming from an incident at the department’s wet-down celebration last October 9.
According to court documents, the brothers assaulted firefighter Justin Hughes, who was injured in the attack and has yet to return to active duty.
Steven Lang, who served as third lieutenant in 2010, was in line to move into the role of second lieutenant. Peter Lang IV served as captain in 2010 and was slated to be named assistant chief for 2011. Mayor Maria Fernandes said those appointments were not, and have yet to be, made because of the pending charges. She would not discuss the matter any further.
Attempts to reach the Lang brothers were unsuccessful, and their attorney, William Wilson, declined to comment. Hughes and his attorney, Mark Hughes Jr., declined to comment for this story as well.
According to police records, the Lang brothers committed an “act of simple assault upon Justin Hughes with the purpose to cause bodily injury” on the evening of the wet-down.
Peter Lang IV, 33, of Ocean Avenue, grabbed and choked Hughes to the ground, and kicked him in the abdomen, according to the police report. Steven Lang, 25, of Sandpiper Lane, pushed Hughes, of Ocean Avenue, twice and put him in a headlock, the complaint says.
The brothers were each charged with simple assault, and the case was moved to Little Silver municipal court to avoid a conflict of interest.
Steven Lang, on the same day as the incident, was named as a complaining witness against Hughes, 28, who was issued a summons with harassment, disorderly conduct, badmouthing and offensive language, according to court records.
According to the department’s constitution and by-laws, when charges are brought forth against any officer, that officer is to be suspended from discharging the functions of their office until the charges are disposed of. Because the incident went into the hands of the police department, and subsequently the court system, Council President William Keeler, who is liaison to the fire department, said any action, if taken, by the department would come after the case is adjudicated.
All three men are scheduled to appear in Little Silver court Thursday.