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TWO SEA BRIGHT FIREFIGHTERS GET BACKUP

sb-firefighter-fightA frame from a video of the firehouse tussle that landed three Sea Bright volunteers in court on misdemeanor charges. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Sea Bright’s fire chief and a borough councilman have asked the judge in an assault case involving three firefighters not to ban two of the brawlers from the volunteer department.

According to documents obtained by redbankgreen late last week, Fire Chief Chad Murphy and Councilman James LoBiondo weighed in on the case, in which firefighter brothers Peter Lang IV, 33, and Steven Lang, 25 face possible forefeiture of officer positions in the department.

The Langs were convicted in July of assaulting a third fireman in the town’s firehouse bar last October following a wetdown ceremony for a new fire truck. Their victim, Justin Hughes, was convicted of harassment, but as a non-officer, does not face forfeiture of his position in the department.

Murphy wrote a letter to Little Silver’s municipal court judge, James Berube, citing the Langs’ “exemplary service” in responding to more than 100 alarms per year each, and the adverse impact that the forfeitures would have on the small department.

“There really is not anyway the success of any forfeiture would be a benefit to the town,” Murphy wrote in a letter dated August 12. In it, he says that his request is based on a poll of the other line officers in the department, and adds that he met with three councilmembers involved with public safety, and said all three were “satisfied with the time already served” and agreed the Langs should be “returned to full service.”

LoBiondo signed an undate document that looks like a form letter, in which he writes that, contrary to an assertion in court by borough prosecutor Mike Halfacre, who also serves as Fair Haven’s mayor, that the Sea Bright council had authorized him to seek forfeiture, LoBiondo was “totally unaware” of any such discussion by the governing body.

“I was never advised of such an action nor did I vote on such an action,” LoBiondo writes. Moreover, he says, he is opposed to the proposed sanctions because they are unwarranted by the facts of the case.

He also says the Langs “have already been punished as a result of their being unable to assume offices” they were scheduled to move up to last January 1.

Wilson managed to get a one-month delay in the sentencing last week, on the expectation that the matter would be put before the borough council for closed-door discussion at Tuesday night’s regular meeting. But town officials declined to put it on the agenda, Wilson told redbankgreen late last week.

The council meets tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s LoBiondo’s letter: lobiondo-response

And here’s a document that includes Berube’s ruling and Murphy’s letter: 8-31-11letterandenclosurestosusanbranagan

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