JUDGE TOSSES CONVICTION IN BRAWL CASE

A state Superior Court judge has overturned the harassment conviction of one of three Sea Bright firefighters involved in a firehouse scuffle 18 months ago, redbankgreen has learned.

In an unwritten opinion, Judge Anthony Mellaci ruled from the bench in Freehold Friday that a municipal court judge had given “misplaced” credibility to the accusers of firefighter Justin Hughes, said Hughes’s attorney, Scott Servilla.

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FIREMEN FACE SUSPENSIONS OVER SCUFFLE

By JOHN T. WARD

sb-firefighter-fightAll three Sea Bright firefighters involved in a firehouse scuffle 13 months ago could be suspended from the squad for two months under action initiated by the borough council Tuesday night.

They could also be barred from serving as officers of the small town’s volunteer company for a year.

The disciplinary process, set in motion without comment by council members after a 90-minute closed-door session, revived a controversy that appeared put to rest a month ago, when a municipal court judge declined to bar two of the firefighters – brothers Steven and Peter Lang IV – from serving as officers, and instead sentenced all three to 100 hours of community service. He also fined them $500 each.

“I see this as a tremendous waste of resources and time that will only result in more divisiveness in the town, the fire company and the first aid squad,” the Lang’s attorney, William Wilson, said of the council’s action.

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SENTENCINGS DELAYED IN FIREHOUSE TUSSLE

One of two videos of a firehouse fight involving three Sea Bright firemen last October. The second video is below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The lawyer for two Sea Bright volunteer firefighters convicted of assaulting a third in the town’s firehouse last year has obtained a delay in their sentencings, which had been scheduled for today.

Brothers Steven Lang, 25, and Peter Lang IV, 33, are facing banishment from the fire company, under a sentence sought by the prosecutor in the case, Mike Halfacre. But defense lawyer William Wilson won a one-month adjournment by questioning whether the town’s governing body really wants to see the Langs kicked to the curb.

Meantime, redbankgreen has obtained the two video views of the October 9, 2010 scuffle, which occurred during a wet-down celebration for a new fire truck.

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PROSECUTOR: BAN TWO FIREFIGHTERS

hot-topic rightBy DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The prosecutor in the case of three firefighters convicted of charges in a firehouse scuffle last year wants at least two of them barred from their line officer positions within the department.

“The state believes they should not be allowed back into their positions,” said Little Silver Prosecutor Mike Halfacre, who is also the mayor of neighboring Fair Haven. “Forfeiture (of their positions) in my eyes, and in the state’s eyes, is automatic.”

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SEA BRIGHT FIREFIGHTERS GUILTY IN SCUFFLE

sbfd-engineA Sea Bright Fire Department engine truck on display at the department’s wet-down celebration, shortly before three firefighters got into a scuffle that led to charges. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Two brothers accused of assaulting a fellow volunteer firefighter last year were found guilty of all related charges Thursday, according to court documents obtained by redbankgreen.

But their act of violence upon Justin Hughes at a wet-down celebration October 9 wasn’t unprovoked, the judge said. Hughes was also found guilty of harassment and disorderly conduct.

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DEFENSE SAYS COMMENTS LED TO SBFD FIGHT

sb-truckThursday’s docket, below, for the case of three Sea Bright firefighters involved in a fight at the borough firehouse last year. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

sbfd-docketTwo Sea Bright firefighters accused of roughing up a fellow volunteer last year were provoked by insults hurled by the victim, who said one of the assailants should have been killed in Iraq, their defense attorney said Thursday.

In a drawn-out day of testimony at Little Silver municipal court, the two sides offered conflicting accounts of what started the scuffle, which sent 28-year-old firefighter Justin Hughes to the hospital.

And although it was the second day of testimony, this time a marathon five hours’ worth continued from May 5, the presiding judge reserved decision on the case.

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FIREHOUSE SCUFFLE CAUGHT ON TAPE

Video of the October 9 firetruck wetdown in Sea Bright that preceded the alleged assault of a firefighter by two others.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A dramatic seven-minute video was the centerpiece of opening day in court as two Sea Bright volunteer firefighters went on trial Thursday for an alleged assault on a third.

Courtroom onlookers also heard testimony from two witnesses – one of them a Monmouth Beach cop – who filled in dialogue on the silent video and gave blow-by-blow accounts of the fight that followed a wet-down celebration for a new firetruck last October 9.

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SEA BRIGHT FIREFIGHTERS HEAD TO COURT

sb-fire-truck1Three Sea Bright firefighters will face charges stemming from an altercation during the wet-down party for this new fire truck in October. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

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.

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