PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A judge on Wednesday quadrupled the bail for a Philadelphia Flyers fan accused of severely beating an off-duty police officer who was wearing a rival New York Rangers jacket after a hockey game.
Common Pleas Court Judge Paula Patrick boosted the bail for Dennis Veteri, 32, a bricklayer from Glassboro, New Jersey, to $400,000 from the original $100,000.
Veteri, who was wearing Philadelphia Flyers gear on the night of the January 2 assault, was taken from the courtroom by guards.
The victim, Neal Auricchio, 30, was attacked outside the famous cheese steak restaurant Geno’s Steaks following a professional hockey game between the two fierce rivals.
Auricchio, an off-duty police officer and Iraq war veteran from Woodbridge, New Jersey, was knocked unconscious and was to undergo facial reconstruction surgery for his injuries, police said.
After Veteri’s bail was increased, it was unclear whether he could raise enough to remain free.
“We’ll get it if we have to sell ourselves,” said a woman outside the courtroom who identified herself as a relative. She was among eight family members who showed up in court to support Veteri.
Assistant district attorney Caroline Keating-McGlynn, who had asked for $500,000 bail, said the judge “did the right thing” by raising the amount.
She argued that Veteri has a long history of drug and assault charges, including four assault convictions.
But defense attorney Michael DeFino maintained that Veteri, a father of three, has no history of failure to appear in court.
“He is not a flight risk,” DeFino said. He said Veteri is “basically a good person who has struggled with addictions in his life.”
In raising the bail, the judge said Veteri’s record indicates violent behavior and a possible risk to society.
“That is a concern to this court,” the judge said.
Philadelphia police were still seeking three other suspects in the beating. They have relied on what Keating-McGlynn said was a video of the beating taken by a passerby.
Editing By Barbara Goldberg and Paul Thomasch