BREAKING NEWS: Soltani acquitted of felony charge, guilty on misdemeanor counts
Former Epsom state representative Tony Soltani takes the stand in his own defense at his trial at Merrimack County Superior Court ; Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013. (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
A jury this morning found former state representative Tony Soltani of Epsom guilty of misdemeanor charges of reckless and disorderly conduct, but not guilty of a heavier felony charge of reckless conduct, for his role in a police chase last year.
The verdict, read at about 10:30 a.m. at the Merrimack County Superior Court, marked the conclusion of a six-day trial, which prosecutor Michael Valentine had previewed last week as “a fairly simple and straightforward case.” Valentine was not available for immediate comment on the verdict.
Soltani will be sentenced at a later date, but each misdemeanor charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 12 months and a fine of up to $2,000 - a much lighter sentence than the felony charge would have brought. Soltani said he plans to appeal.
Still, when asked how he felt about the verdict, Soltani said that he felt “a little bit vindicated.”
Soltani was accused of driving at high speeds and endangering other drivers when he involved himself in a police pursuit of a fleeing car in Epsom last April. He had maintained that he was just trying to help.
“I feel relieved that the jury saw through the smoke and mirror of the felony charges trumped up by the prosecutor with the vengeful web of lies sewn by the police chief and Mr. (James) Kear,” he said, referencing the officer who arrested him on April 6. “I’m no felon. I did what my conscience dictated. And if the jury found that to be a misdemeanor that’s fine.”
(Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)