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Soltani questions police chief, presents witnesses

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 14. 2013 9:24PM


CONCORD - Jurors will have to wait until Tuesday to hear testimony from former Epsom State Rep. Tony Soltani about what he did the evening of April 6, 2012, when he is accused of interfering with a police pursuit that ended at the Pembroke town line on Route 28.

Thursday's testimony in Merrimack County Superior Court came from witnesses called by the defense.

Soltani is charged with felony reckless conduct and misdemeanor disorderly conduct. He is accused of pursuing a Mercedes, which took off after officer James Kear stopped it on Route 4 in Epsom. Kear was chasing the Mercedes and Soltani's Dodge Neon was initially in third position as the vehicles sped around the Epsom traffic circle and headed south on Route 28.

Soltani is accused of driving south in the northbound lane at high speed, forcing northbound vehicles to take evasive action as he drove alongside the Mercedes.

Acting as his own attorney, Soltani swung from what appeared to be righteous anger to patient but repetitive questioning of witnesses, including Epsom Police Chief Wayne Preve and Sgt. Brian Michael, two men who served with Soltani in the State House, a former Epsom selectman, a bail commissioner and a Weare Police Lieutenant who has known Soltani since he was the Weare prosecutor.

Soltani claims his arrest was in retaliation for his making a complaint about Kear, who Soltani says came to Soltani's home the previous night looking for a runaway, was rude to Soltani's mother and entered the house's basement to retrieve the girl after Soltani's mother denied him entry at the front door.

Soltani said to Preve: "I told you it was time to clean up the police department."

Preve said he recalled the phone conversation differently. He said he called Soltani to inquire about a cellphone left at the house the previous night and had to leave a message.

When Soltani called back, Preve said, they talked about the cellphone and Soltani spoke about Kear's behavior.

Soltani asked Preve if he remembered him saying, "Officer Kear should not be a police officer in New Hampshire, especially Epsom." Soltani said he also told Preve that Kear should be in a foreign country "someplace where he could kill people and get away with it."

Preve said he didn't remember the conversation exactly that way, but Soltani said his complaint was grounds for an internal investigation.

Soltani pressed Michael about whether he did a follow- up investigation of Soltani's arrest, but Michael said once he determined that Soltani was arrested, his job was to gather reports and pass them on to the Hillsborough County Attorney's office, to avoid any possible conflict of interest for the Merrimack County Attorney, which would have normally handled such a case.

Soltani kept asking Michael if he was in charge of the follow-up investigation and Michael kept giving the same answer: the investigation was turned over to the Hillsborough County Attorney.

Soltani began waving his arms and pacing up and down in front of the jury. "Nothing else to be done," he told the jurors.

Soltani's character witnesses included State Rep. Frank Sapareto, R-Derry, and Lee Quandt, R-Exeter.

Sapareto said: "He's eccentric." But added: "He always wants to do the right thing." Sapareto said: "He saw a crime being committed. He tried to do the right thing."

Soltani is scheduled to take the stand when the trial resumes Tuesday morning.

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