A state appeals court ruled Monday to reduce the bail set by a Long Island judge for a former New York City police officer who has been charged in a hit-and-run crash that killed a teenage girl with Down syndrome.
Michael Elardo’s lawyer filed papers with the State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division in Brooklyn to lower the 48-year-old’s bail from the $1 million that Nassau County District Court Judge Douglas Lerose set at his arraignment three weeks ago. Defense lawyer Michael DerGarabedian has said the bail amount was “ridiculous” and meant to keep his client behind bars. Elardo has been held at the Nassau County jail since his initial arraignment on June 17.
Elardo, who is scheduled to appear in the Nassau County Court on Thursday, has been charged in connection with a hit-and-run crash along Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown that killed 13-year-old Bryanna Soplin. The teen, who had Down syndrome, was struck in the crosswalk near Gardiners Avenue after making it across two lanes of traffic and was seriously injured, police said. She died from traumatic head and body injuries at Nassau University Medical Center. Soplin’s family told reporters she was hit after sneaking out of their home late at night to visit her grandparents in Hicksville.
DerGarabedian has said his client didn’t realize he had struck a child – and thought he hit a traffic cone – but surrendered his car to police after seeing news reports about the crash. He said the Syosset man was cooperative with detectives and arranged to turn himself in when he realized he was a suspect. “He’s willing to cooperate and willing to do everything he can to rectify the situation,” DerGarabedian said.
Elardo is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday after a grand jury handed up an indictment last week. Prosecutors have said the charges in the indictment have remained sealed, but online court records show Elardo is facing a felony count of leaving the scene of an incident involving a death. A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice had no comment on the court’s decision to reduce Elardo’s bail.