A retired NYPD officer got out of jail Tuesday after an appellate court reduced his bail in connection with a June arrest for allegedly leaving the scene of a Levittown crash that left a special-needs child dead.
Michael Elardo left the Nassau County jail Tuesday evening after making a $50,000 bail that the Brooklyn appellate court had reduced from $1 million Monday.
Defense attorney Michael DerGarabedian of Rockville Centre had filed papers arguing that the bail was excessive and his client was a single father of four children with strong ties to the community.
"I think people should refrain from forming an opinion before they hear both sides of the story," the attorney said after his client's release. DerGarabedian said Elardo was struggling to deal with what he said was a tragic accident with no criminality.
"People who commit crimes don't offer up evidence," the attorney said, a reference to his client surrendering the vehicle he'd been driving to police hours after the crash.
DerGarabedian has said his client believed he hit a construction barrel and gave his vehicle to police within 10 hours of the crash after hearing news reports.
Elardo, 48, of Syosset, is scheduled to be arraigned on a grand jury's indictment Thursday in Mineola. The charges against him in the indictment remain sealed.
Elardo is accused of driving away after his car struck and killed 13-year-old Bryanna Soplin, who had Down syndrome.
Authorities have said the crash happened shortly after midnight June 15 as the teenager crossed Hempstead Turnpike at Gardiners Avenue in Levittown.
Prosecutors had asked for a $50,000 bail when Elardo was first arraigned in First District Court in Hempstead on June 16, but Judge Douglas Lerose set the $1 million bail.
Relatives said Soplin had wandered from home and might have been trying to go to her grandfather's house.
Bryanna's mother, Jennifer Curuchaga, recently spoke out against a bail reduction for Elardo, saying "a million dollars is not even enough."
Sanford Rubenstein, a civil attorney for Bryanna's mother, said the family plans to be in court Thursday and will urge that bail be "moved upward."
A spokesman for Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice declined to comment on the bail reduction.