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Retired NYPD officer charged in fatal hit-and-run asks for lower bail

Michael Elardo, 48, of Syosset, leaves Nassau County

Michael Elardo, 48, of Syosset, leaves Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. He has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident that fatally injured Bryanna Soplin, 13, in Levittown on June 15, police said. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A retired NYPD officer being held on charges that he was involved in a Nassau County fatal hit-and-run has asked an appeals court to lower his $1 million bail, the man's lawyer said Tuesday.

Attorney Michael DerGarabedian of Rockville Centre said he argued that the $1 million bail was "excessive" and that the former officer, Michael Elardo, 48, of Syosset, was a single father who was raising four children on his own.

DerGarabedian said he filed papers about 10 days ago with the Appellate Division in Brooklyn. The Nassau County district attorney's office said Tuesday it was not filing any papers with the higher court.

No date has been set for a decision, and the issue of bail would have to be reargued before a county court judge if a grand jury indicts Elardo.

Prosecutors had asked for $50,000 bail when he was arraigned June 16 in First District Court in Hempstead on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident in which there had been a fatality. Judge Douglas Lerose set bail at $1 million. Elardo is being held in the Nassau County jail.

Bryanna Soplin, who relatives said had Down syndrome, had wandered from home before she was struck and killed by a car just after midnight on June 15 as she crossed Hempstead Turnpike at Gardiners Avenue in Levittown.

DerGarabedian said his client thought he had hit a construction cone and that he contacted police 10 hours later, after hearing news reports of the incident.

Soplin's mother, Jennifer Curuchaga, held a news conference Tuesday outside the Appellate Division in Brooklyn demanding that the bail not be lowered.

"I don't want the bail to go down at all," Curuchaga said. "A million dollars is not even enough . . . My daughter is not worth a million dollars. She is worth much more than that."

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