The Philly Flyers fanatic who beat up Woodbridge Police Officer Neal Auricchio, Jr. in January for supporting a rival hockey team and left him with a fractured eye socket received a sentence Friday that left the patrolman's family in shock.
Dennis Veteri, the brawler who put Auricchio in the hospital, was sentenced to up to 23 months of house arrest and five years' probation.
"I absolutely can't believe it. I am so disappointed in the criminal justice system," said Neal Auricchio, Sr., the father of the officer who was injured for being a New York Rangers fan while in Flyers territory.
Veteri, 33, of Glassboro, who plead guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy charges in the Auicchio case, had 11 prior arrests and four assault convictions. None of that persuaded Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler to give Veteri jail time for the beating.
"He's a good man who had a bad day," said Michael DeFino, Veteri's attorney, in a Philadelphia Daily News report on the sentencing.
His son spent the day in court to hear the sentencing and called to tell him the news, Auricchio, Sr. said. "I only spoke to him for 30 seconds. You could tell by how quiet he was how disappointed he was feeling" at the light sentence."
Auricchio, a huge Rangers fan, and his friend, Michael Janocko, had gone to Philadelphia on January 2 to cheer their team on in the Winter Classic. Outside a Geno's Steaks, Veteri escalated what should've been a friendly team rivalry into an attack on both Auricchio and Janocko.
The Woodbridge patrolman was left unconscious and with a concussion adn fractured bones around his eye.
A spectator captured the attack on a video which soon went viral and helped lead to Veteri's arrest.
Auricchio's father said that a civil case against Veteri is already in the works, but it's small comfort with the light sentence.
Veteri will be able to go to work, and to the doctor's and other necessary places deemed necessary. He is supposed to be fitted for an ankle monitor to gauge his fulfillment of his sentence.
"So much for meaningful justice in the city of brotherly love," said Auricchio, Sr. "What a travesty!"