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The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office is seeking higher bail for the Flyers fan who was released after his arrest earlier Friday for allegedly assaulting a New York Rangers fan on Jan. 2.

Police had tracked Dennis Veteri, 32, of Glassboro, to his attorney's office, where he was taken into custody and charged with attacking Neal Auricchio at Geno's Steaks restaurant after the NHL Winter Classic.

He was released early Friday after posting $100,000 bail.

"We just didn't feel the bail was high enough, given the brutal nature of the attack and the injuries the victim sustained," said Tasha Jamerson, spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams.

Auricchio, an off-duty police officer from Woodbridge, N.J., and a decorated veteran of the war in Iraq, was wearing a Rangers jersey the night of the game. In a video captured on a bystander's cellphone, he can be seen extending his arms as if trying to make peace before sustaining a series of punches that continued after he was knocked to the sidewalk.

At a news conference Friday, Capt. Laurence Nodiff, commander of South Detectives, said Veteri apparently threw the first punch after "words were exchanged." He said Auricchio and a friend, both wearing Rangers team shirts, had made the pilgrimage to Geno's "to enjoy some South Philly cheesesteaks" after New York beat Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park.

Nodiff said the scuffle turned into a "brutal, vicious beating."

"Reviewing video and witness accounts," he said, "the instigator was clearly Veteri."

Veteri has been charged with two counts each of aggravated assault, conspiracy, simple assault, and reckless endangerment.

Police are pursuing two other suspects described as Veteri's "associates," but Nodiff said no further warrants had been issued as of Friday.

The fight left Auricchio bloodied and suffering from a concussion. He sustained injuries to his eye, lacerations, and severe facial damage that will require reconstructive surgery, Nodiff said.

Veteri's Facebook page lists one of his interests as "Broad Street Bullies." Property records indicate he has also lived in South Philadelphia.

Both the general manager and coach of the Rangers have spoken to Auricchio and invited him to a future Rangers game, where he will meet the team and staff.

Ike Richman, spokesman for Comcast-Spectacor, the Flyers' owner, reiterated his comment of last week wishing Auricchio a quick recovery and denouncing the attack.

Peter A. Luukko, president of Comcast-Spectacor, declined to comment other than to say that the matter was best handled by police and the courts.

"The incident didn't happen on our property," Luukko said. "We left it to law enforcement to investigate and do what they see fit and let the legal process take its course."

According to court documents, Veteri has an arrest record in Philadelphia dating to 1998. He has been sentenced to probation for aggravated assault and drug possession.

Veteri also has a record in Florida, where he was arrested for multiple crimes from 2001 to 2006 ranging from battery and violating parole to heroin possession.

Michael A. DeFino, one of his previous defense attorneys, could not be reached for comment.

Because of Martin Luther King's Birthday, the district attorney's bail request will not be considered until Tuesday or Wednesday.

 


Contact staff writer Melissa Dribben at 215 854 2590 or mdribben@phillynews.com.

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