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Trial begins for former Epsom state rep Soltani on reckless conduct charge

CONCORD - Former Epsom state representative, town counsel and police officer Tony Soltani spent hours Monday questioning the Epsom police officer who arrested him after Soltani allegedly interfered with a police pursuit April 6, 2012.

Soltani, who is a lawyer, is representing himself at his trial in Merrimack County Superior Court on a felony charge of reckless conduct and a misdemeanor of disorderly conduct.

He is accused of speeding south on Route 28, at one point getting his car between the police vehicle and the vehicle the officer was pursuing, driving alongside the vehicle being pursued and forcing northbound vehicles to take evasive action.

Soltani has claimed officer James Kear targeted him because Soltani complained about Kear to the Epsom chief earlier that day, calling Kear "a ticking time bomb."

Soltani also claims that Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Michael Valentine, who is prosecuting the case to avoid any possible conflicts of interest for the Merrimack County Attorney's office, has targeted him because of complaints he made to the Attorney General's office about what Soltani says were improper Hillsborough County case dispositions.

In his opening argument, Valentine said Kear had stopped a gray Mercedes on Route 4 in Epsom and as he was about to ask for a driver's license and registration, the vehicle took off, headed for the Epsom traffic circle.

As Kear closed on the Mercedes on Route 28, Soltani's black Neon was between him and the Mercedes, all three vehicles traveling at about 80 mph.

Kear said the Neon pulled alongside the Mercedes, forcing oncoming northbound traffic to take evasive action on the two-lane road.

Eventually, Kear said, the Mercedes pulled away and he followed, at speeds as high as 110 mph, and he lost sight of the Neon.

Dispatch told Kear to discontinue the pursuit at the Pembroke line, so Kear pulled into North Pembroke Road and stopped.

Valentine said the Dodge came along Route 28, did a U-turn in the middle of the road and stopped next to Kear's vehicle.

Valentine said Kear told Soltani to get out of his vehicle and Soltani responded: "Do you know who I am? Call your chief." Kear arrested Soltani, citing the yellow line violation, speed, interfering with the pursuit and reckless conduct, misdemeanors and violations.

When it was Soltani's turn for an opening argument, he said his arrest occurred within five hours of his calling the police chief and telling him of the need to clean up the police department.

He said, "That yellow line violation blossomed into a felony."

Soltani challenged Kear's decision to arrest him instead of giving him a hand summons. He has argued the arrest was not legal, because it was made in Pembroke and it was not a "fresh pursuit."

Soltani challenged every action Kear took that night, seeking to show Kear did not always follow standard operating procedures, which Kear called guidelines. Soltani criticized how Kear inventoried items in his car, how Kear determined charges, why Kear handcuffed Soltani and didn't release him after Soltani told him about medical problems.

Soltani said Kear must have known he had filed a complaint about him with the chief earlier in the day, but Kear said: "No." Kear had the same answer when Soltani asked if he had been disciplined as a result of the incident.

Soltani then accused Kear of entering his residence the night before the incident on Route 28, when Kear had gone there seeking a missing juvenile.

"You did not write up in your report that my mother denied you entry," said Soltani. But Kear responded he didn't enter the basement, he went to the door escorted by Soltani's 16-year-old son, Charlie. Soltani said a 16-year-old can't give permission.

The trial resumes at 1 p.m. today with Kear still undergoing cross examination by Soltani.

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