May 25—SALEM, N.H. — Judge Daniel St. Hilaire has scheduled a September jury trial for the criminal case against suspended Salem police Sgt. Michael Verrocchi.
Attorneys for Verrocchi and the state told St. Hilaire on Tuesday that a month of settlement talks have been unsuccessful, leading to the mutual request for a five-day trial. Despite the scheduling, both parties indicated that a resolution could still be reached privately beforehand.
Verrocchi's attorney, Andrew Cotrupi, said conversations have been "fruitful," but particulars have yet to be solidified and presented to his client.
The charges 43-year-old Verrocchi faces date back to 2012, for reckless conduct with a deadly weapon and disobeying police.
Investigators for the state Attorney General's Office allege that eight years ago, Verrocchi led several of his Salem Police Department colleagues on a chase on Route 28 while he was off duty.
A spokesperson for the AG said soon after Verrocchi's arrest in January 2020, "the charged conduct was uncovered as a result of the ongoing investigation into the Salem Police Department that began about a year ago."
The reference is to a probe of Salem police practices that started about the same time a damning audit became public in November 2018.
A redacted version of the audit describes a situation much like the one Verrocchi is currently answering to in court. However, auditors found that the situation was properly investigated at the time within the Police Department — in line with best practices — and the officer involved was suspended for a day without pay.
The Police Standards and Training Council, tasked with accrediting members of New Hampshire's police force, considered Verrocchi's case in the fall, ultimately ruling that he will keep his policing certification while awaiting trial.
Marc Beaudoin, Verrocchi's attorney at that hearing, maintained "this case is really about politics."
He said his client's alleged criminal wrongdoing derived from a longstanding Salem police prank, in which off-duty senior officers would speed past rookies working the midnight shift on Route 28 in an attempt to get them to initiate a stop.
Verrocchi has not worked for the town of Salem since his arrest.