Torricelli to appear in Lambertville court today

The former senator claims he was not driving when an accident occurred Aug. 29 and says police "falsified" the report.

By: Linda Seida
   LAMBERTVILLE — Former Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli is scheduled to appear in municipal court this afternoon (Thursday) on charges stemming from an Aug. 29 car accident he claims was not his fault.
   The politician alleges local police "falsified the report."
   The initial court date was set for Nov. 20. A delay occurred when it became evident to court officials the courtroom, located within historic but cramped City Hall, was too small to handle Mr. Torricelli’s hearing plus all the other cases scheduled that day, according to Patricia Ahern, court administrator. Mr. Torricelli’s case is scheduled first this afternoon at 2 p.m., she said.
   Lambertville police charged the former U.S. senator from New Jersey with leaving the scene of an accident. The minor fender bender turned into a local brouhaha, when Mr. Torricelli claimed he wasn’t even driving the vehicle that caused the accident.
   He said the conduct of Lambertville Police Officer Kenneth Housman was "outrageous," and he alleged the officer "falsified the report."
   Officer Housman denied the accusation. He said the charge levied against Mr. Torricelli simply was an outgrowth of an accident investigation.
   "Basically it’s a traffic violation," Police Director Bruce Cocuzza said in October. "I can’t imagine an ulterior motive being at play, but he’s free to allege whatever he’d like. The judge will determine who is at fault, and that’s all there is to it."
   The ruckus began when the former senator and his ex-wife, Susan Holloway, were parked in the lot beside the Main Street Food Market. Mr. Torricelli said it was Ms. Holloway who was behind the wheel of his Jeep Cherokee when it backed up and struck a car that belonged to the market’s owner, Edward O’Leary.
   Officer Housman’s investigation showed a male was driving the vehicle. An unidentified eyewitness standing close by verified that fact, police said.
   When Officer Housman interviewed Mr. Torricelli and Ms. Holloway at the former senator’s Delaware Township home, Ms. Holloway agreed to sign an affidavit stating she was the driver of the Cherokee. Mr. Torricelli, however, refused to sign a similar affidavit confirming he was not the driver, according to Officer Housman.
   Mr. O’Leary has stated an attorney for the former senator approached him with an offer to pay for damages to his car. He refused restitution, he said, because it was contingent on his not suing as well as putting into writing Mr. Torricelli was not driving the vehicle that smashed into his.
   Mr. O’Leary refused to sign such a legal document, he said at the time, because "one, it perjures me, and two, it’s a lie."
   He said he already had signed an affidavit saying he had seen Mr. Torricelli behind the wheel, although he did not see the accident itself.
   "I saw what I saw," Mr. O’Leary said.