Chair-throwing firefighter Michael Silvestri could lose his job and pension and spend years in the slammer under a host of criminal and Fire Department charges against him revealed yesterday.
A grand jury quietly indicted Silvestri, 41, last week for severely injuring another firefighter during a New Year's Eve brawl. He faces two felony assault charges, the top one carrying a maximum penalty of 25 years, Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said yesterday.
"We're confident in our case," Donovan told reporters yesterday.
Also yesterday, the Fire Department hit Silvestri with five internal charges: violation of the oath of office, disorderly conduct, discrediting the department, fighting while in uniform and drinking or having alcohol on the job. If the charges are proven, the 16-year veteran could be fired, placing his pension in jeopardy.
Silvestri's lawyer, Michael Barone, didn't return repeated calls for comment.
Silvestri faces first-degree assault for throwing the metal chair at fellow firefighter Robert Walsh, 40, who worked with him at Engine 51/Ladder 76 in sleepy Tottenville, on the southern tip of Staten Island. The B-felony charge could put him behind bars for five to 25 years.
He was also charged with second-degree assault, which carries two to seven years, and criminal possession of a weapon - the chair - a misdemeanor that could earn him a year at Rikers.
Walsh, 6-foot-8 and known as the "Jolly Giant," will live the rest of his life with 12 screws and plates in his face, from his right eye socket to his upper right jaw.
According to family, he can't see out of his right eye and must hold reading materials up to his nose.
Nerve damage to the right side of his face may also be permanent, said his brother, Jim.
Attempts to reach the Walsh family were unsuccessful. A Silvestri family member had no comment.
Alcohol is suspected in the knockdown fight, which resulted in the re-assignment of all 50 members of the firehouse. Terrence Sweeney, the captain in charge New Year's Eve, was demoted, fined and forced to retire.
Silvestri was suspended for a month, the maximum allowed, and is now on restricted duty. He was released on bail after his arrest, and will be arraigned March 24.
At first, colleagues tried to cover up the assault, driving Walsh to the hospital and telling emergency room staff he had fallen down the stairs.
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