N.J. man arrested in Philly wedding brawl posts bail

Posted: October 10, 2012

Matthew Sofka, who was arrested at a post-wedding brawl Sunday night, has posted bail and plans to fight charges that he assaulted a Philadelphia police officer and resisted arrest.

His attorney, Fortunato Perri Jr., said the melee was already under way when Sofka, 26, of Westfield, N.J., arrived at the Sheraton Society Hill hotel, where his family was staying for the weekend of his brother's wedding. "There was absolute chaos going on from a prior incident," Perri said Tuesday.

The brawl, which has been viewed nearly 900,000 times on YouTube, involved 50 to 100 people. It was around 1:45 a.m. - last call - and guests from another wedding party had been at the bar for a couple of hours, according to Max Schultz, 15, a hotel guest who video-recorded the altercation from several floors up.

Police and Perri said it was not clear how the fight started, or to what extent the wedding parties interacted.

Nicole Sanutti and Michael Sofka, the defendant's brother, had held their wedding reception at Vie restaurant at 600 N. Broad St. The families returned to the Sheraton afterward, Perri said.

Sanutti's uncle Vincent Sanutti apparently suffered a heart attack in the hotel parking lot during the fight and was pronounced dead at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital soon after.

"This was supposed to be a joyous and happy affair, but it turned into tragedy," Perri said. "It was bedlam when they walked in there."

Perri said he was still investigating what occurred and was not sure how Matthew Sofka wound up in the middle of the brawl, where he was repeatedly struck by officers' batons and subdued with a stun gun.

Perri said Sofka did not assault the officers. "He has the highest respect for law enforcement. His father is a retired police officer," Perri said.

According to the charges, police say Sofka and two other men punched and kicked Officer Sean Dandridge, striking him in the head. Two other men were cited for disorderly conduct, but they have not been identified. Perri said he did not know who they were or whether they had any connection to Matthew Sofka.

Bail for Sofka was set at $25,000, Perri said.

Contact Jessica Parks at 215-854-4851 or jparks@philly.com.

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