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Judge orders former New Hampshire cop in hit-and-run back to jail

By Ted Siefer

MANCHESTER N.H. (Reuters) - A former New Hampshire police officer released from prison in June after serving only 72 days of a year-long sentence for a felony hit-and-run conviction was ordered back to jail on Thursday.

The officer, Stephen Coco, was accused of running down two teenagers while driving an unmarked police vehicle in March 2013, when he was a Manchester police detective. He was accused of leaving the pair in a snowbank and then misleading investigators about the incident. The teenagers sustained non-life threatening injuries.

Coco was sentenced to a year in jail earlier this year, after Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson rejected a plea deal that would have reduced the charges to misdemeanors.

Earlier this week, local media reported that the county jail superintendent had allowed Coco to return home a month ago on work release. The superintendent argued he had the authority do so under a 2013 state law.

That news prompted Governor Maggie Hassan and other officials to call for a review of the law.

County prosecutors petitioned Abramson to return Coco to jail, arguing that the jail superintendent had violated the statute by not informing them or the victims of his intent to release Coco.

Abramson agreed with the prosecutors in her ruling Thursday.

"This is a defendant who requires punishment and deterrence, goals not served or met by release after just 72 days in jail," she wrote. "His conduct merits nothing less than the original sentence imposed."

(Editing by Scott Malone and Eric Walsh)

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