A longtime Ocean County police detective who was suspended after being accused of sexually assaulting two underage girls was found dead early Sunday morning in an apparent suicide.
The body of Ronald Velardi, 44, was found by Stafford Township Police in a wooded area off of Doc Cranmer Drive.
Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch-Ford released a statement late Sunday morning saying in part: "While this death investigation is still ongoing, it appears that Sgt. Velardi took his own life."
Velardi was arrested in June while on duty at a satellite division of the Ocean County prosecutor's office in Toms River and was charged with four counts of second-degree sexual assault and three counts of child endangerment. Velardi was suspended without pay and ordered to surrender his firearms and credentials as a result of the arrest. He would have faced five to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
At the time of his arrest, Velardi was married with three children, and had worked for the prosecutor's office for at least 12 years.