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New Jersey officer accused of burning captain's home is out on bail

By Laura Ly, CNN
updated 11:43 AM EDT, Thu June 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael Dotro, 35, has been released after a hearing; family provided $2 million for bail
  • Nine-year Edison police department veteran must surrender his passport, firearms
  • Edison police Capt. Mark Anderko's home was damaged in a May 20 blaze
  • Dotro has pleaded not guilty to 5 counts of attempted murder, 1 count of aggravated arson

(CNN) -- A New Jersey police officer charged with attempted murder and arson for allegedly setting fire to his captain's home has been released on $2 million cash bail, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office said.

Michael Dotro, 35, was released Tuesday after a bail source hearing in Middlesex Superior Court, said Jim O'Neill, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

The bail was put up by Dotro's family: $110,000 from one of Dotro's brothers, $400,000 from another brother, and the remaining $1.49 million from Dotro's parents, O'Neill said.

His bail was originally set at $5 million, but a judge granted a request by his attorney to reduce it to $2 million.

Dotro, a nine-year veteran with the Edison police department, is required to surrender his passport and his firearms. He is not permitted to have any contact with alleged victims, nor with the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. He must not visit the Edison municipal complex, where the police department is located, and is not allowed to travel outside New Jersey, O'Neill said.

Dotro was arrested and accused of setting fire to the house of Edison police Capt. Mark Anderko and his family after an investigation by the prosecutor's office and the Monroe Township Police Department determined that the fire had been intentionally started outside the house.

Police, emergency medical personnel and firefighters were called to the two-story, colonial-style home shortly before 4 a.m. on May 20. Anderko was in the house with his wife, two children and 92-year old mother.

The fire was extinguished within 10 to 15 minutes, and there were no injuries, but the house was damaged.

"The investigators described it as considerable; one part of the house had damage on the first and second floor of the home," said O'Neill.

Dotro has pleaded not guilty to five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated arson, authorities said. He has been suspended from his job with pay.

Citing court restrictions, the prosecutor's office declined to give details of the evidence or to talk about a possible motive.

Lawrence Bitterman is no longer representing Dotro. He was required to withdraw from the case after reviewing a list of potential witnesses Monday afternoon.

"That list included former and present clients of mine, so there was a conflict of interest," he said.

However, Bitterman told CNN in May that he believed police arrested the wrong person. He said that Dotro also told him, "The thought of anyone doing this to his brother officer makes me sick."

Dotro's current lawyer, Robert Norton, declined to comment on the details of the case but told CNN that "the family has enough confidence in Michael that they pooled all of their savings and posted the $2 million cash bail."

A court date has not yet been set, O'Neill said.

CNN's Julia Talanova contributed to this report.

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