A grand jury reportedly decided Friday not to indict the owner of a New York bar that gained national attention for defying coronavirus restrictions over a confrontation with a Sheriff’s Deputy.
Danny Presti, the owner of Mac’s Public House in Staten Island, was accused of driving into a Sheriff’s Deputy while fleeing arrest, SI Live reported. At the time, Presti was reportedly being arrested for violations of the state’s coronavirus restrictions.
Prosecutors said that Presti was charged with two misdemeanor counts for the unlicensed sale of alcohol, according to the report.
“It’s a huge relief,” Presti said during a telephone interview with SI Live. “A huge weight has been lifted.”
“My muzzle has come off my face now,” he added. “It’s very clear that the governor and mayor sent out a squad to silence me.”
“It’s a travesty what’s going on,” Presti said, referring to New York’s rigid coronavirus rules, which have forced small businesses across the state to close their doors.
Mac’s Public House gained national attention after the bar declared itself an “autonomous zone” in November and refused to comply with coronavirus restrictions. The state suspended the bar’s liquor license Nov. 27, according to the report. (RELATED: ‘Cuomo Sucks! Cuomo Sucks!’: Hundreds Gather To Support Staten Island Bar Owner Who Was Arrested For Violating Lockdown Restrictions)
The complaint alleges that around 12:15 AM Dec. 6, Presti got into his Jeep on the street near Mac’s Public House and drove into an officer, knocking him onto the hood. He was stopped by a sheriff’s car after allegedly turning left twice with the officer still holding on to his car.
Mark J. Fonte, one of Presti’s lawyers, said that the video from the incident “clearly shows my client running for his life from unidentified individuals dressed in dark clothing,” SI Live reported. The defense also disputed a claim made by New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito stating that the officer had suffered two leg fractures.
“I was notified by the district attorney that a review of the medical records showed that the sheriff’s officer did not break his legs nor any other bone in his body,” Fonte said according to the report. “Statements by Sheriff Fucito that the officer broke his legs turned out to be a total falsehood.”
Fonte said Friday that “Mr. Presti has been totally vindicated with respect to all matters pertaining to the sheriff.” He also called for Fucito to resign and apologize to Presti, saying that Presti “suffered terribly as a result of the lies by the sheriff.”
“We are grateful to the professionals at the district attorney’s office who conducted a deep dive into the facts of this case,” Fonte said according to SI Live.
District Attorney Michael E. McMahon said Friday that agencies “have diligently, comprehensively, and vigorously pursued all facts and evidence, and made every effort to present that evidence fairly and impartially to the grand jury.” He added that he intends to pursue the two remaining charges against Presti.
“Acts of violence against these officers is not something we take lightly, and my thoughts and prayers continue to be with the deputy sheriff injured during the performance of his duty in the early morning hours of Dec. 6 of last year in Grant City,” McMahon added, according to the report.