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NEW YORK (AP) — The co-owner of a New York City bar accused of defying coronavirus restrictions was criticized by officials Monday after he was charged with running over a sheriff’s deputy with his car.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo called Danny Presti a “coward” and blasted those who are still supporting him.
“How dare you?" Cuomo said at a coronavirus briefing. “What kind of signal are you sending? It’s repugnant to the values of any real New Yorker.”
Lawyers and supporters of Presti countered by accusing authorities of staging a “political ambush.”
The condemnation came a day after authorities say Presti tried to drive away from his Staten Island bar, Mac’s Public House, as deputies were arresting him for serving patrons in violation of city and state closure orders. They said Presti got into his car, struck a deputy and kept driving for about 100 yards with the deputy hanging onto the hood.
The deputy had two broken legs but was out of the hospital, Sheriff Joseph Fucito said Monday.
Presti “should pay very, very serious consequences for what he did,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a separate briefing.
Presti, 34, was arraigned on charges including third-degree assault, reckless driving, menacing and resisting arrest and was released without bail.
At a news conference Monday on Staten Island, the Presti supporters said the governor and mayor were trying to “crush the little man who dares to speak up” while trying to protect his small business amid the pandemic.
They said that a team of sheriff's deputies — normally involved in low-profile civil enforcement — swept in to arrest their client as if he were a dangerous criminal, and that the one deputy's injuries were not as serious as reported.
In a brief statement, Presti said he still has respect for law enforcement.
“I think you’ll find at the end of the investigation that I did nothing wrong,” he said.
Staten Island is much more conservative than the rest of New York City and is the only one of the city’s five boroughs that voted for Republican President Donald Trump in November. The borough is home to many police officers and firefighters and is usually seen as supportive of law enforcement.