- The Washington Times - Monday, December 7, 2020

The Staten Island bar owner who kept his pub open in defiance of New York City’s coronavirus shutdown rules insisted Monday that he did “nothing wrong” after being charged with striking an officer with his car during an arrest.

“I have nothing but respect for the NYPD and other law enforcement,” said Danny Presti, co-owner of Mac’s Public House, at a press conference. “I think when you find at the end of the investigation, you will find that I did nothing wrong.”

Mr. Presti, 34, was charged Sunday with third-degree assault, reckless driving, menacing and resisting arrest for driving into a New York City sheriff’s sergeant, but Presti attorney Lou Gelormino said the officers approached his client without identifying themselves.

“It happened two blocks away — not in front of this building — on a dark street, where two big burly officers came out between a parked car from behind him and yelled, ‘Presti, hey Presti,’ and started running at him,” Mr. Gelormino said.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Mr. Presti a “hypocrite” and his actions “extraordinarily disturbing.”

“He’s making a big deal about what’s happened with his bar,” Mr. de Blasio said at Monday’s press conference. “Well, guess what, law and order means when the state of New York says your bar needs to be closed, your bar needs to be closed to protect people’s health and safety, no excuses.”

He added, “And then if you take an action against a law enforcement officer, there’ll be even more consequences.”

Mr. Presti was released on his own recognizance, despite the seriousness of the charges. The complaint said that he drove into an officer and went about 300 feet with the officer on the hood before stopping and being arrested.

Mr. Gelormino said that he had video of the encounter showing about 80% of what happened during the four-minute arrest, which he compared to a “CIA black-ops operation.”

“They had 15 sheriff’s deputies’ unmarked cars,” Mr. Gelormino said. “They came in, swept Danny away in four minutes like he was Osama bin Laden in a CIA black ops, and in four minutes, you see nothing else on the scene, not an officer, not a sheriff’s deputy interviewing witnesses, not an ambulance, not an officer down.”

The officer was treated at a hospital after reportedly suffering two broken legs, which Mr. Gelormino disputed, calling it “an outrageous, outright lie.” He said the injury was more akin to “a torn ligament.”

The attorney said no ambulances came, despite the injuries to the officer, and within four minutes, “the scene was completely cleaned up. Like this was some kind of CIA black-ops operations.”

Last week, Mr. Presti went quietly after he was arrested for serving customers indoors in defiance of the city’s novel coronavirus order. The bar has since been fined and had its liquor license suspended.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, Staten Island’s South Shore was elevated from the yellow to the orange level, based on a rolling seven-day positivity rate, which meant restaurants and bars could no longer offer indoor dining.

The pub drew headlines after declaring that it was an “autonomous zone,” a reference to the Seattle Black Lives Matter protest encampment that took over a six-block area in June and continued to serve customers.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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