New York Republican State Senator Andrew Lanza confronted Grant City, NY police deputies after they arrested a tavern owner after he chose to defy state and city mandates to abandon indoor dining following New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s strict lockdown orders.
The owner of Mac’s Public House, Danny Presti, was taken away in handcuffs by officers on Tuesday night as various agencies reportedly descended upon the place of business. Cuomo declared Mac’s Public House to be in an “orange zone,” which mandated Presti and the bar’s co-owner Keith McAlarney to shut down their business without compensation from the state. According to a report in SILive, Presti and his business partner were serving food and beverages but were not charging patrons any money.
This was not enough for them to bypass Cuomo’s enforcement orders. “Although it was given away for free to patrons, the law does not permit service during the pandemic, per Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate,” the paper reported.
As Presti was taken away in handcuffs, other officers stayed around to block the tavern’s entrance. A large crowd of people, including State Senator Lanza, gathered in protest of the police action.
The Republican representative asked officers on the scene for the reason of his arrest and noted that the business owners were ordered to “cease and desist” with no mention of arrests.
“This order simply says that they need to cease and desist,” Lanza reportedly said. “Nowhere here is there an arrest warrant, nowhere here is anything about arresting anyone on their private property. So I’ll ask, [and] you don’t have to answer … why was he arrested? I was told you would tell me why he was arrested and now I’m asking for that answer.”
SILive reports that the officers did not respond to his inquiries.
“So I see that you have the power to arrest people who are sitting in their own establishment, on private property,’’ Lanza added. “Stick around. Here on Staten Island, we like law and order, but what I just saw here … it really deserves an explanation. Because it really confounds all of us here. … I can tell you, as an attorney, this piece of paper did not authorize what you did here. At some point somebody’s gonna to have to answer for what happened here, because this is wrong.”
One of Presti’s attorneys, Lou Gelormino, told the crowd that his client was “on his way to the Sheriff’s Office right now, where, they assured me … they’re gonna issue him a desk-appearance ticket and release him, for criminal trespass because he wouldn’t leave his own establishment.”
“From what I understand, [Presti’s] arrested because he didn’t want to leave [his business], and at that point … they considered it trespassing,’’ Gelormino said. “I’d like to know why his attorney got three summonses for just being there and being peaceful and respectful and calm, and every one of these officers can attest to that.”
Gelormino, who was at the tavern, was reportedly fined $5,000 and “deemed an employee of the business.”
“We urge our friends in the restaurant industry to be as resilient as possible while we appeal this decision,” said attorney Mark Fonte, who also represents the tavern in its battle against the state and city. “These sheriff’s officers are ‘wannabe’ cops. This is what happens when little people get a little
power. Each one of them will have to answer to a federal judge. The issuing of summonses to an attorney for representing his client will not be dealt with lightly. I would advise the issuing sheriff to lawyer up immediately.”