A man on trial for assaulting the Saddle Rock mayor after a village meeting testified Monday that the mayor received a cut on his head when he fell against the dais, and not as the result of a blow delivered to the mayor's head.
Sasha Masri, taking the stand in his own defense, also testified before Acting Supreme Court Justice Philip Grella in Mineola that Mayor Dan Levy had a vendetta against him and said that Levy was angry that Masri had brought his concerns about how village finances were being handled to the village's auditors.
Masri said he slapped Levy on the face after Levy began insulting Masri and Masri's mother during a conversation Masri was having with a village trustee after a meeting last October.
Masri testified that immediately before the incident, Masri had been asking trustee David Schwartz about village finances and the result of an audit when Levy jumped in, ridiculing Masri and calling him a loser. The two traded profanities, Masri testified, until Levy called Masri's mother a "whore," upon which Masri said he slapped Levy with an open hand.
Masri testified Levy then came around the dais and grappled with Masri, placing Masri in a headlock and punching him repeatedly in the side before Masri pushed Levy back into the dais in order to free himself. After both men tumbled to the ground, Masri said, he saw blood on Levy's head and shirt.
Masri testified that the blood was the result of a cut Levy received on his head when he fell against the dais after the two men began grappling.
Earlier in the trial, Levy testified that Masri struck him with keys in his hand, a claim that caused Masri to face a charge of assault with intent to cause physical injury with a weapon, a felony.
Much of the trial so far has centered around the defense's contention that Levy wanted to stop Masri's conversation with Schwartz for fear it would expose allegations of wrongdoing against Levy. Auditors found that Levy had been writing checks to a third-party corporation, then endorsing and cashing them himself, according to earlier testimony.
Assistant District Attorney Christine Geier questioned Masri's recollection of events, pointing out that Levy was older than Masri and asking how he could have seen Levy hit his head on the dais while Masri was falling to the ground himself.
"He's 25 years older than you?" Geier asked. "And he managed to put you in a headlock?"
Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled for Tuesday.