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Husband of Elmont civic leader pleads guilty in scuffle

The husband of an Elmont civic group leader has pleaded guilty to charges related to a physical altercation with another resident after a March meeting.

Joseph Smith, 60, of Elmont, pleaded guilty last month to the top count of harassment as a violation, Nassau County district attorney's office spokesman Shams M. Tarek said. Smith was sentenced to a $130 fine plus surcharges of $120; an order of protection was also issued in favor of the complainant, Iraq War veteran and small-business owner Carl Achille, 30, of Elmont.

Smith, husband of Elmont Coalition for Sustainable Development chair Sandra Smith, was arrested by Nassau police March 29 on a "violation of harassment" in the incident with Achille on March 11 at the Elmont Memorial Library. The confrontation followed a coalition meeting.

"We're glad it was resolved," Sandra Smith, a constituent caseworker for state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) who ignored calls to step down as coalition chief, said Wednesday .

Achille, also a law enforcement officer, filed a police report after he said Joseph Smith choked him and threw him on a table as Smith shouted anti-gay and other bigoted slurs. Achille, who owns a local barbershop, had said the incident happened after the two disagreed about the need for housing for young professionals.

But Smith, a Vietnam War veteran and hospital switchboard operator, had said Achille grabbed his wrist to confront him after Smith told a female civic leader at the meeting that Achille had made a derogatory comment about her. Smith had said he and Achille exchanged insults and Smith grabbed Achille by the collar. Smith had denied using a bigoted slur or grabbing Achille by his throat.

"I am relieved that justice was served, and the true facts of that day have come to light," said Achille, adding he is exploring the possibility of a civil action. "In our country, we are permitted to speak freely without the fear of physical attack or retribution."

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