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LI man pleads not guilty to slugging worker

Thomas Libretto, 34, of Levittown was arrested at

Thomas Libretto, 34, of Levittown was arrested at his home in connection with an assault on a LIPA worker, police said. (Nov. 13, 2012) Photo Credit: NCPD

A Levittown man was arraigned Tuesday on charges that he beat up a Florida utility worker in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

Thomas Libretto, 34, pleaded not guilty to third-degree assault charges in First District Court in Hempstead, prosecutors said. Judge Helen Voutsinas released Libretto without bail, and issued a stay away order of protection to the utility worker, John Applewhite, 34, of Lakeland, Fla. Libretto is due back in court Jan. 7, prosecutors said.

Libretto's lawyer, Matthew Tuohy of Hauppauge, could not be reached for comment.

Applewhite had told a Florida TV station that he didn't know why he was attacked, but said he knew people were upset about being without electricity.

Police later said that Applewhite didn't tell them the whole story about the Nov. 9 fight: that Libretto was angry that Applewhite had urinated near his car.

Police said the dispute began when Libretto left the Texas Roadhouse on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow and saw Applewhite urinating in the parking lot. Libretto said something to Applewhite, who yelled back at Libretto, police said.

Applewhite then kicked gravel at Libretto's BMW, but did not damage it, police said.

Libretto got out of his car, took off his jacket, and the two began fighting, police said. Libretto hit Applewhite, fracturing his nose and bruising his left eye, police said.

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