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Nassau County Police Make Arrest In Alleged Attack Of Florida Utility Worker

Thomas Libretto (credit: Nassau County Police)

Thomas Libretto (credit: Nassau County Police)

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EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The attack of a lineman from Florida who was on Long Island helping to restore power had nothing to do with anger over prolonged outages in Nassau County, authorities said Wednesday.

Nassau County police arrested 34-year-old Thomas Libretto at his home on Tuesday in Levittown and charged him with assault.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reports

The incident happened Friday outside a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in East Meadow.

After working a 16-hour day, electric worker John Applewhite from Lakeland, Florida said a man walked up to him, punched him in the face and then took off in a dark-colored BMW sedan.

“He met me halfway between my truck and his vehicle and just as I got within arm’s reach, he decked me,” Applewhite told WTSP TV in Tampa.

While Nassau County police did not identify Applewhite by his name or occupation, they said the victim had a broken nose with swelling and bruising to his left eye.

Applewhite said he also suffered a broken jaw and facial fractures.

But authorities said the alleged attack now appears to have stemmed from an argument in the parking lot rather than from anger over power outages.

Libretto’s mother told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall that the family’s power had already been restored at the time of the incident. She said her son was attacked after he yelled at Applewhite for urinating outside the restaurant.

“It had nothing to do with the lights,” she said. “My son was jumped and attacked because he said something to the guy who was peeing in the parking lot in front of his girlfriend. Maybe that is acceptable in Florida, not here. There were ten guys and my son.”

She said Libretto sustained a number of bruises.

Insp. Kenneth Lack said Applewhite yelled and cursed at Libretto and kicked gravel at the defendant’s BMW. Libretto then got out of his car, took off his jacket and got into a physical altercation with Applewhite, Lack said.

WTSP TV said Applewhite is now back in Florida receiving treatment for his injuries. He told the Tampa station that he will likely have surgery and that his jaw may need to be wired shut.

Libretto is due in court in Hempstead on Nov. 27.