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The sheriff’s deputy hit by a controversial Staten Island bar owner’s Jeep was not as seriously injured as officials claimed, a lawyer for the tavern keeper said Sunday after his client dodged criminal charges in the case.
The attorney for Mac’s Public House co-owner Daniel Presti said prosecutors conceded that Sgt. Kenneth Matos never suffered broken legs in the wild Dec. 6 incident outside the popular watering hole — despite the sheriff’s office telling the press that he did.
“I cannot explain the sheriff’s motivation for telling this falsehood,” Presti’s lawyer Mark Fonte said Sunday. “These false statements could have tainted a potential jury pool and did in fact taint public opinion.”
Fonte said he’s now calling for New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito to resign — and will hold a press conference at the bar Monday to make the announcement.
Reached by phone Sunday, Fucito said his assessment of Matos’ injuries was based on bad intel he got from medical staff following the incident.
“The doctor that evening misdiagnosed his condition,” the sheriff said.
“I cannot discuss Sgt. Matos’ medical condition or why the doctor misdiagnosed it,” he said. “But I can tell you he is still out on medical leave for the injuries he suffered from the assault from Mr. Presti.”
“Our statement was that he had broken tibias,” Fucito added. “That diagnosis was incorrect.”
Presti, 43, ran afoul of the sheriff’s office last year when he continually defied a state-mandated lockdown order in response to the coronavirus pandemic — declaring the bar an autonomous zone exempt from the restrictions.
Presti continued to open for business despite being summonsed by the city.
On Dec. 6, sheriff’s deputies converged on the Grant City tavern again.
Presti told The Post Sunday that he was leaving the bar and walking to his Jeep Cherokee when someone called out his name — and saw two people charging at him.
“Nobody identified themselves and two people were charging at me,” he said. “It’s fight or flight at that point and I decided I’m not dying on South Rail Road.”
He said that’s when he saw the people who were chasing him in front of the car, and “gave him a chance to move.”
Presti said “it was a guy in dark’s clothing. Everything black, everything covered.”
He maintains he did not know the man was part of a large contingent of sheriff’s deputies — and only figured it out when he was pulled out of his vehicle and saw officers rushing towards him.
Presti said he testified before the grand jury for about an hour and a half, and said the panel was also shown police footage of the encounter.
“They were shown the cops’ video, from the police cameras,” he said. “That was the prosecutor’s evidence but it seemed odd to me that they would show that because it proved what I had been saying from the start.”
Matos clung to the hood of Presti’s pastel blue Jeep before being thrown to the ground and was taken to Staten Island University Hospital after the incident.
After the arrest prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury for a possible indictment.
Despite being cleared of assault charges, the grand jury voted to indict Presti on charges that he operated the bar and served alcohol without a license.
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