Staten Island Bar Owner Arrested For Second Time After Defying Covid-19 Rules

Mac's Public House

Danny Presti, 34, was arrested by sheriffs and his co-owner was handed several summonses for allegedly operating their bar Mac's Public Bar in violation of state mandates.

The co-owner of a Staten Island bar was arrested over the weekend for a second time after the restaurant was packed with people despite sheriffs shutting the place down a few days earlier, according to reports. Just last week, Danny Presti, 34, was arrested by sheriffs and his co-owner was handed several summonses for allegedly violating coronavirus regulations.

Early Saturday, Presti fled from two uniformed officers as they approached him, an incident that spiraled into the owner allegedly fleeing and then allegedly slamming his car into one of the officers, the Staten Island Advance reported.

Presti allegedly drove off in his 2020 Jeep around 12:30 a.m. after leaving the tavern and kept his foot on the peddle as one of the officers, who was struck, clung onto the hood, officials said. Presti allegedly made two left turns as the cop remained on the car hood before he stopped his vehicle, according to court documents obtained by the Advance. 

The sheriff suffered two fractured tibias and was taken to Staten Island University Hospital, the New York Daily News reported. The incident was captured on surveillance and Presti faces multiple charges including assault. He was released from police custody on Sunday, ABC reported.

"I have nothing but respect for the NYPD and other law enforcement. I think when you find at the end of the investigation, you will find that I did nothing wrong. I have nothing but respect for the NYPD and other law enforcement," Presti said in a statement Monday according to the outlet.

This set of events unfolded at Mac's Public House after the State Liquor Authority on Nov. 27 suspended the tavern's license for hosting patrons in what they claimed was threatening public health and safety, SILive reported.

Then, last Tuesday, plainclothes officers went inside the bar and ordered food in exchange for a mandatory $40 "donation", Sheriff Joseph Fucito wrote in a statement. Presti was arrested for the first time after that evening, and was allegedly uncooperative as officers issued summonses, the New York Post reported. Presti was taken into police custody for allegedly obstructing government administration and for refusing to stop indoor dining in an orange zone, CBS reported.

Despite this, the tavern on Friday night seemed to be back in business. They blacked-out their windows but officers noticed people going in-and-out of the building through an adjacent entrance, the Daily News reported.

Patrons were captured, some maskless, standing shoulder-to-shoulder shouting "USA! USA!" on videos that circulated around social media.

Keith McAlarney, one of the owners, confirmed to SILive that the bar was open on Friday night but did not comment further.

The tavern had also allegedly been serving patrons past the state-imposed curfew of 10 p.m., and McAlarney was handed more than a dozen summonses, the outlet reported. 

After the tavern's liquor license was revoked last week, dozens of protesters showed up Wednesday to show support for the owners, who allegedly refused to comply with the state's curfew and coronavirus pandemic orange zone restrictions. 

The bar has reportedly declared itself an "autonomous zone," according to signs and markings on the tavern. One sign read, "We refuse to abide by any rules and regulations put forth by the mayor of NYC and Governor of NY State."

“I’m allowed to be inside my private property. I pay my rent,” McAlarney told reporters, according to CBS News. “They’re saying right now I can’t serve food and I can’t serve alcohol.”

“I’m just trying to support my family," he continued. "We’ve asked you guys to work with us. You refuse to work with us."

Lou Gelormino, one of the attorneys representing the tavern who also happened to be present the night of Tuesday's incident, was also ticketed. Another lawyer for the bar, Mark Fonte, told the Staten Island Advance that his client was arrested because he refused to leave his business, which was ultimately "considered trespassing."

Fonte called the law enforcement officers "wannabe" cops and said "this is what happens when little people get a little power," the outlet reported.

State Senator Andrew Lanza  told CBS that the bar owner should not have been taken away in handcuffs, but added that he "respects law enforcement on Staten Island."