Arrest made in electrical worker assault

Levittown man allegedly punched the man, who was assisting LIPA, on Hempstead Turnpike after he witnessed him urinating in public


Police arrested Thomas Libretto, 34, of Levittown, after he allegedly punched and broke the nose of an electrical worker named John Applewhite on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow on Friday, Nov. 9.

Applewhite, who is also 34, works for a Florida-based electrical company called Lakeland Electric. He was assisting LIPA to repair electrical lines.

Police say Applewhite was urinating in the parking lot of a Texas Roadhouse restaurant. Libretto, who was with his girlfriend, observed the public urination nearby his car, and began exchanging words with him.

The altercation escalated, according to police, and resulted in Libretto punching Applewhite, breaking his nose and causing swelling and bruising to his left eye. Libretto and his girlfriend then allegedly fled the scene in a BMW Sedan.

The worker was transported by police ambulance to the Nassau University Medical Center. According to a NUMC spokesperson, Applewhite was treated in the hospital's emergency department, but was not formally admitted to the hospital. He has since returned to Florida, said police.

Lakeland Electric is a city-managed electrical company in Polk County, Florida. "We still are unsure of exactly what transpired," said Kevin Cook, a spokesman for the city of Lakeland. "We have one individual saying one thing, and another individual saying another. We're fully cooperating with the Nassau County Police Department in its investigation."

Cook said that Lakeland Electric sent 25 workers to Long Island to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The other 24 workers are on their way back to Florida now, he said, and upon their return, will be interviewed by city officials regarding the incident.

The spokesman said that Applewhite was undergoing surgery today to repair a broken jaw and injured cheeks, and that they have yet to have a chance to speak with him.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out there to those who lost power and I understand there's still some without power," added Cook. "Having been hit by numerous hurricanes we fully understand, and it's a very unfortunate incident that happened."

Libretto was arrested in his Levittown residence on Tuesday evening. He has been charged with assault in the third degree, a misdemeanor. Rather than appearing in court the next day, Libretto received an appearance ticket from police, allowing him to appear in court on Nov. 27 for his arraignment.

According to a police spokesman, with certain misdemeanor charges, individuals can be released on appearance tickets, something that can not be done for felony charges.

Since Libretto has yet to be arraigned, a Nassau County spokesman said the case file in the district attorney's office does not contain the name of his lawyer. Thus, the Herald has yet to be in contact with Libretto's legal counsel regarding the matter.