BROOKSVILLE — Two Hernando County sheriff's detectives will not face criminal charges in the wake of accusations that they beat a man outside a Spring Hill bar, but an internal affairs investigation is under way to determine whether they violated agency policy.
The State Attorney's Office reviewed the Sheriff's Office investigation and concluded there was not enough evidence to prove that Detectives Anthony Scarpati and Tony Mazza battered a 28-year-old man named Bryan Silverstone early on the morning of May 26.
"There are no charges that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt," Assistant State Attorney Paul Norville wrote in a memo to his boss, Chief Assistant State Attorney Ric Ridgway.
Norville also noted the history between the men. Silverstone believed Mazza had dated his former girlfriend and that Mazza was stalking him on Facebook. Silverstone had posted several nasty remarks about Mazza. Norville said Silverstone seemed to have a grudge against Scarpati because he believed Scarpati encouraged a woman to seek an injunction against him.
Mazza and Scarpati are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the internal investigation. Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis declined to comment, saying the criminal investigation "will stand on its own."
Silverstone flagged down a deputy about 1:45 a.m. and claimed the two off-duty detectives beat him outside Jerseys Hometown Tavern, according to a sheriff's report. Silverstone had blood on his face, chest, nose and ear; scrapes and scratches on his upper body, arms and knees; and bruises on the back of his head.
Silverstone said he encountered Mazza, Scarpati and Scarpati's son, Nick, at the Hilltop Saloon in Brooksville earlier that night. He said Mazza threatened him before Silverstone was removed by a bouncer and went to Jerseys.
Silverstone said Scarpati, Mazza and Scarpati's son showed up there, too.
Silverstone said Mazza pushed him against a wall. Silverstone said he left the bar and Mazza followed him to the parking lot and pushed him to the ground. Silverstone said he sprayed Mazza with pepper spray and that Mazza, the Scarpatis, Jerseys owner Evans Pappas and a man named Daynon Toole punched and kicked him.
Silverstone said he was able to get into his car and drive away.
Mazza, Anthony Scarpati and Pappas denied touching Silverstone.
Nick Scarpati, who is a bartender at Jerseys, said he told Silverstone to leave his father and Mazza alone. He said Silverstone made a profane remark and pepper sprayed him. Nick Scarpati said he tackled Silverstone and punched him several times before someone pulled him away.
Mazza said he saw Silverstone tackle Nick Scarpati. When Mazza tried to intervene, Silverstone sprayed him in the face.
A witness said she saw a man in a red shirt, later determined to be Silverstone, push a man in a white shirt out the door of the bar and then pepper spray him.
Toole said he saw Mazza, the Scarpatis and Pappas hitting Silverstone. Toole said he separated Mazza and Silverstone and hit Silverstone a few times to avoid getting sprayed.
In his memo, Norville said he considered battery charges against Mazza based on Silverstone's allegations.
"The fact that five other witnesses state that Silverstone was wildly spraying anyone in the area with tear gas further corroborates Mazza's statement that his only involvement was to break up a fight," Norville wrote.
Norville considered battery charges against Nick Scarpati but said the fight with Silverstone appeared to be "mutual combat."