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Two detectives involved in fight outside Spring Hill bar resign

BROOKSVILLE — Two Hernando County sheriff's detectives under internal review for their role in a fight at a Spring Hill bar have resigned.

Detectives Anthony Scarpati and Tony Mazza both submitted resignation letters to Sheriff Al Nienhuis on Friday.

In a three-sentence letter, Mazza told Nienhuis that he is pursuing a "business opportunity" that has come his way.

Scarpati wrote that he has decided to "pursue a new and different direction for my family and myself."

"I am proud of the service I have given to the members of my community and of the accomplishments I have achieved," Scarpati wrote. "I have done my best to do my duty and to bring honor to my badge and all that it represents during the 23 years that I have served in law enforcement."

A 28-year-old man named Bryan Silverstone accused the off-duty detectives of beating him outside Jerseys Hometown Tavern on Commercial Way early on the morning of May 26. The State Attorney's Office reviewed the Sheriff's Office's criminal investigation and determined there wasn't enough evidence to bring criminal charges against either man.

The Sheriff's Office launched an internal affairs investigation that is undergoing final review, Nienhuis said. He declined to comment, saying the internal investigation, which should be released this week, "will stand on its own."

Last May, Silverstone flagged down a deputy about 1:45 a.m. and said the two off-duty detectives had beaten him, 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 had 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 that 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 another man punched and kicked him.

Mazza, Anthony Scarpati and Pappas denied touching Silverstone. No one was charged in the incident.

In his memo to his supervisor, Assistant State Attorney Paul Norville said he considered battery charges against Mazza and Scarpati based on Silverstone's allegations, but wrote that witness accounts supported Mazza's claim that he was only trying to break up a fight. Norville wrote that any struggle between Silverstone and Scarpati appeared to be "mutual combat."

Scarpati, 52, started with the agency in 1990 and most recently served as a detective in the detention division. Mazza, 47, was hired by the Sheriff's Office in March 2000.

After Sheriff Richard Nugent fired Mazza in November 2001 for using excessive force, Mazza agreed to undergo physical and psychological evaluations and to take an anger management course. He returned to the Sheriff's Office and had recently been working as a property crimes detective.

Two detectives involved in fight outside Spring Hill bar resign 11/04/13 [Last modified: Monday, November 4, 2013 9:17pm]
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