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Comment was no crime

City Council member John Kendall may have used threatening language during an Election Day spat with Mike Gudis, but the State Attorney's Office said Wednesday that his actions did not amount to a criminal offense and therefore no charges will be filed.

"It needs to be coupled with some sort of overt act to carry out the threat, like he raised his fist," Assistant State Attorney Lisa Herndon said.

The incident occurred outside City Hall on Nov. 5. As Gudis approached voters to sign a petition to recall Kendall, the council member was close behind.

Gudis accused Kendall of harassment and said, "You are making more of an a-- out of yourself than you have before."

According to Gudis' version of events, Kendall replied, "You called me an a--? I'm going to knock your teeth out."

Kendall, 74, contends that Gudis, 66, simply called him an a-- and that his reply was less strident. "If you call me that again," Kendall recalled saying, "you'll be picking up your teeth."

An assault complaint prepared by the Crystal River Police Department and submitted to the State Attorney's Office backed Gudis' story.

But Herndon said that no matter what Kendall said, the words did not rise to the level of a criminal offense.

"There was no case," Kendall said Wednesday. "It was blown out of proportion on the onset and it should have died right here in Crystal River."

Gudis maintained he felt threatened that morning but said he was not surprised by Herndon's decision. He quickly changed focus, saying, "We need to do some more positive things."

It was the second time this year that Gudis had been involved in a parking lot dispute. In May, he got into an argument with Joe Cino, head of the Democratic Executive Committee. The two men nearly came to blows.

_ Alex Leary can be reached at (352) 564-3623 or learysptimes.com.

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