Lakeland electric worker John Applewhite, after he says he was attacked by a man while working to restore power in Long Island following Superstorm Sandy.
Thomas Libretto's booking photo. Courtesy Nassau County Police
EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Authorities say the alleged attack of lineman from Florida who was on Long Island helping to restore power had nothing to do with anger over prolonged outages in Nassau County.
Nassau County police arrested 34-year-old Thomas Libretto at his home on Tuesday in Levittown and charged him with assault.
The incident happened Friday outside a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in East Meadow.
After working a 16-hour day, electric worker John Applewhite from Lakeland, Florida said a man walked up to him, punched him in the face and then took off in a dark-colored BMW sedan.
"He met me halfway between my truck and his vehicle and just as I got within arm's reach, he decked me," Applewhite told 10 News.
While Nassau County police did not identify Applewhite by his name or occupation, they said the victim had a broken nose with swelling and bruising to his left eye.
Applewhite said he also suffered a broken jaw and facial fractures.
But authorities said the alleged attack now appears to have stemmed from an argument in the parking lot rather than from anger over power outages.
Libretto's mother told WCBS 880's Sophia Hall that the family's power had already been restored at the time of the incident. She said her son was attacked after he yelled at Applewhite for urinating outside the restaurant.
"It had nothing to do with the lights," she said. "My son was jumped and attacked because he said something to the guy who was peeing in the parking lot in front of his girlfriend. Maybe that is acceptable in Florida, not here. There were 10 guys and my son."
She said Libretto sustained a number of bruises.
Applewhite is now back in Florida receiving treatment for his injuries. He told 10 News that he will likely have surgery and that his jaw may need to be wired shut.
Libretto is due in court in Hempstead on Nov. 27.