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NILES BAR FIGHT 2 say they were prevented from filing charges



Published: Tue, November 27, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The police chief said the investigation is almost completed.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

NILES -- Two men said that they tried to file charges against two Trumbull County sheriff's detectives but that the city prosecutor wouldn't let them.

Steven Tabor and Paul Benedict of Niles said they went to the city prosecutor's office Nov. 14 to file assault charges against detectives Peter Pizzulo and Anthony Leshnack.

Tabor said they got there shortly before 8 a.m. and had to wait three hours before they were allowed to meet with prosecutor Bruce Bennett.

Tabor said Bennett informed them they could not file charges because the detectives had filed charges against them.

"I asked how they got in before we did, when the office opens at 8 and we were first on the list," Tabor said.

"He then made some remarks about ghosts filing charges with him, in front of witnesses. We later found out no charges were filed against Paul or myself that day or as of now," Tabor said.

Bennett would not say what he told the two men and would not comment on the case, other than to say he won't consider charges until the police department completes its investigation.

Police Chief Bruce Simeone said it won't be long. "We may know something by Wednesday."

Bennett said last week that FBI agents talked to him about the Nov. 10 fight at Gasoline Alley, 500 Vienna Ave.

Conflicting reports: Two reports filed with Niles police offer conflicting stories of what happened.

Leshnack told investigating officers that as he was leaving Gasoline Alley he was jumped by three or four people, knocked to the ground, kicked and punched.

"Three people started a fight with one person in a parking lot, and they didn't like the way it turned out," Leshnack said.

"I'm tired of seeing this in the paper, and my family and friends are tired of seeing it. It's all about their wanting to sue over a fight they started."

Pizzulo said he walked outside the bar and saw his friend being assaulted.

"I wanted to help my friend," Pizzulo told The Vindicator on Monday. "I saw someone kick [ Leshnack] in the face, and I wanted to help him."

In a separate report, police say Tabor, of Nash Street, told officers he was punched in the face by a man as he was walking to Gasoline Alley after he and a friend were involved in an altercation in the rear lot.

Police talked to the man, later identified as Pizzulo, who said Tabor and Tabor's friend started the fight.

Tabor told The Vindicator he does not remember telling police he was walking to the bar.

Inside bar: He said he, Benedict and another friend were in the bar when they saw a female friend pass out. He said the woman was sitting next to Leshnack and when she and Leshnack left the bar, they followed to make sure she was OK.

"We asked her if she was all right to leave with the guy," and she indicated that she was, Tabor said.

He said Leshnack got upset and kept asking them who they were.

Tabor said he and his friends started to leave when Leshnack began punching their vehicle and running alongside it.

"We turned out of the parking lot when Tony punched Paul through the open window, causing Paul to hit a tree," Tabor said.

"Tony then pulled Paul out of the Jeep and took him to the ground and started beating him in the face and head. I got out of the Jeep and ran over. ... I was punched, choked and held against a fence by Pizzulo."

Tabor said Pizzulo let him go when he heard police sirens.

Atty. Robert Shaker of Niles, who represents Benedict, said three witnesses support what Tabor and Benedict have said.

sinkovich@vindy.com




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