'Autonomous zone' Staten Island bar has summonses dismissed, attorneys say

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MIDLAND BEACH, Staten Island (WABC) -- A New York City pub that ignored social distancing orders and declared itself an autonomous zone now plans to operate once again after what it calls a "landmark case for small business owners in New York State."

Attorneys for Mac's Public House in Staten Island say the city dismissed more than 25 criminal summonses for the establishment, which stayed open for indoor dining and past curfew despite being in an orange zone amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

"Christmas came a day late this year on Staten Island but right on time for America," attorney John Tabacco said. "Because on December 26, all the fines, all the criminal summonses, all the penalties that were served on Mac's Pub were dismissed out of hand."

General manager Daniel Presti was arrested twice in the span of a week during the Sheriff's Department actions, sparking a massive protest outside. He and owner Keith McAlarney said the rulings were a victory for small business owners, urging them to stand with Mac's.

"We are still staying the course," McAlarney said. "But around the country, where tyranny and overreach are ruining family and businesses, will follow our lead and stand up, rise up, and open up."

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A Staten Island bar that was shut down by authorities this week after the owners declared it an "autonomous zone" and remained open despite restrictions in place due to the coronavirus.

He indicated the bar will reopen as soon as possible, but no date was given.

"Everyone knows that there is no science that suggests it's alright to eat across the street in that restaurant and not here," state Senator Andrew Lanza said. "So what would you do? What would you do?"

Governor Andrew Cuomo remains critical of the bar's defiance, pointing out that Staten Island's coronavirus rates are double that of Manhattan.

The dismissal of summonses does not include the alleged December 5 assault of New York City Sheriff's deputies by Presti, who is accused of hitting an officer with his car.

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The general manager of a Staten Island bar, that has continued to defy shutdown orders, is behind bars again after driving off and injuring an officer.

That case is still pending in the Staten Island District Attorney's Office.

Faced with going out of business, the bar stopped charging for food and drinks, keeping doors open on a donation basis.

As a result, the owner faced more than $40,000 in fines.


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