Mayor's father won't face formal charges

Richard Lewis accused David Pugh Sr. of battery after a touch on the arm.

Published May 19, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - City Council member Richard Lewis called a touch on his shoulder by David Pugh Sr. an attack and a criminal offense.

Prosecutors didn't see it that way and have declined to file formal charges in the May 7 incident in the City Hall parking lot.

Lewis had filed a police report alleging that after the council meeting, Pugh, the mayor's father, battered him by slapping him on the shoulder. Then, when he told Pugh that he didn't want him to ever lay hands on him again, Lewis said Pugh came at him with both hands.

In fact, Lewis said on Friday, city attorney David La Croix had to physically restrain Pugh.

But Pugh told a different story to a sheriff's detective and so did witnesses who were near the men when the verbal altercation began.

La Croix said there was no battery, but "just a shouting match between two angry men."

Pugh acknowledged that he touched Lewis on the arm, but said he never went after him. He said he told Lewis that he had to learn to be a "better loser" just after Lewis had lost several significant votes during the night's council meeting.

Pugh also said that when Lewis had an immediate reaction to being touched that he said to Lewis, "What are you going to do, shoot me?"

On Friday, Lewis said he never intended for Pugh to be arrested or fined.

"I just wanted him to receive some sort of anger management counseling, which this gentleman needs, " he said.

Lewis added that his decision to file a police report was to put Pugh's behavior on the record both with law enforcement and with the city. He said he did not do it for any political reason.

Lewis has been on the opposite end of several crucial votes from Pugh's son, Mayor David Pugh Jr.

On Assistant State Attorney Bill Gladson's decision to not charge the senior Pugh, Lewis said that Pugh had more witnesses who were sticking to their story.

He also said he feels he was naive in thinking that La Croix would say anything to back up his version of events "when I tried to fire him just 30 minutes earlier."

Pugh said he was not surprised that the state attorney declined to charge him because the battery allegation was erroneous from the start.

"He said I need anger management? I think Richard Lewis needs anger management," Pugh said. "It's ironic that five people saw the incident and the only version different is his version."

Pugh said he hopes the state attorney's decision put the issue to rest.

"It's sad that the taxpayers' dollars had to be wasted on something as frivolous as this," Pugh said. "This was just embarrassing, embarrassing for the city. I hope we can get on with the business of the city soon and get people working together."

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or 352 754-6117.