By LIZ BUTTON
Rye City police officer and PBA president Franco Compagnone was charged with second-degree physical harassment in connection with an alleged Oct. 20 dust-up with resident Jim Amico at an Eastchester car show. The officer has since been suspended and awaits the outcome of two investigations.
The men, who have been involved in an ongoing feud, were at the Lake Isle Country Club, on White Plains Road in Eastchester, for the Moonlight Cruisers Classic Car Show when Eastchester Police were called around 2:47 p.m. Compagnone passed Amico, who was standing at a hot dog truck, and the two became engaged in a physical altercation, according to a police report from Eastchester Lt. George Barletta.
Amico, 51, told police that Compagnone, 43, attacked him without provocation, pushing him into a chainlink fence.
“Amico stated that Mr. Compagnone was hitting him in the forehead with a plastic water bottle while he was speaking to his wife on the phone,” the report read.
Amico told police Compagnone chest-bumped him and caused him to fall into the fence, then held him in a strangle hold and tried to throw him over the fence while trying to gouge his eyes.
Compagnone, PBA president since 2008, provided police with a different account of the incident.
He said, as he passed the food truck, he heard Amico yell, “Hey, you piece of [expletive]” and subsequently approached Amico.
“During the scuffle, Mr. Compagnone stated that he wound up pushing Mr. Amico against the fence in order to restrain and defend himself from Mr. Amico, who continued to push him upon arrival of the Eastchester Auxiliary Police, who were working at the car show,” the police report stated.
Compagnone, a resident of Yonkers, was arraigned in Eastchester Town Court on Nov. 8 and released without bail, after which he was suspended from the Rye City Police Department with pay pending the outcome of investigations by both Rye and Eastchester police departments.
“It’s unfortunate, really, for me and my family because of this person,” Compagnone said.
Compagnone’s lawyer, Andrew Quinn, general counsel for the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said his client absolutely plans to fight the charges. “He looks forward to proving his innocence in court,” Quinn said.
Amico said he wants the district attorney to upgrade the charge to misdemeanor assault, but this requires doctor’s proof of injury. He said he will use MRI results from Nov. 13, which he claims show he has a torn rotator cuff, to petition the DA.
In court on Nov. 8, Eastchester Judge Domenick J. Porco signed-off on a one-year order of protection for Amico against Compagnone.
Amico said the animosity between himself and Compagnone has gone on for at least 10 years, but the fight on Oct. 20 was likely due to the fact that Compagnone did not appreciate Amico’s letter that ran in The Rye City Review’s Oct. 18 issue entitled “PBA president not worthy of support.”
In the letter, Amico was highly critical of Compagnone and a recent mailer sent out by the Rye PBA which stated, “Still protecting, still serving, still no contract.” The mailer was sent out prior to the police union coming to terms on a new contract with the city in
Amico told The Rye City Review he blames the city and Police Commissioner William Connors for the incident, which he said was a long time coming.
“I hold the city and Commissioner Connors responsible for letting it escalate to this point,” Amico said.
Last year, Amico filed a formal harassment complaint with the Rye police against Compagnone and has sent multiple emails to the commissioner urging him to investigate and fire the officer.
In July, Amico sent an email to the commissioner and Lt. Robert Falk stating he felt physically threatened during an incident in which Compagnone got out of his vehicle in the course of telling him to move some cars at his garage.
Connors said that Amico’s complaint of a year ago remains under investigation. He said he could not comment directly on the dispute, but said he has frequently corresponded with Amico via email for the past year since the complaint was filed with the department.
The formal complaint Amico filed against Compagnone had to do with an incident in which he towed Amico’s car while he was on patrol in the area since it was illegally parked on a public roadway, Compagnone said.
But last year, Compagnone also brought his own complaint of harassment against Amico with the Westchester District Attorney’s office through Valerie Livingston, who covers Rye Brook, Port Chester and Rye for the office.
“I wrote two reports of harassment against him and one for extortion. I gave it to my police department…The DA didn’t do an investigation,” Compagnone said. “They dropped the ball.”