LOCKPORT — A Lewiston man will be held on house arrest after his indictment on charges stemming from a vicious attack at a South End bar last summer.
John Baldassara, 53, 4950 Creek Road Extension, pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning during an arraignment in County Court to charges of second-degree assault and intimidating a witness. He is charged in an attack that took place July 17 on the patio of Players Lounge in the 300 block of Niagara Street.
The assault left Christopher Scrivano, 47, with a severe head wound.
Baldassara had been free on a $5,000 bail bond while his case was pending in Falls City Court. Deputy District Attorney Doreen Hoffmann asked Niagara County Court Judge Sara Sheldon Sperrazza to increase the bail to $20,000 based on Baldassara’s past and recent behavior.
“That night (of the attack) he told some of the employees at the bar not to talk to the police,” Hoffmann said. “Some of the witnesses (in the case) have expressed concerns for their safety.”
Baldassara objected, telling Sperrazza, “Your honor, I travel around the United States (in connection with work).”
The judge said she was not concerned about that.
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“You are in essence under house arrest if you want to keep the $5,000 (bail),” Sperrazza said. “You may not be able to (travel around the U.S. on business). You’ll stay in my jurisdiction.”
Sperrazza said Baldassara will have to wear an electronic ankle bracelet that will monitor his movement, but he can leave his home for work (in Niagara County), for medical appointments or to attend church services or educational classes among other limited activities.
The judge expressed concern over two recent arrests involving Baldassara, who already has three felony convictions on his wrap sheet.
Baldassara was arrested by Falls police on Jan. 7 after punching a man in the face during an incident at Cocktail Bob’s Bar in the 1900 block of Cudaback Avenue. The victim in that case said Baldassara attacked after making a rude comment to him.
Roving Anti-Crime Unit officers also arrested Baldassara a week ago after they stopped him on 21st Street at 10:27 p.m. for speeding. Baldassara, who failed a field sobriety test and refused a Breathalyzer test, told the RAC officers he was coming “from my lawyer’s office” where he had consumed “one beer.”
“I’m going to keep you out of the bars,” Sperrazza said.
RAC officers also found a small quantity of crack cocaine in Baldassara’s vehicle and seized $7,000 in cash that was in the vehicle. Hoffmann said Baldassara called the cash, “chump change.”
He is charged with third-degree assault in connection with the most recent bar fight and speeding, failure to signal turn, driving while intoxicated and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance in connection with the 21st Street traffic stop.
In the attack on Scrivano, Falls police said they responded to a call from the bar’s staff that there was an injured man on their patio. When officers arrived, they found Scrivano, lying on the patio of Players Lounge with a large laceration to the back of his head.
Investigators said Scrivano had been at the Hard Rock Cafe concert earlier that evening and then went to Players afterward.
Video surveillance cameras captured the attack and a number of witnesses told police they saw Scrivano come out the side door of the bar with Baldassara behind him.
Scrivano was overheard saying, “All I want to do is have a drink.” Witnesses said Baldassara then punched Scrivano in the face.
Scrivano fell backward, striking his head on the concrete patio. Baldassara then stood over him for a second before telling two companions, “Let’s go.”
Court records show that while several witnesses saw the assault, friends of Baldassara who were with him that night tried to cover up his involvement in the attack. One man who was with Baldassara first told police he saw nothing happen, then admitted he lied to investigators because he “didn’t know there were video recorders” at the bar.
That witness finally admitted he saw Baldassara punch Scrivano, then heard “a thud, followed by a louder thud.”
Contact reporter Rick Pfeiffer at 282-2311, ext. 2252.