By James David Mitchell -
Like life imitating art, a scene right out of “Boardwalk Empire” took place over the weekend as sign holders for the casino and anti-casino factions allegedly resorted to fisticuffs, with one local resident being charged with assault and another heading to the hospital claiming a broken nose.
Local businessman Charles Lightbody, 53, who just recently stepped into the spotlight running an “anti-casino” platform, allegedly assaulted Louis Ciarlone, 61, president and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 123, on Broadway near the Central Fire Station on Saturday morning during opposing casino sign standouts.
Lightbody was arraigned on Wednesday in Chelsea District Court on one count of assault and battery on a person over 60. He was released on his own recognizance with orders to have no contact with the victim. Lightbody will appear again in court on Nov. 17.
According to a witness, who asked to remain anonymous, the two groups, one supporting a “Yes” vote for the proposed casino at Suffolk Downs, the other against the casino, stood across from each other on Broadway on Saturday morning. The witness stated that Ciarlone could be heard making statements about Lightbody and his “crusade” against the casino, causing one of the anti-casino supporters to cross the street and inform Lightbody of Ciarlone’s statements.
It was then, according to the witness, when Lightbody crossed the street and approached Ciarlone, demanding that he (Ciarlone) repeat his statements to him personally.
Following a verbal exchange, it is alleged by the witness that Lightbody allegedly struck Ciarlone and a fight ensued that lasted “less than a minute.”
Lightbody would be charged later by police when he reportedly turned himself in with his attorney Tim Flaherty at the Revere Police Station on Saturday.
According to a statement released by suffolk downs on Tuesday, Ciarlone stated: “On Saturday morning I was holding a Casino “Yes” sign with other Revere supporters in front of the Fire Station on Broadway in Revere. At about 11:00 AM Charlie Lightbody, who is leading an anti-casino group, approached me. He said he was angry about some criticism I had about his campaign. He struck me twice and then threatened to kill me. I was brought into the Fire Station and treated by EMT’s. The police took a report. I was transferred to the Whidden Hospital in Everett. There, X-Rays showed a broken nose in two places. His attack was completely unprovoked and his threats have me concerned about my safety and the safety of my family.”
But in a Boston Herald article on Tuesday, Lightbody’s lawyer claims it was self-defense after being “struck in the face by a campaign placard while he was simply exercising his right to free speech.”
The Herald also reported that Lightbody, who owns three bars and 14 condominiums throughout the city, has a 2001 conviction for assault and a 2007 conviction for larceny in a New York City identity theft ring.
Lightbody’s stance against the casino came about in a recent front page newspaper article last week claiming that a suffolk downs casino would hurt property values and his businesses.
Revere and east boston voters will go to the polls on November 5 to vote for the proposed resort/casino at Suffolk Downs.
Until then, the pro-casino vote is in full swing with Lightbody’s anti-casino lobby going toe-to-toe with signage throughout the city.
A statement by Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, reads: “We have worked to ensure a dialogue that is respectful of all points of view as we have discussed the benefits of our development in our host communities for the last several years and we will continue to do so. The unprovoked attack on one of our representatives has me concerned for the safety of our family of workers and volunteers.”