Los Angeles Times

Pesci Beats the Rap on Battery Charge

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Actor Joe Pesci has dodged a criminal charge for giving a fan a fat lip after the man put his arm around the celebrity and took a picture without permission outside a Boca Raton strip mall.

The Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office decided Wednesday that there was no way to determine which of the men was the aggressor.

Juan Montenegro, 24, of Fort Lauderdale, accused the Oscar-winning actor of slugging him in the face as he tried to get a picture on Jan. 22 in the parking lot of a shopping center at 1400 Glades Road, a police report said.

Pesci countered that he tried swatting away the camera and inadvertently hit the Broward Community College student's face after Montenegro put his arm around the actor's neck and shoulders in a pose for a picture, the report said. Pesci said he stopped next to a police car at the strip mall to report what happened, but couldn't find an officer in the area and left.

Pesci faced a misdemeanor battery charge punishable by up to a year in jail, according to the State Attorney's Office.

Montenegro declined to comment and referred questions to his attorney, who could not be reached by phone Wednesday.

Pesci's attorney, Jay Julien, said in a statement that Pesci was pleased that the decision not to file the charge "sent the message that the complainant's harassment of Mr. Pesci was not something that Florida allows."

The State Attorney's Office determined there was no likelihood of conviction. There were no independent witnesses.

Montenegro managed to get a picture of the actor. The picture has been locked in an evidence room at the Boca Raton Police Department.

The photo belongs to Montenegro and what he does with it is up to him, police said.

Leon Fooksman can be reached at lfooksman@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6647.

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