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Erie County DA says no charges for State Supreme Court judge Grisanti after brawl with neighbors

Neighbors said judge's wife bit, punched them
Posted at 10:47 AM, Jul 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-08 11:35:14-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A state judge and his wife will face no charges for a fight that broke out last month with his neighbors in Buffalo.

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn Jr. announced Wednesday that he will not charge anyone involved in the fight between State Supreme Court Justice Mark J. Grisanti, his wife and his neighbors outside their North Buffalo home.

"The Erie County DA’s Office has thoroughly reviewed the incident involving the Grisantis and Meles that occurred on the evening of June 23, 2020," a spokeswoman for the DA said in a written statement. "Criminal charges will not be filed against those involved."

The fight, which appears to have erupted after a dispute over a parking spot in front of the Grisanti home in North Buffalo, was caught on a surveillance camera mounted on the neighbors’ home. It was first reported by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team on June 24.

7 Eyewitness News viewed the footage, which shows Grisanti and his wife, Maria, walk onto the driveway of neighbor Gina Mele and her husband. The Meles live across the street on Duluth Avenue. Pushing and shoving ensues before punches are thrown and a string of expletives are unleashed by both parties.

“They started swearing, ‘Move this F-ing truck,” Mele said. “Mark and Maria came over, onto our property, in our husband came down from the porch, Maria physically pushed my husband, she punched my husband in the face. I came off the porch, told her not to touch my husband, and she bit my husband’s arm and would not release.”

Mele was left with a large bruise on her left forearm where she said Maria Grisanti grabbed her. Mele’s husband, Joseph - who was hospitalized after the fight - had a black eye and bite marks on his arm, which he said were also from Maria Grisanti.

At one point in the video, Maria Grisanti can be seen being put in a Buffalo police cruiser in handcuffs. Mark Grisanti, who engaged in a struggle with Joseph Mele, is shirtless and shouting in front of his house. Mele said Mark Grisanti was also placed into a police cruiser.

Through his wife, Grisanti at the time declined to comment, but other neighbors came to their defense, saying the Meles had caused trouble in the neighborhood before and that there was a history between the Meles and the Grisantis.

Grisanti could still face judicial sanctions including censure or removal from the bench.

A spokeswoman for the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates allegations of misconduct by judges, said judicial laws prevented her from commenting on whether a complaint has been filed, but she said, "Anytime the Commission publicly disciplines a judge, we post it on our website and send out a press release."

Reached by phone Wednesday, Gina Mele said she was "very upset" that Grisanti will not face charges.

"He's getting protected [and getting] special treatment, 100 percent," Mele said.

A staffer at Grisanti's judicial chambers said Grisanti was not allowed to comment on the decision because of judicial regulations.

This is not the first time an altercation involving Grisanti and his wife has spilled out into public view.
Grisanti was injured in a 2012 scuffle at the Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls in which he said he and his wife were attacked and beaten during a confrontation with members of the Seneca Nation of Indians. He was a New York State Senator at the time.

Grisanti, a Republican, lost his senate seat to Democrat Marc Panepinto in 2014 but was appointed to a Court of Claims judgeship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015. The post came with a $174,000 salary.