LI man arrested In beating of utility worker assisting In Sandy recovery

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EAST HEMPSTEAD, LONG ISLAND (PIX11)— Police have arrested a Long Island man who allegedly beat a Florida utility worker who came to New York to assist in recovery efforts after superstorm Sandy.

According to police, John Applewhite, 34, had just finished a 13-hour shift in East Hempstead, Long Island, and was getting some food with coworkers when a man approached him in the restaurant parking lot.

“He met me halfway between my truck and his vehicle, and just as I got within arm’s reach, he decked me,” Applewhite told WTSP.

John Applewhite came to New York to assist in recovery efforts after superstorm Sandy.

His attacker, who has since been identified as 34-year-old Thomas Libretto, was arrested Wednesday and charged with third-degree assault.

Police said after the attack, Libretto fled in a black BMW, leaving Applewhite with multiple facial fractures wondering who would have attacked him in the same neighborhood he was working in..

“I didn’t know what his intentions were,” Applewhite told WFTV. “I didn’t know if I was going to be robbed or if he was just upset. He was in a nice car, so I kind of let my guard down. It’s unfortunate, it really is.”

34-year-old Thomas Libretto was arrested Wednesday and charged with third-degree assault.

Applewhite was flown back to Tampa where he faces extensive surgery to repair a broken jaw and several fractures.

“They’re going to put a plate in my face and wire my jaw,” he said. “I believe three different surgeons will do work on me.”

He will be sporting a black eye and his jaw will be wired shut — right before the holidays.

“He’ll miss Thanksgiving and the end of December, and if he does that we’ll feed him through a straw for Thanksgiving,” said his father, Morris Applewhite.  “He’s going to enjoy it.”

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