Joseph Manzi was arrested last summer after he saw retired police Capt. Charles Stravalle in a Rego Park restaurant and allegedly hit him with a set of brass knuckles in retaliation for a 2002 arrest, authorities said. Manzi was charged at the time with felony assault, but a jury opted to downgrade the charge to misdemeanor assault, the Queens district attorney's office said.A spokesman for the Queens district attorney's office said the judge overseeing the case, acting Supreme Court Justice James Griffin, ordered a pre-plea investigation to determine whether a sentence of three years probation is appropriate for the charges.The possibility of a plea deal angered the NYPD Captains Endowment, which represents the interests of certain ranks of officers, which would like to see the punishment for assaulting a retired officer the same as for assaulting a current one."This is an important case not just because of the savage assault on Charles Stravalle, but the reasons behind the assault. Stravalle was assaulted because of the actions he took while as a uniformed police officer in the City of New York. The assault was an act of retaliation and revenge," said NYPD Captains Endowment President Roy Richter in a statement. "The people of this city have an obligation to seek aggressive prosecution of criminals who assault a police officer in revenge. This protection should be extended to retired officers because the criminals we arrest do not forget us."Police Commissioner Ray Kelly agreed, saying that Manzi should not get leniency in sentencing simply because he waited until Stravalle retired to assault Stravalle."The serious consequences for assaulting a police officer should extend to anyone who retaliates against a retired officer for having enforced the law while still on the job. A Queens court has the opportunity to impose stiff penalties, including jail time, on the individual who assaulted retired police Capt. Charles Stravelle. Anything less would only encourage future attacks on police officers, prosecutors and judges," Kelly said.Manzi is due back in Queens Criminal Court May 22.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at achristodo
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