The Broward States Attorney Office (SAO) declined to file charges against Margate resident and former city commissioner, Lesa Peerman, for patting Margate Mayor, Anthony Caggiano, on the chest after a recent Margate Citizens Academy (MCA) meeting at the Public Works Department. Peerman was alleged by Caggiano to strike him three times with both hands when she sarcastically said "Good job Mayor.”
"While the contretemps did not cast Ms. Peerman in a favorable light the extremely de minimus nature of the physical contact, the absence of any evidence that harm was intended, the long standing animus between the parties and the inconsistencies in the testimony do not establish a substantial likelihood of conviction of a third degree felony. Charges are declined in this case,” reported the Broward SAO.
The alleged action by Peerman was prompted by a mayoral comment at the meeting when Caggiano stated that a recent reduction in the town [sic] millage rate had resulted in a shortfall of city coffers. During her time in office, Peerman advocated for lowering the city’s millage rate as property values increased after the "Great Recession.”
The SOA determined that Caggiano’s story didn't hold up.
"He was the only individual to state that he had been struck with two hands,” reported the state attorney.
Two other witnesses said they saw Peerman pat the Mayor with one hand, and three others attending the meeting told police they didn’t see the incident.
One witness, Chair of the Margate Planning & Zoning Board, Richard Zucchini, was reported as seeing Peerman strike the Mayor with an open palm three times, and "described the exchange as alarming,” per the SAO.
Pursuant to the incident, police presented the case to the SAO as a "Not In Custody Case.”
"A review of the reports and sworn statements in the matter reveal a somewhat emotionally charged atmosphere wherein a 60-year-old woman briefly patted the Mayor of Margate on the chest while delivering a sarcastic message following a public meeting,” wrote the state attorney.