BETHEL — Assistant District Attorney Joe O'Conner said there was not enough evidence to bring charges against either the town's code enforcement officer or a local road builder and housing developer after a dispute between the two at a local restaurant recently ended in a fistfight.
Bethel Code Enforcement Officer Bob Folsom told the town manager he punched developer Rick Savage but no witnesses beyond the men involved filed official statements with police about what happened.
Accounts of the incident differ, but it did involve at least one punch being thrown, with Folsom hitting Savage in the mouth.
The men's accounts of what led up to the punch also differ dramatically, O'Connor said.
The affair, which arose from an argument over road standards, began at the Crossroads Diner & Deli lunch counter, spilled out onto its deck, and ended up on O'Connor's desk.
"Essentially," O'Connor said, "with a criminal charge you have to be able to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, and when you've got two very conflicting stories the evidence just isn't there. We don't decide whether anybody's guilty or not, but we have to see that there's enough evidence that a jury could find somebody guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."
Town Manager Jim Doar also said he did not anticipate any disciplinary action being taken against Folsom.
Thursday's encounter was not the first between Savage and Bethel officials.
In 2007 he was charged with criminal threatening following a heated argument with then Town Manager Scott Cole in the Bethel Town Office.
The case was filed and Savage was ordered to have no contact with Cole, outside of public meetings, for a year.
In a letter to the editor printed in the Bethel Citizen newspaper on Wednesday and signed by Rick Savage and his brother Ron Savage, who own a land-development company, the men stated they were satisfied with the town manager's decision and considered the incident behind them.
". . . we have decided that spending time addressing these issues is taking us away from the focus of our company, which is to build quality homes and subdivisions," the Savage brothers wrote in the letter.