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RED BANK: WHELAN FACING ASSAULT CHARGE

mike-whelan-010216-3-500x375-8509082Councilman Mike Whelan on his first day on the dais in 2016. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank Councilman Mike Whelan was charged with assault following an incident in the Hamptons last month, redbankgreen has learned.

The charge stems from a confrontation in which Whelan, 27, claims he was attacked in the men’s room of an oceanfront resort in the upscale town of Montauk.

As reported by redbankgreen, Whelan, who serves as borough police commissioner, said a belligerent stranger threw a towel at him and told him to hold it while the alleged assailant urinated in a restroom at Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Hotel on the afternoon of July 21.

Whelan said words were exchanged, and the man attacked him. Whelan said he subdued the man, whom he said was “twice my size.”

Whelan, however, ended up charged with assault with intent to cause physical injury and the other man was not, according to a local court official.

An East Hampton police report on the incident released to redbankgreen is heavily redacted, and Whelan’s name is blacked out. But the town’s Justice Court confirmed that Whelan is the defendant and is scheduled to to be arraigned Thursday on a charge of assault in the third degree.

The complainant/victim was identified as 31-year-old Jeffrey Cohan of New York City. An East Hampton police employee told redbankgreen that it is customary to release the name of the complainant but not that of the person charged.

According to the police report, an officer responding to a call about a man with a head laceration at 3:21 p.m. was informed by Gurney’s security that there had been a fight in a beach-level bathroom.

Cohan told police he had been “involved in a physical altercation with another male” while standing in line, the report says.

Two witnesses, whose names were redacted, told police that Cohan had thrown a towel at the defendant, who began “punching Cohan several times in the face knocking Cohan to the ground and punching him in the face again.”

The defendant was “placed under arrest at the scene and transported to station 2 for processing where he was ultimately released on an appearance ticket,” the report said.

Cohan, meantime, was transported to a hospital, where he was found to have suffered a fractured nose and facial fracture, according to the police report. Cohan could not be located for comment.

The defendant’s account of the incident appears to be among the information redacted from the report.

“I was pinned against a wall and being choked out, and I defended myself,” Whelan told redbankgreen on July 25. Asked if he’d been charged, Whelan said then, “I genuinely don’t know.”

In response to a request for comment Friday, Whelan sent the following to redbankgreen:

“Mr. Whelan’s attorney, Edward Burke Jr., strongly asserts his client’s innocence as this case falls squarely within self defense. My firm looks forward to establishing just that in a court of law and clearing Mr. Whelan of these charges.”

Whelan, a Republican whose 2015 election at the age of 24 helped give his party its first, brief council majority in a generation, is not seeking a second term in the November election.

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