Leone-Not Guilty

Tellico Village resident acquitted in assault case tied to property owners' group

By Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
An assault case sparked by accusations of insults on a Loudon County blog ended in a not-guilty verdict for a Tellico Village resident last week.

Angelo Paul Leone, 69 was found not guilty of assaulting Tellico Village General Manager Winston Blazer during an August 21, 2009 incident at the Property Owners Association offices.

Leone — who feels he was harassed in the days before his arrest because he was among a group of residents who requested documents related to the management of the POA. — said he deserves an apology for being wrongly accused.

"It's terrible, what they tried to do to me," Leone said.

A spokesperson for the Tellico Village POA disputed Leone's version of events leading up to the arrest. In a written statement, Blazer pointed out that it was the district attorney's office that brought the case, not the POA.

"This unfortunate issue is now in the past. The District Attorney General filed charges in this case, and a few employees were subpoenaed as witnesses. It has no impact on our relationship with our residents. Our employees continue focusing on providing outstanding service to our more than 7000 residents and property owners," Blazer said.

Assistant District Attorney General Frank Harvey, who prosecuted the case, did not return requests for comment.

Leone said he feels the POA needs to do more to make amends, including reinstating his right to attend POA meetings. A spokesman for the POA said that Leone's right to attend meetings was only suspended for 30 days in 2009.

Life at Tellico Village was not always so complicated, Leone said.

He and his wife, Patricia, moved to Tellico Village from Long Island in 2007 after being drawn to the state by the climate, the scenery and low taxes.

In 2008, he was among a group of residents who began asking questions about the financial management of the POA and requesting documents.

Another Tellico Village resident, Richard Anklin, later successfully sued the property owners association for access to those documents.

Anklin testified in court that he asked Leone to pick up an application to run for the P.O.A. board of directors.

Within days, Leone said he and his wife were the subject of what he calls "the most vile and disgusting" defamations on a local Tellico Village blog known as Topix. The posts referenced Leone's intentions to run for the board and also made references to his wife that he said were "of a sexual nature."

"When I picked up the application, they thought I was running for the board," Leone said.

Anklin testified that to his knowledge only Mr. Blazer and his secretary would have known that Leone picked up the document. Leone said he believes the only way for whoever posted the defamations to have learned about his picking an application was through Blazer's office.

"I never told anyone I was going to run. I had no intention of running," Leone said.

A spokesperson for the POA said it was his understanding that Leone picked up the application after a public meeting attended by a number of people, not all of whom are known to the POA.

Leone said he tried to contact Blazer at his office to discuss his concerns. He also tried to contact members of the board of directors. On August 24, he said he received a phone message that Blazer wanted to talk.

"I went down to his office to talk with him. I was totally calm at the time," Leone said.

After asking to speak with Blazer in private, Leone said he entered Blazer's office, sat down and presented a copy of the Topix posts.

"After a few minutes the conversation deteriorated. He said I was bitten by the snake," Leone said. "I reached over to pick up the papers, and he grabbed at them. His stapler fell off his desk."

Leone claims that as he stood up and began to leave Blazer's office, his passage was blocked by Blazer, who he said began yelling, "Call the police!"

"I sat down and waited for the police," he said.

A Loudon County Sheriff's Office deputy arrived and, after speaking with Blazer and several office workers who heard the argument but did not witness the incident, arrested Leone for simple assault.

Leone said his arrest, the first in his life, was an ordeal, but nothing compared to the troubles he and his wife experienced in the aftermath of the incident.

During the time he was waiting for his day in court, he said efforts were made to isolate him and his wife from the community, including an unsuccessful attempt to force him out of the Lions Club.

After requests for judicial diversion were rejected by the office of District Attorney General Russell Johnson, Leone said he had no choice but to go to trial. Despite testimony from Blazer and several POA employees who were in the office during the incident, the jury took about one hour to find Leone not guilty.

"I feel I can relax a bit now. The whole process has been stressful," Leone said.


Angelo Paul Leone is “acquitted” by Loudon County Jury on Thursday, September 8, 2011
Friends Of Leone


Why is it that nothing has appeared in the Daily Edition, The News Herald and the Knoxville News Sentinel on the recently concluded assault case against the defendant Mr. Angelo Leone, Tellico Village Property Owner, and his accuser Mr. Winston Blazer, General Manager, TVPOA?  Could it be that the very same people who thought this would be explosive news about how Mr. Blazer was assaulted in his office just may come back and haunt them should Mr. Leone be found “NOT GUILTY”?


Why was it that the Daily Edition produced “The Tellico Village Special Edition”, on Monday August 31, 2009, that carried Mr. Leone’s mug shot of his arrest on their front page and, then produced another “The Special Tellico Village Edition”, on Wednesday February 16, 2011, by Dan Bell about Mr. Leone’s legal counsel, Mr. Scott McCluen, not appearing in court on February 9, 2011 for his trial?  Could it all have been staged by those with access to “friends” wanting to make Mr. Leone and Mr. McCluen appear in the wrong?


The News Herald, on Monday August 31, 2009, ran a story, authored by Tammy Creek, showing Mr. Leone’s mug shot with the accompany text quoting the TVPOA’s Public Relations Manager, Mr. John Cherry, and the arresting Officer Deputy Chris Jenkins.  In statements attributed to Deputy Jenkins he concluded that Mr. Leone was the “primary aggressor in the altercation who came to the POA offices "intentionally, knowingly and recklessly" causing "bodily harm and contact" to Mr. Winston (Blazer), which was "extremely offensive and provocative" and caused reasonable “fear of imminent bodily injury".


Mr. Cherry was also quoted in her article as saying “On Aug. 24, we had an unfortunate situation in which authorities had to be called to ensure the safety and security of employees within the POA offices". He was further quoted as saying "We feel this was an isolated incident".


Then on Saturday, February 26, 2011, the Knoxville News Sentinel ran their article from Staff and Wire Reporters about Mr. McCluen not showing up for Mr. Leone’s February 9, 2011 trial.


One has to ask why weren’t these news papers and/or their Staff and Wire Reporters in the Court last Thursday?


Mr. Leone’s trial began in the Loudon County Courthouse at 9:00am last Thursday, September 8, 2011, with the jury selection. The Assistant District Attorney General Mr. Frank Harvey was representing the prosecution and Mr. Scott McCluen was representing Mr. Leone.  After a few pre-emptive challenges to potential jurors the trial got under way at 9:45am with the seating of the twelve jurors selected.


Testifying on behalf of the Prosecution were Deputy Chris Jenkins, Mr. Winston Blazer, Ms. Patti Robichaud and Mr. Kevin Alfont. Testifying on behalf of the Defendant, Mr. Leone, were Mr. Leone’s wife Patricia, Mr. Richard Anklin, Mr. Kenneth DeBoer and Mr. Chuck Bailey.


Mr. Leone’s testimony centered on the fact that he went to see Mr. Blazer about his suspicions that the posting on Topics (an online blog site) were initiated by persons within the POA staff because the Topics posts were up within days of his picking up an application for the TVPOA Board of Directors position.  He further testified that Mr. Blazer did not investigate his concerns, in-spite of the POA’s Policy to do just that, and that he was summarily “dismissed by Mr. Blazer as being bitten by the snake”.


When Mr. Leone got up to leave Mr. Blazer’s office a scuffle occurred as Mr. Leone tried to retrieve the Topics posting he had brought to Mr. Blazer’s office.  It was at that moment that Mr. Blazer shouted out “call the police” and restrained Mr. Leone from leaving his office.


Mr. Leone believing he had done nothing wrong sat down and waited for the police to arrive.


The prosecution’s witnesses detailed how Mr. Leone was the aggressor and that Mr. Blazer was the victim.  While Mr. Leone’s witnesses were only character witnesses except for Mr. Anklin; who testified that the application for the Board of Directors, one of the subjects of the vile Topics postings, was procured for him and not Mr. Leone.  And, he further testified that the only people at the POA who would have had that information were Mr. Blazer and his Administrative Assistant Ms. Sherry Snodgrass.  Ms. Snodgrass was the only person at the POA permitted to dispense the applications.


The only sufficient thing that came out in the trial was that two men had a disagreement; behind closed doors and that none of the witnesses for the prosecution had witnessed the supposed altercation.


Upon closing arguments, the jury was entrusted with the case and adjourned for their deliberations.  About forty minutes into their deliberations, the jury asked the Judge Eugene Elben for an interpretation of “reckless”.  The Judge provided one to them.  After another fifteen minutes the jury emerged from the jury room and pronounced Mr. Angelo Paul Leone “NOT GUILTY”.  When each juror was poled by the Judge they each stated in the affirmative to their conclusion of Mr. Leone being “NOT GUILTY”!


Again, one has to wonder why we have not seen any of this from these three news sources.


And, where were the TVPOA’s Board of Director members during this trial?  They were sure to make it to every court date in the lawsuit brought against the POA by Messer’s Hutcherson and Anklin.


Were they too busy to witness, first hand, this outcome?  Or was it because they too had denied Mr. Leone an audience on his allegation?  Or could it have been that the TVPOA’s previous Board President during this time, Mr. Joe Marlette, had earlier written to Mr. Leone that they did not find any reason to investigate.


Maybe now they will because they should have done so previously.


At the very least the TVPOA Board needs to present Mr. Leone with a public apology, rescind his suspension from attending POA meetings and they need to remind Mr. Blazer that all of this would not have occurred if his management style was that of a General Manager truly concerned about the issues brought to him by a Property Owner of Tellico Village.


Can they now be counted on to be as fair and impartial as the good citizens of Loudon County that served on this case?


And, how will Mr. Blazer spin the outcome of this case to his Staff, the Board members and the rest of the Property Owners of Tellico Village?  After all, his complaint against Mr. Leone was proven false in the Court room.  Will he be able to apologize and make amends for his actions now?