Two men involved in a scuffle outside Murphys Sanitary District offices at the end of Wednesday's board meeting have differing accounts of what sparked the incident.
Murphys resident Ann Hitchman-Peccia called the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office minutes after she said Robert Reynoso, husband of Sanitary District Administrative Assistant Marilou Miloslavich, assaulted her husband, Mike Peccia.
Hitchman-Peccia also told deputies and the assembled board that Reynoso had "put a hit out" on her husband.
Reynoso said Monday that he had stepped outside to take a phone call when Peccia came out "just berating" Sanitary District General Manager Julio Guerra.
"He (Peccia) came at me and said, '(Expletive), you want a piece of me?'" Reynoso said. "I put him on his back … I didn't hit him. I didn't beat him up or nothing. I just put him under control … I told him, 'I'm going to let you up but do not come at me again.' I wouldn't have gone after the guy if he hadn't got in my face and started coming at me."
As for the notion of ordering a hit, Reynoso laughed it off.
"I'm Mexican. I guess they think I'm Italian, like it's 'The Sopranos' or something," he said. "No, man. This guy's mind is just wandering. A hit? Where do you go, to Kmart, to the hit department?"
Peccia said the word of a "hit," or contract on his life, got back to him "by quite a few people."
He said he had followed Guerra outside to question him about an upsetting letter the general manager handed him prior to the meeting, which accused him of following Miloslavich and Office Manager Cindy Nugent from the office to the Murphys Hotel and "hiding in bushes" across the street to watch the district office.
"I told him there's a chance I could sue … for false allegations," Peccia said. "He walks out (of the meeting) and I walk out with him … I'm trying to explain to him this is ridiculous."
Peccia, a frequent meeting attendee, said he is a friend of district office landlords Patricia and John Davies. Patricia Davies sat on the district board until her resignation just days prior to the latest meeting. Peccia said he is often near the office because he walks past it to the post office daily and as a contractor, often works in the area, sometimes for the Davieses.
He denied approaching Reynoso when the scuffle occurred.
Peccia said he was talking to Guerra when "next thing I know I'm on the ground with this guy trying to hit me in the face."
"Thank God (Director) Ryan Van Cleave came out of that meeting and put (Reynoso) in a chokehold" to break things up, Peccia said.
Van Cleave said he came out of the office after the melee began and tried to play a peacemaker role.
"I was the last one out there. Bob had Mike Peccia on the ground so I just pulled Bob off of him," Van Cleave said.
Director Tim O'Flinn said he saw more of the fracas but did not want to discuss it in great detail.
"There was screaming between grown men playing like they were children, is what it was. I'm not going to start putting the blame on one or the other unless it ends up in court and then I'll tell them everything I know," O'Flinn said. "We've got a job to do as board members that I'd rather do than deal … with this. I think it's a 50-50 (responsibility), I'll say that."
District employees declined to discuss the incident, citing confidentiality of harassment claims and a possible ongoing (police) investigation into the matter. When initially contacted by sheriff's deputies on Wednesday night, Peccia declined to seek further action regarding the incident.