Charges dropped against ex-deputy accused of road-rage beating

- On December 29, 2017, Capt. James Steffens of the Pasco County Sheriff's Office called a press conference to show gas station surveillance video of an alleged assault.

Steffens said the perpetrator was former Hernando Lt. Peter Ciucci. The video apparently showed Ciucci beating Christopher Olk. 

Before the alleged beating, Olk had apparently flipped off Ciucci's wife in a fit of road rage.

"Even if he is ex-law enforcement, he's not above the law," Steffens said then. "He just basically beat up a guy."

But Ciucci's case file now includes a letter from prosecutors that says, "The victim refused to answer questions upon the advice of his attorney. The lack of cooperation would prevent successful prosecution." 

In other words: Case closed.

But Olk's attorney, AJ Alvarez says that's not the whole story. Alvarez says prosecutors didn't give him enough notice for a first interview with Olk on January 2.

On January 12, Alvarez filed a motion saying his client wanted to fully cooperate and requested advance notice of all proceedings. 

At a second meeting on January 17 prosecutors denied Alvarez' demand that a court reporter be present to record what Olk said. 

Without that, he advised Olk not to talk. Thus, the case was closed. 

Alvarez believes Ciucci was essentially untouchable, writing in the motion, "It is clear there is little interest in bringing a former ranking member of law enforcement into the courtroom as an accused."

"There is no way, at this point, to convince me otherwise," said Alvarez.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Bruce Bartlett tells FOX 13, "We have charged law enforcement when they violate the law, and we will again." 

Bartlett said they don't normally provide a court reporter in that situation.

"We won't have an attorney dictate under what circumstances and how we conduct investigations," he said. "The failure of the lawyer to cooperate is what led us to this end result."

The sheriff's office told FOX 13 it stands by the arrest and that the choice of whether to prosecute solely rests with the State Attorney's Office.

"It's not about the case. I asked for something out of the norm. Can you imagine? Who would have the audacity to ask the statement be under oath so that there be no more misunderstandings?"

Ciucci's attorney told us he believes his client is innocent of battery and depriving someone of the ability to call 911, but had no further comment.

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