TV news bad boy Vince DeMentri is in trouble again after angrily slapping the Bahamian UN ambassador’s chauffeur during a rage over a parking spot, authorities said.You know you're on a downward career path when you're getting into fights with the weatherman.
DeMentri, of WPIX/Channel 11 news, was facing an assault charge because of his Wednesday afternoon meltdown at the northwest corner of Third Avenue and East 41st Street, near his WPIX office.
Sources said driver Hurley Senanayake, 54, was waiting for the ambassador when DeMentri, 46, confronted him and complained that he had parked in an NYP zone, reserved for New York Press.
DeMentri wanted the spot and when Senanayake refused to move, he slapped him across the face, sources said. DeMentri then drove off but the driver took down the license number of his black Audi A6.
After Senanayake reported what happened to the ambassador, Paulette Bethel, he lodged a complaint with cops. The driver was treated at New York Hospital-Queens with pain and soreness to his cheek and neck.
DeMentri, who was identified by his license plate, was expected to surrender to police with his lawyer. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
His lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said his client is working out a surrender date with authorities, but expects he will only get a desk appearance ticket.
"It’s a false allegation made by a driver and he will be exonerated," Tacopina said. "The only reason there is an arrest is because the diplomat used her influence."
Senanayake was unavailable, but at his home in Queens, relatives said his left arm was left numb because of the incident.
DeMentri, a veteran local TV reporter, has made his own, unwanted news before.
While working for WCBS in 2001, he was arrested two days after the Sept. 11 attacks when he allegedly dressed up as a federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent in order to get past police barricades near Ground Zero. A charge of trespass was later dropped.
After leaving WCBS in 2002, he moved on to other stations, including NBC’s Philadelphia affiliate, WCAU. During his stormy tenure there he was suspended by WCAU in 2006, apparently because of an angry run-in with weatherman Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz over Dementri’s coverage of street flooding.
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