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Official disputes allegations after fight Makeyenko denies hitting man in eye

A Lackawanna School Board member was accused of "sucker punching" a man late Friday during a dispute outside an Abbott Road bar.

But John Makeyenko, the board member, denied hitting Larry Wegryn in the eye and claimed the allegation was fabricated to hurt his May 15 re-election bid.

Lackawanna Councilwoman Andrea Haxton, meanwhile, is questioning the Police Department's handling of the encounter.

Wegryn claims an officer talked him out of filing a police report accusing Makeyenko of assault.

Wegryn said the officer told him that if a complaint were filed, he would have to arrest Wegryn as well because witnesses said Wegryn had started the fight.

Wegryn maintains that Makeyenko started it by socking him in the eye after a bar patron apparently had told Makeyenko that Wegryn was questioning his qualifications to serve on the School Board. Makeyenko said he has served on the board several years, including a stint as president.

Wegryn said he has known Makeyenko for many years, so when the board member asked him to step outside the Red Eye Saloon, he wasn't concerned. Wegryn claimed Makeyenko then punched him twice, but he was able to block a third blow. Friends of Makeyenko intervened, Wegryn said.

"I stood there stunned," Wegryn said. "He was growling like a pit bull as his friends pulled him away from me. He was like a raging bull."

Makeyenko called Wegryn's account "totally untrue."

"It's election time. That's what this is all about," Makeyenko said. "Other than that, I really don't want to comment."

Wegryn denied that politics fueled his accusations, insisting he's not active in School Board matters.

But Haxton, the Council's 1st Ward representative, said she wants to know why Wegryn was discouraged from filing a complaint.

"We're appalled. We want to know why the police would not take a report," she said.

A Lackawanna police officer said Capt. Ronald Miller would respond to reporter inquiries about the matter Monday.

Makeyenko said he was not surprised to learn that Haxton has raised questions, claiming she has been a political foe for years.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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