Planning Commissioner Severely Beaten

Local businessman charged with assault

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Charles County planning commissioner was beaten outside of a restaurant in La Plata, Md. (Published Friday, May 20, 2011)

    Louis Grasso walked into Casey Jones Restaurant in LaPlata, Md., Saturday night for a normal dinner. But when he walked out, he walked right into a vicious surprise attack.

    Police said the Charles County Planning Commissioner left the restaurant at about 8 p.m. Saturday. He was almost to his car when Grasso said he was hit in the back of the head with a blunt object.

    Grasso said he was then punched about a dozen times, while his attacker repeatedly said, “I’m going to kill you.” His eyes were swollen shut for days, and he said he has lost part of his hearing and vision.

    But besides the physical punishment Grasso received, the beating also has other county officials concerned for their safety.

    “We certainly will take every step to speak with our planning commission members, make sure that they feel safe, inquiry if they have any issues of concern and then we’ll address those promptly,” Candice Quinn Kelly, President of the Charles County Commission, said.

    Police have arrested and charged 60-year-old Berkeley Smallwood with first- and second-degree assault, as well as reckless endangerment. Smallwood is also well known in the community, and both men are prominent business owners. Smallwood owns the Smallwood Office Building and the Berkeley Square Shopping Center in Waldorf. Grasso is CEO of the Grasso Realty Group, which specializes in marina sales.

    “I know both of these gentlemen,” Kelly said. “Again, it’s shocking. They’re both fine citizens and involved in the community, and I’m very sorry to hear this.”

    Kelly told NBC Washington there is no reason to believe that Grasso was targeted because of his role as a planning commissioner. The motive is still under investigation.