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Prosecutor: Women started East Wind brawl involving Hagerman Fire Department

07/04/2018 6:00 AM |

A March 3 dust-up at East Wind in Wading River involving members of a wedding party and members of the Hagerman Fire Department appears to have been started by women from both groups, according to testimony and video shown in court last week at the trial of three of the fire department members.

The fight took place around midnight in a lobby at East Wind Caterers, where the fire department was holding an installation dinner and a wedding reception was also in progress. 

During the melee, the groom was knocked unconscious and was later hospitalized with a broken nose and concussion, among other injuries. Four department members were arrested as a result. 

Firefighters Andrew Dunham, Brendan Dunham and Corey Citarella of East Patchogue were all charged with third-degree assault; Andrew Dunham was also charged with second-degree harassment.

Thomas Dunham, the father of the two defendants and a first assistant chief in the department, was charged with resisting arrest and second-degree obstructing governmental administration. During a separate trial in late March, he was acquitted on first charge and convicted of the latter. 

“An altercation started involving the women of the bridal party and girlfriends of the fire department [members],” assistant district attorney Blythe Miller said in her opening statement last Thursday. 

The incident began when the bridal party was sitting on a staircase for a photograph and some women from the fire department group wanted to descend via those stairs. An argument ensued between the two groups. 

Ms. Miller said the groom, Robert Kraham, and his father-in-law, a retired New York City police officer, tried to break up the fight but were being blocked by members of the fire department. 

Mr. Kraham said in court that one of the firefighters, whom he identified as Andrew Dunham, confronted him and started yelling at him, saying, “What are you going to do? Are you a tough guy?”

Mr. Kraham said he tried to pull the girls away when someone he identified in court as Brendan Durham punched him in the face. 

Mr. Kraham said he heard his nose crunch, he felt dizzy and he was bleeding. 

He said someone had held him from behind while he was hit repeatedly.

“I think I was unconscious for about 30 seconds,” he said.

The fight among the women restarted several times, according to the blurry security video shown in court. 

On cross-examination by Christopher Ross, the attorney representing the Dunhams, Mr. Kraham said he was unsure if someone from the wedding party threw the first punch. Mr. Ross also pointed out another part of the video in which Mr. Kraham’s father-in-law is holding him back, and that other men in the wedding party were involved in the fight. Mr. Kraham said he was trying to get his sister-in-law out of the fight. 

In addition, Mr. Ross noted that Mr. Kraham has filed a notice of claim against the Hagerman Fire Department and the individuals charged in the fight. A notice of claim reserves the right to file a lawsuit. To date, no lawsuit has been filed. 

Mr. Ross said he introduced notice of claim up to show that Mr. Kraham stood to benefit financially from the case.

Ms. Miller objected, saying it was not relevant to the case. 

Mary-Elizabeth Abbate, the attorney for Mr. Citarella, pointed out that in a sworn statement, Mr. Kraham had identified another man as being involved in hitting him. But judging by the video, Ms. Abbate said, police later said he was not and dropped those charges. 

Mr. Kraham said the police wrote out that report and he just signed it. 

Mr. Kraham said repeatedly in court that he did not punch anyone, and may have pushed people, but only to get through. Ms. Miller showed the jury before and after photos of Mr. Kraham, showing the injuries he suffered during the incident. 

The trial is expected to run at least through Friday, officials said. 

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