A Gardiner man has been charged after an alleged Sunday attack on a panhandler he believed to be scamming the public.

Cletus Jernigan, 55, is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly beating the man with metal crutches. Jernigan was being held Monday afternoon at the Kennebec County jail in lieu of $250 bail.

Gardiner Police Chief James Toman said the victim, 28-year-old Daniel DeGreenia of Farmingdale, was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta where he was treated for an arm injury and released. DeGreenia was back on a Gardiner street by Monday afternoon.

Toman said the attack was reported a little before 5:30 p.m. Sunday when Jernigan approached DeGreenia as he was panhandling near McDonald’s on Bridge Street. DeGreenia, who is a regular on the streets of Gardiner, was holding a sign claiming to be hungry and asking passersby for money.

Jernigan, who walks with the assistance of metal, tubular crutches, began to hit DeGreenia with one of the crutches, according to an affidavit filed in Kennebec County Superior Court by Gardiner Police Officer Samuel Quintana.

“Witnesses stated that they saw Cletus hit Daniel over the head with his crutch,” Quintana wrote.

A large crowd had gathered and separated the men by the time Quintana arrived.

“I made contact with Cletus who stated that he was sick and tired of watching Daniel stealing from ‘good people,'” Quintana wrote.

DeGreenia has suffered from mental and physical ailments since 2000 when he was hit by a van while riding his bicycle in Augusta.

Toman said DeGreenia did nothing to provoke Sunday’s attack. Toman said Jernigan, who was intoxicated, is familiar to police but does not have a history of assaultive behavior.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @CraigCrosby4


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