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Mayoral candidate Derek Benton defends his arrest at Mardi Gras strip club

AGAWAM, Massachusetts from www.masslive.com – Agawam Mayor Susan R. Dawson is not the only Agawam politician to get into a fight in a Springfield bar.

Derek J. Benton, one of two finalists to succeed Dawson in the upcoming mayoral elections, was arrested Sept. 28, 2007 at 1:30 a.m. following a fight inside the Mardi Gras strip club on Taylor Street in the city’s entertainment district.

He was charged with assault and battery on a police officer and malicious damage to a motor vehicle, according to court records.

File photo by Dave Roback / The RepublicanDerek J Benton is greeted by well wishers fter the primary election results were in on Tuesday in Agawam. Benton confirmed Friday that he was arrested at the Mardi Gras strip club in downtown Springfield following an altercation two years ago.
Benton on Friday acknowledged the incident took place, and attributed it to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He said a fight started around him and he got caught up in it.

“I was just protecting myself,” he said.

Records from Springfield District Court indicate that Benton pleaded guilty to the malicious damage charge and it was continued without finding. The Hampden District Attorney’s office decided not to prosecute the assault and battery on a police office charge. There is no indication that Benton was fined.

He said he does not believe it will hurt his campaign.

He said the disclosure of his criminal history represents petty politics in town, and may even indicate that he is the front runner in the upcoming election.

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