Brad, you should know that your statement, "perhaps the one magician on Criss's team he has yet to abuse" might be considered libel. You need concrete proof that every magician who has ever worked with Criss--EVERY magician--has been abused in order to make that statement in public. While you may have heard lots of anecdotal stories, you don't have concrete proof unless you've paid to have depositions taken from every magician who has ever worked with Criss Angel.
I'm not defending Criss Angel (believe me when I tell you that I have no reason), just pointing out that you should be careful in what you write on a public forum.
As to whether this is a publicity ploy ... it might be, but the tape doesn't sound like it. And what would be the point of negative publicity for BOTH parties?
As to why Joe was carrying a recording device in his pocket ... you'll have to ask him. In some states it's illegal to record someone's conversation without their consent, so if that's the case in Nevada, then Joe might have broken the law in making the recording (assuming Criss didn't consent--and the only reason he might have consented is if it was a publicity ploy). People who have had problems with others in the past sometimes do carry a recording device so the next time they have evidence of whatever misdeed they feel has occurred.
Luke Dancy's comment, as reported on that weird website The Daily Deception, "We have been in contact with Luke Dancy who is Joe Montis manager under Criss angel and he has informed us that, the news about this is all FALSE!" is really strange. Whose manager is he? Does he work for Criss or Joe?
And then Robin Leach writes this, which Kosnitzky linked to above in the Las Vegas Weekly: "Ken Woloson, Crisss attorney, told Vegas DeLuxe, 'Criss Angel was in the process of firing Joe on Wednesday when Safuto became abusive, and Criss asked him to leave.' His decision to fire Joe was in response to repeated complaints from co-workers and other magicians about Joes abusive and violent behavior and general ineptitude."
I've known Joe Safuto since he was 14 years old, and I have a hard time imagining him as "abusive and violent."
As to why the police did not arrest Criss Angel for battery, we'll find out later when the police report is made public. However, you can't just point to someone and claim they battered you and expect an arrest. I would assume that Joe had no visible evidence of battery (i.e., no black eye, no bloody lip, or whatever might constitute evidence that he was struck within the last few hours).
I guess we'll be hearing more in the coming days.