Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Coaches charged in on-field brawl

By William Kaempffer
Register Staff
— Police have arrested two baseball coaches involved in an on-field dispute that climaxed with one punching out the other last week at an Annex Little League field, police said.
Carmelo Reyes was charged with third-degree assault and breach of peace Saturday. The other, James Deponte, the coach who was struck and briefly knocked unconscious, ison Wednesday, charged with breach of peace.
The 18-member Annex Little League board was scheduled to meet Monday night and board President Mike Lamberti said the group was expected to take some type of discipline against the two coaches.
"At the meeting, we’ll find out exactly what’s going to happen," said Lamberti Monday afternoon.
Dave Ruotolo, a regional administrator for Little League whose district includes the Annex, said he anticipated the local officials would take some decisive action.
"I’m very confident, given the embarrassment that it has caused the league, that appropriate action will be taken," said Ruotolo, who planned to let the league officers handle the situation and wasn’t planning on attending the meeting. "No one likes to see their name and league in a (newspaper) article of a negative sort."
A league official Monday night said both Reyes and Deponte were "barred for life" from coaching in the Little League.
According to police, based on interviews with Reyes, Deponte and witnesses, the altercation Wednesday started as a dispute over whether to suspend the Little League game due to inclement weather. Reyes, who expressed concern about safety and advocated for calling the game, and Deponte, who favored playing on, got into an argument, said Lt. Jeff Hoffman, police district manager for the East Shore.
When interviewed by police, Reyes said Deponte was using a broom to sweep water off the base lines and, as they argued, Deponte threw down the broom and aggressively approached Reyes, saying if he wanted to fight him that he would oblige.
Deponte acknowledged he expressed a willingness to engage in fisticuffs, but also told police that he told Reyes he wasn’t willing to do it in front of the children.
Police said Deponte ended up getting punched out in front of everybody.
Hoffman said he planned to meet with league officials "just in case they have any questions and, of course, to offer Yale Child Study (services) to any of the children who may be having trouble due to witnessing the incident."
YCS has a partnership with police to engage youth exposed to violence.
Reyes is due in court July 1 and Deponte the next day. Hoffman said the officers intentionally staggered the court date to avoid an encounter at the courthouse.

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