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July 30, 2010

"‘Pukemon’ apologizes, then goes to jail"

The title of this post is the headline of this breaking news story from the Philadelphia Inquirer, which reports on the sentencing in what because a high-profile case of fan misbehavior. Here are the particulars:

A Cherry Hill man who pleaded guilty to throwing up on an off-duty police officer and his family during a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park was sentenced today to 30 to 90 days in jail.  Matthew Clemmens, 21, also was ordered to perform 50 hour of community service -- the judge suggested cleaning restrooms at the ballpark -- and sentenced to 2 years probation.

"We're very pleased with the verdict today," said Assistant District Attorney Patrick Doyle. "Public drunkenness and violent behavior at Phillies games will not be tolerated."

Clemmens -- dubbed "Pukemon" when he drew national media attention as a purported exemplar of Philadelphia fan boorishness -- apologized and fought back tears before hearing his sentence. He pleaded guilty May 25 to simple assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, and harassment, a summary offense.

Clemmens and three friends, according to officials, had been heckling Michael Vangelo, an off-duty police captain from Easton, Pa., and his two daughters during a Phillies game on April 14.

After one member of Clemmens' party was ejected from Citizens Bank Park by security - at Vangelo's request - Clemmens left briefly. He later returned to the seats, taking a cell phone call, according to a statement prepared by Doyle, before declaring, "I need to do what I need to do. I'm going to get sick."

Clemmens then stuck a finger down his throat and vomited, striking Vangelo and the area in front of his daughters' seats. Vangelo shoved Clemmens, who responded with at least one punch, cutting Vangelo's ear and face....

After friends and family testified for nearly an hour on Clemmens' behalf today - citing his politeness at home and previous charity work as mitigating factors - he read from a statement accepting full responsibility for his conduct, turning around to apologize to Vangelo at one point. "My parents did not raise me in this manner," he said, pausing often to fight back tears.

Common Pleas Court Judge Kevin Dougherty announced his decision about fifteen minutes after Clemmens concluded his remarks.  Hoping to reach a sentence that "reeks with justice," Dougherty said he could not overlook the manner in which Clemmens "invaded [the Vangelos'] opportunity to enjoy the American pasttime of baseball."

"Your apology, I believe, was feigned," Dougherty said, as Clemmens stood stone-faced, both parents at his side. "I don't know if you were trying to hit a home-run with your friends that day . . . but you struck out."

Clemmens was handcuffed in the court room, as his girlfriend sobbed in the back. She rose moments later to console Clemmens' 11-year brother, who sat alone as his older sibling learned his fate.  At about 1:10 p.m., Clemmens was led into a police van, cuffed at the wrists to another offender, and driven away.

July 30, 2010 at 04:24 PM | Permalink

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Comments

"I don't know if you were trying to hit a home-run with your friends that day . . . but you struck out."

This is a perfect example of why I consider all state court judges clowns.

Posted by: A.Nony.Mous | Jul 30, 2010 7:34:02 PM

yep. i agree this sentence is a joke. i can see the community service but the rest is overboard! guy seems to be a first time offender. but of couse it was a COP he got! can't inconvencine the new gods!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 31, 2010 2:27:14 AM

Yeah, you've got to wonder if Pukemon would be headed for the clink if he'd barfed on an accountant.

Posted by: John K | Jul 31, 2010 12:51:03 PM

You must consider the "gross" factor! In addition, the article reads like it was an intentional act. I don't know that i would have sentenced him to jail, but I certainly understand why the judge was pissed off. The judge also had an opportunity to observe the defendant at sentencing. Whatever it was that made the judge believe the apology was insincere, probably contributed to the defendant getting jail time.

Posted by: Stanley Feldman | Jul 31, 2010 2:49:44 PM

maybe so i wasnt' there. but i'm willing to BET in EVERY game you can find 1,000 drunks and problaby as many who have tossed their cookies on someone! but like i said THIS time it hit a cop!

based on this i don't see why the judge had to be an ass!


"After friends and family testified for nearly an hour on Clemmens' behalf today - citing his politeness at home and previous charity work as mitigating factors - he read from a statement accepting full responsibility for his conduct, turning around to apologize to Vangelo at one point.

"My parents did not raise me in this manner," he said, pausing often to fight back tears."

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 31, 2010 11:30:22 PM

For those decrying the sentence--would you be saying the same thing if he decided to simply pop the victim in the face instead of intentionally puking on him (yes, it was intentional)? Or would that also be a clear case of the judge railroading the defendant? Both are clear cases of assault--and for what it's worth, I'd rather take the punch.

I would not have sentenced 30 to 90 days in jail, but I don't think 30 to 90 for unprovoked assault is wholly unreasonable.

In any event, fear not, apologists--as we've learned from Ms. Lohan, these days, 90 is the new 10. I sincerely doubt our reverse peristalsic will serve any more than two weeks.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Aug 2, 2010 9:54:04 AM

"For those decrying the sentence--would you be saying the same thing if he decided to simply pop the victim in the face instead of intentionally puking on him (yes, it was intentional)? Or would that also be a clear case of the judge railroading the defendant? Both are clear cases of assault--and for what it's worth, I'd rather take the punch."

I'd rather the punch myself as well. But we all know drunk people do dumb things! deliberate or not! In this case i might have shoved his face in the puke and make him clean it up but CRIMINAL charges are overboard!

Unlike a punch that would have been deliberate physical damage! splash damage doesnt' rise to that.

Posted by: rodsmith | Aug 2, 2010 12:57:57 PM

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