WESTWOOD, N.J. — Closter’s school business administrator is banned from peewee youth flag football games after he allegedly put a 16-year-old coach into a choke hold this past weekend, according to police.
Peter Iappelli, 50, approached the teenage coach during a game at Westwood Middle School Saturday morning, Westwood Det. Warren Morrell said. Iappelli grabbed the boy in a bear hug that turned into a choke hold, Morrell said.
People in the crowd started yelling at Iappelli and he eventually let the boy go, Morrell said. About five to seven minutes later, he left the game voluntarily, Morrell said.
The teen, who is the son of Westwood councilman Robert Bicocchi, finished coaching the game. Afterwards, he complained of neck pain and was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center at Pascack Valley, Morrell said.
Iappelli, 50, was charged with simple assault and a disorderly persons offense. He could not be reached for comment.
Morrell did not know what prompted the alleged altercation and it is unclear what Iappelli’s role at the game was.
Morrell said Iappelli was coaching defense, while the teenager was coaching offense. But Fred Kritzer, commissioner of the North Jersey NFL Flag Football, said Iappelli was a father of one of the players, and that he became “enraged” and ran onto the field during the game.
The game was between the Pee Wee Buccaneers and Jets. Kritzer said Iappelli’s child played for the Jets.
Iappelli’s entire family has been banned from participating in the football program, Kritzer said in an email to parents Saturday.
“From a pure safety aspect, I am appalled that an adult would attack a coach!” Kritzer wrote. “It is very difficult to explain to six-, seven- and eight-year old children what happened today, I can only say, that I pray to God it never happens again!”
Kritzer said he would re-circulate the league’s code of conduct and demand that it be signed and returned by every parent and player by the next week’s games. If it is not signed, that player would not be allowed to participate in the program, he wrote.
Closter school board president Gregg Lambert said Thursday that there was “no comment as we uncover the full story and are taking the necessary steps required.” A secretary in Schools Superintendent Joanne Newberry’s office declined to comment.
Reached by phone, Robert Bicocchi said, “It’s a terrible situation, and a sad thing that happened.”
Asked if his son is OK, he said, “I don’t want to get into the issues right now with him.” He made no further comments before hanging up.
This is not Iappelli’s first run-in with the law. He was charged with driving while intoxicated in 2013.