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Baseball coach accused of harassing rival with text messages

Robert Sanfilippo, 45, was arrested during a game

Robert Sanfilippo, 45, was arrested during a game at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank and is being charged with aggravated harassment and stalking, Suffolk police said. (Sept. 22, 2012) Credit: Suffolk County Police Dept.

A youth baseball coach from Huntington charged with stalking and harassing a rival coach sent a barrage of text messages to the victim, some attached with photos of the rival's wife, son and house, court records show.

Robert Sanfilippo, 45, who manages the Long Island Vengeance, a travel team made up of 10- and 11-year-olds, was released without bail Saturday.

Sanfilippo, arraigned in First District Court in Central Islip, is charged with stalking and 19 counts of aggravated harassment, both misdemeanors. He was arrested at a game Friday.

The recipient of the messages, John Reardon, 47, of Commack, an assistant coach with the Long Island Inferno, said he encountered Sanfilippo in May, when their teams competed during a tournament and the Inferno won. Toward the end of the game, Reardon said, Sanfilippo accused him of cheering too loudly. An exchange of words ensued, Reardon said.

With the teams slated to compete in a tournament in August, Reardon said his manager requested that their teams not be matched in the preliminary round. On Aug. 23, a day before the tournament began, Reardon said he received a threatening text message.

Police said investigators later determined that the message was from Sanfilippo, who had an untraceable cellphone.

"It was nerve-racking," Reardon said.

The messages became increasingly alarming, he said. In one, Sanfilippo attached a picture of Reardon's son entering a school bus, and in others he referred to the 10-year-old by his first name, court records show. "Maybe I'll pick him up at the bus stop for you next week," Sanfilippo wrote in another message, according to the documents.

Sanfilippo also insulted Reardon's wife and his house, the records show.

The pictures being sent looked as if they were taken from down the block and during the school year, Reardon said.

"My wife was very scared; she was always locking the door behind her," Reardon said.

Sanfilippo and his attorney could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Sanfilippo's next court date is scheduled for Oct. 9.

A spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office could not be reached for comment.

Steven Muraco, president of the Half Hollow Hills Little League, said Sanfilippo is temporarily banned, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation, from coaching and from Otsego Park in Dix Hills, where games are held.

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