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Hearing today for man charged with punching basketball official

Published February 01. 2012 05:03PM

It's game time for an Allentown man who punched an official in the face at a youth basketball contest in Palmerton.

Michael Vannote, 26, was scheduled to have a preliminary hearing today before District Judge William Kissner of Palmerton.

Vannote faces charges on one count each of assault on sports official, simple assault, harassment, and disorderly conduct.

According to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Trooper Brian Shandra of the Lehighton barracks:

On Jan. 28, Shandra was dispatched to an assault type incident at the Palmerton Junior High School gymnasium, at which point he responded and made contact with Vannote, according to the affidavit.

Vannote was identified as the actor who assaulted a basketball official during the game, the affidavit says. Vannote was pointed out by several spectators of the game and was then taken into custody and advised of his Miranda Rights.

Vannote related he lost his cool during the game due to bad calls made. Vannote then said he went over and punched the referee in the face.

The victim, identified by police as Mark Ryan Ruch, 21, of Lehighton, was lying on the ground on the basketball court. Palmerton EMS was providing medical attention to Rush for a contusion on his left cheek, a possible concussion, and a bruise to his right elbow.

Ruch related that Vannote was upset over a call and he approached him, striking him in the face. Ruch related he then fell to the ground, and complained of face pain and a headache.

There were multiple witnesses who confirmed the incident.

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