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Closter School Official Charged With Assaulting Westwood Councilman's Son

Peter Iappelli
Peter Iappelli Photo Credit: MUGSHOT: Courtesy WESTWOOD PD

WESTWOOD, N.J. -- (UPDATE) Closter Public Schools Business Administrator Peter Iappelli was formally charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct after witnesses said he grabbed the teenage son of a Westwood councilman in a headlock during a youth flag football game.

As Daily Voice first reported exclusively, Assistant Pee Wee Jets Coach Philip Bicocchi, 16, had assumed head coaching duties in Westwood on Saturday in the absence of the team's coach on Yom Kippur.

At some point, Iappelli got into a disagreement with the boy, apparently over his son being moved from the quarterback position, witnesses said.

Iappelli, 50, "was so enraged that he ran onto the field during their game, [and] cursed and choked" Philip, wrote Commissioner Fred Kritzer of the North Jersey NFL Flag Football League in an email to league parents.

"We have a number of spectators and coaches who all agreed to testify to have witnessed this deplorable behavior," Kritzer added.

Philips' father, Councilman Robert Bicocchi, said he didn't want to comment beyond confirming that he'd signed a complaint against Iappelli and that his son was OK "other than the emotional trauma and having to go to the hospital with neck pain."

Iappelli was out of the office both Monday and Tuesday, a board secretary who answered his phone said. She promised to give him a message.

Iappelli came to Westwood police headquarters Wednesday afternoon, with his attorney, Brian Neary, to receive the complaint. A local TV news crew captured images of him outside the department.

A probable cause hearing would have to be scheduled, after which a judge would decide whether the case should move forward.

Because of Bicocchi's and Iappelli's respective positions, that hearing likely would be held in Central Municipal Court in Hackensack, rather than in Westwood, to avoid any possible appearance of conflict.

The NFL Flag Football league in Westwood boasts players six to 13 years old at various levels.

Although families and players sign a conduct code, Kritzer (the commissioner) said: "I never thought I would ever have to enforce these rules."

"From a pure safety aspect, I am appalled that an adult would attack a coach," Kritzer told parents. "It is very difficult to explain to six, seven and eight year old children what happened.... I can only say that I pray to God it never happens again!"

Toward that end, he said, he's banned "the entire family" from ever participating again.

"As parents and role models, I would only hope that every parent instills in their children good qualities and teach your children sportsmanship," the commissioner noted.

Philip Bicocchi -- a Don Bosco High School student known for his charitable work, as well a desire to become president someday -- "did an incredible job of composing himself in what was truly outrage by an out of control adult," he wrote.

The teen "deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the way in which he handled a disgusting situation," Kritzer added.

Iappelli, some may recall, made headlines four years ago after he was charged with DWI in Norwood.

SEE: Closter Schools Business Administrator Charged With DWI

Under an agreement with a local prosecutor, Iappelli pleaded guilty to reckless driving in exchange for a fine and a temporary license suspension, authorities said.

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