A Cherry Hill man pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to several charges arising out of an incident in which he vomited toward a man and his two daughters at a Phillies game.
The accusations caused a furor, with national media outlets seeing another example of out-of-control Philadelphia fans.
Matthew Clemmens, 21, pleaded guilty to simple assault, a second-degree misdemeanor; disorderly conduct, a third-degree misdemeanor; and harassment, a summary offense. Other charges, including recklessly endangering another person, were dismissed.
The tall, burly but soft-spoken defendant hesitated before pleading guilty to one of the charges, and later Judge Kevin Dougherty asked why.
Clemmens said that it was "just the way that everyone said what happened that I didn't agree with."
Soon, though, he was formally agreeing to a prosecution account that described a series of offensive acts, including sticking fingers down his throat then vomiting toward Michael Vangelo, an off-duty police captain from Easton, and his daughters, ages 11 and 16, at the April 14 game between the Phillies and the Washington Nationals.
Clemmens and a male friend, accompanied by two female friends, were drinking, spilling beer, continually using profanities, and even heckling the Vangelos, said Assistant District Attorney Patrick Doyle, specifying the profanities at the judge's request.
The friend kept spitting in front of himself, and after spit got on the hood of one of the girls, Vangelo asked the man to stop. The older daughter also asked both men to stop cursing. When Vangelo complained to security, the man was removed from Citizens Bank Park.
Clemmens and the women left, but Clemmens then returned alone, Doyle said.
Answering a phone call, Clemmens stood and declared, "I need to do what I need to do. I'm going to get sick," according to the statement.
That's when he stuck finger down his throat and vomited, most of it striking Vangelo, mostly missing the girls, but some of it landing in front of the seats the Vangelos had been sitting in.
The father, covered with vomit, pushed Clemmens, who then threw a punch, cutting Vangelo's ear and face, Doyle said.
Clemmens was subdued by other fans and arrested.
As Clemmens was being escorted away by security, he was thrusting his middle fingers in the air, "screaming expletives," Doyle said.
The judge asked Clemmens if the account was accurate.
"Yes, your honor," Clemmens said.
The account did not specify a threat to vomit directly on either of the girls, as was alleged by Vangelo.
Doyle later declined to elaborate about the incident, but did say the guilty pleas pleased the Vangelos, who were not at court Tuesday, but will be for the July 30 sentencing hearing.
Outside the courthouse, attorney Richard Hark said of his client, "He was 100 percent remorseful and will continue to be so at the time of the sentencing."
"He completely accepted responsibility for his behavior," Hark said.
"It's probable he consumed too much alcohol," Hark said. ". . . It's not a justification, just an explanation."
He said this behavior was uncharacteristic of his client, who just became of legal drinking age in March.
The maximum penalty for second-degree assault charge is two years in jail, but guidelines call for probation for first offenders, Doyle said.