YAPHANK, N.Y. – A youth baseball coach from Long Island appeared in court Saturday, accused of stalking his rival's family and sending threatening text messages, police said.
Police said 45-year-old Robert Sanfilippo, who manages a team of 10- and 11-year-old boys, was arrested on charges of stalking and aggravated harassment during a game in Yaphank on Friday and appeared in court Saturday for arraignment. He was released without bail, police said. It was not clear if the Huntington man had an attorney.
Newsday reported that Suffolk County police said Sanfilippo got into a dispute with another coach during a tournament in May. Police said Sanfilippo then bought an untraceable phone and started sending text messages threatening to harm the other coach, his son and his wife.
Commack resident John Reardon told Newsday that he, his wife and their 10-year-old son were the targets of Sanfilippo's messages.
"I didn't know it was him at first," Reardon said. "It was nerve-racking. I couldn't sleep. When he suddenly started mentioning my son by name, it just hit me that it was this guy."
The texted threats included blurry photos that appeared to be taken from a long-distance zoom lens, with one showing Reardon waiting with his son for the school bus and another of his wife taking packages out of the car, Reardon said.
Reardon said the texts included threats saying the sender would pick up Reardon's son at his bus stop.
"That's when it got scary and that's when I went to the police," he said.