‘Pukemon’ apologizes, then goes to jail

Posted: July 30, 2010

A Cherry Hill man who pleaded guilty to throwing up on an off-duty police officer and his family during a Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park was sentenced today to 30 to 90 days in jail.

Matthew Clemmens, 21, also was ordered to perform 50 hour of community service - the judge suggested cleaning restrooms at the ballpark - and sentenced to 2 years probation.

"We're very pleased with the verdict today," said Assistant District Attorney Patrick Doyle. "Public drunkenness and violent behavior at Phillies games will not be tolerated."

Clemmens - dubbed "Pukemon" when he drew national media attention as a purported exemplar of Philadelphia fan boorishness - apologized and fought back tears before hearing his sentence.

He pleaded guilty May 25 to simple assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors, and harassment, a summary offense.

Clemmens and three friends, according to officials, had been heckling Michael Vangelo, an off-duty police captain from Easton, Pa., and his two daughters during a Phillies game on April 14.

After one member of Clemmens' party was ejected from Citizens Bank Park by security - at Vangelo's request - Clemmens left briefly. He later returned to the seats, taking a cell phone call, according to a statement prepared by Doyle, before declaring, "I need to do what I need to do. I'm going to get sick."

Clemmens then stuck a finger down his throat and vomited, striking Vangelo and the area in front of his daughters' seats. Vangelo shoved Clemmens, who responded with at least one punch, cutting Vangelo's ear and face.

Clemmens' subsequent mug shot, which spread across national media platforms in the days that followed, showed him with a black eye.

Surrounding fans were able to subdue Clemmens, who was arrested on the scene - thrusting both middle fingers in the air and "screaming expletives" as he was taken away, Doyle said.

After friends and family testified for nearly an hour on Clemmens' behalf today - citing his politeness at home and previous charity work as mitigating factors - he read from a statement accepting full responsibility for his conduct, turning around to apologize to Vangelo at one point.

"My parents did not raise me in this manner," he said, pausing often to fight back tears.

Common Pleas Court Judge Kevin Dougherty announced his decision about fifteen minutes after Clemmens concluded his remarks.

Hoping to reach a sentence that "reeks with justice," Dougherty said he could not overlook the manner in which Clemmens "invaded [the Vangelos'] opportunity to enjoy the American pasttime of baseball."

"Your apology, I believe, was feigned," Dougherty said, as Clemmens stood stone-faced, both parents at his side. "I don't know if you were trying to hit a home-run with your friends that day . . . but you struck out."

Clemmens was handcuffed in the court room, as his girlfriend sobbed in the back. She rose moments later to console Clemmens' 11-year brother, who sat alone as his older sibling learned his fate.

At about 1:10 p.m., Clemmens was led into a police van, cuffed at the wrists to another offender, and driven away.

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