Prominent attorney John Parrinello was arrested over the weekend for heckling and swearing at a referee during a Monroe Community College women’s basketball game, police said.
Parrinello, who is a trustee for MCC, did not return phone calls for this story, but he did give an interview on WCMF radio Monday morning about his arrest and state police confirmed it.
Parrinello was at a basketball game Sunday afternoon at Genesee Community College using abusive and vulgar language while sitting in the stands of the game, said Zone Sgt. Ronald Warner.
Security asked him to leave but Parrinello refused. Security officers called police, who arrested him after he continued to protest leaving the game, which was between MCC and the Community College of Rhode Island.
MCC spokeswoman Cynthia Cooper confirmed that Parrinello is still a trustee, but said she can’t speak to whether college officials will take any disciplinary measures following the arrest. The college issued a statement from its chairman of the MCC board of trustees, Kenneth Goode.
“The arrest of a trustee for behavior at a college-related function is regrettable,” Goode said. “On behalf of the MCC community, I apologize to the coaches, student athletes, game officials, fans, our host, Genesee Community College, and our opponent, the Community College of Rhode Island.”
Parrinello, who is known for numerous high-profile defense cases, was taken away in cuffs and charged with third-degree criminal trespass, a misdemeanor Warner said. He was given a court appearance ticket for Batavia Town Court to appear Dec. 20 at 1 p.m. Warner said officers did not report that alcohol was a factor in Parrinello’s behavior and in his radio interview Parrinello denied being intoxicated.
Parrinello, a former Rochester vice-mayor and city councilman in the 1970s, was charged with contempt of court for courtroom outbursts last April during former Greece Police Chief Merritt Rahn’s trial.
The attorney admitted in his WCMF interview that he has a fiery personality, especially when it comes to watching sports. He said his wife stopped going to games with him because of his tendencies to yell. He admitted that he yelled at the referee and used profanities.
“It was clearly the wrong call. I said to the referee, as it happened, as he was going down the court, I said, ‘Ref you missed the call. You blew the call,’” Parrinello told WCMF. “I was a loud mouth. Having been involved in athletics, I have this fire in my belly.”
Parrinello’s son, Tim, is in his 15th year as head coach of the MCC women’s basketball team, and has won three NJCAA Division II national championships — in 2001, 2004 and 2005 — along with a NJCAA Division I title in 2006. John Parrinello’s nephew, Jeff, is in his eighth year as an assistant coach on the team.
Rick Ensman, a spokesman for Genesee Community College, said the college made the call to police at 4:30 p.m. The school was hosting the Cougar Holiday Classic tournament and MCC was in the championship game. Ensman said this kind of behavior is a rare occurrence at the college.
“I don’t think it’s common at Genesee. I’ve been here a long time, and I think back and I can’t think of something like this. … For the most part, fans are respectful,” he said.
Parrinello claimed on the radio that police roughed him up by pushing him into a wall, leaving him with a bruised wrist and a sore shoulder.
“I’m cheering the girls on, and all of the sudden a trooper comes and a deputy from the sheriff’s [office],” he said. “I said, ‘If you want me to leave, you’re going to have to arrest me.’”
Parrinello has been practicing law in the Rochester community for more than 30 years. In 1968, he joined Redmond & Parrinello and is currently a partner at the firm. He was also a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.
In 2004 Parrinello received the Ronald Reagan Republican Gold Medal. He has served on the Monroe County Bar Association’s Judiciary Committee; on the Rochester City Council from 1970 to 1974; and is a past chairman of the board of trustees at MCC.