Crashed Historic Celebration
A Long Island man who ran onto the diamond at Citi Field after New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana threw the first nohitter in the franchise’s history is banned from the stadium for life after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge last Thursday, Sept. 13.
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown identified the defendant as Rafael Diaz, 33, of Eleanor Drive in Massapequa. Diaz appeared last Thursday before Queens Criminal Court Judge Mary O’Donoghue and pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor crime of interference with a professional sporting event.
He was immediately sentenced to a conditional discharge, the conditions being that he pay a $1,000 fine to the City of New York and $4,000 in civil penalties to the New York Mets, perform 100 hours of community service in Queens County and does not visit Citi Field for one year.
If Diaz fails to complete any of the conditions of his sentence, Brown stated, he can be re-sentenced to a minimum of 15 days in jail to a maximum of one year. O’Donoghue ordered that all the conditions of the sentence be completed by Dec. 14.
In addition to the ban connected to his criminal case, the Mets organization has served him with a trespass notice that indefinitely prevents him from entering any of their playing venues.
“[Diaz’s] antics have resulted in a criminal record, the paying of thousands of dollars in fines and civil penalties, and-perhaps the worse punishment for any true Mets fan- precludes him from ever again visiting Citi Field,” Brown stated. “He has now learned the hard way that the Queens District Attorney’s office and the New York Mets have zero tolerance for those who interfere with the play of America’s pastime.”
Santana threw the Mets’ first no- hitter on June 1, an 8-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. After the lefthanded hurler struck out the Cardinals’ David Freese for the final out of the game, prosecutors said, Diaz jumped over the railing and onto the playing area of Citi Field and then ran across the field to the pitcher’s mound to join the team’s celebration.
Diaz came in physical contact with various players before being apprehended.
Assistant District Attorney Kristen A. Kane prosecuted the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gregory C. Pavlides, bureau chief, and Christina Hanophy, deputy bureau chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney of the Investigations Division Peter A. Crusco and Deputy Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Linda M. Cantoni.