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Referees arrested during high school football game

referees arrested – Chris Gambino, Jim Radcliffe

Chris Gambino (left), Jim Radcliffe

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Video: high school referees arrested during football gameCovington Police Chief Tim Lentz told WGNO News Wednesday morning that his department is conducting an internal investigation into the arrest of two high school referees during the October 11 football game between St. Paul’s and Mandeville High.

Lt. Stephen Short, who arrested the refs, and Capt. Jack West, Short’s supervisor who was also at the game, are the focus of the investigation.

Chief Lentz had no further comment at this time, as this is considered an active internal investigation.

As you may have heard, charges will be dropped against the two officials arrested Friday night at the Mandeville – St. Paul’s game. This is a good call by new Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz.

Now, let’s address another issue: the growing lack of civility at high school football games.

Our staff attends hundreds of high school games each school year. The growing animosity between fans at each other, at coaches, and at game officials is at an all time high.

This stuff is only fueled by Facebook, Twitter, and internet message boards. Sportsmanship and common decency seem to be lost in all the name calling.

For administrators who demand a level of decorum from their student body and fans, I applaud you. We need more of that, and less of the discontent that seems so prevalent in high school sports.

There has been a new development in the arrest of two referees at a North Shore football game last week. Wednesday night we were the first to report charges would be refused and they have.

“On behalf of the city of Covington I offer my sincere apology to Mr. Radcliffe and Mr. Gambino,” says Covington Mayor Mike Cooper.

“We apologize from bottom of our hearts for the events that took place last Friday night. It should have been handled differently,” says Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz.

The Mayor of Covington and their newly appointed Police Chief are now apologizing nearly one week after two referees were escorted off the field, put into the back of a police cruiser and arrested.

It all happened in front of hundreds of fans attending the St. Paul’s home game versus rival Mandeville last Friday. Only WGNO cameras were rolling as the confrontation unfolded.

Jim Radcliffe and Christopher Gambino, two referees with 20-plus years of experience, we’re facing criminal charges. The two had been booked with public intimidation. Now, newly appointed Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz, who has only been on the job for days, is saying what his officer did was wrong.

“We spoke with District Attorney Reed and requested that the case and the charges against these two gentlemen be refused. He agreed with us that that’s the right thing to do,” says Chief Lentz.

President of the Greater New Orleans Football Officials Association Eddie Allemore is pleased, but says much of the damage has already been done.

“It’s quite an embarrassment, and their mug shots are still out there if you look at a lot of the articles they still have their mug shots up, and we hope it goes away,” says Allemore.

Allemore says it’s up to his men to pursue legal action against Covington Police. Chief Lentz says he’s still unsure whether disciplinary action will be taken against the arresting officer. At this point everyone is just trying to put last Friday night behind them.

“As an official you never want to see your name in the paper. I’ll be ready for that to get over with,” says Allemore.

“At the end of the day the Mayor and I, the police department, we truly believe this was the right thing to do,” says Chief Lentz.

Allmore originally wanted to keep Covington officers away from his referees. He says for Friday’s game at Covington High St. Tammany Deputies will still be proving on field security. St. Paul’s plays away so it is not an issue this week. In the future though he says eventually a plan will be hammered out. Allemore says it’ll take a bit of time for the two to once again create a trusting relationship.


Covington Mayor Mike Cooper apologized to the arrested referees and, along with Covington Police Chief Tim Lentz, recommended to the District Attorney’s office that the charges be refused. The District Attorney has agreed.

Following the news conference, the Greater New Orleans Football Officials Association released the following statement:



Covington Police Told To Stay Away From Referees

Our Sports Director Ed Daniels says the charges will be dropped against two referees arrested while officiating a high school football game. Still the Greater New Orleans Football Officials Association is calling its own plays.

“When I got in the locker room that’s when my phone was blowing up,” remembers Eddie Allemore, President of GNOFOA.

Allemore was officiating a game at Fontainebleau High on Friday night as two of his men were escorted off the field at St. Paul’s High School in Covington, put in the back of a police cruiser, and arrested.

Allemore says one of the men asked a Covington Police officer to help move people away from the sideline when tensions escalated. He says both James Radcliffe and Christopher Gambino have over 20 years of experience and both are still officiating.

Allemore says until matters are resolved, “All future games at Covington and St. Paul’s we requested St. Tammany deputies as the on field security for our officials.”

This week the decision will not affect St. Paul’s who is playing away at North Shore High in Slidell. It does however affect Covington High School. The Lions will be hosting Fontainebleau on Friday. St. Tammany deputies will provide on field security there.

“There’s a sense of untrust of if something happens on the field who is going to protect us, and we had two officials arrested. That’s still firm in our guys minds,” says Allemand.

“It should be something fun for the kids. They shouldn’t have to see all that,” says Covington High School parent Lajoyce Jacobs.

“We’re out here with our kids showing our kids a good time and showing them what to do right and then the referees and the police are having it, trouble, that’s unbelievable,” says Covington High School grandparent George Roberson.

Both James Radcliffe and Christopher Gambino are facing criminal charges. They’ve booked with public intimidation.

According to WGNO Sports Director Ed Daniels, the Covington Police Department will refuse the charges of public intimidation against the two referees who were arrested during last Friday’s game between St. Paul’s and Covington High schools.

This essentially means that the charges against the officials are dropped.

The Greater New Orleans Football Officials Association says it will no longer provide referees to either St. Paul’s or Mandeville High football games, if Covington Police are working security.

This comes after two refs were arrested on public intimidation charges during the third quarter of the game between St. Paul and Mandeville last Friday.

Both refs were released Saturday on a $250 bond each.

The the Greater New Orleans Officials Association is sounding off after two referees were arrested on public intimidation charges during the third quarter of Friday’s game between St. Paul’s and Mandeville High schools.

In a statement the association says: “At no time did either official hit, push, strike, threaten, intimidate, or curse at the officer.”

Both officials were released Saturday, each on a $250 bond.

GNOFOA statement supporting officials

American Football 2The Greater New Orleans Football Officials Association has come to the defense of two of its own.

Officials James Radcliffe and Chris Gambino were arrested in the third quarter of Friday night’s Mandeville at St Paul’s game. The pair were each charged with one count of public intimidation. They were released on bond early Saturday morning.

The GNOFOA said Gambino sought the assistance from a Covington Police Officer in moving individuals back away from the sideline area. The Officials Association said the officer did not do so, and told Gambino to back and worry about the field. The officer also threatened to arrest Gambino if he said one more word.

In the statement, the association says Radcliffe, the game referee told the officer he needed to leave and that he would go talk with home management. As Radcliffe was beginning to do that, the officer called him back and placed him under arrest.

The Football Officials Association said that “at no time did either official hit, push, strike, threaten, intimidate, or curse at the officer.”

The Association said the incident called into question the reputations and integrity of the two officials assigned to work the game. The Association said each official has officiated high school football for several years. And, that each has officiated a state championship game, and each currently officiates at the collegiate level in different sports.

The GNOFOA said that LHSAA rule 6.26 was violated. They say it prohibits unauthorized personnel from being on a team’s sideline or team area during any contest any level of play.