Bethesda Coach, Students Cited After Party

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Bethesda soccer club coach was arrested, and a number of Walt Whitman High School students were issued criminal citations for underage drinking after Dewey Beach police raided a party last week, authorities said.

Police officers in the Delaware town became suspicious of a loud party at a beach house last Wednesday night after an officer on patrol smelled marijuana, Detective Cliff Dempsey said yesterday.

When officers knocked on the door at 17 Clayton Ave., soccer coach Nino Marcantonio, 25, who was leasing the house, told officers that everything was under control, Dempsey said.

"He was denying that there was any use of alcohol in the house," Dempsey said. "Then two people jumped out of the balcony," including a woman who broke her ankle.

After investigating further, officers left the beach house with Marcantonio in handcuffs, Dempsey said. The coach was charged with 18 counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count each of maintaining a dwelling for the use of illegal drugs, providing alcohol to an underage person and disorderly use of a dwelling, the spokesman said.

Police issued citations to 35 additional people who were at the party, including 18 who were under the age of 18. Three people were arrested on charges of possession of marijuana, and the rest were issued criminal citations for underage drinking, Dempsey said.

Reached on his cellphone yesterday, Marcantonio declined to comment and referred calls to his attorney, Eugene J. Maurer Jr. of Wilmington, Del.

Maurer said Marcantonio traveled to the beach with 10 students. He said Marcantonio didn't supply alcohol or drugs to minors.

"He had the misfortune of being the only adult in the area," Maurer said last night. "He does deny criminal responsibility, but he admits bad judgment. . . . These are kids who were down there partying, and he wasn't able to control it."

Marcantonio, a Churchill High School graduate, was All-Met player of the year in 1998. He played soccer at American University and the University of Maryland. More recently, he has worked as a coach at the Bethesda Soccer Club, according to the club's Web site.

Walt Whitman Principal Alan Goodwin said he was contacted by Dewey Beach police about the incident. He said he thinks most of the students charged graduated this year.

"I'm disappointed in several ways," he said yesterday. "We talk to our students all the time about making good decisions."

He said the school is not formally investigating the incident because the beach trip was not school-related and Dewey Beach police did not identify any of the others charged.

Dewey Beach Mayor Dell Tush said the party is among the largest that her police department has broken up in recent years. She said she instituted a zero-tolerance policy and asked officers to step up patrols after Memorial Day weekend.

"These kids," she said. "The more they drink, the dumber they get."

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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