Schenectady High School football coach Carmen DePoalo pleaded guilty Thursday to a reduced charge of second-degree harassment and apologized to the community for an incident involving a fight in February.
As part of a plea agreement, DePoalo, 57, of 336 Broadway, paid $125 in restitution and signed an order of protection. He is to have no contact with Thomas Donato, 58, for one year.
A spokeswoman for the Schenectady City School District said the district cannot take action until it receives notification from the state about the matter. DePoalo is a contract employee with the district, serving year to year as coach.
DePoalo is also business agent for Schenectady’s Local 301 of the International Union of Electronic Workers/Communications Workers of America. The union represents 1,100 employees at GE Energy in Schenectady and approximately 10,000 workers nationally.
DePoalo issued his apology before City Court Judge Vincent W. Versaci. He was charged April 17 with misdemeanor third-degree assault for allegedly beating Donato inside Ferrari’s Ristorante, at 1254 Congress St. on Feb. 7, according to court papers.
Donato said DePoalo’s actions were wrong. “Let me tell you that he came after me and threatened me in numerous, many, many ways,” he said. “He called me names, threatened me and said things that weren’t true.” He said the grudge goes back at least 10 years.
DePoalo’s attorney, Stephen Fields of White Plains, said his client is a “high school coach who has done nothing but good for youths and the community.” Fields also blasted Donato, calling him “a foul-mouthed racist.” He alleged Donato used a racial slur.
Donato denied he is a racist or ever used the slur. “I do not know where that came from. I have never been called a racist, that is the farthest thing from the truth,” he said.
DePoalo filed misdemeanor assault charges against Donato, but the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office dismissed them in May and sealed the case. Prosecutor Michele Schettino said the charges were dismissed based on a lack of evidence.
More from The Daily Gazette: