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Irate dad roughs up son's coach

He says the man threatened his wife during an argument last week.

Published February 26, 2007


ODESSA - He stormed onto the baseball practice field, all 280 pounds of him, and declared war.

With an audience of half a dozen preteen players, Howard Behlau snatched a bat from the hands of his 12-year-old son's coach Friday morning.

Then he grabbed coach Andy Contafio by his collar and dragged him off the field. He put him in a headlock, put his knee to the man's chest and pushed him to the ground, according to a Pasco Sheriff's Office report.

Soon after Behlau left, authorities were summoned. Late Friday, a deputy called Behlau and asked to meet. When they met at a 7-Eleven in Odessa Saturday, Behlau, 51, of Odessa was arrested and charged with simple battery. He spent four hours in jail.

Behlau, a certified public accountant, says he normally would never lay a hand on another human being.

"It really had nothing to do with baseball other than this argument that preceded between my wife and him," Behlau said.

It began Tuesday. Contafio said he called Behlau's wife, Jayne. What the two discussed is a matter of dispute.

Contafio said he told Jayne Behlau that her son, a star player who joined the Florida Panthers AAU team last fall, should find another league to play in. Contafio said he heard Jayne Behlau and her husband call their son's teammates "worthless," and that he was releasing the boy from the team.

"It was a cancer, and I had to remove the cancer," he said.

But Jayne Behlau said Contafio never released her son from the team, and that he threatened her.

"He was on a rant," Behlau said. "He said, 'You better watch out.' I said, 'Are you threatening me?' He said 'My cards are on the table. Take it as you will.' "

Jayne Behlau told her husband about the phone call. He stewed with anger and decided to go to practice. He wanted Contafio to pay.

"I was going to make him apologize," Howard Behlau said. "It was a stupid thing, but I had to do it. I wasn't going to let him browbeat my wife."

Behlau said he spoke openly with his son about the altercation that occurred while the boy was nearby in a parking lot with his mother.

"I wanted it to be a lesson to him," he said of his son. "I said, 'This guy was mean to Mom.' Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. There's very few occasions where you would ever want to break the law."

[Last modified February 26, 2007, 07:11:03]

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