Mike Vitar is famous for playing Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez in the 1993 film The Sandlot, but now he may be famous for something else — pounding up a guy on Halloween for handing out candy to kids.
These days, Vitar doesn’t do much acting. Instead, he’s a Los Angeles firefighter who, in 2003, received a commendation for bravery. But a couple months ago, he and two friends — one a fellow firefighter — allegedly beat up another man on the street.
Mike Vitar, 36, fellow firefighter Eric Carpenter, 38, and Thomas Molnar have all been charged with assault, NBC News reported. Carpenter is facing an additional charge of personally inflicting great bodily injury.
All three men could face jail time.
The alleged attack took place near a Halloween party in northwest L.A. that was hosted by Carpenter. The man who was assaulted hasn’t been named, but he’s reportedly 22-years-old and grew up in the neighborhood. According to the Huffington Post, he was visiting his grandmother.
But according to police, the victim was also doing something that upset Mike and his two buddies — as he walked down the street, he passed out candy to kids without their parents’ permission.
The attorney for Vitar’s friend Molnar, Arthur Avazian, said the three men tried to restrain the victim because he was trespassing and wouldn’t leave. Mike and the others believed he “posed a danger to children in the area by trying to pass out candy against the consent of the adults.”
To get their point across, Vitar and his buddies allegedly chased the man down the street and attacked him, according to police and prosecutors.
“After chasing the victim down the street, the three defendants reportedly jumped him,” according to a press release from the L.A. District Attorney’s Office. “They then allegedly forced the victim to the ground before Carpenter choked him.”
The New York Daily News noted that it’s unclear what else may have sparked the alleged attack, or whether Vitar and the others were drunk at the time. Vitar and Carpenter were off-duty.
Attorney Michael A. Goldstein, who’s representing Carpenter, said that as a career firefighter, his client is in “the business of saving lives and helpings others.” Avazian called Vitar and the others “really good people, two firefighters and my client who is successful businessman.”
Goldstein asked the public to withhold judgment.
Mike Vitar and Carpenter (arrested on December 3) have been placed on administrative leave with pay. Mike and Thomas face up to four years in jail, and Eric (arrested on November 17) could spend up to seven years in jail if convicted. All three men posted bail and have been released from jail already.
The date of the Mike Vitar’s next court appearance has not been released, Variety reported.
Mike Vitar starred in the beloved 90s baseball film as the best baseball player among a group of neighborhood boys. The film centers on one of those boys, Scotty Smalls, the new kid in town who forms friendships with Benny and the other boys. The youths spend the summer trying to fetch a valuable baseball, signed by Babe Ruth, that one of them hits into a neighbor’s backyard and into the clutches of a dog they refer to as “The Beast.”
Vitar also had roles in the final two films in the Mighty Ducks franchise and finished his career with a 1997 appearance on Chicago Hope. In 2003, Mike was honored for an “act of courage” after helping to save the lives of two fellow firefighters trapped in a burning building in the Hollywood Hills on New Year’s Eve.
[Photo via YouTube]