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Snowball Thrower Loses Appeal

August 29, 1996 GMT

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) _ A man whose photo became a symbol of out-of-control football fans has lost an appeal of his sentence for throwing a snowball during a football game.

Superior Court Judge Gerald C. Escala on Wednesday ruled that 26-year-old Jeffrey Lange’s fine and conviction were appropriate under the circumstances, since Lange had admitted throwing the snowball.

Lange was one of thousands of fans involved in a sometimes vicious snowball fight that almost caused the New York Giants to forfeit their season-ending game against the San Diego Chargers on Dec. 23.

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Giants officials and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority had offered a $1,000 reward for the first person to correctly identify Lange from a widely published Associated Press photograph showing a man who apparently had just hurled a snowball from the stands.

Several people came forward and named Lange.

East Rutherford Municipal Court Judge George O. Savino in April found Lange guilty of improper behavior and fined him $650.

Lange’s attorney, Robert Ballard Jr., had asked Escala to suppress Lange’s admission to the state troopers who had arrested him at his home on Dec. 27, 1995. Lange apologized to the troopers during the ride from his home to East Rutherford and, according to court testimony, said he did not realize throwing snowballs was ``such a big deal.″

Ballard argued that without the confession, which he alleged was improperly given, there was no proof Lange threw a snowball.

Escala said ``there was no doubt″ in his mind about Lange’s guilt.

Ballard said Lange was still prepared to proceed with his lawsuit against the Sports Authority. Lange claims the agency held him up to public ridicule and ruined his life.

Fifteen people were arrested and 175 people were ejected from Giants Stadium for throwing snow during the barrage that left 15 people injured. Chargers’ equipment manager Sid Brooks was knocked unconscious by a flying snowball.