Michigan man faces up to 15 years in prison for soccer referee's death

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 13, 2015 6:39 AM

By Serena Maria Daniels

DETROIT (Reuters) - A soccer player faces up to 15 years in prison on Friday when he is sentenced for fatally injuring a referee who he punched during a recreational league game in a Detroit suburb last summer.

Bassel Saad, 37, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in February for causing the death of referee John Bieniewicz, 44, who Saad struck in the neck or throat during a game in Livonia, Michigan, last June.

Saad, a native of Lebanon who lives in Dearborn, Michigan, is not a U.S. citizen and could be deported following his conviction, Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kenny said in accepting a plea agreement with prosecutors. Saad had originally faced a charge of second-degree murder.

Under the agreement with prosecutors, Saad admitted to causing Bieniewicz's death and agreed to a prison sentence of eight to 15 years. Kenny ordered Saad remanded into custody.

Prosecutors had said Saad became upset at Bieniewicz, a longtime soccer referee, when the referee was about to eject him from an adult league game on June 29. Bieniewicz died two days later.

An autopsy determined that Bieniewicz had died from blunt force trauma to the neck and the Wayne County medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

(Reporting by Serena Maria Daniels in Detroit; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Eric Beech)