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Michigan man charged with fatal assault on soccer referee

A soccer referee allegedly punched by a player ejected from an adult league game was a 20-year veteran.
By Frances Burns   |   July 2, 2014 at 1:06 PM
| License Photo

DETROIT, July 2 (UPI) -- A Michigan man who allegedly punched a soccer referee who threw him out of a game could face a murder charge now that the victim has died.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said Baseel Abdul-Amir Saad, 36, of Dearborn, Mich., was charged Monday with assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder. The charge was expected to be upgraded to murder this week.

Witnesses said that Saad punched John Bieniewicz, 44, of Westland, Mich., in the head as the referee presented him with a red card. The assault occurred during an adult soccer game.

Saad's lawyer said his client surrendered to police in Livonia.

Bieniewicz remained on a ventilator at Detroit Receiving Hospital, a family friend, Jim Acho, told the Detroit News. Acho said the family planned to take him off life support after his organs were harvested for donation.

Scott Herkes, who was on the field Sunday, said he has been playing in the adult league for five or six years.

"It's a shock," he told the News. "There's been confrontations with some players yelling with the referee. I have seen a player bump a referee, but I've never seen anything like this. It's unbelievable."

Acho described Bieniewicz, 44, as a "gentle and placid person," and said he became a soccer enthusiast at the University of Michigan's Dearborn campus after being a baseball and football star in high school.

Bieniewicz, who worked in pediatric chronic dialysis at the University of Michigan Health System, had been refereeing soccer games for 20 years.

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