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Merrimack Valley

November 30, 2011

Student-athlete arrested for damaging park

Standout football player charged with doing 'doughnuts' in his Jeep

METHUEN — A standout student-athlete at Methuen High School was arrested yesterday after he allegedly drove on and damaged the lawn of a public park behind City Hall.

Police said Ryan Savastano, 18, later admitted he made a "stupid mistake" after he was charged with willful and malicious damage to property over $250.

Savastano was spotted doing "doughnuts" on the lawn with his Jeep Wrangler by Methuen police Captain Randy Haggar shortly after 2 p.m., according to a police report.

Haggar said he witnessed Savastano damaging the grass from inside City Hall, where he was working during the mayoral election recount between Stephen Zanni and Al DiNuccio.

Haggar estimated Savastano caused $1,000 in damage to the lawn at Greycourt Park, which is owned by the state and located directly behind City Hall.

"Mr. Savastano utilized poor judgment," wrote Haggar in a statement. "Besides operating his vehicle on the grassy shoulder on the road to the main park, Mr. Savastano drove his vehicle into the circular courtyard and did doughnuts with his vehicle tearing up the property."

Haggar wrote that Greycourt Park has been home to "excessive vandalism" this year, including graffiti and the destruction of park benches, wooden railings, brick work and electrical and sprinkler conduit and boxes.

Savastano was pulled over by police near City Hall. Officers found the wheels, bumpers and undercarriage of his red 2004 Jeep covered in fresh mud, according to a police report.

Haggar said Savastano lived at 6 Coronet Ave. before recently moving to Tewksbury.

Savastano, a senior, was named an Eagle-Tribune All Star running back as a junior but left the Methuen High School football team this fall midseason.

Savastano is also a standout wrestler for Methuen High, finishing sixth last winter in the 152-pound weight class at the Division 1 state wrestling meet.

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