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Game leads to women's assault charges

| Tuesday, June 26, 2001, 12:00 p.m.

Two Beechview women face a city court hearing on assault charges after a youth basketball game led to a fistfight.

Pittsburgh police went to the Crosby Street home of Ellen Magnotta about 8:30 p.m. on June 19. Magnotta, 46, told the officers that her neighbor, Nancy Wagner, had punched her in the face and pulled her clothing.

The police report said Magnotta had a bruised eye and scratches on her face and neck.

The fight reportedly took place when four boys were playing basketball in the street in front of Magnotta's home. The ball strayed into Magnotta's yard and she refused to return it, according to the police report. One of the players was Wagner's son, 12.

Wagner's son then went home and told his mother, who confronted the woman.

'I was wrong to do that,' Wagner, 48, of Los Angeles Avenue, said Monday. 'I should have just called the police.'

Wagner said she never punched the woman. She said Magnotta screamed at her and sprayed her in the face with a garden hose.

'I tried to knock the hose out of her hand and she punched me in the jaw,' Wagner said. 'I had enough semblance of consciousness to not hit her, but I did grab her clothes. I had to defend myself.'

The boys backed up Wagner's story, the police report states.

Magnotta, reached at work yesterday, declined to talk about the incident.

Wagner said Magnotta has harassed her and other neighbors for about a year.

Wagner said she hopes a city magistrate will sort out the neighborhood disagreement at the hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

Wagner is the wife of state Sen. Jack Wagner.

David Conti can be reached at dconti@tribweb.com or (412) 441-0976.

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