Bartlett man accused of punching special-needs bagger once killed woman in crash, was sued as wrestling coach

  • Bruce Mirabella

    Bruce Mirabella

  • Fighter Bruce "The Rott" Mirabella of Bartlett.

      Fighter Bruce "The Rott" Mirabella of Bartlett. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, May 2003

Updated 7/26/2019 7:13 PM

The Bartlett man accused of punching a bagger with special needs at his local Jewel-Osco earlier this week has a long history of legal issues.

Bruce Mirabella, 50, was convicted of reckless homicide for crashing a car while driving under the influence of alcohol.


He has a 1999 conviction in Cook County for domestic battery. And in 2016 a woman in Lake in the Hills sought an order of protection against him, according to McHenry County court records.

He once coached wrestling at Bartlett High School. In 2009, a former wrestling student sued him, alleging Mirabella body-slammed him to the ground in practice so hard the student dislocated both shoulders.

DuPage County court records say that on July 22, Mirabella was in a checkout line at Jewel-Osco to buy alcohol when he punched a grocery bagger in the face, grabbed his shoulders and kicked him in the buttocks.

Mirabella was charged with aggravated battery. He is free on bail and electronic monitoring, with orders to stay away from the store and the bagger.

Records do not indicate whether the bagger was injured. Bartlett police could not be reached for comment.

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Mirabella pleaded guilty to the reckless-homicide charge in 1995 in DuPage County circuit court. According to court records, in December 1993 Laurence and Geneva Von Kaenel were driving east on I-88 near Aurora, on the inside lane. Mirabella pulled around to pass them on the right but hit their car, sending it through a median and into oncoming westbound traffic, where it was hit by another car.

Geneva was killed, and Laurence was hospitalized for several months.

Mirabella was sentenced to five years in prison.

According to an investigation by a DuPage County probation officer, Mirabella was convicted in May 1987 of illegal transportation of alcohol in Cook County, received court supervision on a DUI charge in September 1987 in Cook County, and received court supervision in 1991 in downstate Madison County on a disorderly conduct charge.

On the night of the 1995 crash, he consumed three or four 16-ounce beers, he told police. But he continued to drink alcohol.

His probation officer wrote, "He does not believe that he has an alcohol problem," and that he had denied having a problem during an evaluation by a behavioral-health worker at Central DuPage Hospital. She recommended outpatient alcohol treatment and a psychological evaluation.

"Reportedly, the defendant also mentioned a history of steroid use," the probation officer's report stated.


In 2009, former Bartlett wrestler Vincent Esposito sued Mirabella and Elgin Area School District U-46 over injuries he said Mirabella caused in 2006.


According to court records, Esposito said that during a practice Mirabella picked him up and slammed him to the ground, then "slammed" his body on top of Esposito's, dislocating both of Esposito's shoulders.

Mirabella was a coach supervising practice, according to the suit and depositions taken for it. Mirabella said in a deposition he also consulted at other schools and wrestling clubs, for free or nominal pay.

The suit was settled out of court. A spokesman for the district said Mirabella has not been a coach for many years.

Mirabella is a 1987 graduate of Elgin High School.

A 2003 Daily Herald article indicates Mirabella studied mixed martial arts and entered a full-contact contest in Ottawa, fighting under the nickname "The Rott," in the 140 pounds-and-under class.

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