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Celtics doctor admits playing drinking game with teens at fatal party

July 11, 1997

QUINCY, Mass. (AP) _ The team doctor for the Boston Celtics has admitted playing a drinking game with at least three underage youths at a graduation party. One teen died in a drunken driving accident that night.

But Dr. Arnold Scheller, an orthopedic surgeon, said the point of tossing a ping pong ball into cups of beer was not to get drunk, even though scoring a ``basket″ meant another person had to drink beer.

``It took some skill to get the ball in the cup,″ Scheller said Wednesday.

The testimony came in the trial of John Lennon, 47, an oil company executive charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors and providing alcohol to underage youths.

Lennon threw a party on June 22, 1996, to celebrate his son’s graduation from Thayer Academy and his daughter’s graduation from college.

One of the guests, Gregory Smith, 18, a Thayer student, crashed his pickup truck into a utility pole on his way home. Tests showed the level of alcohol in his blood was twice the legal limit.

Scheller said he attended the party with his 18-year-old son, Matt, who brought beer.

Nine Thayer students also testified at the trial. They said alcohol was plentiful at the party, but Lennon did not serve them or encourage them to drink.

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