Bill ‘El Wingador’ Simmons Due in Court Friday
Angelo Cataldi of the 610 WIP morning show said news of the eating champion's arrest was shocking.
Facing first-degree cocaine distribution charges and a six-figure bail, Bill “El Wingador” Simmons has filed for a bail reduction hearing and will appear in Superior Court Friday, said Bernie Weisenfeld, a spokesperson for the Gloucester County prosecutor’s office.
Simmons, 50, of Woodbury Heights, was unable to post a $100,000 full-cash bail after his arrest last week, when state troopers stopped his car in Harrison Township.
State police said the five-time Wing Bowl champion had $8,000 worth of cocaine and more than $4,000 in cash on him. Search warrants executed at two area homes connected to him turned up more drugs, police said.
Simmons has enlisted the help of a public defender, and is now represented by Richard O’Brien. The bail filing came in Wednesday afternoon, and will be heard Friday morning in front of Judge Walter L. Marshall Jr., Weisenfeld said, unless Simmons can get together cash or property to cover his bail in the meantime.
Reactions to the public downfall of a man regarded as a lovable local hero reverberated Wednesday, as Wing Bowl emcee and SportsRadio 94WIP host Angelo Cataldi expressed his disbelief at the news.
“I am in a state of shock,” Cataldi said on his show. “When I heard this yesterday, I was incredulous.”
Cataldi called Simmons one of the nicest people he’s met and even volunteered to "get in court and testify to his character."
“This guy has been a really good guy to us in a hundred other ways,” Cataldi said.
Simmons was a fixture at Wing Bowl, winning five times, including three in a row between 2001 and 2003. His name stands atop the Wing Bowl Hall of Fame banner in the rafters of the Wachovia Center after he was inducted as its inaugural member in 2006.
Although Cataldi said he couldn’t believe the charges against Simmons, he said the law will sort things out.
“I pray he didn’t, because he’s a really good guy,” Cataldi said.
Simmons was trying to spin off his years of competitive eating into a reality show, dubbed “America’s Biggest Eater,” which launched a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, but appears to not have progressed beyond the development stage.
He had also sold a line of El Wingador chicken wings through the Swedesboro-based Rastelli Foods, but Andrea Carr, director of public relations for Rastelli, said the company had begun phasing out that line after a period of inactivity. A link to the El Wingador line on Rastelli's website went to a generic page Wednesday.
“Rastelli has not actively worked with Mr. Simmons in quite some time,” Carr said in an email. “We were very saddened to hear about Mr. Simmons’ situation and hope that it is resolved in a timely manner.”
Simmons’ own website, elwingador.net, was offline as of Tuesday, with a note that it had expired at the end of May.