By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
"I'm sure you've known plenty of passive people who just go, 'Oh well,' " he continues. "You can tell ... I'm not passive ... I'm going to do whatever the law says that I'm allowed to do."
In fact, Zaffina has even told the Weekly that he would sue "if anything came out wrong ..." in the story.
Zaffina's ability to inspire ire and fear, however, extends beyond the courtroom, and, as it turns out, the SCDA was not his first darts league.
"The last image I have of Dino is of him threatening to sue us," says Doug Tice, who's been in the Pacific league for 20 years and serves as its recording secretary. "He's a hard guy to forget."
Several members of the Pacific Darts Association declined to comment for fear of retribution. However, according to Zaffina and the league's then-president, Richard Lawrence, everything was running along smoothly until one day a player threatened to harm one of Zaffina's teammates during a match. Zaffina says he expressed concern to the board over some liability issues related to the threats, but that the league did not take strong enough action, so he decided to leave.
When asked whether he threatened to sue the Pacific Darts Association, Zaffina says that members Lawrence and Tice are lying, or perhaps misunderstood him at the time.
"I said, 'Guys, we could be sued,' " says Zaffina. "I certainly had no grounds to go after them at that point in time."
Lawrence, however, paints a more colorful picture.
Zaffina "issued threats of suing the board himself and talked of taking away people's houses following a judgment that he surely would win," Lawrence wrote in an email to the Weekly. "Some people got scared. ... Fortunately for the Pacific Darts Association, Dino chose to take what for him was the high road. He left the board and actually stopped playing in the PDA."
When Zaffina was in full swing as a member of the SCDA in 2010, his fellow darts players knew nothing about his legal track record or his history with the other league. But they were about to get a crash course.
About a month after Zaffina emailed Fischer and the league complaining about the presentation of his name on the website's high-scores list, Zaffina was upset again. This time, on Aug. 18, 2010, he emailed the league to say that his middle initial was not being included on the website's moving banner displaying players' scores. His gripe sparked a flurry of email responses from league members — everything from "Dino, blow it out your ASS :)" to the more tempered, "It's extremely unlikely anyone will be mislead [sic] as to who is on the results banner."
Frustrated by Fischer's refusal to accommodate him, Zaffina reached out for help to Milan Sabata, a thick-necked, soft-spoken Czechoslovakian plumber who sat on the league's board. As Sabata tells it, Zaffina called him at least five times after 8 p.m. on Aug. 19, 2010, demanding his name be spelled correctly or removed from the SCDA website by midnight.
"Then he starts threatening me," Sabata says. "He goes, 'How would you feel if your customers go online and see that your picture is on the child molester's website?' So I say, 'Dino, how can you do that?' And he said he had a way to do it, and he scared me." (Zaffina admits that he made a comment about the sex offender registry but vehemently denies that it was a threat.)
That night, as the clock raced toward midnight, Sabata says he frantically urged Fischer to take down Zaffina's name. But Fischer was watching a movie on TV and couldn't be bothered. Maybe after the flick was over, he told Sabata.
Growing more anxious, Sabata kept checking the website to see if Zaffina's name was still there. No changes. Then Sabata received an email from Zaffina:
"It's 12:01 a.m.," it said, "past the deadline."
It would be roughly another 20 minutes or so, Sabata says, before Zaffina's name was removed. At 8:15 a.m. the next day, Zaffina emailed the league, saying, "If you continue with this foolish behavior, as you have in the past with your refusal to spell my name correctly, I sure hope the SCDA and certain individuals have enough money to sustain a defense to what will be forthcoming."
On Aug. 29, 2011, David Irete was excited as he jammed through San Fernando Valley traffic on his way to the SCDA annual meeting at the Robin Hood Pub. A camera operator on Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, Irete also was a die-hard darts promoter and a member of the league's board, who was up for the position of SCDA president that very night.
As Irete neared the bar, he felt his cellphone begin to vibrate inside his pocket. He had a new email. It was not good news.
Zaffina, from whom many of the darts players and league officers had not heard in more than seven months, had blasted an email out to the SCDA members under the banner, "Press Release ... Southern California Darts Association Inc. Returns From the Dead After 34 Years."
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