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Patriots suspend video producer involved in Bengals filming incident

Zac Taylor is in his first season as Bengals coach.
Zac Taylor is in his first season as Bengals coach.Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

CINCINNATI — The Patriots suspended the producer who oversaw the filming of the Bengals sideline in Cleveland last week, a league source confirmed to the Globe Sunday.

The producer, Dave Mondillo, is a longtime full-time employee of Kraft Sports and Entertainment. He was suspended last week.

The NFL prohibits teams from filming opponents’ sidelines during games. The Patriots admitted their film crew violated NFL rules but claimed the crew was unaware of the rule.

In a statement provided to the Globe, Mondillo reiterated his assignment had nothing to do with the scouting of the Bengals.

“I had no intention to provide footage to football operations, I did not provide any footage, and I was never asked to do so.”

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The Patriots, in a statement Monday, said the video crew was in Cleveland to work on an in-house documentary about one of the team’s scouts. The Patriots said they had received permission from the Browns but failed to inform the Bengals or the NFL.

Mondillo confirmed that characterization of the events in his statement.

“We also took footage of the field as the intent was to show what he was looking at when he looked through his binoculars watching the game.”

Mondillo said he left the area, then returned to find an NFL official, two Bengals officials, and an NFL security person in the area. Mondillo’s team was asked to stop shooting video and complied. Mondillo said he gave the memory card with the video to NFL security.

Some of the video footage aired on Fox Sports’ pregame show less than a half-hour before the Patriots kicked off in Cincinnati. It shows footage of a camera screen filmed on a smartphone, with voices in the background discussing what’s on the screen.

“Come on, guys!” the Bengals official exclaims exasperatedly when the videographer says he’s working on a project about a scout while the video shows the Bengals’ sideline.

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It’s unclear if the voice on the video is Mondillo’s. A voice is heard telling the Bengals official he was looking for “field perspective,” and when asked why he thought he could film the sideline, he said he didn’t know he couldn’t.

Neither of the staffers affiliated with the Patriots heard on the video have been identified as Mondillo.

The videographer offers to delete the footage twice, and both he and a second videographer explain to the official there is no copy of the footage, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.

After the second offer to delete it, the Bengals official laughs and tells the videographer, “The damage is done, my friend.”

“No it isn’t, because we can delete it,” he replies.

The video controversy had echoes of Spygate, causing detractors to accuse the Patriots of cheating — even if they were facing a team destined for the worst record in the NFL and the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft this spring.

And it hung like a cloud over Foxborough all week, despite Bill Belichick maintaining that the football operations of the Patriots had nothing to do with the filming in the press box. He refused to comment beyond saying he knew nothing about it when asked multiple times over the course of the week.

After Sunday’s game, Bengals coach Zac Taylor once again refused to comment on the allegations. He wouldn’t reveal if Belichick said anything, and he wouldn’t say if the punishment for Mondillo was appropriate or not.

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“I don’t have any comment on anything regarding that situation,” Taylor said after his Bengals lost, 34-13, to drop to 1-13 on the season.

The league investigation into the matter is still pending, but the Patriots could reportedly receive a fine in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the loss of a low-level draft pick once it culminates.

Read the full statement from Mondillo:

On December 8th I was doing what I have done for more than 18 years - working to produce high quality content that tells the unique, behind-the-scenes stories of people, players and the organization. It never occurred to me that my actions and the actions of my crew would be misconstrued.

Our department was charged with completing four Do Your Job segments before the end of the year. One of the segments was to follow a pro scout throughout his week to show the audience what his job entails.

Before the shoot began, I obtained permission and received credentials and a parking pass for Sunday’s game.

With permission in hand, we started taping on December 6th – following the scout’s travel through the weekend to Cleveland and obtained footage of him working in his hotel room and interviewed him about his job. The final element needed to complete the story was to shoot from the press box at Progressive Field to show the audience what his responsibilities are on game day.

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We went directly to the press box and set up our camera to get the footage we needed. We interviewed and shot the Patriots scout sitting in a chair watching the action and panned back and forth from him to what he was seeing on the sidelines. We also took footage of the field as the intent was to show what he was looking at when he looked through his binoculars watching the game.

At that point, I went to the restroom and when I came back, my cameraman was told to stop shooting by someone from the NFL and he was joined by two others from the Bengals organization and an additional NFL security person. We stopped shooting immediately when asked to do so and cooperated fully. We had a detailed exchange about who we were and why we were there and what they wanted us to do. I gave the Sony SXS card to NFL security and we complied with their request, packed up and went home. I had no intention to provide footage to football operations, I did not provide any footage, and I was never asked to do so.


Dan Shaughnessy contributed to this report.