President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, Vincent Viola reportedly punched a concessions worker in the face at a high-end racehorse auction in Saratoga Springs, NY last August.
The New York Times said that Viola — a hedge fund billionaire and owner of the Florida Panthers hockey team — struck the man in the face because Viola’s wife Theresa claimed he’d shoved her.
The Times filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and obtained a police report dated Aug. 11, 2016 that said officers were summoned to the Fasig-Tipton horse sales pavilion to break up a heated verbal dispute between two men.
Upon arriving, they found a man bleeding from a swollen lip and Viola said he’d struck the man — whose name was redacted — because earlier in the day, Theresa Viola said the man had shoved her when she entered a restricted area to get water for a woman who she said had fainted.
About 45 minutes after the confrontation between the food services worker and Theresa Viola, Vincent Viola — who is a retired U.S. Army Ranger — found the man and began to argue with him.
The situation quickly escalated and Viola reportedly punched the man.
Saratoga Springs Police Chief Greg Veitch told the Times that officers “determined that both incidents involved actions that could have been charged as harassment, a violation level offense in New York State.”
However, police did not witness the actual assault and both men ultimately declined to press charges. The auction employee denies shoving Theresa Viola.
A spokesman for Viola said, “Mr. Viola loves his wife and regrets the incident.”
Later, the spokesman followed up by saying, “Mr. Viola will always stand up and defend his wife, and in this case there was a simple disagreement with the matter being dropped and no charges were filed. Mr. Viola notified the Transition Team of the disagreement early on in the process and we consider this matter closed.”