From The Saratogian Newspaper
Trump nominee allegedly hit security worker at Saratoga Springs horse sale Trump nominee allegedly hit security worker at Saratoga Springs horse sale
By Paul Post, The Saratogian
Posted: 01/19/17, 1:41 PM EST
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of the army allegedly punched a security worker during a Fasig-Tipton horse sale last Aug. 8 in Saratoga Springs.
The incident was reported Wednesday by The New York Times, two days before Trump’s inauguration Friday as the 45th president of the United States.
The Times said billionaire Vincent Viola, 60, a retired army ranger, punched a worker who allegedly pushed Viola’s wife, Teresa, when she tried to enter a restricted kitchen area to obtain water for a woman who had fainted.
In a statement, Trump Transition Team spokesman David White said, “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.”
The Times obtained a Saratoga Springs police report about the incident through a Freedom of Information Act request. The same redacted report was provided to The Saratogian on Thursday.
Saratoga Springs Police Chief Greg Veitch said Thursday neither Viola nor the security worker were charged because police didn’t witness the incident and neither man wanted to press charges.
“Mr. Viola did not make any admissions that he did, in fact, punch the employee and the employee stated that he did not push Mrs. Viola,” Veitch said in a press release.
But the police report says the security worker “sustained a swollen, bloody lip as a result of the alleged punch.”
The Times described the employee as a “concessions worker.”
But Angelo Mazzone, owner of Clifton Park-based Mazzone Hospitality LLC, said the person was a temporary security worker, hired by former Saratoga Springs Police Chief Chris Cole, who is now Mazzone’s security administrator.
“When we do big events like rock concerts and horse sales we need security,” Mazzone said. “Usually Chris does it himself. Sometimes he hires extra people.”
It is not clear if the security worker was in uniform or wearing plain clothes.
Kentucky-based Fasig-Tipton holds prestigious horse sales each summer during the Saratoga racing season. The most prized yearlings quite often fetch more than $1 million.
In his report, the responding Saratoga Springs police officer said he was flagged down by a patron outside the East Avenue sales pavilion, and advised about a verbal dispute taking place upstairs.
The report says Viola confronted the security worker after Viola’s wife pointed him out, about 45 minutes after the alleged pushing incident.
“The two subjects then engaged in a verbal dispute,” the police officer’s report says. “(The security worker) states the argument escalated with Viola punching him just prior to my arrival on the scene.”
Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning said Thursday, “Fasig-Tipton conducted an internal investigation of the incident and determined that any allegations of assault were without merit.”
Viola recently purchased a home at 704 North Broadway, in Saratoga Springs, for $2.5 million from Albany businessman Ed Swyer. Viola made much of his estimated $1.8 billion fortune with Virtu Financial, a Wall Street high-frequency trading firm he co-founded.
Viola also owns the NHL’s Florida Panthers, and he and his wife both own racing stables and several champion horses such as Liam’s Map, winner of the 2015 $1 million Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, at Keeneland.
The Times said Viola purchased a yearling for $200,000 during last summer’s sale, when the incident allegedly occurred.
Fasig-Tipton President Boyd Browning could not immediately be reached for comment about the incident.
The secretary of the army is the top civilian in charge of this branch of the military’s budget and personnel.
Viola’s appointment awaits U.S. Senate confirmation. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has previously expressed support for Trump’s choice.
In tweets reported by the Washington Post, Schumer said Viola is “second to none” and that he’s “up for the job.”