Vincent Viola, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, allegedly punched a concessions worker at a racehorse auction in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. last year, according to a police report obtained by the New York Times.
Viola — the owner of the NHL Florida Panthers and retired Army Ranger — reportedly punched the concessions worker in the face after confronting the man for pushing his wife when she tried to enter the event’s kitchen area. His wife, Theresa, was attempting to get water for a woman who had fainted. The incident happened in August.
“Vincent states about 45 minutes after the incident occurred, Theresa located the subject who had pushed her and then pointed him out to Vincent,” the police report reads. “Vincent then reportedly confronted the subject, [redacted] two subjects then engaged in a verbal dispute. [Redacted] states the argument escalated with Viola punching him just prior to my arrival on scene.”
The altercation left the worker, whose name was redacted from the police report, with a “bloody lip.”
Greg Veitch, the chief of the Saratoga Springs Police Department, told the Times that neither men pressed charges although officers “determined that both incidents involved actions that could have been charged as harassment, a violation level offense in New York State.”
In statements to the Times, a spokesman for Viola said that the nominee “loves his wife and regrets the incident.” In a follow up statement he added that Viola had notified the Trump transition team about the incident.
“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,” the spokesman said. “Mr. Viola notified the Transition Team of the disagreement early on in the process and we consider this matter closed.”
The auction — held by the horse auction company Fasig-Tipton — was not all flying fists, according to the Times, Viola also purchased a colt for $200,000.