Staten Island’s Scandal Duo

U.S. Republican Vito Fossella of New Jersey speaks at a press conference, along with U.S. Republican Congressman Mark Foley of Florida (not shown), about the recent purchase of the Port of Miami on Februrary 21, 2006 in Miami, Florida. The Bush administration deal, under which a state-owned Dubai company called Dubai Ports World located in the United Arab Emirates, includes the purchase six major ports around the United States. 
National Journal
Mike Magner
Add to Briefcase
Mike Magner
April 30, 2014, 8 a.m.

Be­fore Rep. Mi­chael Grimm’s al­leged mis­con­duct put him on the wrong side of a 20-count in­dict­ment this week, former Rep. Vito Fos­sella was hu­mi­li­ated by his own scan­dal in the very same con­gres­sion­al dis­trict, which cov­ers Staten Is­land and oth­er parts of New York City.

Ex­actly six years ago Thursday, Fos­sella was ar­res­ted and charged with drunk­en driv­ing in sub­urb­an Vir­gin­ia; 10 days later, he ad­mit­ted that the wo­man who picked him up when he was re­leased from jail was the moth­er of his child in an ex­tramar­it­al af­fair.

“I have had a re­la­tion­ship with Laura Fay, with whom I have a 3-year-old daugh­ter,” Fos­sella said in a pre­pared state­ment on May 10, 2008. “My per­son­al fail­ings and im­per­fec­tions have caused enorm­ous pain to the people I love and I am truly sorry.”

Ten days after that rev­el­a­tion, Fos­sella an­nounced he would re­tire in Janu­ary 2009 after 11 years in the House, end­ing an oth­er­wise un­tar­nished ca­reer as the suc­cessor to Re­pub­lic­an Reps. Susan Mo­lin­ari and her fath­er, Guy Mo­lin­ari, who had rep­res­en­ted Staten Is­land since 1981.

Fos­sella was suc­ceeded by Demo­crat­ic Rep. Mi­chael McMa­hon, who then lost the seat to Grimm in the Re­pub­lic­an wave of 2010. Grimm, a former FBI agent in New York, an­nounced this week that he is de­term­ined to seek a third term this fall, des­pite be­ing hit Monday with a stun­ning 20-count in­dict­ment that charged him with fraud, tax eva­sion, and oth­er of­fenses. Grimm says he is in­no­cent.

While the al­leg­a­tions against Grimm could res­ult in sig­ni­fic­ant pris­on time if he is con­victed, Fos­sella paid his debt to so­ci­ety by serving four days in the Al­ex­an­dria, Va., De­ten­tion Cen­ter in April 2009. The jail time was the res­ult of his plead­ing guilty to drunk­en driv­ing after his ar­rest on the night of May 1, 2008.

Even more prob­lem­at­ic for the former Cath­ol­ic high school bas­ket­ball play­er and Chris­ti­an pop mu­si­cian was the ad­mis­sion of his re­la­tion­ship with Fay, a re­tired Air Force of­ficer. Ap­par­ently Fos­sella, who was 43 at the time of his ar­rest, had not told his wife and three chil­dren on Staten Is­land about his second fam­ily.

Now 49, Fos­sella is re­portedly still mar­ried and works for Park Strategies, a lob­by­ing firm foun­ded by former Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Al D’Am­ato of New York, with of­fices in New York, Wash­ing­ton, and two oth­er cit­ies. Fos­sella de­clined re­quests for an in­ter­view.

Fos­sella most re­cently sur­faced late last year when he told the Staten Is­land Ad­vance that some lead­ing Re­pub­lic­ans in New York had en­cour­aged him to run against Grimm this year.

“I told them I’m at a good spot in my life and I have no plans to seek pub­lic of­fice,” Fos­sella told the Ad­vance in Decem­ber. However, he ad­ded, “That could change to­mor­row or next week.”

“The door is al­ways open,” Fos­sella said. “If things change down the line, we’ll re­vis­it it. But I can’t say now that I’m ready to do so.”

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