Two former New York Giants football players convicted of assaulting women headlined a fundraiser for Tom Mastrangelo, a Morris County commissioner seeking a State Senate seat in the 26th district.
Christian Peter and Luke Petitgout, who have histories of violence against women, were on the invitation for Mastrangelo’s event last week to boost his bid to unseat Senate Assistant Minority Leader Joseph Pennacchio (R-Montville) in the June primary.
Peter, a Giants defensive tackle from 1997 to 2000, was sentenced to probation after being accused of groping two women while playing for the University of Nebraska in the 1990s. He was found guilty of grabbing a woman by the throat after she called him a rapist.
Another woman who went to college with Peter accused him of raping her twice, but he said the sex was consensual, and prosecutors declined to file charges against the star football player. A civil lawsuit filed against the college was settled out of court.
His accuser, Kathy Redmond, founded the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes.
In 1996, the New England Patriots renounced their rights to Peter one week after drafting him after women’s groups – and team owner Robert Kraft’s wife – made his history of sexual assault an issue.
Petitgout, who played for the Giants from 1999 to 2006, served 30 days in jail in 2015 for allegedly punching his estranged wife and a man she was on a date with and was ordered to attend a 26-week batterer’s program. He was later put on probation for one year and forced to attend anger management classes for sexually assaulting and choking his wife.
“Tom ‘The Bully’ Mastrangelo has a history of questionable behavior,” Pennacchio told the New Jersey Globe. “I am not surprised that as a moth is attracted to light, Mastrangelo is attracted to bad behavior and those who also subscribe to bad behavior.”
The event was organized by former New York Giants star Bart Oates, Mastrangelo said. Petitgout, who was listed on the invitation, did not attend.
Mastrangelo said that Oates was responsible for picking Peter and Petitgout.
“The NFL Alumni Association provides speakers based on request. Bart Oates, president of the NFL Alumni Association and a pastor with his church, was a speaker at the event,” Mastrangelo told the New Jersey Globe. “It’s understood any speaker who was in attendance is provided and screened by the NFLAA.”
He said that his campaign will either pay the football players directly, or make a contribution to a charity requested by the player.
Pat Hanlon, a spokesman for the Giants, told the New Jersey Globe that permission to use the Giants logo on the political fundraising invitation was neitehr requested nor granted.
Instead, Mastrangelo sought to divert the issue toward Pennacchio.
“Joe Pennacchio should be more concerned with his record of not supporting women and his abysmal record of failure to achieve results for New Jersey,” he said.
Pennacchio dismissed that notion.
“In his zeal to raise political cash, Mastrangelo will stop at nothing,” the five-term conservative Republican senator stated. “Mastrangelo should apologize to all victims of abuse, but we know he won’t.”
According to a social media post by Mastrangelo, several prominent political leaders were part of the event, including a potential 2025 GOP gubernatorial candidate.
“My long-time friend Bill Spadea appeared and also made an excellent speech to the full-capacity crowd of supporters,” Mastrangelo said.
Florham Park Mayor Mark Taylor, who served as master of ceremonies for the fundraiser, said he “knew nothing about” Peter and Petitgout’s history of sexually and physically assaulting women and said he would “absolutely not” have attended if he knew that.
Essex County Commissioner Leonard Luciano, a Democrat, was in attendance.
“Tom’s a great friend. We’ve worked together in government, and I’ve been to many of his sports nights,” Luciano said. “I didn’t know that the event was a fundraiser for the Senate. If I knew, I wouldn’t have been there. I was given a comp ticket.”
He said he was “disgusted to learn that this was something more than his annual commissioner event.”
There were two invitations circulated for the fundraiser. One asked that checks be made payable to “Friends of Tom Mastrangelo,” while another solicited contributions to either “Friends of Tom Mastrangelo for Commissioner” or to “Friends of Tom Mastrangelo for Senator.” Both committees were included in the disclaimer.
“We’ve got some great guests attending. Several Giants will be there,” Mastrangelo said.
Luciano said he was unaware that the two former NFL players had been convicted of sexual assault charges.
“If I knew that, I wouldn’t have been there,” he explained. “That’s a disgrace. That’s a total disgrace.”
Mastrangelo listed Todd Christie, the brother of former Gov. Chris Christie, as one of the donors for the event. Todd Christie was discovered to have an account with the Ashley Madison Agency, an online dating service aimed at people looking for extramarital relationships after a hacker obtained customer data.
Pennacchio was co-chairman of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign in New Jersey in 2020.