AMY FISHER WAS NERVOUS. SHE PACED the hallway of the Nassau County District Attorney's office in Mineola, N.Y., last week as she waited to speak at the sentencing of her former lover, Joey Buttafuoco, for statutory rape. Fourteen months earlier, the Long Island teenager had negotiated a plea bargain and a 5-to-15-year sentence for shooting Buttafuoco's wife, Mary Jo, and leaving her permanently impaired. Now, America's most famous auto-body repairman would face his own judgment day.
By law, Fisher—whom Buttafuoco admits taking to a motel when she was still 16—was permitted to speak to the court. But she was frightened. According to her attorney, Eric Naiburg, she didn't want to face Joey, whom she hadn't seen since May 1992, a week before the shooting. "I don't know if I can go through with this," she said.
Naiburg tried to reassure her, and moments later, as Amy entered the courtroom, spectators shifted to get a better look. After that, the sentencing went according to script. Amy, 19, spoke first. In an unsteady, barely audible voice, she read a statement written by Naiburg that described her 10-month affair with Buttafuoco, 37, and reiterated her claim that he encouraged her to shoot his wife. "I was a 16-year-old teenager shown a world that I was not ready for..." she said. "This man took me to expensive restaurants and cheap motels.... I know with all my heart that if Mr. Buttafuoco had permitted me to cross the bridge between adolescence and adulthood unmolested, I would not be where I am today."
Then it was Buttafuoco's turn. He remained silent, glaring at Fisher, as his attorney, Dominic Barbara, pointed out that few statutory-rape crimes are prosecuted and even fewer defendants jailed. Barbara ripped into Fisher, and he called his client "a loving, devoted husband," a characterization that brought jeers and laughter from courtroom spectators.
Nassau County Court Judge Jack Mackston appeared unmoved. He swiftly and without explanation imposed the maximum sentence, which amounts to six months in prison, a $5,000 fine and five years probation.
Afterward, Fisher, her mother, Roseann, and her lawyers were permitted a brief visit in a second-floor lounge, where Amy was given a steaming plate of linguine and mussels from a nearby Italian restaurant. Even so, says Richard Haeg, a private investigator hired by the Fisher family, "there was no joy in that room." Less than an hour later, Amy wras returned to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility north of New York City.
Mary Jo Buttafuoco, who did not attend the sentencing hearing, reacted bitterly, cursing Fisher and the District Attorney's office and crying on the telephone with Joey's older sister, Lucretia. "It's all wrong," she told A Current Affair. "Now I get to stay home and take care of the house and the kids and the bills." She plans to visit her husband as often as permitted: three times a week. And while she finally has acknowledged that Joey and Amy had a sexual relationship, Mary Jo insists it doesn't matter. "I know he had an affair, and I don't care," she told the tabloid TV show. "There, I said it. End of story." One can only hope.
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