Joey Buttafuoco, who had repeatedly denied having sex with Amy Fisher, pleaded guilty Tuesday to third-degree rape for sleeping with the teen-ager who later shot and seriously wounded his wife.
"On July 2, 1991, I had sexual relations with Amy Fisher at the Freeport Motel," Buttafuoco said in a clear voice before a packed courtroom, acknowledging the affair for the first time.
Asked whether he knew that Fisher was 16 at the time, he replied: "Yes, sir." The age of consent in New York is 17.
His plea was one of the final acts of the saga that began on May 19, 1992, when Fisher shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the head to clear the way for the affair. Fisher, who is now 19, is serving five to 15 years for the shooting.
The incident and subsequent publicity captured the public's imagination. An instant book and three made-for-TV movies were produced. The Buttafuocos were guests on the "Donahue" show. Jokes proliferated from talk show hosts: David Letterman drew laughs by simply saying "Buttafuoco."
The 37-year-old Long Island body-shop owner, who will be sentenced Nov. 15, had nothing to say after the 20-minute hearing before Nassau County Judge Jack Mackston.
Under a plea bargain, Buttafuoco's sentence will be no more than six months in jail, five years of probation and a $5,000 fine.
If he receives the maximum, Buttafuoco could be released after four months.
"It was a difficult and hard day. I thought he handled it well," said Buttafuoco's attorney, Dominic Barbara. "Joey Buttafuoco is prepared to do whatever he has to do for his children and his family."
He was charged in a 19-count indictment with statutory rape, sodomy and endangering the welfare of a child. The plea he entered Tuesday to the most serious count resolves the whole case.
Fisher's lawyer, Philip Catapano, said of the plea that "at least the world will know Amy Fisher was not lying."
Although Buttafuoco denied it, Fisher said they had an affair that included trysts in four motels, at Buttafuoco's body shop and aboard his boat, "Double Trouble."