One night last summer, Gary Hoffman’s two sons went to the Corner with two friends to hang out. While in the Biltmore Grill, his 22-year-old son Jason somehow got into an argument at the upstairs bar with some UVA wrestlers. Shortly thereafter, the fight spilled out front onto Elliewood Avenue. As a result of the brawl, both of the Hoffmans received injuries, most significantly Jason, who was punched in the right eye and subsequently lost most of his vision in that eye.
A wrestler named Matthew Federici was also hurt when Jason punched him, knocking him to the ground outside Coupe DeVille’s. The police arrived to find Federici laying on the ground in a pool of his own blood because of a head wound. Jason was then arrested and charged with felony assault.
Hoffman’s sons maintain that they were targeted that night by a group of wrestlers intent on whipping them. While his older brother was at the Biltmore, Sam had gone elsewhere but arrived on Elliewood just as Jason was embroiled in the fight. When he tried to intervene, Sam says he was attacked himself, winding up in the flower bed in front of Heartwood Books lying in the fetal position.
Afterwards, the two Hoffman sons filed individual misdemeanor assault charges against three wrestlers—including Federici—that were dismissed after one of them was misidentified. Ever since, Hoffman senior—president of a local financial planning and investment advisory group—has relentlessly worked to have the UVA wrestlers brought up on charges.
“There is no doubt that the tenacity and determination of Gary Hoffman has kept this case alive,” says Steve Rosenfield, Hoffman’s third attorney. Hoffman eventually took his sons to the chief magistrate’s office in April, where he tried to file mob assault charges against various members of the wrestling team. At the time, he was refused on the grounds that an investigation into the matter was underway. Hoffman left frustrated, unaware that that investigation was about to conclude.
On May 12, 2008, misdemeanor assault charges were filed against Federici and another wrestler, Daniel Gonsor, an 18-year-old who recently earned All-America honors at the University Freestyle National Championships. Their trial will be on June 13 in the General District Court, four days after Jason’s circuit court trial for the related felony charge. Jason Hoffman was also charged with a misdemeanor.
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