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PROSECUTOR: VALLI'S WIFE `OBNOXIOUS; LAWYERS OPEN CASES OVER TIFF AT RESTAURANT.

Byline: Don Holland Daily News Staff Writer

Promising a glimpse of ``obnoxious celebrities,'' prosecutors launched their case Tuesday against the wife of crooner Frankie Valli, who is accused of slapping a restaurateur during an dispute over menu prices.

Deputy District John Lonergan's opening argument offered a ``preview of coming attractions,'' in which he portrayed defendant Randy Valli as a loud and obnoxious patron who slapped the owner of the Secret Garden restaurant in Moorpark last fall.

``This is not a case about celebrity stalking,'' Lonergan said. ``It's a case about obnoxious celebrities.''

The Vallis and their longtime friends, one-time teen idol Frankie Avalon and his wife, Kay, were dining on rack of lamb Oct. 7 when an argument erupted over prices at the swank eatery.

Lonergan said that after a barrage of ill-mannered comments and a heated dispute, restaurant co-owner Mary Jean ``Alex'' Sofsky tried to get the foursome to leave, and that she pulled on Randy Valli's chair.

Calling Randy Valli ``the loudest and most obnoxious'' of the four, Lonergan said she slapped Sofsky across the face.

The four finally left without paying the $178 bill, although Frankie Avalon later sent a check for the total, he said.

Frankie Valli, the falsetto singer who for years has fronted the Four Seasons, and Frankie Avalon, known for his role in ``Beach Blanket Bingo'' and his hit recording ``Venus,'' are expected to testify during the misdemeanor battery trial against Randy Valli.

She has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she could face a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Defense attorney Chuck Samonsky said the trouble started with Sofsky, who confronted the guests after one of them made a comment about the restaurant's prices.

``These are not the type of people who cause problems at restaurants,'' Samonsky said, ``and they did not cause the problem here.''

As tempers heated up, Sofsky yanked on Randi Valli's chair and then grabbed her by the shoulders, Samonsky said.

Sofsky ``yanked her so hard that the (metal clasp on the) bra that Randi Valli was wearing that night . . . was twisted right out of its place,'' he said, and held up the black lingerie.

``When this was happening, Randy Valli rose up from her chair and, in self-defense, pushed at the person of Alex Sofsky,'' Samonsky continued, adding that he believes Sofsky is seeking publicity and possible money from Valli in a lawsuit.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 7, 1999
Words:407
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