Dec. 9, 2009
Groom testifies wedding was just a ruse
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Eugene Pallisco paid for his lavish June 2002 wedding to Lesley Keith, took her and her young daughters on trips around the country, bought her jewelry and helped pay the household bills.
But they were never husband and wife. In fact, they were never intimate. They were "just friends," he said.
Pallisco made those claims to an Oakland County Circuit Court judge on Tuesday during a hearing that is part of a lawsuit Keith has filed against Pallisco. Keith claims Pallisco duped her into marrying him, all while he was married to a West Bloomfield woman who is the mother of his four children -- all younger than 8.
Pallisco insisted to Judge Cheryl Matthews that the $37,000 wedding at the Ritz Carlton in Dearborn was a "Tina and Tony" production, referring to a popular interactive dinner theater play where actors pretend to be part of a wedding party and mingle with the guests.
"Did you intend to marry Lesley Keith at that event in 2002?" his attorney Robert Sheehan asked him.
"No, I did not," Pallisco said.
"Did you consent to marry Lesley Keith?"
"No, I did not."
Instead, Pallisco insisted that his metal recycling business in Detroit had been hampered by an overzealous police officer writing environmental tickets. Keith, he said, was related to a police officer who could convince the zealous cop to back off if he thought Pallisco was married to Keith.
"It was to shield me," he said of the wedding that he claims was staged.
His attorney asked him why have the wedding at the expensive hotel "and not the VFW hall," and Pallisco gave a long account of how difficult it is to do business in Detroit and how he had to make the wedding "look like the real thing."
Pallisco's attorneys also played several voice mails Keith left Pallisco, begging for money and sometimes using profanity.
The judge is expected to hear additional testimony at an upcoming hearing, then decide whether the matter can go to trial. No date has been set.
Keith, who now lives in Arizona, is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress.
The wedding photo of Lesley Pizzuti -Keith and Eugenio Pallisco on Saturday, June 29, 2002.