Marty Jannetty has always had a reputation as a wild, crazy partier. His battle with the Tampa Police Department and legal system is just one example of the kind of life Marty has led, and still in some cases still lives to this day.
Fight: Marty Jannetty vs Tampa Police Department
Date: January 25, 1992
Location: Yucatan Liquor Stand in Tampa, FL
Source: John Clark’s Wrestling Flyer Interview Collection #1, Wrestling Observer Newsletter
The calendar had just turned 1992, and if you recall, the WWF was in the middle of an enormous media blitz for a series of scandals involving steroids and sex. While the in-ring product focused on the Royal Rumble and build to WrestleMania VIII, behind the scenes they were in full panic mode as the news stories kept rolling in.
When it came to steroids and street drugs, the WWF was attempting to crack down as much as possible. Not for the health of the wrestlers, but to save Vince McMahon’s ass since he knew the feds were hot on his trail. This is why physiques kept changing dramatically during this time, shrinking in record fashion. The company was not 100% clean, but they were certainly cleaner than at any time prior to this period.
Marty Jannetty had just split from Shawn Michaels, his former tag team partner in the Rockers. While both men had their fun on the road for years, it was Marty who was more out of control and wild (even though he was older than Shawn). Marty may hold the record for the guy who was fired by the WWF more times than anyone else, and there’s a reason for that. He’s a talented wrestler, yet the man parties too hard sometimes.
And when you party too hard, eventually you run into trouble. Marty Jannetty’s legal battles in Tampa really hurt his career at the time, and while you can argue he was unjustly punished relative to the actions he took, it was only a matter of time before his partying would catch up with him.
Wrestlers often have women they know and sleep with in each city they visit. So when they’re in town, married or not, they have go-to women lined up for them. Some are strippers or dancers, and others may be groupies (or ‘ring rats’ as known in wrestling lingo). Marty Jannetty was certainly no stranger to sleeping around, and in his teeny bopper babyface role, he clearly had more opportunities than most (as did Shawn).
On this particular evening in Tampa, Marty’s date for the night was a woman named Angela Ialacci. She was a dancer at a “doll house,” as Marty told the story. There was only one problem: she was only 19. The drinking age in Florida is of course 21. Marty claimed he did not know she was underage, and he figured that since she was a dancer, she must’ve been at least 21.
Angela used a fake ID to get into the Yucatan Liquor Stand with Marty, which is a nightclub in Tampa (which has since closed) that a lot of the wrestlers go to. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that this entire incident happened when Angela tried to use her fake ID to get in, but according to Marty, that isn’t true. Angela and Marty were able to enter the club without incident, and they stayed there awhile.
The two were having a good time, and Marty said the club knew she was under 21 but still continued serving her alcohol because she was with Marty and everyone knew and loved Marty. This is typical even today, as women with celebrities usually get a free pass because that’s one of the perks of being a celebrity. Still, if the club knew she was under 21, then that must’ve meant Marty knew she was under 21, because he was the one telling the story. Earlier he had claimed she didn’t know she was under 21, so it’s not clear when he knew and when (or if) he didn’t.
Everything would’ve been fine, except Angela started acting up and making a scene. The more she drank, the more she acted up. The nightclub security told her she had to leave. Since she was Marty’s date, he did the right thing and went with her (probably figuring he would at least get some sex out of this, but in hindsight he should’ve stayed behind and let her go by herself).
By this time it was around 2am. Marty figured they’d just leave and go back home. Instead, police were there waiting for them. They asked Angela for her ID, and she didn’t want to give it to them since it was a fake. So the cop reached for her pocketbook, and when he did, she yanked it away.
At that point, Marty claimed the cop grabbed Angela and threw her down on the concrete road. He then grabbed a fistful of her hair and banged her head on the concrete. Marty claimed the officer was 240 lbs, and Angela about 5’-2” and maybe 100 lbs. This angered him, so he tried to rescue her by pulling the officer off of her.
There were two other cops there, and once they saw Marty put his hands on one of their fellow police officers, they jumped in. Marty claimed he never hit any of them, and instead simply prevented them from beating him up. He said the cops were “A bunch of wimps and they couldn’t do it, and they got pissed off about it.”
What made this incident especially newsworthy is that it happened right when the trial of Rodney King was taking place, and video footage of King being beaten by the LAPD was being shown constantly on television. Had camera phones and YouTube existed in 1992, this whole situation would’ve gone down a lot differently and Marty would’ve been the hero and victim instead of the dastardly villain.
“The Tampa Police Department Are a Bunch of A**holes” – Marty Jannetty
Meanwhile, reports surfaced that police found a gram of cocaine on both Marty and Angela, including a twisted bag of the stuff that Marty was carrying. The story grew to where Marty was accused of dealing coke inside the club. Marty claimed none of that was true, and that only Angela was found with a gram of cocaine in her pocketbook.
Originally Marty was charged with assaulting an officer, but once he was able to somehow prove he didn’t actually hit any of them, he was instead charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice, which is a felony. The whole thing turned into a big legal mess, and Marty and his lawyer ended up doing a lot of plea bargaining.
There were also problems with the judge. When Marty arrived in court, there was the expected circus and everyone recognized him. Even the lawyers would come up to him and ask for his autograph for their kids. The judge was not a wrestling fan, and word on the street is she was sick of pro wrestlers being portrayed as role models on television, when in fact in real life they were often troublemakers. Marty was going to be the subject of her venom and he wasn’t going to get off easy.
Angela Ialacci received a relative slap on the wrist, getting only a year of probation with no restrictions. She was free to come and go as she pleased.
Marty, who had saved her from a further beating by the much bigger police officer, got six months of community control, which was essentially house arrest and he couldn’t go anywhere except to and from work. Once those six months were up, he’d be on probation for two and a half years. In addition, he had to pay “ungodly” fines and do a whopping 250 hours of community service. Finally, he had to submit a urine test every single week for three months, and then bi-weekly for another three months, followed by random testing for an additional two years.
Marty joked to the judge, “Is there any way I’m going to get AIDS from this?”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Well, I just got f*cked,” responded Marty.
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that Marty was also arrested for possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. We’ve not seen the police report, but as we’ve noted, Marty said they only found drugs on Angela and that they didn’t find any on him.
The WWF told everyone that Marty was indefinitely suspended in January. Since word had not yet gotten out about the arrest, many figured he was suspended for failing a drug test. Despite their claims that Marty was suspended, he did work either the following day or following weekend in Japan for the SWS promotion. This was a booking made through the WWF, so many figured either the suspension was lifted or the office was lying to the wrestlers.
Marty was eventually fired, though. By the time he was actually sentenced, he was working indies and about to start with the USWA in Memphis.
The WWF did re-hire Marty in October of 1992, when he came out of the stands (wearing a cool Guns N Roses t-shirt) to attack Shawn Michaels and break a mirror over Sherri Martel’s head. Shawn was not yet a headliner, although he was being groomed for a main event title shot at Survivor Series against Bret Hart. The office re-hired Marty figuring there was money in an undercard program between he and Shawn Michaels stemming from their hot angle months prior and all their years together as a tag team.
An online search for Angela Ialacci revealed a domestic battery charge and mug shot in 2009. It’s definitely her, as her age and physical size are an exact match from 1992, and it happened in Largo, Florida near Tampa. She would’ve been 36 at the time of that arrest, some 17 years after the 1992 incident with Marty.
Marty could’ve avoided much of this legal trouble, even if he pulled the cop off of Angela. Had he simply let the other cops handcuff him without trying to resist, his sentence would’ve been much lighter. As it was, he was lucky he wasn’t charged with assault and it’s surprising he was able to convince the judge he didn’t strike anyone.
Angela dug her own grave, both by using the fake ID and having drugs on her. In the end, she didn’t get much of a reprimand anyway.
The Yucatan should’ve been the most liable at all, given they knew she was underage yet they still served her drinks. Of course, that would’ve been difficult to prove they were aware of her age. The truth is, this whole case was all about punishing a pro wrestler (since wrestlers were constantly in the news for steroids and sex scandals in late ’91 and early ’92, as noted) and less about prosecuting Angela or the nightclub.