‘He was a champion of Italian Americans’: COVID-19 claims Bronx legend, Phil Foglia

Phil Foglia
Photo courtesy Foglia family

Phil Foglia prosecuted mobsters, drug dealers and corrupt politicians and won record-setting civil settlements.

He was best friends with actor Chazz Palminteri, loved his family and the law. Sadly, the lifelong Bronx resident passed away April 22 from COVID-19. He was 69 years old.

“Other than my dad, Phil was the greatest man I’ve ever met,” a heartbroken Palminteri said to the Bronx Times. “He was a champion of Italian Americans.”

Palminteri said they grew up together in Belmont on Arthur Avenue. The duo went to Yankee, Knicks and Giants games and unlike most guys whose heroes were Mickey Mantle or Rocky Marciano, Foglia’s hero was President George Washington.

“He was a student of history,” Palminteri said. “He was such a patriot.”

Foglia, a Pelham Gardens resident, impacted many people over the years. The son of a detective, he found his path in the courtroom.

Foglia was an assistant district attorney in the Bronx working in appeals and rackets, where he ultimately was elevated to deputy chief of economic crimes and the public corruption unit. He was an Assistant United States Attorney under Rudolph Giuliani assigned to the Organized Crime and Public Corruption Strike Force for over four years. In 1988, he was appointed Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations in Queens County.

Phil Foglia at a wedding. Photo courtesy of the Foglia family

He was a partner at Culleton, Marinaccio and Foglia, a White Plains law firm, for 17 years and was special counsel for the City of Yonkers for a decade. He then served as special deputy inspector general and chief on investigations for the State of New York until last summer.

In 1981 he met attorney Michael Marinaccio at the DA’s office. The two remained friends for nearly 40 years. Their families went on yearly vacations to places like Virginia Beach, Hershey Park and the Jersey Shore.

“It’s hard for me to separate our personal relationship from our professional one,” he said.

They worked together briefly at the DA’s office and in White Plains for several years. In fact, they played on the district attorney softball team. Marinaccio said that he was one of a kind and will be missed.

“He was a very good investigator,” Marinaccio said. “He was somebody that you were willing to listen to. He was a leader that people were willing to follow.”

According to Marinaccio, Foglia got sick March 22 and spent 28 days on a ventilator in the hospital. They thought he was doing better recently, but he never recovered.

Foglia was particularly proud of his Italian-American identity. He was the chief legal counsel for the Italian American Defense and Higher Education Fund and a founding board member of the Italian American Museum.

Foglia was married for over three decades to Jacqueline and has two sons, Philip, Jr. and Louis. Louis spoke highly about his father.

“He was an exceptional father and loving husband for 44 years,” Louis said. “His demanding career never left us wanting for attention. He was a little league coach for the better part of two decades. We spent countless hours together in movie theaters and at Yankee Stadium.”

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