Trese graduated from the State University of New York at Purchase, where he first met Gomez and his classmates included actress Parker Posey. He had begun his career as a child performer, appearing in a minor role in a 1979 New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Othello," starring Raul Julia and Christopher Walken. After his auspicious feature debut, Trese went on to appear briefly as a Matt Dillon's friend in Tim Hunter's "The Saint of Fort Washington" (1993). He delivered another strong performance as Peter Gallagher's younger brother, a police officer who harbors childhood jealousies, in Steven Soderbergh's "The Underneath" (1995). Trese again played petty crooks in his two subsequent features. In the comic "Palookaville" (1996), he was a family man drawn into criminal schemes that continually go awry. Reteaming with Gomez for "illtown" (also 1996), Trese co-starred with Lili Taylor in the tale of young lovers who try to abandon their illegal activities.On the small screen, Trese appeared with Christine Lahti and Terry O'Quinn in "The Good Fight" (Lifetime, 1992), about a formerly married couple who take on the tobacco industry. He also appeared in the busted pilot "Philly Heat" (ABC, 1995), about firefighters, and made guest appearances on "Law and Order" and a Nick Gomez-directed episode of "Homicide: Life on the Street." Trese had a recurring role as the intense younger brother of police detective Diane Russell (Kim Delaney) on "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1995-96).