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Katuria D'Amato files federal lawsuit against estranged husband and former senator

On Tuesday, Thomas Liotti, Katuria D’Amato's attorney, held a news conference stating that the estranged wife of former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato filed a wide-ranging federal lawsuit against her husband, Nassau police, county prosecutors and the judge in her child custody case, charging the defendants "conspired" to deprive her of her civil and parental rights.  (Credit: Newsday / Shelby Knowles)

The estranged wife of former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato has filed a wide-ranging federal lawsuit against her husband, Nassau police, county prosecutors and the judge in her child custody case, charging the defendants "conspired" to deprive her of her civil and parental rights.

The 78-page lawsuit filed by Katuria D’Amato, an attorney embroiled in bitter divorce proceedings and a child custody fight with Alfonse D'Amato, cites 31 causes of action, including false arrest and imprisonment, fabrication of evidence and malicious prosecution.

The suit also cites violations of the federal RICO statute and refers to the 81-year-old former senator and Republican power broker as a "racketeer" who used his political influence to bully elected officials and law enforcement into violating her rights.

"I've had my heart ripped out every day by watching my children suffer and their civil rights, and my civil rights, being infringed upon," said Katuria D’Amato at a news conference Tuesday in Garden City. "Every time I think that tomorrow someone is going to make a decision based on the merits and the law and the truth. But it just doesn't happen."

The suit, which seeks $100 million in compensatory and punitive damages, named 33 defendants, including Alfonse D'Amato, Park Strategies LLC, his lobbying firm; his attorney, Stephen Gassman; the Nassau Police Department; Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside.

The case was filed Monday in federal court in Brooklyn because the Central Islip federal courthouse is named after Alfonse D'Amato and many of the judges working in the building were nominated or supported by the former senator, said Thomas Liotti, Katuria D’Amato's attorney.

“The former senator has enormous influence; more than I ever realized," said Liotti, who was thrown off the matrimonial case last year after State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lorintz found he "acted against the best interests" of the D'Amato children. 

In a statement, Alfonse D'Amato denied the allegations. "Even a cursory review of the litigation will reveal that the allegations are simply preposterous," he said. "They are without merit, substance or even a remote connection to the question of child custody."

The former senator sought custody after Katuria D’Amato’s 911 call on Sept. 30, 2017, about a possible home intrusion brought police to her Lido Beach home. 

Katuria D’Amato, who was recovering from shoulder surgery 11 days prior, said there was no criminal conduct to prompt a police response and alleged she was brought by Nassau police to South Nassau against her will.

Nassau police testified that Katuria D’Amato, 53, was “delusional” and that she believed Alfonse D'Amato would let intruders who hid behind lasers into the residence. Police also said she told them she hid in a closet and unsuccessfully tried to load a shotgun before calling 911 but couldn’t find the key to the weapon’s gunlock.

The suit also contends Alfonse D'Amato conspired with his wife's Lido Beach neighbors, James and Catherine Cash, claiming they have security cameras pointed at her house and report to him on her daily activities. The suit contends Singas abused her discretion by prosecuting Katuria D' Amato and not the Cashs for the filing of a false police report on June 25, 2018.

Stephen Gassman, Alfonse D’Amato’s attorney, who was named in the suit, called the court filing "baseless and spurious. We are confident it will be dismissed with due cause. It is little more than a desperate maneuver by a disgruntled and disqualified lawyer."

Nassau police does not comment on pending litigation, said Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun. Singas' office referred calls to the county attorney's office. Christine Geed, a spokeswoman for the county, said Nassau does not comment on pending litigation.

Joe Calderone, a spokesman for South Nassau, also declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Lorintz granted Alfonse D’Amato temporary custody of the couple’s son, 11, and daughter, 9, after the former senator questioned Katuria D’Amato’s mental stability. The suit contends Alfonse D'Amato and Lorintz "conspired" to deprive Katuria D’Amato of a fair trial. Court spokesman Daniel Bagnuola said Lorintz was prohibited from responding to the suit.

Lorintz Tuesday ordered a temporary stay of the matrimonial case, Bagnuola said.

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