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Katuria D’Amato hires new attorney in custody battle

Katuria D'Amato leaves the Nassau County matrimonial court

Katuria D'Amato leaves the Nassau County matrimonial court on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017 in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato’s estranged wife appeared in court Monday for the couple’s continuing child custody battle with a new attorney, before a judge scheduled testimony to resume next month.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lorintz also ordered Katuria D’Amato to cooperate immediately with a forensic evaluator he previously had appointed by answering a questionnaire by Friday.

“I need confirmation she’s complied with the order,” Lorintz told the Lido Beach woman’s new attorney, Thomas Liotti, in Nassau County matrimonial court.

A forensic evaluator interviews all parties, assessing each parent’s ability to make decisions for the children and any risk factors impacting where the children live. The information is provided to judges making custody decisions.

In December, Alfonse D’Amato testified before Lorintz that his estranged wife was a heavy wine drinker who once punched him — allegations she later denied while countering he had “an anger issue.”

Testimony from the 80-year-old GOP power broker is expected to continue Feb. 13, as Lorintz considers whether Alfonse D’Amato should keep temporary custody of the couple’s 9-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter as the couple divorces.

Alfonse D’Amato’s attorney, Stephen Gassman, told the judge Monday he believed the court date was supposed to be a conference between the parties to try to reach a settlement in the case.

But Liotti said in court he’d only been retained as of that morning, and asked for time to review transcripts of prior proceedings before the case continued.

Before hiring Liotti, Katuria D’Amato briefly had a second attorney in the case who replaced her original counsel, Joseph De Simone, court proceedings showed.

“It’s been three months. It’s about time she does something,” Gassman said after court, criticizing her lack of interaction with the court-appointed evaluator.

Liotti declined to comment after court, but released a statement saying it was “in the best interests of the children to be with their mother full-time and without any restrictions.”

The judge granted Alfonse D’Amato temporary custody of the children in October and issued a stay-away order to the children’s mother after the ex-senator questioned her mental stability. Katuria D’Amato said her husband’s legal action was retaliation for her divorce petition earlier that month.

The order came after her involuntary hospital admission following her 911 call in late September to report intruders at the couple’s former marital home. Lorintz later granted the 52-year-old attorney regular supervised visits with the children.

Police previously have testified that Katuria D’Amato said she’d been unsuccessfully trying to load a shotgun to protect herself against people she believed her husband let into their home who wanted to kidnap her and hid behind green lasers.

The doctor who treated Katuria D’Amato at the hospital testified he thought she had experienced drug-induced psychosis from taking too much Ritalin for her attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The ex-senator also said in December from the witness stand that his wife had delusions hours before her 911 call, when she began photographing what she said were green lasers being shot at the house from the dunes.

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