Former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato, testifying Thursday in a child custody battle with his estranged wife, described her as a heavy wine drinker who once punched him.
The 80-year-old GOP power broker and lobbyist took the witness stand in Mineola nearly three months after his wife’s involuntary hospital admission after she called 911 to report home intruders.
Police have said Katuria D’Amato, a 51-year-old attorney, told them she’d been unsuccessfully trying to load a shotgun to protect herself against people she claimed her husband let in who wanted to kidnap her and hid behind green lasers.
Trouble began brewing between the D’Amatos about four years ago, according to Alfonse D’Amato, who testified in Nassau County matrimonial court that their relationship had soured by 2014 after nearly a decade of marriage.
The ex-senator said he stopped living full-time in their custom-built ocean view home in Lido Beach after his wife assaulted him that January as he was watching TV with their son and daughter. He said they’d been having disputes about how much financial help he was giving his grandchildren at a time when several of them were in college.
“My glasses went flying off. I got a punch in the head,” said Alfonse D’Amato, who also testified his wife sometimes drank more than two bottles of wine a day.
But as she left court Thursday, Katuria D’Amato denied being an alcoholic or ever hitting her spouse.
“It’s not true,” she said. “He’s told this story before in various versions. That’s not what actually happened. It’s one of a number of events in which he goes crazy and flips out . . . He has an anger issue.”
Katuria D’Amato added that while her husband never hit her, he once tried to punch her and instead hit a door and broke his hand.
The hearing is taking place as state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lorintz considers whether the former senator should keep temporary custody of the couple’s 8-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son as the couple divorces.
In October, Lorintz awarded Alfonse D’Amato temporary custody and issued a stay-away order to the man’s wife after the ex-senator questioned her mental stability – an action she claims was retaliation for her Oct. 3 divorce filing.
The doctor who treated Katuria D’Amato at the hospital testified Wednesday he believed she had drug-induced psychosis from taking too much Ritalin for her attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
The former senator testified Thursday that his wife had delusions hours before her 911 call, when the two went out on a balcony and she began taking photos of what she said were green laser lights being shot at the house from the dunes.
“I said ‘I don’t see any,’” he recalled, saying they put their daughter to bed at about 11 p.m. and said a prayer as a family.
“Then Katuria said ‘I love you,’ kissed me on the cheek . . . and she went upstairs,” the ex-senator added, saying he then went to sleep.
Police would later wake him up, following his wife’s 911 call shortly after 2 a.m.