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State justice grants Alfonse D’Amato’s wife visitation with kids

Former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato and his wife, Katuria

Former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato and his wife, Katuria D'Amato, appeared for a custody hearing for their two children on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in Mineola. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A state Supreme Court justice in Nassau on Wednesday granted the estranged wife of former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato regular visits with the couple’s two children, after previously issuing an emergency order giving custody to their father.

In a Mineola courtroom, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Lorintz also said he would hold a hearing soon before deciding whether to dismiss the original order he issued after Alfonse D’Amato, 80, alleged his wife, attorney Katuria D’Amato, 51, was mentally unstable.

The proceeding came a day after the Republican power broker and lobbyist and his wife attended a contentious hearing in Manhattan that followed her Oct. 3 petition for divorce filed there.

Last week, Lorintz awarded the ex-senator custody of the couple’s son, 9, and daughter, 7, and ordered Katuria D’Amato to stay away from the children and her estranged husband.

The decision followed a Sept. 30 police response to Katuria D’Amato’s 911 call about possible intruders at the former marital home in Lido Beach, where she now lives with the children.

Her attorney, Joseph De Simone, told Lorintz on Wednesday that the children were taken away from their mother based on Alfonse D’Amato’s allegations.

The former senator alleged police told him they found his wife loading a shotgun, and he then implied in court papers she “was having some sort of psychotic break,” De Simone said.

De Simone said a legally obtained shotgun was in a locked closet, equipped with a device that made it inoperable.

He said the house’s surveillance video would show police taking the gun out of a box in the closet, where it was the entire time. Katuria D’Amato was hospitalized until Oct. 2, De Simone said.

Alfonse D’Amato’s attorney, Stephen Gassman, told Lorintz his client had been sleeping in the house when police woke him up.

He said police told Alfonse D’Amato that his wife “was trying to load the shotgun but couldn’t find the key to something or other.”

Gassman said police took Katuria D’Amato to a hospital “when they saw the psychotic state” she was in, and her hospital discharge papers referenced “substance-related psychotic disorder.”

The ex-senator’s attorney added that Alfonse D’Amato had surveillance system images showing his wife in “a catatonic state” and “taking pictures of alleged green lasers that she feels were being shot at her.”

Gassman said Katuria D’Amato told police “there were people in the house shining green lasers at her” and “attempting to place listening devices in the house.”

Alfonse D’Amato said later that he took action only with the children’s welfare in mind.

“This is heart-wrenching. I never wanted to do this,” he told Newsday in an exclusive interview.

But he said once his wife’s sister left the Lido Beach home, he had to act in the children’s best interest.

“I couldn’t take the chance, given what happened, and given what the police told me,” Alfonse D’Amato said.

Katuria D’Amato declined to comment, but her attorney told reporters an agreement was reached that will allow her to see her children “almost every day.”

De Simone accused the ex-senator of “retaliation” for Katuria D’Amato “daring to file for divorce.”

Mark Green, the attorney for the children, told the justice the pair “love both of their parents” and wanted to see their mother.

On Tuesday, a state Supreme Court justice in Manhattan declined Katuria D’Amato’s request to consolidate the child custody matter in that court with the divorce petition.

De Simone argued then that the ex-senator was a “bully” and that his client couldn’t get a fair hearing in Nassau because of her husband’s political influence — something Gassman said was exaggerated.

Alfonse D’Amato leads a high-powered consulting and lobbying firm Park Strategies.

He left the Senate after 18 years in office after a 1998 defeat by Democrat Chuck Schumer.

The D’Amatos married in 2004, and in 2014, publicly disclosed that they were working through “personal issues” they were seeking to resolve while focusing on their children’s well-being.

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