Ex-Sen. Al D’Amato weeps as he recalls wife’s mental breakdown, says it prompted custody battle

Published in the New York Daily News on Dec. 4, 2017

Former Sen. Al D’Amato cried Monday recalling his wife’s mental breakdown, saying it forced him to seek custody of their kids in their subsequent divorce proceedings.

Police took Katuria D’Amato, 51, to the hospital after receiving a bizarre 911 call from her on Sept. 30. She whispered that people were shining green lasers into the home in Lido Beach, L.I., she shares with the former GOP senator.

Cops determined there were no lasers, intruders or cloaking devices in the home, as Katuria suspected, according to testimony.

Police also secured a shotgun she kept in the home — to her husband’s surprise.

“I didn’t want them to take her away. It’s a heartache. They didn’t take her in because I urged them. I said, ‘Do you have to do this?’ ” Al D’Amato told reporters outside court, beginning to cry. “They said, ‘Yes, we have to.’ ”

He said that evening wasn’t the first time Katuria had such a hallucination.

“This thing with the lasers had been going on for a while,” D’Amato, 80, said. “For years now, she’s been saying that people are shooting lasers from the dunes. There is a small road between us, the dunes and the ocean — nobody is shooting lasers.”

He said that night his wife took pictures for an hour and a half of the green beams, which were only in her imagination.

D’Amato wants to continue the current arrangement in which his kids Alfonso, 9, and Luciana, 7, live with him. His spouse wants the children to relocate and stay with her.

During testimony in Nassau County Supreme Court, Officer Jimmy Lee said his main concern that night was securing the shotgun Katuria revealed she had in a closet. “She made a beeline for that room. I cautioned her, ‘I don’t want you to handle the weapon before I can contain it,’” Lee said, recalling that Katuria’s arm was in a sling at the time.

“She said that if she could have loaded the weapon she would have used it against the invading threat . . . that upon reviewing the videotape wasn’t there.”

Katuria — who had a piece of yellow paper taped over the camera of her laptop during the court hearing — was not eager to go to a hospital that night.

“She wasn’t comfortable going to the hospital. She didn’t voluntarily go into the ambulance. She walked into it herself but didn’t want to go,” Lee testified.

The cop added that Katuria did not make any threats during the process and that the gun remained secure that evening.

D’Amato said he was stunned to learn his wife kept a shotgun in the home.

“I didn’t even know there was a gun. They told me there was a gun, but I’ve never owned a gun in my life,” D’Amato said.

After the incident, Katuria filed for divorce in Manhattan Supreme Court, arguing it was the appropriate forum due to D’Amato’s status in Nassau County.

A judge in Manhattan disagreed and the case is mainly being resolved in Mineola.

D’Amato lost his Senate reelection bid in 1998. He went on to found the lobbying firm Park Strategies.

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