McGreevey ex ponders fraud claim

ELIZABETH, N.J. (AP) - September 9, 2008

The judge at the same time warned both ex-spouses to quit putting their own self-interests ahead of those of their 6-year-old by seeking publicity at every turn in their bitter parting.

"I'm not sure how well we can isolate this child from this craziness," Union County Superior Court Judge Karen Cassidy told lawyers for Matos and McGreevey on Monday.

The two sides had been called before the judge to determine whether - and how - the civil suit against McGreevey will proceed after Matos missed a Sept. 1 deadline to tell the court whether she planned to continue the suit or dismiss it now that the divorce had been granted.

She now has until Wednesday to decide; if she doesn't tell the court her decision, Cassidy said she'd turn the matter over to the civil division.

Matos, 41, was seeking more than $600,000 as compensation for the 13 months she was deprived of living in the governor's mansion after McGreevey resigned in 2004.

The judge denied Matos' damage claim in her ruling in the divorce, but did not dismiss the civil suit.

Matos' lawyer said she'd drop the case if her ex paid her $109,000 for her share of their joint assets and gave up the right to appeal. McGreevey's lawyer said he would not succumb to such ultimatums.

"We now know what Mr. McGreevey's position is," said Matos' lawyer, John Post.

Neither Matos nor McGreevey was in court Monday.

McGreevey, 50, resigned after declaring himself "a gay American" and saying he'd had an affair with a male staffer. The staffer denied the affair and said he was sexually harassed by the governor. The couple formally separated in February 2005, three months after McGreevey left office.

The two have publicly sparred about their breakup since each wrote a tell-all book about the relationship. Almost no detail has been deemed to embarrassing to reveal.

If the civil case moves forward, more salacious testimony would follow. Among the first witnesses would be Teddy Pedersen, a former campaign aide who claims to have had regular, threeway sexual encounters with the McGreeveys beginning when they were dating and ending just before he took office as governor. McGreevey has confirmed the events; Matos insisted they didn't happen.

However, Cassidy reserved her harshest critique for Matos and McGreevey's parenting choices, with the judge saying she is concerned there is no way to shield a growing Jacqueline McGreevey from the harsh spotlight of the McGreeveys' public anger and bitterness.

"If they want to make this a public issue, they have every right to do that," said Cassidy, who granted the McGreeveys' divorce last month. "They have to think how this will effect not only them, but their child."

"She just started school. She's a first-grader," the judge continued. "People talk."

Cassidy said she was most unhappy to read a press account that the former governor's boyfriend, financier Mark O'Donnell, had offered to pay the tuition to send Jacqueline to private school. The judge said matters concerning the girl should remain under seal.

The information was disclosed in a letter McGreevey lawyer Stephen Haller filed with the court Friday.

Haller said Matos is resisting the offer.

The couple shares custody of the child, with McGreevey assessed $1,075 a month in child support.

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