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Queens DA to handle L.I. assault

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A Nassau County Court judge was indicted last Thursday on charges of stabbing his wife in the back during an argument last year in their New Hyde Park, L.I. home, the Queens district attorney said.

Judge Paul Kowtna, 52, was indicted on six counts of assault for allegedly stabbing his wife twice in the back with a large kitchen knife during an argument on May 18, 2000, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Brown was appointed as special prosecutor in the case by Administrative Judge Edward McCabe of the 10th Judicial District on the day of the arrest to prevent a conflict of interest in his home county of Nassau.

Nassau County Police said officers responded to a 911 call placed by Kowtna after the heated argument with his wife, Mary Gail Kowtna, 46, at the couple’s Long Island home.

Kowtna was arrested at the scene at 8:30 a.m. and his wife was taken to North Shore University Hospital at Manhasset with injuries to her back. The judge was taken to Nassau County Medical Center for evaluation.

Mary Gail Kowtna, who suffered a collapsed left lung and other minor injuries, was hospitalized for four days and released, the DA’s office said.

Kowtna’s lawyer, Ronald Bekoff, did not return repeated phone calls for comment before press time.

The Daily News reported Kowtna’s lawyer said his client had not denied attacking his wife, but he said the judge was suffering from an impaired mental state during the argument.

Kowtna has been charged with two counts each of assault in the first, second and third degrees, criminal possession of a weapon and menacing.

If convicted of first-degree assault, he faces from five to 25 years in jail.

Kowtna, a former Nassau County prosecutor, was elected to a 10-year term as a county judge in 1994.

Mai Yee, a spokeswoman for the Office of Court Administration, said Kowtna has been placed on administrative leave from his position as a Nassau County Court judge.

“He is not sitting on the bench hearing pending cases,” she said. “Kowtna has not been removed and continues to get paid.”

She said the only way a judge can be taken off the bench is if the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct finds the judge has done something wrong and the Court of Appeals takes action against him.

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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