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Therapy for judge who knifed wife

A Nassau County judge who stabbed his wife two years ago in a domestic dispute was sentenced to undergo psychiatric treatment on an outpatient basis by a Westchester County judge, the Queens district attorney said.

Judge Paul Kowtna, 53, of New Hyde Park, L.I. was indicted July 5, 2000 on six counts of assault, criminal possession of a weapon and menacing for stabbing his wife twice in the back with a large kitchen knife during an argument on May 18, 2000, according to the DA.

Kowtna pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Feb. 22 and stepped down from the bench. If the former prosecutor had been convicted of the original charges, he would have faced up to 25 years in jail.

Queens DA Richard Brown said State Supreme Court Judge Joseph West sentenced Kowtna to outpatient mental health treatment supervised by the state commissioner of mental health. In addition, the former judge was forbidden to move from his home without notification, to use alcohol or unauthorized drugs and ordered to submit to drug tests.

Under terms of the sentencing, he cannot apply for a firearms license or a gun permit. If Kowtna breaks any of the conditions, he could face further sanctions.

Kowtna, a former Nassau County prosecutor, was elected to a 10-year term as a county judge in 1994. He had been placed on administrative leave from his position as a Nassau County Court judge at a salary of $137,000 per year. He had been free on $15,000 bail and his wife, who has remained with her husband, declined to file a complaint.

“In my judgment, the sentence is fair and appropriate,” said Brown.

He said an independent examination by a board-certified psychiatrist determined at the time of the crime the defendant was suffering from a mental disease or defect.

Subsequent examinations by two psychiatrist assigned by the state Department of Health found that Kowtna is no longer a danger to anyone, he said. The psychiatrist also found that he is not “presently suffering from a dangerous mental disorder although he will continue to be monitored,” Brown said.

Brown was appointed as special prosecutor in the case by Administrative Judge Edward McCabe of the 10th Judicial District in Nassau on the day of the arrest to prevent a conflict of interest in Kowtna’s home county of Nassau. West, who sits in Westchester, was appointed to hear the case to prevent a conflict of interest.

On May 18, 2000 Nassau County police said officers responded to a 911 call placed by Kowtna after a heated argument with his wife, Mary Gail Kowtna, 47, at the couple’s Long Island home. According to the indictment, Kowtna stabbed his wife twice in the back with a large kitchen knife.

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, the DA’s office said.

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

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