Iraqi war veteran claims decide ‘punished’ him in custody circumstance for calling VA hotline

An Iraqi war veteran claims he’s staying “punished” by a Very long Island judge for calling the Veterans Affairs helpline about his messy child custody scenario — in the long run costing him time with his two children.

James Gonedes’ attorney David Mejias is now pushing to get Nassau County Supreme Court docket Justice Erica Prager booted from all custody instances, specially all those “involving the parental rights of veterans to whom she has done a incredible disservice,” Mejias wrote Thursday in a letter to the county’s administrative judge.


The distraught 35-yr-aged US Maritime, who has completed 3 tours in Iraq, named the Veteran Affairs hotline late very last month around considerations about a new modify to his custody arrangement with his estranged wife Norma.

“This problem with the visitation with my kids genuinely experienced me upset,” Gonedes, now a nurse tending to COVID-19 people in the intense treatment device at Stony Brook College Healthcare facility, instructed The Publish by cell phone. “I was apprehensive I wasn’t heading to see my young ones.”

In early June, Prager changed the arrangement from a rotating regular program, which accomodated Gonedes fluctuating operate several hours, to two established weekends a month and at minimum just one weekday.

Concerned sick that the rigid visitation schedule would conflict with operate, the father of two called the VA to vent — as he’s completed “just about every now and then.”

“You’re explained to at the VA if you ever feel you want to chat … use this helpline,” Gonedes stated. “I did what I was instructed … I genuinely just sense I was punished for it.”


Norma, who is stated as his following of kin with the VA, located out about his simply call for assist — when the federal agency named her though carrying out a wellness check on him.

Her lawyer then flagged Gonedes’ “mental well being standing” and “psychological worry” to Prager, who stripped him of his overnight visits with his little ones, ages 5 and 7, pending a listening to Friday.

Gonedes promises the judge’s conclusion also “emboldened” his wife to quit him from viewing his daughter on her 6th birthday on July 1.

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In his letter to the county’s administrative choose, Mejias, Gonedes’ attorney, explained Prager really should be eradicated from custody scenarios about her “complete deficiency of understanding and insight into matters involving households and kids.”

Mejias claims that Prager’s June 25 determination was made devoid of conducting a hearing initial and with no either aspect even inquiring for her to get away Gonedes’ overnight visits with his youngsters.

Gonedes, in the meantime, claimed he’s fearful to at any time simply call the helpline yet again — and he’s warned his other veteran good friends about his situation.

“I really feel like [the helpline was] taken away from me. It is a disgrace,” he mentioned. “Chatting things by way of genuinely helped me out. I will in no way get in touch with this helpline at any time all over again.”

Inspite of their September custody arrangement, Gonedes and Norma have been duking it out in court considering the fact that October, with Gonedes accusing her of not honoring the offer, and she asking Prager to modify it — sparking the judge’s June 8 conclusion to set the firmer visitation routine.

Mejias is pleasing that ruling.

“What the judge did was make a contentious make a difference that had been fixed by the parties and designed a dysfunctional condition that is ensuing in a great deal of litigation that neither celebration can find the money for,” Mejias told The Put up. “This is an egregious situation the place a judge abridged my clients’ rights to impose her have perspective on the visitation they should have.”

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He extra, “This is this sort of an affront to a guy who is an American hero.”

Norma’s attorney, Nelson De La Cruz, claimed in a statement: “Out of regard for the Gonedes young children, the court, the sanctity of matrimonial proceedings, and the privacy of the parties, neither I, nor Ms. Gonedes have any comment relating to any allegations communicated to you.

“Ms. Gonedes stays deeply committed to the bests interests of the parties’ young children.”

Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for New York Condition Court system, claimed: “It’s a pending matrimonial situation with an charm submitted in addition — all those are the venues to litigate this case.”

Prager did not return a ask for for remark.

This tale initial appeared in the New York Publish