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She was a full partner, Matos McGreevey says

The ex-governor's estranged wife testified about their courtship and her devotion to his career.

ELIZABETH, N.J. - Former Gov. Jim McGreevey's estranged wife said yesterday that she had depleted her savings to pay for the couple's $30,000 wedding, even reluctantly agreeing to add dozens of McGreevey's political cronies to the guest list.

Dina Matos McGreevey testified for about an hour on her meeting and subsequent courtship with McGreevey as their bitter divorce trial continued in Superior Court, painting a picture of herself as a supportive girlfriend-turned-spouse who devoted herself to her mate's goal of being elected governor.

"Once we became engaged, I was a full partner," Matos McGreevey said.

The McGreeveys wed in 2000, but their marriage unraveled four years later after he proclaimed himself "a gay American," announced he had had an affair with a male employee, and resigned as governor. The employee denies the affair and says McGreevey sexually harassed him.

Matos McGreevey, 41, wants compensation for losing the perks of her husband's office - state police transportation, an around-the-clock security detail, a household staff, and use of two beach houses - when he resigned 13 months shy of completing his term.

McGreevey maintains that those perks go with the job and were not a marital asset.

Matos McGreevey's accountant put the value of their so-called gubernatorial lifestyle at $51,000 a month but acknowledged under cross-examination that he relied mostly on guesswork to arrive at that estimate.

McGreevey's lawyer has put the value of maintaining that lifestyle at a more modest $16,000 a month.

Matos McGreevey testified that she and McGreevey had maintained separate checking accounts even after they married, and that she had never been privy to how he spent his paycheck. As mayor of Woodbridge, he enjoyed many benefits, including a car, gasoline, a cell phone and an expense account, she testified.

She said she had paid for her own car, insurance and clothes out of her salary as a hospital executive, costs estimated at $55,000 a year. She said being on the arm of a politician sometimes required three changes of clothes in a day.

Neither Matos McGreevey nor her husband could recall who had paid for their 10-day honeymoon in Italy, though Matos McGreevey said she had drained her savings for their opulent Washington wedding because her parents hadn't had the means.

Earlier, McGreevey said his wife had made all the honeymoon arrangements, but Matos McGreevey said her husband's secretary had booked the trip.

Matos McGreevey is scheduled to return to the witness stand today.

Judge Karen Cassidy is hearing financial testimony to determine how much McGreevey should pay in alimony and child support.

The couple earlier agreed on custody of their only child, 6-year-old Jacqueline, but the arrangement remains under seal. McGreevey sought joint custody.

Besides finances, the other unresolved issue is whether McGreevey committed fraud by marrying Matos McGreevey. She says she was duped into marrying a gay man who needed the cover of a wife to advance his political career.

He says she knew their union was "a contrivance on both our parts."