ELIZABETH, N.J. - Opposing sides in the divorce trial of former Gov. Jim McGreevey focused on his estranged wife yesterday in an acrimonious dispute over whether she is entitled to collect on the opulent lifestyle she lost when a gay-sex scandal toppled his administration.
Dina Matos, who said she now prefers to be called by her maiden name, faces more tough questions today after spending all day on the witness stand yesterday.
Under gentle questioning from her lawyer, Matos painted herself as McGreevey's dutiful spouse. But under a heated cross-examination, she was badgered into acknowledging that she was just an unpaid member of his political team.
She grew agitated as she was grilled by lawyer Stephen Haller about her contributions to McGreevey's two gubernatorial campaigns and her ability to earn money after his resignation.
Matos, who was married to McGreevey for four years before they split in 2004, believes she should be compensated for the 13 more months she would have lived in the governor's mansion had her husband not resigned.
The 41-year-old hospital executive said she will be unemployed as of tomorrow when the hospital closes. She is asking for alimony and child support, and has asked the judge to award payments based in part on her husband's conduct during the marriage.
In his "I am a gay American" resignation speech, McGreevey said he had an affair with a male staff member while married to Matos. The employee denies the affair and says he was sexually harassed by the governor.
McGreevey, 50, a seminary student, made $48,000 last year from teaching and consulting work. He contends that he is too poor to pay alimony, and that the trial has put him more than $200,000 in debt.
Matos testified yesterday that her lifestyle plummeted when she left the governor's mansion four years ago.
"I don't have a state police vehicle, no driver, no security, no housekeeping manager or other staff, chefs and groundskeepers, that were available. I also pay the mortgage, all the utilities and other expenses," she testified.
McGreevey contends that the governor's office perks are not a marital asset.
Matos said she can no longer shop for her daughter's clothes at high-end boutiques, has taken only one vacation and borrowed $100,000 from a friend to make a down payment on her $430,000 Union County house. She said she has $250,000 in outstanding legal bills, excluding the costs of the divorce trial.
She also said she cannot offer her daughter the things the child enjoys when she stays with her father at his boyfriend's house in Plainfield. There, she has her own bathroom and playroom and plays on grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park.