Legal System’s Shortcomings Not Academic for Professor Anthony Pappas

NEW YORK – Few Americans get tangled up in full blown court proceedings. When they do, all they ask for is fairness, their voice to be heard, and some compassion. Anthony Pappas has been waiting nine years. His reward, he said, has been insults and harassment.
His frustration – to say nothing of the $1.5 million legal costs to date – prompted him to tell his story to TNH. “It’s important for people who have gripes,” as a result of bad experiences with the system, “to communicate with each other,” Pappas said. He encourages people to contact him through St. John’s University, where he has taught for 35 years and is an associate professor in economics.
The cases happen to pertain to the divorce demanded by his wife Maria after 22 years of marriage and three children, but his point is that this can happen to anyone standing before a judge with the power to turn one’s life inside out.
Citizens are not completely powerless. A year ago he sued three state judges, his ex and her attorney in Federal Court in the Eastern District of New York. He complained of violation of free speech, equal protection and due process and claimed retaliation by judges biased against him.
It was dismissed on August 8, but he will appeal.
He seeks a fair trial and consideration he hopes leads to damages and the overturning of the decision the state court made in September 2013, which he is also appealing in the state system.
Pappas said the state’s decision will “give my wife a lot of money…that does not exist, that I am supposed to come up with out of the blue.”
He is now living in the Astoria house he inherited from his parents.
All this is not the American dream his parents from Epirus pursued for their children as Pappas and his older sister grew up in Manhattan’s Evangelismos community.
He met his ex-wife at a club in Manhattan in 1981 and they were married in 1982.
Their daughter and two sons attended the William Spiropoulos School of St. Nicholas in Flushing before the family moved to Nassau and joined the Roslyn church.
“Their ages range from 25 to 30 so fortunately there were no custody issues…They tried to maintain neutrality,” he said.
Pappas alleges his ex was always a confrontational person and has sued numerous people. She is guidance counselor for the Department of Education and has a courts background as a translator for the Queens District Attorney.
Pappas said that based on her knowledge of how the court system worked she exploited an incident that occurred in 2001. “There was a scuffle and she was able frame it as domestic violence because that was her field as an interpreter.”
Pappas noted, however, that his ex-wife saw it differently. They also disagree about a later incident he said she claimed resulted in facial injuries required reconstructive surgery.
TNH left a message with Maria Pappas but she did not reply at press time and her attorney declined to comment.
Asked why it has dragged on for so long, Pappas told TNH it is because the judges were biased. In making the distribution of the assets they ignore the facts and the law and do whatever they want….it’s whoever the judge wants to believe.”
“Judges have literally told me to shut up. ‘Don’t complain to anyone inside or outside the system,’” he said.
When the process began, the only issues were the distribution.
Pappas said they both had comparable modest salaries but “the bulk of the assets were pre-marital property and inherited property and under the law most of the assets should be mine.”
“The judge wanted to award money to my wife and found devious ways of doing it. She went back to 2004 and asked about funds for the children’s custodial accounts,” he said, or trusts set up by Pappas’ mother for the benefit of her grandchildren, about which Pappas said the judge concluded he kept his ex-wife ignorant .
“That was total baloney. She has a business degree from Fordham… signed tax returns which made clear the children had separate funds… was a custodian for some of the accounts in the name of the children,” he said.
In 2004 there was around $1 million for the children, the result of his setting aside roughly $10,000 a year from the time each was born he said. “The judge ignored whether the money was spent on their college education or otherwise used for their support.”
If the judge finally implements her ruling, Pappas says, the total with interest and other charges will wipe out the $4 million that remains in his name but which the court has taken from his control.
“It’s ridiculous situation. It’s punitive. It’s Retaliation: survive on the cash in your wallet,” he called it.
Many would be unable to veil their anger, but one of the judges accused him of making “thinly veiled threats in the idiom used by the perpetrator of the Fort Hood massacre,” Pappas said, although the criminal justice system was not impressed
“Judges keep making similar references,” as if they were facts he added.
It is still not clear how much has to be paid by Pappas or the children, and another aspect of the injustice is that the latter have not been given a chance to tell their side of the story.
Pappas can appeal the final ruling, but it can take a year. “In the meantime, you can be thrown out of your house and you are homeless.”


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