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MINEOLA, N.Y. � Finding that a child’s best interests trumped a law designed to streamline custody matters, the Suffolk County Surrogate has ruled that the sister of murdered millionaire Ted Ammon can pursue an action to overturn the custody wishes of his ex-wife. Although Surrogate John M. Czygier wrote that he did not want to “toss aside” Generosa Ammon’s choice before she died to give custody of her twins to their nanny, he nevertheless found that it was in the children’s best interests to allow their aunt a chance to move ahead with a guardianship revocation action. Therefore, in Matter of Guardianship of Ammon, 11G2003, and a companion case, the judge denied a motion to dismiss filed by the nanny, Kaye Mayne. The decision also called for a hearing to determine if Sandi Williams, the children’s paternal aunt, should have custody. The decision will be published tomorrow. The battle for custody of the now-teen-age twins stems in part from their father’s murder in 2001. Found bludgeoned in the master bedroom of his East Hampton estate, Mr. Ammon, a New York investment banker, was in the process of finalizing a divorce from Mrs. Ammon. Three months after the murder, Mrs. Ammon married Daniel Pelosi, an electrician who performed work at the East Hampton home. In August, Mrs. Ammon died of cancer, cutting Mr. Pelosi out of her will and leaving the children to Ms. Mayne. Mr. Pelosi is under investigation for Mr. Ammon’ murder by a Suffolk County grand jury. In denying the nanny’s motion to dismiss the petition to revoke the guardianship, Surrogate Czygier considered whether allowing Ms. Williams to proceed with a hearing contravened a provision of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act designed to streamline the process for arranging custody of children when a parent is terminally ill. He noted that at the time their mother directed custody to Ms. Mayne, a hearing was held to examine her competency in making the appointment. “To permit such an inquiry [by Ms. Williams] under the circumstances herein where a hearing has been held for the purpose, inter alia, of making such a determination would render shallow the intent of SCPA 1726,” he wrote. Even so, the judge noted that the overriding issue was the children’s best interests. “Where the issue before the court is the appointment of guardians for infants, the paramount consideration for the courts has always been the best interests of the children,” he wrote. “In fact, the status of a court-appointed guardian is subject to the court’s continuing oversight and may be revoked or changed should the court subsequently determine that the circumstances warrant modification.” As a result, he permitted the aunt to proceed, but noted that she must do so under the strong statutory presumption that the parent’s choice promoted the children’s best interest. Furthermore, Surrogate Czygier wrote that any change in the children’s situation would require recommendations from the law guardian and the forensic psychologist. Michael G. Dowd, in Manhattan, represented Ms. Mayne. Gassman & Keidel, in Garden City, represented Ms. Williams. Arza Feldman, in Hauppauge, is the law guardian.

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