Staten Island couple faces court battle over engagement ringJames A. Cohen in SILive.com, April 04, 2011
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- It was the pinnacle of romance and a perfect way to start the week, when a Staten Island man gave his fiancée a 4.7-carat diamond engagement ring on Jan. 4 of last year.
But the joy of that moment quickly descended into violence three days later, when, according to Advance reports, Arturo Montenora allegedly slugged his fiancée in the eye and broke her shoulder as they argued over a posting on his Facebook page.
Now, with his criminal case awaiting resolution, Montenora, 43, wants the sparkler back or the $40,000 he contends it's worth.
The Castleton Corners resident has sued his ex in state Supreme Court, St. George.
BITTER LEGAL WAR
Montenora's recently filed suit is the latest salvo in a bitter legal war between the one-time couple.
Three months ago, the woman sued him for unspecified monetary damages for injuries suffered in the alleged assault. She also seeks compensation for defamatory statements he purportedly made afterward, in which he claimed she "stole" the ring from him, as well as for offensive pictures he allegedly posted on Facebook and other sites.
The woman's lawyer contends Montenora, contrary to the accusations in his civil filing, actually has the engagement ring.
"She absolutely, categorically denies all the allegations in [Montenora's civil] complaint and will vigorously defend the claims being made against her," said Peter J. Kurshan, the attorney. "It is [her] contention that Mr. Montenora took the ring during the assault which is the subject of her lawsuit against him."
Montenora's civil lawyer, William J. Golding, declined comment Friday on the lawsuits.
In court papers, Montenora says he bought the ring for $23,000 in Manhattan's Diamond District on Dec. 28, 2009.
It is described as a Tacori-style ring in a platinum setting with 1.5-karat micro pave diamonds, 1-karat emerald-cut diamonds on the side and a center emerald-cut 2.2-karat diamond. Court papers maintains the ring's "fair and reasonable" current value is $39,950.
Montenora contends he gave his then-fiancée the ring on Jan 4, 2010, on the agreed-upon condition that it would be returned "in the event that the marriage ... did not occur."
Three days later, on Jan. 7, the engagement was "terminated," Montenora's civil lawsuit states.
His court filings don't say why the engagement and marriage were scuttled, only that the woman allegedly refused to return the ring. The Huguenot woman's name is being withheld due to the pending criminal case against Montenora.
Advance records show Montenora was arrested inside his home on Jan. 7, 2010, shortly after an 11:05 p.m. fracas.
A law enforcement said Montenora and his fiancée, now 29, became embroiled in a dispute over a Web posting. However, he could not say what the item showed or said.
The disagreement turned physical when Montenora, who, police said stands 6 feet, 2 inches and weighs 205 pounds, allegedly punched the woman in the face and eye. He also pushed her to the floor and smashed her $400 BlackBerry, said the criminal complaint.
The victim, suffered a fractured right shoulder blade, a sprained wrist and a black eye, court papers stated.
The source said Montenora denied touching his fiancée.
Montenora was charged with misdemeanor counts of assault and criminal mischief, along with harassment, a violation, according to a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel Donovan. The misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of a year in jail.
The case is pending in Stapleton Criminal Court, where Montenora is slated to return April 11.
Montenora has a second criminal case pending, stemming from a Jan. 8, 2010, arrest on a criminal-contempt charge for allegedly disobeying a court order to avoid contacting the woman, according to court records and the source.
Montenora is the second Staten Island groom-to-be in the past year to take his former fiancée to court over an engagement ring.
In March 2010, Christopher Reinhold, sued Colette DiPierro for a $17,500 diamond ring, alleging she refused to return it after breaking off their engagement six months earlier. That case is pending in state Supreme Court, St. George.
James Cohen, a Fordham University Law School professor, told the Advance then that Reinhold had a pretty good case.
"It's not just any gift," said Cohen. "It's a gift that has explicit and implicit conditions, which is marriage. It seems to me if she cancels the [marriage], he should get it back."
Cohen said Reinhold might even have a case if he terminated the engagement.
On the other hand, the professor said, a would-be groom would probably be out of luck if he tried to reclaim a $17,500 necklace or even a sports car he had given as an unconditional token of his affection.
"If it has no significance beyond being a gift, then he can't get it back," said Cohen.