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Joe Lhota's Wife Once Crashed Her Car While Talking Politics on Her Cell

By James Fanelli | September 24, 2013 6:42am
 Tamra Lhota, the wife of mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota, once crashed her car while chatting on her cellphone about federal election law.
Joe Lhota's Wife Once Crashed While on Cellphone
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BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The wife of mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota once wheeled and dealed in politics — until she crashed her SUV.

Tamra Lhota, a longtime Rudy Giuliani fundraiser, recently settled a lawsuit with a Staten Island driver whom she rear-ended as she gabbed about federal elections on her cellphone, court records show.

The hurt driver, Paul Mitri, sued Tamra in 2008, accusing her of negligence and for leaving him with permanent back pains when she crashed her Acura MDX into the back of his Infiniti sedan.

The settlement that Mitri, 50, reached with Tamra, 52, was filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court in April 2013, just a few months after Joe Lhota announced his run for mayor on the Republican ticket. The court records do not give the amount of the settlement.

Tamra, who raked in cash for Giuliani’s presidential run, said during a deposition in connection to the lawsuit that on the afternoon of May 15, 2006, she was driving from her Brooklyn Heights home to Poly Prep Country Day in Bay Ridge to pick up her then-teenage daughter.

As she headed onto an entrance ramp of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway near Atlantic Avenue, Tamra was talking on her cellphone with an attorney about federal election law, according to her deposition.

She recalled rear-ending Mitri’s car when she momentarily turned her head and didn’t see he had stopped in front of her.

“Oh s---, I’ve got to go,” she said to the attorney on the phone after the crash, according to her deposition.

The impact flung Mitri forward and his head hit his car’s sunroof. Although he refused an ambulance after the accident, Mitri went to a hospital the next day because he was suffering from a headache and back spasms, according to court records.

In a 2010 deposition, he said he missed about five months of work from the injury and still suffers chronic pain that runs down the left part of his shoulder blade.

“My life is changed, number one,” he told attorneys during the deposition. “There are a lot of things I can’t do that I used to love to do — play golf, even going sailing, any type of activity. I can wake up the next day and not be able to move.”

Tamra, who reportedly once studied to become an Episcopal priest, said in a deposition that she later discussed the accident with her husband and her priest.

Lhota campaign spokeswoman Jessica Proud said that Tamra didn't recall what she was specifically discussing on her cellphone at the time of the accident but noted that she was using a hands-free Bluetooth device.

Proud added that the Lhotas didn't know the details of the settlement because it was handled between their and Mitri's insurance companies. She added that the settlement was actually reached in 2011, but she couldn't explain why the paperwork was filed in April 2013.

Joe Lhota was Giuliani’s budget director during his two terms as mayor. Tamra’s connection to Giuliani goes back two decades, when she began fundraising for him during his mayoral runs.

Mitri's lawyer, Maria Spero, declined to comment.

"I cannot discuss a client's case," she told DNAinfo New York.

Mitri, a wine salesman, could not be reached for comment.