john_fotinos_mugshot-thumb-500x281Michele Fotinos sounds desperate on the phone. She's been fighting for restraining orders and custody for her children for years now. And she feels the San Mateo County court system continues to fail her.

Her ex-husband, John Marcus Fotinos, was a former Newark firefighter for 17 years. He's also a convicted felon with a longstanding history of violence, according to his ex-wife.

Indeed, John Fotinos was arrested last week after his 15-year-old daughter told law enforcement about a cache of weapons her father had instructed her to hide with the aid of her 13-year-old brother. Police discovered 16 guns, two assault rifles, and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. John Fotinos is currently being held at Maguire Correctional Facility in Redwood City, and his bail has been set at $320,000.

Michele Fotinos says she has had difficulty obtaining protective restraining orders for herself and her two children -- and she doesn't know where her son is. He disappeared after sending her an e-mail about moving to Oregon to buy guns.

John Fotinos still has legal rights to physical custody of their children. When Michele Fotinos left her husband in 2003, she took her children with her. But when her husband arrived in the middle of the night at the Santa Cruz house where she had fled, he brought the sheriff with him and removed their children.

She's been fighting to get her children back ever since. "I thought he was going to kill me," she says. "And no one is protecting either of my children."


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