Murderer’s Family Faces Roadblock to Inheritance

     WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CN) – The family of a woman who had her millionaire husband bludgeoned to death have stumbled in the path to inheriting his fortune.
     Six years after wealthy businessman Ben Novack Jr. was found dead in a Westchester, N.Y., hotel room, tied up with his eyes sliced out, his estate remains the subject of a Florida court battle, with his wife’s family hoping to inherit the bulk.
     A federal judge in White Plains handed that wife, Narcy Novack, a life sentence in 2012 after a jury convicted her of orchestrating the assault that killed Ben.
     Narcy was also convicted of arranging the murder in Florida of Ben’s 86-year-old mother, Bernice Novack, whose former husband built the famed Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami.
     One of Narcy’s hit men struck the elderly lady in the head with a monkey wrench outside her home, inflicting fatal injuries, the FBI averred.
     The murders garnered widespread media coverage and spawned the 2015 Lifetime movie “Beautiful & Twisted,” starring Rob Lowe and Candice Bergen.
     Despite her role in the murders, Narcy sought probate in Florida of her husband’s will, which left her the estate in the event of Bernice’s death.
     Ben’s will stipulated that, in the event that neither his mother nor his wife were alive to inherit his estate, the money would go to Narcy’s daughter from a previous marriage, with the rest in a trust for that woman’s two children.
     The probate court initially opted to treat Narcy as having predeceased Ben under Florida’s Slayer Statute, a law designed to prevent murderers from inheriting money from their victims.
     Ben’s cousins, Meredith and Lisa Fiel, have long been battling in Florida courts to keep the estate from going to Narcy’s daughter and grandchildren.
     Citing a restraining order Ben sought against Narcy in 2002, the cousins argued that Narcy had made violent overtures toward Ben and coerced him into altering his will so that her progeny would inherit his estate.
     The trial court in Broward County dismissed the complaint, but a three-judge panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed last week, finding that the Fiels may show that Narcy had undue influence over Ben’s will.
     “These allegations are sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss because they allege that the undue influence tainted the entire will, including the bequests to the stepdaughter and step-grandsons,” the ruling states.
     The Niels had also sought relief under the Slayer Statute, but the appellate panel affirmed that this law does not apply under 1989 precedent from the case In re Estate of Benson.
     “We agree with our sister courts, as well as the trial court, that the statute is clear and unambiguous and disinherits only the slayer, or anyone who participates in the killing of the decedent, from any rights to the victim’s estate,” Judge Martha Warner wrote for the court.
     Federal prison records show that Narcy, 58, is housed at a minimum-security facility in Tallahassee.
     An FBI announcement on her 2012 sentencing notes that Narcy enlisted two hitmen to creep into Ben’s hotel room and attack him with dumbbells.
     The duo used a box-cutter to slice his eyes, smothered him with a pillow, tied him up, and used duct tape to cover his mouth.
     Narcy’s brother, Cristobal Veliz, was implicated in Ben’s murder and received a life sentence as well.
     The hit men, Alejandro Cesar Gutierrez Garcia and Joel Gonzalez, cooperated with FBI investigators and testified against Narcy.

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