WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBS/AP) The wife of Florida travel executive Ben Novack Jr., who was beaten to death in a suburban New York hotel last year, let the killers into the room and handed them a pillow to put over his face, according to an indictment unsealed Thursday.
The 53-year-old victim was the son of the founder of the storied Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
Narcy Novack, also 53, her brother and two others, were indicted in the July 12, 2009 slaying at the Hilton Rye Town in Rye Brook, 20 miles north of Manhattan. "The plot that led to the brutal death of Ben Novack was a family affair," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at a news conference in the federal courthouse in White Plains.
He said investigators are also looking into the death of Ben Novack's 86-year-old mother from Fort Lauderdale. The death of Bernice Novack has been ruled an accident, although she suffered a broken jaw and blood was found on her car and the walls of her house.
Narcy Novack was arrested Thursday at her home in Fort Lauderdale and was arraigned at the federal courthouse there. She did not enter a plea and was held pending a bail hearing set for Wednesday, July 14. Her lawyer, Robert Trachman, said she would not block extradition to New York.
Ben Novack's father was the founder and builder of the Fontainebleau, which has been used in such Hollywood films as "Goldfinger" and "Scarface" and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The younger Novack had a multimillion-dollar event-planning company that had organized an Amway convention at the New York hotel. He was found dead in his room there, covered in blood. His face, hands and legs were bound with duct tape. His wife told police she found him that way.
Rye Brook police quickly said Narcy Novack was not a suspect, then backtracked and called her a "person of interest," claiming she had been "deceptive" in answering questions. They also said Ben Novack had been having an affair.
Federal prosecutors joined the case months later, as family members battled over Novack's $10 million estate and delayed his burial for nearly two months.
Asked about Narcy Novack's alleged motive, Bharara said only that prosecutors would be filing papers to keep her from getting the estate, which includes homes, bank accounts, boats, cars and a renowned Batman memorabilia collection.
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore called the plot "a diabolical plan by a woman who was intent on eliminating her husband and taking his family fortune for her own."
The indictment alleges a plot by Narcy Novack, her brother, Cristobal Veliz, 56, and Denis Ramirez, 36, both of Brooklyn; and Joel Gonzalez, 25, of Miami, who is a fugitive. They are specifically charged with conspiring to commit interstate domestic violence and stalking. If convicted of all charges, they could be sentenced to life in prison.
Veliz and Ramirez pleaded not guilty at their arraignments in White Plains. Bail was denied for Veliz; Ramirez did not request bail.