FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The fight for the Novack family fortune is underway.
Attorneys representing several Novack family relatives filed a claim in Broward County arguing they alone are the rightful heirs to the estate. The attorneys represent Maxine Fiel, Ben Novack's aunt, as well as a couple of cousins, including Andrea Wynn, wife of Las Vegas casino owner Steve Wynn..
"They are entitled to what belongs to them and their family," attorney Mark Hanson said Wednesday at his offices in Palm Beach Gardens. "And to have some unrelated person come in and benefit from the fruits of their labor is something our client finds objectionable. We're not here as money grabbers, if you will. We're here to do justice on behalf of our clients."
Ben Novack Jr. was beaten to death in a New York hotel room in July 2009. His wife, Narcy Novack, was charged a year later with his killing. She is also accused of arranging the murder of Novack's mother, Bernice. Prosecutors claim Narcy hatched her "diabolical plot" to kill off Ben and Bernice so she could take over the family's estate estimated to be worth between $6 and $10 million. Ben Novack's father once owned the famed Fontainebleau Hotel and Ben had created a successful convention planning business.
Hanson said the purpose of his claim was to "cut off the blood line" of Narcy Novack so that neither Narcy, nor any of her descendants, would profit from Narcy's alleged crimes.
But that may not be so easily done. Ben and Narcy Novack were married more than eighteen years, and Ben considered Narcy's daughter, May Abad, to be like his own child. And when May started a family of her own, Ben considered her two boys to be his grandsons – even though technically they were his step-grandchildren.
Ben's will leaves the two young boys a portion of the estate, but Hanson and the other attorneys are seeking to block those provisions.
Hanson said under what's known as "slayer's law" the killer can not in benefit from the crime by inheriting the victim's money. Hanson said the "theory" they are working on is that if any of the Novack money goes to May Abad or her two boys, then there is the "potential" that they could turn around and give some of that money to Narcy Novack.
Neither May Abad nor her attorney responded to numerous requests for an interview.
On Wednesday, Bernice Novack's 85-year-old sister, Maxine Fiel, explained she was moving forward with the claim on the money because she didn't want to see it end up in the wrong hands.
"Not one of my children or I have ever discussed the money," she said by phone from Saratoga Springs, New York. "I want justice. I want that woman [Narcy Novack] put away forever and never see the light of day."
When confronted with the fact the lawsuit she was filing was, indeed, about money, Fiel responded: "Yeah, well, now it is. Everybody else seems to be after it. I want to make sure it goes to the family where it belongs."
The attorneys representing the Novack relatives also raised doubts about the size of the estate. They said they believed the publicly stated estimates that the estate is worth between $6 and $10 million – including a $2 million collection of Batman memorabilia – may be low. They said they think Ben may have hidden millions of dollars in offshore bank accounts.
"There is the possibility that Ben may have had money in the Cayman Islands," said attorney Michael Zweig.
Added attorney Harvey Morse: "Ben's business was worth approximately $50 million a year. So where did the money go? Where is it?"
Morse said FBI agents were looking for hidden bank accounts and had questions Maxine. "The FBI has interviewed Maxine to see if she has any information – and she does not," Morse said. "But she also believes there is significantly more money than what is currently known to us."
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