Fla. widow convicted in hotel-heir husband’s N.Y. killing

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A Florida woman and her brother were found guilty Wednesday of orchestrating the killings of the woman’s millionaire husband and his mother in a grab for the family estate.

A federal jury convicted Narcy Novack of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on counts alleging she caused the savage 2009 beatings of Ben Novack Jr. in a suburban New York hotel room and Bernice Novack at her Fort Lauderdale home.

Novack and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, of New York both were convicted of charges including racketeering, domestic violence, stalking, money laundering and witness tampering.

Both were acquitted of the charge of murder in aid of racketeering, which would have carried a mandatory life sentence. They still face sentences of up to life in prison. Sentencing is set for Nov. 1.

Novack chose not to attend the reading of the verdict. Veliz was present and showed no emotion.

Novack’s lawyer, Howard Tanner, said afterward: “We put on our defense, and the jury has spoken. They were a conscientious jury.”

Prosecutors said Novack and Veliz were motivated by “jealousy, retribution and greed” when they hired the thugs who carried out the killings. They said Novack feared that her husband, who was having an affair, would divorce her and that a prenuptial agreement would bar her from the multimillion-dollar family estate.

Mr. Novack had a successful travel company. His father built the storied Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach, a celebrity hangout in the 1950s and 1960s that appeared in the movies “Scarface” and “Goldfinger.”

The defense had tried to blame the killings on Narcy Novack’s daughter, whose sons now will inherit the estate.

Prosecutors said Narcy Novack, 55, paid Veliz, 58, to hire Miami thugs to assault the victims. The killers testified that Veliz recruited them and relayed instructions from Narcy Novack on how to carry out the killings.

They testified that those instructions included blinding Mr. Novack — his eyes were slashed with a utility knife — and bashing 86-year-old Bernice Novack in the teeth with a plumber’s wrench.

The killers also testified that Narcy Novack identified her husband to them in advance by stroking his hair in a restaurant as they watched.

They said that on the day of Mr. Novack’s killing, Narcy Novack called Veliz, who said: “Well, she’s ready. Let’s go.” One said that when they got to the Hilton hotel in Rye Brook, N.Y., where Mr. Novack’s company was running an Amway convention, Narcy Novack motioned them into her room, directed them to her sleeping husband, gave them a pillow to muffle his screams and questioned them afterward to make sure he had been blinded.

“She shows them where her husband is, she ushers them into the room, and they inflict a vicious, brutal attack on Ben Novack,” prosecutor Andrew Dember said.

One key witness was Rebecca Bliss, a former prostitute and porn actress, who said she was having an affair with Mr. Novack when he was killed.

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