Two convicted in hotel heirs’ murders

Jun.June 21, 2012 11:30 AM

A Florida woman and her brother have been convicted for their role in a murderous real estate ploy, but escaped potential life sentences, news reports said. Narcy Novack’s husband, Ben Novack Jr., and her mother-in-law, Bernice Novack, were heirs to the Fontainebleau hotel fortune, and were murdered by hitmen in 2009.

Narcy Novack of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Cristobal Veliz of New York City were convicted yesterday of racketeering, domestic violence, stalking, money laundering and witness tampering. The pair was acquitted of the charge of murder in aid of racketeering, which would have carried mandatory life sentences, multiple sources said.

Prosecutors argued that Narcy Novack was afraid 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.

Narcy Novack, 55, paid Veliz, 58, to hire hit men to brutally assault the victims, prosecutors said. The hit men blinded Ben Novack by slashing out his eyes, and bashed his 86-year-old mother in the mouth with a wrench, reports said. Both were killed in the incidents.

Bernice Novack, who had been a noted socialite in her youth, was found sprawled in a pool of blood in the laundry room of her Fort Lauderdale home in April 2009, according to the Miami Herald. Her son Ben began to suspect foul play, but was bludgeoned to death at the Rye Town Hilton in Rye, N.Y., before he could investigate, the Herald said.

The killers cooperated with federal prosecutors, who traced money Narcy Novak withdrew from her husband’s company to the hired murderers. Ben Novack Jr. was having an affair with a porn star and stripper, Rebecca Bliss, at the time of his death, the Herald said.

The Fontainebleu, which has been featured in films, such as “Scarface” and “Police Academy 5,” was built by the elder Ben Novack and opened in 1954.

Turnberry Ltd., led by Jeffrey Soffer, currently owns the 1,504-room hotel, according to the Biscayne Times. The entity bought the storied resort in 2005 and embarked on a $500 million renovation, before ending up in financial trouble due to the credit crisis.

The verdict was announced in U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y., where the 9-week trial was held. [WSJ, NYDN, Miami Herald]

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